LONDON: One in eight Gurkhas will lose their job under Ministry of Defence plans to make 4,000 members of the Armed Forces redundant, ministers will announce today, according to British daily The Telegraph.
More than 400 Gurkhas, equivalent to almost an entire battalion, will be among 2,800 soldiers to lose their jobs, while the RAF is cutting 1,000 and the Navy 500.
The news will embarrass Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, who lands in Nepal today as part of a trip to demonstrate how Britain is helping Gurkha families.
The MoD has sent more than 14,000 notices to personnel in each of the three services offering them voluntary redundancy but it is expected some compulsory redundancies will have to be made. Soldiers serving in Afghanistan are among those to receive the notices, although they will be protected from compulsory redundancy.
The 3,400-member Brigade of Gurkhas has been more vulnerable to redundancies after their terms of service changed four years ago, allowing them to serve for 22 years rather than the previous 15 years.
Nearly all Gurkhas chose to extend their contracts, which increased the number in the brigade. The MoD says the changes made it more expensive to employ them, making them more vulnerable to cost-cutting redundancies.
RAF and Royal Navy commanders hope that this will be the final round of redundancies but the Army is likely to announce at least one more tranche of job losses.
A spokesman for the MoD said: “As nearly all the Gurkhas chose to serve longer, this has meant that the Brigade has grown over time and needs to be reduced to its proper size. Serving in the British Army continues to attract high quality Gurkha candidates reflecting the high status in Nepal of service in the Brigade across all of the communities.”
The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Army is also getting rid of hundreds of soldiers by not renewing contracts for people who have signed up for 12 years. It has also frozen recruitment, reducing the number of new soldiers entering the service from 7,000 to 5,000.
An Army planner said: “We could aim to squeeze the recruit inflow pipe and go for an old man’s Army. That would have a black hole in personnel but we have no money.”
The MoD will hope for the majority to take voluntary redundancy but it is thought there will be a higher number of compulsory job losses this time. Almost 3,000 were sacked last September, with 60 per cent volunteering.