UK plans to boost army reserves

AP News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2011 5:33 PM
UK plans to boost army reserves

Britain's defense secretary said Monday the government will invest 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) to boost the army reserves over the next 10 years.

Defense Secretary Liam Fox said he envisions a total force of around 120,000 service members, made up of about 70 percent full-time soldiers and 30 percent reservists.

The army currently is more than 100,000 strong, with only about 14 percent of the soldiers reservists.

Fox told lawmakers that investing in and training up more reservists will bring the U.K. into line with comparable countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Britain's defense ministry already faces sharp spending cuts under the country's austerity measures.

The defense secretary on Monday also detailed changes to where forces will be based, saying that some air force installations will be taken over by army units returning from Germany, where they have been stationed since the end of World War II. The first units are to come back to Britain next year.

Fox said that Britain's Treasury had agreed to a 1 percent a year increase, in real terms, to the defense equipment and support budget from 2015-16 to 2021-21.

That will enable the military to procure 14 more Chinook helicopters, upgrade the army's warrior vehicles and more, he told lawmakers.