Attrition: British Infantry Fading Away

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January 25, 2006: The British army is short about 3,000 infantry. There are only 40 infantry battalions in the British army. That about 28,000 infantrymen. The infantry have been heavily used in Afghanistan, and especially Iraq. While the British military has been all-volunteer for over half a century, the current shortages are largely driven by the attractive job offers from private security firms. British troops in elite infantry units (paratroopers, marines, SAS), are particularly attractive to the private firms, and vice versa. Noting the American success with reenlistment bonuses, the British are now offering bonuses of about $10,000, for troops who decide to sign up for more time in uniform, or return after having been a civilian for a while. Some of the troops who have gone off to work for the private security companies, have found the work not to their liking, and have been coming back to the army. It is hoped that this bonus system will encourage more such returns. In addition, Britain is reducing its infantry force, with four battalions to be disbanded by next year. It's also been noted that about eight percent of the infantry are tied down in ceremonial functions, a distraction that has largely gone unnoticed.

 


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