British forces are almost 5,000 short of personnel at time when hundreds of soldiers are being killed or wounded while fighting in Afghanistan, new figures have shown.
Despite recruitment drives and a cut in the total number in the Armed Forces there is still a substantial shortfall of the required 178,000 for all three Services.
The figures come as a former Forces chief launched a stinging attack on Ministry of Defence waste highlighting that for every two soldiers there is one civil servant.
The latest manning statistics from the MoD have shown that the Army, which is doing the majority of fighting in Helmand, is 2,000 short of the desired total of 101,000 despite more people remaining in the forces and an increase in numbers joining up, partly put down to the recession. The number of dead and injured in Afghanistan is approaching 1,000.