ThisIsLondon Army shrinks to its smallest since before the Napoleonic Wars 25.05.07 The Army has shrunk to its smallest size for more than 200 years, official figures have revealed. The number of soldiers has slipped below 100,000 for the first time since the start of the Napoleonic Wars. Some 2,500 posts are unfilled. Critics, who say units fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are stretched to breaking point, are demanding the Government rethink its policy of scaling back the Army. Manpower targets have fallen by 5,000 over the last five years. The number of trained soldiers stands at 99,280, the figures from the Ministry of Defence showed. In comparison the Greek army currently boasts around 109,000 troops, and the Italians 112,000. The combined manpower of the Army, Royal Navy and the RAF stands at 177,760. This is nearly 6,000 below the target of 183,610 which military planners believe is needed for the Forces to fulfil their roles properly. The Navy has 34,940 personnel - 1,860 below its target - while the RAF has 43,550 personnel and 1,470 unfilled posts. Overall, the shortfall has grown from 1.5 of trained strength to 3.2 per cent in the past year. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commander, said: "I have never known the Army's manning to be in such a desperate state. "Units are desperately short of men and this is imposing a disproportionate burden on regiments who are constantly looking for manpower to fight a war on two fronts. "The figure of 100,000 makes no sense. The Army is far too small for the tasks it is having to undertake." Major Charles Heyman, editor of the British Army Guide, said: "As well as the fighting, the strain on units returning from operationsis enormous. "Huge amounts of maintenance and routine work needs doing, and instead of the ten men needed for the job there are only seven. "Instead of knocking off at 5pm it's 7pm. It gradually chips away at morale." There are more than 25,000 personnel serving overseas. Some 7,000 of them are in Iraq, almost 6,000 in Afghanistan, 8,000 in Northern Ireland and around 1,100 in the Balkans. The Government claims fewer troops are needed thanks to efficiency gains from restructuring. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said recruitment is also improving, with 12 per cent more trainees joining than last year. From a low point of 40,000 soldiers in 1790, the Army grew to a peak of 250,000 before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It was wound down during peacetime to little more than 100,000 but grew again rapidly from the 1840s onwards. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23397955-details/Army+shrinks+to+its+smallest+since+before+the+Napoleonic+Wars/article.do?ito=newsnow& You'll notr the MOD spokesman didn't say they were increasing the size of the Army, so why point out that recruitment is increasing?