are they telling the truth? http://www.gnn.gov.uk/content/detail.asp?NewsAreaID=2&ReleaseID=354308 "Latest UK Armed Forces manning figures released Today's publication of the Ministry of Defence's latest Armed Forces manning figures shows that the UK Armed Forces are currently at 96.9 per cent of their full time trained strength requirement. As at 1 January 2008, the full time trained strength of the UK Armed Forces was 174,910 against a target of 180,430. This comprises 169,650 UK regular forces, 1,680 full time reserve service personnel and 3,590 Gurkhas. There were also 16,990 untrained UK regulars and 60 untrained Gurkhas. There has been a 5.4 per cent increase (1,030 people) in the number of new recruits who have joined the Armed Forces in the 12 months to 31 December 2007, compared to the previous year. There has been an 18.1 per cent increase (2,490 people) in the number of recruits who have moved into the trained strength of the Armed Forces compared with the same period last year. Overall, the number of people leaving the trained strength of the Armed Forces in the 12 months to 31 December 2007 has increased by 4.1 per cent compared with the 12 months to 31 December 2006. Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth said: "We continually monitor the Armed Forces manpower situation so we can look at trends and take action where necessary. "This latest report shows that an encouraging number of people are completing their training and moving into the strength of the Armed Forces. Although the number of people leaving has risen, so has recruitment and we are of course taking action to retain our highly valued and skilled people. "Recent initiatives include pay rises, improvements in accommodation, increased operational allowances, and welfare measures such as the introduction of council tax rebates and childcare vouchers." Since 1 January 2007, the proportion of females in the UK regular forces has risen 0.2 percentage points to 11.7 per cent for officers and 0.1 percentage point to 9.0 per cent for other ranks. The percentage of UK regular forces from ethnic minority backgrounds continues to rise; at 1 January 2008 ethnic minorities accounted for 6.0 per cent of UK Regular Forces compared to 5.8 per cent at the same point last year. Notes to Editors 1. Due to the introduction of JPA, Naval Service and RAF data from the 1st May 2007 and Army data from the 1st April 2007 are provisional and subject to revision. 2. It was not possible to provide the figures for the Army in the August quarterly report as the 1 July 2007 statistics did not adhere to National Statistic standards for publication, due to the rollout of one of the largest new personnel administration systems in Europe, the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system. It is now possible to provide figures for the Army in this quarterly manning report, ahead of the schedule announced in the last release. 3. Further validation of detailed Army outflow data is required before they meet National Statistics standards; however, the report does include a total Army outflow figure. 4. Transferring all Army records was a huge task. The records have been transferred on to the new administration system; however there is still outstanding data validation to be done before the latest Army figures comply with National Statistic guidelines. The Defence Analytical Services Agency are still validating Army data and we would be failing in our duty if we released data to the public that was not adequately validated. 5. April 07 was the first ever tri-service pay run for HM Armed Forces, resulting in a 99.2% accuracy rate and figures for both May and June have achieved over 99.5% accuracy. JPA is a major business change programme (similar to the People Programme for civilians) and one of the most complex ever to be undertaken in either the private or public sector. The supporting computer software application is one of the largest Oracle HR implementations worldwide, that makes the fullest use of the functionality of the software, and is the largest single payroll. The system contains around 350,000 records (nearly 1 million if pensioners are included) and supports 300,000 users worldwide from the regular and reserve forces. Nowhere has a more complex dataset - around 24 million lines of data - been so successfully migrated. 6. JPA is accessible from anywhere in the world and allows individuals to update on-line certain pieces of personal information, such as bank details and their home address. JPA also allows individuals to access their pay statements, apply for leave, submit travel, allowances and expense claims and undertake other basic personnel tasks. 7. The Service Personnel Plan 2006 provides a structure for the prioritisation and delivery of Service personnel policy over the next 15 years. It reflects the challenges and opportunities that the operational environment, demographic changes and the changing expectations of personnel and their families present to our aim of delivering sufficient, capable and motivated Armed Forces personnel. Under the auspices of the Service Personnel Plan, work is underway to ensure the effective delivery of remuneration to meet the need to recruit, retain and motivate sufficient, capable individuals to meet manning requirements. 8. The total Armed Forces manning requirement has decreased due to previously announced restructuring across the Services. This restructuring is designed to improve capability and flexibility in order to meet the demands of current and future operations. 9. All figures and percentages exclude the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and Reservists mobilised for service. 10. The quarterly statistics (TSP4) are available on the DASA website at http://www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp4/commentary.html. 11. For further information please visit the MoD website at http://www.mod.uk. "