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News Article

Rebalancing Army manpower

A Defence Policy and Business news article

22 Mar 10

In order to be better balanced to meet the challenges of current operations, the Army is making adjustments to its structures which is likely to result in some soldiers having to leave the Army through what are known as Manning Control Points.

Junior Soldiers

Junior Soldiers on parade at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The Army is closer to full strength than it has been for a number of years. Within that total number the Army needs to ensure that it has the right balance of skills in certain trades and experience, in terms of length of service, rank, performance and long-term potential, to meet the challenges of current operations in Afghanistan.

This balance is also crucial to preserving opportunities for progression through the ranks, which is an important factor in the Army's ability to retain those with the greatest potential.

As well as addressing long-standing structural imbalances, the Army needs to ensure that it organises its manpower in a way that enables it to better support operations in Afghanistan.

This requires a degree of adjustment between ranks, trades and skills.

In part this will be achieved through retraining, but some soldiers are likely to have to leave the Army through what are known as Manning Control Points (MCPs).

MCPs are an effective and focused means of achieving these important adjustments. They are part of soldiers' Terms and Conditions of Service and have been used when required since the days of National Service.

Although they have not been needed recently when the Army has been under strength, over the last 25 years well over 3,000 soldiers have been discharged using this mechanism.

With the Army now close to full strength, Manning Control Points are a necessary tool to enable the Army to manage its structure more effectively.

While Manning Control Points give the Army the opportunity of terminating the service of soldiers at the end of three, six, nine, 12 or 15 years' service, the current intention is to focus on the 12- and 15-year groups only.

Commander-in-Chief Land Forces, General Sir Peter Wall, said:

"The Army is close to being fully manned for the first time in some years. This is great news, but size is only part of the picture. We need to ensure that there is the right balance of soldiers in different arms and services, ranks and trades, so that we are in the best possible shape for current operations.

"The fact is that the Army has grown unevenly and we now need to make some adjustments.

"Part of this is about giving some of our people the opportunity to retrain with the Service, so that they can make their contributions in areas where our need is greater.

"The Army is close to being fully manned for the first time in some years. This is great news, but size is only part of the picture. We need to ensure that there is the right balance of soldiers in different arms and services, ranks and trades, so that we are in the best possible shape for current operations."

General Sir Peter Wall


"But a relatively small number of soldiers will also be required to leave the Army under the Manning Control Points mechanism in order to balance the Army.

"Manning Control Points have been used routinely by the Army for this purpose for decades, although not since 2002.

"Manning Control Points have not been used since 2002 because the Army has been in a sustained period of undermanning."

Although the 12- and 15-year groups will be targeted, the specific numbers, ranks and trades that will be affected have not yet been identified.

There is ongoing analysis to identify where MCPs will best be focused; however, an initial assessment is that some 300 to 500 soldiers will leave in Financial Year 2011/12 as a result of MCPs.

Over 9,000 soldiers leave the trained strength of the Army annually, therefore proposed MCP numbers would account for only about five per cent of this figure.

All soldiers will be informed of the reintroduction of MCPs through their chain of command regardless of whether they are currently on operations or not.

The Army will identify numbers within Career Employment Groups over the next few months. This will be published so that soldiers are aware of whether they are in an affected trade.

The Army will identify those soldiers with limited prospects in those trades and formally 'board' them against the criteria of length of service, rank, trade and long-term potential in order to make a decision on those individuals who it does not consider have the potential to make a full contribution to today's Army.

Once a decision has been reached, in the majority of cases, a soldier will be given 12 months' notice that they are to leave the Army after this period.

In determining those who are eligible for MCPs, each case will be considered on its own merits and in terms of what is best for the Army.

Where individuals are selected to leave under MCPs, the Army will provide appropriate support for the transition to civilian life.

Focusing on the 12- and 15-year groups means that all those leaving will qualify for a resettlement grant of about £10,000 [30 days' graduated resettlement time, an individual resettlement training costs grant of £534 (non-taxable) and a resettlement grant of £9,573 (non-taxable)].

In addition, regardless of the time served, all would have an accrued pension which they would be able to draw at retirement age.




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