The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is understood to have put forward a proposal to cut its current target of 82,000 regular troops to just 75,000 in the next decade. The 10-year plan is set to drive down the number of new recruits with a greater emphasis on the use of technology.

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence select committee, has condemned the proposal and described the idea as “sheer madness”.

The Tory MP claimed the force is already stretched in numbers and pointed to a shortage of tank operators.

MP for Bournemouth East said: “’It is completely wrong.

“Even today they are over-stretched. We are short staffed in key skill sets.

“We don’t have enough Warrior and Challenger drivers.

“These battalions will tell you they are exhausted. We are kidding ourselves that we could manage with a depleted size.”

The proposal forms part of a wide shake-up of the Department of Defence and Foreign Office.

In the wake of Brexit, there will be an Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

The review is being led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the National Security Council and will cover all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.

As a result the Army, RAF and Royal Navy – have been asked to submit recommendations and budgets going forward.

A greater emphasis is set to be placed on cyber and space warfare, with discussions on how funds should be allocated ongoing.

“More jobs could be done by automated machines which would require less people. Recruitment is an issue.

“It’s a commitment to focus on automation and use machines where we can.”

A spokesman for the MoD said: “This Government has committed to grow defence spending.

“The MoD is progressing its contribution to the Integrated Review by planning how best to meet tomorrow’s threats within that increasing budget.”



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