British army now has more than 17,000 troops unfit to fight in all theatres with just 60,000 soldiers available for action - fewer than Poland or Spain
The British Army now has more than 17,000 troops unfit to fight - with just 60,000 soldiers available for action, it was revealed today.
Among the 77,467 soldiers, there are about 7,000 men and women labelled as 'non-deployable' - while another 10,000 are deemed 'medically limited deployable'.
The Army should officially have 82,500 soldiers - but the figure is now so low that the deployable force is below that of Spain and Poland, which both have 77,500.
British forces are on deployment on 11 operations around the world including in Iraq, Kenya, Cyprus, Belize, Canada, Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands.
But the 60,000 British troops available for front-line action is now the lowest number since the First World War, reported the Daily Mirror.
Some soldiers who cannot be deployed have fractures and illnesses while others have short-term medical problems and are listed only for 'limited operations'.
In WWI from 1914 to 1918, soldier number soared to more than three million, while there were 300,000 soldiers in the 1960s and 163,000 in the late 1970s.
An Army spokesman told MailOnline today: 'Most medical downgrades are temporary, including to allow for recovery/rehabilitation. Huge effort is put into high quality healthcare and rehabilitation programmes to get all of our soldiers fully fit.'
In February, it was claimed by the Sun that fewer than 8 per cent of people who applied to the Army last year went on to become soldiers.
How many soldiers do other countries have?
North Korea: 1,200,000
South Korea: 950,000
The Army received more than 100,000 applications but took on just 7,500 new recruits, and they waited an average of 300 days between applying and joining.
SAS veteran Andy McNab has branded military recruitment 'madness' and a 'bureaucratic nightmare' as many were put off by delays in their applications.
It comes after MPs criticised the Armed Forces' £1.3billion recruitment strategy, claiming the services are facing a 'manpower crisis'.
They have demanded a review of the system –outsourced to private firm Capita in 2012 in a bid to boost numbers – as the Army, Navy and RAF remain below targets.
The Ministry of Defence has already handed £752million to Capita – £54million more than planned at this stage of a ten-year contract.
Recent attempts to recruit soldiers from different backgrounds have been condemned for neglecting those who traditionally join the Armed Forces.
Each year around a third of applicants are turned down because they are too old, do not have the right education or are not fit enough for active service.