Number of personnel in the UK armed forces 2020 by gender

The reduction in personnel witnessed by the British Armed Forces in recent years is the result of a conscious attempt by the UK government to cut costs and modernize the military. This policy has been pursued since the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which among other things sought to replace many full-time regulars with reservists, and to end the UK’s permanent deployment in Germany.

Cuts across air land and sea

While the army has born the brunt of these cuts to personnel, all branches of the armed forces have also had to contend with the same issue. Since 2012, the Army has seen it's personnel reduced by 24.6 thousand, the RAF by just over 7 thousand, and the Navy by around 1.5 thousand. While the share of GDP spent on defense has not fallen quite as dramatically since 2012, over the long-term, the UK has almost halved defense spending since the end of the Cold War.

Age of personnel

In 2020, the average age across all ranks and branches in the UK armed forces was 31. Although this was only slightly different between branches, the RAF had the highest average age and the Army the lowest. Naturally, the average age for officers was slightly higher, who had an average age of 37, for all branches of the armed forces.

Number of personnel in the armed forces of the United Kingdom in 2020, by gender

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Release date

June 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

2012 to 2020

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Statistics on "Armed Forces of the United Kingdom"

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