UK Armed Forces - Statistics & Facts

2017 experienced the lowest annual number of personnel in the British Armed Forces in many years, equating to less than 150 thousand people. The majority were male, with only 15.3 thousand women employed, as evidenced by data on the gender distribution of British military workers. Similarly, the number of military officers decreased during recent years. The most numerous age group of officers in the armed forces were aged between 25 and 29 years, and the greatest number of officers served in the British Army.


In the same year the number of personnel employed in the British Army amounted to 83.5 thousand, roughly one quarter of which was made up of personnel aged between 25 and 29 years, which is displayed in a breakdown (by age) of British Army personnel numbers. A gender distribution of British Army personnel showed that male army personnel outnumbered women by over ten to one.

There was a considerably lower number of personnel employed in Her Majesty's Naval Service, which totaled roughly 32.5 thousand. This total includes personnel numbers for the Royal Marines, as well as in the Royal Navy.

The most recent figures on the number of officers in the Royal Navy show an upturn in officer employment levels over the previous two years. The number of officers in the Royal Marines has stayed at 820 throughout the previous three years.

Compared to the Royal Navy, the personnel numbers in the Royal Air Force were slightly higher, though numbers had also experienced a decrease in general. A gender distribution of personnel employed in the RAF had the largest number of women working. Furthermore the Royal Air Force mortality rates were significantly lower than that of army mortality rates overall. However, all branches of the UK Armed Forces have experienced a deduction in mortality rates over recent years. This corresponds with the falling number of annual operational deaths in the Armed Forces during previous years.

Perhaps one reason as to why personnel employment numbers have been decreasing is fluctuating defense spending in the UK. Since 2008/2009, defense spending has decreased by approximately 3.5 billion British pounds, which may have affected average annual salaries. Additionally, a breakdown of UK defense spending shows that despite spending reductions, research and development, as well as foreign military aid have seen substantial growth.

Regardless of reductions in the number of fatal incidents in military action and mortality rates, mental health disorder diagnoses in the British army have been on the rise in past years, affecting over 1,260 personnel aged between 25 and 29 years in 2016/2017. This is demonstrated in the number of mental health disorder diagnoses in the UK Armed Forces. In 2016/2017, the majority of newly diagnosed mental health disorders in the UK Armed Forces were neurotic disorders.

Overall, the total number of British military personnel assessed with a mental disorder shows that military men and women across all military branches are affected.

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