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The total size of the full-time UK Armed Forces (trained and untrained) on 1 October 2021 was just over 159,000. Most personnel were within the Army (56%) with the remainder being equally split between the Royal Navy/Royal Marines (RN/RM) and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Trained strength

Personnel targets are based on the full-time trained strength of the Royal Navy/Royal Marines and the RAF and the full-time trade-trained strength of the Army. The most recent targets were set by the Defence in a Competitive Age command paper. On 1 October 2021 the Army was 7% above it’s targeted size whilst the Royal Navy / Royal Marines and the RAF were -3% and -6% below their targeted size respectively.

Inflow and Outflow

Between 2000 and 2021, inflow of personnel to the UK Regular Forces has only been higher than outflow for six years. In the 12 months to 30 September 2021 there was a positive net flow of personnel for the second year running – intake was 17,073 while outflow was 13,846.


On 1 October 2021 there were 16,710 women in the UK Regular Forces who accounted for 11.2% of the total trained and untrained strength.

On 1 October 2021 around 9.4% of personnel (14,010) identified as belonging to a non-White ethnic group. The Army had the highest proportion (13.8%), followed by the Royal Navy/Marines (4.8%) and RAF (3.3%).  


Between October 2013 and October 2021, the trained strength of the Tri Service Future Reserces 2020 increased by 40% (from 22,881 to 32,066). However, only the RAF Reserve has achieved its targeted size.

Location of personnel

On 1 April 2021, most personnel in the UK Regular Forces were stationed in the United Kingdom (around 96%). Of the 5,900 personnel stationed overseas around two thirds were in Europe (65%) whilst 16% were stationed in North America and 6% in North Africa and the Middle East.

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