Documents to download

On 1 April 2023 the total size of the full-time UK armed forces (trained and untrained) was just under 152,400 personnel. Over half of 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 RN/RM and the RAF, and the full-time trade-trained strength of the Army. The most recent targets were set in the 2021 Defence Command Paper.

On 1 April 2023 the Army was 3% above its targeted size, while the RN/RM and the RAF were 4% and 7% below their targeted size respectively.

Inflow and Outflow

Between financial years 1999/00 and 2022/23, inflow of personnel to the UK Regular Forces has only been higher than outflow in six years.

In the 12 months to 31 March 2023 there was a was a negative net flow of personnel, meaning more people left the forces than joined. Intake was 11,090 while outflow was 16,510, so there was net decrease of 5,400 personnel.


On 1 April 2023 there were 16,450 women in the UK Regular Forces, accounting for 11.5% of the total trained and untrained strength.

Around 10.1% of personnel (14,320) self-identified as belonging to a minority ethnic group (compared to an estimated 16.1% of the total UK population). The Army had the highest proportion of minority ethnic personnel (14.8%), followed by the RN/RM (5.1%) and the RAF (3.5%).  

In December 2021, the Government announced a new target for women to account for 30% of intake by 2030. In the year to 31 March 2023, women made up 11.7% of total intake to the UK Regular Forces.

There is currently no specific armed forces recruitment target for ethnic minorities. In the same period, 9.7% of intake to the UK Regular Forces were from minority ethnic groups.


The Future Reserves 2020 programme started under the Coalition Government (2010–2015) set out plans to expand the size of the trained element of the armed forces reserves, increase the circumstances in which they might be deployed, and better integrate the Reserve Forces with the Regular Forces.

Between October 2013 and April 2023, the trained strength of the tri-service Future Reserves 2020 increased by 33% (from around 23,000 to 30,400). However, only the RAF Reserve has achieved its targeted size.

Location of personnel

On 1 April 2023, most personnel in the UK Regular Forces were stationed in the United Kingdom (around 96%). Of the 5,820 personnel stationed overseas, around two thirds were in Europe (65%), while 15% were stationed in North America, 7% in North Africa and the Middle East, and 6% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Documents to download

Related posts