The SNP said redundancies confirmed yesterday would leave just over 3000 troops in Scotland – fewer than in any comparable country in Europe.
But Labour said the troops currently based in Scotland were part of a more than 80,000-strong UK Army.
By contrast, an independent Scottish army would be one of the smallest in Europe, a Labour MP warned.
Both parties pointed to new figures revealing the size of forces across the continent as the Ministry of Defence confirmed plans for 3800 redundancies – most from the Army.
One in three are thought to be compulsory, with volunteers leaving just before Christmas.
The cuts are part of plans to slim the Army to 82,000 personnel, leading to fears historic Scottish regimental names could face the axe.
The European figures released by Labour and the SNP suggest that only a handful of countries, including Luxembourg, Estonia and Latvia, have an Army strength of less than 6000.
A number of countries with smaller or similar populations to Scotland have armies that are significantly larger.
Albania, with a population of three million, has an army of more than 14,000 troops.
Many countries also have much larger armies. Belgium has more than 12,000 troops, Switzerland more than 25,000, and Italy, France and Germany all have more than 100,000.
The SNP has insisted no firm decisions have been made about the size of the Army in its planned Scottish Defence Force.
But earlier this year Alex Salmond appeared to back the Coalition Government's plans for a single mobile brigade in Scotland.
The First Minister described the proposals as "exactly like the configuration you'd want".
Under the UK Army plans, the brigade would number between 5000 and 6000 troops, although the Scottish Government has not set out its thoughts on numbers.
The MoD says the largest UK brigade has around 8000 men, although other countries, such as Austria, are thought to have up to 11,000 personnel in a brigade.
Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who obtained figures from the House of Commons library, said: "These figures reveal the nonsense of the SNP claims that the Scottish armed forces would be substantial.
"The reality is that Scotland would have one of the smallest armies in Europe and would be dwarfed by the likes of Albania and Belgium."
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson, who pointed to figures from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said: "The time has come to dispel the myth that Scotland receives a defence dividend within the Union. Rather than respecting our regiments, we have seen their decimation under successive UK Governments whose word cannot be trusted.
"Figures for European nations blast the idea that an independent Scotland would not be capable of recruiting and maintaining a defence force. They show the threat to Scotland's defence capabilities comes from successive UK Governments."
He added: "This time last year the MoD said Scotland would be benefiting from the return of up to 7000 personnel currently based in Germany, and investment in new purpose-built barracks at Kirknewton, near Edinburgh.
"We now know defence jobs have been cut by almost 700 in just the last three months, and construction of the Kirknewton facility has been abandoned."
In January, Mr Salmond gave what has been widely considered the clearest indication so far of what a Scottish Defence Force would look like.
The First Minister said the new set-up unveiled by the Coalition of one naval base, one air base and one mobile armed brigade was "exactly the configuration" required for an independent Scotland.
The comments triggered outrage because of the SNP's support for campaigns to keep open three Scottish RAF bases in the face of Coalition cuts.