THE UK government has confirmed the army will shrink by around 10,000 troops as the defence secretary launched a plan for major modernisation of the forces.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace argued that modern advances meant “greater effect can be delivered by fewer people” but vowed there would be no compulsory redundancies.

During a statement in the Commons, Mr Wallace said that the army had not been at its "established strength" of 82,000 troops

He urged MPs not to play “Top Trumps” with force numbers as he broke Boris Johnson's 2019 election campaign pledge not to cut the number of military personnel.

Defence Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood warned against the “dramatic cuts” to conventional military strength as Labour criticised the plan “for fewer troops, fewer ships, fewer planes”.

Mr Wallace said: "The Army’s increased deployability and technological advantage will mean that greater effect can be delivered by fewer people.

“These changes will not require redundancies and we wish to build on the work already done on utilising our reserves to make sure the whole force is better integrated and more productive.”

Following the publication last week of the Integrated Review of foreign and defence policy, Mr Wallace argued that previous reviews were “overambitious and underfunded, leaving forces that were overstretched and under-equipped”.

He spoke of his own army experience, saying that despite troop numbers "it was in truth a hollow force", and added: "That is why, while I know some colleagues would rather play Top Trumps with our force numbers, there’s no point boasting about numbers of regiments when you send them to war in snatched Land Rovers or simply counting the number of tanks when our adversaries are developing new ways to defeat them."

Senior Tory Mr Ellwood welcomed investment in cyber and other advances but warned “they come at a huge price to our conventional defence posture”.

He said there are “dramatic cuts” to troop numbers, tanks and RAF aircraft, which he said would not pass if the plans were put to a Commons vote.

Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey warned his counterpart in Government that “size matters”, adding: “This is a plan for fewer troops, fewer ships, fewer planes, over the next few years.”

The cuts come despite Boris Johnson explicitly ruling out any when launching his manifesto for the 2019 general election, when he said: “We will not be cutting our armed services in any form. We will be maintaining the size of our armed services."

The changes set out in a defence command paper published this evening include £3 billion for new vehicles, long range rocket systems, drones, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities.

Titled “Defence in a Competitive Age”, it sets out how forces will spend more time deployed overseas to support allies and deter hostile powers such as Russia, which was identified in the Integrated Review as the “most acute threat” to the UK.

Mr Johnson spoke to Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the Government detailing the major overhaul.

The Prime Minister told him of the “wholescale modernisation” of the armed forces and said a £24 billion increase in the defence budget brought spending to “significantly above the Nato target”, according to No 10.