London: Britain's "top-heavy" Ministry of Defence needs to shed more than 700 senior officers and civil servants over the next three years, according to a leaked MoD document published by a daily.
The department also needs to axe a further 335 senior posts before 2020 to help plug a 38-billion-pound (USD 59 billion) "black hole" in funding that the government claims was left by the previous Labour regime.
Among those in the firing line will be rear admirals, major generals, air vice-marshals, captains and colonels along with high-ranking defence civil servants, the document revealed.
The report, entitled "Defence Reform - Liability Review", was prepared by MoD director general of transformation and strategy Jonathan Slater and was sent to senior officials last month.
"The perception, both within and beyond the department, that defence is bureaucratic and top heavy must be addressed," said an excerpt published on the Guardian's website on Sunday.
"The simple truth is that the defence senior cadre is larger than we can afford," it added. The report concluded that the MoD's imbalance was having a "detrimental impact on the delivery of frontline and other defence outputs."
The number of officers holding one-star status or above has increased by a third since 1990, the report stated. A table within the document set out specific targets for cuts within each layer of the ministry.
"The expectation is that the senior cadre would fall in accordance with the table," it explained. "There may be reasons why this should not be the case, but these will need to be set out."
Up to 60,000 defence personnel could lose their jobs while the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier has been scrapped along with Britain's fleet of Harrier jets due to the budget cuts.
The MoD would not comment on the leaked figures.
"The current redundancy programme will reduce the number of service personnel, both officers and junior ranks, to ensure the armed forces are structured to best meet current and emerging threats," said an MoD spokesman.