British Army
The British Army will see its manpower to 82,000 soldiers by 2020 from the current 102,000 level.

A research centre worth £8 million has opened at the Imperial College, which will assess the effects of roadside bombs on British troops.

The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College will plan the new tools that willdevelop better ways of protecting British troops.

According to the Royal British Legion, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are major cause of death and injury to British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The Centre for Blast Injury Studies aims to improve treatment and recovery for those injured serving their country, as well as to reduce the number and extent of blast injuries in the first place," Chris Simpkins, Director General, The Royal British Legion, said in a statement.

"It chimes perfectly with the support the Legion gives to the whole serving community and we are therefore very proud to be supporting Imperial's pioneering and world-class work in this field. We are making a long-term investment in the welfare of all who serve," Simpkins added.

The Royal British Legion is providing £5 million to set up the Centre. Imperial College London will lead the scientific research, which adds to the work which is already being carried by the Imperial Blast research group at the College.

"We now need to assess the effects of blasts on survivors. We urgently need to know more, so that we can protect and treat people more effectively. This Centre can make a real difference to the survival and quality of life of those serving in conflicts," Anthony Bull, Professor at Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College, said.

The researchers will experiment new methods and materials that will be more effective in protecting people, and will also prevent the impact of the blast and change the pattern and severity of injuries.

For example, researchers aim to work on an intelligent combat boot that is insulated with putty to absorb and then prevent the impact of an anti-vehicle mine blast. Researchers will design the boot, which will transfer the blast energy away from the hind foot. It is expected that a prototype boot will be ready in late 2012.