British troops
British soldiers on patrol. Ministry of Defence figures show that there were no Armed Forces personnel killed in combat during 2016, for the first time since 1968. Andrew Milligan/ PA

Britain's Armed Forces went through 2016 without a single serviceman or woman being killed on operations, for the first time in nearly 50 years, figures from the Ministry of Defence have revealed.

The last time no soldier, sailor or airman was killed on operations was 1968.

Military sources say that a focus on training local forces, the exit of troops from Afghanistan and a reluctance by government to send troops into combat have added up to a lower chance of fatalities. However there have been fatalities on training or on exercises.

Around 4,500 British servicemen and women are involved in 25 operations around the world.

Former First Sea Lord and security minister, Lord West, told the Telegraph:"I'm absolutely delighted that not a single member of our Armed Forces has been killed on operations. But I hope it isn't because in this very, very dangerous world that our nation is not willing to use our military for the security of our country."

"I fear there's a nervousness in our nation about using the Armed Forces and that worries me."

The last British servicemen to die were flight lieutenants Alan Scott and Geraint Roberts who were killed in Afghanistan in October 2015 in a helicopter crash.

It comes amid reports that the Armed Forces are getting ready for defence cuts with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which sets funding for the next few years, to be reviewed.

Separately, the British Army has been criticised by staging "Military Makeup" sessions to attract more women into its ranks.

A Facebook page was used by the Army, which encouraged women to come to a fashion and beauty show at Glasgow's Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre for "girly" make-up practice.

Images of women soldiers applying camouflage make up were taken down from social media following criticism that it was a "huge gender stereotyping blunder" which shows how the Army has an old-fashioned approach to the way it treats women.

Adrian Trett, a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, tweeted: "Awful gender stereotyping by Army advert."

Baroness Burt, the Liberal Democrat equalities spokesman, said: "If the Army thinks that some green make-up is the way to recruit women, they are very seriously out of touch with modern women. This kind of patronising gender stereotyping will do nothing to enhance the image of the army – to men or women," The Telegraph reported.