British Army Apologizes to Troops Fired by E-mail

Britain's military has apologized for using e-mails to tell several dozen long-serving soldiers that they were being laid off.

The army says an "administrative error" meant the soldiers were not told in person that their contracts would be ended.

British media reported that the soldiers were 38 warrant officers with more than 20 years' service each. The Sun said one received the news while serving in Afghanistan.

The army apologized for the distress caused and said the soldiers had since been spoken to by their commanding officers.

Jim Murphy, defense spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said they had been treated in a "callous, cold-hearted, soulless" way.

The military is shrinking by some 17,000 troops as part of deficit-slashing spending cuts.