The military's "top-heavy" command will be cut by a quarter under the latest in a wave of defence cuts, the Government has said.

One in four senior posts from the ranks of commodore, brigadier, air commodore and above will go, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced.

The top brass cull, which will take two years to carry out, is expected to save the Ministry of Defence around £3.8 million a year.

Around 26 civilian and military head office posts are being axed and a new senior structure will come in from April 2013. The new team will no longer be involved in day-to-day management of frontline commands and will instead take over responsibility for managing their own budgets, according to the MoD.

Mr Hammond said: "At a time when we are making difficult decisions about defence spending and have had to accept reductions across the board, we cannot ignore the volume of posts at the top. For too long the MoD has been top-heavy, with too many senior civilians and military.

"Not only does this new structure reduce senior staff posts by up to a quarter in the next two years but it allows clear strategic priorities to be set for the Armed Forces. It will hold the frontline commands to account for their delivery and support them in the tasks they are set."

Government cuts will reduce the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, with reservist numbers doubled to 30,000 to help fill the gap.

Acting Permanent Under-Secretary Tom McKane said: "All parts of defence are being restructured as we transform the way the Ministry of Defence does business, and head office is no exception. A smaller head office focused on strategic direction and policy, which hands more responsibility to the frontline commands, allows for a better-run organisation."