Badly wounded soldiers have had their disability benefits secretly slashed by as much as half by penny-pinching bosses at the Ministry of Defence.
Troops whose working lives are cut short after injuries sustained while fighting will no longer be paid a special £57-a-week allowance.
The move came after the MoD quietly dropped the benefit for new claimants who are too disabled to work.
It means hundreds of troops who have been injured in Afghanistan and in future conflicts will be £3,000-a-year worse off.
Around 12,000 veterans receive the allowance. But from April the rules have been changed so that those whose injuries leave them unable to work are not entitled to the benefit.
Critics called the cuts 'morally indefensible' when combat casualty rates are at a record high, and accused ministers of trying to save cash through 'invisible' cuts targeting hard-up wounded veterans.
British forces in Afghanistan suffered their worst month to date in July, with 22 soldiers killed and 94 wounded in battle.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth already faces fierce criticism for his Appeal Court battle to try to reduce compensation payments to severely wounded troops.
And figures show 279 injured troops and veterans are having to fight legal appeals in the hope of more generous compensation settlements.
The benefit payments at the centre of the latest row are known as the Allowance for Lower Standard of Occupation (ALSO).
The cash helps them pay for basic essentials and stay above the poverty line as they struggle to cope with psychiatric as well as physical wounds.
But with the defence budget in crisis and the number of wounded soldiers rising fast, ministers have decided that anyone injured after April this year and unable to work will be barred from applying.