UK & World News
Army Loses 17 Major Units In Defence Cuts
Five infantry battalions are to be withdrawn and 17 major units in total axed from the Army in its biggest overhaul for decades.
Troop levels are to be slashed by a fifth from 102,000 to 82,000, while the Territorial Army will be expanded to give a combined force of 120,000.
The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh will all go in the shake-up.
A fifth, the 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, will be reduced to a public duties company to carry out public duties in Scotland.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted in the Commons that the reforms would be "unwelcome" but insisted they would create a "balanced, capable and adaptable force" for the future.
"After inheriting a massive overspend from the last government, we have had to make tough decisions to implement our vision of a formidable, adaptable and flexible armed forces," he said.
"After a decade of enduring operations, we need to transform the Army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future.
"Army 2020 will create a more flexible and agile Army. Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and material, well trained, well equipped and fully funded."
He insisted: "The regimental system will remain the bedrock of the Army's fighting future."
As part of the changes, the Armoured Corps will be reduced by two units as the Queen's Royal Lancers and the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and the 1st and 2nd Tank Regiments amalgamate.
There will also be reductions in the number of units in the Royal Artillery, the Royal Engineers, the Army Air Corps, the Royal Logistic Corps, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Military Police.
The plan - known as Army 2020 - will see the military split into two, with a reaction force ready to respond to emergencies around the globe and an adaptable force capable of carrying out a range of tasks and commitments.
But the prospect of losing historic units has been the cause of intense anguish within the service.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed this week that one officer, Brigadier David Paterson of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had written to the head of the Army expressing his bitter disappointment at plans to axe one of its two battalions.
In his letter to General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, Brig Paterson said the proposal "cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option".
Mr Hammond has acknowledged that the plans, drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter, have involved some "difficult"†decisions.
But he said that cuts could not be avoided, with the demands for strict financial discipline under the Government's 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
For the plans to be successful, reductions in regular Army strength will need to be offset by increases in part-time reservists, with the Territorial Army doubling in numbers from 15,000 to 30,000.
As well as providing specialist capabilities - such as medics and intelligence†- reservists would be used to reinforce infantry battalions on deployment.
They will be expected to shoulder a third of the burden of long-term operations.
The Army will also be required to make greater use of civilian contractors in areas such as logistics support in order to concentrate military capability on†the frontline.
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said the plans would mean the Army becoming "better integrated and fully adaptable".
"It will capitalise on the powerful merits of a modern regimental system to deliver formidable effect when and where it is needed, and will create the best structure for the Army to face the challenges of the future," he said.
"The changes in Army 2020 will demand resilience, flexibility and genuine adaptability from our talented and committed officers and soldiers.
"It is inevitable that some units will be lost or will merge but we have done this in a way that I believe is fair across the whole Army."
However, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy told Sky News: "You can't make cuts in the British army of this depth and at this speed without it having an impact on our ability to project power, our influence in the world and the ability of the British army to be deployed on a sustainable basis at points in the future.
"This isn't without cost and without consequence. There will be an enormous blow to morale in the British army but there are also going to be consequences about what the army can do."
what do you think?
I agree with David, it's a disgrace. My old regiment reduced to 1 battalion. Yet so far as i know The Rifles (another made-up amalgamated regiment) is 5 battalions strong. Where is the sense of that? Quite aside from the fact a 1 battalion regiment is an oxymoron. These polititians know nothing of regimental history. Even the RRF was an amalgamation of 4 different Fusilier regiments. Why don't we amalgamate the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dems? Nobody would know the difference.
Well said Lorgar.... Disgraceful... I want to see politicians done away with and have the country run by business men and women with members of the Armed Forces thrown in for expert advice.
So you'd like a military dictatorship? Why don't these soldiers stand up and fight back? Go on strike? I can hear you say it now - 'it's not allowed. They've taken an oath of allegiance to the poxy Queen.' Well, if they don't make a stand, they're going to be back on civvy street looking for a job that doesn't exist. Then you two will probably label them as 'scroungers'.
And I agree with you, Lorgar. There is so little difference between the three main parties that people are becoming disenchanted and losing interest in politics, which is dangerous as it is bad for democracy. I would like to see each regular battalion backed by a reserve battalion so that they can train together, establish strong links with one another and the community. We need support troops not just in the reserves, but as regulars as well.
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I agree with you, Lorgar. Amalgamating the political parties we have wouldnt make the slightest difference to the performances we get. They can all make stupid financial mistakes and loses important documents or pc's. They are all quite apt at fiddling and also making sure they look after No 1 first and foremost. With regard to the Army cuts then words fail me. ps not a nice description Chris wrote of the Queen!
Chris, you argue yourself out of a case. First you say would we like a military dictatorship, though no-one mentioned that. Then next you say the soldiers should stand up and fight back. Which would be a coup. Which would then be a military government. The point i was making is that the 3 main parties are pretty much the same. As for the Oath to our poxy Queen as you call her, it is an oath to serve and obey her as the C in C and of the generals and officers set over you. It would be illegal for a soldier to go on strike, that's dereliction of duty and no soldier wants to be put on that charge.
Chris: whilst all members of the Armed Forces swear an oath to the monarch to many she is a symbol of the countr and that is whatthey are there to protect. Perhaps patriotism and duty are alien concepts to you?
Lorgan, read Loise's comment. She thinks politicians should be 'done away with' (how she doesn't explain) and business people backed by the military should run the country. To me, that smacks of a quasi-military dictatorship as neither sections - business or military - are given to practicing democratic systems. And when I say 'soldiers should fight back', I mean, like any other workers (soldiers are workers in uniform, and by soldiers, I primarily mean the 'other ranks') I think they should form a union and be prepared to go on strike until these measures are withdrawn. As I predicted, one of you was going to say 'it isn't allowed, it's against the law, they 've sworn an oath to the Queen (poxy or otherwise). So what? Bad laws were made to be broken. How else are ordinary soldiers going to stop this because they are the ones who are going to bear the brunt of the cuts. The more soldiers who took this stand the better, what are they going to do? court martial the entire army? I don't think so. The hierarchy of the army reflects very much the society it defends. I'm sure a soldiers' strike would receive lots of support from others in the labour movement. One thing I do agree with you and David Wragg, and I've said it in so many posts - the three main parties are three wings of the same capitalist party - you know, capitalism, the system that got us into this mess in the first place?
All of the ex-servicemen who I worked with in the construction industry and later down the coal mines were staunch Tories, when I questioned them as why they voted for the rich man's party they all replied that the Conservatives looked after armed forces, they laughed at me when I replied that the Tories only looked after the interests of the rich.
Yes John... I laugh at you too. The Tories have looked after the troops... you can take it from me too.
Looking after the troops now are they! I notice you used the past tense in your comment.
John, those were the days. Sadly, long gone.
I worked in the MoD under governments of both colours over 25 years. It used to be that we breathed a sigh of relief when the Tories got in. This is a shortsighted quick fix with no basis is defence policy and just a kneejerk reaction to ovespending. Even being out of the job for 10 yers I could probably give them some advice on where to cut rather than the front line.
d and d Phillips
There'll soon be more MP's than soldiers!
Its digusting that the Armed Forces are suffering in this way. Healthy men and women are given benefits whilst are defences are cut.... Doesnt make sense to me.
You won't get much support here benefit bashing, I had a rant last week and from the number of thumbs down I got I can only assume most of the people viewing this site are the very scroungers I was referring to! I agree with you though!
Quite. One of the main reasons we are in such dire financial straits as a country is the huge benefits bill. Anyone who can work should contribute to the economy even it means doing comunity projects. When I was unemployed (in the late 70s when there were 3m others) I wanted to help restore the Gloucester canal but wasn't allowed to because it was "work".
Louise, "Doesn't make sense to me." It's called saving money! Just like the government is doing regarding the overhaul of the benefits system. Maybe you're on benefits Warren, I guess we'll never know... Have you ever claimed Incapacity Benefit, Mobility Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or (god forbid) Jobseekers Allowance? Or maybe you just get small OAP benefits like a free Bus Pass, free TV License and Winter Fuel Allowance? Chris, there was never 3 million unemployed in the late 1970s... Try 1.5 million. It didn't get to 3 million until the 'Witch of Westminster', Maggot Thatcher was PM!
Karmacanic: Don't know how you are but I was there and it was definately more than you quote. Again - nothing to do with Magiie T - we were coming out of a protracted period of Labour mismagaement.
Chris, I refer you to an extract from an online article below, together with the source for your reference... Unemployment topped one million for the first time in January 1972. During the 1979 "Winter of Discontent", when even gravediggers went on strike to protest against pay freezes, unemployment stood at 1.1 million, and the Conservatives swept to power on the message that "Labour isn't working".However, during the early 1980s, unemployment rose further still - it topped three million in 1982. <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/unemployment" rel='nofollow'>www.politics.co.uk/reference/unemployment</a> I rest my case!
With you there louise. stop benefits for lazy scroungers.and they are out there!!!
Karmacanic: I too can Google... <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/26/newsid_2506000/2506335.stm" rel='nofollow'>http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/26/newsid_2506000/2506335.stm</a> <a href="http://econ.economicshelp.org/2008/10/unemployment-in-uk.html" rel='nofollow'>http://econ.economicshelp.org/2008/10/unemployment-in-uk.html</a>
Lol, Chris. Your BBC article is from 1982 and the graph in the other article clearly shows that karmakanic is quite right. I think you've just proven his point for him. Well done.
'Anyone who can work should contribute to community projects'? If these 'community projects' are there to be done, why not pay a decent full-time wage for them instead of making unemployed people work for their benefits? Work on the cheap. Just like the CONDEMs are now cutting the army yet expecting to vastly expand the part-time Territorial Army - soldiering on the cheap. Bordering on the insane, more like.
Oh, Warren, I remember your brainless, ignorant 'rant' against so-called 'benefit scroungers'. Will you be labelling some of your army soldiers you're allegedly so proud of as 'benefit scroungers' when they are on the dole?
Late 70s vs early 80s. Sorry I'm getting on a bit and get a bit confused. However, then as now, it must be remembered that the economy is like an oil tanker: you can't turn it round vey quickly. The conservative govt in 1979 inherited an appaling situation in a time of world recession. In my part of the world there are plenty of jobs. They are filled by migrants from Portugal and eastern Europe because the locals won't do manual work. So why shouldn't the unemployed be expected to put in a few hours work in return of their job seekers allowance, housing benefit etc? .
The most disappointing aspect of this is that we will be losing a siginificant number of potentially well qualified and able people from the future labour market. Anyone who has come into contact with a services trained worker knows that their training is always about the best you can get and their work ethic is also way better than the vast majority of people seeking jobs. It is a pity that we cannot bring back conscription to get the 'army' of workshy scroungers into some sort of workable state.
See my reply to the above!
Weres winston churchill when you need him
Dead and buried!
You beat me to it Macanic - He died before even I was born !!
Hi Jo. I was just a bit passed being a babe in arms when he died. I was a child of the sixties, but no where near old enough to enjoy that enlightened decade!
Churchill? Fat guy, smoked cigars and drank a lot of brandy? Yes, I remember him. He used to walk round the bombed our East End of London giving people two fingers until an aide told him it was the wrong way round. He also said to some people who were busy helping to clear the rubble from a Luftwaffe raid that 'We can take it!' And one cockney woman turned on him and said: 'WE'RE the ones who are bloody taking it, mate. You're alright where you are.' Churchill, what a guy. Before the war he wrote glowing tributes to both Hitler and Mussolini in a short book called 'Great Contemporaries'. How he envied their ability to 'deal' with their respective labour movements - ie. break them up, murder their leadership, and throw their activists into concentration camps. Not to mention how Churchill's Tory government help to financially build up Hitler's forces so Hitler's Germany would be a buffer zone against the USSR. What was that phrase Churchill used? 'Kiss the Boche and kill the Bolshie'. Yes, he was prepared to fight Bolshevism to the last drop of German blood. Wasn't he just great? Now where was I?
As I understand it, the first priority of government has always been to maintain national security and stability. How far can we keep cutting our defences before we become an easy target to the likes of Argentina who have been sabre rattling over the Falklands? Of course money is tight and the government must make sure it is cutting and spending in tye right places, I'm not sure leaving us vulnerable is the right decision. We also have our commitments to the UN and EU to adhere to, we as members are meant to be able to provide an effective force when required. David's cry of treason isn't far off, if a government cannot fulfil it's first duty, perhaps it would not be out of the question for Her Majesty the Queen to use the royal prerogative and stop this risky gamble with our nation's safety, it would be within her powers to do so.
Firstly, if there's one country with an even more under invested armed forces than ours, it's Argentina! They're in no position whatsoever to stage any kind of realistic attack against the Falklands. Christina Fernadez is full of hot air and is just posturing to distract the people from Argentina's economic problems. Secondly, in practice there is no royal prerogative. We have a constitutional monarchy in the UK, which means the Queen has no power whatsoever! She's just a figurehead, a meeter and greeter so to speak. She even gets told what honours to bestow and to whom. Even the annual Queens speech is written for her by the government of the day and quite rightly so.
Yet again I must diagree with the Karmacanic: there is indeed a royal prerogative,one of which powers is the right of the monarch to dissolve parliament. Historically, because of the English Civil War which gave us our present system, the monarch has devolved this rights to the elected membes of the government. She could of course cause a consitutional crises and use them. If only...
I used Argentina simply as an example, and a constitutional monarch does reserve the right to over rule in the exceptional circumstance that national stability is at risk. If they did not they would break the coronation oath, which is a legally binding agreement between monarch, parliament, church and people.
The Queen's powers were used once to undemocratically unseat the Labour government of Gough Whitlam in Australia in 1975 via the 'governor General' (her poxyness's representative) because the 'establishment were not admirers of Whitlam's left policies. The capitalists can always dust off one of those crusty mediaeval laws kept in place by maintaining an equally crusty mediaeval head of state. All the more reason we should abolish the monarchy, have two elected chambers and a new democratic constitution, making sure, of course, ALL elected representatives receive no more than the same wages as a skilled worker. Then we'll see how many of these corrupt politicians fancied a 'career' in politics.
As I have already stated, in practice there is no royal prerogative, it only exists on paper and will never be used! Chris, you've already been shot down in flames once today... If you want to believe the Queen will dissolve Parliament because she disapproves of the armed forces being cut, then you're living in 'cloud cuckoo land'! Yes Chris, I really can see it happening... Maybe I should humour you instead, eh?
This is nothing short of treason. Having destroyed the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, it is now the army's turn. The original excuse that the axe would fall on units with a poor recruiting record has been shown to be a lie as the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has no such problem. Using reservists has its problems as mobilisation can be difficult unless it is an emergency general mobilisation, and in any case reservists do not simply to be confined to support roles - units which train together fight together. Using civilian contractors will be a problem - they will not be soldiers and so will need strong protection when on or near the front line, and will expect danger money.
In my experience civillan contractors on front line duty get a small salary enhancement - but then do soldiers. Please do not knock civilians many whom volunteer for difficult and dangerous work along side well trained soldiers.
I am not knocking the civilians, but they are NOT trained soldiers and so will NEED protecting.
I quite agree David. You and I may know this but many tabloid readers don't have a clue.
What happens if we go to war with the French again?
I've got a longbow and I know how to use it...
As long as their army is no bigger than it was during the Napoleonic wars we'll be fine, just!
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Firstly we will have to borrow their aircraft carrier.
Only in the Uk would the same people who moaned about how much we spent on defence, then moan about defence cuts.
They restrict our freedom to counter terrorism and chop the army to pieces? Presumably the threar from within is much gretater than the threats from without.
Condems even blaming labour for their cuts lol Same old Tories, everything on the cheap and expect the same quality as before.
well it's true: Labour relaxed teh once very strict accounting rules which lead to free for all and projevts being started which were not fully funded with rediculous clauses meaning that, for instance, it was cheaper to completed a warship than cancel it. I worked in the MoD under Thatcher, Major and Balir. The last years were the worst with increasing PPI agreements and contractorisation supposedly saving money but leading to a lack of financial control. This one is NOT down to the coalition no matter how much you might wish it.
Stupid and shortsighted with no basis in a proper rigourous Strategic Defence Review. Expanding the TA sounds like a good idea but employers are reluctant to lose good people (and they are usually good workers) for 6 months and possibly get them back in pieces. As others have posted this is an abrogation of the governments primary function: Defence of the realm. It may be interesting to note at this time that income tax was originally levied to pay for a war.
British army? What British army? We now don't have the amount of soldiers, armour and other associated vehicles, units etc that constitute the name of Army. I read somewhere that our Army is now the equivalent of a Corps (I could be wrong though). Ridiculous!
Correct. Under these proposals the Army would be effectively a Corps. We only have 2 active divisions anyway, 2 divisions is a Corps.
Cayetano Roberto Campisi
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I think they are doing things backside foremost. First we need to decide what our role in the world is to be and then tailor our armed forces to suit. I only wish that politicians would realise that we are not a world power and have not been one since Suez over 50 years ago.
If bytreason you mean actions that weaken or imperil the security of the country - too damn right it's treason. I can't understand all the negative votes...
Thats exactly what i mean chris. Maybe these people who disagree with me will be the first to volunteer when the troops fall short
Haven't politicians learned anything from recent history? During the 1930s our forces were cut to the bone for financial reasons. Had we remained strong Hitler would have had to rethink his attitude. As we know now the UK only just survived during the first months of WW2. If Chamberlain had not agreed to humiliating terms that gained us a further year of peace in which we spent money like mad to increase our military potential we would have gone under. Do we want this situation again?
I find it fascinating that so many of the post on here against the cuts are attracting negative voting. Can someone please explain to me why?
We don't need a big army. Technology has advanced so far that machines are taking the place of footlsloggers. However, I still think cutting more personnel is wrong. 120,000 sounds about right. But we have to look at what our military needs might be. I think an army (or RN or RAF) is there for 'defence' not for invasions of other countries. Our foreign policies need to be looked at. We should stop intefering in other countries. Jaw-Jaw is always better than war-war (about the only sensible thing Churchill ever said, though he didn't really mean it). Our politicians seem to think we can pay for our raw materials from abroad at the lowest price. That means paying some tyrant government that keeps it people suppressed, say, for oil. No wonder a lot of people resent the west after years of exploitation. So if we nurture good relations with other countries, then big armies are not needed except for defence ie. if somebody is actually going to invade/attack our country. The other reason our politicians maintain any armed force, of course, is to guard against revolution. How many times have we seen Green Goddesses on our streets. The military gets used as a strike-breaking force. And more actively so in the Miners' Strike of 1984 when soldiers were dressed as police. In the end, the capitalist state consists of its administrators, the judiciary and armed bodies of men and, if they felt threatened enough, they would not hesitate in using soldiers against us - witness 'Bloody Sunday', witness Tianeman Square in China. This, above all, is one of the reasons I think soldiers, and other service people, should form their own unions and take the rigfht to strike. Officers should be elected and not be mainly drawn from the upper classes. They should take an oath to a democratically formed constitution, not some tinpot mediaeval monarchy that represents class and privilege.