Now we’ve had a bit more time to look at what last week’s Army 202 statement means, lets take a bit of a look at some of the finer details.
Among the announcements, articles and suchlike, there was an accompanying brochure on the Army’s official website that received very little publicity, but details the Army 2020 cuts and restructuring in much more detail than I have seen anywhere else.
Of course, some of the most high profile cuts have come in the Infantry, with the loss of some famous names.
- 5th Bn Royal Scottish Regiment (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) to be reduced to a public duties Company
The Argylls are currently an Air Assault Battalion, based in Canterbury, so moving to Edinburgh as an incremental company will obviously arouse quite a few howls north of the border. It is a similar move to the manner in which the second Battalions of Guards Regiments were reduced to incremental company status in the early 1990’s.
The Following Infantry Battalions, and the traditions of some of their antecedent Regiments, will be lost:
- 2nd Bn Royal Fusiliers, currently based in Germany in the Light Infantry Role.
- 2nd Bn Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), currently in Cyprus in the Light Infantry Role, as the theatre reserve Battalion.
- 3rd Bn Mercian Regiment (formerly the Staffordshire Regiment), currently in Germany in the armoured infantry role.
- 2nd Bn Royal Welsh Regiment (formerly the Royal Regiment of Wales), currently in Tidworth in the armoured infantry role.
Two threads seem to emerge – a reduction in armoured infantry in particular, and a cut in Germany-based units in preparation for the units that remain there being brought back to Britain in the forseeable future. Apart from one case the MOD has chosen to cut the junior Battalions of each Regiment, apart from in the case of the Green Howards, who are a relatively senior Battalion with the 3rd Bn (Duke of Wellington’s) being junior. It was obviously felt that a theatre reserve Battalion was not necessary and easier to cut in terms of operational tempo.
The following Armoured units are to merge:
- 1st and 2nd Royal Tank Regiments to merge; 1st RTR currently at Warminster and RAF Honington as CBRN, and 2nd RTR are currently at Tidworth as an Armoured Regiment.
- Queens Royal Lancers and 9th/12th Royal Lancers to merge; QRL are currently at Catterick as a recconaissance Regiment, and 9/12 are currently in Germany as a reconaissance Regiment.
Obviously in terms of armour, the decision was to merge where there was commonality – reducing to a single Tank Regiment, for example, and creating a new Regiment of Lancers. Merging similar Regiments should cut down on overheads.
The loss of two Regiments from the Royal Artillery:
- 39 Regiment RA. Known as the Welsh Gunners and recruiting from Wales, currently operate MLRS in Newcastle.
- 40 Regiment RA. Known as the Lowland Gunners, recruiting from Lowland Scotland, currently operating the 105mm light gun.
These are two most junior Artillery Regiments, apart from 47 Regt RA who operate the UAV systems, which are presumably too important to cut what with UAV’s being a growth area for the future. Again, the MOD seems to have gone with cutting the most junior Regiments first.
- 24 Commando Regiment RE, currently based at RMB Chivenor near Barnstaple. Leaving 59 Independent Commando Squadron RE.
- 25 Regiment RE, already disbanded.
- 28 Regiment RE, an amphibious bridging unit currently based in Hameln in Germany.
- 38 Regiment RE, based in Antrim.
- 67 Works Group RE
The cutting of 24 Cdo RE suggests that it is not felt that a full Regiment will be needed to support 3 Cdo Bde in an expeditionary capacity, or at least not to the extent that another Engineer Regiment could not be attached to augment the independent Commando Squadron. The disbanding of 28 Regiment seems sensible, given that it was only ever intended to facilitate the withdrawl of the British Army of the Rhine from Germany in the face of the Warsaw Pact. With the withdrawl of British Forces from Germany, it would seem un-necessary to re-home them in the UK. The cutting of 38 Regiment seems to be part of the move to de-militarise Northern Ireland.
- 7th Signal Regiment, ARRC, at Elmpt (old RAF Bruggen)
Probably not a surprising move given that the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps has relocated from Rheindalen to Innsworth recently, and with the withdrawl of the rest of the British Army from Germany.
Army Air Corps:
- 1 Regiment AAC and 9 Regiment AAC to merge, both Lynx Wildcat Regiments.
- 1 Logistics Support Regiment
- 2 Logistics Support Regiment
- 23 Pioneer Regiment; Oxford
- 8 Regiment RLC; Catterick
- 19 Combat Service Support Bn
- 24 Regiment RLC; Germany
- 101 Force Support Bn; a hybrid regular and TA unit
- 5 Regiment RMP
I actually had trouble finding out much information about the RLC, REME and RMP units concerned. Any contributions would be gratefully received.
Looking at it, it does seem like a salami-slicing exercise. The promised dramatic reductions in Armour haven’t happened, and various Infantry Regiments were protected due to political concerns. Aside from a few cases more junior Regiments were cut, with the Army having its age-old concern with seniority above much else. It seems inaccurate to describe Army 2020 as a restructuring exercise. The Mike Jackson led cuts in the mid 2000’s at least dealt with the problems of arms plot and lots of tiny infantry Regiments.
- Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admits that morale is low among the troops (independent.co.uk)
- Army unit cuts prompt criticism (bbc.co.uk)
- 17 major Army units to be axed (standard.co.uk)
- Historic battalions set to be axed in defence cuts (itv.com)
- Revealed: The Infantry Battalions To Be Axed (news.sky.com)
- Why Not Cut Half The MP’s Not Police and Army (femaleimagination.wordpress.com)
- Battle to save Fusiliers marches to Parliament (menmedia.co.uk)
- Wellington boot (thesun.co.uk)
- Green Howards face axe after 300 years in Army shake-up (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- Army morale ‘fragile’ says Defence Secretary as 17 units are lost amid cuts (independent.co.uk)
- Scottish infantry spared as English regiments axed (telegraph.co.uk)
- MoD cuts: Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders reduced to ceremonial duties (scotsman.com)