Army cuts THE Ministry of Defence intends to cut army manpower to its lowest level since the Crimean war. Plans to axe three infantry battalions â a total of 1,800 men â are being discussed despite the overstretch caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This would see the size of the army drop below 100,000 for the first time since the 1850s. The army is so desperate to protect funding for Afghanistan that it could offer cuts only in infantry units to meet demands for savings. General Sir David Richards, the incoming head of the army, offered to sacrifice The Green Howards, the regiment of General Sir Richard Dannatt, the current head of the army. Related Links The plan was discussed at a high-level meeting of the army, the navy and the RAF in Whitehall last Tuesday. The defence ministry said this weekend it could not discuss the proposed cuts because next yearâs planning round was âongoingâ. The RAF proposed the scrapping of Harrier jump jets while the navy proposed axing Type42 destroyers early, and putting back the replacement for its frigates for 20 years. âThis is the opening move in what could be the bloodiest spending round yet,â a senior defence source said. âAll three services will get new defence chiefs over the next two months. This is going to hit them like a speeding train.â The infantry units under threat are those that have deployed abroad recently and are not due to go to Afghanistan over the next three or four years, the sources said. One battalion from each of the Yorkshire Regiment, the Mercian Regiment and the Royal Regiment of Scotland will go. The Green Howards are the battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment earmarked for the axe. The official âtrained manning requirementâ of the army is 101,790, so the loss of three battalions, of roughly 1,800 men in total, would take the strength of the army to below 100,000. Charles Heyman, a former infantry officer who edits The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, a military guide, said the proposed cuts were âstark raving madâ. He added: âIf we were to withdraw from Afghanistan it would be fine but with the government saying operations there will go on for 10 years it is sheer lunacy. It will do severe damage to morale within the infantry and within the wider army.â Richards has called for a âruthless focusâ on Afghanistan. He is determined to ensure that the army is seen to be successful to restore its reputation for counter-insurgency, which he believes has been badly damaged in Iraq.