Todays Scotsman http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1360252004&20041126122649 Betrayed: Blair bows to plan to scrap Scots regiments SAM HALSTEAD WIDESPREAD anger today met news that military chiefs have sounded the death-knell for Scotlandâs Army regiments. Generals have ignored massive protests to press ahead with plans to merge the countryâs infantry into a "super-regiment". Under the scheme the Edinburgh-based Royal Scots - the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army - is set to be merged with the Kingâs Own Scottish Borderers to form one battalion of the new Scottish regiment. The Black Watch, which is fighting in Iraq, also faces the end of its proud independent history as part of the shake-up. Defence officials have officially backed plans to merge Scotlandâs six regiments, and it now seems certain that the proposals will be given the go-ahead by the Government. Politicians and campaigners today voiced their anger and dismay at the news. A defence source said the Army Board has decided there can no longer be single battalion regiments, although a meeting to confirm the decision is expected to be held on December 6. The source said: "The Army Board have decided . . . we can no longer have single battalion regiments. Unequivocal." The move marks a major blow to campaignersâ hopes of halting the overhaul of Scottish infantry, which comes as Black Watch troops fight insurgents in war-torn Iraq. It is thought Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon will announce the decision just days after the Army Board meeting when the Black Watch has finished its deployment in the infamous "Triangle of Death". A compromise proposal backed by Mr Blair, which would have allowed the Army to keep six regiments north of the Border, appears in tatters. Representatives from Scotlandâs six regimental associations also hit out at the controversial plans after a meeting at the Royal Scots Club in the Capital. A joint statement from the associations and members of Save the Scottish Regiments Campaign, lashed out at the proposal and accused Army chiefs of having no mandate for the changes. The statement read: "As representatives from the Regimental Associations we unreservedly and wholeheartedly reject the proposals by the Army Board. "The proposals, announced by the Council of Scottish Colonels, does not have a mandate from the people it is supposed to represent, the serving soldier. Soldiers have no voice in the current process, which will decide their future, as under military law they are forbidden to take part in political debate or any form of protest. "Past service and sacrifices made by thousands of soldiers, both alive and dead, throughout two World Wars and various campaigns have barely been recognised, nor taken into consideration in these hastily and ill-conceived plans." Stuart Crawford, spokesman for Keep Our Scottish Battalions said: "If the decision follows the Ministry of Defence line, then there will be a significant political backlash in the General Election. We have never targeted the military to change the mind. This will be a political decision. The reality is 40 deployable battalions [across the UK] are better than 36." Colonel Robert Watson, a former Royal Scot who now lives in Balerno, said: "Which is more important a jet fighter destroyed in the 1970s or a battalion facing up to insurgents in Iraq? It is absolute total madness. The frontline in the global war of terror is infantry. There is no doubt about that." The groups called for the Government to carry out proper consultation with soldiers and veterans to ensure Scotlandâs six regiments do not lose their identity and "their right to exist as single regiments". The joint statement added: "On election day we shall have a presence at every polling station throughout Scotland to remind the Scottish people of the gross betrayal of its soldiers and the willful destruction of its historic regiments, which is also perceived as an attack upon Scottish heritage and culture." Up to 5000 serving soldiers and veterans are also expected to march along Princes Street before a rally in the Gardens on December 18 in a bid to halt the plans. Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett said: "I am very concerned that the decision is being taken while our boys from the Black Watch are in the front line in Iraq. "I would have thought at the very least they would have delayed this decision until they get back. The troops need to be thinking about nothing else than the job they are doing, certainly not the future of their regiment. This decision appears to have been taken a long time ago and the consultation exercise has been a sham." Mr Barrett has the first question to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon in the House of Commons on Monday and will raise the question of the future of the Black Watch and the other regiments. Scottish National Party chief whip Pete Wishart, whose North Tayside constituency is in the heart of the Black Watchâs recruiting area, said: "This latest news exposes the sham of the consultation exercise. "It will finally be a political decision taken by Geoff Hoon and Tony Blair. They have an opportunity to reverse the decision to scrap the Scottish regiments. However, I fear that long ago the decision was taken to get rid of the proud history and traditions of the Scottish regiments. This whole thing has been a set-up. The Government wanted to get rid of the proud Scottish regimental history, that is what is going to happen."