I've already posted this on Current Affairs, but it's a topic which deserves discussion here, since it's the PBI who appear to be about to take the brunt of cutbacks. From today's Times: ARMY chiefs are being forced to consider axeing up to four infantry battalions as part of wholesale defence cuts across the three Armed Services which are due to be announced next month. The executive committee of the Army Board is meeting tomorrow to review several proposals for cutbacks drawn up by staff officers. It looks as if three or four battalions will have to go, a military source said. Cuts have been forced on all the Service chiefs because of a financial crisis at the Ministry of Defence. The Treasury has ordered spending cuts of £1 billion a year over the next two years. Military sources said that the Royal Navy and the RAF were to suffer severe cuts and that the Army was expected to play its part in reducing expenditure, even though troops were in demand for operations around the world. The sources said that after a review of manpower requirements in Northern Ireland it was now possible to recommend that three or four infantry battalions about 2,600 troops could be withdrawn from the province. These battalions would, theoretically, be surplus. The reducing commitment in Northern Ireland will release an increasing number of infantry battalions for other duties. Although this will help in reducing the overstretch suffered by the Army, the Treasury sees the peace dividend in Ulster as a way of reducing the Armys wages bill. However, manpower cuts in the Army would be politically explosive, particularly because of the major troop commitment in Iraq and the expected decision to deploy up to 3,000 more soldiers to support the interim Iraqi government in the months leading up to the proposed elections next year. Even if the Army Board were to recommend axeing three or four infantry battalions, any political decision to cut the size of the Army, already only 103,770-strong, would be bound to be attacked by the Opposition. Military sources said that if forced to cut back on the infantry, it was more likely that the Army would focus on regiments that had more than one battalion, rather than axeing individual regiments. The Army currently has 40 regular infantry battalions.