General Irwin - change of heart on cutbacks

#1
From the Scotsman


A bit late now!
:evil:
Sat 15 Jan 2005


GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN
DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT


ONE of the army’s most senior generals has broken ranks to reveal that he and other officers want a change of heart over cuts to Britain’s infantry regiments - and to warn that the names of the Scottish regiments may be allowed to fade into history.

General Alistair Irwin, the adjutant general of the army and colonel of the Black Watch, said there was not a single member of his regiment who would have supported cuts and amalgamations. His comments, in a message to all members of the Black Watch, came as it emerged that two more Scottish regiments have been pencilled in to go to Iraq.

The Highlanders have now completed their armoured infantry training and are listed by the army as "valid" for an armoured role in the country, while the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - who have recently become part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade - are now "valid" for an air mobile role.

Until now the army has maintained a united front, insisting the cuts and amalgamations are not just necessary but desirable to create a more efficient and responsive force for the 21st century.

But General Irwin’s comments reveal the depth of the divisions among senior officers over the changes. As colonel of the Black Watch, he was a member of the council of Scottish colonels which recommended the amalgamation of the Royal Scots and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers - who will now become the Royal Scots and Borderers (1st battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland) - and he was also a member of the army board which approved a reduction of four infantry regiments from the army as a whole.

But in his letter, he wrote: "I want to be quite clear that there is not a single one of us, serving, retired or related, in the whole regimental family who would have wanted us to face cuts and amalgamations, or would not have wanted to contemplate happily more years of the regiment as we now know it... there is no doubt that everyone would very much prefer that the cuts and the reorganisation were not happening."

General Irwin revealed that he was personally in favour of reversing the cuts, despite the insistence of the government that they had been imposed for operational and not financial reasons. However, he added that he did not think a reprieve was likely.

The Scotsman led opposition to the cuts, and the general revealed the campaigns and strength of feeling helped to stave off more drastic action.
 
#2
There are other posters here , more intimate with the Machivellian goings-on at the "Night of the Colonels"

Was Irwin always a naysayer , or is this a sudden case of his conscience going two-up?
 
#3
a sudden case of his conscience going two-up
 
#5
Yep - a tad late now. Now it's done though and there's no way it's going to be reversed let's just get on with it and stop crying over spilled milk.

It's happened before and will happen again - it takes a year or two to get used to it then most soldiers and officers just get on with their jobs. A few die in a ditch about it, but that seems to be a pointless exercise - Bliar, TCH et al are hardly going to change course because half a dozen officers resign or kick up a fuss! Indeed it would seem like cutting ones nose off to spite the face.

I have to say though that it seems slightly bizarre that the press, the govt et al seem to think that the jock regts are something special and deserve extra attention. In my humble opinion they are no better and no worse than the other regts; they deserve no special attention and all the regts should be treated equally and fairly.

The cynic might suggest that Bliar is terrified of losing the scottish vote :roll:
 
#6
They're all the f*cking same - that fat prat Field Marshall Lord Inge, who happily slashed the army in an insane manner on behalf of John 'Carefull Edwina's eggs may have salmonella' Major and the Tories, when he'd got his large lardy arrse wedged into a red leather bench in the House of Frauds deigned to pop his ugly boatrace over the parapet and start making statements about the inadequacies of the armed forces. Unbelievable, but at least he managed to save the Green Cowards' bacon until TCH and his trusty companion the Poodle of Darkness did for 'em this time round.......like the Murphys, I'm not bitter...much!
 
#7
Queensman said:
They're all the f*cking same - that fat prat Field Marshall Lord Inge, who happily slashed the army in an insane manner on behalf of John 'Carefull Edwina's eggs may have salmonella' Major and the Tories, when he'd got his large lardy arrse wedged into a red leather bench in the House of Frauds deigned to pop his ugly boatrace over the parapet and start making statements about the inadequacies of the armed forces. Unbelievable, but at least he managed to save the Green Cowards' bacon until TCH and his trusty companion the Poodle of Darkness did for 'em this time round.......like the Murphys, I'm not bitter...much!
Oooh ouch Queensman - take it that you did not approve? :)
 
#8
tattybadger said:
....
I have to say though that it seems slightly bizarre that the press, the govt et al seem to think that the jock regts are something special and deserve extra attention. In my humble opinion they are no better and no worse than the other regts; they deserve no special attention and all the regts should be treated equally and fairly.

The cynic might suggest that Bliar is terrified of losing the scottish vote :roll:
Fair points tattybadger. I suppose anyone who wears or has worn any infantry capbadge has or should have a special feeling for it. At the same time we should all be able to see the bigger Divisional, Infantry and Army picture.

I dont think its entirely the doing of the Press. I know I've made a similar point before, but at one stage I was the one posting news here about "save the regiment" marches in northern-England towns. Maybe some people south of the border took a more philosophical attitude, which is fair enough.

As PG Wodehouse observed, "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.". :lol:
 
#9
Hackle - you're probably right - it just seems that the jocks have had an extra crack at the whip with the press this time round - thanks mainly to the BW in Iraq.

I hope they exploit all the publicity that they get - I certainly would if it suited my purpose.

Again though - no point in taking out the Mess Webley. It will have no effect on Bliar TCH et al.
 
#10
tattybadger said:
Hackle - you're probably right - it just seems that the jocks have had an extra crack at the whip with the press this time round - thanks mainly to the BW in Iraq.

I hope they exploit all the publicity that they get - I certainly would if it suited my purpose.

Again though - no point in taking out the Mess Webley. It will have no effect on Bliar TCH et al.
the Jocks have had no "extra crack at the whip" from any special interst case, other than the Jocks have been on the march over it.
They've stressed there should be no cuts of any infantry and urged all jump on cause. Doin't blame them for being pro-active and non-complacent!
 
#11
tattybadger said:
Yep - a tad late now. Now it's done though and there's no way it's going to be reversed let's just get on with it and stop crying over spilled milk.
Just what is "a tad late now" to change?

What has been done so far that cannot easily be undone?

Stop just rolling over!
 
#12
The ballot box this year, vote them out. :evil:
 
#13
RCSignals said:
tattybadger said:
Yep - a tad late now. Now it's done though and there's no way it's going to be reversed let's just get on with it and stop crying over spilled milk.
Just what is "a tad late now" to change?

What has been done so far that cannot easily be undone?

Stop just rolling over!
The changes to the Army that will happen.

I'm not rolling over, just realistic to know that there's little point in fighting a battle that cannot be won. The changes will take place now - Bliar et al will not have a change of heart, no matter how much we make a song and dance about it. Imagine the political ramifications of a u turn like that so close to an election.

It also happens that I agree with some of the decisions that have been made (like ending arms plotting). The shame for me is that 4 Bns will go as a result of the changes, rather than keeping them and improving our capability on the ground (assuming that kit would be aval to them).

Another point, which might raise some hackles; we seem, collectively, to have a short memory. Most Bns have been restructured in some shape or form over the last 40 odd years. It did not seem to hugely affect our capability as the best Inf in the world - why should the current changes have such a huge effect? I have seen changes in the last 20 years and I know that, by and large,officers and soldiers are robust, flexible and bright enough to roll with the punch and get on with job. Let's do the same now.

I see no other position than to accept the changes and make the best of it, whether one likes it or not. Whinging about it will not change a single thing - it might make you feel better for a while, but it will not prevent the ship turning.
 
#14
Yep - a tad late now. Now it's done though and there's no way it's going to be reversed let's just get on with it and stop crying over spilled milk.
Do you mean the mergers or the duplication of the Scotsman article on two threads? :oops:
 
#15
Of course what Gen Irwin will know (but does no allude to in his letter) is that if (hypothetically) the Army had, say, 600 posts added back onto its headline strength, that wouldn't mean a battalion would be saved. Under FAS most would be allocated to enhancements in other Arms and Services.
 
#18
Irwin's playing both ends against the middle. He wrote a paper for ECAB advocating the cuts while his own regiment, the BW, was fighting in Iraq in 2003. He's quite rightly been having a bad time from the BW regimental associations ever since.
 
#19
Tattybadger, yes, you are rolling over. Your attitude and complacency in this, are the exact reasons these moves are easy for them to accomplish.
 
#20
Donny said:
The letter that prompted the Scotsman article has been on the army website for about a month, at http://www.army.mod.uk/servingsoldier/whatsgoingon/index/letter_from_the_colonel_the_black_watch.htm .

Is the paper just short of news at the moment, or are they really this slow at finding information freely available in the public domain?
That's not the same letter referred to in the Scotsman.
It's his letter supporting the changes and telling the BW it will be so.
 

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