Black Watch commander speaks out for new regiment ... and serving soldiers allegedly contact newspaper to disagree. See below. Full story at http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/28804.html

I for one will not criticise Col Cowan, who has enough on his plate at the moment. I was slightly surprised when he felt it necessary to make his statement before any decision had been announced: I would have thought that would be the time to speak out and ask everyone to rally round. The claim to be speaking on behalf of everyone in the Battalion was surely tempting fate: the media and the campaigners then only needed one phone call from a disgruntled soldier in order to to rubbish Col Cowan's comments.

Whether you agree with it or not, the case for combining single-battalion regiments in larger groupings has never really been argued convincingly; even on this fine website, most of the supporters of change have founded their case on Jock-bashing: hardly any of them has actually attempted to argue that "the new arrangements will be better for you and your regiment".

I still find it remarkable that it has been mostly the Jocks on this site who have bothered to speak up on behalf of the English "single battalion capbadges": I suppose that is because we who hail from north of the border are less nationalistic, and more cooperative. Perhaps we are just too nice sometimes for our own good? :wink:

Back to the debate: feelings ran very high at the time of the disbandments 10 years ago, but I dont remember it getting so personal, or so divisive within the Army.


SERVING soldiers, veterans and campaigners reacted angrily yesterday to a call by the Black Watch's commanding officer for people to "stop complaining" and rally behind plans to form a single Scottish super-regiment.
Lieutenant-Colonel James Cowan said it was "time for peace in the regimental family" and claimed that soldiers fighting in Iraq supported moves to streamline the army and end the regimental system.
Soldiers who contacted The Herald denied that their commander, known in the battalion as a high-flyer destined eventually for the upper echelons of the general staff, was speaking on their behalf.
One said: "Colonel Cowan served on the planning staff of Lieutenant-General Sir Mike Jackson, the officer responsible for driving through these so-called reforms, before the invasion of Iraq last year. A lot of the Jocks think he has been leaned on and has caved in for the sake of his career path."
Another added: "The commanding officer was very definitely not speaking on our behalf.
"The Jocks are gutted at the prospect of the regiment being disbanded to become part of a big, anonymous outfit.
"We didn't join the Royal Regiment of Scotland, we joined the Black Watch. I'm sure the same goes for the guys in the other Scottish regiments facing the chop."
A third said: "We're starting to wonder what we've been doing out here, risking our lives for a government prepared to sacrifice our heritage to let the Treasury balance its books. Colonel Cowan is way out of line if he thinks the lads are behind him on this."
Jeff Duncan, the organiser of the Save the Scottish Regiments organisation, said: "This smacks of intervention by the top brass to try to put a gloss on cutbacks. Shame on the Black Watch commanding officer for going along with it. It's turkeys voting for Christmas."
Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Crawford, a defence consultant and regimental campaigner, added: "James Cowan will really have hacked off his soldiers. Contrary to the spin coming out of the army board, none of the guys wants to be in a large regiment. They want to be in the Black Watch.
"Colonel Cowan has become the duty media target, taking the heat off those who should really be under scrutiny. I detect the clumsy hand of Lieutenant-General Sir Alistair Irwin, the adjutant general and the BW's honorary colonel, in this.
"The senior officers of the regiment seem hell-bent on destroying the very thing they should be devoting their energies to preserving, and are destroying any last vestige of respect their men have for them."
Poor Cowan. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, what an invidious position he's in. I am sure he would like to rail against the proposal to do away with his regiment, yet his duty as an officer (not to mention self preservation) compels him to toe the (Jackson) party line. He is undoubtedly a fine officer with a reputation as outstanding as the battalion he commands. Unfortunately his standing, as a direct result of his insensitive remarks, among the "Old & Bold" of his regiment is lower than a snake's ass.

Whatever happens to our Scottish regiments, and I take pride in having served in one, the memoirs of the officers commanding the affected battalions recounting the debacle, the subterfuge and political in-fighting, will make interesting reading in the years to come.

I imagine several officers have done their careers irreparable harm by protesting. POD is sharpening his knife as we write!

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