Proposal to axe four battalions triggers internal fight in A

Times Monday

FAMOUS infantry regiments are engaged in a desperate battle to avoid being disbanded as army chiefs gear up for a decision that will lead to the most radical restructuring of the Service for 50 years.
The executive committee of the Army Board, headed by General Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff, is to meet in less than two weeks to produce the recommended blueprint for ministers.

However, the proposed changes have generated anger and despair among infantry regiments who fear they may be disbanded. Four battalions have to go, to reduce the size of the infantry from 40 to 36 battalions, under plans announced in a Defence White Paper in July.

The overall size of the Army is being cut to 102,000, despite current commitments, including the mission in southern and now central Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

On the basis of manning figures being examined by Brigadier Jamie Balfour, the Director of Infantry, the most vulnerable regiments facing either disbandment or amalgamation include The Royal Scots, The Highlanders, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, The Green Howards, The King’s Regiment, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, The Cheshire Regiment, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

Under General Jackson’s restructuring plan, approved by the full Army Board, all of the smallest regiments, 19 of them, each with only one battalion, are to be merged into larger formations to make the Army more efficient and more deployable. None of them will escape from the proposed combined-battalion arrangement.

However, although most commanders broadly accept General Jackson’s overall plan, the decision to disband four battalions has provoked an unprecedented internal fight. “What we’re battling against is disbandment; we understand that all infantry regiments are going to be merged into larger formations, but nobody wants total disbandment of any regiment,” one senior military source said.

A senior commander said: “I have managed to persuade my soldiers about the need to change the structure of the Army which means combining a number of battalions into a larger family, but how can I explain it if I then have to tell them some regiments are going to be disbanded altogether.”

General Jackson is to see all colonels of regiments and retired generals on Wednesday to give them a rundown of the proposals and is expected to face tough questioning.

Three of the battalions are to be taken out of the King’s Division and Prince of Wales’s Division in England and one from the Scottish Division. The most vulnerable regiments are those that have a record of failing to reach their required establishment manpower totals.

Army chiefs have also taken into account the regiments that have had to recruit overseas and Commonwealth soldiers.

The Scottish Division has come up with a formula which will be studied by General Jackson at the executive committee on November 17. Despite The Black Watch’s poor recruiting record — 40 soldiers short and with 31 Commonwealth and overseas recruits — under the formula the regiment, which lost three soldiers in Iraq last week, would survive.

Under the Scottish proposal, The Royal Scots, which is 57 soldiers undermanned and has 89 Commonwealth recruits, and The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 53 soldiers short and with nine Commonwealth recruits, would amalgamate to form a single regiment. That would meet the requirement of losing one battalion from the six-battalion Scottish Division.

The five regiments of the Scottish Division — The Black Watch, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, The Highlanders, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and the new combined The Royal Scots and The King’s Own Scottish Borderers — would be put together under one regimental name, probably The Scottish Regiment. Each regiment would be converted into a battalion of The Scottish Regiment, for example, 1st Battalion The Scottish Regiment (The Black Watch).

In England, the challenge is greater because of the requirement to disband three battalions. The single-battalion regiments with the worst recruiting records include The King’s Regiment, 47 short and 27 Commonwealth/overseas recruits, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, 46 short and 43 Commonwealth soldiers, The Green Howards (33 and 42), The Cheshire Regiment (65 and 22), The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (39 and 39), The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (21 short but with 85 Commonwealth soldiers), and The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (51 and 12).

The battalions with the largest number of Commonwealth and overseas recruits are the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, with 116, and the 2nd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, with 107. They are part of larger twobattalion regiments and are not facing the same changes. The three battalions of The Parachute Regiment, 77 soldiers short and with 109 Commonwealth and overseas recruits, will also be unaffected.
The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (51 and 12).
Find this odd, just over 10 years ago the TA element of the regiment had enough coys to form a 3 TA Bn (3WFR - 7 coys + HQ and 4 WFR 5/6 coys + HQ). Normally the number of TA bn's was the same as the number of regular bns, so doesn't this indicate that the WFRs is a large county regt?

Also I remember it being hard to get into to reg bn (many had to join Staffs or Cheshires), so why has it changed? The TA and regs may have been well manned because of the miners strike. Also the LI recruit in Herefordshire even thou WFR is the county regt (succesor to 36 Foot)
I thought historically , RGJ had always had a sizeable Commonwealth contingent , which is probably why they remain unaffected?

Is there any mention of Regiments that are well manned getting another Coy or Five? :D
PartTimePongo said:
Is there any mention of Regiments that are well manned getting another Coy or Five? :D
PTP, Never lose sight of the fact that, despite the window-dressing, this is Treasury-driven and being applied to show cuts in manpower costs. Even the arms'-plot argument is smoke and mirrors. Warrior battalions already spend five or six years in one location - tours aside.

The chance of anyone getting an extra company's about the same as that of Yasser Teatowel miraculously coming back to life. :D
Claymore you trying to say that Yasser "Its my round" Arafat is really "dead" and not "stable" as the French would have us all believe. Shame on you Sir.
Far be it from me to claim Brigadier Jamie is speaking S**te, but how did the highlanders get into the hit list as they are the strongest numerical Battalion in Scotlandbar none

Sorry to rant, just emerged from hibernation and noticed it.
It is puzzling as to why the Highlanders are under threat. RGJ is unlikely to be affected, as they have 2 Regular Bns already, as do the LI, PWRR etc.
The crying shame as I see it here is that the poor old RGBW (or M4 Corridoor Fusilliers - whichever you choose) which is already a composite of three regiments in its own right, is about to become amalgamated again.
RGBWWHF (RoyalGloucesterBerkshireWiltshireWelshHighlandFusilliers) anyone?
Why must these regiments be amalgamated into these huge souless four or five battalion monstrosities? Have these ever been regiments that big except during a major war? If they want multi- battalion regiments wouldn't it be more flexible to form closely related pairs of single battalion regiments into one two battalion regiment, retaining the individual identities but combining the admin and allowing free movement two.
The whole thing seems to be geared to produce the biggest outcry about the amalgamations so that the really important factor, the de facto cuts is hidden. Added to this it always appears that after a round of cuts recruitment actually drops so that the new formations are just as undermanned as the pre-cut regiments.
It also occurs to me that even if the battalions in thse new regiments remain at fixed locations the personnel are going to have to move round on a regular basis or they will become stagnant. Foreign deployments would become full of those cast into outer darkness while home battalions are full of "trusties" . So if the people will still have to move they will be disrupted as regularly as they are now, won't they?
2clicksleft said:
Claymore you trying to say that Yasser "Its my round" Arafat is really "dead" and not "stable" as the French would have us all believe. Shame on you Sir.
:cry: :wink: :D

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