Relax, everyone. I got the answer I was looking for, sadly not via official channels.
Scottish regiment ordered to hand over men
EXCLUSIVE: Switch to English force puts Royal Scots at risk of axe
THE Royal Scots, the oldest regiment in the British Army, has been ordered to hand over more than 100 men to reinforce an English battalion being sent to Iraq, making it severely undermanned and vulnerable as Whitehall prepares to axe a Scottish unit.
The regiment is the worst-recruited in the Scottish division, and military insiders say it is threatened under streamlining plans to be announced in a defence White Paper.
With only 431 trained soldiers currently available from what is an assigned fighting strength of 527 officers and men, the battalion would be unable to deploy as a unit in its own right without being beefed up by detachments from other Scottish regiments.
A senior military source said the reinforcement system be-came known in the Scottish division "in the 1990s as the 'Rent-a-Jock' scheme. However, this time it puts the RS own lack of numbers into the spotlight."
The "provisional warning order" to be prepared to surrender a rifle company for service under someone else's command was issued to the regiment last Thursday at its barracks in Edinburgh. The order involves it making at least one rifle company, normally between 100 and 120 soldiers, available for Iraq from December until May, 2004. This "detached element" is to be placed under the command of an English regiment, probably 1st battalion, The Light Infantry.
Supplying sub-units became common practice in Northern Ireland, and was also done to bring battle groups up to full fighting strength in both Gulf wars, but the timing of the latest order is seen as critical given the uncertainty over regiments.
The news of the deployment came as massive crowds began to converge on Najaf for the funeral of Ayatollah Moham-med Baqir al-Hakim, the shi'ite leader who was among about 125 killed in the blast on Friday. More than 300,000 marched toward the holy city from Baghdad for the funeral.
On the Royal Scots' reinforcements, the military source said: "It is a fairly common practice, but at a time when the infantry expects to lose up to five battalions in a Ministry of Defence cost-cutting exercise, every unit is under the Whitehall beancounters' microscope.
"Those with severe manning problems are more likely to become victims of pruning in the cause of freeing up resources for hi-tech weaponry and rapid-response transport and communications equipment.
"There is little doubt the six-regiment Scottish division is at risk. It is currently 386 men short of complement. The RS has a shortfall of 96, followed by the Highlanders with 90.
"While it might be politically difficult to axe the Highlanders and thereby wipe out the Army's footprint across the north-east of Scotland, the RS are prime candidates for the chop or amalgamation.
"The regiment has never faced a shotgun marriage in previous defence cutbacks. Its pedigree as First of Foot may not save it from that fate this time round."
The RS is known as the First of Foot in deference to its history as the longest-serving unit in the Army, and nicknamed "Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard" to reflect that length of service since 1633. It recruits from Edinburgh, Lothians and Peeblesshire, but has failed to reach enlistment and retention targets in recent years.
The MoD confirmed the Royal Scots, in Edinburgh on royal ceremonial duties, will be used to bolster Germany-based 20 Armoured Brigade when it goes to Iraq from November.
The RS are doing what the LI did earlier in the year. They are sending companies to 20 Bde, not just the LI. They are deploying as formed Coys with the Bde.
LI did this with 7 Bde, 2 Coys deployed on TELIC 1 and at least 1 is deploying again. 2 RTR did TELIC 1 & 2 - now that is overstretch!
If the RS do get the chop it will make the PWRR the senior Infantry Regiment rather than just being England's senior Infantry Regiment!!
No matter what we do Gay Gordon hates spending money on the Forces and will find a way of getting rid of us. I'm sure the desk jockies in the MoD will assist. After all, if it was not for all these soldiers, sailors and airman cluttering up the place the MoD's job would be so much easier.