Scots regiment 'under threat'

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by quiller, Aug 4, 2003.

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    Scotland could lose one of its six surviving infantry regiments in a major defence shake-up, according to a Conservative MP.
    Patrick Mercer, the party's spokesman for homeland security, said he has seen a leak of a government white paper to be published this autumn.

    The MP for Newark said he had been told that up to five infantry battalions across the UK were facing the axe.

    Mr Mercer said that meant one of Scotland's infantry regiments was under threat.

    He claimed units north of the border were particularly vulnerable under the review because of widespread under-manning.

    The former soldier blamed the government, which he said had allowed recruitment to slip.

    The Highlanders, which was formed in 1994 by the merger of the Gordons and the Queen's Own Highlanders, is seen as the favourite to be scrapped.

    Mr Mercer said: "If the army looks at sustainability then clearly then all of the Scottish regiments are deeply, deeply threatened.

    "For instance, the Highlanders recognise they are 15 under-strength when in reality they are more than 100 under-strength because they are made up with so many Gurkhas."

    He told BBC Scotland that the army was already stretched to "breaking point".

    Mr Mercer said the white paper would leave the Ministry of Defence with a choice between manpower and expanding equipment programmes.

    "I think that manpower is going to lose while more expensive equipment is bought," he said.

    An MoD spokesperson refused to comment on speculation, saying that the white paper was still under development and would be published in the autumn.
  2. No mention of which English and/or Welsh Regiments at risk? If there are cuts it should be pro-rata between the regions of the UK.

    One thought, if they disbanded all the Jock Regiments it would have two benefits:

    1. The SNP would have no army if they ever took power and wanted "payback time" against the English.
    2. Those Jock who wanted to be soldiers would come South...... Hang on, is that a benefit?

    On a serious note, the Armed Forces are going to get shafted again no matter how they spin it. "Punching above our weight" etc etc. It all means less bods with "guchi kit" due somewhere in the next 10 to 20 years (pre-supposing Gay Gordon does not bin it).
  3. What about the knock on effect on Fiji's unemployment numbers?
  4. Not that I have a vested interest or anything but...

    Doesn't this Government understand that we are working everyhour God sends to complete 'el Presidentes' bidding. Foot & mouth, the Petrol Crisis, the Firemans Strike and the Gulf - everytime the Government have asked something of the armed Forces they have given their all and know big tony sticks his knife in.

    Interesting timing though...Dr Kelly who?
  5. Interesting article in todays Scotsman -

    Army in the line of fire



    JUST before Admiral Sir Michael Boyce stepped down from his post as Chief of the Defence Staff in April, he warned that Britain would be unable to undertake any further major military operations for at least 18 months without "serious pain".

    His point was that the country’s armed forces were now stretched so thinly that if those who had seen service in Iraq were allowed the period of recuperation they needed, there would be no-one left to take their place.

    It was a point driven home by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which cautioned against committing more British troops to Iraq for fear of what it described as "overstretch".

    And it was a point picked up by Sir Michael’s successor as Britain’s most senior military officer, General Sir Michael Walker, who told the Commons defence committee that it would take time to get people, equipment and supplies sorted out.

    But Sir Michael had another, more ominous warning for an army already operating at 5 per cent below strength. With the number of 16 to 24 year olds who might potentially be available to the armed forces due to drop sharply by 2009, Sir Michael said that action needed to be taken quickly to head off the looming recruitment crisis.

    There is no disputing that decades of cost cutting have reduced the size of the British army dramatically. It currently has about 102,000 servicemen and women (5,000 short of full strength), nearly 50,000 fewer than when the Berlin Wall came down. As one observer noted this week, the British army is now smaller than at any time since the 18th century.

    According to the MoD’s own figures, there are currently 2,601 reservists serving in the Gulf, with another 232 operating outside the region on related duties, amounting to more than a quarter of the British force of 10,700 men and women. At the height of the campaign, hundreds of reservists working in the NHS were called up to provide medical cover.

    The number of reservists called up this time round is in sharp contrast to the first Gulf war, when only 1,500 were drafted in, but even then the Commons defence select committee was warning that planned defence cuts meant Britain would be unable to mount another Gulf-style operation without much greater dependence on reservists.

    In August 1991, the preliminary report on the operation to liberate Kuwait noted that British forces were "stretched" and if the cuts went ahead, it would only be possible for the UK to mount a similar operation again if it relied far more heavily on reserve forces.

    Labour’s defence spokesman at the time, Dr John Reid, observed: "Our contribution to the Gulf war was only made possible by stripping the rest of our armed forces to the bone in terms of spares and personnel."

    At the same time, Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, was warning against the government’s plans to reduce the regular army to 116,000 - 14,000 more than its current population. Britain’s defence policy was lurching into the 1990s with no clear political direction, he said.

    Even those who believe such heavy reliance on reservists is justified would accept the position has been reached out of economic necessity. Now, with the dust from the war in Iraq still settling and the lessons of that conflict still being assessed, a new round of cost-cutting looms.

    In the next couple of months the government is due to publish a white paper on the future of the armed forces. This is expected to detail a radical shake-up in the way the British Army operates.

    Already there have been dire warnings of cutbacks and speculation about the abolition of historic regiments, although no decisions have yet been taken on where the axe will fall, if anywhere.

    Some experts believe what will happen is a reorganisation that will actually increase the number of infantry companies available for deployment, while cutting back on administrative functions. But the feeling in army circles is the point is rapidly being reached at which the cost-cutting must stop if it is to be able to operate effectively.

    Charles Heyman, the editor of Jane’s World Armies, believes there will come a time when the soldiers themselves have had enough and will vote with their feet.

    "The army can always take slimming down, but what the army can’t take if you slim it down is taking more jobs on," he said. "It’s a vicious circle - in a regular military force, people have to be at home for some of the time. It is debatable if guys will sign on if they are away from home for more than four months a year and if they are doing too much and they are away too often, they just don’t sign on again and you have these terrible, terrible recruitment problems."

    The Treasury, however, is reluctant to use financial incentives to attract recruits to the army. While an analysis by the Tories of figures from the Office of National Statistics this week suggested that within three years the average wage for a worker in the public sector would be £28,490, a soldier can expect just £11,152 on joining the army.

    But according to Mr Heyman, it is not the relatively low level of pay which soldiers receive, but the refusal to equip them for life outside the army that is the biggest problem: "For the last 30 years, there have been recruitment problems and they will continue until they have some sort of enlightened recruitment policy. At the moment, they are still locked in the Dark Ages where they think someone is going to sign on for three years and then they are going to sit quite happily as a beggar in London."

    The answer, he said, was to do what the United States did, and agree to pay for some form of further education for recruits once they leave the army.

    "It has been proved time and time again that the most important element in someone joining the armed services is his or her mother," he said. "She will say ‘You’ve got to get a trade’ so they go into the signals or the REME or they join the air force as mechanics but if you are going to go into the infantry, you have got no trade, so mother will say ‘Don’t do this’. But if you said OK go and join the infantry for three years and they will fund you at, say, half pay through schooling and you will still be on the reserve then mother will say that’s a good idea."

    Unless the army can address its recruitment crisis, its problems will continue whatever the defence white paper recommends. Not one of the Scottish regiments is operating at full strength because, Mr Heyman suggests, those responsible for recruitment won’t accept the world has changed.

    "Traditionally, the infantry, the artillery and the cavalry recruited from people who found it very difficult to read and write and had no real options anywhere else, but the number of people like that has diminished, no matter what the papers say about schooling," he said.

    The white paper is likely to recommend a more mobile army, with greater emphasis on the ability to deploy lighter forces quickly, in locations far from their home bases, in accordance with the thinking of the US department of defence.

    Those who will be required to do that fighting are hoping it is not another excuse to shave a few more millions off the defence budget. As Mr Heyman notes: "The truth is that the threat always comes from the most unexpected direction. If someone had said to you in 2000 that you would see thousands of British troops deployed in Afghanistan, you would have laughed."
  6. And another one -

    Defence cuts 'weaken Britain's terrorist response force'


    CUTS in defence spending were yesterday blamed for leaving the army reliant on reservists in Iraq and damaging its capability of dealing with a major terrorist incident in Britain.

    The Ministry of Defence yesterday confirmed that more than a quarter of the 10,700 British troops currently serving in Iraq are reservists.

    That has left a shortfall in the number of troops available to serve in the network of Civil Contingency Reaction Forces, which was intended to be in place by the end of the year to support the police and civil authorities in the event of a terrorist attack.

    Last night, Patrick Mercer, the Conservative spokesman on homeland security, accused the government of failing to take the terrorist threat seriously.

    "Even the slender resource of the CCRF has been eroded by the overstretch of the regular forces," he said. "It is not yet even operationally effective. Those units which are getting close to operational readiness will have taken a severe kicking by having to fill in for the regular army."

    He said that up to a third of reservists earmarked for the new force had been called up for Iraq, leaving it incapable of dealing with a major terrorist incident.

    "I strongly suggest that the CCRF would not be anywhere near taking on that task," Mr Mercer said.

    "This is the problem you have with trying to do home defence on the cheap - by double-hatting all your reservists and, secondly, by having your regular forces stretched to breaking point."

    The setting up of the CCRF was announced last summer by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, who said it could play an important role in helping defend the UK from terrorists. But in May, Colonel Richard Putnam of the Council of Reserve Forces’ Association warned the Commons defence select committee that the plans for the CCRF were unrealistic.

    The committee accused the MoD of failing to take seriously the need to plan for a mass-effect terrorist attack in the UK.

    Last night, the MoD said it was unable to comment on Mr Mercer’s allegations.
  7. Unfortunate but inevitable im afraid, the poor level of recruitment for the Scottish Infantry Battalions means that 6 Bns is not really sustainable, suprised that its the Highlanders tho, thought it would have been the Black Watch now that the Queen Mum (god bless her) isnt around to protect them anymore
  8. this situation doesn't just apply to the scots but to the entire UK , im wondering what the rationale behind the cuts ? economics ? inter dept funding rivalry ? trying to run the army on the cheap ? budgets ? or just focking blind !
  9. Recruitment for the Army as a whole is going to suffer because of this debate and the press coverage - who in their right might mind would join an organisation that keeps shrinking and destroying itself and its history.

    The more the Army presence is removed from the community the poorer the recruitment will be.

    The worst bit is that if these cuts go ahead this will stretch the forces even further, and will likely not take into account any of the valuable lessons learnt from GW2 and the other "tasks" that the forces have been involved in for the last 18 - 24 months.

    It will destroy morale internally and destroy recruits ambition to join their local regiment. Idiots the lot of them - seriously depressing :evil:
  10. this is getting way to much were overstretched so lets get rid of blokes and give the remainder more work hmmm

    royal army corps of infrantry comming soon i rekon
  11. As someone intimately involved in the politics of all this, I am flabbergasted at the inability or unwillingness of senior officers to stand up and be counted. The Scottish Division is set to lose a battalion, yet no serving senior officer has broken cover to ccondemn it, even although the rules on not speaking to the press or publicly cannot be upheld under ECHR rules. The only conclusion I can come to is that career progression, pension rights or possibly real or imagined prominence on future honours lists prevents them. And these men (invariably they're men) are meant to be able to lead in battle?
    It's pathetic. There is a worrying lack of moral fibre in the upper echelons of the Army as a whole. And we wonder why we're not up to strength? Look no further. C'mon, CGS, fall on your sword and retain what little of your personal dignity and self respect you have left!
  12. Ironside,

    Well spoken and I felt I had to say something here.

    Of course everyone is against the loss of Inf Regts but the hards facts are if we cannot recruit enough soldiers for what we have at present and with the poor prognosis of available recruits in the comings years as well as possibly reducing the no of inf bns in NI .... there is little evidence to support not cutting something in order to maximise the use of our meagre financial resources.

    With regards to not speaking out . .. . you have a point. That said, those who spoke out using purely emotional arguments concerning all previous cuts achieved nothing.

    Cold hard logic will win the day and unless the Army makes a conscious decision to divert considerable resources to recruiting and retention at the expense of something else, then I am afraid we will muddle on and many Inf Regts will continue to wither on the vine.
  13. I suppose this means that the poor old Angry & Suffering Highlanders are for a shafting again?

  14. Perfectly said Ramillies. But without this diversion of funds, and soon, we will have little or no army worth speaking off.

    Having been through a number of redundancies in civvie street and a reformation whilst in the mob, i can tell you from personal experience - you can only cut so many people so many times before the organisation folds in on itself. Also from the marcomms point of view - who would want to join an organisation that was ripping itself to pieces.

    Recruiting at worthy down try to do and do a good job, but are underfunded, sometimes unresponsive to the best ways to target people and ripped off by some of their agencies and the coi - better use of money would be a sight more preferable than cut backs - i bet the money to keep the infantry regiments could be found if the civil services aspects of the MoD were audited as ruthlessly as the forces's books are.
  15. :) A suggestion,
    There must be a battalion equiv at MOD, of serving and Civvies who can go to-morrow and no one will miss them.

    Thus the sharp end can gain or maintain a Battalion.