THE Territorial Army is to be cut by 10,000 troops - a reduction of almost 30% - raising concern that it will struggle to fulfil its civil defence role in the event of a national emergency.
The decision to slash TA numbers to 25,000 is expected to be announced by ministers later this month following a year-long review of all reserve forces.
A senior TA officer said: âTreasury bean counters have ordered the Ministry of Defence [MoD] to cut all budgets, so TA units will have to be axed or amalgamated and the number of training days cut to way below the minimum.â
The TAâs vehicle fleet â which is already underresourced â will be reduced further, while many of the 360 TA bases around the country will be put up for sale.
âThat will be a major blow,â said the senior officer. âIn many parts of the country, the local TA headquarters, the old drill hall, is the only contact the public have with the forces.â
When the TA was founded in 1908 it had 269,000 members. By the end of the cold war that figure had fallen to 82,000.
Its role as a civil contingency reaction force was established in 2002 after the 9/11 atrocities. It revolves around 14 regional forces which are made available to the police within hours of a terrorist attack or emergency.
An MoD spokesman said: âThis is not about the cost of the reserves. Its aim is to ensure that our reserve forces, including the Territorial Army, are correctly structured, supported and resourced to meet current and future challenges.â