Army to lose 17 units amid job cuts


Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: "Reductions will fall across the various arms are services of the Army"

Related Stories

The Army will lose 17 major units as it cuts 20,000 regular soldiers by 2020, the defence secretary has said.

Philip Hammond told MPs that the units to go included four infantry battalions and two sections in the Armoured Corps.

He said the Army would be a "forward-looking, modern fighting machine", but Labour said the cuts were short-sighted and could put the UK at risk.

The number of regular soldiers is set to fall from 102,000 to 82,000, while reservists will double to 30,000.

The Army will be about half the size it was during the Cold War era - it had more than 163,000 troops in 1978.

'Flexible and agile'

In the infantry, Mr Hammond said, no current regiments or cap badges would be lost.

He said: "After inheriting a massive overspend from the last government, we have had to make tough decisions to implement our vision of a formidable, adaptable and flexible armed forces.


The Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has conceded that morale in the Army is "fragile". The scrapping of 17 units will not help. Nor will two more rounds of redundancies in the Army still to be announced.

The next few years will involve a lot more pain. But the chief of the general staff does now at least have a clear sense of direction. The Army of 2020 will be smaller and more reliant on reservists.

But there's the promise that troops will be well equipped and properly trained.

There are still many unanswered questions. How will they double the number of reservists? How can the government persuade individuals and their employers to give up even more time?

Without those reservists the plan simply won't work.

"After a decade of enduring operations, we need to transform the Army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future.

"Army 2020 will create a more flexible and agile Army. Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and material, well trained, well equipped and fully funded.

"The regimental system will remain the bedrock of the Army's fighting future."

The four infantry battalions to disappear are the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh.

A fifth infantry battalion, the 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), will become a single company to carry out public duties in Scotland.

The Armoured Corps will be reduced by two units with the mergers of the Queen's Royal Lancers and the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and the 1st and 2nd Tank Regiments.

The Royal Artillery, the Royal Engineers, the Army Air Corps, the Royal Logistic Corps, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Military Police will also be affected.

'Greater strain'

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "New threats are emerging and weak and failing states outnumber strong by two to one.

"There's an arc of instability from west African states to central and south-east Asia. Non-state actors are on the rise, climate and population change are new sources of tension. The United States is pivoting towards the Pacific, while the European end of Nato will take greater strain."

The restructuring of the Army was drawn up under a plan by Lieutenant General Nick Carter, and referred to as Army 2020.

Details of the other changes are:

  • The Royal Artillery will be reduced from 13 to 12 units with the withdrawal of the 39th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • The Royal Engineers will be reduced from 14 to 11 units with the withdrawal of 24 and 28 Engineer Regiments and 67 Works Group
  • The Army Air Corps will reduce from five to four units as 1 Regiment AAC merges with 9 Regiment AAC
  • The Royal Logistic Corps will be reduced from 15 to 12 units with 1 and 2 Logistic Support Regiments withdrawn from the Order of Battle and 23 Pioneer Regiment disbanded
  • The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers will be reduced to seven units with the withdrawal of 101 Force Support Battalion
  • 5 Regiment Royal Military Police will be removed

Ahead of the announcement, the former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, said there could be as many as 11,000 compulsory redundancies.

Philippa Tuckman, a military injury specialist lawyer, said more care would need to be taken of the part-time soldiers.

"If the MoD is to rely more on the TA and reserves we need to be reassured that the support mechanisms and aftercare the MoD have in place for regular service personnel, including re-training to re-trade after an injury, are available to them as well."


Infantry regiments losing battalions

Mercian Regiment Royal Regiment of Scotland Royal Welsh Regiment Yorkshire Regiment Royal Fusiliers

3rd Battalion

5th Battalion

2nd Battalion

2nd Battalion

2nd Battalion


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    I come from a military family (in the US), and I've always supported our military and yours. While I may not agree with the conflicts we involve ourselves in, the military personnel lay their lives on the line and deserve the utmost respect. I don't understand this decision. I don't agree with this decision. I don't support this decision. Thank you to everyone serving past and present.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    Probably the best view on this subject came from our greatest enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte, who knew a lot about war. He said "The country that does not respect its own army will one day learn to respect someone else's"

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    It has always been said that no UK government has deserved the Armed Forces it has. So true. How will this government support the large number of redundant men and women affected by these cuts. Services are being cut across the board by local authorities and in some already deprived areas we will now potentially add a large number of soon to be ex servicemen and their families.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    UK PLC has to balance its books and that means cuts.

    Other Government departments are facing cuts, the Army should be included (unless there is a military/security reason - which i don’t believe there is).

    Economics and sentimentality don’t mix. It’s going to be tough on some soldiers in the short term, but long term these measures will benefit the Army and the UK. Get over it. Embrace it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    As an ex regular , it saddens me, but we have to look at reality, how do we redistribute the limited funds avalable to the Nation ?
    Schools Hospitals legall system ( that s one that should be cut ) or other front line services, Whatever any Govenment do to address the buget some one will lose out. At least this Govenment have had to make tough choices, we may not agree, some never will.


Comments 5 of 15


More UK stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.