Army to lose 17 units amid job cuts


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

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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


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  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    @337 Gareth
    "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" (if you desire peace, prepare for war) by the Roman Vegetius is as true today as it ever was. At the start of WW2, two countries declared their neutrality. Switzerland had a well trained and equipped army to defend their mountain roads, Belgium had a small defence force to defend their borders. Which was able to remain neutral and which was overrun?

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Devastating for those affected, but people have to get used to reality, even after all these 'cuts' we are still spending £billions more than we raise in tax revenue, all debts our children will have to pay back. Is anyone objecting to cuts to police/army/benefits/education/other services volunteering to pay extra taxes to avoid these cuts. We all splurged out on cheap credit, payback time sadly

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    I have a lot of respect for all soilders that fight for our country you are all fantastic! What worries me is that a few weeks ago I heard on Question Time or similar programme that rebels or terrorists now occupy an area the size of France! The government really don't have a clue at the moment and if this is true and something happens in the future what will we do then?

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    I agree slimming down the army could save a little money but based on the fact things like the war in Afghan and Iraq happened, surely they can repeat themselves or potentially get worse. We will regret this decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    "Gabriel Oaks
    We can afford to host the Olympics but not keep our brave soldiers in work?"

    If we cancelled the Olympics now, how many soldiers would be able to remain in post (after we've paid the compensation and legal fees to those who have lost out)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Does this Government have any idea how to run this country?

    Then again is suppose maybe they are running it down to sell to the UAE or some other country fed from the greed for oil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    Mr Hammond can throw as much dust in the direction of the last government as he likes but the truth is that the bankers are responsible for this for the most part.

    One of any govs prime objectives is defence of the Realm so what do they think they are playing at? These cuts, like those to the Navy, are foolish in the extreme. They will come back to bite us just as light regulation did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    How many times does history have to prove itself before shortsighted govt get it. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. fine soldiers in the army but right now we would struggle to defend Kent, let alone the countries intersts foreign and domestic

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    I would like the BBC to ask the government why they are making over 20,000 soldiers redundant and yet The Army are still recruiting? I know this as my sone has just been and passed his BARB text.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    My great grandfather served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in the First World War, awarded a Military Cross.
    My grandfather served with the Green Howards during the Korean War, and I was wishing to join the 9th/12th Royal Lancers.
    My family's history, my future- completely gone.
    But don't blame Hammond- blame the previous Labour government, that'll get you out of anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Wouldn't be so bad if our stupid governments could resist playing international statesmen and invading other countries every five minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    this is not a good thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    How long before the politicians decide that they need to play global politics and involve our armed services in operations overseas and watch as AEGIS and XE formerly BLACKWATER are paid to take roles traditionally played by regular soldiers but being paid vast sums to these foreign and home grown private CONTRACTORS privatisation of HM forces by the back door=tax payers money for party donors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    To all of those who think this is a good thing ... imbeciles!!!

    Quite apart from standing in front of a bullet to stop you from being killed (I suspect you have forgotten that bit - they put their lives before yours you bloody ignorant fools); they make us all very, very proud.

    Do the pointless quangos and wasted foreign/EU aid have the same effect ... No!

    Leave them alone - for all our sakes

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    It won't surprise me if this gets modded, but if anyone is really interested in who are the most dangerous enemies of this country, they are to be found in the flourishing abortion and primary school sexual propaganda industries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.



  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    This is disgusting news, once again it goes to prove that Mr hammond is an accountant, who cannot look to learning the lessons of 1914 and the 1930's. The world is not a safer place now and with soldiers making such great sacrifices in Afghanistan is disrespectful and damages morale of those who serve.

  • Comment number 356.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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