Scottish Army units face 'upheaval' under reforms

Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland Image copyright Mark Owens/Army HQ Scotland
Image caption In April soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland marked the 10th anniversary of its creation

Army units in Scotland are to undergo significant change under a package of reforms announced by the government.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the changes "sustain" the Army's footprint in the devolved nations.

But Scottish government minister Keith Brown expressed concern about the "upheaval" faced by soldiers and their families.

The plan involves at least three battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The 4th battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the 1st battalion of the Scots Guards will become part of a new mechanised "strike brigade".

Cap badges retained

The 1st battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 Scots) which is currently based in Belfast, is to be one of a new type of specialised infantry battalion.

Sir Michael revealed the changes in a written statement to parliament.

Other moves in the plan include the 3rd battalion The Rifles relocating from Edinburgh to Catterick in 2021.

The 3rd battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will leave Fort George in 2032 but remain in Scotland, although their new base has yet to be confirmed.

Image caption A number of Army units are on the move

Sir Michael said: "As we previously committed, we will continue to sustain a regular Army of 82,000, a whole force of 112,000 regular and reserve troops and the Army's footprint in the devolved nations.

"All existing regimental cap badges will be retained.

"Large parts of the Army will be unaffected, but it will involve some units changing their role, equipment or location."

The Scottish government has expressed its concerns about further changes to the military in Scotland being announced so soon after the confirmation of the closure of bases such as Fort George and Glencorse.

'Extremely disruptive'

Veterans Minister Keith Brown said: "I am particularly disappointed to learn that the Royal Scots Borderers will reduce in size and will transfer to Aldershot. 1 Scots were uprooted from Scotland in 2014 and two years later, it is confirmed that they will be on the move again by 2019.

"This upheaval is extremely disruptive to families, especially children of school age, and it runs contrary to promises to assist personnel to put down settled roots.

"It is unclear how long this move will last - if it is intended to be permanent, it is a great pity that 1 Scots have not returned to a base in Scotland, close to their traditional recruiting ground and wider family support networks."

Mr Brown said the Royal Regiment of Scotland had been "decimated by successive cuts".

The UK government said regular Army personnel numbers in Scotland would be maintained at more than 4,000.

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