Army 2020 cut rules 'caught' Fusilier battalion
18 October 2012
Restrictive rules on how the army set about cutting infantry battalions during the Army 2020 planning process have been blamed for the scrapping of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2 RRF).
The battalion is one of five infantry battalions set to be disbanded in 2014 as part of plans which will see a total of 20,000 regular troops cut
from the British Army, but campaigners have claimed the battalion was sacrificed in order to preserve units from the Royal Regiment of Scotland ahead of a 2014 independence referendum.
During a debate in Parliament, which took place shortly after 400 RRF veterans and family members marched through Whitehall
, Armed Forces minister Andrew Robathan said the army had been both "pragmatic and imaginative" in making the cuts.
"We have come to these decisions after a great deal of consideration and analysis," he said, adding that budget issues had forced the government's hand in making the cuts. "The British army and the regiments concerned now are looking to get on with implementing these decisions; frankly, which have not been palatable.
"These were army board decisions endorsed by ministers."
Robathan said that the Mercian Regiment, Yorkshire Regiment, Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Welsh were the least sustainable regiments in the army in terms of manning, but once one battalion from each of those regiments had been removed it became "less possible to distinguish" where to make further cuts.
The army's selection criteria, which specified – amongst other things - that only one battalion could be removed from any regiment, left the choice between battalions from the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the Royal Anglian Regiment or the Rifles. The Parachute Regiment had already been excluded from the process at this point.
"The army decided that it should be the Queen's Division that lost a battalion as it had six battalions in comparison to other divisions that had only four or five," said Robathan.
The army also determined that losing more than one battalion from any regiment "would widen the impact of change and thus impact upon the healing process", he said.
Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay John Baron, a former officer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said that he had received written confirmation that the least sustainable battalions in the British Army in terms of recruitment included two from the Royal Regiment of Scotland and one each from the Royal Welsh, Mercian and Yorkshire regiments.
The decision to cut 2RRF was illogical, he said, because the Royal Regiment of Scotland had not seen any battalionscut. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are to be reduced to a "public duties company", rather than cut outright.
"It is far more disruptive for a two-battalion regiment to lose one battalion than it is for a five-battalion regiment that has trouble sustaining two battalions, as has been admitted by the MOD, to maintain those two battalions," he said.
An army spokesman said that the criteria for infantry cuts included: "a balance across the broader infantry structure and the capability roles within it; demographic sustainability of regiments according to projected regional supply of recruits; and taking account of previous decisions on mergers and deletions.
"The army also considered proportionality of outcome, with no cap badge deletions and no regiment losing more than one battalion in a reorganisation, when recommending to ministers which infantry battalions would be withdrawn."
MPs voted 57 to 3 in favour of a rethink on the decision to cut the battalion, although the vote is not binding on government.
HAVE YOUR SAY
18 October 2012
daz_doc - Coventry
19 October 2012
"adding that budget issues had forced the government's hand in making the cuts."
Total trash. The budget is decided by the government, not some mystical force. Foreign aid and the welfare state swallow up money that could be used on HM forces, if the political will is there.
Daniele Mandelli - Guildford
18 December 2012
If RRF lose a battalion it will mean that fewer officers will attend the PUB LUNCH at the Tower of London as they had done previously, many at tax payers expense. Goodbye and good riddance Mr Jolly
MR A TAX PAYER - AUSTRALIA
07 March 2013
Army 2020? Very apt name. Fit for a big bash slog so long as it doesn't go longer than four hours. Five day tests or even one dayers? Forget it!
John - Hove