Making battalion cuts is a ‘mistake’

NEWARK and Sherwood MP Patrick Mercer has slammed the Government’s plans to axe the 3rd battalion of the Mercian Regiment.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond announced last week five infantry battalions are to be withdrawn and 17 major units axed in the biggest overhaul of the British Army for decades.

Mr Mercer, who commanded the Worcesters and Mercian Regiment, criticised the move and said the decision ‘can be and should reversed with immediate effect’.

“I think the cutting of all military combat power is the most extreme decision to take while we are at war,” he said.

“The idea that Nottinghamshire men and women will be losing their jobs is very hard to stomach.”

“It’s the wrong decision made by a misguided Ministry of Defence who don’t understand the importance of their regiment.”

Troop levels are to be slashed by a fifth from 102,000 to 82,000, while the Territorial Army will be expanded to give a combined force of 120,000.

The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 2nd Batttalion the Yorkshire Regiment, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh will all be axed in the shake-up.

The 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland will be reduced to a public duties company.

The news has angered Ryan Rodgers - a former soldier from Worksop who began his training with the Worcester and Mercian Regiment in 2007.

Ryan, 24, of Shepherds Avenue, was discharged from the Army with post-traumatic stress disorder having completing two gruelling tours in Afghanistan.

“The decision to cut battalions is stabbing our service men and women in the back,” he said.

“It’s the wrong time time be making these cuts. We are still in Afghanistan and cutting so many infantry battalions will only leave our Army in a more vulnerable position.”

“If we ever have to go into another war like Afghanistan, we just won’t have the manpower which will be of even greater cost to the Army.”

The plan - known as Army 2020 - will see the military split into two, with a reaction force ready to respond to emergencies around the globe and an adaptable force capable of carrying of carrying our a range of tasks and commitments.

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Mr Hammond admitted the reforms would be ‘unwelcome’ but insisted they would create a ‘balanced, capable and adapatable force’ for the future.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

He added: “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.”