The Royal Anglian Regiment to be merged into new “super regiment”, reports claim
19:34 30 June 2012
The Royal Anglian Regiment could merge into a new “super regiment” as part of the biggest shake up of the British Army in a century, reports claim.
The dramatic change could be announced on Thursday as part of the government’s Future Force 2020 proposals, a national newspaper is reporting.
It may lead to the unification of the Royal Anglian Regiment, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers under the title of the East of England Regiment, or the English Fusiliers.
According to a report seen by the Daily Telegraph, the proposals would also lead to swingeing cuts causing the Army to shrink to 82,000 men – its lowest level since the Napoleonic Wars.
The plans would see five infantry battalions cut, with many amalgamated with other units or turned into Territorial Army units, the Telegraph claims.
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, has suggested that battalions with a high proportion of foreign and Commonwealth troops are more vulnerable.
It is believed the proposals put forward by Lt Gen Nick Carter could be the biggest change to the Army since 1904.
An MoD spokesman said: “Recruitment performance is just one of the criteria determining the future shape of the Army.
“These are necessary changes due to the decisions which had to be made to tackle the multi-billion pound defence deficit inherited from the last government.”
The plans faced delays in recent months as regiments fought to ensure their survival.
MPs in England have called for battalions in their constituencies to be retained, while Scottish units have also lobbied hard to secure their future.
It is expected that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (5 Scots), whose Royal colonel is the Queen, will either be axed or turned into a TA unit. Other units which may be cut or amalgamated include 3 Bn the Yorkshire Regiment, 2 Bn Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 3 Bn Mercian Regiment and 5 Bn The Rifles.
It is also believed that between two and five cavalry regiments will be axed, including the merger of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, known as the Welsh Cavalry. There will also be cuts to the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Logistic Corps and other support regiments.
Meanwhile, “super regiments” formed six years ago are may also be slashed, with each likely to have a battalion axed, amalgamated or turned into a Territorial Army unit.
Elsewhere, Lt Gen Carter will introduce a new formation called the Reaction Force, a division of three armoured brigades of two tank and three infantry regiments each. It will be used for expeditionary warfare.
There will be second section — known as Adaptable Forces — of seven infantry brigades to be used for long-running deployments and standing commitments. But it will have to be drawn on a new force of 30,000 TA soldiers.
The report by the Telegraph comes the same day (Saturday June 30) as veterans and service men and women across the country mark Armed Forces Day.
At present, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, known as the Vikings, and the Light Dragoons, based in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, are deployed in Afghanistan.