Cuts to be made include a reduction of units in: The Royal Artillery, The Royal Engineers, The Army Air Corps, The Royal Logistic Corps, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and the removal of the 5 Regiment Royal Military Police.
In other words, we’ll have 20,000 less full time soldiers and double the amount of ‘part-time’ soldiers. This could equate to more than 11,000 compulsory redundancies.
Reservists exist in case we need more soldiers than are currently serving – in times of war – not to replace the core of the armed forces.
If you’ll allow me a sports analogy, it’s a bit like not fielding your full 11 in a football match but having a subs bench of 23 – crackers!
Reservists are usually soldiers who have finished their service and are called up in an emergency. They may also be members of the Territorial Army who, although trained, have civilian jobs and are not permanently combat-ready.
Mr Hammond said the Army would become a “forward-looking, modern fighting machine”.
My problem with this is that I recognise the PR – making a negative sound like something deliberate and positive. That, and it sounds like an advert for The Avengers.
We all hope that the world will be a more peaceful place by 2020 and that the reduction in soldiers will be in direct correlation to the stablising of areas of conflict – but wishful thinking isn’t a sound basis for this kind of decision.
“We need to transform the Army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future”.
That’s as may be, but is cutting funding, and soldiers the way to do that?
“Army 2020 will create a more flexible and agile Army. Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and materials, well trained, well equipped and fully funded.
“The regimental system will remain the bedrock of the Army’s fighting future.”
But how can an army of reservists be ‘well trained, well equipped and well funded’?
The very fact of the cuts means the funding is being slashed. The soldiers may be well be equipped in terms of kit – there’ll be more to share around among fewer soldiers – but they will be less prepared for the realities of serving, and in the case of the former soldiers, perhaps less inclined and less physically able.
I have friends in the Army, and experience that surge of fear every time a casualty is announced, I can only imagine how the immediate families of soldiers feel.
For this reason, as well as having a vested interest in the general security of the nation, I take a keen interest in the affairs of the armed forces.
So too does David Cameron, according to his official spokesperson, but he says: “Clearly, some people will be disappointed with some of the decisions but we have to take these decisions in the light of the financial circumstances and in particular the problems that the government inherited in the MoD.”
That the problems of the country are all inherited by the current Government is a well worn excuse, but apparently it’s what they’re sticking with.
Cameron continued: “We think this has been a good process and a fair process.”
Given the facts and the uncertainty of the future, this is an idiotic statement. It’s not a ‘good process’ nor is it likely to seem ‘fair’ to those directly affected. It may be a necessary process, or it may just be another ill-thought out attempt to claw back finances.