Historic battalions set to be axed in defence cuts

Defence secretary Philip Hammond will tomorrow announce which areas of our armed forces will be affected by a round of cuts to the defence budget.

By 2020, troop numbers are to fall by a fifth to 82,000, which will result in the axing of some of Britain's most historic battalions. They are thought to include:

  • 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment - will likely be renamed as sister 2 Yorks is scrapped
  • 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (known as 5 Scots)
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh - will likely be merged with 1 Royal Welsh
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

A question mark hangs over the fate of the Mercian regiment - and 5th Battalion, The Rifles. Oe of these could also be axed.

Also likely to face cuts:

  • Two cavalry units
  • One third of the Royal Artillery
  • One third of the Royal Engineers
  • One quarter of the Royal Logistics Corps

Many of these will be regiments based in Germany.

The Ministry of Defence maintains that its decisions are taken under strict criteria according to the future needs of the Army.

The government has some drastic cuts to make, and at the MoD they'll say that this was the best way to do it.

But you don't have to scratch too far below the surface to find some very senior who wondered if there wasn't a political motive here - why not the Gurkhas? Why not more from the regiments in Scotland, they ask.

The bigger issue, though, is the effect this will have on troop morale and whether the army at 82,000 is simply too small, even if they are increasing the size of the Territorial Army.

Without doubt, tomorrow we will see the changing face and future of the British Army.