1. ITV Report

Midlands soldiers await defence cuts announcement

Soldiers from the Mercian regiment march through Derby Photo: ITV Central

Hundreds of Midlands soldiers and their families are anxiously awaiting details of which battalions and regiments will face the axe as the government confirms its latest round of defence cuts.

It comes as relatives mourn the loss last weekend in Afghanistan of Warrant Officer Leonard Thomas from Herefordshire. He was 45 and served with the Royal Corps of Signals.

The cuts are part of plans to reduce the regular army from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020. Some battalions will be disbanded and some will merge with other units.

The details will be watched closely by those serving with the Mercian Regiment which recruits in the Midlands.

In recent months, soldiers returning from tours of duty in Helmand province have marched through midlands towns and cities to be cheered by local residents.

The Mercian Regiment was formed in 2007 when the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters merged with the Staffordshire Regiment and the Cheshire Regiment.

Critics of the cuts argue that the country's defences could be weakened once the full impact takes effect.

But the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will argue that he is tasked with shaping a modern efficient armed service fit for the challenges of the 21st century. It's the first major shakeup of the armed forces since 1998.

However the Government is well aware that the decisions announced today could prove painful for army morale as well known battalions and proud soldiers are let go.

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  • Mercian Regiment facing cuts

    The Defence Secretary has confirmed the Mercian Regiment is to lose a Battalion as part of the cuts announced today.