Monmouth MP David Davies, who chairs the Commons' Welsh Affairs committee, has written to the Defence Secretary over the way the Welsh army has been affected by Army cuts. In particular he raises concerns about the decision to axe a battalion of the Royal Welsh.
In his letter, Mr Davies tells the Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond that he and MPs on the committee want answers to the following concerns.
In evidence to the Committee on this issue, an independent defence expert told us that, based on proportionality, cost and recruitment considerations, it would be more advisable to cut several battalions of the Scottish regiments and the Gurkhas.
We heard that 98% of the Royal Welsh is drawn from within Wales, and in many families service to the regiment has continued for many generations.
We believe that the impact on families and communities across Wales, as well as on morale in the regiments more widely, will be enormous.
We are concerned that the decision to cut a Welsh battalion may be at least partly politically motivated. Scottish regiments have found it difficult to recruit in recent years, and the decision to maintain all five Scottish infantry regiments, albeit with one performing ceremonial duties, suggests preferential treatment. We seek assurances that this is not the case.
We are also concerned that the statement regarding the loss of 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh did not provide greater clarity for the serving men and women. We seek clarification on how many of them will be ‘absorbed’ into the 1st Battalion and how many will be made redundant. In a time of high unemployment, all possible assistance must be provided to enable former servicemen and women to seek employment after the armed forces. They currently face a great deal of uncertainty regarding their future.
Defence Ministers have refused to appear before Welsh MPs looking into the MOD's plans for the future of the Army. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Welsh Affairs committee chair David Davies had said he wanted ministers to explain their thinking about plans for the Welsh Cavalry:
Given our concerns, we have decided to do a short inquiry into this. We’ve asked the Ministry of Defence to come and give evidence and explain how these decisions will be taken. I understand they don’t wish to attend, which I find very disappointing.
However it nows seems the announcement itself will be made on Thursday, which might explain the ministers' reluctance to appear. It's also thought that the Welsh Cavalry will survive the cuts but it's strongly rumoured that a battalion of the Royal Welsh regiment could be lost instead.
The Welsh Affairs Select committee is to hold a special evidence session into the UK Government's intentions for the future of the Queen's Dragoon Guards. There has been cross-party concern about reports that Ministry of Defence cutbacks will be abolished or merged with another regiment.
Committee chair, Monmouth MP David Davies said,
Disbanding the QDG would reduce opportunities for young people across Wales to serve in a named Welsh regiment. I have served in the Territorial Army myself in 104 Defence Regiment in Newport and I fully appreciate the opportunities which the Army can offer to young people.
We need to make sure Wales is not unfairly treated by these defence cuts and the committee will be asking for submissions from veterans and soldiers currently serving in the QDG.
We will also be asking the Ministry of Defence to explain its thinking on this.