Regiments to merge in MoD's biggest cuts in over a century
HUNDREDS of soldiers could be merged into Derbyshire's infantry regiment after the Government announced the biggest Army cuts in more than 100 years.
Five infantry battalions are expected to be axed, with other units being merged or turned into reservists in a large-scale overhaul of the Army unveiled yesterday.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond set out how the regular Army will be cut from 102,000 troops to 82,000 by the end of the decade – its lowest level since the Napoleonic Wars.
And among those to be reduced is Staffordshire regiment 3 Mercian.
This is part of the same group of regiments as 2 Mercian, which recruits from Derbyshire.
The plan – known as Army 2020 – is expected to see the force split into two; a reaction division, ready to respond to emergencies around the globe; and an adaptable force capable of carrying out a range of tasks and commitments.
Captain Mike Brigham, of 2 Mercian, said it was still unclear how the changes would affect the local regiment.
He said: "How the structure and shape of things will change, we don't yet know.
"We will still recruit from the same areas but we don't know how many the regiment will increase by."
But MP Patrick Mercer, former commanding officer of The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, said he thought the changes could see 2 Mercian broken up.
He said: "In my opinion there will no longer be a battalion with the title Sherwood Foresters.
"It will mean selective redundancies across the three Mercian regiments and one will be merged into the other two."
Mr Hammond has said the changes – drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter – would provide the basis of a smaller, more flexible and agile Army in the future.
But the prospect of losing historic units has been the cause of intense anguish within the service.
Mr Hammond said cuts could not be avoided to adhere to the Government's 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
"After inheriting a massive overspend from the last Government, we have had to make tough decisions to implement our vision of a formidable, adaptable and flexible armed forces," Mr Hammond said.
"After a decade of enduring operations, we need to transform the Army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future.
"Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and material, well trained, well equipped and fully funded."
Other units scheduled to go include the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh.