Army chief told cutbacks are “not a sensible option”

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A LEADING officer in one of the Army’s most celebrated regiments has warned that slashing its troop numbers is not a “sensible military option”.

Brig David Paterson, the honorary Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF), is “bitterly disappointed” by proposals to axe soldiers in the infantry battalion.

His criticism comes after the Yorkshire Post revealed last month the Ministry of Defence is thought to have already agreed one of the three regular Yorkshire Regiment battalions will go under the biggest round of cuts to the military since the Second World War.

In a letter to Gen Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff (CGS), published in The Daily Telegraph, Brig Paterson wrote: “I, as Colonel, have the duty to tell my men why it is their battalion, which at the time of the announcement will be the best manned battalion in the Army, with recruits waiting in the wings, was chosen by CGS. I will then also have to explain to my Fusiliers in a fully manned battalion why they are likely to be posted to battalions that cannot recruit. This will not be an easy sell.”

The Army is reducing its numbers to 82,000 by 2020, and the Telegraph reported an announcement would be made on Thursday that the RRF would face a cut from about 1,100 soldiers to 600.

In his letter, Brig Paterson added: “I would not want you to have even the slightest impression that I am challenging your orders. If challenged or scrutinised by, for example the media, it cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option.”

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “We don’t comment on leaked documents. The CGS has held a number of discussions about the restructuring of the Army with senior officers. We have always been clear that more than one set of criteria is used in determining the future shape of the Army as it is restructured to become an integrated regular and reserve force by 2020.”