By Dan Santy 09/07 Updated: 09/07 13:07
THE MAN in charge of Warwickshire's army regiment has expressed his bitter disappointment at plans to almost halve it as part of a raft of devastating cuts.
Brigadier David Paterson OBE, Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, set out his concerns at plans to disband one its two battalions in a letter to the head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall.
Under the plans, the regiment - which has recruited in Warwickshire for over 300 years - would be cut from 1,100 to just 600 soldiers.
It comes after last week's announcement by Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond of radical plans to cut the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000.
Mr Hammond claimed it would save money while making the Army smaller, flexible and more agile, with the Territorial Army filling in the gaps by doubling from 15,000 to 30,000 part-time reservists.
But it would also put the regular Army at its lowest strength in over a century and has been met with fierce opposition from servicemen and many of the public.
The idea is to split the army into two. A reaction force would be ready to respond to global emergencies, while an adaptable force would be available for a wide range of other tasks and commitments.
Brig Paterson, in his letter to General Wall, said the proposal 'cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option'.
Referring to his own regiment - formerly the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers - Brig Paterson said it was among the Army's strongest infantry regiments, yet those with inferior records were to be left untouched.
While keen to stress he was not challenging the decision and would follow orders, Brig Paterson said: "I have a strong conviction that in selecting 2 RRF for disbandment, and in creating a single battalion Fusilier Regiment, we are not best serving defence, the Army, the Queen’s Division or the regiment.
"If challenged or scrutinised by, for example the media, it cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option."
Brig Paterson also sought reassurances the regiment's traditional recruiting areas - Warwickshire, along with Northumberland, Lancashire and London - would be allowed to remain.
He wrote: "If you cannot give those assurances then I am in no doubt they, too, will be picked off by the larger regiments and the Fusiliers will wither on the vine."
Defence Secretary Mr Hammond, who set out details of the proposals last week in the House of Commons, said cuts could not be avoided because of demands for strict financial discipline under the Government's 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
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