THE rationale for launching the UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 was to make Britain's armed forces fit for purpose in the 21st century, an era in which Britain no longer rules the waves and areas of red on the world map have been reduced to a few small splashes.
Does the overhaul of the British Army announced yesterday lay the foundation for a "balanced, capable and adaptable force" as Defence Secretary Philip Hammond claims?
To reduce the standing army by 20,000 to a fighting force of 82,000 by 2020, 17 major units have been sacrificed. Scotland, which undoubtedly bore an unfair proportion of previous cuts, escapes comparatively lightly. Though the 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) will be reduced to a 100-strong company engaged on ceremonial duties, none of the famous cap badges will be lost. That is a tribute to the vigour of the campaign supported by politicians across the spectrum, including Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. The Herald supported the creation of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, on the basis that, potentially at least, it provided the Army with a more flexible fighting force while transferring the historic regimental names to the individual battalions. This was more than mere sentimentality. In the regiments' traditional recruiting grounds, where "Army families" have furnished fighters for generations, these names continue to hold a special resonance. Abandoning them now would have broken a pledge made when the RRS was created in 2005.
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