Today (5th July) the Secretary of State for Defence issued a statement on the outcome of the Army 2020 review. This will see a restructuring of Army personnel up to the end of the decade.
The Secretary of State for Defence, Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond MP, said:
“...Turning to the infantry, I can confirm that no current regimental names or cap badges will be lost as a consequence of the changes that I am announcing today. ... In selecting battalions for withdrawal, the Army has focused on the major recruiting challenges it faces in the infantry. ...It has also considered regional and national affiliations, the merger and disbandment history of individual battalions, and existing commitments of battalions to future operations. The overriding objective has been to arrive at a solution that those currently serving in the Army will see as fair and equitable.
“The conclusion of this process has been that 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment and 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh will be withdrawn from the order of battle.
“...These withdrawals and mergers, unwelcome as I know they will be in the units affected, are fair and balanced and have been carefully structured to minimise the impact of the regular manpower reduction and maximise the military effectiveness of the Army. The reduction in regular forces will be offset by the enhanced role of the reserves and the “whole force” concept, which optimises the use of contractors in both peacetime and on operations.”
Responding to the Statement, Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy said:
“I am extremely disappointed to hear that 3rd Mercian will be disbanded. However, it is absolutely vital that the name of the Staffords and Staffordshire will remain within a regular unit in the Mercian regiment.
“Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent are very important areas for recruitment to the army and this must be recognised.”
Mr Lefroy raised the matter in the House of Commons with the Defence Secretary today, saying:
“The Staffords have served our country with great distinction since they were first raised in 1705 in Lichfield, the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), who supports me in this question. It is essential that the name of the Staffords is maintained, as Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are among the best recruiting grounds for the Army. Will the Secretary of State ensure that the name is retained with the serving unit?”
The Secretary of State answered:
“The opportunity for the name to be retained is there. It is for the Mercian Regiment itself to decide how it wants to append the antecedent names of the battalion that is being removed to the other battalions.
Mr Lefroy added:
“I have also raised the matter personally with the Prime Minister who is looking into it.”