Friday, July 06, 2012

British Military Reduce by One Fifth Yet Fiji Keeps Expanding to Protect Dictator

 The defence secretary is to announce details of how the Army will be restructured as it loses a fifth of its personnel over the next few years.

For Fiji's current military, know this when Democracy returns. A 50 - 60% reduction will be necessary in line with the nation's real (not imagined) strategic interests and the ability to pay:
  • A ready reaction force made up entirely of highly-trained regulars under a Police command ready to deploy at short notice.
  • A second standing element will be of an engineering corp regulars;
  •  A Territorial Army reservists for peacekeeping deployment; and
  • Fiji navy will be disbanded and transferred to border control under the aegis of Police and Customs.

BBC News

Philip Hammond will reveal the units to be scrapped or merged as the number of soldiers is cut from 102,000 to 82,000. The Army 2020 review is also expected to result in the number of reservists doubling to 30,000.

Former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, said there could be as many as 11,000 compulsory redundancies. Last month, the defence secretary said there was no way to "avoid difficult decisions as the Army gets smaller".

From a level of 102,000 troops in 2010, defence cuts will reduce the Army to 82,000 regular soldiers by 2020. It will be about half the size of the Army of the Cold War era, which comprised more than 163,000 troops in 1978. The defence secretary has said that the UK will still maintain an effective, well-equipped fighting force, but that it will be increasingly reliant on reservists, co-operation with allies and private contractors.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said strategic thinking for Army 2020 had been led by "one of the Army's rising stars", Lt Gen Nick Carter. "But, there's still no escaping that this review has been driven by cuts," said our correspondent.
 
'Split in two'
 
The government has said the regimental system will not be scrapped, and Prime Minister David Cameron has said no "cap badges" should go - in other words, entire regiments are not expected to be lost. But units within regiments will be disbanded.

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In the past decade the Army has been able to fight in two countries at the same time - in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not in future.”
It is expected that the Army will lose five of its 36 infantry battalions, four armoured units will merge into two, while support units such as engineers and logistics could be cut by 30%. The government's insistence on "regional balance" is expected to mean that while some full-strength English units with a strong recruiting record will go, others in Scotland that may have struggled will survive. my 2020 is expected to increase reliance on part-time soldiers in the future.

"The Army is being split into two," said our defence correspondent.
  • A "Reaction Force" made up entirely of highly-trained regulars will be ready to deploy at short notice.
  • The second element will be an "Adaptable Force" of both regulars and an increased number of Territorial Army reservists.
This force will provide troops for ceremonial duties, for standing commitment such as defending the Falklands, and include a "Security Assistance Force" able to send small teams to advise, train and keep the peace around the world.

David Cameron's official spokesman said the prime minister had taken a close interest in the details of the announcement. The spokesman said: "This is all consistent with what we have said previously on total numbers. "Clearly, some people will be disappointed with some of the decisions but we have to take these decisions in the light of the financial circumstances and in particular the problems that the government inherited in the MoD.

"We think this has been a good process and a fair process."

'Ballooning up'
Lord Dannatt, head of the Army between 2006 and 2009, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the cuts were disappointing for the Army. He added: "I think it's worth dwelling on the fact that to achieve that reduction there's going to be something like 10,000 or 11,000 compulsory redundancies which means that number of people who had expected to serve a full term in the Army will now find themselves moving to civilian life.

Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart: "Once you go under 100,000 you should start referring to yourselves as a self-defence force" "They need to be helped, their skills gained in the services need to be recognised and they need to be given a good transition path to worthwhile jobs in civilian life."

Professor Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said he suspected the Army would be a "one shot" force. He said: "They could go somewhere, they can do something, at a very high level but they can't stay. Prolonged deployments will be difficult unless the government of the day is prepared to throw a lot more money at it and they can expand.

"They're trying to create an army that is capable of ballooning up again and coming back down." Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart, a former Army officer who sits on the Defence Select Committee, said he was upset by the moves. He said: "The right path forward is for us to have more armed forces than we've got but we're stuck, we have a real problem of trying to pay for them and equip them. That's the problem.

"I would much prefer us not to be making these cuts, and I particularly don't like the idea of cutting infantry battalions." He said a force of 82,000 regulars was "a very, very small" army.
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