Royal Anglians 'may be scrapped'

THE Royal Anglian Regiment may be scrapped and merged into one large “super-regiment” in the latest proposals for the Government's reorganisation of the Army, the EADT can reveal.

By Juliette Maxam

THE Royal Anglian Regiment may be scrapped and merged into one large “super-regiment” in the latest proposals for the Government's reorganisation of the Army, the EADT can reveal.

The Government wants to cut the infantry by four battalions and create larger regiments with at least two battalions each.

Army chiefs initially suggested two battalions should be cut from the Scottish Division, based on criteria such as the ability to recruit or retain soldiers.

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But that was met with outcry from Scottish MPs, and now the Queen's Division – which includes the Royal Anglian Regiment, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment – has been told to come up with proposals for a possible loss of one battalion and restructuring of the division.

A number of options have been drawn up. The one favoured by the division is to scrap all three existing regiments, and replace them with a large regiment of five battalions, which would be named after the current regiments.

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But the division is refusing to suggest which of the current six battalions should be axed.

The division's regimental colonels were unwilling to associate themselves with the process because they considered the time scale to be too short.

The Royal Anglian Regiment was originally formed 40 years ago when county regiments such as the Essex and Suffolk were amalgamated.

It originally had four regular and three territorial battalions, but successive cutbacks have seen it pared down to two regular and no territorial battalions. Next year the first battalion is due to be deployed to Iraq.

It still has strong East Anglian allegiances, recruiting from Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, with one of the best recruitment records in the Army.

The Queen's Division as a whole has no regional identity, recruiting from Northumberland to Sussex.

North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin, former shadow defence minister, has vowed to fight any proposal to disband the Royal Anglian Regiment “root and branch”.

“There are other battalions, single battalion regiments, much less well recruited which would be a much more logical choice.”

He described the Government's reorganisation of the Army as “vandalism”.

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Dixon, regimental secretary of the Royal Anglian Regiment, which has its headquarters in Bury St Edmunds, said: “There are many possibilities being looked at. Our battalions are fully manned as of today, which for the regiment is great news. That I believe puts us in a very strong position.”

He said the regimental colonel, Major-General John Sutherell is due to put the case for saving the Royal Anglian Regiment to the director of infantry, who is due to speak to all infantry regimental colonels.

A spokesman from the MOD said: “It's an ongoing process, it's not something we can comment on. The decision is due to be made next month.”

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