Could Royal Anglian Regiment be facing a shake-up in review?

Royal Anglian Regiment

Members of the Royal Anglians forming a guard of honour in 2018. - Credit: THE ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENT

Speculation is mounting that one of the two battalions of The Royal Anglian Regiment could be disbanded at the end of the current defence review.

At present there are two battalions - the First which recruits from Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire and is nicknamed the Vikings. The Second Battalion, thought to be under threat, is known as the Poachers and recruits from Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

What is not clear is what would happen to the regiment if the second battalion was disbanded - whether it would be absorbed into the first as a single-battalion regiment, or be split up with some of its forces transferring to other army units like the Mercian Regiment which recruits in other parts of the midlands.

Former Colchester Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell was a member of the Armed Forces Committee during his time at Westminster and was concerned to hear about the reports.

He said: "The population of the 10 counties for whom The Royal Anglian Regiment is the 'local' regiment for recruitment is greater than the population of Scotland which has five battalions…….but none of them is under threat for fear this would be seized upon by the Scottish Nationalists and turned to their political advantage.

"While it is acknowledged that some potential conflict has moved into cyber warfare, there will always be a need for boots on the ground! You cannot replace a physical show of force with a computer!

"Reducing the availability of Infantry forces is not in our national interest."

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A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that while there was a review process under way, it was too early to talk about any findings.

He said: “The Army achieved its target for infantry recruits in 2020 and continues to actively recruit today. We are confident the Army has the numbers and talent required to protect the United Kingdom. 

“The Integrated Review is not yet complete and any reporting about Army force structure is merely speculation.”

There have been periodic reviews of the armed forces during peacetime. The Royal Anglia Regiment was formed in 1964 following the amalgamation after 1959 of a number of county regiments including the Suffolk and Norfolk Regiments.

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