“At the same time we must remain focused upon delivering our own core outputs, while understanding that events may require more from us – and sooner – than Defence policy currently assumes.
Wars have a habit of picking us.”

– July 2012 General Sir Peter Wall GCB CBE ADC, General Chief of The General Staff

 

I shall leave aside my personal doubts as to the ability of the Army to reach anywhere near the recruiting and training of Reserve Forces necessary to replace trained efficient servicemen and women who are being made redundant.

I shall also not discuss my doubts that the 2020 plan is fit for purpose or that the plan will save money – that is for another article perhaps.

My article today concerns the illogical and unfair way in the 2nd Battalion of my Regiment, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF) was selected for disbandment

The selection of the second battalion of 2RRF for disbandment is shrouded in mystery. The Battalion had never been in the frame for disbandment, it being one of the most highly experienced, fully recruited and renowned Infantry Units.

At some stage, very very late in the selection process, something happened to throw all the previous deliberations and decisions made by the selection panel into chaos. I wanted to know what this late intervention was; my suspicion was that it was a political intervention into what should have been a purely military matter.

I became convinced that the “Scottish” question was the late intervention, and that the government simply did not want to upset Scottish voters in the coming referendum by disbanding a Scottish regiment.

It was clear that a number of the Scottish regiments ‘fitted’ the criteria for disbandment far better than did 2RRF, in particular their very poor recruiting and manning levels, and yet they were quite suddenly were removed from the list of possible candidates for disbandment.

There followed a very frustrating series of letters and emails from myself and from other concerned veterans (serving soldiers and MOD employees were not allowed to discuss the situation and were told disciplinary action would follow should they comment), to the Government and to the MOD.

We asked, and are still asking, for the minutes of the final meeting at which 2RRF were selected. We had many responses, but none dealing with the question we had asked, i.e. “could we see the minutes?”

We had to resort to using the Freedom of Information Act, and several of us wrote under the terms of the FOI to ask for the said minutes. This time we all had the same reply: “There were no minutes kept of that particular meeting”

It was about this time that Mr. Hammond referred to those like us, who had doubts about his future Defence Plan 2020, as “Armchair Generals”. What a derogatory way to address the concerns of Army veterans.

This, along with the seemingly inability to allow us to get at the truth, was perhaps the last straw and the decision was made to ask him direct questions at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

I had been a Conservative Party voter for the whole of my 31 years service and I applied for a pass to get into the conference, along with my friend and colleague Ian Brazier. We waited until Mr. Hammond got to the bit of his speech when he was praising “our wonderful Armed Forces” – and you saw what happened next.

I am convinced that 2RRF were selected unfairly and I shall be marshalling 500 or so Fusilier veterans at 14:30 hrs tomorrow, Tuesday 15th October, on Whitehall to protest this decision.

I am now a UKIP supporter and I ask you all for your support. There are thousands of service votes to be had for the party, which can demonstrate by action that it has Defence at the top of the manifesto.

Write, Email and Tweet @Save2RRF

Captain (retd) Joe Eastwood BEM CQSW

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