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Tory MP's to attack Coalition over plan to reduce size of the Army

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Tory MP's to attack Coalition over plan to reduce size of the Army

Post  Panda on Sat 20 Apr - 14:13

Tory MPs prepare to attack Coalition over plan to reduce size of the

Conservative MPs will next week attack Coalition plans to boost the number
of part-time soldiers at the expense of full-time regulars.

The proposals represent the most
radical shake up of the Territorial Army in its 100-year history. Photo: PA

By Robert Watts

1:30PM BST 20 Apr 2013


A newly-formed group of Tory backbenchers fighting cuts to the military have
called a parliamentary debate on Tuesday in a bid to block the Ministry of
Defence’s controversial plan. One sceptical MP said that anyone who thought the
strategy would work must have "smoked a lot of dope".

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph last year, Philip Hammond, the
Defence Secretary, said he wanted to double the size of the Territorial Army
from 15,000 to 30,000 while reducing the regular army by 20,000 to 82,000.

Critics argue the plan will undermine the capability of the armed forces and
that many employers will not want to lose their staff for months on end when
they are asked to deploy overseas.

John Baron, the Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay leading the group pushing
for a fair deal for the forces, said: “The debate will allow us to question
whether the increase in reservists is a false economy when compared to retaining
regular battalions.

“The Government appears reluctant to disclose figures and has admitted it
costs more to train reservists. Furthermore, the fact that only one in four
reservists are currently deployable also adds uncertainty to Government

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“This is a high-risk approach. Cutting regular battalions before being
certain that reservists can both plug the capability gap and be cost-effective
is unwise. The Government should re-examine its position.”

Mark Francois, the Conservative MoD minister for military personnel, will
defend the Government’s plans in Tuesday afternoon’s Westminster Hall debate.

The proposals represent the most radical shake up of the Territorial Army in
its 100-year history. Ministers say they have found £1.8 billion to spend on
training and equipping the bolstered army reserve.

Colonel Bob Stewart, the Conservative MP for Beckenham who led United Nations
in Bosnia during the 1990s, said that many reservists could not be deployed

“What happens is that employers don’t want to lose their staff for up to a
year, wives don’t want to lose their husbands and the blokes themselves don’t
actually want to go,” said Mr Stewart, who called Tuesday’s debate. “Members of
the Territorial Army can be very good, but are they deployable? In my experience
very often they are not.

“The Government's defence plans look like trying to get an army on the cheap.
This will reduce the army down to 82,000 – an army of that size is not an
army... it’s a self defence force.

“The Territorial Army actually appears to be losing numbers at the moment –
some people say as much as 1,000 a year. Someone at the MoD is smoking a lot of
dope if they think they will actually manage to get the reserve up to 30,000.”
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