Royal Anglians survive army restructure

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Royal Anglian Regiment will maintain two battalions following a major restructuring of the army.

Defence secretary Philip Hammond announced in the House of Commons yesterday that the government would reshape the army into an 'adaptable and flexible' force fit for future engagements.

However the changes being made under the Army 2020 plan will result in the loss of 17 major army units including four infantry battalions.

Despite speculative reports earlier this week that East Anglia's regiment may be hit in the changes, either being downsized or merged, documents released yesterday show that while other units will be remoulded the Royal Anglians will remain untouched.

Meanwhile the Light Dragoons based at Swanton Morley will also survive the changes and remain an individual unit within the armed forces after 2020.

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The defence secretary said: 'After a decade of enduring operations, we need to transform the army and build a balanced, capable and adaptable force ready to face the future.

'Army 2020 will create a more flexible and agile army. Unlike the past, it will be set on a firm foundation of men and material, well trained, well equipped and fully funded.

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'The regimental system will remain the bedrock of the army's fighting future.'

The changes, to be completed by the end of the decade, will see the regular army cut from 102,000 to 82,000 while the Territorial Army will be expanded to give a combined force of 120,000.

Armed forces will then be structured with a 'high readiness' reaction force made up of armoured, helicopter and assault units ready to deploy at short notice, backed up by 'adaptable' forces based in each region of the country including the Royal Anglians which will be able to carry out a range of different roles.

Chief of the general staff general Sir Peter Wall said: 'The changes in Army 2020 will demand resilience, flexibility and genuine adaptability from our talented and committed officers and soldiers.

'It is inevitable that some units will be lost or will merge but we have done this in a way that I believe is fair across the whole army.'

Each region will have an infantry brigade headquarters controlling all the infantry regiments in that area, which will be supported by a permanent reserve unit.

The exact location of the headquarters in each region has not yet been announced, but is expected to be determined in a 'basing optimisation plan' by the end of this year.

Meanwhile the Eastern region is also awaiting a separate decision from the Ministry of Defence to see whether the armed force's new generation of F35 Joint Strike Fighter planes will based at RAF Marham.

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