Royal Welsh battalions to merge
The 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh is to be merged with the regiment’s 1st Battalion, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced.
The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, known as the Welsh Cavalry and was also threatened, as does the Welsh Guards.
Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle said he was “delighted” the Queen’s Dragoon Guards would survive but attached the UK Government over the cuts.
The South Wales East AM, who spent five days in Afghanistan in 2009 when leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “While I’m delighted that the Queen Dragoon Guards has been saved, the loss of the second battalion of the Royal Welsh Regiment is a devastating blow for all those in the battalion, who have served their country, some of whom have paid the ultimate price.
“I’m appalled that those who have risked their lives are being thrown on the scrap heap. This is sure to have a real impact on morale of the British Army.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones also denounced the merger.
He said: “This will be hugely disappointing news to members of the Royal Welsh.
“Today’s decision by the UK Government means the members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh now face the prospect of losing their jobs. I have already spoken to Brigadier Napier, Head of the Army in Wales, about the implications for our servicemen and women.
“The loss of the Battalion will be a severe blow to serving soldiers and veterans of this regiment, and also to the families of those that have given their lives for our country.
“The Royal Welsh has already been through a major amalgamation in 2006 and I can only imagine the impact that this latest blow will have on the morale of the whole regiment which has always been a source of pride to us citizens of Wales.
“I call on the MOD to make sure it does all it can to help those personal who will be affected by this decision, by either transferring them transfer to other units or helping them prepare for civilian life.
“In the coming months we will need to work closely with the Army to discuss how the Welsh Government can provide the appropriate support for those servicemen and women, and their families, upon leaving service.”
Brigadier Napier told BBC Wales: “Overall, the Army from Wales has been protected.
“We’re going to be seeing an infantry brigade based here in Wales, and none of the regiments – the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, the Royal Welsh or the Welsh Guards – have been deleted from the order of battle.
“It’s bitter-sweet result because the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh have been given extraordinarily bad news and there are many soldiers concerned about their futures but I’m sure the tradition of this fine regiment, of which I’m colonel, will mean we take this forward constructively.”
Andrew RT Davies AM, leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly, said: “The Welsh Cavalry is Wales’ only tank regiment and I am extremely pleased that it will be saved in its entirety.
“I have made personal representations to the Defence Secretary on its exemption from changes – as has the Secretary of State for Wales – and today’s announcement is a welcome one.
“All Welsh regiments are steeped in history and pride and I understand the huge significance of each. I also understand the difficult decisions that must be taken given the precarious financial situation left by the previous Labour government.
“This has led to the merger of 2nd the Royal Welsh into the regiment’s first battalion. There is now much work to be done to ensure that these arrangements strengthen the operational nature of the armed forces in Wales.
“The UK Government inherited a £38 billion defence budget black hole from Labour. That point cannot be emphasised enough within this decision.”Follow @CaerphillyObsvr