3: Helicopters7: Capabilities in the air
8: GEOINTELLIGENCE improvements
9: Reassuring (with risks)
24 Commando Engineer regiment wins the day
I reported last year about the ongoing fight that Navy HQ and the Royal Marines were fighting to ensure the survival of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment. The news available in the open were few and sparse, but the delay in disbanding the formation was evident, and by november 2013 there was some optimism.
For once, this optimism has been rewarded, as a bit of common sense has won the day for once. Yesterday, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mr Mark Francois, made a statement in Parliament that confirms that this battle is won: the regiment will not disband.
On 5 July 2012, Official Report, column 1085, the Defence Secretary made a statement to the House on the outcome of the Army 2020 review and laid out the future structure of the British Army. The announcement explained the need to restructure the Army to face an increasingly uncertain world and to create the agile and adaptable armed forces as set out in the 2010 strategic defence and security review. Included in the statement was the withdrawal of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment.At the time of the Army 2020 announcement, the Army acknowledged that engagement with the Royal Navy was still ongoing, and this would refine the allocation of Army manpower available to support Royal Navy tasks. This process is now complete and it has been decided that 24 Commando Engineer Regiment will be retained although the regiment will be reduced in size. This change will be achieved by rebalancing Army manpower within 3 Commando Brigade and allows for the best use of available resources to deliver the strategic defence and security review and Army 2020 capability.
The regiment won't disappear, and this is a major step forwards. But it is still shrinking, and considering that it never even gained the second regular field squadron that was once planned and that remains very much needed, this is no good. It is a step in the right direction, but this regiment should actually be growing in size to better respond to the busy schedule of the high-readiness amphibious force.
There is also some worry behind the meaning of "rebalancing army manpower" within the brigade, which knowing politician language could hide unpleasant news, perhaps to hit 29 Commando Royal Artillery (which already had to win its own fight earlier, to ensure the survival of 148 Meiktila Bty).
But at least, it is a step in the right direction. Let's take away some joy and hope from it.