Westminster government to create ‘Union Division’ of the British Army
The UK Government has announced a plan to create a “Union Division” of the British Army, as part of a restructure.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons that he wants the restructures military to be “at the heart of the Union”, in what the Daily Mail has described as an “apparent rebuke to Nicola Sturgeon’s separatist drive”.
He said the Tory Westminster government’s reforms were part of the “Future Soldier” project in which the Army will be reorganised as an “expeditionary fighting force” designed to be “deployable and lethal”.
It will be made smaller but will be “more productive”, said Wallace, with no redundancies, but 9000 posts being cut. An “increased proportion of the Army in each of the devolved nations”, Wallace said, with Wales seeing its army footprint in increase from 6.7% to 7.3%.
He announced that the Army will be organised under four administrative divisions of infantry, which will be the Guards and Parachute Division, the Queens Division, the Light Division as well as the Union Division.
Wallace announced that the closure of Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire will be delayed from 2024 until 2028, and that Brecon Barracks would be retained reversing a previous decision to axe it.
Wallace told the Commons: “Mr. Speaker, it will be an army that benefits the whole of our union with an increased proportion of the army based in each of the devolved nations and expenditure contributing to prosperity throughout the United Kingdom under our upcoming land industrial strategy.
“So today I can confirm a major reorganisation under four new administrative divisions of infantry, the Queen’s division, the Union division, the Light division, and the Guards and Parachute division. These divisions are designed to reflect historic ties, while also balancing their number of battalions and unit roles, offering greater flexibility and opportunity for soldiers of all ranks.
“As announced in March these plans do not involve the deletion of any cap badges or further major unit changes or any military redundancies. While we are significantly reducing the total number of army personnel.
“We are not compromising our presence in and contribution to the devolved nations. Our numbers will reduce slightly everywhere except Wales where we are increasing a portion of army based in each nation and investing millions in the defence industry and estate.
“Wales will see the return of the Welsh Calvary Queen’s Dragoon Guards to Caerwent barracks and the new reserved company of Third Battalion the Royal Welsh to be established in north Wales.
“The retention of Brecon barracks and the growth of Wrexham are just part of a 320 million pound investment in the army estate in Wales.
The SNP’s defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald criticised the “politicising” of the division names.
“Attempts like this to politicise serving personnel, who choose to go into a career in uniform with a desire to protect, is a sign of how desperate the conservative government has become,” he said.
“Soldiers need a real improvement in terms and conditions, not used for political aims.”
Commenting on this announcement, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Social Justice Mark Isherwood MS said: “This announcement just reinforces the commitment shown by the Conservative Government to our armed forces in Wales. This further commitment will deliver £1 billion of prosperity to Wales, thus helping the nation flourish economically whilst putting our forces at the heart of policymaking.
“This great news coupled alongside the promise of funding for a Veterans Commissioner for Wales means that Wales will play an even more pivotal role in our armed forces going forward.
“Wales has a proud record of supporting our armed forces and I look forward to it improving further thanks to these changes.”