Defence Costs Study: Territorials escape with role enhanced

THE Territorial Army has escaped cuts and is to take on new and more prominent roles in peace and war, it was confirmed yesterday, writes Christopher Bellamy.

A TA regiment will be given a crucial job as the Army's only specialised Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defence regiment. A second regiment will deliver replacement armoured vehicles to front-line tank and mechanised infantry units, ending a long-standing reluctance to give the TA armour.

The trained units of the TA will remain at their current strength of 59,000. The recruits pool of 4,500, which was introduced in 1992 as a margin, will be abolished. It is no longer considered necessary because of the reduced threat to the UK.

The reserves had an obvious role to play in providing more defence for less money, and a study into their future has been in progress in parallel with the Defence Cost Study. A further announcement will be made later in the year, but a TA troop is already in the Falklands, the first time that a TA unit has been deployed in 'peacetime'.

Making more use of the TA will please the powerful lobby which has long demanded that part-time volunteers should be used in peacetime and not just in a war.

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