Leading article: Our Army must learn to adapt

 

Share
Related Topics

When the Army announces the biggest structural overhaul in half a century, there is no way to avoid controversy. Even more so given that the radical reform programme – known as Army 2020 – includes cuts in capability to meet the demands of significantly reduced defence spending. As many as 11 infantry regiments could go, including such illustrious names as the Black Watch and the Queen's Dragoon Guards.

But this is no time for sentimentality over historic cap badges. And the Army faces new challenges. After years embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq, there will be little enthusiasm for British boots on the ground in any protracted expedition for many years to come.

If there are some broad areas of uncertainty in setting out the Army's future role, other aspects are crystal clear. One is that it will require the expertise to help build security in troubled nations. Another is that it will need ever more of the skills more commonly found in civilian life – although it may not be cost-effective to maintain, full time, the entire range of specialist capabilities that might be required in emergencies.

It is for this reason that the latest review will double the number of part-time reservists even as it cuts the number of regulars back to the lowest level since the Boer War. Once the reforms are completed, more than a quarter of the Army will be drawn from the reserves – in areas such as medicine, cyber-intelligence and logistics – to provide support to the professionals.

There are, however, difficulties to be overcome if the integration between the Army's regular and reserve components is increased. At a time of growing economic hardship, it will be trickier than ever to persuade both potential reservists themselves, and their employers, to commit to the extra responsibilities required. Small and medium-sized companies will find the sudden and prolonged absence of staff prohibitive, and larger ones, even with improved financial incentives from the Government, may be resistant.

There is much in favour of proposals for reform. But the practicalities of the Army 2020 blueprint may yet need further thought.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?