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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Hilary Mantel in 2003 - years before she released a short story, in which she fantasised about the death of Margaret Thatcher  

In what universe is Hilary Mantel's imaginary assassination of Margret Thatcher worthy of police investigation?

Matthew Norman
Noddy Holder must be glad he wrote 'Merry Xmas Everybody' as he'll earn £800,000 this year from royalties.  

Noddy Holder: A true rock ’n’ roll hero, and a role model for sensible people everywhere

Rosie Millard
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam