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Infantry takes big hit in British Army reorganisation

Nearly 20% of the British Army's infantry soldiers are to be lost as a result of the Future Soldier reorganisation, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace announced on 25 November.

Wallace confirmed the strength of the British Army would be reduced by a total of 9,000 posts overall, with its infantry branch taking the biggest cut.

Under the plans, the British Army's infantry branch will be reduced by 3,000 posts from its current total of about 5,000 soldiers, according to senior UK defence sources. The remainder are being spread across the other branches of the army.

The bulk of the infantry personnel cuts will come from infantry units previously assigned to conventional armoured warfighting roles. Two battalions of the Mercian Regiment are also to be combined into a single battalion, saving about 650 posts, Wallace announced on 25 November.

According to a senior defence source, the four infantry battalions – from the Irish Guards, Royal Regiment of Scotland, Royal Anglian Regiment, and The Rifles – assigned to the new Security Assistance Force brigade, based in Aldershot, will no longer be at full strength but be reduced to 250 personnel each, saving another 1,600 posts in total. The withdrawal of the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) will result in the five battalions that currently operate the vehicle being able to reduce their strength from 800 to 650 soldiers.

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