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Campaigners step up battalion fight
11:42am Thursday 28th February 2013 in Bury
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the under-threat 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are setting up an “honour guard” in Downing Street and the House of Commons.
An ex-Fusilier, wearing the distinctive regimental beret and hackle, will be on station for an hour outside the gates of Number 10 during Tuesday Cabinet meetings and also in the public gallery for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesdays, which began yesterday.
The “honour guard” forms part of the continuing campaign to save the 2RRF. The 600-strong armoured infantry unit is earmarked to be disbanded by 2014 in line with the Government’s planned Army cuts.
Campaigners say this is despite the battalion having an excellent recruitment record.
They argue the disbandment plans are especially unjust, given that more battalions are being saved.
Last October, following a Parliamentary debate on the controversial issue, MPs voted 57-3 to oppose proposals to axe the 2RRF.
Commenting on the “honour guard,” ex-Fusilier captain and Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay John Baron said: “The ex-Fusilier will be a constant reminder to the Government, and to the Prime Minister inparticular, that we are not going to give up on this campaign.
“I would like to thank the Regimental Associations for their help.
“In this increasingly uncertain world, cutting regular battalions is unwise, especially when there is uncertainty as to whether reservists can plug the gap. We shall continue to fight the decision to axe 2RRF.”
Mr Baron was referring to Government plans to replace 20,000 regular troops, including 2RRF, with 30,000 reservists. Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday during Defence Questions, the MP said: “The Government is coy about the cost of training these reservists to regular standards, whilst estimated costs do not include payments to individuals for lost income.
Regulars could well be cheaper in the long run.
“Furthermore, there is a real credibility gap regarding Government plans.
“It is very unwise scrapping regular battalions — including from my old regiment — before being absolutely sure that reservists can plug the gap.”