Army restructuring: boost for troops in Northern Ireland with additional reserve company and new premier regiment
A restructuring and reorganisation of the British Army has given Northern Ireland the “thumbs up” with the establishment of a premier regiment in the Province.
It was also announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace that the same number of units would remain in Northern Ireland but host a greater proportion of its workforce, as well as gaining an additional reserve company of the Royal Irish.
Commander 38 (Irish) Brigade, Chris Davies, said: “I am delighted that the Army’s continued commitment to Northern Ireland will not be significantly altered with the same number of units and a higher proportion of soldiers based here.”
One of the biggest announcements was the formation of a new Ranger Regiment, part of which will be based in Northern Ireland.
The regiment, which forms part of the newly established Army Special Operations Brigade, will be led by the First Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS) based at Palace Barracks in Holywood.
UUP leader Doug Beattie, a former captain within the Royal Irish Regiment, welcomed the Government and the Ministry of Defence’s commitment to Northern Ireland.
He said: “It shows a real commitment to Northern Ireland.
“Firstly, the increase of a rifle company within 2 R Irish (the Second Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment) to improve the reserve footprint in Northern Ireland.
“Secondly, they are forming one of their premier Ranger Regiments within Northern Ireland.”
The Ranger Regiment is expected to be deployed alongside allies to counter extremist organisations and hostile state threats.
Mr Beattie said: “It’s a real thumbs up for Northern Ireland and the people here. Increasingly we will see more and more people from Northern Ireland who wish to join the military will be hoping to join that regiment.”
The British Army will act as an “expeditionary fighting force” designed to be “deployable and lethal” under new reforms, according to the Defence Secretary.
Mr Wallace told MPs that a restructuring and reorganisation of units will take place in the coming years, with the regular Army standing at 73,000 by 2025 – a reduction from 82,000 although 500 higher than the initial target.
This will be combined with an Army reserve of 30,000.
Mr Wallace said the Government has provided the resources for a “generational modernisation” of defence, with £41.3 billion being injected into army equipment and support over the decade – £8.6 billion more than had been planned prior to the Integrated Review.
He said: “The Army will now be reorganised to operate on a continuous basis, fielding all the relevant capabilities for this era of constant competition and persistently engaged around the globe supporting our partners and deterring our adversaries.”
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