Military chiefs had drawn up plans to cut the armed forces by more than 14,000 and combine elite units of Paratroopers and Marines to save money.
However Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has rejected the plans, calling them “unacceptable”.
The cost-saving option would combine the forces of 3 Commando Brigade, predominately made up of Royal Marines; and 16 Air Assault Brigade, which includes the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Parachute Regiment.
This is largely due to the shrinking amphibious capability of the Royal Navy and while the requirement of having ‘elite’ troops still exists they could fall under the same brigade administratively which would save the MoD millions of pounds each year.
The proposal suggested a plan of cutting 11,000 soldiers; 2,000 Royal Marines and sailors; and, 1,250 airmen, reducing army numbers alone to the smallest it has been since before Napoleon – fewer than 71,000.
While the Paras and Marines use the same weapons and tactics ‘on-paper’ at least, the culture between the two units is very different. Cpl Jones based at Commando Training Centre (CTC) in Devon said: “The Paras are top blokes, but our history and heritage are worlds apart. In a fighting unit like ours, that is everything.”
An MoD spokesman said: “A whole range of options have been discussed as part of the cross-government review on how to best protect our country”.
The options are reportedly the outcome of a comprehensive defence and security review announced last year that has caused widespread speculation about possible cuts amid major pressure on the defence budget.
Defence Editor of The Times, Deborah Haynes, tweeted that Mr Williamson “was right to reject them” but that he now has to “find another fix” for the funding crisis.
Here are the 3 lists of options for cost-saving cuts to @RoyalNavy, @BritishArmy & @RoyalAirForce. @GavinWilliamson was right to reject them but he now has to find another fix for @DefenceHQ’s funding crisis pic.twitter.com/aAnnZqqcWd
— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) January 12, 2018
Mark Francois MP told the Commons: “At a time when we face a resurgent Russia, which has carried out the annexation of the Crimea and still has further territorial ambitions in the Ukraine as well as placing pressure on the Baltic states, reducing the army in this way would send entirely the wrong signals to the Russians about our commitments to Nato and willingness to uphold the territorial integrity of our allies.”
“I only have to hope that the pinstripe warriors in the Treasury, who daily live in fear that the air conditioning might malfunction or that the tea trolley might be late, have since abandoned such a daft suggestion as there’s no way that I and many of my colleagues on these benches could possibly support a reduction of that magnitude in regular manpower.”
It would appear cuts to the number of regular forces is inevitable, it’s just a matter of where.