LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- Another round of cuts will reduce the British Army to 82,000 regular soldiers in three years, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Thursday.
The plans Hammond announced to Parliament include eliminating five infantry battalions and 12 other units as the number of soldiers is reduced by 20 percent, The Guardian reported. He said the number of reserve soldiers will be doubled and the military will rely more on contractors.
Hammond and Gen. Sir Peter Wall, the Army's chief of staff, said new laws may be needed to protect reservists and their employers, including increasing compensation to companies that have to find temporary replacements.
Some of the units scheduled to be scrapped have long histories, like the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. The 300-year-old battalion is known as the Green Howards, and the Yorkshire Post reported the other battalions, the Duke of Wellington's and the Prince of Wales's Own, will lose their historic names as the Green Howards are merged in.
"This has been a difficult process and I understand the attachments of the regions to specific units, and the pride that they have in those units," Hammond said. "But while we recognize and honor the golden history of the army, our first priority is making an army for the future."
The Ministry of Defense is trying to restructure the Army into three basic groups -- reaction forces, adaptable forces and force troops. The first group will be designed for quick response anywhere in the world, the second for longer-term tasks and the third to provide logistical support for the others.
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