Future Of 1 RTR
05 August 2011
"On Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Defence agreed to the SDSR measure (subsumed by a PR11 option) to delete the Joint CBRN Regiment and transfer all of Defence's specialist CBRN capabilities to the RAF Regiment.
This brings to a close a protracted and difficult period for the Regiment. The debate has been intensive and impassioned, and the Regiment has punched well above it's weight in making the argument for CBRN to remain in the Land domain.
The Commanding Officer announced the decision to the Regiment at 1200 hrs yesterday. General Sir Nick Parker, C-in-C Land Forces, addressed the Regiment at 1545 hrs and then took questions from the Officers' and WOs' and Sergeants' Messes. Brigadier Simon Levey, Director Royal Armoured Corps, was also in attendance.
C-in-C assured the Regiment with 3 major points, as follows:
1. 1RTR would not be disbanded as a result of the Secretary of State's decision on CBRN. The long term future of 1RTR would be examined on equal terms with other Armoured Regiments in the Army re-structuring work being undertaken by Major General Carter. This work seeks to deliver an integrated force of 82,000 regular and 30,000 reservists by 2020, and will report for decision by ECAB in the Autumn.
2. There was no more likelihood of 1RTR soldiers being made redundant as a consequence of the decision than any other soldiers in the RAC.
3. 1RTR would retain a footprint in Honington until at least April 2013, giving stability to individuals and families for the next 18 months.
C-in-C explained that he saw 3 phases in going forwards:
1. The handover of CBRN skills and equipment to the RAF Regiment and the Yeomanry.
2. An interim phase of constructive and meaningful activity for the Regiment in a new role.
3. The implementation of the findings of the Carter Review, in a 3-5 year timescale.
C-in-C remarked that having been the Brigade Commander in Germany when 1RTR converted to the CBRN role, he understood the challenge this represented and the extraordinary professionalism that the Regiment has shown ever since.
DRAC then outlined some of his ideas for an interim role for 1RTR, including:
1. Generating a Squadron for deployment to Op HERRICK with the SCOTS DG and then QRH battlegroups, subject to future force levels in theatre.
2. Running the Crew Training School in Bovington.
3. Becoming the lead unit for experimentation and TTP development for the Army, in the AGILE WARRIOR workstream.
The Regiment takes great heart from the reassurance given personally by C-in-C and DRAC. Whilst the announcement was an undoubted shock to most, its implications are perhaps not as dire as first imagined. We have been impressed by and are very grateful for the support shown to the Regiment by the chains of command, both Army and RAF.
The Regiment will go on leave after duties tomorrow relieved that a decision on CBRN has finally been made and reassured over the implications. On return all ranks will be ready to take up the new challenges. We will conduct a professional and orderly handover of CBRN capability. We can look forward to formally standing up again as 1st Royal Tank Regiment, and a challenging interim role thereafter.
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