Letter; Published Daily Telegraph  30 March 2006


Infantry reforms

Sir – Your correspondent John Keegan (“Scots resent the merging of their glorious infantry”, News, March 29) is not only a fine military historian but has a clear understanding of what makes the British soldier tick: loyalty to his fellow soldiers in sections, platoons, and companies of their respective regiments, recruited locally and embedded in the local community.

If just a smidgen of his wisdom and insight could have been shared by the Army Board and ministers when they made the Treasury-driven decision to cut infantry numbers and amalgamate them into ersatz units, then we wouldn’t now have a cartoon version of the original, which has alienated so many. The trustees of the regimental system, in the shape of the Army Board, have demonstrably failed to pass the system on to succeeding generations with its integrity intact.

Decisions as ever have been made by committee. Committees identify with the lowest common denominator. So much so that the new battalion that sort of bears the name of the Black Watch can only wear the iconic symbol of the regiment, the red hackle, in barracks, not on parade. This says just about all that needs to be said about these reforms.

Patrick Watson, Former Black Watch officer, London SW8


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