MORE soldiers will arrive in the area as part of Army restructuring in the region, The News can reveal.
People in Emsworth will say goodbye to 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, which will no longer be based at Thorney Island.
The soldiers, who have just returned from a tour of Afghanistan, are moving to Larkhill in Wiltshire.
They are being replaced by 16 Regiment, a larger unit which is currently based in the Midlands.
Meanwhile, 12 Regiment will remain at Thorney Island and will also increase in numbers.
The regiments all specialise in providing air defence to the Army.
Colonel Nick Pond, the commander of the Joint Ground Based Air Defence Command, said: ‘Air defence is on the up again. It has been a capability that has been overlooked over the last few years but now the world is changing and air defence is going to come to the fore again.
‘It’s a shame to see 47 Regiment go because they have had such a strong link with the community and have done such a good job.
‘I’m sure 12 Regiment and 16 Regiment will continue that.’
He said air defence is one of the few areas to be growing under the Army 2020 restructuring plan and would increase by a number of sub units.
‘We’re growing in number by about a third,’ he said. ‘I’m delighted to be taking command of the two units and delighted to have a foothold in Thorney Island again because it is a fantastic part of the world.’
At Thorney Island, command of 12 Regiment was officially handed over from the 1st Armoured Division to the Joint Ground Based Air Defence Command as part of the first steps in the restructuring.
Brigadier Simon Humphrey is the Royal Artillery Commander for the 1st Armoured Division.
He said: ‘Getting 16 Regiment into Thorney Island and creating an air defence centre of excellence is good news.
‘It’s down to us to continue to push the business of air defence, getting back into the DNA of the wider field army.
‘We have forgotten about this capability for far too long.
‘It is a sad day for me in some regards to be handing over command, but I think that’s the right place the regiment needs to be for the future.
‘I can say with confidence that I hand over 12 Regiment in a good order.’
As reported in The News, a new reservist artillery battery is also to be set up in Hilsea.
The 295 Battery will integrate with 12 Regiment and provide support.
REGIMENTS PROVIDE ARMY’S VITAL AIR DEFENCE SUPPORT
THE three Royal Artillery Regiments involved with Thorney Island provide air defence for the Army in different ways.
· 12 Regiment: These soldiers are armoured warfare specialists, who support tanks and armoured infantry to destroy fast attack aircraft and helicopters in flight.
· 16 Regiment: They operate the Army’s only short-range Rapier surface-to-air missile system which protects from fast jets, helicopters, unmanned air systems, and cruise missiles.
They are due to move on to Thorney Island.
· 47 Regiment: One of only two regiments in the Royal Artillery who provide the Army’s eyes in the sky, using unmanned aircraft to keep an eye on the land.