Hampshire infantry unit joins Britain's new special forces 'ranger regiment' in Army shake-up
SOLDIERS based at Hampshire’s local infantry battalion are to become part of Britain’s new ‘ranger regiment’ in a shake-up to the nation’s special forces.
Troops from 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2PWRR) will merge with three other units to form the 1,000-strong regiment.
The new force is modelled on the US army’s elite Green Berets, which embed with foreign forces to help combat emerging conflicts before they escalate.
Britain’s own ranger group is expected to focus on counter-insurgency operations in regions such as east Africa.
Troops will be on hand to not only train and assist local forces but could accompany them on missions, supply intelligence and carry out reconnaissance.
It’s hoped this will free up current special forces operators from the SAS and SBS to tackle more complex missions.
The move is part of the Army’s radical overhaul, which will see it shrink in size to 70,000 personnel over the next four years.
Defence secretary, Ben Wallace said: ‘The best way to prevent conflict and deter our adversaries is to work alongside partners to strengthen their security and resilience. These ranger battalions will be at the vanguard at a more active and engaged armed forces.’
The news of 2PWRR joining the regiment has come as a relief to the chairman of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker.
The retired officer said there had been fears the regiment could lose one of its four battalions entirely as part of the government’s cuts to the army.
But speaking to The News after the decision, the Iraq veteran who grew up in Horndean and represents thousands of current and former soldiers, said: ‘This was a very worrying time for everybody. Fortunately the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment has come out with what seems to be a good result to be part of the ranger regiment.
‘It was very nerve-racking because people didn’t know what was going to happen. Fortunately for us, no cap badges were lost in these cuts.
‘That’s not the same for some of our other comrades in the infantry though.’
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Among those to bear the brunt of the cuts are the First and Second Battalion of the Mercian Regiment, which are being merged under the reforms.
PWRR has four battalions – two regular and two reservist ones. Cosham is the home of C Company, 4PWRR, one of the reservist units.
The troops from C Company could well be called upon to provide additional support to regulars in 2PWRR during operations.
The government is pumping in £120m over the next four years to invest in the new ranger regiment, which is expected to be stood up next year.