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Gurkhas 'too expensive to retain' says Oxford professor

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Gurkhas 'too expensive to retain' says Oxford professor

Post by Ted-Pencry on 25/10/2012, 17:09

A professor has criticised cuts being made to the Army, claiming the Gurkhas and Scottish regiments should have been harder hit.

The government is reducing the British Army by 20,000 troops - from 102,000 to 80,000 - by the year 2020.

Professor Andrew Dorman said the Gurkhas had become "too expensive".

But Peter Carroll from the Gurkha Justice Campaign feels the comments are misguided and the Gurkhas are a "fantastic element" of the Army.

As part of the defence cuts the 23 Pioneer regiment from Bicester, Oxfordshire will be disbanded and 1st and 2nd Battalion, the Royal Welsh, at Tidworth, Wiltshire will be merged.

International security expert Prof Dorman, from Oxford, said: "I think the Gurkhas could have been cut alongside a number of the Scottish regiments.

"The Scots remain massively over-represented and even more so after these cuts. I would look to reduce a number of their battalions instead.

'Struggled to recruit'
"I would also question whether the Gurkhas should be retained.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the British Army would be more agile after 2020
"Historically, we've always kept the Gurkhas for three main reasons; we've struggled to recruit for most regiments and we kept the Gurkhas because they were cheaper.

"Prior to the reforms that were led by Joanna Lumley, the Gurkhas cost the British Army a lot less than an ordinary British soldier.

"Now they cost more and with the rules changed about where they can live after they retire, a lot of them are staying in the United Kingdom.

"Therefore there's that lost revenue stream as part of our outreach to Nepal."

'Fantastic element'
In response, the Gurkha Justice Campaign's Mr Carroll said: "I note the points made on recruitment, but in my understanding there's currently around one in 12 soldiers from foreign and commonwealth countries because we still can't recruit enough numbers, even in times of recession.

"The Gurkhas are a fantastic element of the British Army and to cut them seems complete nonsense.

"They are incredibly brave and loyal and among some of the best trained in foreign soldiers."

Speaking earlier this year, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond stressed the British Army post-2020 will not be a "one-shot army".

He said: "It will one of the most effective armies in the world - the best of its class - supported by a defence budget that is still going to be among the four or five largest in the world.

"It will be effective, more agile, with a smaller regular component, but more effective reserves, able to do all the tasks that were set out for it in the Strategic Defence and Security Review."

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