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Fear for county troops

THE future of the Cheshire Regiment could be under threat following a leaked Government report, an MP has warned.

THE future of the Cheshire Regiment could be under threat following a leaked Government report, an MP has warned.

Stephen O'Brien claims the document reveals plans to cut Britain's defence budget by £1.2bn.

The Conservative MP for Eddisbury says this would hit up to 10 infantry and tank units, including the Cheshires.

And he says the report also shows the cuts would hit Army manpower which could be slashed by 6,000 to 102,000.

Mr O'Brien said: 'Leaked Government reports indicate up to 10 tank and infantry regiments could be lost if they proceed with these cuts. These proposals are a real threat to our own infantry battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, and many more units across the country. The credibility of Britain's armed forces is in serious danger if they decide to proceed with these cuts.

'At the present time our highly-trained, professional forces are severely overstretched due to falling manpower levels and our growing number of global commitments.

'This has led to large numbers of experienced servicemen leaving the forces due to low morale and extended periods away from their families - we proceed with further cuts at our peril.

'The lessons of past experience points to the fact that many conflicts blow up when you least expect them, such as the Gulf War, the Falklands and even the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

'We are at serious risk of lowering our guard to such a degree that, should the need arise, we will be in no position to defend Britain's national interests.'

He added: 'We are in the situation where the Army has been equipped with rifles that jam and radios that do not work. Further defence cuts are a false, short-term economy that could spell disaster in a time of need.'

But the Ministry of Defence has denied any cuts are planned.

An MoD spokeswoman said: 'As far as we are aware, there are no plans or proposals to reduce the size of the armed forces or the Territorial Army. In real terms there has been an increase in defence spending for the first time since the 1980s.

'As far as we are aware there are certainly no plans to cut 10 regiments, including the Cheshire Regiment.

'We do not wish to comment further on leaked documents as we consider them a breach of security.'


David Holmes
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