Hammond hinted that private security contractors, Territorial Army reserve troops, as well as servicemen from allied NATO nations will be used to fill the gaps which are created as a result of the troop reduction. While speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Hammond said he wanted the reserve troops to play more active role in frontline-related duties. He also said that the recently retired British servicemen will be rehired, as one of the possible options to fill the gaps.
According to the defence experts, the announcement will mean that the transport and logistics tasks which are currently undertaken by the British troops will be handed over to other NATO members like Italy and Germany. The proposed defence cutbacks will fully come in to effect by 2020. Hammond is currently undertaking a program to axe or merge a number of army regiments, which has drawn in serious criticism, especially from the north of the Hadrian’s Wall.
Hammond said that he intends to pump in as much as £1.8 billion in to the Territorial Army, and plans to double the reserve strength from the current 19,000 to as much as 38,000. Including the regular soldiers, this will mean that the combined army strength will remain at 120,000, almost at the same level which it operates currently. Hammond also plans to integrate the reservists more in to the regular army, by merging the reserve units with the regular units.
The plans to cut the size of the British Army were first published in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). Critics have slammed the move, saying that the measure makes the British Armed Forces more dependent on private security contractors and other NATO members.