The Regimental Future


20140317From the Life Guards to the Parachute Regiment, the British Army's regiments are rich in culture and steeped in tradition, but how long will they last, and how long will they remain useful?

Will Robson assesses the role and relevance of the regiments in modern warfare and at a time when defence budgets are being cut.

To the soldiers that serve in them, the regiment is the all-important military family that provides accommodation, welfare and a fierce identity, bonding soldiers together in training and in battle.

The regimental system, with its own esoteric structures, names, class divides and hierarchies, has endured for many years - yet is unique among the modern militaries.

Could Government plans to downsize and force the British army to restructure lead to amalgamations chipping away at a structure that remains key to the army's success. The Royal Fusiliers are fighting the planned disbandment of their second Battalion, a move which will leave them with one battalion and an uncertain future.

On the other hand, restructuring may also lead to larger and stronger regiments which amalgamate the traditions of individual units, creating a shared and strengthened regimental ethos. For example, the Rifles Regiment's original Light Infantry and Royal Green Jacket battalions have been boosted by former heavy infantry regiments such as the Devon and Dorsets and the Gloucesters.

We hear from serving soldiers and officers, as well as veterans of all ranks.

Producer: Harry Graham

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.