Dear North East Members of Parliament,
By now you are probably aware of the contents of the letter sent to John Baron MP concerning the proposed disbandment of The 2nd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which is our local Infantry Regiment.
The criteria has now become apparent in that the government did not decide who was to go on military criteria i.e. the worst recruited Battalions as we were initially led to believe, but on a political agenda.
Scottish Battalions who have a poor record of recruiting have remained while the Fusiliers who are fully recruited are going to be sacrificed in order to keep the Scottish electorate happy and to make sure that they do not vote for independence in 2014.
This decision has been flawed from the very start and there appears to be an ignorance from Mr Hammond and CGS where exactly we recruit from. I am sure John Baron will brief you on this on Wednesday.
In short, this Battalion has been singled out on poor criteria and for political reasons alone.
This will mean that the young men of our region may be forced to join Scottish Battalions in order to make the numbers up due to the fact that the North East alone recruits more than twice the amount of soldiers per year, than the whole of Scotland put together.
The demographic argument we had heard about so often has been proved to be totally false.
Not only this, but as a regiment, we do not have a high foreign and Commonwealth contingent as other regiments north and south of the border do by comparison.
The misguided reliance on the TA to fill to void does not ring true either. I am aware that many TA units are understrength and in some units recruiting is poor.
To double the size of the TA is a very tall order, there is an ignorance among politicians and regulars about TA capability also which stretches up the chain of command. Not to mention employer concerns!
Can I take this opportunity to ask you all to attend the meeting that John Baron MP has invited you to on Wednesday, September 5, to discuss the situation with the Fusiliers and to take the Government to task over this betrayal of our soldiers from the North East. MPs from our other recruiting areas have been invited also.
If you all attend you will make up a sizable contingent to say the least. I would take this opportunity to ask you all not to let our boys down. Remember they do not have a voice!
At 2pm on Saturday, September 8, our Association members will meet again at Old Eldon Square to start our campaign in earnest.
Members of the press will be invited for photo opportunities and interviews. Our ex-soldiers will then take to the streets to petiton members of the public to support the Fusiliers campaign.
Major Chester Potts TD,