Parents of army casualties to demonstrate against cuts
PARENTS of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are to take part in protests up and down the country against plans to reduce the size of the army.
Demonstrations are expected to be held at war memorials in cities including Glasgow on 24 July. A protest will also be carried out at the cenotaph in central London.
The demonstrations have been organised by Dee Edwards, who set up the group Protest Against MoD Cuts in response to Thursday’s announcement that the army cut will be cut from 102,000 to 82,000 personnel.
She said: “What the MoD are doing is completely wrong. What happens to all of these thousands of people when they are made redundant – how many more ex-soldiers are going to end up on the streets?
“We will be holding the protests at 11am, the same time as Armistice Day is marked, to remember all the soldiers’ lives who have been lost and to think about all the ones that could die in action in the future.”
Meanwhile, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall has spoken of the “shock” he felt at the moment he learned that the army was to be reduced in size.
Gen Wall said David Cameron told him about the changes – which will see the army cut from 102,000 to 82,000 personnel – last July.
He warned of a “welter of unhappiness” as up to 10 per cent of personnel are made compulsorily redundant.
In an interview, Gen Wall said: “It was very stressful at first, it came as a shock. It is not straightforward to do something like this when you are in the middle of an overseas campaign.”
Thursday’s announcement that the army is to lose 17 major units, including five infantry battalions, was met with anger by many, but Gen Wall insisted that there was no truth in rumours that generals were quitting over it.
Scottish units were not as badly affected than those elsewhere in the UK.
Gen Wall said: “I’m confident that I’ve got the senior leadership of the army down to divisional and brigade level behind me on this. We’ve certainly given everyone the opportunity to protest.”
But he added: “If you had said to me when I took over as head of the army two years ago that this was the situation I was going to have to deal with, I’d have said ‘Crikey that’s going to be a bit challenging’.”
While 17 Welsh and English units are to be disbanded, all the Scottish names are to remain – provoking a wave of protest from Conservative backbenchers.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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