Territorial Army HQ cash investment hope

The Territorial Army Centre in Crawley will in all likelihood benefit from investment in the forthcoming armed forces shakeup, a Ministry of Defence spokesman has confirmed.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond also hinted that the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) unit based at Kilnead Road will be bolstered in the restructure.

The regular army is to be cut by 20,000 to 82,000, with the TA doubling from 15,000 to 30,000, according to proposals .

More than £1 billion will be invested to turn the TA into a fully-integrated part of the regular army, as part of the Future Reserves 2020 consultation programme.

During defence question in parliament Crawley MP Henry Smith sought assurances from Mr Hammond about the status of Crawley’s TA base.

He said: “My constituents are very proud of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Territorial Army units. Will the Secretary of State tell us what plans he has for the REME units as part of this welcome statement on growing and supporting our reserves?”

Mr Hammond responded: “As he will know from comments I have already made, I cannot give unit-specific assurances, but I can say this to him: in the restructuring of the Regular Army, a deliberate decision has been taken to reduce manpower disproportionately in logistics, engineers and REME, which will require a disproportionate growth in the reserve strength in those three areas. I think he can probably work out the rest for himself.”

Meanwhile an Mod spokesman told the Observer: “At worst the Crawley TA Centre will stay the same but in all likelihood it will get some money put into it.”

The Kilnead base is home to 103 Battalion Royal Mechanical Engineers (v) and supports 35 regular staff and 53 reserve soldiers.

It plays a pivotal role in remembrance day services in the town.

It is already seeing investment in its Army Careers Information Office to make which will make it the focus for army recruitment in central Sussex.

Major Paul Furbar, in charge at the Crawley TA centre, said it was too early to speculate on the results of the consultation, due to be published in the Spring of 2013.

He said: “There are high exceptions that we will be staying here. Obviously we would welcome any investment.”

The result of the consultation into new structures, roles, terms and conditions for army reserves will be announced in Spring 2013.

Mr Smith added outside parliament: “I was delighted to seek assurances from the Defence Secretary on the floor of the House of Commons that the REME unit will be a key part of the Governments expansion plans for our reservist forces.

“REME’s presence in our town is very positive and forms an important link between military and civilians.”