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RGBW TO BECOME A REGIMENT OF THE LIGHT INFANTRY
|From: General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE|
Colonel of the Regiment
The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
Custom House 31 Commercial Road Gloucester GL1 2HE
Tel: 01452 – 522682 Fax: 01452 – 311116 Mil: (9)4249 – 8400
E-mail:email@example.com Website: www.rgbw.co.uk
16th March 2005
I am sure you have heard that the Secretary of State announced last Wednesday that the RGBW will no longer be split, but will instead move in one direction as a Regiment to the Light Infantry. Both the RGBW and its antecedent regiments will therefore be represented in the future. This is extremely good news and our thanks must go to all those who played a part in stimulating this change of heart.
We have not saved the Regiment in its current form, but this was never on offer as it had been decided that every battalion, except those of the Guards Division, should be part of a large regiment and that Arms Plotting should cease. As the Secretary of State restated, “the RGBW will form the basis of the reduction by one battalion of The Prince of Wales’s Division. We may disagree with the process by which this decision was reached, but we are where we are and must now work on how we implement this decision.
We have, with this latest decision, a new solution which offers considerable advantages to the RGBW and in particular the 1st Battalion compared to the previous situation. I believe it is important that members of the Regiment understand how we will move to the LI.
The original announcement on 16th December was that the RGBW should be dismembered. This was a catastrophic decision for the Regiment and for the 1st_Battalion. Manpower was to be spread across 2 Divisions of Infantry and those that could not find vacancies within the receiving regiments would have been spread yet further. In my initial discussions with the PWRR it was suggested that, due to the PWRR’s own full manning, RGBW manpower would have to be dispersed across all 3 of the Queen’s Division’s Regiments. Our heritage was also to be split, despite 10 years of hard work in building the cohesion of the RGBW. This plan inevitably reignited former regimental passions; this has been particularly unhelpful and potentially very divisive. Indeed, the view of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess following this original announcement, as reported to me by the RSM, was that the RGBW should opt to disband rather than allow ourselves to be torn apart.
Now the RGBW complete is to join the Light Division. Some time after 1iRGBW returns from operations in Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, we will become 1st_Battalion, The Light Infantry (1 LI) with 1 D and D. The present 1 LI and 2 LI will rename as 2 LI and 3 LI. As before, we are guaranteed 1/3rd of the slots in the new 1iLI, both in terms of manpower and rank structure, and the CO is confident after discussions with the Light Division that the vast majority of his soldiers who wish to join the Light Division will be able to do so.  Of course, the future system of individual posting of soldiers around a large regiment will mean that RGBW soldiers across the Light Division will continue to serve with friends throughout their careers.
So, the majority of our soldiers and officers will now move in one single direction to a new regimental home. The soldiers, most of whom have never served with either GLOSTERS or DERR and who never understood the split that had been ordered in December, are greatly relieved by the removal of uncertainty over their future. There will be some who decide, for career reasons or for choice of location or role, that they would prefer to serve outside the Light Division. Most importantly they will have choice; some other regiments remain badly undermanned and will welcome our high quality soldiers with open arms.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Although it is clear that our heritage, most of which is inherited from the GLOSTERS, the DERR, the Royal Berkshires and the Wiltshires, will be retained within the Light Infantry, it is not yet decided how this will manifest itself. CGS has written recently “in order to establish the most appropriate way to safeguard both the D and D’s and RGBW’s ‘golden thread’, a requisite that ECAB has made clear is most important, I have asked ACGS to oversee the process on my behalf and to report back to ECAB for its endorsement. I envisage that there will be strong and publicly visible links to the antecedents during a transition period. We will of course argue that the ‘transition’ will take a very long time.
So we are to become part of a 3-battalion Light Infantry regiment, together with 1 D and D. I am confident that the LI, a fine regiment which already has many years experience of successfully retaining regional links and preserving the heritage of its previous regiments, will embrace the traditions and ethos of its new line infantry components. As part of the LI we will continue to have strong regional links to our three counties and the City of Bristol (where the LI already recruits). As far as the future is concerned, should in due course the Light Division form an even larger regiment by merging the Light Infantry with the Royal Green Jackets, we must ensure that the RGBW will be able to trace its lineage through the new 5-battalion Light regiment.
Our Regimental Association and Officers’ Club will continue to have one central focus; their relationship with the Light Infantry will be modelled on our successful 1994 amalgamation. We welcome the opportunity to take our Combined Cadet Forces and Army Cadet Forces forward with us; they can then continue to reinforce our footprint in the counties. The future of the TA is still to be resolved but I hope that those soldiers and officers of the Rifle Volunteers and Royal Rifle Volunteers currently cap badged RGBW will be able to move to the LI with us and thereby continue to represent us in our counties.
This is not an easy time for anyone in the infantry; everyone faces considerable change with the decision to end Arms Plotting. We in the RGBW face more difficulties than almost anyone else, but we are fortunate to have been welcomed so positively by the LI.
There is in 1 RGBW great determination to make this work and ensure that the spirit and quality that has been the trademark of the RGBW goes forward into the LI along with our heritage. I very much hope that everyone will continue to support the Regiment as we embrace the changes that lie ahead.
 CO (Designate) attended the 2nd Light Division Working Group on 11 March. At that meeting it was agreed in principle that, where possible, the 'remaining 2/3rds' of the RGBW will be found 'homes' within the Light Division (ie 2 LI, 3 LI, 1 RGJ and 2_RGJ). Naturally this will be dependent of the appropriate vacancies; the Light Division COs were tasked to identify potential ;ORBAT shortfalls in order that further detailed career management of the 'remaining RGBW 2/3rds' can take place. In parallel, CO 1 RGBW will be identifying the Battalions assets that could potentially fill these posts.
FUTURE INFANTRY STRUCTURE
Future Infantry Structure – The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Geoffrey Hoon): On 16 December 2004 I announced changes to the future structure of the Infantry, including a decision on how we would achieve a reduction by one in the number of battalions in The Prince of Wales’s Division. The antecedent components of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (RGBW) were to merge with, in the case of the Gloucestershire element, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (which would also transfer to The Light Infantry) and, in the case of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment element, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
However, following my announcement, there was a widespread perception that the plan to split the RGBW along the lines of its antecedent parts amounted to the disbandment of the RGBW and the abandonment of its own heritage.
In view of this, I asked the Executive Committee of the Army Board (ECAB) to review its original recommendation in relation to the future of the RGBW. In the process of this review, ECAB noted that in formulating its original recommendation on the RGBW it had given insufficient weight to the sense of identity that has evolved during the 10 years since the RGBW was created.
ECAB concluded that although the substance of the original recommendation – that the RGBW will form the basis of the reduction by one battalion of The Prince of Wales’s Division – should not change, more could be done to preserve the identity and heritage of the RGBW itself, and not just of its antecedents. ECAB now recommends that this should be achieved instead through an amalgamation of The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment with the RGBW. The resulting new regiment will become the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry (reflecting the original decision for the D and D to join The Light Infantry).
I have accepted the need for this adjustment to the original recommendation. The details of how the amalgamation will be taken forward will be a matter for the Army to manage and will be worked out by those concerned over the coming months.