Options for Change
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The UK military strategy had until this point been almost entirely focused on defending the UK against the Soviet military; whether the Royal Marines in Scandinavia, the Royal Air Force in West Germany or over the North Sea, the Royal Navy in the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic, or the British Army in Germany. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact these scenarios were no longer relevant. While criticised both before and after, it was an exercise mirrored by governments of almost every major western military power, the so-called "peace dividend".
Among the changes implemented was the cutting total manpower by approximately 18% to around 255,000 (120,000 British Army; 60,000 Royal Navy; 75,000 Royal Air Force). Another major casualty of Options for Change was the UK's combined nuclear civil defence organisations — the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation and its field force the Royal Observer Corps (a part-time volunteer branch of the RAF), both of which were wound down and disbanded between September 1991 and December 1995.
- Halving the troop strength in Germany by replacing the British Army of the Rhine with British Forces Germany in 1994.
- Several British Army regiments amalgamated:
- The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) - 1 battalion
- The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires) - 2 battalions
- The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment - 1 battalion
- The Royal Gurkha Rifles - 3 battalions (later reduced to two)
- The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd, 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment) - 2 general service battalions (later reduced to one)
- In addition, seven regiments each lost a battalion:
The amalgamation of the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers into the Royal Scots Borderers (1 battalion) and the Cheshire Regiment and Staffordshire Regiment into the Cheshire and Staffordshire Regiment (1 battalion) was announced, but suspended in 1994.
Royal Armoured Corps
- The Household Cavalry Regiment (each retained regimental identity)
- The King's Royal Hussars
- The Light Dragoons
- The Queen's Royal Hussars (Queen's Own and Royal Irish)
- The Queen's Royal Lancers
- The Royal Dragoon Guards
- 1st Royal Tank Regiment
- 2nd Royal Tank Regiment
- Royal Logistic Corps
- Adjutant General's Corps
Royal Air Force
- Halving the number of RAF bases in Germany to two
- Withdrawing the F-4 Phantom II squadrons from service
- Cancellation of the Brimstone missile, although it was later reinstated.
A fictionalised portrayal of the effects of Options for Change on the ordinary men and women serving in the armed forces came in the ITV drama series Soldier Soldier. In this, the fictional infantry regiment portrayed in the series, the King's Fusiliers, was one of those selected for amalgamation. The series showed the whole process of negotiation regarding traditions, embellishments, etc. between the two regiments involved, and of the uncertainty that many of those serving felt for their jobs in the light of two separate battalions merging into one, with the resulting loss of manpower.
- List of British Army regiments (1994) - British Army regiments after the defence cuts.
- Front Line First (1994)
- Strategic Defence Review (1998)
- Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities (2004)
- Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010)