Job cut fears for the Staffords regiment
SOLDIERS serving with the Staffords could lose their jobs once they return from their second Afghanistan tour, it has emerged.
The 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) is due to be deployed in Helmand province in September, which will make it exempt from the latest round of Army compulsory redundancies.
But once 3 Mercian returns home, its soldiers could be included in the final round of cuts being announced next year.
Under the Government's Army 2020 programme, regular Army numbers are being reduced from 102,000 to 82,000.
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The programme will see 3 Mercian withdrawn from the Army's order of battle next year, although ministers insist this won't mean its soldiers are more likely to be made redundant.
However, relatives of serving Staffords are fearful for the future.
Josie Dale's son, 28-year-old son Sergeant Wez Dale, has served with 3 Mercian in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 49-year-old, from Fenton, said: "The Army is all Wez has ever known. He joined up when he was 16.
"It's ridiculous they could let him go. Over the last few years they've been moved from base to base. It could all be for nothing.
"It's terrible they could be going back out to Afghanistan soon, risking their lives for their country, and then come back to find out they're going to be made redundant."
The Army has announced 5,300 redundancy notices will be sent out on June 18. But anyone serving, preparing for, or recovering from combat operations on that date will be exempt, unless they have volunteered for redundancy.
This will be the third tranche of armed forces redundancies, after 2,860 jobs were cut in 2011, and 3,760 in 2012. Most have been voluntary redundancies.
The Staffords, who were last in Afghanistan in 2011, are expected to serve another six-month tour there.
But with British troop numbers in the country set to be reduced from 9,000 to 5,200 this summer, the units involved in the autumn deployment will only be confirmed in April.
It is understood 1 Mercian, the Cheshires, who will return from Helmand in April, will be exempt from the third tranche. However, they could also face redundancies in the later round.
An Army spokesman said: "To ensure any further redundancies are as fair as possible, it is likely they will include soldiers who were exempt from redundancy in tranche three."