03/07/2012 02:47 BST | Updated 03/07/2012 02:49 BST

Army Officer: Slashing Troop Numbers In Colonel Of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Not 'Sensible Military Option'

Slashing troop numbers in one of the British Army's most celebrated regiments is not a "sensible military option", a top officer has said.

Brig David Paterson, the honorary Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF), is "bitterly disappointed" by proposals to axe soldiers in the infantry battalion.

In a letter to Gen Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff (CGS), published in The Daily Telegraph, he wrote: "I, as Colonel, have the duty to tell my men why it is their battalion, which at the time of the announcement will be the best manned battalion in the Army, with recruits waiting in the wings, was chosen by CGS.

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The Army is in the process of reducing its numbers to 82,000 by 2020

"I will then also have to explain to my Fusiliers in a fully manned battalion why they are likely to be posted to battalions that cannot recruit. This will not be an easy sell."

The Army is in the process of reducing its numbers to 82,000 by 2020, and the Telegraph reported an announcement would be made on Thursday that the RRF would face a cut from about 1,100 soldiers to 600.

In his letter, written last month, Brig Paterson added: "I would not want you to have even the slightest impression that I am challenging your orders.

"If challenged or scrutinised by, for example the media, it cannot be presented as the best or most sensible military option."

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "We don't comment on leaked documents. The CGS has held a number of discussions about the restructuring of the Army with senior officers. We have always been clear that more than one set of criteria is used in determining the future shape of the Army as it is restructured to become an integrated regular and reserve force by 2020."