LISTEN: Dorset's Part Time Soldiers Ready to Join Regular Counterparts
2:23pm 19th November 2013
(Updated 9:05am 20th November 2013)
Dorset's reserve soldiers who command the Army's most sophisticated battle tank are now ready to be deployed to help the regular forces.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, based at Bovington, has completed a high profile training exercise at a Lulworth firing range on the Challenger 2 Tank. It's the first time they've taken full control of the 62 tonne beast after months of training in simulators.
The Regiment is made up of part time soldiers, who on Civvy Street might be plasterers, teachers or office workers, and the Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond wants more people with primary jobs elsewhere to come forward and join the Army reserves, supporting his plan to replace 20 thousand regular troops with 30 thousand reservists by 2020.
But Hammond is facing stiff opposition from rebel Tory backbenchers and Labour who want him to stop and rethink plans. Opposition MP's are expected to back an amendment on Wednesday (20th Nov) that could halt the planned changes.
Away from the Parliamentary debate at Westminster, Dorset's current serving reserve soldiers will continue to take part in high-grade exercises as they ready themselves to take on a bigger role alongside their regular army counterparts in the future.
Click below to listen to Luke de Costa's report from the Lulworth firing range.
To learn more about the Royal Wessex Yeomanry click here.