Options for Change

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Options for Change was a restructuring of the British Armed Forces in summer 1990 after the end of the Cold War.[1]

Until this point, UK military strategy had been almost entirely focused on defending Western Europe against the Soviet Armed Forces, with the Royal Marines in Scandinavia, the Royal Air Force (RAF) in West Germany and over the North Sea, the Royal Navy in the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic, and the British Army in Germany.[2]

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact occurring between 1989 and 1991, the threat of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe fell away. While the restructuring was criticised by several British politicians, it was an exercise mirrored by governments in almost every major Western military power, reflecting the so-called peace dividend.[3]

Total manpower was cut by approximately 18 per cent to around 255,000 (120,000 army; 60,000 navy; 75,000 air force).[1]

Other casualties of the restructuring were the UK's 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 disbanded between September 1991 and December 1995.[4]

British Army[edit]

Royal Corps of Signals[edit]

Royal Armoured Corps[edit]

Overall the Royal Armoured Corps was a merger of 18 regiments, this was achieved by the formation of 10 new regiments through amalgamations and new formations.



Territorial Army


Royal Artillery[edit]

Corps of Royal Engineers[edit]


  • Commander Royal Engineers (Airfields) formed to control non-deployable royal engineer airfield elements at RAF bases in the UK
  • 29th (Volunteer) Engineer Brigade along with its signal troop disbanded
  • 30th (Volunteer) Engineer Brigade along with its signal troop disbanded
  • 26th Engineer Regiment disbanded
  • 1st Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment formed by amalgamation of the Depot Regiment, Royal Engineers and 12th Royal School of Military Engineer Regiments, Royal Engineers
  • 3rd Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment formed by amalgamation of 1st Training and 3rd Training Regiments, Royal Engineers

Territorial Army

Other Corps[edit]

Royal Air Force[edit]

Strike Command[edit]

RAF Germany[edit]

RAF Germany itself was disbanded on 1 April 1993, being downgraded to group-level and becoming No. 2 Group of Strike Command.


  • Cancelling the Brimstone air-to-surface missile project (later restarted).

Royal Navy[edit]

On television[edit]

A dramatisation of the effects that Options for Change had on the ordinary men and women serving in the armed forces came in the ITV series Soldier Soldier. The fictional infantry regiment portrayed in the series, the King's Fusiliers, was one of those selected for amalgamation. It showed the whole process of negotiation over traditions, embellishments, etc. between the two regiments involved, and 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.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Defence (Options for Change)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 25 July 1990. col. 468–486.
  2. ^ Freedman, Lawrence (18 August 1999). The Politics of British Defence, 1979–97. Macmillan Press. ISBN 0-333746-67-8.
  3. ^ Clements, Benedict J.; Schiff, Jerald Alan; Debaere, Peter; Davoodi, Hamid Reza (1 July 1999). Military Spending, the Peace Dividend, and Fiscal Adjustment. International Monetary Fund. ISBN 978-1-4518-9700-5.
  4. ^ "End of the Long Lookout". The Herald. Glasgow. 29 December 1995. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  5. ^ "British Army Roll of Regiments 1995". 17 December 2007. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Regiments & Corps of the British Territorial Army 1995". 17 December 2007. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  7. ^ "British Army units from 1945 on - Welcome". british-army-units1945on.co.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  8. ^ Much information also from the regimental histories available at the army website
  9. ^ The term 'union' was used rather than amagalamation, as the regiment continued to maintain their own uniforms, traditions, and regimental titles in the mounted regiment
  10. ^ "RAF Timeline 1990–99". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.