FIVE infantry battalions were expected to be axed in the biggest overhaul of the Army in more than a century, under plans due to be announced today.
And the proposals were due to see other units merged or turned into reservists.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was to set out how the regular Army will be cut from 102,000 troops to 82,000 by the end of the decade – its lowest level since the Napoleonic Wars.
The plan – known as Army 2020 – is expected to see it split into two, with a reaction force, ready to respond to emergencies around the globe, and an adaptable force capable of carrying out a range of tasks and commitments.
In Scotland, the most significant change was reported to be in the status of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
It will be reduced to company strength and will undertake “public duties”. This could involve guarding high-profile locations such as Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace.
The four other battalions are expected to remain intact.
They are the Royal Scots Borderers, the Black Watch, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, and the Highlanders.
Government sources have indicated that the Royal and Sutherland Highlanders will remain a stand-alone company and will not merge with another battalion.
It is believed to be the first time such an arrangement has been used in Scotland.
Mr Hammond has said the changes – drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter – will provide the basis of a smaller, more flexible and agile Army into the future.
The units under threat are reported to include the Yorkshire Regiment, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Royal Welsh and the Mercian Regiment.
Mr Hammond, who was to set out details of the proposals in a statement to the House of Commons, acknowledged they have involved some “difficult“ decisions.
But he said that cuts could not be avoided, with the demands for strict financial discipline under the Government’s 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Under the plans, reductions in regular Army strength would be offset by increases in part-time reservists, with the Territorial Army doubling in numbers from 15,000 to 30,000.
As well as providing specialist capabilities – such as medics and intelligence – reservists would be used to reinforce infantry battalions on deployment.