Fears cuts will spell end to reputation of Sandhurst Academy
MOD, which already has a £13billion black hole in its finances.
The review, led by Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser, and undertaken by military advisers and civil servants, has already briefed commanders to look at reducing duplication. Last night senior Army sources revealed: “I’m afraid that Sandhurst is firmly in the crosshairs”.
While there is no plan to change its training programme, new proposals reportedly include the possible closing of the Army’s Training Centre at nearby Pirbright, in Surrey and selling off the 600-acre estate for development.
House prices in the leafy area average £556,000.
Ironically, the Ministry of Defence won’t benefit financially from the move, because the land is owned by Crown Estates – but the Treasury would.
Once the stomping ground of
Guardsmen, Pirbright gave up its Guards Depot in 2001 to non-infantry regiments.
Sandhurst could be the obvious destination for the 2,000 soldiers to complete their 14-week Common Military Syllabus training courses every year.
RMA Sandhurst was established in 1947 as an amalgamation of two historic colleges – the Royal Military College, founded in 1801 on the Sandhurst estate, and the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, from 1741.
The estate, serviced by an army of civilian maintenance men and gardeners, includes a training area called Barossa, which is used once or twice a week by cadets, manicured lawns and a private fishing lake. It boasts a coterie of bars and even a concession of Prince Charles’ tailor, Kashket.
Rugby, fencing, football, hockey, polo and horse riding are all encouraged and its famous
Old College, opened in 1812, is used as the backdrop for ceremonial parades and includes accommodation for cadets and dozens of rest rooms and dining areas.
New College, where cadets dine, needs extensive refurbishment, estimated to cost around £15million and the bill for the 120 academics based at Faraday Hall and a separate defence studies college is estimated to cost £4million a year.
There are three 44-week Commissioning Courses which start in January, May and September each with around 200 cadets. This means only around 500 new officers earn their commissions every year.
These include officers from countries such as Oman and Nigeria, whose courses are paid for by their own governments.
Speaking last night, a senior Army source said: “Frankly, we’re aware that change may well be in store for RMA Sandhurst.
“Though I expect there will be many traditionalists who won’t like it, it’s difficult to challenge the idea that placing an Army training centre into Sandhurst is an easy fit.
“It won’t impact on cadet training and the stark truth of it is that there’s no other organisation within the British Army with so few troops and which still merits command by a Major General.”
However, the Army insisted there were no plans to change the famous college. A spokesperson said: “There are no plans to combine training between Army Training Centre Pirbright and the RMA Sandhurst.”