The announcement of a new wave of redundancies across the armed forces has led many journalists to find out more about the makeup of the British forces. In the process of doing so they have uncovered some interesting and remarkable facts. The BBC journalist, Steven McKenzie, found it interesting that the British army has more horses than they do tanks, so wrote about it.
His interest peaked when he heard the Lib Dem MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey say: “In a department where there are more horses than tanks, there is room for efficiency savings.”, during a Sky News interview.
The fact is that the British army currently has either 494 or 501 horses, depending on the source you listen to. Yet they only have 334 operational tanks.
Naturally, this has come as a huge surprise to most people. The majority of people are aware of the fact in the past the army relied heavily on horses. The book, film and play Warhorse reminded everyone of this fact. The vast majority of people know that the cavalry has played a vital role in wars across the globe for literally thousands of years.
However, when they think of the modern army few think of horses, yet every year when they watch the Trooping of the Colour they are watching hundreds of soldiers on horseback. It seems odd, but most people do not really make the connection. They see the horses, and the soldiers, but do not think about the fact those horses are owned by, cared for and trained by the British army.
The tradition of the army using horses goes back a long way. The Household Cavalry was formed in 1661 on the orders of King Charles II, however, the last time horses were used in combat was WWI. Despite this these horses remain, but they are only used in a ceremonial role.
Interestingly, it does not look like the number of horses the army owns is going to go down. On the other hand, the army is planning to reduce the number of tanks they run, something several armies have already done in other parts of the world.