AN ARMY restructure has been blamed for the local reserve unit's inability to support a raft of New England Anzac Day services.
A number of small RSL sub-branches in the region were shocked to learn the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers Army Reserve unit would not be able to supply soldiers to mount catafalque parties at various war memorials this year.
Manilla sub-branch secretary Ian Bignall brought this light and said the decision was a "kick in the guts".
In a statement to the Leader, a department of defence spokesperson said there were a number of factors which forced the unit to withdraw Anzac Day support from places like Manilla.
"In January 2018, the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers moved from being a two-Squadron Regiment based entirely in the New England region of NSW to having one Squadron in NSW and one Squadron in South East QLD, as part of the Australian Army 2nd Division Unit Establishment Review," the spokesperson said.
"As a result, staffing and vehicle numbers of the regiment are reduced in comparison to 2018 levels."
The spokesperson also said the Manilla sub-branch had not "formally requested" the unit's ceremonial support through the "Joint Operations Support Staff (JOSS)" form.
"Due to this restructure, Anzac Day ceremonial support requests received formally through the NSW JOSS receive first priority," the spokesperson said.
The department of defence requires three month's notice for ceremonial support requests.
Manilla's RSL contacted the department via email on January 15 and followed up via phone on April 1.
But defence claims it received no formal request through the NSW JOSS and said it sent a form to the sub-branch via email on February 11 which received no response or acknowledgement.
What services will the lancers be supporting in 2019?
The 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers unit will be supporting 11 engagements for Anzac Day in NSW and three in Queensland, including:
- Uralla RSL
- Armidale RSL
- Walcha RSL
- University of New England Dawn Service
- Muswellbrook RSL
- Aberdeen RSL
- Gundy RSL
- Tamworth RSL-Dawn Service and main town service at 11am
- Kootingal, Bendemeer RSL
- Bribie Island RSL Dawn Service and 10am parade
- Caboolture RSL Dawn Service.