ANY cuts to Colchester’s Parachute Regiment would be a huge loss to the town, according to a veteran.

Reports published in national newspapers suggest the airborne infantry could be cut by one battalion - 550 soldiers - as the Ministry of Defence launched a review into the country’s Armed Forces.

It suggests resources could be better used being ploughed into cyber units.

The MoD has said no final decisions have been taken.

Both the 2nd and 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment are based at Merville Barracks in Colchester as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade.

It is the British Army’s airborne rapid reaction force whose soldiers have been specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and air landing.

Soldiers recently marked the 80th anniversary of the formation of the British Army’s airborne forces.

Since being formed in the Second World War, paratroopers have also served in subsequent conflicts in the Falkland Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army veteran Terry Sutton, who is a former Colchester mayor and president of the town’s Royal British Legion, said he would be saddened to see any cuts.

“It would be a great loss to the community and not just to the community but the whole town,” he said.

“We used to have lots of different regiments in the town.

“Soldiers used to come from all over and make the town their home.

“Now there are a lot less.

“I would be saddened at any significant loss of soldiers.”

Soldiers from 16 Medical Regiment have helped the ambulance service during the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Sutton said it showed how important troops could be when the country is in trouble.

He said: “You look at how many troops have helped out in the last few weeks - it has been quite incredible.

“I did my bit while serving when I drove a Green Goddess during a fire strike.”

Colchester mayor Nick Cope said the Armed Forces and the Parachute Regiment added a lot to Colchester and said they were a boost to the town’s profile.

An MoD spokesman said: “We’re in an early stage of our integrated review and no final plans have been drawn up.”