||[Dec. 19th, 2006|12:13 am]
Sorry for my long absence, but my computer's been having problems. Anyway, what should I find an article on today, but an apparent shortage of Scottish kilts! Horrors!!! Read on here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061218/ap_on_fe_st/kilt_shortage|
Then again... perhaps it means even MORE naked Scotsmen?
Actually, I should have just posted the article, so here it is:
Scottish troops must share scarce kilts By BEN McCONVILLE
Mon Dec 18, 3:40 PM ET
LONDON - Great Scot! A shortage of ceremonial kilts could leave thousands of soldiers without a stitch of plaid to wear as they parade to the skirl of the bagpipes.
Military officials said Monday that more than 5,000 Scottish soldiers are having to share their kilts because defense chiefs have not finalized a contract to buy enough of the garments to go around.
The men, who face regular tours of duty in south Iraq and Afghanistan, have just 320 kilts, or one for every 15 soldiers.
Combat troops wore the traditional Highland garb in battle as late as World War I, but now the plaid kilts are used in ceremonial uniform.
New kilts are needed for all Scottish soldiers following the August 2006 merger of centuries-old regiments into a single Royal Regiment of Scotland.
"A planned deployment of kilts will be agreed with the Royal Regiment of Scotland on a roll-out basis with ... the full program being completed by January 2008," a Ministry of Defense spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.
The Ministry of Defense has refused to say who has won the contract to supply the kilts; in the meantime, soldiers will have to share.
The 320 kilts provided so far have been supplied by Argyll Bagpipes and Kilts on a trial basis. The full contract is worth up to $1.95 million, taking two years to complete and will involve 15,000 yards of fabric.
"The kilt is psychologically important for the identity of Scottish soldiers," said Lt. Col. Willy Macnair, who served in the defunct Queen's Own Highlander regiment. "It may mean that some soldiers in this (new) regiment, by the time they leave, may never have worn it."
Scottish lawmakers and veterans had opposed the merger of the traditional regiments, which saw action in both world wars and the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa.
(does anybody else get a mental image of 15 naked Scostmen sharing a single kilt, after reading this? *G*)
Actually it's quite a serious problem. Kilts for the Scottish regiments (prior to March this year there were six of them) have always had their tartan kilts and trews made in Scotland from Scottish fabric. Now the MOD has said that they are going to put the contracts out to tender, which will probably mean they'll end up being made in Pakistan or Indonesia, and probably from inferior fabric. (I've been trying to find the news story from The Scotsman
but it's buried under a morass of kilt- and tartan-related stories)
(sorry, reading through in reverse order)
So - why in the world did they decide to make the regiments all wear the same tartan plaid in the first place? Talk about hurting morale.
It's all money - the same reason they decided to amalgamated six regiments into one. The really, really stupid part was then deciding to go one further and combine two of the regiments into a single battalion. Needless to say, with all that and the increasingly Vietnam-like situation in Iraq, recruiting has fallen off in a big way and now they're very short of soldiers.
Thank you! And - how insane is it that they'd make the tartan elsewhere? Or that they decided to abolish some of the traditional different tartans of the regiments in the first place?