Future Army Structure – A call for papers Part 3.

This post is the latest exploration of how one might structure an army for a future guided by the RUSI doctrines; Strategic Raiding, Global Guardian and Contributory, as compared to both the RUSI balanced force from FDR7 and the Future Force 2020 from the SDSR. The analysis is based around what RUSI perceived to be a balanced force structure in the event of a 12-15% cut in Defence spending, which they didn’t advocate per-se, merely putting it out there as a useful indicator of trend reductions. The purpose of the exercise is to show the trend of reductions, using the RUSI balanced force as a baseline that allows us to juggle the numbers further in creating a more asymmetric force structure as they recommend.

So what do we end up with?

It has been said in various circles that the RUSI doctrines are unworkable solutions based off bankrupt ideas, notably that Global Guardian is predicated on nation-building of a type that the British public has lost patience with, and Strategic Raiding relying on the fantasy of “Go first, go fast, go home”. This blog believes that the error leading to these conclusions are that they are seen as absolutes; the notion that the Royal Navy should reduce to a coast-guard or likewise that the Army should reduce to a glorified US Marine Corps, when in fact they are nothing more than preferences that add emphasis to one area of the force structure or another.

What follows is this authors inexpert suggestion of a land force structure for each:

2009 -

2x Armoured Brigades

3x Mechanised Brigades

2x Light Brigades

1x Air Assault Brigade

1x Marine Brigade

RUSI Balanced -

5x Multirole Brigades (1x Armd Regt, 1x Form Rec, 1x Armd Inf, 1x Mech Inf, 1x Light Inf )

1x Marine Brigade (3x Commando, 1X Light Inf)

1x Air Assault Bgde (3x Para, 1X Light Inf) presuming 16AAB is due for reform in 2015

This structure would see land forces similar to Contributory above, but keeping two brigades for intervention, with a more capable naval structure and a less C4/ISTAR dominated air force.

Global Guardian -

4x Mechanised Brigades (1x Armd Regt, 1x Form Rec, 1x Armd Inf, 2x Mech Inf)

4x Motorised Brigades (2x Mech Inf, 2x Light Inf)

1x Commando Brigade (2x Commando, 2X Para)

The goal to generate and sustain a 2Star command in the field formed around two brigades, and to keep available a battle-group force for limited interventions. This structure would use the 3:1 ratio based on nine month tours.

Strategic Raiding -

4x Multirole Brigades (1x Armd Regt, 1x Form Rec, 1x Armd Inf, 1x Mech Inf, 1x Light Inf )

1x Marine Brigade (3x Marine Cdo, 1x Light Inf)

1x Air Assault Bgde (3x Para Battalion, 1x Light Inf)

1x Army Commando Bgde (4x Light Inf)

The goal to generate and sustain a brigade in the field formed around a single Multirole Brigade, but to keep three light brigades ready for Limited/Punitive Interventions at a medium scale. This structure would use the 3:1 ratio based on nine month tours, but would not anticipate the light brigades being in constant rotation. The ninth armoured battalion would be a Form Rec unit composed of three sabre squadrons of light armour, to equip the commando brigades as required.

Contributory -

5x Multirole Brigades (1x Armd Regt, 1x Form Rec, 1x Armd Inf, 1x Mech Inf, 1x Light Inf )

1x Commando Brigade (2x Commando, 2X Para)

The goal to generate and sustain a brigade, along with theatre level C4 and ISTAR assets, in the field as the core of a larger multinational command, and to keep available a Commando force for limited interventions at battle-group level. This structure would use the 4:1 ratio based on six month tours.

FF2020 -

5x Multirole Brigades (1x Armd Regt, 1x Form Rec, 1x Armd Inf, 1x Mech Inf, 1x Light Inf )

1x Marine Brigade (3x Commando, 1X Light Inf)

1x Air Assault Bgde (3x Para, 1X Light Inf) presuming 16AAB is due for reform in 2015

The goal to generate and sustain a brigade in the field formed around a single Multirole Brigade, and to keep available a Commando force for limited interventions at battle-group level. This structure would use the 4:1 ratio based on six month tours. There exists the possibility, as evidenced by the survival of both 3Cdo and 16AAB, that the ambition may return to Limited/Punitive Interventions at the brigade level, but this would not be expected before 2020 as a result of Afghanistan (and Iraq).

So, were these units and formations just pulled out of a hat? Yes, but they are broadly compatible with the cost assumption of RUSI’s FDR7 paper linked above. It is worth noting, that just as Defence Select Committees have felt free to use the term FF2024 to indicate capabilities that will take longer to arrive, so have I:

Note1 – Bold in the “2009” column indicates RUSI figures

Note2 – Bold in the “RUSI Bal” column indicates RUSI figures

Note3 – Bold in the “FF2020” column indicates my assumptions post SDSR 2015

Note4 – Feel free to confirm or amend the non-bold “FF2020″ figures.

Total =SUM(Ground Forces+(Air Forces/10)+Naval Forces)

Just to reiterate; this exercise is only a method of reshuffling numbers based on the RUSI figures, but provided the RUSI figures are accurate then the exercise has value.

If the total figures at the bottom are any kind of useful indicator then this blog’s suggestion for a Strategic Raiding and Global Guardian force structure will cost only fractionally more than their Balanced Force scenario. This is not unaffordable given that the actual cut in Defence spending was limited to 7.5% rather than RUSI’s best guess of 12%-15%, and both are predicated on the real-terms increases from 2015 that have now been agreed with the Treasury. The Contributory doctrine is of course significantly cheaper, as it should be since it eschews sovereign and strategic power projection along with the Great Power ambitions that require it.

What do these cost projections tells us about the validity of the SDSR’s Future Force 2020? The SDSR is frequently derided as a cost-driven exercise, with few pretensions to strategy as a guiding light in the reform process, and there is some validity to the accusation. The FF2020 structure does bear the hallmark of the salami-slicing Defence Review that many feared, failing to lean decisively in one direction or another and costing more as a result. However, it is not a great deal more costly so what matters here is capability retained.

Perhaps the words of General Houghton to the Defence Select Committee go some way towards explaining the lack of an explicit land/maritime focus:

Q552 Chair: One further question. Will Future Force 2020 be a full spectrum capability future force?

Nick Harvey: I would not want to add to what I have already said. I believe it will have a wide spectrum of capability. The Vice Chief may want to say more.

General Houghton: If it is positive, made affordable and delivered, you can have a dance about full spectrum. I read what Sir Rupert Smith said, and spectrum is, in many respects, relative to one’s enemy, not to the universe. You have to constrain your boundaries.

It meets the National Security Council’s adaptive posture in its considerations of the time. So it still has the ability to project power in all three environments at a strategic distance, and the ability to commit to a sustained operation on the land in the messy environment as depicted in our “Future Character of Conflict”. In that respect, it would be full spectrum within sensible bounds; it must be bounded in the reality of national ambition.

The answer to that is that FF2020 does bear a remarkable resemblance to what this blog considers Strategic Raiding, and where it fails is in the reduced ambitions of the Limited/Punitive Intervention forces. All is not lost however as this is only a reduced ambition; both 3Cdo and 16AAB are retained and could, post Afghanistan, receive the supporting forces they need to deploy at brigade level. This perception is enhanced by the recommendations of the Reserves Review, reinforcing them as you would expect at a time when the Regular Forces are being reduced.

To finish with the words of Prof Lindley-French to the Defence Select committee:

“There is a very great danger that by default, if we hold our nerve, we could end up with quite a sound defence strategy. There will be two carriers, strategic mobility, Astutes-not enough, but in time you could build more over 20, 30 or 40 years-Type 45s and Type 26s. It is a concept whereby there is projectability, not globally but regionally-plus. We could actually have a defence strategy worth talking about, by muddling through and from the bottom up, which has nothing to do with the NSS or the SDSR. The issue is, can we hold our nerve over that longer investment period?”

So, does it make sense, and how would you see the doctrines being structured?

[note -should be the final version, spreadsheet available here]

Update – 2011.09.11 – Gabrielle has taken a crack at the Future Force 2020:

Can I commend this to everyone interested, there is a fantastic amount of detail here, particularly in the linked explanatory document. I merely went with the RUSI figures, but Gabby obviously understands them and can provide a coherent explanation for why a particular configuration is desirable, who will likely fill the role, and how they will be equipped. Agree or disagree, this forms the foundation of an informed debate and i think this information will be helpful, not least because this is written with the latest reductions and reserves changes in mind.

Thank you Gabby, this is exactly the kind of response I was hoping for. :)

The explanatory notes are available here.

45 responses to “Future Army Structure – A call for papers Part 3.

  1. Excellent article, and i love that statement of Lindley-French, probably because i totally think the same thing he states…!

    But as to the interesting table: i’m guessing the Army numbers are relative to regiment/battalions, right…?
    RM is indicated “4”, which i guess is… kind of correct even though the Force Protection RM is not (i think) what you’d normally call a battalion.

    But 7 Special Forces battalions…? What is considered in the SF count?
    22 SAS, 21 and 23 SAS, the SBS, the Special Reconnaissance and…? I still miss two, or at least one if i consider 1 PARA as part of this total.

    RAF Regiment… 3. The Field Squadrons are actually 9 plus CBRN one, plus 8 deployable HQ elements and some 6 Reserve squadrons. I’m guessing that, since a Field Squadron is essentially a large Company, the 9 regular field squadrons are counted as 3-battalion equivalents?

    The Aircraft numbers i also have some issue with. 160 planes… well, there should be 107 Typhoons if the 53 Tranche 1 are retired by 2019 as apparently planned.
    This would mean some 53 F35Cs? I think this is improbable, as production slots issues (not to mention budget) generated the infamous “40 by 2020″ figure.
    Does the figure include the last Tornado GR4s as well? Their retirement is now a mystery since both 2017 and 2021 have been suggested as OSDs, so perhaps Tornado is the answer.

    C4I and ISTAR… 24. That might be… 7 AWACS, 3 Rivet Joint and… Telemos/Scavenger? Reaper…? A new MPA (i so hope so…!)

    Air support i count 14 FSTA by 2020. The remaining 10 planes, i dunno what they are.

    Logistics 32… 7 C17 and 22 A400 gives 29, but i guess the rest is made up by C130J as it will be around until 2022 and there might be some smaller Bae airplanes for VIP transport and stuff too.

    RN heli… 80. 30 Merlin HM2, 28 Wildcats, 6 Wildcats “Army” for the Commandos, 25 Merlin navalized. 89. And this is without MASC. I have issues with this number as well.

    Army heli 96… 67 Apache and 34 (-6 moved to Commandos) Wildcats, we are roughly there.

    RAF heli 64… 60 Chinook and some 24 Puma should be there in 2020, so this number i don’t really understand either.

    I also think the RFA tankers will be more than 3. At least two and up to four Fleet Tankers to replace the last Golds and Leafs are still planned. Adding the Waves, the minimum i envisage is four.

    Are the numbers a RUSI figure? Have you got any additional info about them?

    Otherwise, good post. As you know, i’m on your same line of thought about Strategic Raiding, and once again i find that i agree with your train of thought.
    Good work!

    Gabriele

    • Hi Gab,

      Cheers, all the figures in bold that are deemed to be accurate are derived from the linked FDR7 document, except those in the FF2020 column which are those that I have some confidence in.

      re the spec forces battalions; no idea, just following the RUSI numbers.

      re the JCA numbers, i’m being loose with the 2020 deifinition, given that defence select committees have used the term 2024.
      :)

    • i’m working on the principle that there must be eleven subs to preserve the industry, as per the DIS calculations of:

      > eleven boats
      > 22 month drumbeat for new orders
      > 22 year service life

      but assuming that a 3/8 SSBN/SSN split will be cheaper somewhat, and so applying that to the less maritime focused doctrines.

  2. From June Defence Committee hearings :
    “that leaves the cost of the operation and the cost of the capital replacement. The question is then about the restatement of the Armed Forces back to a conditioned precedent, as it were. That discussion is still going on. So it has not been paid yet.
    Q536 Chair: So far, the answer is nothing.
    Bernard Gray: Yes.”

    That will be a nice pot landing, Iraq & A-stan wear and tear; Currently the equipment plan for the FF 2020 is £ 20bn short (if I read the hearing minutes – still in their uncorrected form – correctly)

    Cheers,
    ACC

      • I think some stuff is already planned to last. The Reapers, for example: they were planned to last only to 2015, but i heard the RAF is already planning for them to last longer, at least until 2018/20, when Telemos/Scavenger should come online.

        Army vehicles for some time were said to be destined to the scraphead in 2015, but now the climate has changed a lot, and most of them are likely to make it into the core budget.

        Possibly, FRES UV will die in exchange, though.

  3. I also realized a thing: 10 Royal Artillery Regiments does appear a bit out of place.

    5 Regiments of AS90
    1 MLRS regiment
    1 STA regiment
    1 Watchkeeper regiment
    1 Local Air Area Defence Regiment
    2 L118 Regiments

    This is the very bare minimum i can envisage for the Regular RA, and next year the Fire Shadow loitering ammunition will come into service, which might mean a regiment roling onto it. I also believe that a regiment of SHORAD air defence should survive, despite 40 RA having become a Tactical UAV regiment lately.

    5 AS90 regiments, one for each MRB, should be safe due to SDSR plans
    39th Regiment – GMLRS also safe
    40th Regiment – Fire Shadow and tactical drones (hypothesis, due also to the “resemblances” between drones and Fire Shadow)
    32 th Regiment – Watchkeeper
    12th Regiment – SHORAD with Starstreak
    16th Regiment – Air Defence (including C-RAM?)
    5th Regiment – STA and Base ISTAR
    29th Regiment – Commando Artillery
    7th Regiment RHA – 16 Air Assault Artillery

    Unless air defence is centralized in a single regiment (possible) the above is the smallest RA that i can imagine, and it counts 13 formations.
    If, as largely desirable, each MRB is given an L118 regiment, the number could actually rise.
    But of course, the additional L118 formations could be Reserves, and thus not appear in these figures.

    • haha, you show your knowledge in detail where i only grasp the wider ambitions, this is what is needed.

      do you fancy playing with the spreadsheet and i will post the result?

      • Trying already, actually. :)

        Problem is that i have issues at working out such firm numbers. I do not quite understand how they have been determined in some cases, and there are many formations, say in the Royal Engineers, that aren’t regiments, nor battalions.

        I think a way to work around it would be to make an headcount of personnel in these formations, sum the numbers up and then divide by, say, 700, to have a number in “Battalions-equivalent” terms.

        When i’m done with my attempt, i’ll send it to you gladly, anyway, along with a document in which i explain, briefly, how i came up with the numbers. It’ll be a pleasure.

  4. The sub numbers makes a bit of sense, although I’m not sure quite how realistic that is.
    11 is the minimum, but a strategic raiding force would almost certainly need more, they are almsot the epitome of raiding are they not?
    Invisible with a hell of a punch.

    Gabriele
    I dont think the RA has a bright or long term future. It seems bizare that a multirole brigade containing an armoured regiment, an armoured regiment ect, wouldnt have a dedicated artilery regiment as well.
    We already have a regiment of paratilery and amphibery…

    A 105 troop, an AS90 troop and a SHORAD troop?
    Possibly all AS90 for the MRB and all 105 for the Commandos?

    I certainly cant imagine why GMLRS is safe.
    It costs an absolute fortune to fire, and now its stripped of cluster munitions, it appears very sacrificiable

    The current organisation doesnt make sense for a 100,000 strong army, never mind an 80,000 strong one, or 60,000

  5. @TheRagingTory

    “I dont think the RA has a bright or long term future. It seems bizare that a multirole brigade containing an armoured regiment, an armoured regiment ect, wouldnt have a dedicated artilery regiment as well.
    We already have a regiment of paratilery and amphibery…

    A 105 troop, an AS90 troop and a SHORAD troop?
    Possibly all AS90 for the MRB and all 105 for the Commandos?”

    Several good reasons why i have to disagree on the MLRS bit and on the doomed RA too:

    GMLRS is not THAT expensive. In two minutes it can deliver a CEP 1 meter strike with a GPS guided rocket, with an higher responsiveness than air support, and at much lower relative cost.
    Secondarily, it is the longest-reach weapon of the Army, and the RA has long been planning to buy some ATACMS as well as part of IFPA.
    Thirdly, the SDSR was adamant on it being safe, and i can’t imagine the army giving it away unless apocalypse comes.

    AS90, yes. 5 Regiments, each with 18 guns in three batteries post 35% cut of SDSR nature. One regiment for each brigade, crews trained on L118 as well, so they can deploy with the right weapon in the right environment, just like now. It is planned in the SDSR.

    L118 definitely to the Commandos and PARA. The rest of the L118s i can see going to 5 Reserve TA Regiments. Integrated into a MRB, a towed artillery regiment would increment deployable firepower and provide more flexibility, and also make it easier to create separate battlegroups out of the MRB’s formations, most notably a thick “Maneuver” core (Tank, Recce, Armoured and Mecha Infantry regiments plus AS90) and a more static, or, conversely, helicopter mobile, battlegroup formed out of the two Light Role Infantry Battalions plus L118.
    The Light Gun’s strategic mobility is precious.

    32 Regiment is secure with Watchkeeper, and 40 Regiment i also believe has a future thanks to its focus on tactical drones such as Desert Hawk III. There will be more drones in the future, not less.
    And there will also be a need for two batteries of reserve crews for Watchkeeper (three batteries planned) so that we reach the “Rule of the Five” and can deploy a whole battery continuously without harmony troubles.

    Next year comes the Fire Shadow, too.

    And so long as FLAADS/CAMM survives (and Rapier before it) the 16 Regiment is safe too.
    I’d also expect the single Deployable Division left to have a divisional SHORAD air defence regiment, and Starstreak is not being retired, despite the Stormer HVM having been.
    I think 12 Regiment might very well survive at least, or at the most be incorporated into 16 Regiment to make a single, huge air defence formation.

    I believe the RA is in a relatively good situation.

    Indeed, in a world where common sense was to rule, there would not be cuts into the artillery at a time in which Air Support and Interdiction airplanes are also going down in number.
    Artillery is a very cost-effective alternative to air strikes in most cases, and already now, off the shelf, there are means to increase the RA’s range up to 300 km (ATACMS) and 100 km (GMLRS “Bang” rocket).

    But don’t tell the RAF! They of course need to tell you that we absolutely need Tornadoes in Kandhar to drop a precision-guided bomb on a compound in a virtually secure environment without a real counter-air menace other than RPGs.

    • GMLRS is expensive compared to AS90.
      It makes sense when you have multiple divisions fighting, for Army command to have something with such reach.

      I dont see the same need when we’re down to Battlegroups and Brigades.
      Both the RAF and RN will be pushing for the money, and the army is really going to struggle to expalin why a deployed force of 5000 needs to reach out a punch someone 300kms away.

      The army just wont be able to defend such a long range weapon.
      The Navy wants a long range missile for the Destroyers, and the RAF already have Stormshadow.

      The RA will keep drones for the short term, but I just dont see it long term, Brigade/battlegroup command staffs will want the small stuff, directly under them, the RAF/RN will want the big stuff.
      Doesnt leave a lot left for Division

      I see the army keeping some SHORAD, but I dont believe it will get it as a regiment, again, its an organistational idea that had merit for a multiple division army, but I dont see it in a multiple brigade army.

      I think its far more likely we’ll get an “artilery” regiment per MRB, with an AS90 battery, a drone battery and a SHORAD battery.

      If it cant be levered into the MRB, it’ll be lost.

      Not saying its sensible, just saying its likely.

  6. Stlll going back to to the notes of the Hearing:

    Not sure if the gentlemen were exchanging pleasantries or insults:
    ” A military purist vs. a defence purist”

    I am sure we can cover the ground between the two…

  7. “I see the army keeping some SHORAD, but I dont believe it will get it as a regiment, again, its an organistational idea that had merit for a multiple division army, but I dont see it in a multiple brigade army.

    I think its far more likely we’ll get an “artilery” regiment per MRB, with an AS90 battery, a drone battery and a SHORAD battery.”

    It is not like we are so far away in our reasoning, really. My point is that it probably makes more sense to retain a SHORAD regiment with 5 deployable batteries than a SHORAD battery dispersed into each brigade. For training, logistics and stuff, it makes more sense to have the specialty confined into a single Regiment, which can deploy a Battery in an enduring Brigade operation.

    Same for GMLRS and Fire Shadow: two single formations, on 5 batteries each (some most likely of sole-personnel) to ensure that one battery can always be deployed, and sustained in the long term.

    One Deployable Division with three brigades, according to SDSR.
    Well, at Division Level, i think a single SHORAD, a single FLAADS and a single GMLRS and perhaps Fire Shadow regiment make the most sense.

    If the regiment is structured on the “rule of the five”, there’s a battery for each MRB, and the capability to sustain and maintain a battery deployed for as long as we want. While having, back at home, things centralized in the same location instead of spread everywhere from Leuchars to Devonport.

    • “If the regiment is structured on the “rule of the five”, there’s a battery for each MRB, and the capability to sustain and maintain a battery deployed for as long as we want. While having, back at home, things centralized in the same location instead of spread everywhere from Leuchars to Devonport.”

      something i have been pondering recently too gabby.

      i’m curious how wide the application of five sub battalion/regiment units might reasonably be spread……………?

  8. Gabriele
    yeah that would work, however, we’ll lose as90s for them, so have a single 6 gun battery, not a 18 guns and extras.
    It sounds like a big loss, but we dont really fire much anymore anyway, six guns going all out would empty the supply chain pretty damn quick.
    Or maybe not

    true we are supposed to be divisionable, but i would guess 95% of the time, we wont go over brigade, we’ve already had problems in ghanners with brigade assets (form rec) being out of command of the battlegroup they supposed to be supporting.
    ‘go to musa quala and have an effect’ must be the greatest order ever…..
    I hope we wont make that a structural problem.

  9. I normally am quite pessimist myself, but i see i must be the one who gives comfort for once…! Impressive.

    I think you are being too pessimist, luckily. 6 gun battery, sure, but 3 batteries per Regiment, if the cut in AS90 numbers hasn’t been increased from the planned 35% figure.

    It is not SO bad. Most european armies already have 18-guns artillery formations. Sure, Germany and Italy have them with the PZH2000 which is more powerful and advanced than AS90, but it is not an apocalypse.

    And well, sure, 95% of the time it would be a brigade job, but then again, it already is and was. The UK has deployed Divisionally only for the two Gulf Wars, and could do it again, albeit at a smaller divisional scale.

    • “I think you are being too pessimist, luckily. 6 gun battery, sure, but 3 batteries per Regiment,”

      But on battery will be AS-90, one battery SHORAD, 1 battery UAV.

      From Wiki
      “In 1982, the Light Gun saw intense use in the Falklands War. Five batteries (30 guns) were deployed to the Falkland Islands. During the final phases of the battles around Port Stanley, these guns were firing up to 400 rounds per gun a day, mostly at “Charge Super” i.e. the most powerful propellant charge for which they were designed. They were a significant factor in the British victory. Since then, British forces have used the Light Gun in combat in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

      30 guns at 400 rounds a day is 12,000 shells
      AS90 can sustain 2 rounds per minute, so 6 guns would require 16 hours to meet that requirement.
      Impossible, tghe gunners wopuld die from exhaustion

      However, AS90 shells are bigger, and its very unlikely we would require that much artilery ever again, and even if we did, the MRB would have a Commando Brigade supporting it, with another battery.

      Maybe this wont happen till we come to replacing AS90, but whatever comes next, we wont buy 180 units, we might buy 50.

      • I just can’t agree…

        “But on battery will be AS-90, one battery SHORAD, 1 battery UAV.”

        Are you asking the British Army to have the smallest Brigade Artillery regiment in the universe…? 6 guns???? You gotta be kidding me.

        I’ve seen absurd cuts, but this, really… Albania could just overwhelm a 6 guns british “regiment” with counterbattery, and Libya in comparison would look like the Empire of Star Wars with the Death Star and all accompanying cruisers.

        I just can’t see that happening.

  10. I dont think Artilery is that important anymore.
    Counter battery isnt just about numbers, its also about range and accuracy.
    And its not just about Artilery either.
    Enemy SPGs will suffer an unfortunate end at the hands of Hell Fire or Brimstone… :p

    My guns and your guns line up and shoot?
    Nar, my airpower wipes out 90% of your artilery, the rest enters a silly dual against a longer ranged opponant firing IR/Opitcal/Magnet/Laser guided shells

  11. I am rather baffled by the idea of a ‘Multi-Role’ brigade – the RUSI web-site and the Agile Warrior 11 ‘Summary of Insights’ does not give much clue. A brigade consisting of a Tank Battalion, a recce battn, an ‘Armoured Infantry’ battn (presumably Warrior-equipped?) plus two ‘Mechanised Infantry’ battns (equipped with what? Not AT105 Saxon I hope) plus one light infantry battn looks like a dogs breakfast. I have never heard of any other army being thus organised. Different units within this brigade have different levels of strategic, operational and tactical mobility, so how is such a brigade supposed to function as a coherent whole? Or maybe it isn’t. Can someone enlighten me?

    • Hi Steve,

      It has been around as a concept since the start of 2008 at least:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_British_Army_Structure_%28Next_Steps%29

      I believe the idea is driven by the need to rotate forces into and out of theatre on the 4:1 harmony guidelines, it being far easier to maintain a coherent force in the field if you aren’t replacing a light brigade with an armoured brigade, etc.

      Thus we have the two limited/punitive intervention brigades (16AAB and 3Cdo) alongside the five sustained presence brigade (multiroles).

      While no-one appears to love the structure for its warfighting elegance, it is great for COIN churn, and doesn’t really represent a huge problem for high-end interstate warfare as the army is used to creating bespoke force packages anyway.

  12. It did look to me as if it was the basis for creating bespoke formations rather than a useful formation in it’s own right. It is still neither one thing nor another, if it was for COIN surely part of it would be equipped with MRAPs? I suspect no other army is thus organised (is this correct?).

  13. Steve
    Think of it as a Pocket Division rather than a Brigade.

    My thinking was roughly
    “With that in mind, my Brigade would have a nominal strength of 5000 men divided between 10 battalions and contain its own armour, artilery, armoured infantry, light role infantry, engineers and headquarters.
    A rough mix of 1:1:2:4:1:1″

    Possible the 4 light inf could be 2/2 light/mechanised.

    If you landed on on a beach in Libya, or Iraq, or Argentina, with a decent supply of aircover, I dont think they’d be incapable of fighting

    http://theragingtory.blogspot.com/2010/07/fdr-so-whats-brigade-then.html

    And as Jedi says, you can always pull out all 5 armoured, Form Rec and ArmInf battalions if you need an armoured division.

  14. “Enemy SPGs will suffer an unfortunate end at the hands of Hell Fire or Brimstone… :p

    My guns and your guns line up and shoot?
    Nar, my airpower wipes out 90% of your artilery, the rest enters a silly dual against a longer ranged opponant firing IR/Opitcal/Magnet/Laser guided shells”

    In an aviation which appears to be throwing down the water closet its SEAD capacity by retiring ALARM in 2013 without a replacement in sight nor a clear programme for seeking one at all?
    With shrinking number of planes?
    The same RAF which would not fly C17 with unproven countermeasures into Kandahar but did pay ukrainians pilots to fly in with An124 without countermeasures at all…?

    No. Sorry, but i don’t think it quite works.

    Only Tom Clancy still believes that battles are so straightforward and with the good ones always winning and having the right idea at the right moment.

    In the real world, in 1991 Saddam had a gun which fired 45 km away, and the US had to remove bomblets from the MLRS rocket and create the X45 with 45+ km range to be able to answer.
    In the real world, 5th Royal Artillery regiment is the regiment which has been deploying its batteries non-stop in all wars fought by the UK. And 39 Regiment has been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan with its MLRS as well, constantly, and the L118 has been a major part of the effort as well, with AS90 doing some work too.

    We are just not going to agree on this one, i think.

  15. I think the Multi Role Brigade structure described in the SDSR and elsewhere actually is:

    1 Tank Regiment
    1 Formation Recce
    1 AS90 Regiment
    1 Armoured Infantry (Warrior)
    1 Mechanized Infantry (FRES UV for the future, if the programme survives, in the short term Bulldog and/or Mastiff, Saxon has been retired in 2009)
    2 Light Role Infantry Battalions

    plus support, logistics and stuff.

    Also, the UK’s top armoured effort in the post IIWW has been the deployment of some 126 Challenger II on operation Telic, some of which were in-site reserves.
    Two Challenger regiments at most, in fact. Never above that.

    I don’t know from where the obsession for armored division and armored brigades comes out of.

  16. Gabriele
    Alarm is a worry of mine, however, the radar on a Typhoon/F35 is, in my understanding, capable of locating a Radar attempting to track it, and fireing a different weapon at it.
    Alarms main power was it had a radar seeking head (and its loiter capability), but if you know where a radar is, roughly, you can lob a brimstone and get a giood chance of a hit.
    Add a radar seeker head……

    But even so, Brimstone outranges starburst/starstreak/stinger, when fired from low level, fired from 60,000ft, you can probably expect over 20km range.

    Numbers of planes are shrinking, but numbers of planes are not a measure of capability.
    20 years ago, a tank hunting jet *might* have carried 8 500/1000lb bombs.
    Now, a tank hunting jet could carry 13 packs of 3 Brimstone missiles, 39 missiles.
    5 times as many shots, each far more likely to destroy the target.

    A Lynx with 8 TOWs, or an Apache with 16 Hellfires, more shots, and significantly better ones.

    I dont think your idea is “bad”, militarily, its better than mine, however, I think mine is politicaly more likely.

    The Army still want to smash the 7th shock army in the Fulda Gap, in a tank battle, they havent quite cottoned on to the idea that the 57 Apaches each loaded with 16 Hellfires, is 912 shots, even if only half hit, thats 450 mission killed tanks.

    If you cant knock me out of the sky, then anything that cant hide will die.

  17. “If you cant knock me out of the sky, then anything that cant hide will die.”

    Yeah, and the enemy that takes an armoured division to counter is almost certainly an enemy that can knock you down out of the sky.

    “But even so, Brimstone outranges starburst/starstreak/stinger, when fired from low level, fired from 60,000ft, you can probably expect over 20km range.”

    8 to 16 Km is more likely in most launch geometries. And i might note that a menace enemies are not short of is SAMs, which go from the 7 km of the Strela to the 300+ of the S300, so i’d be careful about doing SEAD with Brimstones…

    “Now, a tank hunting jet could carry 13 packs of 3 Brimstone missiles, 39 missiles.”

    Not a plane the RAF has or plans. Tornado GR4 arrives at most at 12 MISSILES on 4 launches, 3×3 if the Litening pod is fitted and the Dual Mode Brimstone is used. If Brimstone was integrated also on underwing pylons we could get to 6 x 3, but that would be it.
    Typhoon will carry a maximum of 18 Brimstones in 6 triple launchers.

    “Numbers of planes are shrinking, but numbers of planes are not a measure of capability.”

    True, but we long ago overcame the limit with this concept/excuse. The plane might do the mission excellently and far more efficiently than ever before, but one plane = one mission. In one day, one plane will do a very maximum of 3, 4 sorties, which after some time will become two, then one, as both the airframe and the pilots get tired. Then the airframe reaches the end of its 400 or 800 flying hours period, and has to get back in the UK for a few months of checks and maintenance.

    You can do CAS with 12 planes on a Brigade sector, 5 to 7 miles wide. But all the rest…?
    Can you be everywhere at once? Can the airplanes respond in times comparable to that afforded by, since we were talking of it, Artillery?
    An AS90 might be firing SMArT shells, each with 2 anti-tank submunitions, one minute after the call for help comes.

    No, the day in which such an extreme scenario as yours becomes politically realistic, is the day the UK ceases to be… well, pretty much anything. Because not even a self-defence force has 6 howitzer in a brigade. Less than ever a force with deploying ambitions.

  18. Gabriele
    But Brimstone isnt the only land attack weapon, we also have storm shadow, yes, outranged by an S300, but the S300 is hampered by hills, Typhoon/SS isnt, use SIGINT for a rough location, SS has a nice TV camera it can use for final guidance.

    The RAF doesnt mount morwe than 6 Brimstone pods. but Typhoon has 13 hardpoints, to my knowledge all are or can be either air or ground.

    Sorties are a problem, but not a big one, if an Apache finds a tank company, it obliterates it. If each Apache manages four sorties on the first day, just how many tanks do you have?

    “You can do CAS with 12 planes on a Brigade sector, 5 to 7 miles wide. But all the rest…?”
    Here is where we disagree, your still fighting the Fulda Gap. Brigade Sectors?
    We have ONE Brigade, so ONE Brigade Sector, its really two Brigades, but even so, its not going to form a front line with other Brigades and advance in line, against another line formed of multiple Brigade sectors.

    The MRB is landed from assault ships on the beach at San Carlos or Sitre, or Port Said, the local enemy force either runs or is obliterated. The enemy cant occupy every beach with an armoured division capable of stopping the MRB. Attempts by the enemy to reform its scattered forces are crushed by airpower, its three hours from Stanly to San Carlos at the very quickest, its several days from Tripoli to Sirte if under harresment from rebels. An air platform will intercept you in that time .The ebnemy will quickly give up any real hopes of mobility, and then its isolated forces are crushed piecemeal.

    Examples of what happens to armoured forces caught in the open on the move by airpower
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_of_Death
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Rumaila

    Even if you just had a Carrier with 12 strike fighters, and a Helicopter carrier with 8 Apaches, anything moving is in serious trouble.

    • “The enemy was not a force of 11,000, and a defender never will be, it was, as we saw, a force of 1000, isolated”

      Good post, reminds me of rupert smith talking about leading multinational forces; he didn’t command a manoeuvre brigade, he commanded five separate battalions.

  19. Hey Jedi,
    sorry for taking such a long time, but i got caught in a lot of stuff lately. And the work of studying the numbers and collecting up as much info as i could about FF2020 plans, in itself, proved far bigger than i expected.

    I’ve prepared my own go at the Excel table, and a word document with the explanation of the numbers, the fleets, and all details and plans i could dig up. If you are still interested, i can now send it all along to you to see. I’m also going to post the document on my Blog in preparation of my long-delayed go at a Force Structure proposal. Is there a mail address i can send the stuff to?
    Is Office 2007 and DOCX document a problem for you? I can convert the document to DOC if necessary.

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