Future Army Structure – A call for papers Part 1.

This post is a request for help, it is an exploration of how one might structure an army for a future guided by the RUSI doctrines; Strategic Raiding primarily, Contributory secondarily, and Article 5 of NATO, and a continuance of the Strategic deterrent. It assumes that the RUSI prognostication of a 15% cut in Defence spending is correct, and it is an attempt to marry the ambitions listed above to that presumed resource. This blog will explore a possibility based on the authors limited knowledge in the hope of incisive and constructive feedback.

It is your moment to shoot me down, but hopefully to push back when this narrative veers off course.

The first major assumption made:

1. That the Defence budget will fall by 15% over the course of the next parliament, and then stabilise to rise with (defence) inflation.

2. That the most unique and valuable contribution we can make to NATO is Strategic Raiding, followed by the Contributory doctrine.

3. That state-on-state warfare involving Britain cannot be discounted, and that the Strategic Deterrent permits a minimum standing force.

If the above appears utterly ridiculous, then I welcome constructive feedback to explain why a different set of assumptions is more appropriate, but what I seek most of all of expert insight into how this ambition could be made real.

It should also be noted that a ‘focus’ on Strategic Raiding does not mean tailoring the entire Armed Forces to support one specific function, i.e. rapid-reaction/expeditionary engagements of limited duration, it merely means maintaining a capability of strategic effect which is a component of, and supported by, the wider Armed Forces.

The seventh RUSI paper notes that of the following 98 major ground units listed below we might need to trim this down to circa 80:

Armoured regiments – 10 (presumed to include Armoured & Formation Reconnaissance)

Infantry battalions – 36 (presumed to include Armoured, Mechanised and Light)

Artillery regiments – 14 (presumed not to include home defence or training regiments)

Engineer regiments – 11 (presumed not to include 2x RAF support & 2x training regiments)

Signals Regiments – 12 (presumed not to include training regiment)

Royal Marine – 4 (inc Fleet protection)

RAF Regiment – 3

Special Forces – 7

How to remove ~16 regiments without crippling deployable power or reducing too much specialist function, that is the question given that at present the Army consists of nine major combat formations in addition to the tenth; the Royal Marines.

As a baseline to compare and contrast between the present and the posited future lets use the Future Army Structure (Next Steps):

6x armoured battalion of Challenger II tanks

6x armoured reconnaissance battalion

6x armoured infantry battalion in Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles

6x mechanised infantry battalion in FV432 Bulldog armoured vehicles

12x light role infantry battalions

So, six composite brigades including 36 major units excluding Artillery, Engineering and Signals, in addition to the RM and Air Assault brigades (plus six), based on a presumption of maintaining 98 major units. This is what we must work beneath.

The second major assumption is that to maintain a permanent capability one needs three units in rotation; one in work-up, one deployed, one in work-down, however, to maintain a persistent capability one really requires four units in rotation to ensure that enduring operations do not grossly affect r&r. This definition of permanent versus persistent is important, but where this blog gets out of its depth is whether a major capability can really be described as such, and maintained as such, at a level beneath ‘permanent’.

My premise, based on the above, is to field ground forces capable of a permanent capability for Strategic Raiding (2x Marine brigades and 1x Air Assault brigade), a persistent capability for Contributory (4x light Mechanised brigades) because even running multilateral operations comes with a commitment to boots on the ground, and a regenerative capability for Article 5 defence (2x Armoured brigades). The Strategic Deterrent is the enabler that permits such a light force structure to be maintained, as home defence of an island nation does not require massed ground forces to repel a conventional invading force.

As such we would expect to see the following:

Heavy Divisions (2) –

2x Armoured

2x Formation Reconnaissance

2x Infantry (Armoured)

2x Infantry (Mechanised)

2x Infantry (Light)

2x Signals

2x Artillery (AS90)

2x Engineers (Combat)

Medium Divisions (4) –

4x Infantry (Armoured)

8x Infantry (Mechanised)

4x Infantry (Light)

4x Signals

4x Artillery (GMLRS)

4x Engineers (Construction)

Rapid Reaction (2+1) –

4x Royal Marines

2x Parachute

6x Infantry (Light)

3x Signals

3x Artillery (Light)

3x Engineers (Light)

Other –

7x Special Forces

1x RM Force Protection

1x RAF Regiment

3x Light (Local)

1x Artillery (Air Defence)

1x Artillery (Training)

1x Engineering (Training)

1x Signals (Training)

1x Armoured (Training/CRBN)

We have a total of 82 major units, however only 38 of those would be Armoured or Infantry (versus 42 for FAS:NS), and the Armoured and Artillery regiments would compose of only two of four squadrons, with the remaining two to be reformed from Territorial units.

Having 4x light Mechanised brigades has the additional advantage that even if a Strategic Raiding operation is having trouble finding a follow on partner we can at need deploy the fourth for a limited time to fill that role without jeopardising the sustained Contributory operation that is presumably being conducted in tandem elsewhere.

Questions that remain:

1. Where have specialised skills been trimmed to close to the bone?

2. Is it valid to have Armoured units to operate in war with two regular + two territorial?

3. Is two heavy brigades sufficient for Article 5 (one based in Germany)?

4. Is it workable to have medium brigades without organic armour support?

5. Is nine combat brigades unrealistic given the 82 Armoured/Infantry unit prescription?

If the aim is to follow the four ambitions in the first paragraph, is this even close to being a sensible way to achieve it, and is it even credible to try and keep this much specialism and combat formations within a ground force composed of 82 major units? If not, how would you make it work given the constraints above?

On a final note, If you wish to tinker with the specifics of brigade structure such as the ratio of heavy/medium/light infantry then do so by all means. I am no expert, and recognise the problem of light infantry being light because they cheap not necessarily because they are useful, but equally I am not too concerned because that is detail and I am interested in combat brigades and specialist function. By all means adjust and educate, but don’t lose sight of the ambitions in the first paragraph.

The floor is open……………….

Update #1 (DominicJ)

Interesting questions raised which I hope I am reading correctly:

1. Would it be better to go with a number of uniform composite brigades and maintaining the rapid-reaction function for Strategic Raiding/Contributory out of this pool, reducing specialist light-infantry such as the Marines to a supporting role in the combat formation?

2. Is Britain’s role in providing a permanent Heavy presence in Germany against Article 5 events no longer necessary, to perhaps be covered by rotation of a composite brigade through ready to be deployed at need?

Update #2 (Jed)

Interesting questions raised which I hope I am reading correctly:

3. Should we have any permanent presence in Germany post Defence Review. This would obviously have to be decided in consultation with NATO partners as the alliance survives on the strength of members commitment to collective defence, but is this type of commitment both necessary and useful in the 21st century?

4. Should we abandon the capability to conduct theatre level multilateral operations, otherwise know as the Contributory doctrine, and where would we reassign the resources that would be freed up?

5. Could Armoured/Artillery regiments formed entirely from the Territorials be expected to deploy to a theatre of war and function organically within a larger battlegroup?

Update #3 (Jackstaff)

Interesting questions raised which I hope I am reading correctly:

6. What units and high level formations are necessary to permit the British Army to act as a mulit-lateral spine for Contributory operations?

7. Is an 82 unit army, under the terms of the RUSI FDR7 paper, limited to about seven major combat formations (brigades)?

8. Is it time to hive off the RAC into an entirely TA structure with the exception of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment as a training unit?

9. Composite battalions, and what this might mean for the number and make-up of brigades, what are the details of this approach?

Update #4 (Steve Coltman)

Interesting questions raised which I hope I am reading correctly:

10. How could we keep all the specialist COIN and anti-mine equipment purchased to date, and not repeat the mistakes of the past by disposing of it once the threat has ‘passed’?

11. If war among the people isn’t the only game in town, what kind of forces do we keep to deal with state-on-state warfare (Armoured, Armoured Cavalry, other)?

27 responses to “Future Army Structure – A call for papers Part 1.

  1. I believe the 15% cut applies to all forces, not just the army, so it would be difficult to comment without seeing your Future Airforce and Future Navy, however, there are a few of your assumptions I would wish to challenge.

    You (appear to) see a Strategic Raiding Brigade and a Contributary Brigade as being quite different.
    I dont.

    Although initial landings by an SRF would have to be light infantry by helicopter, landing craft or parachute, unless that force is being extracted several hours later, it will need some heavy support and/or resupply in short order or it will be overwhelmed.

    My personal opinion was more like a single Heavy Battalion in Challenger, 2 Mechanised Infantry Battalions in Warriors, 4 Light Infantry Battalions with light(ish) vehicles, an artillery battalion with AS90 and a vehicle mounted short range air defence weapon, an engineer battalion and a headquarters battalion.

    In a Strategic Raid, the infantry would land and seize a landing site, the heavy stuff would then be landed, and the objective could be seized by the joint force.
    In a contributory, well, it would depend on the specific campaign, we could provide peace keeping, war fighting, or breach and hold.
    All Contributions would be time limited.

    A single force of 6 Brigades could rotate Work Up, Rapid Reaction, Work Down, Work Up, Contributory, Work Down.
    It would limit our “contribution” to a long war to a single Brigade, and for no more than three years, but I dont have a problem with that.
    Theres no reason 4 couldnt be mobilised for a few months if we felt like toppling Sadam.

    We could also multirole the Brigades, so the SRF is trained to fight as above, but the Contributory force is trained to fight in composite battalions, on a 1:2:4 ratio of challenger/warrior(inc infantry)/infantry
    That could be done with 30,000 Men and a few hundred more to handle the overhead.
    I keep the RAF Regiment seperate though, and possibly a small force of Royal Marines as well, maybe allow them somewhere under a thousand each?

    NATO is where we really differ.
    I dont think Brtish Ground forces in Germany are essential, or even useful.
    Certainly not useful enough to justify the cost.
    Let the Europeans would could face a land invasion defend against one in force.
    If we wish to contribute, we should look at what assets we need for ourselves, that could be dual purposed.

    That my friend, is airpower.
    An Apache Gunship can carry 16 Hellfire Missiles, a Typhoon can carry 24 Brimstone Missles, and unless I’ve been lied to, 9 times out of 10 each of those missiles is a dead Soviet Tank.
    We would be reliant on airpower to stop any invasion attempt of the UK, theres no reason we cant stop invasion attempts on Polish soil.

    Sod soldiers, they’d be much more interested in our 120ish operational Eurofighters and ISTAR assets helping with the sequentional annihilation of the Russian Airforce, Armour and Navy.

    • The 15% cut will be for the Armed Forces as a whole, but as Fox made clear there will be those percieved as winners in addition to those who percieve themselves to be the losers, and the preponderance of heavy armour in Germany has got to be primary target, as well as the RAF’s fast jets.

      I absolutely recognise that I have chosen a very strictly defined separation between Contributory and Strategic Raiding forces, but I am by no means wedded to it. As to the scale of the operation I understand we are limited to deploying and sustaining a reinforced brigade via RN and RFA assets, would what you describe fit into that definition?

      Your six large composite brigades appears similar to the idea for the Future Army Structure: Next Steps, which appears to me to be more Global Guardian inclined given the definition of Contributory in the RUSI paper FDR3:

      “A case could be made for the UK military to transform itself so as to become a ‘multilateral spine’. Barring some residual capabilities for national territorial defence, the UK could focus on building enablers and framework capabilities so as to bolster the multilateral institutions rather than deploying major formed units of its own. This ‘contributory option’ sounds like a radical proposal as it would put at risk the UK’s ability to deploy significant combat power unilaterally or as part of a coalition. Conceptually, however, it would not be dissimilar to the model adopted by the UK throughout its imperial history. UK forces were able to police large parts of the world quite cheaply through providing military frameworks, an officer corps, and enabling technologies. Some variant of this approach may serve the UK well in the future.”

      I am not at all against the idea of Next-Steps style large composite brigades, and I can easily envision elements of them deploying as the “reinforced” part of the three rapid reaction brigades, but I limited the role to four because while controlling multilateral operations would come with a persistent commitment to boots on the ground our expertise would be in the C4ISTAR of a Contributory operation. Equally I can forsee that typical multilateral Contributory operations would almost never require Armour or Formation-Reconnaissance units, so it seemed better to do without.

      The idea of reducing the Marines to one unit rather reinforces the impression that combat formations are centred around the six large composite brigades, again it feels more appropriate to a Global Guardian stance………..?

      I am divided on Germany, as I really don’t see Russian tank divisions rolling across the Fulda Gap, and I don’t see a rejuvenated NATO mission anticipating that as a likely Article 5 scenario that we would seriously asked to provide as a standing task.

      Here we come back to the composite brigades, each with Ar and FR regiments that are unlikely ever to be called into service, I could see the Contributory and NATO roles combined into one, but would it be better to ditch the Ar/FR, roll them into a single composite regiment, or to 50% them with rest reinforced from TA units?

      To abuse your structure, would it be possible to achieve the following with six composite brigades:
      Work Up, Rapid Reaction/NATO, Work Down, Work Up, Contributory, Work Down.

      The brigade on QRF/NATO duty would be ready to deploy for an Article 5 event and at the same time be ready to hive off a heavy regiment to reinforce the whichever of the 2x Marine Brigades or 1x Air Assault brigade that was about to be deployed.

      Is this workable?
      Does it still seem outlandish to maintain a ‘permamnent’ capability for Strategic Raiding via maintaining three light brigades capable of being reinforced from elements of the QRF medium brigade?

      Many thanks


  2. With correct funding, I think it is possible.
    The 4 light infantry battalions would each need a light carrier/helicopter assault ship to deploy them.
    The armour would probably require enlarged Bay class ships, or two per battalion.

    Throw in a “proper” carrier(IE Nimitz Size), or a few of our medium carriers, a missile destroyer (as in 1500 cruise missiles) and escorts and you’re looking at 30+ ships, but affordable, if we hammer the army and airforce.

    Although I did say reduce the royal marines to a fleet guardsman force, army fans usualy complain I’m abolishing the army and extending the Royal Maines.
    The light infantry would be going through the RMC and Paratrooper courses if I had my way.

    Although the Brigades would slot into global guardians, it was my opinion that you would need 60 of them not 6

    My view on armour is that it would provide infantry support, so composite companies, IE 1 tank, 5 warriors, 10 light vehicles and 100ish infantry.

    Such a force mix would be quite capable of urban warfare, a long slog across country or digging in a defence line.

    It would be possible to do as you suggest, but I dont see the advantage.
    The Marine/Air Assault infantry would be the infantry componant of the composite brigade, rather than maintained seperatly.

  3. I think the premise of your article is fine, I would differ in details and if I get the chance (long weekend coming up in Canada, with family visiting) I will write something and send it to you.

    However just one thing, I agree with Dominic (that could be a first ?) in that the British Forces Germany should be where the cuts come, especially for a RUSI Stategic Raiding / Contributory ‘strategy’. We bring a highly capable expertise in amphibious warfare to the European NATO ‘party’ leading the combined UK/NL amphib group. I would say we should build on this specialism because it not only facilitates strategic raiding, but also our contribution to NATO article 5, we can re-inforce northern or southern flanks as required. Germany and France have larger stronger forces of MBT’s, so I am not sure our German based Challenger II’s bring a lot to the fray if we take an holistic view. I would also reduce some regular army formations by handing over their capabilities to an increased size and scope TA (e.g. Challenger and artillery – not just ‘battle casualty replacements’ but entire units). Finally I would let someone else prove the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) headquarters, that we we could cut some logistics / signals units fairly easily.

    • Thanks Jed, I too have doubts that a new NATO mission would call for the same commitment to heavy armour in Germany, Russia isn’t going anywhere and in its reduced state Germany could hold the line on its own until a 21st century Reforger kicked into action.

      I also agree that Strategic Raiding is useful in an Article 5 event for the reasons you mention, and that it is a specialism that no other NATO nation can provide (outside the US). I feel I can say with absolute certainty that that Germany will not host division level British forces in five years time, at most we will continue to host a brigade under NATO/US command.

      Where I disagree possibly is the need for the ARRC headquarters, as our ability to conduct theatre level operations which might be considered analogous to the Contributory doctrine, as no-one else is in a position to provide this function. France could ‘build’ this capability but does not currently have it, and if europe wants to be able to conduct complex multilateral operations in the absence of the US then this capability must be provided.

      I also curious about have Armoured and Artillery units formed entirely from the TA’s, would it work in a hot war (when they are likely to be called up), or would it still be better to have them reinforce an understrength regular unit, possibly on a two-plus-two basis?

  4. I am only online to set my out of office, so I will be brief 😉

    The ARRC HQ is an expensive luxury provided by the UK because the Army wants the prestige, and yes your right, because “we can”. In the face of large cuts I think it should go and other european nations should step up. I think we can provide some additional specialist comms, EW, ISTAR and staff elements to a brigade HQ to provide C4I at a division level for a specific deployment. However I know lots of people at ThinkDefence would also defend the ARRC HQ and the resources we ‘spend’ on it.

    Armour and arty in the TA – mostly TA regiments with a solid core of regulars should be fine. Bring back the simulators from Germany, weekly drill nights, actually drive the things on a weekend, and maybe shoot twice a year (in Poland – I would kill off BATUS as another cust cutting exercise). However its just an idea, I am ex-TA from a specialist unit, but no expert.

    Hope your weekend is a good as its expected to be in Ontario 😉

    • Thank you Jed,

      Just to clarify; are you saying we could still provide some additional specialist comms, EW, ISTAR and staff elements to a brigade HQ to provide C4I at a division level for a specific deployment…… even if we ditched the ARRC HQ? And in your opinion, would that above be sufficient to effectively operate as the multi-lateral spine that RUSI describe?

      On the subject of armour, If i take it that a typical regiment is supposed to have four squadrons, are you talking about a 1:3 ratio between regulars and TA’s, and if so how would you ‘use’ those units when they weren’t operating at full strength?

      Many thanks again, and last question; my weekend in Ontario…?

  5. More excellent stuff, JBT, and from your two-so-far contributors. I’ll try to buck my nature and go for brevity first time round here. (Happy Canada Day Jed! You, too, shall have responsible government and not be annexed by Manifest Destiny run amuck 🙂 Perhaps the best first foray would be a stab at your “Interesting Questions” list, because they’re exactly that.

    Q1: No. “Horses for courses” is not just a cliche. This seems like an area in which Think Defence’s “ruthless commonality” mantra has good practical applications at the operational level. A series of slice-of-everything brigades becomes a logistical nightmare and you get to pick their “non-linear battlefield” vulnerabilities according to whatever mire you stick them in. I think DominicJ’s combined-arms-fire-team battalions are a better suggestion, if one varied their scale of kit from brigade to brigade. The “light fighters” (in American parlance) and booties have jobs of their own, likewise the tankers and armoured infantry and all between.
    2. Definitely. Germany isn’t even remotely the best base/axis of operations for a valuable British Article 5 contribution any longer. Instead it’s as Jed put it pretty simply, provide the bulk and backbone of efforts to reinforce the flanks. Those may not even be “flanks” any longer — turn your globe up towards the distressingly melting pole and upper Scandinavia looks more like a place for Russia (or a Russia-substitute challenger in those new strategic and commercial lanes) to maximize punch with limited reach in a catastrophic pinch. So all of a sudden British capacity to command, orchestrate, and be the backbone (plus quite a lot of muscle) for defense of Scandinavia and the plugging of the Baltic/ reinforcement of Poland’s north coast is suddenly a major strategic asset as Germany turns inward and France (possibly Italy too) look towards dabbling in the resource politics/wars of the Near East rather than Article 5 defence. Some little nations that box well above their weight on GDP would look kindly, if in private, at Britain’s strategic heft.

    Q3: Some of that’s q.v. here. Article 5 catastrophes need to be stopped shy of Germany’s eastern border in any case because, frankly, at this point unless one wants to trigger Armaggedon for something (a two-fisted nation-state war for a specific objective) that’s sliding back into the realm of a policy option, Germany’s more likely out of sheer national good sense to fight to the last Pole and barter, backed by a defensive screen of Anglo-Franco-American nukes. Promising regions like Scandinavia and northeastern Europe (particularly the Poles and Slovaks) that they won’t be next decade’s Sudetenland takes guarantees from partners capable of marshalling expeditionary reinforcement. If the U.S. stays largely fixated on Asia and the Middle East, with some concerns about its own backyard, that really falls to a “European rim” coalition (that term of mine again 🙂 led by the UK and backed by the likes of the Dutch, Spanish, or both. Particularly on the northern flank — France and Italy have both resources and interests invested in covering the southern flank. So departure from Germany is so on the cards that no one would even take the losing bet.
    Q4: This seems like a place for real re-thinking, not just keeping or binning. What *sort* of theatre-level operations? Orchestrated in what ways? Could staffing levels be reduced simply by restructuring: cutting out needless layers of command, transferring staffing into the higher-readiness reserves to serve in the event of such an emergency, or by broader burden-sharing with key allies who might rather provide logistical, communications, and other such personnel than poor bloody infantry? And to what ends? A structure set up as the expeditionary reinforcement for Article 5 running basically from Iceland/Greenland to the north coast of Poland (cutting out the need for a British Army of the Vistula, romantic as that sounds) makes good sense and could reasonably rely on integration of command structures across national borders. Indeed that could build on actual, practical cooperation built up in Afghanistan where you yourself, JBT, have charted the demographics of “doing their bit” and noted that not only have the northernmost Europeans pulled disproportionate weight (along with the Canucks) they’ve often done it in concert, in the same provincial command structures. Build on that: Marlborough’s army in a different era of multilateral strategic projection was more or less equal parts British and Dutch, with substantial dollops of Danes, Norwegians, and Hanoverians thrown in. Further afield, per some of the comments over at the Warships board in which I’ve lurked and you’ve joined in directly, being the “door-kickers” in a structure that has defined mechanisms for shifting operational weight to other partners has a lot of appeal. And fits a combination of older strategies and plain sense after decades of “brushfire wars” that The Tony reduced into bitter absurdity.

    Q5: Absolutely the Territorials/Reserves/Yeomanry could do it. This was the case in the Cold War before rules and force reductions altered that through Options For Change, and in an absolute run of trumps during the World Wars. (The “regional” divisions all bloomed from TA roots, like a great many Canadian formations did from their reserves, and American ones from the U.S. National Guard.) The Dutch, Belgians, and Americans absolutely assumed the direct role of high-readiness reserves in operational formations if the Warsaw Pact came knocking. Something similar could be done on a limited scale now: I’d think in terms of a stand-alone heavy brigade built on the Yeomanry, full up on manpower and equipment tables. Not just a two-plus-two, but a full-on reserve formation (what the Americans called a “roundout brigade”) available to call up and reinforce heavy units for Article 5 conditions. Much of the rest of the TA could then be divided into units providing specialist skills or replacements, as now, and into cadre units intended to generate themselves at battalion strength through draftees in the black-swan catastrophe of a long existential war.

    Well, so much for brief! Never bet against habit, I guess. A couple of other thoughts:
    – Not a chance in hell of nine brigades. Not based on plausible reductions in force, not based on the fact that Germany, a nation with one-third more people, will probably have nine combatant brigades when done with budget-cutting and France and Italy (UK’s population near-peers) will get close only because France still operates a functional empire in its overseas territories through military garrisons and Italy still uses the services for internal security. Instead bite the bullet, dial back about 150 years, and work on a brigade-based army, with somewhat larger brigades that can “plug in” to logistics at what would once have been a corps/theater level without too many intervening layers, and so sustain to fight on their own, coordinated in groups by major generals who fly divisional flags of convenience. A likelier number would be around six plus 3 Commando Bde RM which makes seven. Not enough for generating multiple missions at once over extended periods? Perhaps, depending on the level of integration with some key allies (not just the Yanks.) But that may also be a nagging legacy of a previous version of great-power status — “doing” multiple brushfire conflicts at the same time almost out of sheer habit — that needs a bracing reconsideration.
    – A quick thought in empathy for Army partisans, from a convert over time to the more navalist position. Most if not all of the remaining cavalry formations should be kept on as exactly that, in whatever form doctrine and procurement evolve. As for the infantry, since about Options For Change, traditionalists hoping to save the justifiably storied regiments of the British Army shot themselves in both feet. How? The multiple-battalion model. That worked in periods of major force inflation: versus Napoleon, Kaiser Bill, the Nazis, etc. But once National Service disappeared, much less by the Nineties, much more sensible to have battalion-sized “regiments” like the RAC. Save names and heartfelt legacies, diversify recruiting bases, and face statistical reality all at a stroke. This has already been done in all but name by the Guards, and by the tortuous farce of the “Royal Regiment of Scotland” where the fine proud tartans survive without too much fuss and could do without the procedural window-dressing as well. Earlier on it would have been simple, around Options time: work on basis of seniority, keep the senior-most in active service, move the county regiments in particular to TA as cadres to build force in the event of a major conflict. But even now, slicing from, say, 36 infantry battalions to 25 would not have to case many flags. Just a thought. (Some might even fly again: what about pulling 1 Para from the “Special Forces Support Regiment” jobbery and reflagging as the Commando Regiment? No reason but inertia why the Army can’t wear the Sherwood green again, and a natural fit with 3 Brigade.)

    • Thank you for the response Jackstaff, brevity is obviously a skill you are working on. 😉

      First of all, I am going to have to dig down a bit deeper in the weeds with my responses, because I don’t have the deep institutional understanding of all the concepts you guys take for granted………… so:

      Q1 This appears to be a rejection of the Future Army Structure (Next Steps) approach to providing six large composite (slice of everything) brigades, and the suggestion from DJ and yourself of combined arms fire teams battalions appears similar in principle to my question about mixed Armoured/Formation-Reconnaissance regiments. How far would you extend this combined approach throughout the various kinetic fighting formations that are currently separated, and what would these leave the resulting brigades looking like?

      Q2 Once again, I am in agreement with the general consensus that there is more to Article 5 commitments than Armoured regiments in the Fulda Gap, and most pointedly there are methods for achieving this that have far greater commonality with Britain’s other strategic requirement of rapid-reaction and expeditionary war. You would seem to be in favour of the Contributory doctrine and I can see the appeal also as it is useful both for Article 5 purposes when securing NATO flanks in concert with host nations, and also useful for large multi-lateral operations of ‘choice’.
      What specific functions is it that you can point out to me that permits Britain to command theatre-level operations? I can ‘see’ that C4ISTAR assets are essential, what I cannot isolate is what divisional/command assets are required, would an example be the HQ 6th Division and what exactly is this from a units PoV?

      Q3 No questions here, understood and agreed.

      Q4 Here we are deep in the ‘weeds’ of the second question, and while I understand the concept and recognise the sense in the questions you ask, I struggle to apply that concept and those questions to the Army structure. It would be good to institutionalise the cooperation with, and commitment to, the European rim, but I guess I am asking for help with understanding the ‘picture’ of what that would look like from the point of view of the high-level structure of the Army…?

      Q5 I can see that provided we keep a fairly large component of the forces as training regiments, as currently happens, that it would be possible to have Heavy regiments, and indeed an Armoured brigade formation, formed entirely from the TA’s. As a hypothetical question; from your point of view would it be a better use of resources to ‘spend’ six TA regiments on a full roundout Armoured brigade, or to provide three Armoured and three Formation-Reconnaissance regiments to reinforce regular brigades with a heavy element at need?


      Here I am asking you to educate me:
      a) Why cannot you have nine functioning brigades from 82 units, where am I in my ramblings above miss-allocating or double counting regiments, or is it that the simplified breakdown from the RUSI FDR7 paper simply doesn’t account for such as headquarters regiments?
      b) What would those somewhat larger brigades be composed of?
      c) Can a brigade based army maintain those high-level command structures that would permit a Contributory style multi-lateral spine for theatre level operations?
      d) Do you not see a future for the Air-Assault brigade?
      e) If you take the RUSI FDR7 major unit breakdown, what are the other units of the <98 that are not directly attached to brigade structures? (i can see the obvious ones like the seven special forces regiments)

      Final question: What are your thoughts on maintaining three light expeditionary brigades, to cycle through work-up/ready-deployed/work-down, to be achieved by forming a fourth commando, and splitting the commando brigade into two with four regular infantry battalions likewise split?

      Many thanks

      • JBT,

        My sincere apologies for taking so long in getting back to you — a long week (it seems as though last week just now ended) and just time for some desultory comments over at TD. So I will now try to work my way through your meticulous and thoughtful gloss.

        Q1: I dislike the FAS(NS) model quite a bit, it seems much more a model for fighting bureaucratic corners by physically giving everyone a slice of the action in the table of organizationa and equipment rather than creating, in a term which you didn’t use but clearly imply, kinetically coherent formations that can stand on their own feet. Despite my general empathy for Dominic’s combined-arms approach, I would keep the relevant “ingredients” in distinct units, not just as a matter of regimental tradition but because armies of all sorts have been much better at what you might call the “salad” approach, mixing ingredients available to them as needed, rather than by creating units that are already combined in those ways. I’m not sure why — various tracked/wheeled cavalry formations overseas have done fine, and can in the UK too. But otherwise, officers who have “branched” one way or another in the American phrase (armour, infantry, artillery, etc.) tend to view permanent mixes with institutional suspicion. The key then, I think, is to give them the right “ingredients” to hand in the brigade formation and let them follow the tactically obvious conclusions. That said, I would indeed combine elements in the cavalry regiments because it is more effective and more efficient both. Put more heavily armed and gunned elements with strong all-terrain capacity (either the Falcon turret-on-C1 system raised over at TD or something very like) and the lighter recon vehicle, which might even vary between “heavier” and “lighter” formations. (There composition needs to follow not just doctrine but some kind of coherent strategy for where and how the British Army prefers to fight for the next twenty years or so. I’ll get back to that “prefers.”) Also, most light artillery work could now be folded into other sorts of formations with the new generations of targeted 120mm mortar shells and tubes from a variety of developers. Really, despite Sir David Richards’ elevation, the Royal Artillery should quake in its boots a bit because what doesn’t call for a solid wallop of AS90s — and some things do — or battery-level missile fire can be integrated into other formations by land and air. I suspect Harvey’s quips about “precision fires” are not just marketing Kool-Aid from big contractors, but a result of an old artilleryman at the top end of the British Army fighting his corner.

        Q2: I am in favor of one of the four most populous countries in Europe’s NATO membership taking a sensible and strategic view towards those elements of collective defence in which it can take a leading role, and concentrating on them in Article 5’s context. That may not even be wholly “Contributory” but despite RUSI’s efforts at concision these are muddy terms. In particular two things: 1) out-of-area operations where these actually impinge on the collective interests and security of the UK and its closest (NATO and Commonwealth) allies, and 2) NATO’s northernmost flank, linked to a potential shift (I’m avoiding the obvious pun) in maritime traffic based on a thawing Arctic. The UK needs, for several reasons, to possess at least a “regenerative capacity” (in RUSI language) to take charge of key operations in the second case particularly. Think of it as perhaps an evolution on beyond NORTHAG (which largely begat ARRC if you look at ARRC’s composition less Italy), and also the result as the U.S. Navy’s non-submarine presence recedes from the whole Atlantic north of the Equator.
        Q3: Cheers.

        Q4: I would say a multi-service NORTHAG (perhaps more than its partial heir ARRC) would be a starting point, wedded to the continued commitment reaffirmed every year (in wretched bloody cold) to protect Norway would be a starting point. Take the current military relationships of key contributory states (UK, Netherlands, Norway, Canada, perhaps Denmark) and weave them into something permanent. There have been half-steps there already, not just annual OPEX in Norway but now some years of fighting in the same provincial neighborhoods of Afghanistan, or the Danish brigade assigned to 1 (UK) Armd Div through the Nineties, etc. Really I would like to see the evolution — which perhaps help salve some arguments between friends about EEZs and resources around the Arctic — of a collaborative maritime command, centered on the RN that also includes Canada, the Dutch, Norway, and Denmark. (Sweden can fol-de-rol in public and make secret agreements in private as usual.) Also (choke down the Cod Wars a minute) Iceland. There are substantial advantages in management of maritime trade, rejuvenation of Atlantic resources like depeleted fisheries, husbanding of energy resources, and plans for a more forward defence (something more like Greenland-Svalbard-Narvik than GIUK to the south.) On land, Finland must for diplomatic reasons stay out but Norway with its jagged terrain and military reserve system would stand ready locally, but the expeditionary presence would be a “corps-like” command centered (if I ruled the world …) on the two extant British divisions optimised to go north or east (a line through northern Norway-Sweden, or towards the Vistula basin in Poland, as needed) and a third division made from the two Dutch heavy brigades and the regular (well-armoured) Danish brigade. I think it will actually benefit both the health of Britain’s army and the Forces more generally to reorganize on expeditionary lines: in diplomatic terms defending the “Northern Lights” countries is the “Continental commitment” of the 21st century, and action farther afield around lines of economic and cultural influence or trade is what really affects Britain’s well-being, and also concentrates the Forces on defending Britain’s natural strateic depth. Does fighting the Taliban for the same village three times in a month stop terrorism “over here”? Does it bollocks. Does a military geared to fight at expeditionary distances stop emergent “rogue states” or other existential threats from actually damaging or destroying the United Kingdom’s vital interests? Absolutely.
        So, from the point of view of the army, you have one central command function (kill off as many others, like the heraldic “divisions” of Guards, Queen’s, Scottish, etc. which have actual staffs and personnel attached rather than serving just as heraldic markers) to manage an Article 5-level operation with substantial staff integration to the related armies (Dutch, Canadian Forces, Norse, etc.) And you preserve two “divisional” commands with their flags which are in pracitce vastly shrunken structures, concentrated on pure operational HQ management for a variety of brigade and support-command resources assigned to a given mission in the field of “strategic raiding.”
        Q5: In the time since I first floated that idea, I’ve developed an attraction to using the Yeomanry in particular — already yoked to the Royal Armoured Corps — to flesh out and stand up full Type 57 Regiments for a “fleet managed” reserve C2 force. You have four Yeomanry regiments now. If two Type 57s remained in service (the two formations of the Royal Tank regiment) attached to two “heaviest” brigades, the other four (three with one spare) could serve as Article 5 “roundouts” for middleweight brigades. This seems more efficient than my first idea and I’m grateful for the suggestion. (I’d still like to see every Chally 1 that hasn’t been sold off to someone dusted for moths and fitted with a Falcon turret w/ British workshare to provide big guns in the cavalry regts.)

        With regard to your other points/questions:

        a) Two points in reply. First, I think if there are to be “winners and losers” in SDSR rather than pale attempts at taming the largest defence contractors and more “salami tactics” then the Army will be very lucky to come away with a 97-to-82 reduction. I worry, much as Richard Dannatt’s position had material effects on the course of FRES and on the AAC, that Richards’ position (likeable as he is in some ways) will privilege the Artillery against armour in the coming cuts when at the regimental level it should be the other way round. But the infantry will take a hit: my own model is predicated on only 25 surviving line infantry battalions against the current 37, a fairly brutal cut. (Yet another argument for battalion-sized infantry regiments.) It may not turn out so badly, but I would nonetheless prefer fewer and larger, more self-sustaining, brigades to more. Management of complex roulements from a “deep bench” (in sporting terms) presumes that multiple long-term overseas engagements with a likely COIN element are 1) possible to sustain for the indefinite future or 2) were ever a good idea in the first place except on the sovereign British soil of Ulster. I think you’ve done an admirable job (better than me, for starters 🙂 counting elements. But when it comes to brigades within a straitened Army, my own preference is for weight and self-sustainment over numbers. This seems (tome me anyway) in line with a “strategic raiding” model where the military element of strategy depends on landing the punch well rather than a demonstration of machismo through staying power.

        b) I’d say something closer to the “mini-divisions” of the Cold War French Army than either the traditional brigade structures of Britain’s army (even the formidable armoured “squares”) or the “Unit of Action” American brigades which are deliberately undermanned to spread the butter wide but thin. Something like this:
        – Two “legacy” heavy brigades, each with one Type 57 Chally 2 regiment, two cavalry regiments (mingling something like CV90-120 — the ASCOD’s armoured gun model does not in fact punch hard enough for reconnaissance by contact — or the Falcon turret on tank chassis plus a majority of recce vehicles), and two armoured infantry battalion/regiments. Back with good fires and you can stop a motorised division in its tracks, much to the relief of many of the UK’s smaller allies who might wait in vain for the U.S. to decide its overstretched ground forces would be locally decisive.
        – Three middleweight brigades built on one cavalry regiment (to which one could add a Yeomanry armoured regiment in a large Article 5 conflict) and four infantry battalions, mixing recce in force with substantial “boots” for any of a variety of operations from bogging down a broken-up mechanised thrust by a major state opponent to COIN in force.
        – 16th Air Assault Brigade used to “swing” as a light decisive maneuver force (I would actually team it with the two heavy brigades in a major conflict) and support for strategic raiding. It should be treated — to use a superpower example yet again — less like the 82nd Airborne “fire brigade” model and more like the U.S.’s 101st Air Assault as a key light-role maneuver unit in substantial conflicts. Not typically “door kickers” then, but an important element of tamping down enemy resistance and securing centers of gravity after the first punch. Keep the structure much as it is. As for 3 Commando Brigade, the primary entry force particularly because of the UK’s maritime interests and focus. All three extant RM Commandos, plus the surviving Gurkha battalion (for the other, let the Sultan of Brunei pay for quality if he wants to benefit from it), and the Commando Regiment (ex-1 Para) as rapid airborne entry and SF support. The RM battalions can rotate through readiness for small-scale contingencies to deploy with an LHD-led naval task force. In both cases, fold ground fires elements further into the infantry units (heavy mortars rather than light artillery) and support the rest by air (Apaches with 16 AAB, fast jets and UCAS for 3 Commando.)
        – Then there are a few loose elements: a Cyprus battalion (sell back Dhekelia except for the GCHQ station adn concentrate around Akrotiri), a full Guards battalion in London (every other European state bigger than Luxembourg has light-role infantry readily available for catstrophes in its capital), etc.
        In support of all that? Roll together basing and logistics support into a variety of support commands, sized in such a way that one could support ops ranging from Sierra Leone up to Afghanistan, two could handle the Falklands or initial entry to Kosovo, more for larger ops, etc. Since 1991 the British Army has typically handled active operations by deploying and supporting battalion-to-brigade sized forces. (In many ways Kosovo and Op Telic were this model “on steroids” more than they were division-level missions.) Let’s make that work to best effect.

        c) I would suggest thinning out the mid-range administrative levels, particularly shrinking “division” headquarters to those elements strictly necessary to coordinate independent brigades and support commands, rather than weaving them together with thick clerkly strands. Once again you get criticisms of “hi-lo mixes” but that seems, really, in the Forces’ interest for an expeditionary future. In that instance (not in many others) the U.S. Marine Corps is a useful example, where the divisional flag is a positive hindrance of command chains and personnel in between the operational units, the (enlarged, combined-arms) Expeditionary Brigade and the (midway between traditional division and traditional corps-sized) Expeditionary Force. And I wouldn’t think in terms of “theatre level operations,” with the possible exception of the maritime border between Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Campaign-level structures seems more appropriate, when weighed against the language of military history: the “high end” stuff would fall in categories like the Falklands or a main axis of operations in Kosovo, or on a larger scale fights like the U.S. invasion of Panama or Norway in 1940. Not what would, in hot or Cold world wars, qualify as theatre level. If it would serve for a multi-national Op Corporate or command level of defending Norway, then it’s probably sized well to other plausible real-world contingencies.

        d) I absolutely see a future for 16AAB, and a 16AAB largely “undiluted” from its present form, laid out q.v.
        e) Not many, based on the need for thoughtfully designed support commands. There, even more than in the “kinetic” units, there are good arguments for blending of elements or at least combining arms more often to achieve necessary results. And I’d reduce the number of SF units, from the opposite of prejudice — multiplying them makes them less “special” and robs other units of key skills and leadership. Smaller militaries need smaller SF not just as a matter of scale but to keep from bleeding out quality from their main-line formations.

        Final question: I’d suggest that hewing to the raider model means trying 1) to find more useful and creative solutions to problems where feckless and fearful politicians prefer monopoly of force and 2) trying to nip more problems best met by military force in the bud. So rather than rotating three rapid-deployment brigades, I’d have a larger “door kicker” brigade at the ready rotating battalions and companies through fire brigade duty at all times, close to the scene (by sea or C-17) of forseeable problems, and ready to form up and surge the full brigade by sea and air quickly. Then have decisive elements (16 AAB and/or one of the heavy brigades, unless terrain is totally prohibitive for heavy gear) slotted to follow in if the scale of operations so demand. For “extended raiding” 16 AAB would typically be my weapon of choice. For longer-term presence missions, the middleweight brigades can rotate, because that’s where one needs the staying power of rotation the most.

  6. Just wanted to expand on my post a little bit.

    Although I said I would cut the Royal Marines (and RAF Reg) to about 1000 men, I dont want to abolish the marine infantry role. I just think that it belongs with the army, if the army is going to be re roled to be part of a strategic raiding whole, the alternative is to up the Royal Marines to 30,000 men and abolish the army.

    So anyway, The RAF and Royal Navy each get 1,000 or so dedicated soldiers, to handle their direct force protection needs.
    The Army would get 30,000 Men, plus an additional amount for headquarters stuff.

    The 30,000 Men would be split into 6 composite Brigades, each formed of 10 Battalions of 500 men.
    The First Battalion would be a Heavy Armour Brigade, I’m nopw aware that in reality this wouldnt get 125 tanks (500 / 4 crew per tank), probably more like 30. The additonal people to assist with repairs and the like.

    The 2nd and 3rd Battalions would be Mechanised Infantry, mounted in Warrior (or something similar. These would each have 50 Warriors, 150 Warrior Crew and 350 Mechanised Infantry soldiers, the crew and infantry of each warrior carrying out the majority of the repair and maintenance work on it.

    Battalions 4-7 would be infantry battalions, but they would be infantry that have gone through the Royal Marines Commando Course, or the Parachute Course, or something similar.
    Infantry would have to deployable by helicopter and capable of looking after themselves for a while(see below).

    The 8th Battalion would be an artilery battalion, operating self propelled guns and self propelled air defences, presumably 30 in total as they would be MBT sized.

    The 9th Battalion would be an engineer battalion, to deal with vehicle management, logistics and construction.

    10th Battalion would be a headquarters battalion, to cover anything missed above, medical and intelligence stand out to my untrained eye.
    But if the force is acting as a “Strategic Raider” it will be doing so in the caring embrace of the Royal Navy, who’s task force would be responsible for collecting and interpreting intelligence, and providing medical care to injured forces.

    In name, yes, the rapid reaction forces are being cut, but in spirit, they’re being doubled and being given organic armoured support.

    I suppose it would make more sense if I gave a brief over view of the RN task force and the sort of war I envision.
    The opening salvo of my war would be a huge missile strike, maybe 1,500 long range missiles would be launched by the fleet from dedicated ships, these would decapitate the enemy command and control, destroy the majority of the enemy airforce and sever any strategic transport links. If we felt like it, we could blow up power stations and communications as well, but lets assume we stick to military and high level political targets.

    The Fleet Super Carrier would launch air wings to assess damage, finish off any surviving targets and hopefully bait any surviving air defences or aircraft to reveal themselves.

    The Power Projection ships would then land the 4 infantry and 1 headquarters Battalion by Heavy Helicopter. 5 ships (bit like Ocean) each with 5 CH53K could land 2500 men in maybe three hours, across 50 drop sites. Each man would could have 500lbs of gear and could expect to receive that again 12 hours after the first wave launched.
    The PPS could then provide resupply, mobility and fire support via helicopter (They carry Apaches as well).

    The Landing ships, 5 bayish, maybe somewhat enlarged, maybe a coupl;e more than 5, would then move into a secured beach head and begin landing the 1-3 and 8-9 Battalions by beaching/mexafloat/landing craft/North Sea Oil Barge Port.

    Safely landed, the Brigade then moves to its target, I’d guess usualy a deep water port, seizes said port and the Franco/German army via STUFT and takes care of the remainder of the warfighting, now the enemy has finaly got some semblance of control restored and is mobilising his 100,000 strong army against our 5,000 landed force.
    We could always just land another two of our Brigades on STUFT and rely on our overwhleming air superiority against most opponants to force a peace on our terms.

    In an article 5 its all gone to hell, whilst the Poles are slowing the advance, but before the Germans have rapidly advanced to hold the line, and the French are still following behind to throw the Russians back to Siberia, the UK could land a nasty little surpise in North East Poland to run south severing the Russian supply lines as they go.
    Or we could far North and seize Archangel.

    I hope that explains a thing or two, please feel free to tell me I’m mad.

    • Cheers, I’m starting to get a better picture of where you are coming from.

      Presumably the ~1000 Royal Marines would be a continuance of the specialised force-protection role that one of the commando’s is currently assigned to, in much the same way that the RAF regiment is a very specific light infantry formation?

      So, you would still have commando and parachute qualified light infantry battalions but they would be army units with specialist skills rather than dedicated & separate marine/paratroop regiments?

      Do you see the Commando21 organisational structure as useful for the light infantry units, and would such as structure have wider application as a template for other infantry units?

      Would you envisage the Armoured regiments as half strength units (two squadrons) to be beefed up with another two TA units in time of general war (as opposed to an operation of choice)?

      Do you not see the need for separate Formation Reconnaissance regiments, and if so, is that because you see the role being absorbed into your ‘lite’ Armoured battalions?

      Many thanks, the vision is appealing in its stark and streamlined function, but I do think it unlikely the SDR will create a force structure so decisively skewed to Strategic Raiding. I’m not saying it is wrong, but I feel that you are taking SR to its logical conclusion rather than using it to create a specific emphasis in a balanced force.

      In many ways it will be interesting to see just how willing they are to turn the Armed Forces into a specialised (and thus limited) tool, which ever direction they opt for. From a novices point of view it reminds me of the scout vehicle debate regarding armour/firepower; with the Army’s choice obviously being to recce in force given the high weight and heavy armament. Will there be such an obvious change in capabilities that will indicate a very decided preference for how future war should be conducted?

      • Yes, I picked 1000 because its a round number and I’m not actualy sure how big the RAF Reg is, but they would be force protection forces to provide security to Airfields/Ports in the UK and RAF/RN assets overseas.

        Yes the Marine Infantry and Paratroops capability would be maintained, and if possible expanded, but but be held at the Brigade level. Is 24 Battalions of RMC/Paratroopers a step to far, probably, but 6 of each should be doable, the rest could go through a cut down course.

        I personaly dont like the Commando21 organisation (although all I know is the wikipedia page and what I read in Target Basra). I think a company should have its own Mortar/MachineGun/AT/Sniper, rather than them all being grouped into a single support company.

        From my understanding of Aghanistan, we have a company deployed to a patrol base, calling in air support every few hours to deal with a threat that requires an 81mm mortar, but the company mortar is held with the battalion headquarters a few miles away.

        The Brigades are fighting formations and should be maintained as such. So Armour landing at beach will be full strength, full time army.
        In the event of a crisis, depending on how quickly the TA can be mobilised and brought to theatre would depend on the situation, but I’d guess Brigades would be “doubled up” if the situation called for it.
        They wouldnt be “brought up to strength” with TA though, unless they’ve taken a pasting.

        I dont see a role for Formation Recon, but I dont see a role for Formation Recon.
        The Americans think they could have picked up the heat/noise signiture of a tank army over a thousand miles away, and then destroy it with Brilliant Anti Tank.
        My Strategic Raiding Force wont be that intelligence capable, but I’d want dozens of UAVs running surveilance and proper manned surveilance aircraft available as well.
        Any enemy formations identified would then be broken apart by airpower, which would be 70 Seaphoons each with 15 Brimstones and 20 Apaches each with 16 Hellfires.
        That just leaves the odd “hidden” tank, which depending on the circumstances will be discovered and destroyed by the infantry screen, or might get behind a force and cause some losses before its dealt with.
        I dont see formation recon preventing that any better.

        I’m quiter happy with your conclusion, its pretty much the effect I was going for.
        I dont think “balanced” is available as an option for the UK currently, it’ll be a bloody disaster after the cuts.
        If we want the ability to retake the Falklands from an Argentine/Brazillian Coalition (The Aegentillians? The Bragentines?, we either build the force I listed above (with its attendant escorts I didnt mention for brevities sake), or we admit we cant afford it and give up the idea of holding the OT’s against enemy aggression, or of course, we pretend we have the ability to retake it when really we dont.

        I accept my force is limited, in that it cant do everything, but I’d argue the current armed forces are limited, in that they cant do anything.

      • Yes, I wasn’t picking over the figure, I guessed you were using it as a general indication of unit strength.

        Given that your brigades are all round full strength units, what would you see the role of the TA being, from the point of view of a contrast to how they are set up now?

        From reading the wisdom of the Warships1 crowd I am fairly convinced by the argument that the Seaphoon will never happen, in that the amount of money necessary to transform the Typhoon into a CTOL aircraft would probably cost as much as F35, and still render an aircraft less capable than the F35, i also am aware of the received wisdom that that STOVL was selected because one can maintain a high sortie rate with a limited number of airframes. A SeaGripen would be feasible in that its airframe is already designed for austere basing so conversion to CTOL would be ‘economic’, especially given that the notion is already seriously considered in that it has been offered to India, but even then you come up against the low sortie rate problem, i.e. you need more airframes to achieve the same effect.

        I do have my doubts about the complete absence of Formation Reconnaissance too, it is a hot-war niche capability much like Armoured regiments to this untrained eye and thus I struggle to find a way to keep it without distorting limited resources, thus my question about composite Ar/FR regiments….?

        As to the matter of Brazil, i reckon we will already have failed if we don’t bring this future UNSC member onside, and besides we have far more to offer Brazil as a partner than Argentina, latin solidarity only goes so far.

        I do see the appeal of a force purely focused on SR, as an island nation we could possibly get away with it, but it falls foul of my intention to provide suggestions relevant to the policy makers and they I believe entertain wider ambitions than this.

        I do recognise the absolute peril of a compromise position though, if we get it wrong with the funds available then we would be less ‘effective’ than your more focussed solution, but this riskier position is where I think we are headed.

        Thank you again.

  7. The TA would form units much as they did before, reserves to replace losses and form up a wave of reinforcements in the event of a hot war.

    I’m leading a one man ignorance crusade convinced that the Gripen is just a single engined typhoon, have you looked at them!!!
    I think a SeaGripen should be able to land and take off from a proper carrier.
    I’m not fixed on the airframe.

    I cant really add much to Formation Recce, I just dont value it, but I’m not a general.

    Brazils just an example of something scary because if plans continue as they are, they’d drive us out of the south atlantic without trouble, all we could threaten them with is a long submarine seige.

    Although focussed, it does have other uses, the ability to land a large force on a beach and seize a deepwater port capable of receiving large numbers of allied ground troops, along with providing serious aircover to them is an ability only the US has currently.
    We’d also be able to deploy a full Brigade somewhere for 3 years, something most other people wont do, even if they can

      • I’ll never get the hand of this clicking reply under the comment thing.

        Why three years?
        Well, partly because its the turn around time of the New Army, so every Brigade would have been rotated through, and that to me sounds like a good time to look around and re-evalutate the situation.
        Partly, its an acceptance that we are numericaly challenged, We can maintain one Brigade in a “peacekeeping” role, but thats it. If we keep them in Kosovo for 30 years, we cant intervene anywhere else.
        Partly its a demand that the rest of the world pulls its weight, if we can deploy a Brigade level force for 3 years, France, Germany, China, India and Brazil should have the next 15 years covered.
        We’d be doing the hard bit, entering the country, building a beach/air head, building the surrounding infrastructure and doing the first bit of fighting.
        If no one else is prepared to follow, why should we be prepared to lead?

  8. I would like to make a couple of comments about the basic assumptions Jed has made. Nuclear weapons are no substitute for conventional ones. I know that, during the Cold War, NATO did indeed make a policy out of doing just this but it was crazy then (unless it was just a bluff) and still is. Nuclear weapons should be retained for neutralising the threat from an enemy’s WMDs. If we are threatened by conventional forces we need to develop our Army, Navy & Air Force accordingly.

    I agree with the basic proposition that the UK should adopt something akin to the ‘Strategic Raiding’ option but your ideas, and that of other contributors seems to imply we should abandon the counter-insurgency skills and equipment so painfully acquired in recent years. I don’t fully subscribe to Rupert Smith’s idea that, for us, ‘War among the people’ is the only game in town but for some of our enemies it is. The Iraqi Army was, on paper, a formidable force and it was, in practice, good enough to fight the Iranians to a standstill but western forces shredded it in no time. The rest of the world has taken note and they will not make the mistake of playing to our strengths, but will prey on our weaknesses. I am not keen for us to get involved in another Afghanistan-type operation but we can’t always chose our enemies. We need at least one brigade equipped with MRAPs, C-RAM, counter IED equipment etc. After the campaign in Oman it was noted the British Army disposed of it’s specially-modified mine-resistant trucks. Likewise after Bosnia mine-protected vehicles were sold off (to Estonia) so when faced with an insurgency in Iraq we were ill-equipped (Estonians were equipped OK though). We can’t keep doing this.
    We got ourseleves into a counter-instergecy war in Iraq by mistake, it was not part of anyone’s plan, this could happen again sometime.

    • Nuclear weapons have permitted Britain to field much smaller armies than our continental neighbours, because our island status prevents ‘lightning’ invasion, and any invasion build up large enough to succeed immediately becomes an existential threat to which nukes are a ‘reasonable’ response.

      I agree that we shouldn’t throw away experience and equipment tailored to COIN gained at such great expense, but fundamentally we either opt for COIN focussed persistent and large scale ground operations, or we don’t.

      Likewise we (along with Fox apparently), both accept that state-on-state warfare is not an eventuality that can be discounted, so the sovereign ability to mount military operations of strategic dimension is paramount, but how much brigade-level specialisation is possible in an army of circa 80,000 when we must also provide a permanent/persistent capability in those areas is another matter.

      This does not mean that equipment should be sold off, I can well see a future for Armour/Artillery in the TA’s, and likewise for COIN/Engineering in a putative paramilitary stabilisation force.

      Many thanks for your thoughts.

    • An insurgency can only be sustaineed in two scenarios, the first, is when the people, or some of them, genuinely rise up against a foreign occupier. The second is when a foreign power sponsors a rebellion.
      The first can be supressed with a massive and permanant application of manpower, and defeated by nothing less than genocide and population replacement.
      The second can be defeated by convincing the sponsoring power that they will be held responsible.

      Theres no need to fight an insurgency on its home soil, because we dont want their mud, and if they try and export terrorism to us, well, the tail end of 2001 was unpleasent for the Taliban to say the least.
      A strategic raiding force couldnt occupy Iran and shouldnt try, but if they backed terrorists who did something along the lines of 9/11 to us, we could quickly bomb them back to the 13th century.

      A nice map of refineries and gas terminals.

      If, when their electricity grid has ceased to exist, their population is freezing to death by the millions and food rationing has been implemented because they’ve ran out of hard currency to import food with they still squawk a lot and issue fatwas, we can kindly inform them they can do their worst, which should be precisely sod all.

  9. Reply to Jackstaff (the reply button has disappeared)

    There was a bit of intentional forced force mixing, I dont want armour officers or artilery officers “fighting their corner”, I did try and abolish army/navy/raf officers….

  10. Likewise a reply whose function has disappeared,

    Totally understand a crushed schedule. Still recovering from mine last week.

    I share the impulse (avoidance of corner-fighting) but suspect that once again “Rules for Radicals” has surprisingly sage advice for large compartmentalized organisations (ah, irony) namely moving people from their comfort zone (tribalism by combat arm) to something different (sub-units “chopped” in American parlance to work together in operational situations) rather than imposing a an entirely novel design that has a huge bullseye on it for bureaucratic resistance. “The neck turns the head” and all that 🙂

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