Thursday, August 11, 2011

Delving in the numbers - Updated

Strength of the Regular Army
10 x Regiments (1)
Royal Artillery
15 x Regiments (2)
Royal Engineers
11 x Regiments (3)
36 x Battalions (4)
Army Air Corps
5 x Regiments (5)
12 x Regiments
7 x Battalions (6)
Logistics (RLC)
17 x Regiments
Medical Regiments/Field Hospitals
8 x Major Units (7)

(1) Excludes CRBN Regiment.
(2) Includes 1 x Training Regiment and 29 Commando Regiment.
(3) Several formations appear to be excluded from the count, namely: 2 x Training Regiments, 39 Regiment – Air Support Group, 170 Infrastructure Support Group, the whole EOD force and an handful of small independent units.
(4) Excludes 1 x Battalion of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and 1st PARA battalion, counted in the Special Forces due to its SF support role. In addition, 1st RIFLES falls under operational Navy command as part of 3rd Commando Brigade.
(5) Excludes 2 x Training Regiments
(6) Includes 1 x Equipment Support (Aviation) Battalion, 7th REME.
(7) 5 x Medical Regiments and 3 x Hospitals

In general these Battalions/Regiments are commanded by Lt Colonels and have a strength of between 500 and 800 personnel.

Strength of the Territorial Army
4 x Regiments
Royal Artillery
7 x Regiments (1)
Royal Engineers
5 x Regiments
15 x Battalions
Army Air Corps
1 x Regiment
11 x Regiments
4 x Battalions
16 x Regiments + 2 Troops
2 x Battalions
11 x Hospitals; 4 x Field Ambulances and 2 x Regiments

(1) Includes The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC)
UK MoD figures show that in September 2008, the overall Territorial Army requirement as 42,000 and the strength was 35,020 personnel.

Special / Joint Units
Special Air Service
1 x Regular Regiment (22 SAS)
Special Air Service
2 x Territorial Army Regiments  (21 and 23 SAS)
Special Forces Support Group
1 x Regiment (1st PARA battalion)
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
1 x Regiment
Special Boat Service (RM)
4 x Squadrons (1 Regiment Equivalent, for comfort)
Counter Nuclear Biological & Chemical
1 x Regiment

Full Time Trained Strength of The Army during 2009. This table includes FTRS (Full Time Reserve Service) personnel.

The Household Cavalry/ Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Regiment of Artillery
Corps of Royal Engineers
The Infantry
Army Air Corps
Royal Army Chaplains Department
Royal Signals
8,705 (1)
The Royal Logistics Corps
Royal Army Medical Corps
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Army Legal Service
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Dental Corps
Intelligence Corps
Army Physical Training Corps
Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
Adjutant General's Corps (Provost Branch)
Adjutant General's Corps (Provost Branch)
Adjutant Generals Corps (Staff and Personnel Support Branch)
Adjutant Generals Corps (Educational and Training Services Branch)
Full-time trained Army (approx)

Note: (1) estimate

The above tables, that i took from, are the starting point. They make for an accurate image of what the Army numbers are currently, and provide us with the base from which move forwards with the estimates.

The table reports 14 RA regiments in 2009, which can only be correct if 14 Regiment, the training formation, is excluded from the count. In my table, I counted it. also excludes several Royal Engineers units from their count:
the 11 regiments listed would appear to include:

-          6 RE regiments assigned to the Army brigades (included the one of 19 Light Brigade, which will be disbanded as the brigade itself is closed)
-          2 Divisional support RE regiments
-          1 Air Assault Regiment (assigned to 16 Air Assault Brigade)
-          1 Commando Logistics Regiment (3rd Commando Brigade)
-          1 Geographical Services Regiment

Excluded from the count are:

-          12 Air Support Group [centered around 39 Regiment]
-          29 EOD Search Group, including the hybrid Regular/TA regiments 33 and 101
-          2 training regiments are also excluded
-          170 (Infrastructure Support) RE Group
-          62 Cyprus Squadron
-          529 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (part of 12 Air Support Group with the 39th Regiment)

The Royal Signals count (“12”) keeps track of all Regiments, included the Training regiment, but ignores the Queen’s Gurkha Signals (2 Squadrons) and all the independent Squadrons that support the headquarters of Brigades and troops in Cyprus, Falklands, or other special assignments. also does not list in its count of the Logistic formations the Training Regiments of the RLC.  

Where appropriate, I’ve added notes within the tables, and made the changes necessary to make these tables and data as accurate and updated as possible, and also clearer to read and conciliate with data from other sources.

Royal Armouted Corps

Tank Regiments  

As is well known, the Challenger II holding has been hit by a “40% cut”. My own calculation of what this means came to the conclusion that just around 200 tanks (207, I estimate) would remain in active service. I’m comforted in this assumption by several articles appeared online which suggest roughly the same, but I continue to wait for a paper about the Tank Regiment reorganization. 

The 207 figure was calculated on an holding of 345 tanks, indicated in some MOD sources. Post SDSR, JANES wrote in an article about the review that all 385 Challenger II tanks remain available to the army, but 38 of them are listed in "Long-term storage" with a further 32 in "Temporary Storage". 

Both sources are possibly the most reliable possible (the MOD itself and JANES!), but would appear in contrast: my interpretation is that the MOD figure is relative to the "available" forward fleet, and thus does not count the tanks in Long Term Storage. This would reduce the difference between the two figures to a mere 2 tanks, which could be in Long Term storage without JANES knowing, or which might have been silently written-off: in April 2006 and August 2007, during Telic ops, 2 Challenger II tanks were penetrated, one by a massive IED exploding underbelly and the second by a RPG-29 Vampire, the fearsome rocket which caused serious losses between Israeli tanks and crews in Lebanon in 2008

They might well have been put aside without repairing and written-off, explaining the difference. But this is just hypothesis, even if it fits so well to sound like a realistic assessment! 

Anyway, the 200/207 fleet figure is realistic, as is the Type 38 regiment strength i subsequently suggest. Please consider, in fact, that the current regiments, well before the SDSR, already operate far less thanks than their wartime establishment suggest. The tanks in Temporary Storage, and those stationed for training in BATUS and with 1 Royal Tank Regiment, make up the difference. 

Tanks in temporary storage are available to be quickly pulled out and sent on training/operations, to bring a regiment up to strength when needed. This adds further confusion about the "40% cut", since it is not yet clear what will happen to the 'cut' Challyes. As they do not appear to have export chances, their only possible fate is either Long Term Storage in Controlled Humidity hangars, or the cannibalization for spare parts and complete abandon/scrapping. 

I hope of course that the first solution is the one which wins. 

Anyway, the pre-SDSR tank regiments situation (on paper) was: 

A Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment - 14 Challenger II - Training and Demonstration role

The Royal Dragoon Guards – Challenger II  - Type 58

The King's Royal Hussars – Challenger II  - Type 58

2nd Royal Tank Regiment – Challenger II – Type 44

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – Challenger II – Type 44

The Queen's Royal Hussars – Challenger II – Type 44

The official organization pre-SDSR was of two Type 58 regiments, with 58 Challenger II and 8 Scimitars each, and three Type 44 regiments with 44 Challenger II and 22 Scimitar each (8 + "Interim Medium Armor" squadron of 14 Scimitars replacing the fourth Chally squadron found in a Type 58 regiment).

My expectation post 40% cut is that there will be five Type 38 regiments ("paper" establishment, not peacetime effective strength), and the Scimitar replacement within the regiments will be complex as FRES Scout will not come in very high numbers. Probably 38 Challenger II + 8 Scout is the very best we can hope for. Incidentally, it is also the smallest size at which a tank regiment remains credible.

Formation Reconnaissance Regiments
Household Cavalry Regiment – The HCR is the Frontline formation of the Household Cavalry, which is a Corp in its own right, even if it falls under Royal Armoured Corps for operational command. It is the only Formation RECCE with a peacetime establishment of 4 Squadrons (the others have 3). It is formed by two Sqn from The Life Guard and 2 from The Blues and Royals. 
D Squadron, the fourth unit of the regiment, is assigned permanently to 16 Air Assault Brigade. 

The Queen's Royal Lancers

The Light Dragoons

The Queen's Dragoon Guards

9th/12th Royal Lancers

The five RECCE regiments should also all be safe. Probably they will have 3 squadrons of 12 FRES Scout each, plus a number of FRES Protected Mobility replacing the Spartan APCs. A Command and Support Sqn will contain Fire Support Team (Artillery and Air Attack controllers), plus snipers and other specialists.

Joint CBRN Regiment

Made up of 27 RAF Regiment Field Squadron and elements of 1 Royal Tank Regiment with Fuchs armored vehicles. As announced in the last few days, the Fuchs will now be retired, and 1RTR will leave the CBRN formation and business. 26 RAF Field Squadron is being resurrected to complete, along with 27 Squadron plus (apparently) Royal Yeomanry TA personnel and Royal Auxiliary Air Force men, the new all-RAF CBRN regiment. 

AFV Training Group + A Squadron 1 Royal Tank Regiment (Challenger II for training and demonstration)


The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is the Ceremonial formation of the Household Cavalry. It is formed by two Squadrons, one from the Life Guards and one from the Blues and Royals. Each squadron counts 2 Divisions, each with one officer and 24 men. Further personnel from the frontline HCR can form two additional divisions, for very special, large-scale celebrations. Some 200 horses are maintained for the formation.  

Territorial Army regiments

Despite the plans to increase the role of the reserves, I don’t quite expect TWO MBT crew replacement regiments for a fleet of just 5 Type 38 (38 at best) tank regiments. Here there will be some changes, likely.

Personnel numbers: we can assume 475 men for a Type 38 tank regiment. A Type 44 is listed at around 550 at wartime strength. A formation RECCE, due to its structure being even less clear for the future, is harder to estimate.

The Army currently counts 36 Battalions (37, but 1st PARA is under the Special Forces and as such is excluded from the count. In addition, 1st RIFLES, which instead is counted, is actually under Navy command in 3rd Commando Brigade). This excludes the Gibraltar and Bermuda Battalions, and the Falklands Defence Force (which is NOT the British Garrison, but an unit of local volunteers).  

The Parachute Regiment  
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Parachute Regiment  [UK SFSG – Parachute]
2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment [Parachute]
3rd Bn The Parachute Regiment [Parachute]
Territorial Army Battalion

4th Bn The Parachute Regiment

The Royal Irish Regiment

Regular Battalion

1st Bn The Royal Irish Regiment [Light Role – Air Mobile within 16 AA Brigade]
Territorial Army Battalion

The Royal Irish Rangers

The Rifles Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Rifles [Light Role – Amphibious]
2nd Bn The Rifles [Light Role]
3rd Bn The Rifles [Light Role]
4th Bn The Rifles [Mechanized Infantry]
5th Bn The Rifles [Armoured Infantry]
Territorial Army Battalions

6th Bn The Rifles
7th Bn The Rifles

The Royal Welsh Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) [Light Role]
2nd Bn The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) [Armoured Infantry]
Territorial Army Battalion

3rd Bn The Royal Welsh

The Royal Mercian Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) [Light Role]
2nd Bn The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) [Light Role]
3rd Bn The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) [Armoured Infantry]
Territorial Army Battalion

4th Bn The Mercian Regiment

The Yorkshire Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Yorkshire Regiment (Prince Of Wales’s Own) [Light Role]
2nd Bn The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) [Light Role]
3rd Bn The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) [Armoured Infantry]
Territorial Army Battalion

4th Bn The Yorkshire Regiment

The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) [Mechanized Infantry]
2nd Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) [Mechanized Infantry] (Current Cyprus resident Battalion)
Territorial Army Battalion

4th Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border)

The Royal Anglian Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Vikings) [Mechanized Infantry]
2nd Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Poachers) [Light Role]
Territorial Army Battalion

3rd Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment (Steelbacks)

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers [Armoured Infantry]
2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers [Light Role]
Territorial Army Battalion

5th Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment
Regular Battalions

1st Bn The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s and Royal Hampshires) [Armoured Infantry]
2nd Bn The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s and Royal Hampshires) [Light Role]

Territorial Army Battalion
3rd Bn The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s and Royal Hampshires)

The Royal Regiment of Scotland

Regular Battalions
The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Light Role]
The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Mechanized Infantry]
The Black Watch, 3rd Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Light Role]
The Highlanders, 4th Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Armoured Infantry]
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland [Light Role - Air Mobile within 16 Air Assault brigade]
Territorial Army Battalions

52nd Lowland, 6th Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland
51st Highland, 7th Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland

4th and 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, are deemed likely to be two of the Battalions that could disappear as part of the cuts.

The Guards Division

Regular Battalions

Grenadier Guards—Light Infantry
Coldstream Guards—Light Infantry
Scots Guards—Armoured Infantry
Irish Guards—Light Infantry
Welsh Guards—Light Infantry

Territorial Army 

The London Regiment

Additional Companies for Public Duties in London

Nijmegen Company, Grenadier Guards

No 7 Company, Coldstream Guards
F Company, Scots Guards

The four Light Infantry Battalions of the Guards alternate, normally at groups of 2, into the Ceremonial role, covering public duties in London, but remain operational battalions, with deployments in Afghanistan on their shoulders.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Regular Battalions

1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles
2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles

The two Gurkha battalions rotate (normally every three years) in their roles: 1 battalion is stationed in the UK and the other is in Brunei to protect the sultanate and provide the UK with an acclimated Far East reserve. The Brunei based battalion has been, in the last few years, involved in Afghanistan ops.

The Infantry requirement I envisage in the FF2020 ambitions is for:

5 Armoured Infantry Battalions (on Warrior IFV)
5 Mechanized Infantry Battalions
10 Light Role Infantry (2 inside each MRB according to plan)
3 PARA battalions (one as Special Forces Support Group, two inside 16AA)
2 Air Mobile Infantry Battalions
2 Gurkha battalions
2 Public Duty (on rotation)
1 Cyprus resident battalion/reserve

30 Infantry Battalions (down from 36) plus 1 RIFLES (under Navy command in 3rd Commando brigade)

Royal Artillery

In mid 2011 the Regular Regiments of the Royal Artillery were as follows:
1 Regiment RHA
1 RHA  (Field)
155mm AS 90
3 Regiment RHA
3 RHA (Field)
155mm AS 90
4 Regiment RA
4 REGT (Field)
155mm AS 90
5 Regiment RA
STA & Special Ops (1)
7 Parachute Regiment RHA
7 RHA (Parachute & Air Assault)
105mm L118 Light Gun
12 Regiment RA
12 REGT (Air Defence)
HVM & UAV (2)
14 Regiment RA
14 REGT (Training)
All School Equipments
16 Regiment RA
16 REGT (Air Defence)
19 Regiment RA
19 REGT (Field)
155mm AS 90
26 Regiment RA
26 REGT (Field)
155mm AS 90
29 Commando Regiment RA 
29 REGT (Field)
105mm L118 Light Gun (3)
32 Regiment RA
UAVs (4)
39 Regiment RA
40 Regiment RA
40 REGT (Field)
105mm Light Gun
47 Regiment RA
The King's Troop RHA
(1) STA - Surveillance and Target Acquisition
(2) The HVM Starstreak on Stormer chassis has been slowly retired since 2009, so current status of the SHORAD air defence formation is a bit of a mystery. Both 12 and 47 Regiments have been working with Desert Hawk III and other small drones, and will supply personnel to 32 Regiment as it builds up the Watchkeeper batteries
(3) The Regimental Headquarters of 29 Commando Regiment, with one battery, is at Plymouth. The other two batteries are at Arbroath and Poole. Those at Poole provide the amphibious warfare Naval Gunfire Support Officers (NGFSO)
(4) At least three batteries of Watchkeeper drones are planned, each with 10 drones and 4 Ground Control Stations. Two more will have sole personnel, for ensuring the Rule of the Five is met and enduring deployment is possible within harmony guidelines.

All Regiments equipped with 155 mm AS 90 have the ability to deploy on operations using the 105 mm L118 Light Gun as well.

At the moment, the future of the RA Regiments is not yet entirely clear, by the Numbers of “Gunner”, the official magazine of the RA, of November and December 2010, contain some excellent info about the plans that are taking shape for the force structure post-SDSR.

Notably:  It is inevitable that there will be changes to the Royal Artillery force structure. The SDSR made it clear that we will reduce the AS90 fleet to 95 guns (from 146) as the Army transitions towards a lighter force profile. In the future each of the five multi role brigades will be supported by a close support regiment equipped with a mix of Light Gun and AS90. [Gunner, November 2010 – editorial “Headlines from HQ” of Brig Nick Eeles, current Director Royal Artilley and ex brigadier general staff]

Other sources have put the number of AS90 howitzers at 87, with 95 being the figure I’d take, as it comes from a very high Royal Artillery source! The substance doesn’t change much: the very maximum strength we can hope in for the new AS90 regiments is 18 guns, as I’ve been saying for a long time. This would leave only 5 guns for use in a battery of 14 Regiment (the Artillery School and Training regiment) but since 18 guns would be a wartime establishment, with peacetime active guns in the regiments being certainly fewer, it should not be an insurmountable problem.

It appears that the Regiment will be hybrid, lining in the same formation AS90 and L118. Currently the L118 is used in ceremonial role (some 16 guns), in 29 Commando Royal Artillery (18 guns in 3 batteries of 6) and 7 Royal Horse Artillery (16 Air Assault, same 18 guns establishment). The rest is used in 3 TA formations, in 40 Regiment RA (the artillery formation of 19 Light Brigade) and in 14 Regiment for training. The total is some 122 guns, plus 16 ceremonial ones, if I’m not mistaken.

For sure, 40 Regiment will go into “suspended animation” (disband) with a formal parade in 2012, together with other elements of 19 Light Brigade, as the brigade itself is closed. Posting of personnel to this regiment already has stopped. This has even been announced on the British Army website.

A possible solution would be to have Artillery Regiments shaped on 2 Batteries of 8 AS90 guns (prior to SDSR, the peacetime strength of batteries was 6 guns, expected to rise to 8 in wartime, but now this has obviously lost its original meaning) and 2 batteries of 8 L118 guns, plus HQ battery. The manpower could, possibly, be a mix of regulars and TA personnel. This is my own hypothesis and, I guess, “wish”. Some three TA regiments could be subsequently closed/re-rolled to cover other needs, without diminishing significantly the number of reserve personnel, which as we know, is actually expected to grow after the Reserves review.

The December 2010 number of “Gunner” contained an update from the same reliable source:

Over recent years, Royal Artillery soldiers have routinely adapted to new roles in response to changing operational requirements and priorities. At times this has been achieved through temporary re-roling, epitomised by 12 and 47 Regts RA deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan with Mini UAS while remaining structured and equipped as close air defence regiments. In other circumstances we have formally re-structured our regiments to reinforce capabilities where demand was outstripping supply. Successes have included the re-formation of Z Bty RA as a weapon locating radar battery in 5 Regt RA, although achieving this required compensating reductions in close support regiment structures.

The requirement for UAS in Afghanistan continues to grow and it has been clear for some time that greater effi ciency could be achieved by reviewing the way in which this capability is generated. This has coincided with a pressing need to improve the governance of UAS training and operation. Thus the decision was taken earlier this year that 47 Regt RA should be re-subordinated to 1 Arty Bde as a UAS regiment, and 12 Regt RA should revert to being solely a CAD regiment (remaining within 1 (UK) Armd Div). Subsequent work, which is still subject to HQLF approval, will see 32 Regt RA (currently Tactical UAS) and 47 Regt RA (currently Mini UAS) restructured to become two integrated UAS regiments; each will contain integrated batteries comprising both Mini and Tactical UAS. The intent is to replicate, in barracks and in training, the integrated UAS structure deployed in Afghanistan. The resulting batteries are large and to create the five deployable batteries needed to meet harmony guidelines will require the combined resources of the eight equipment batteries currently within the two regiments. Three batteries will therefore be placed into suspended animation, although all the soldiers will be redistributed within the two regiments. The selection of batteries for suspended animation has been driven by the extant Operational Commitments Plot, informed by battery precedence. As a result, and subject to HQ LF approval, 25/170 Bty RA, 42 Bty RA and 43 Bty RA will be placed into suspended animation; this will occur in August 2011 for 43 Bty RA, and in February 2011 for the other two batteries. (NOTE: it appears to have indeed been done: on the British Army website, 47 and 32 Regiments are paired as Drone force, and 25 Battery is still listed as part of 47 Regiment, but is “dead”, without any description or status, while 42 Battery is not even listed anymore. Expect 43 Battery description to vanish “soon” from 32 Regiment page as well) As with other recent structural changes in support of Op HERRICK, these moves are temporary and are to be reversible within five years. They will, in any case, be reviewed as part of the work to design the Army of the future in the aftermath of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Detailed administrative instructions for placing these batteries into suspended animation will be promulgated in due course.

These changes happen due to Afghanistan needs more than anything else, but they are, in my opinion, likely to be here to stay. Watcheeker (which the Army calls Tactical Unmanned Air System TUAS) is definitely part of the long term plans, and so is 32 Regiment. The 5 batteries, compliant to the Rule of the Five, should also be definitely mandated for Future Force 2020 as well, and I’d personally expect at least a single SHORAD regiment (12 Regiment) to survive. I also see a wish to retain the smaller drones (Mini Unmanned Air System MUAS, currently the Desert Hawk III) and there are all the signs that more drones will come in future, so I’d dare saying that all three regiments have a long term future.

A RA MUAS Battery seem to count 12 Desert Hawk III mobile Detachments, each of five men. A Detachment should have a GCS and six to height DHIII drones, for what I understand. The GCS weights some 15 pounds and is contained in a suitcase along with the tripod antenna and other kit, while a backpack with two drones and 6 batteries plus modular plug-and-play payloads weights 36 pounds.

I find worrisome that no mention has been made about 21 (Gibraltar 1779-83) Battery: currently one of the batteries of 47 Regiment, it has been working in Afghanistan providing MUAS support flying Desert Hawk IIIs for the Brigade Recce Force of 16 Air Assault Brigade, but its official wartime job is that of Air Assault AD Battery for 16 AA Brigade, using the Starstreak HVM missile, of which it has two Troops, each with 6 launchers and Pinzgauer air-launcheable vehicles for mobility and support. I’m hoping that we are not leaving 16 Air Assault Brigade without even a small degree of air defence, so a solution might be to migrate the kit to an Air Defence Troop within 16 Air Assault Brigade itself (as happens with the AD Starstreak Troop integrated in 30 Commando IEG, part of 3rd Commando Brigade) or transfer the battery (or role!) to a different battery within 12 Regiment. 

I’d want 12 Regiment to expand to 6 Batteries (one for each MRB, plus an Air Assault battery for use by 16 AA Brigade), either regular or reserve, to give it a sense: it is unthinkable to have brigades of 6000 men without a deployable air defence. Current force should be of some 3 batteries, one of which mounted on Pinzgauer and using 2 troops of 6 Lightweight Multiple Launchers HVM, while the other two batteries are “mechanized” and kitted with Stormer-mounted SP HVM. Ideally, there should be 5 mechanized batteries (one per MRB) and one Air Assault battery with LML, but despite 115 SP HVM being around in 2009, it appears that the vehicle (not the missile, Starstreak remains) has been progressively retired. Even so, last year at least two Batteries of 12 Regiment still were based on it, so there’s some confusion. If/when all Stormer HVM are retired, the most we can hope in are batteries of LML launchers, with vehicles for their transportation from firing point to firing point. I don’t think the SHORAD role (and Starstreak for that matter) are going to be abandoned, so I believe that 12 Regiment will likely remain. The only alternative I see is merging 12 and 16 Regiment (the 16th uses Rapier) forming a single large Air Defence regiment with 6 mixed batteries with Rapier and Starstreak troops, but it does not appear exactly alluring to me.  

Next year the Fire Shadow loitering ammunition will also come into play, so that, in the luckiest case, 40 Regiment might come out almost immediately of “Suspended Animation” and take over the new kit and role, but we’ll have to wait for an official announcement to know. It doesn’t appear possible to me to just resurrect a few batteries, give them the new kit and attach them to already existing regiments, especially since Fire Shadow is the very first loitering ammunition for the Army, and at most I’d dare comparing Fire Shadow to drones, but both 47 and 32 will be busy with TUAS and MUAS.

The SDSR also mandates a C-RAM system as part of FF2020: I believe that this could be managed by 16 Regiment. The British Army page lists the Centurion C-RAM as a 16 Regiment capability. However, a new formation might have to be formed to efficiently look after the new batteries.

Last, but not least, Afghanistan has caused a massive, explosive increase in Fire Control Teams and generated a whole new specialty, the B-ISTAR (Base ISTAR). Base ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) - surveillance equipment provides protection to Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and Patrol Bases (PBs) thanks to a variety of surveillance systems (collectively known as “Cortez”) which include several cameras and sensors that relay information to a command and control centre where information and images are gathered. This information is used to protect troops on the ground, spot insurgent activity, and build up a picture of the local normal activity in the area and then warn if something unusual occurs or pass the information on to other units who can take the process further either by collecting intelligence or striking the enemy. It includes a number of high-tech kit pieces, and has become a simply fundamental component of the Army’s work in Stan, which keeps a battery of the RA busy at all times. Preferably, men from 5th Regiment RA have covered this role, in addition to their more common tasks, but to ensure constant presence of personnel many more batteries, from several regiments (included 16 and 12) were re-trained prior to deployment and used to cover B-ISTAR needs.

B-ISTAR is a monumental lesson learned, and Cortez is now a complete and effective system, and both the lesson and the kit definitely MUSTN’T go lost in 2015, as they’d likely have to be re-learned the next time, at even greater cost.  Luckily, B-ISTAR is a task that mostly involves personnel staying inside bases, so that it is one of the most suited to be covered by reserve personnel. A solution could thus be re-rolling one of the current TA L118 guns to the Cortez “system of systems” as the Light Gun batteries migrate into the Brigade artillery regiments.   

Fire Support Teams, extremely high in demand on operations, are normally six-man patrols with men trained to call in and direct mortar, artillery fire and air attacks. The Army’s specialists in this role are the men of 4/73 “Sphynx” Battery, 5 Regiment. They are Special Operations Capable, and are trained to infiltrate behind enemy lines to set up observations posts and direct the allied firepower against the enemies. The Battery has been constantly called into action in all wars and operations, and FSTs are a constant part of the Brigade Recce Forces in Afghanistan, which means that 4/73 has been exploited to its very maximum, deploying 2-4 Fire Support Teams in each Herrick. More FSTs have been formed re-training personnel from other RA regiments, and using TA personnel from the Honorable Artillery Company, which is a TA formation with three Squadrons of 6-men FST patrols, sister unit of 4/73. The need for such FSTs will not decrease in future ops, and it would appear very, very smart to either improve the deployability of the HAC teams, making them readily available and adding a fourth Squadron to reach the “rule of the five”, or form a regular Regiment on 5 FST/Special Ops Batteries, each with a number of teams, so that each Brigade Recce Regiment in each MRB can be supplied with its own share of fire support controllers.

If a Regiment is formed for Fire Shadow, reverting the reduction caused by the disbandment of 40 RA, I do not see other regiments being closed, due to requirements remaining at an all-times high.

Territorial Army RA Regiments

The Honourable Artillery Company - STA and Special Ops [RHQ, a long range communications capability and three patrols batteries to supplement the Regular Special Ops STA Battery (4/73 Sphynx Bty, 5 Regt RA). A fourth deployable patrol battery would be welcome, to establish the rule of the five in this crucial role, as the Sphynx battery has been very hard pressed with Afghan needs and is likely to be just as in high demand in future.
In my personal “boost-the-reserve” plan, a fourth STA Special Ops battery is probably the first thing on the list. 

With the L118 apparently planned to go into the Regular artillery regiments of the five Multi Role Brigades, the role of the 3 TA Light Gun regiments might well change. Some might be closed. As I said, I would like the Afghan experience not to be forgotten, so I’d like to see the formation of a B-ISTAR regiment with Cortez batteries: also because the Cortez systems are an excellent collection of pieces of kit which could easily find plenty of usage in peacetime, back in the UK, for ensuring surveillance and protection to sensible areas/events.
Currently the TA royal artillery is organized as follows:

100 Regt RA (V) - L118 Light Gun
101 Regt RA (V) – 2 GMLRS batteries and two STA batteries (these STA batteries use Artillery-Locating radars and Sound Ranging detection systems, and are sister units of 5 Regiment RA, they are NOT duplications of the different capability offered by the FSTs
103 Regt RA (V) - L118 Light Gun
104 Regt RA (V) - UAV  (N batteries of mixed Desert Hawk III and Watchkeeper crews appear to be the plan)
105 Regt RA (V) - L118 Light Gun
106 Regt RA (V) - Rapier and Starstreak 

Ceremonial: King’s Troop RHA
Ceremonial formation, well known for its horses and 13-pounder salute guns. Some 111 horses are maintained for the King’s Troop. Soldiers of the formation also have a frontline role, and some 6 King’s Troop men are maintained constantly deployed in Afghanistan with their RA colleagues.

A possible FF2020 Royal Artillery would line:

1 Regiment RHA
1 RHA  (Field)
AS 90 and L118
3 Regiment RHA
3 RHA (Field)
AS 90 and L118
4 Regiment RA
4 REGT (Field)
AS 90 and L118
5 Regiment RA
STA & Special Ops 
7 Parachute Regiment RHA
7 RHA (Parachute & Air Assault)
105mm L118 Light Gun
12 Regiment RA
12 REGT (Air Defence)
SHORAD air defence
14 Regiment RA
14 REGT (Training)
All School Equipments
16 Regiment RA
16 REGT (Air Defence)
FLAADS air defence (1)
19 Regiment RA
19 REGT (Field)
AS 90 and L118
26 Regiment RA
26 REGT (Field)
AS 90 and L118
29 Commando Regiment RA 
29 REGT (Field)
105mm L118 Light Gun
32 Regiment RA
39 Regiment RA
40 Regiment RA
Fire Shadow LM
47 Regiment RA
The King's Troop RHA

(1) Future Local Area Air Defence – Common Anti-air Modular Missile. CAMM should replace Rapier from around 2018
With reserves:

The Honourable Artillery Company – 4 STA Batteries of FST patrols.
100 Regt RA (V) – BASE - ISTAR Batteries (Cortez system)  
101 Regt RA (V) – 2 GMLRS batteries and two STA batteries (these STA batteries use Artillery-Locating radars and Sound Ranging detection systems, and are sister units of 5 Regiment RA, they are NOT duplications of the different capability offered by the FSTs)
103 Regt RA (V) – Artillery crew reserves
104 Regt RA (V) - UAVs  (N batteries of mixed Desert Hawk III and Watchkeeper crews)
105 Regt RA (V) – Artillery crew reserves
106 Regt RA (V) - FLAADS and Starstreak HVM

Military Intelligence Corps

1 MI - Military Intelligence Brigade

  • 1 Military Intelligence Battalion
  • 2 Military Intelligence Battalion
  • 3 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer)
  • 4 Military Intelligence Battalion
  • 5 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer)
  • Tri-service 15 Psychological Operations Group
Another Afghan-inspired development has been the return, in strength, of the HUMINT (HUMan INTelligence) factor, which requires personnel trained in the local culture and language, and which has recently been expanded to include Female Engagement Teams, with servicewomen trained to talk and establish contact with Afghan women to both win “hearts and minds” and gather useful info. It is evident that it is not possible to train personnel in all of the world’s languages and cultures to be ready for a future deployment in a place we don’t yet know, but for sure we should invest in the creation of a stable, small but well trained organization of personnel trained in a few languages (Arab being a must, to be then supplemented by specialized courses once a deployment in a particular area was to start, indicatively) and HUMINT techniques. Women personnel would also be definitely welcome in this courses, as engaging womens, not only in Afghanistan but pretty much everywhere, can help greatly, providing lots of valuable info.

This is clearly work for the Military Intelligence Battalions, which will evolve and update themselves. I do not expect unit closures here. 

Royal Engineers

A possible 2020 force structure would include:  

  • 1 RSME Regiment - Construction Engineer School
  • 3 RSME Regiment - Combat Engineer School

·         21 Brigade Engineering Regiment – 4th Multi Role Brigade
·         22 Brigade Engineering Regiment – 1st Multi Role Brigade
·         23 Brigade Engineering Regiment (Air Assault) – 16 Air Assault Brigade
·         24 (Commando) Engineering Regiment – 3rd Commando Brigade
·         26 Brigade Engineering Regiment – 12th Multi Role Brigade
·         28 Divisional Engineering Group – 1st UK Division
·         32 Brigade Engineering Regiment – 7th Multi Role Brigade
·         35 Brigade Engineering Regiment – 20th Multi Role Brigade
·         36 Divisional Engineering Group – 3rd UK Division [I expect 36 would be downsized since its supported division is to become a non-deployable Force Support HQ, which would go to war only after augmentation and preparation unlikely to happen unless something really, really nasty happens] The 36 RE has two Gurkhas badged squadrons (Queen's Gurkha Engineers), which could remain as a deployable augmentation reserve for the rest of the force. 
·         42 Engineer Regiment – Geographical Services
·         39 Regiment [part of 12 Air Support Group – airfield repair and support]
·         33 EOD Regiment [plus TA squadron]
·         101 City of London EOD Regiment (hybrid regular/TA regiment)
    • 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group  - I’m counting this as a regiment, but I don’t know how correct it is to do so due to the nature of this particular group. Formerly known as Military Works Force, 170 Group is responsible for permanent and temporary infrastructure development, including water, fuel, communications and utilities:
      • 62 Works Group, RE - Water Infrastructure
      • 63 Works Group, RE - Utilities Infrastructure
      • 64 Works Group, RE - Fuel Infrastructure
      • 65 Works Group (Volunteers), RE - Line of Communications Infrastructure
      • 67 Works Group, RE
      • 530 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (Materials)

Additional RE units:

62 Cyprus Squadron
529 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (part of 12 Air Support Group with the 39th Regiment)

Territorial Army formations  
  • 71 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) (Air Support)
  • 72 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) Close Support
  • 73 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) (Air Support)
  • 75 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) (Field)
·         591 Squadron (is the only RE unit in Northern Ireland)  

Royal Signals

The Royal Signals are organized on three Brigades:

1 Sig Bde - Supports Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) [The ARRC has been downsized and made static instead of deployable, so I expect some reductions here] 7, 22 and 30 Signal Regiments plus Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion. Expect reductions here, especially since the ARRC is to become stationary in the UK, instead of deployable.

2 (NC) Sig Bde - Mainly TA, national communications during contingencies. Comprises 10, 32, 37, 38, 39 and 71 Signal Regiments, plus 299 Signal Squadron (Special Communications), Specialist Group Royal Signals with 81 Signal Squadron, Land Information & Communications Services Group (LICSG), Land Information Assurance Group (LIAG) and the Central Volunteer Headquarters (CVHQ) Royal Signals.

11 Sig Bde - 1,000 Regular and 2,500 TA personnel, communications for JRRF. Comprises 2, 14(Electronic Warfare) and 16 Signal Regiments plus the Unified Systems Support Organisation (USSO).

Regiments and formations:

3 (UK) Div HQ & Sig Regt - Divisional command and control communications
2 Sig Regt - Within 11 Signal Bde, Cormorant system
10 Sig Regt - Information Communications Services & Information Management
14 Sig Regt (EW) - Electronic Warfare
21 Sig Regt (Air Sp) - JHF Communications for the RAF Support Helicopter Force and AAC Apache
22 Sig Regt - Ptarmigan/Falcon system
30 Sig Regt - Strategic satellite communications to Land & Joint Task Forces
1 (UK) AD and Sig Regt - Communications for 1st (UK) Armd Div HQ and Bdes
7 (ARRC) Sig Regt - Part of 1 Sig Bde, supports Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC)
16 Sig Regt - Part of 1 Sig Bde, supports Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC)
11 Signal Regt - Training Regt, responsible for Phase 2 and 3 signals training
Queens Gurkha Signals -  Supports 2 x Gurkha Inf Bns, 2 and 30 Sig Regts, and others
213 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting Northern Ireland
215 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 1 Mechanised Bde within 3 Div
216 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 16 Air Assault Bde
228 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 12 Bde
238 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supports London Military District
242 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supports Army in Scotland & Northern England
261 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supports 101 Logistics Bde
262 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supports 102 Logistics Bde
200 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 20 Brigade
204 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 4 Brigade
207 Sig Sqn - Independent Sqn, supporting 7 Brigade
600 Signal Troop - (Attached to Unified System Support Organisation (USSO))
628 Signal Troop (GBR DCM D) - 1st NATO Signal Battalion (Formerly 280 (UK) Signal Squadron Dec 04, formerly 28th Signal Regiment)
643 Signal Troop (COMSEC) - (Attached to 10th Signal Regiment)
660 Signal Troop (Attached to 11 EOD Regt RLC for support in ECM and communications)
Joint Service Signal Unit (Cyprus) (British Forces Cyprus)
Unified System Support Organisation (USSO)
Cyprus Communications Unit (British Forces Cyprus)
Joint Communications Unit (Falkland Islands)

It is complex to estimate the eventual cuts in the Signals, save for the deletion of the Squadron of 19 Light Brigade and “reductions” in the support to ARRC and Divisional HQs. Substantially at risk are 7 and 16 Regiment due to their ARRC role set to be reduced, and perhaps 261 and 262 Squadrons, which might be amalgamated or anyway changed in their size and shapes if the Logistic Brigades change.  

Royal Logistics Corps

The RLC is organized in two Division-support brigades (101 LB for 1 UK Division and 102 LB for 3 UK Division), a “deployment-enabler” logistic brigade (104 LB, which is the one formation that ensures that troops can be deployed and sustained abroad) and a number of regiments that directly support the various brigades.
Scope for changes exist, in my opinion, mostly in the two Divisional Support Brigades, which might become a single large Logistic Brigade due to the reduction to a single, smaller deployable division. However, it is hard to even speculate about how this could be done.
The logistic brigades are composed of RLC regiments, a Signal Sqn, a medical (General Support) regiment, a regiment of Royal Military Police and REME support.   

101 Logistic Brigade

  • 101 Logistic Brigade Headquarters & Signal Troop (661) in Aldershot
  • 9 Supply Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Hullavington, near Chippenham.
  • 10 Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment in Aldershot
  • 27 Transport Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Aldershot
  • 254 Medical Regiment in Cambridge
  • 104 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Bordon/Tidworth
  • 4 Regiment Royal Military Police in Aldershot
  • 4 General Support Medical Regiment Royal Army Medical Corps

102 Logistic Brigade

  • 102 Logistic Brigade Headquarters and Signal Troop (662) Royal Signals in Gütersloh, Germany
  • 6 Supply Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Gütersloh and Dulmen, Germany
  • 7 Transport Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Bielefeld and Fallingbostel, Germany.
  • 8 Transport Regiment Royal Logistic Corps in Münster and Gütersloh, Germany
  • 101 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Wrexham and Prestatyn, Wales, Fallingbostel and Bielefeld, Germany and Coventry and Manchester, England.
  • 5th Regiment Royal Military Police in Gütersloh, Germany
  • 5 General Support Medical Regiment Royal Army Medical Corps in Preston, England

104 Logistic Support Brigade

  • 11 RLC EOD Regiment
  • 17 Port & Maritime Regiment, Marchwood 
  • 23 Pioneer Regiment
  • 24 Postal, Courier & Movements Regiment
  • 29 Regiment, Air Despatch and Movement
  • 162 Movement Control Regiment (Volunteers)
  • 166 Support Regiment (Volunteers)
  • 168 Pioneer Regiment (Volunteers)

Regiments of the Royal Logistics Corps  

A Logistic Support Regiment is structured around an HQ Squadron, 2 Close Support Squadrons, 1 General Support Squadron and a REME Light Aid Detachment. The HQ Squadron includes the Quartermasters (QM) department, the Catering departments and the Communications department. The Squadron is solely responsible to provide catering, communications and within the QM's role all material support to the Regiment and the Squadrons to allow them to work effectively.

A Supply Regiment is structured into five Squadrons and a REME Light Aid Detachment (LAD). Headquarters Squadron, one Combat Supplies Squadron, one Material Squadron, one Consignment Tracking Squadron and one Logistic Brigade Support Squadron.

A Transport Regiment has a Tank Transporter Squadron, a General Transport Squadron, a Fuel Squadron, and HQ Squadron.

1 Logistic Support Regiment – 1 UK Division’s support regiment. Consists of 2 Close Support Squadron, 12 Close Support Squadron, 23 General Support Squadron, 74 (HQ) Squadron and LAD.

2 Logistic Support Regiment – 22 and 25 Close Support Squadron, 76 General Support Squadron and 27 HQ Squadron. Main role is direct support of 7 Armored Brigade.

3 Logistic Support Regiment – Supports 1st Mechanized Brigade, 3rd UK Division.

4 Logistic Support Regiment – Supports the 12 Mechanized Brigade, 3rd UK Division.

5 (T) Logistic Support Regiment – Training. The Regiment has two training squadrons, and delivers training to TA personnel thanks to a force of Regular military and civilians instructors.

6 Supply Regiment – Part of 102 Logistic Brigade. TA unit is 159(V).

7 Transport Regiment – TA unit is the Scottish Transport Regiment. It is an Heavy Duty transport squadron, with 617 Headquarters Squadron, 9 Fuel support Squadron, 16 Tank Transporter Squadron, and 17 Transport Squadron, along with a REME Light Aid Detachment. The Heavy Equipment Transporter trucks are their main distinguishing characteristic.

8 Transport Regiment – Another Heavy Lifter unit, this Regiment is equipped with HETs to move 28 tanks at once, plus up to 20 smaller armored vehicles, and up to 1440 NATO Pallets on DROPS/ELPS transports. It carries and delivers some 616.000 liters of fuel at a time with its tankers.

9 Supply Regiment – 800 strong, this regiment is the centre of Logistic Specialist (Supply) excellence within 101 Logistic Brigade and soldier training is continual and progressive. Its role is to oversee the supply chain on operations.  This is achieved by controlling stocks from the UK all the way forward to the fighting Brigades.

10 Queen’s Own Gurkha’s Logistic Regiment

11 EOD Regiment – 500 strong, it is the center of excellence for the delicate EOD work.

12 Logistic Support Regiment – supports the 4th Mechanized Brigade. TA unit is 150(V) Regiment.

13 Air Assault Support Regiment – 16 Air Assault Brigade’s own Logistic formation. A part of this regiment – 15 Air Assault Close Support Squadron - is parachute capable and kept at high readiness along with the fighting element of the brigade.

Commando Logistic Regiment – Army personnel is part of the Commando Logistic Regiment’s 620 strength. The regiment includes HQ Squadron, Equipment Support Squadron, Logistic Support Squadron, Medical Squadron, Landing Force Support Party. From this regiment is taken a Logistic Task Group sized to support the High Readiness Small Scale battlegroup mandated by the SDSR. A Logistic Task Group is currently part of exercise Cougar 2011’s Royal Marines battlegroup. The 383(V) Commando Petroleum Troop provide reserve personnel for brigade fuel resupply tasks.     

17 Port and Maritime Regiment - based at Marchwood, near Southampton, the unit provides the UK Armed Forces' only specialist port, maritime and rail capability and deploys regularly in support of operations and exercises around the world. The Regiment has three Port Squadrons, a Port Enabling Squadron, a REME Workshop and a Headquarters Squadron. It operates a wide variety of vehicles, plant, railway equipment and vessels, including Ramp Craft Logistic (RCL) (6, two based in Cyprus), Workboats, Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP MK4 and MK5), MEXEFLOTE rafts and Rigid Raider Craft. It also has the only military Dive Team in the RLC; they are responsible for a range of tasks including port clearance and vessel maintenance. Due to its unique nature, the Regiment also works closely with the Royal Marines of the Amphibious Task Group (ATG) and often deploys in support of their exercises and deployments around the world. Supported by 165(V) TA Regiment.

23 Pioneer Regiment - The Regiment comprises of four Task Squadrons (187 (Tancred), 206, 518 and 522) and one Headquarters Squadron (144) totaling around 600 personnel. The Pioneers are supported by RLC Drivers, Chefs and a REME Workshop. The Regiment is the only regular Pioneer force and it provides a plethora of capabilities with its multi-skilled soldiers. Key roles include Operational Hygiene, Defence Skills (akin to Infantry tasks), Artisan (Bricklaying/Concreting and Carpentry), Logistic Enabling, Assault Pioneer and Mortuary Affairs.

24 Postal, Courier & Movements Regiment – Part of 104 Logistic Brigade, the Regiment is based in Bielefeld, Germany, with one Sqn in Gutersloh and detachments throughout Germany. Its mission is to provide Movement Control and Postal & Courier capability at Readiness for operations and theatre support to United Kingdom Support Command in order to contribute to UK Defence and Land Command military capability.

24 Regt is commanded from RHQ and 49 HQ Sqn whilst 30 PC Sqn provide Postal Courier support to British Forces Germany through the British Forces Post Offices. The United Kingdom Movements Liaison Staff (UKMLS) provide Movements Control liaison and authority for 1(UK) Armd Div, UKSC and all British Forces within NWE. 40 MC Sqn and 69 MC Sqn provide Movements Control support to deployed Operations via the Force Movements Control Centres and Air Transport Liaison Offices by coordinating the Tactical Air Transport and Surface Movement of personnel and equipment. Similarly 98 PC Sqn and 99 PC Sqn provide deployed PCS support to Operations through the field BFPOs to ensure the mail gets to and from the troops on the ground. The Regiment has been involved in nearly all major deployments of British Forces overseas, including frequent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

25 (Training) Regiment - The Regt is established for 140 military permanent staff (not including RLC Band and MPGS) and 71 civilian staff. The average Standing Student Population at Phase 2 is 250 with a further 200 at Phase 3. The all up Regt strength is, therefore, typically in the region of 700. The regiment delivers training courses for the various roles within RLC.

27 Transport Regiment – Part of 101 Logistic Brigade. It is an Heavy Duty transport regiment, with Tank transports, fuel squadron and transport squadron.

29 Transport and Movement Regiment – Includes the Air Despatch and Movement Control squadrons.

Territorial Army Regiments:

·         Scottish Transport Regiment
·         Welsh Transport Regiment
·         150 Transport Regiment
·         151 Transport Regiment
·         152 Transport Regiment
·         155 Transport Regiment
·         156 Transport Regiment
·         158 Transport Regiment
·         159 Supply Regiment
·         168 Pioneer Regiment
·         383 Commando Petroleum Troop
·         395 Air Despatch Troop
·         88 Postal and Courier Regiment
·         160 Transport Regiment
·         162 Movement Control Regiment
·         165 Port and Maritime Regiment
·         166 Supply Regiment
·         Catering Support Regiment

Now that the focus of the Army is the deployment in brigade-scale, one possible change could be the amalgamation of Transport, Supply and Logistics squadrons inside larger, self-contained “Brigade Logistic Regiments”, with two formations of Divisional Level for the occasional big-scale operation.
The Brigade Logistic Regiments would be 7, (One Commando, one Air Assault, 5 mechanized) and include their own REME Sqn, Signals, Supply Squadrons, Logistics Squadrons, DROPS sections, Fuel group and even a Tank Transporter squadron for the support to the “heavies” of the brigade.
But this of course is my speculation. Reorganizing the logistics will not be easy.    

Army Air Corps

I will expose my plans for a reorganized AAC in another post to come on my blog, but the numbers of the AAC helicopter fleet are known (unless more cuts come…):
67 Apache AH1
28 Wildcat Lynx [the order is for 34 Battlefield Wildcats, but 6 are to go to the Navy as part of 847 Sqn Commando Helicopter Force)

22 Lynx MK9A (planned retirement date is 2018-19, but there might be hopes of retaining them for longer, as it would be cheaper than order new helicopters. Due to the engines being the same used by the Wildcat, logistics would also not be a big problem if the MK9A are retained. In my “numbers” table, however, I will prudently NOT include them.) 

RAF Regiment

Currently the RAF Regiment lines:

26 and 27 Squadrons – CBRN Regiment
1 RAF Field Squadron
II RAF Field Squadron (PARA)
3 RAF Field Squadron
15 RAF Field Squadron
34 RAF Field Squadron
51 RAF Field Squadron
58 RAF Field Squadron
63 (Queen’s Colour) RAF Field Squadron (frontline + ceremonial duties)

Each Field Squadron is active in Force Protection role and counts 171 men, making it the rought equivalent of an Army company, but larger. The Squadron is composed by 3 Rifle Flights, named A, B and C, plus a Support Weapons Flight with mortars and heavy weapons. The Support Weapons Flight can work as a fourth Rifle Flight when necessary. There is also a Sniper Section and GPMGs are used for long-range machine gun support fire. When mobility is required, the Squadron moves by helicopter and/or vehicles, and can mount patrols on Land Rover WMIKs and/or Jackals.

Each Field Squadron is coupled to a RAF Protection Wing HQ, a deployable command specialized in force protection, made up by a RAF Regiment Wing Commander and 11 specialists.
There are currently 8 Force Protection Wing HQs.

The requirement for 8 Squadrons and HQs is expected to last until 2015: after that, the RAF expects to disband 2 Field Squadrons and related HQs. This would still leave 5, plus the II Squadron, which is a feeder (and close collaborator) of the Special Forces and an “elite” unit capable to parachute in enemy territory to secure an airfield.

The original table listed a confusing “3” as RAF Regiment numbers: it would appear that their 3 is to be read as “Battalions Equivalent”, as the 8 Field Squadrons make for a numeric force roughly comparable to that of 3 Army Battalions. This would go down to roughly “2” after 2015.

RAF Helicopter Fleet

There is no uncertainty on the plans for the future RAF fleet. Unless new cuts are delivered in the coming years, FF2020 will see:

60 Chinook (HC4 and HC6, with the HC6 denomination going to the new-build helos)
24 Puma HC2

The Merlins are to transfer to the Commando Helicopter Force.

RAF fighter jet fleet

Harder to determine, but I would assume: 

107 Typhoon in 5 frontline squadrons plus OCU and OEU. This is due to the planned retirement of the 52 Typhoon Tranche 1 in 2019, which will leave a newer, multirole fleet of sole Tranche 2 and 3A. The Tranche 1 were 53 (the original order was for 55, but 2 actually went to Austria), but one has been written off after a crash-landing in 2008 which left it badly damaged.

Tornado GR4 ?  The Tornado situation is confused. It was first planned for retirement by 2025, SDSR advanced this to 2021, and insistent rumors now indicate 2017/18 as a possible date. Two squadrons might soon be closed as the last two formations of Typhoons are stood up in the next two years. The remaining 3 + OCU would gradually vanish as the F35C squadron(s) is/are raised.

F35C ?  Another confusing situation. So far, the number of F35C to be acquired are unknown, even if Bagwell, RAF Group 2’s commander, post SDSR stated that he expected “40 planes and one operational squadron” by 2020, with a total fleet target indicated in “around 100” by RAF sources.

Admiral Hussain, responsible of the Carrier Strike programme, recently said to the Defence Committee that there would be 12 operational planes in 2020, plus test and training aircrafts, with 6 embarked on the carrier, with the numbers working up from there. Note that the two figures, apparently in conflict, are actually quite fitting. Bagwell made clear that the 40 planes in 2020 would give life to a single “large” ‘OCU + Frontline’ Sqn with around 20-25 pilots”. 25 pilots and 18 planes are a quite realistic matchup, so that there would be, I think, a “Carrier Flight” of 6, another operational Flight of 6 on land (hopefully they would alternate) and an OCU flight of 6.

In words, the Carrier is expected to routinely employ one squadron, “with the ability to embark three as earlier planned, when necessary”, which apparently confirms a requirement for a bare-bone minimum of 3 and a “wish” of 4 squadrons, one of which would include an OCU/OEU Flight (apparently a separate OCU is not envisaged for the F35). Previous estimates during the JCA programme put the 4 squadrons fleet at 80 airplanes, which I consider a sane requirement. Of course, it will depend on budget more than anything else.

The temptation is to assume a “2020” force of 107 + 40 = 147 airplanes, with a “Future Force 2020+” (2024 at the earliest, but potentially as far as 2031!) target of 187 airplanes.    

RAF C4I and ISTAR fleet

7 E3D Sentry AWACS

3 Rivet Joint
10 MQ-9 Reaper (In 2018 it is expected that the Reaper will be retired and replaced by SCAVENGER/Telemos, the MALE developed in collaboration with France: the MOD put a planned SCAVENGER fleet indicatively at 20 + 10 (spares) airframes)

The numbers seem set to vary from a (hopefully) minimum of 20 to a maximum of 40. I always do hope that the demented Sentinel and Shadow R1 decision (retirement post 2015) is subject to a rethink and cancelled. Both are excellent platforms, and there are reasons to doubt that Telemos, despite all its technology, could provide the same kind of performances and services.
If SDSR2015 was a smart SDSR (I know, I’m dreaming), both fleets would remain, and we’d then potentially look at a total of 50 airframes.

RAF Support Fleet

14 A330 Voyager

RAF Strategic Lift Flet
7 C17
22 A400M

There will still be C130J up to around 2022, even if in rapidly shrinking numbers as they are progressively retired, under current plans. 

Fleet Air Arm Fleet

30 Merlin HM2

28 Wildcat
6 Wildcat – Battlefield variant
25 Merlin (HC4 denomination?)

This according to current plans.

There is a requirement for MASC (Radar AEW platform to use on the carriers, which, if based on Merlin, would require around 8 - 10 airframes. Based on Hawkeye (expensive, but best solution), we’d vary from 4 to 6. 

There is also a study for a MPA regeneration programme, which reportedly considers the purchase of 5 P8 Poseidon planes from the US, for around 800 – 1000 million pounds, for use by the Fleet Air Arm. Despite being FAA marked, the (eventual) 5 Poseidon appear in the C4I and ISTAR count in the table, due to their role.

Total fleet planned: 87 - 89

Naval Fleet

There are quite high possibilities that the SSBNs will be only 3, with the potential risk of temporary interruptions of Constant At Sea Deterrent (CASD) “met” by collaboration with France in timing the submarine sorties at sea. Not ideal, but then again, in time of economic crisis, still excellent.

7 Astutes have been confirmed.

13 Type 26 are planned. 

6 Type 45 are to enter service.

I expect both CVFs to make it into service. One might be mothballed, but if the requirement for having a LPH stands, either the Navy is given funds for purchasing a LHD, or both carriers are used, with one working in LPH role. 

2 LPD are still planned, even if they might alternate in and out of reserve to save money.

A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 RFA tankers, plus 3 Solid Replenishment Ships are still planned under MARS, a programme part of the wider Carrier Enabled Power Projection requirement. The tankers will supplement the 2 Waves, the 3 Replenishers will replace the Forts. In the short term, RFA Fort Austin, which had been mothballed in 2009, is being put back in service, with a refit currently progressing.  

RFA Argus should remain at least until 2017 as Aviation Training ship and Joint Casualty Evacuation and Treatment vessel, but there is no clear plan for replacement as of now. Its modular hospital might be inherited by the 3 Bay class LSD(A), in the worst case, for use when necessary: a fifth Bay converted in Aviation Training + Hospital ship already was offered in the past. Now money makes it unlikely that a new ship will be purchased.
For now, I will keep it in the list, and hope that a happy solution for the future is found. 

RFA Diligence will also live on long, but studies have been done on her possible replacement, and the requirement remains. 

The hydrographic vessels, but particularly the MCM ships, will be replaced from 2018 by the MCM, Hydrographic, Patrol Capability, (MHPC) the last evolution of what for a long time has been called C3. Some 8 ships are planned for replacing 14 minesweepers of the Hunt and Sandown class, plus at least Enterprise and Echo (the huge 13.000 tons HMS Scott and her massive hydrographic suite cannot exactly be replaced by a 2-3000 tons hull). Longer term, the MHPC could also replace the OPVs, HMS Clyde included, but this would happen later on, especially since prolonging the contract for use of the current ships will be cheaper than build new ones.   

Royal Marines
3rd Commando Brigade counts 3 Commando Battalions and 1st Rifles Battalion, and the RM also have the Fleet Protection Group which, in my opinion, more than makes for a battalion-equivalent formation, as it counts around 700 men in its ranks after the P Squadron re-formation in 2010.
As 1st RIFLES has been counted in the Army infantry battalion list, the RM number is 4 battalions-equivalent.

                                               The direct comparison 

So, with all the Information and premises in place, here it is, the numbers comparison between a Pre-SDSR Armed Forces table, with FF2020

Ground Forces (Battalion/Regiment Equivalent figures)
RM (inc FP)
Spec Force
Air Forces
Air Combat
187 (1)
45 (2)
Air Support
RN Helicopters
97 (3)
Army Helicopters
95 (4)
RAF Helicopters
Naval Forces
57 – 58
3 (5)
Attack Sub
2 (6)
RFA Tankers
RFA Fleet Replenishers
FRA Aviation Training ship / Joint Casualty Treatment  Ship
RFA Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary)
RFA Forward Repair Ship
MCM vessels
0 – 1 (7)

NOTES to the table: in addition to the earlier explanations in the article, it is worth remembering
1)                      The 187 fighter Jets figure is to be considered as long term target of 107 Typhoons and 80 F35C, not as effective fleet by 2020, which will be more like 147 planes at best. All F35C, even those marked with FAA colors, fall under RAF Group 2 control and figure here.  
2)                      The 45 C4I and ISTAR planes I list are to be intended as 30 drones, 7 E3D Sentry, 3 Rivet Joint and 5 P8 Poseidon planes.
3)                      The 97 Fleet Air Arm figure is to be intended as including 8 Merlin-derived MASC radar platforms, a solution that I deem overall plausible for the MASC requirement, much as it was stated in 10 airframes, and much as I’d prefer the UK to go down the Hawkeye road.
4)                      The AAC also lines some 4 Dauphin helicopters in civilian colors for covert urban SAS ops. These are operated by 8 Flight. There is also a small number of Islander airplanes for intelligence and light transport, concentrated in 651 Sqn, 5 Regiment.
5)                      The requirement for a 4th SSBN still exists, but is subject to review. Long-lead items orders have been placed only for the first 3 as studies continue… and as the budget situation evolves.
6)                      Landing Helicopter, Aviation is the right definition for CVF, not LPH: the MOD and RN are studying the implications of using the carrier, at once, to launch F35C strikes and helicopters loaded with Marines, making the ship a LHA like the US America class. The USS Kitty Hawk, in 2001, pioneered simultaneous helicopter assault and fixed wing jet ops from a CATOBAR vessel off Afghanistan, after disembarking all but 8 of her jets and filling up with US Special Forces men and helicopters instead.
7)                      As I said earlier, HMS Scott does not appear replaceable by MHPC, so it might remain/get a dedicated replacement.


  1. Hi Gabriele,

    As always, a great post, with a huge amount of detail.
    I understood there were two infantry battalions in Cyprus at present?
    I assume that your hope is for four sqn's of F35's, each of 20 aircraft?
    I would support the second carrier being used as an LPH. What's your opinion?


  2. You are right, at present you can expect to find 2 battalions in Cyprus, but this is due to Afghanistan ops: the second Battalion is a "ready to go" reserve force for use in Stan if something bad happens.

    My hope is for 4 squadrons, of 12 aircrafts each, and hopefully a detached OCU once the whole fleet is available, so to maximize the available frontline force.
    With 4 Squadrons, filling the Carrier is possible, and keeping a squadron always embarked is easy, with a second joining in every now and then for a large scale exercise.
    2 FAA and 2 RAF badged squadrons were the original carrier force envisaged by the RN with JCA. The rest of the 150 planes were for Land use, and for an obscenely high planned reserve of spare airframes, which horrified me when i first found out: evidently back then the F35 and its single-engine were expected to be quite prone to failures...

    My thinking is that the two carriers should both be fitted with Cats and Traps, and both put into service. This way, they would operate one as Designed Strike carrier, and one as LPH. Their refit schedule this way could also be worked out, to leave a ship available at all time to work as Carrier, LPH, or LHA, depending on the needs of the moment.

    A catapult-less CVF operated full time as LPH would be better than nothing, but would not be the best use of resources and would leave holes in the availability of airpower deployable at sea.

    Mothballing a CVF while procuring a LPH, last option, would be demented.
    A LPH is "cheap" and "cheaper" to run than a CVF, but two classes of one single hull are not effective. At times you'd be without your LPH as it is in refit, other days it would be the carrier that would be unavailable.

    A class of two ships capable to cover all roles is the best compromise: whatever proves necessary, can be provided.
    Besides, they are being built. Let's frigging use them for good!

    I've also been reading your FF2020 Force Structure. It has sense, but it gives me the chills: it involves HUGE further cuts to armor and Commando Brigade, and my hope is that they can be avoided!

    I also have to question the two air mobile brigades. The UK is already unable to airlift 16 Air Assault whole, if not on many days and waves of planes, depending on where it has to go.
    There's no need for dedicated additional air mobile brigades, as the first response to a crisis (if 16AA was busy) would be to airlift the Light Role infantry battalions and L118 light artillery share of one or more MRBs, assembling a Task Battlegroup shaped on the needs of the moment and on the realistic capability of bringing it where it is needed.

    Interesting concepts nonetheless... i will now try to work on my own force structure in the detail, sticking to the numbers of FF2020 seen in this article and shaped by that little that is known of the official MOD planning.
    I hope to get something online soon.

    For now, thanks for reading my stuff. I'm glad you found it interesting!

  3. Awesome work Gabby, much appreciated.

    I have read through it once swiftly, and once thoroughly, and i reckon it will still take another couple of times to absorb the detail!

    What is Phils's blog?

  4. Well, detail is what i live for. XD
    Seriously, i like to know stuff in deep. I'm just glad to hear you appreciate: i hope it is of help.

    And I don't think Phil's got a blog. He just sent me a mail with his ideas, for now.

  5. Hi gabby lots of detail in a good post.

    Just one thing Raf Regiment sqn are made of flights not wings. 2 Rifle flights a HQ flight and a support weapons flight. Wings haven't been deployed for a long time.

    The Sqn in terms of extra support personnal would obviously change depending on the role required, but would consist (typically) of 1/2 admin, 2 Armourers, 5 Techs for vehicles and support equipment such as radios, an electrician, a chef, a supplier and 2/3 ops and/or int. This isn't exact but I how it gives you at least a rough idea.

  6. Only 2 Rifle Flights...? Then surely they are bigger than 30 men, i'm hoping. Where the hell go the rest of the 170 men...? XD

    Thank you, Topman, all info is welcome!

  7. Each one is far larger than a platoon. Because of their need to defend airfields they have a larger weight in support weapons, such as mortars, Gpmgs and snipers all in the same flight and are 'abnormally' large say compared to an inf company.

    Best place to look would be youtube, there is a gunners blog in which he lists the support staff and the constructions of the sqn in terms of flights and rough numbers. Each iirc is about 45 in strength.

    Just had a look at the EOS for GR4 at 2017/18 which was hinted at in sdsr. Not sure if that's true now, not much money spent but plans are afoot for a life extentsion that would be a waste of money if were to go to 3 + ocu soon and all gone by 2017, but then this is the MoD!

  8. Tomorrow i'll try checking Youtube then. Thanks again!

  9. Hi Gabriele,

    Thank you for reading my email.

    Maybe I should have renamed my Air Mobile brigades 'Light'. But that would hurt, as my former Regiment was The Light Infantry, and the title Light Brigade, for historical means alot to us ex LI guys.
    (You may also notice I don't mention Light role either, same reason).

    Looking forward to your FF2020. I am sure it will be an interesting read.


  10. I see your reasons, then! But i hope indeed that my Force Structure posts will result interesting.

    Thank you

  11. BertramPantyshieldAugust 12, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Thank goodness someone's put it all on paper for lazy folks like me! Much appreciated!

    Small thing... 1 RIFLES count in the infantry ORBAT. 1 PARA are under DSF. They were put there as a way to save a SCOTS battalion back in 2003, as such they were removed from the ORBAT so the government could see 36 battalions.

  12. Glad you find this useful.

    And yes, i think you might be right. I've seen on various documents 1 RIFLES kept out of the Army ORBAT and counted into the NAVY, but in this table i took from, you are most evidently right:

    1 PARA specifically appears in the Special Forces, and the 36 (including 1 RIFLES) would then justify the 4 RM figure they had put in.

    How could i not notice...? XD

    I'll make a correction immediately, thank you.

  13. Hi Gabriele,

    I have amended my FF2020 army, after your comments.

    5 Multi Role Brigades, 1 Light Brigade, 1 Armoured Brigade, 6 Commando/ranger units).



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