Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is 1st Battalion The Rifles going to go...?

Is 1st Battalion The Rifles, fourth maneuver battalion of 3rd Commando Brigade since 2008, going to be disbanded, or anyway removed from Commando and amphibious duties?
It is a doubt that has dawned on me also thanks to a comment of Phil. The Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines becoming 43 Commando could be a (poor, but good for politicians) cover up for a reduction to the brigade?

I hope no. But 1st Rifles is not mentioned at all as part of 3rd Commando Brigade in the Royal Navy website, and more worrisome it is never mentioned in the October 2011 "Commando Vision" document which explains the role and force of 3rd Command Brigade following the SDSR.
Of course, 1st Rifles is not part of the Royal Marines, but it is under Navy control, and one would expect to see it listed along other Army-supplied components of the brigade such as 24 Commando Engineer Regiment. The total absence of any mention is worrisome. 

In addition, we've heard that The Rifles, along with the scottish regiment of infantry, are likely to be the hardest hit in the Army reform plan.

It's only a fear / suspect for now, but things do not have a reassuring look about them.


  1. Hi Gabriele,

    Well it could just be a website error. But I feel sure I remember 1 RIFLES being on there before, and that 43 CDO was added on the day it was up and running as a unit, and put under 3 CDO brigade command did make me worry.
    But if 1 RIFLES is not mentioned in commando vision, that does sound alarm bells.
    Maybe its a glimpse into next weeks future force army? If the infantry is to be cut to 25 battalions, cutting 2 each from the Rifles and the Scottish regiment would be an option.
    That could mean 3 battalion regiments cut to 2, and 2 battalion regiments to 1. I haven't done the maths for that yet, but thats the sort of cut to the infantry regiments we would have to see, if it there are only to be 25 regular battalions.


  2. I've tried to look around for clues indeed, and... well. As of now i'm personally pretty "certain" that 1st Rifles will either vanish, or be officially brought back into the Army and removed from 3rd Commando.

    But we will have to wait for the announcement to know for sure.

  3. Hi Gabriele,

    I would assume 1 RIFLES would remain, and return to the Army. As it is the senior battalion of the regiment, 5 RIFLES would be my bet for disbandment.

    Just did some maths, if we are to take the telegraph at it’s word, and the army is to have just 25 infantry battalions, and the Guards, Para’s and Irish are safe, a cut of one battalions from each of the other regiments would leave us with 25 battalions. (I am not counting the Gurhka’s). That maybe the crazy way they are doing it?

    As to why 1 RIFLES has maybe been removed from 3 CDO brigade, if the army is to have just 25 battalions, the army is going to be that keen on lending one of them to the Navy.

    Could the orbat be; 5 x MRB’s each with 4 battalions, and 4 battalions in 16 AA, with a battalion in Cyprus?

    If the above is true, so far all we have to go on is the Telegraph and some speculation, I will be very shocked and disappointed. I had hope for a cut of just 6 or 8 battalions to the infantry.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall in 1 RIFLES officers mess right now!

    Regards and keep up the good work

  4. Gabriele

    On the subject of the Royal Marines, I am sure that I read somewhere recently that one formation of Marines was eventually to be re-located, moving from Scotland to Devon, the rationale presumably being that the three Royal Marines Commandos will be located nearer one other.

    I think that I am right in saying that at the moment the three commandos are stationed at the following locations:
    40 Commando at Taunton
    42 Commando at Plymouth
    45 Commando at Arbroath

    The Fleet Protection Group was located at Clyde. Are they being converted to 43 Commando so that Scotland will have what seems like a strong Royal Marines' presence remaining when the 45 Commando actually moves to Devon?

    On the other hand, you could very well be right when you say that the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines becoming 43 Commando could be a cover up for a reduction to the brigade. I think the Royal Marines are due for a reduction of something like 500 men, aren't they?

  5. @Mike W

    That's 45 Commando that will move, and yes, the aim is to regroup 3rd Commando brigade in the same main area. The loss of 500 men over the RM total shouldn't be significant, and not related to the eventual loss of 1st Rifles, which has all to do with Army cuts and not RM cuts, i think.

    The Commando brigade force level is set at 5200 post SDSR [note: 3rd Commando Brigade's fighting strenght is not the same thing as the total number of Royal Marines, which will stay probably around 7000 or so]

    692 x each Commando [2076]
    452 30 Commando IEX
    620 Commando Logistics regiment
    ? 24 Commando Engineer Regiment
    ? 29 Commando Royal Artillery
    ? 539 Assault Squadron [inclusive of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group with Vikings]

    29 Commando RA might be around 400 strong, but i don't know the exact establishment.
    24 Commando Engineer can't be that big, i'd say perhaps 300, maybe less.
    That would leave some 1352 men for 539 Assault Squadron and the eventual other minor roles and posts connected to the brigade.

    Seems a bit too much, to say the least. But if 1st Rifles, or 43 Commando in place of 1st Rifles, are counted in, the count more than fits, i bet.

    The problem is that 43 Commando is not a maneuver formation, and won't be available as a part of the brigade since it is all too busy as it is.

    A bit of a political trick, to say the least.

    What "relieves" me is that the loss of 1st Rifles is unlikely to make much difference to 3rd Commando Brigade, also because there's not enough amphibious ships for 4 battalions anyway.
    Again, with the Fleet rules for deployment, 3 Commando groups are enough to always have one Commando battlegroup at readiness and meet the need for the 1800-strong Reaction Task Group.

    So, yes. I guess it won't be THAT bad, if it really happens. You know, bad, but not bad-bad.

    And, Phil, i guess you are most likely right. 1st Rifles will move back into the Army, i guess, but will not disband.

    As to the 25 battalions... i don't know what to say anymore. I hope it won't be Telegraph-bad, but we'll just have to wait for the official announcements to know.

    1. Gabriele

      Thanks very much for the info again.

      "As to the 25 battalions... i don't know what to say anymore. I hope it won't be Telegraph-bad, but we'll just have to wait for the official announcements to know."

      Any information on the date when all this will be revealed? Is it still the 12th April? Will that be the complete thing, do you think (formations, kit, etc. etc.) or just a partial revelation?


      "I would love to be a fly on the wall in 1 RIFLES officers mess right now!"

      And so would I!

      "I had hoped for a cut of just 6 or 8 battalions to the infantry."

      Me too! 11 is just preposterous.

    2. The 12 April date has been around from some time, but there might be delays.

      The report on CVF and catapults is due to be done by 16 April, and discussed 17 April in the National Security Council.
      It might slow everything down and delay Planning Round 12 announcements further ahead into this month.

      So, prudence suggests me that any date from 12 April onwards could be good to get info, but the exact day at the moment is... very hard to guess.

  6. Hi Gabriele,

    I think the RM are to be cut by 650 from 7300.

    It was to be only 500, but another 150 was added to this figure to make a total cut in numbers of 650.



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