Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Towards the Army Cuts announcements: some points in time

19 October 2010 - the SDSR is published. The Army gets a cut of 7000 men, from a force of roughly 102.000 regulars to 95.000 by 2015, with a 94.000 strong regular army envisioned for 2020.  

According to sources such as Jane's and RUSI, the MOD's advice had been to cut the Army back to 82.000 in order to balance the books, but the government rejected the call at this stage in time because the measure was seen as too politically white hot to present with Afghanistan ops still going on full force.
The cuts fall hard on the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force instead: in the very last few days of the planning process, it is decided that Tornado GR4 has to stay, Harrier goes, and STOVL is abandoned even for the future.

November 2010 - Brigadier Nick Eeles, Director Royal Artillery, announces to the force that:

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. No decisions on the future size of the TA have been made under SDSR and a six-month review will now be undertaken into the role and structure of the Reserves. It should be emphasised that the TA remain critical to success on current operations and will form a key element of Gunner structures to deliver integrated support to future operations.

December 2010 - Royal Artillery announcements of the restructuring of its regiments and formation of the UAV force:

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 [In recent years the regiment had deployed personnel to Afghanistan to operate UAS] (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 five batteries are intended to line a number of Watchkeeper (Tactical UAS), Desert Hawk 3 (mini UAS) Detachments (possibly 12 in each battery, with each DH3 detachment numbering 5 men) and T-HAWK detachments (should be 3 per battery). The T-Hawk is a part of the Talisman route clearance system and was initially used by Royal Engineer personnel. It was however found more efficient to give control of all army UAS to a specialized force within the Royal Artillery.  

July 2011 - The results of the "3 months study" into the MOD books are announced: unsurprisingly, the deletion of Harrier, Type 22s and Nimrod have proven far from sufficient to bring the balance under control. Further manpower cuts are necessary, and they have to come from the Army: the revised plan adds 5000 more posts to be cut to the 7000 already announced, as the Army is now required to go down to 89 / 90.000 by 2015 and 82.000 by 2020.

The improvements to the structure and employment of reserves is announced as part of the move. By 2020 it is promised that army strength will be 120.000, inclusive of 30.000 trained reservists.

July 2011 - Royal Artillery restructuring continues with new changes announced:

In recognition of the high demand for fire support teams, the tactical groups from the disbanded close support regiment (40 Regt) will move to reinforce other close support regiments. In addition, transformational Army Structures work recognised that our specialist MLRS and STA regiments are under-resourced and should each grow or reorganise to five equipment batteries for each capability, thereby allowing for longer intervals between operational tours for the officers and soldiers involved. The outcome is five mirror image composite unmanned air systems batteries, three in 32 Regt RA and two in 47 Regt RA (the latter having lost its close air defence role) which meant that earlier this year three batteries, 42 (Alem Hamza) Bty RA, 43 Bty (Lloyd’s Company) RA and 25/170 (Imjin) Bty RA went into suspended animation.

After the demise of these three fine batteries, HQ Land recently granted permission to raise one new battery in 5 Regt RA equipped with weapon locating radars and sound ranging, and one new battery in 39 Regt RA equipped with MLRS. These are 93 (Le Cateau) Bty RA and 51 (Kabul 1842) Bty RA respectively and these batteries are currently being taken out of suspended animation.

August 2011 - The head of the Royal Artillery announces the details of changes in the regiment:

40 Regiment Royal Artillery is to disband, with hopes for a farewell parade in April 2012

6/36 (Arcot 1751) Battery, from 40 Regiment, is reassigned as Tac Group Battery to 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, by April 2012

38 (Seringapatam) Battery is assigned as Tac Group Battery to 19 Regiment RA. Transfered from 40 Regiment are also all the scottish symbols and hetos, as 19 Regiment now is the Scottish artillery regiment, incorporating both Lowlands and Highlands traditions.

By April 2012, 5 batteries of AS90 guns, one in each regiment, are re-roled to L118 Light Gun as number of AS90 howitzers is brought down to 95

By November 2012, 137 (Java) Tac Group Battery will resubordinate to 26 Regiment Royal Artillery  

19 September 2011 - First wave of Royal Signals restructuring announcements:

12 (National Communications) Signals brigade to disband after the Olympics are over, and with it the brigade's involvement in the security and support to the event. Work is underway to decide which of the commanded units of the brigade survive, how they are restructured, and how they are re-assigned to 1st and 11th Signal Brigades.  

7 Signals Regiment disbands by mid 2012, after completing its role as Campaign Signal Regiment to augment the Signals force in Afghanistan.

Early 2013 is to see 19 Light Brigade's HQ closed down, along with its Signal Squadron, 209 Sqn.

The Unified System Support Organisation, based in Blandford has been steadily growing in size and importance. It has a critical role providing expert Level 3 support to deployed information and communication services across Defence, and provides a combination of deployed and ‘reachback’ support. On 30th September 2011 it was re-titled 15th Signal Regiment (Information Support) and established fully as a Royal Signals Unit, albeit with very joint manning and roles.

In the last few months it emerged that 14 Regiment (Electronic Warfare) is being expanded 8% to an establishment of some 750 men.

Some change at the highest ranks as well, and warning from the Director Royal Signals that this is only the start.

November 2011 - First announcements for changes in the Royal Engineers

25 Air Support Regiment to disband by 31 March 2012 at the latest. Squadrons re-assigned to 39 Regiment

39 Regiment to move into RAF Kinloss during the summer of 2012

HQ 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group [44 men] moves into RAF Wittering in 2013

38 Regiment will disband together with 19 Light Brigade, which it supported.

Some considerations and numbers and guesses:

All of the support components of 19 Light Brigade are going:

40 Royal Artillery Regiment
209 Squadron Royal Signals
38 Royal Engineers Regiment
19 Combat Service Support Battalion

How many more formations will go, is very hard to say.
Arguably, in almost all trades there is no more room for cuts if 5 brigades are to be maintained, and fully kitted. The Royal Artillery is already restructuring on 5 Fires Regiments, so there really is no room for further cuts.
But as the Telegraph suggests that most of the AS90 howitzers will be mothballed (at least 51 have been, post SDSR, and of those remaining many will be in Controlled Humidity Storage most of the time under Whole Fleet Management) or used by reserves, my guess is that one of two AS90 batteries planned in each brigade artillery regiment will be assigned to TA personnel. It would be a first, since currently the TA does not work with the AS90.
I sincerely hope the cut is something of this kind: no regular AS90 batteries would, in my pessimistic/realistic view make it very hard to think about sending AS90 in battle again. With all my good will and with all the confidence i can muster, i still have doubts about how much the TA will effectively be made capable to deploy on the field in significant, formed units. I'd very much avoid putting whole capabilities and forces into reserve, personally.

What else could be cut?
Well, the additional batteries of 39 Regiment and perhaps even 5 Regiment. With the excuse of "contingency ops" opposed to enduring operations, the hard gained expansions in strength just enacted might be cancelled again, and leave both regiments again overstretched the next time they are called in action.
It wouldn't surprise me. But i hope it can be avoided.

I don't even want to think about cutting the UAS batteries, even though we could get a bitter surprise or two in 2015, if Desert Hawk 3 and/or T-Hawk were not brought into core budget despite their usefulness.

An area where there is possibly some maneuver space for cuts is 12 Regiment and 16 regiment, the air defence force.
I judge it feasible to merge the two regiments, forming a single air defence formation on 5 Batteries, each with a Rapier troop for local area defence and the second troop would have Starstreak for Low Level Air Defence - very short range.

The Royal Engineers might be in even worse difficulty, if the Telegraph is to be believed. The Telegraph talks of a 30% cut, down to an establishment of 5500. In early 2011, however, the strength of the Engineers (Regular Reserve included, however) was 9660, however, so the figures do not quite add up.
The Engineers are already shelving a couple of regiments (even though most of 25 Regt manpower just moves under another RHQ) and making other adjustements, but cutting formations will be very complex, unless not all of the brigades are granted an engineer complement.
And i hope this is not the case because it does not make sense.

A current Royal Engineers regiment on 3 Armoured Squadrons has an establishment of some 644 (REME personnel and other trades from other Army branches included, i believe), all-ranks, all-trades. And there already are only 5, exactly the number that is needed.
With a smaller deployable Army there might be scope to downsize all five regiments to a degree, perhaps even cut them down to 2 squadrons each, instead of 3, but will it be enough?

The engineer regiment of 16 Air Assault brigade counts 543 posts, 375 of which are for parachute trained personnel. Some trimming is likely to be achievable, and almost certainly will be inevitable.
24 Commando Royal Engineers Regiment likely will never see its second field squadron stand up, and as it is it already is the smallest of regiments in the Corps. There really is no room to touch this.

28 Engineer regiment, one of the two General Support Regiments, has an establishment of 850 [probably includes the TA personnel of 412 (V) Troop as well, though, and possibly the 110-strong REME LAD).
36 General Support Regiment has 5 squadrons as of now (2 are Gurkha) and has assumed the role of High Assurrance Search regiment to aid in the battle against IEDs in Afghanistan. I don't know what its head count is, but is likely to be even higher than 28 Regt's.
It is arguable that, by 2014, with Afghanistan over and the Army becoming much smaller, one single General Support Regiment could do, assigned to the sole deployable division HQ. In my view said regiment should be about preserving specialized capabilities available on demand, so a possible structure could be:

·         1 Amphibious Squadron (with M3 rigs and other kit)
·         at least 1 Route Clearance Squadron (preserving the expensive and effective Talisman equipment set and related skills for meeting future needs)
·         1 Search squadron, keeping alive the experience and skills gained with years of high risk, high cost operations
·         and another Squadron, more general in nature, ready for tasking where and when necessary

Again, will it be enough?

REME chapter, again, very little room for cuts. With 19 Light Brigade's REME formation gone, there's just the indispensable 5 + 1 Battalions, one for each MRB plus 7th Battalion (Air Assault) which serves the AAC helicopter fleet and 16 Air Assault brigade.
In addition, there's two mixed regular/TA battalions, one in each of the two logistic brigades.

There does not seem to be any room for cutting further battalions, but i guess all of them will be downsized. A number of Light Aid Detachments will also go along with the units they support, and that is:

90 men for each Armoured Infantry Battalion cut [9 to 6 or 5, so i'd say at least 270 men]
115 for a Royal Artillery Regiment [probably an AS90 one, an L118 regiment like 40 RA probably has a significantly smaller LAD]
Up to 160 men in the LAD of air defence regiments [assuming something on the lines of the merge i proposed happens]
75 on average in each RLC regiment
60 in a Signals regiment
85 in a close support engineer regiment [38 Royal Engineers, cut along with 19 Light Brigade]

And so along.

Royal Armoured Corps and Cavalry regiments chapter. In theory, we are waiting for a tank regiment and a recce regiment in each MRB. In practice, the Telegraph article suggests that this plan might have had to be abandoned, but we'll have to wait and see.
Two Squadrons coming from 1RTR are almost certainly doomed as soon as they come back from Afghanistan involvement, after they have been pushed out of the CBRN regiment with the Fuchs vehicles being retired. A Squadron 1RTR however will stay almost certainly: the training Squadron is likely to be still needed after all, no?
All other tank regiments are, at best, being downsized. A Type 44 regiment counts 550 men, including some 120 REME, but i think at best we'll have Type 38 regiments, even smaller.
The Telegraph talks of tanks going to the reserves, again, but this could mean anything. It might be that the regiments become mixed, say, with 2 regular and 1 TA squadrons.
Or all five tank regiments are cut and small formations of tanks added to the 5 Recce regiments, or other solutions still. Hard to say.  

The Recce regiments should not change, at least in theory. Plan is for 3 squadrons, two mounted in FRES Scout and 1 in a wheeled UOR-to-core vehicle, which is expected to be Jackal.
The Household Cavalry Regiment is said to be off-limits and safe from cuts, but i have doubts about this meaning that the 4-squadron establishment stays. Currently HCR is the only recce regiment on 3 Sabre Sqns, since D Sqn is available for tasking with 16 Air Assault brigade. In future, who knows.
The REME have around 90 men in each Recce regiment. The number might drop lower.

Royal Logistic Corps chapter: the Telegraph suggests a cut from 15.240 men (early 2011) to around 12.000, and this, to my eyes, looks... out of place. I very well might be wrong, but i think in the RLC, more than in armour or artillery fields, there is space to expand the roles given to reserves, and there is arguably more room to make cuts.
Also, with the army dropping to so much lower numbers, to a single deployable divisional HQ and much less ambitious planning assumptions are 12.000 men in the logistics sector still required? Seems oversized to me.
I'd very much personally try to find solutions here, instead of chopping severely artillery, armour and engineers.  

A last consideration i want to make is on the Corps of Army Music.
Please, don't take it as an offence, as personal hostility or anything. But 24 bands, and 790 men (as of early 2011)? No way when cuts as dangerous and damaging as those currently being enacted are a reality.
790 men is more than a whole Armoured Infantry battalion inclusive of REME personnel and all other components.
It just can't do.


  1. Hi Gabriele,

    Very interesting thoughts.

    The less I hear, the more I tend to take the Telegraph at its word.

    I think the cut to 82,000 is going to be a painful one for all. Again, if the army is sticking to 5 MRBs, plus 3 CDO and 16 AA brigades, there is going to be little room for manoeuvre.
    I can see the infantry down to 25 battalions, the RA down to 10 or 11 regiments, the RAC down to 6 regiments. Hopefully we will find out for certain in a couple of days!

    As to bands, In my opinion, each regiment needs a band as part of its regimental identity. However, the guards having so many bands does not help the situation, as really they should only have one!


    1. So, every regiment should have it's own band...except the Household Division which is 7 regiments, actually 6 now that the Cavalry have been combined. Can you imagine a single band of 35 players taking on all of the ceremonial work required up and down the UK as well as abroad? Three bands are needed each day for the guard changes at Windsor and London alone. Sorry you have it all wrong, bigger bands are what the Guards need, since they are currently very hard pushed to do all the work thrown upon them, as well as being permanently trained up to act as Medics, Contamination Clean up units, Drivers, and POW guards in places of conflict.

  2. An excellent post, Gabriele. Very thought-provoking.

    However, I fervently hope that you are wrong and that many of the cuts you speculate about can be avoided. In actual fact, I became immensely depressed after reading it, thinking that the British Army will no longer be the force that I have recognized for so long. I know that that one can’t, in this day and age, go on about it being the force of El Alamein, of D-Day, of the Falklands, etc. etc. but really these proposed cuts will reduce the British Army to an ineffectual shell of its former self. It’s all very, very sad and I feel a tremendous sense of anger and resentment against the previous administration for their financial profligacy and irresponsible public spending. They are the ones who have brought this country to the verge of bankruptcy and every public institution, especially the Armed forces, is now paying a horrendous price for such extravagance.

    On a more specific point. I am particularly interested in the Royal Artillery (my dad was an RSM in the Gunners for many years). Your comments seem to suggest that in the 5 MRBs, there will only be two AS90 batteries in each of the brigade artillery regiments and that one of those might become assigned to the TA. I was under the impression that there were three, not two batteries, in each of the Close Support Regiments, each with six guns - 18 guns in all), but am probably years out of date. I too have serious reservations about the TA plan. I take it though that there will still be some AS90s around in active service.

    Furthermore, I am very concerned about your suggestion that the two air defence regiment (12 and 16) might merge into a single formation of five batteries, each with a Rapier troop for local area defence and a second troop using Starstreak for Low Level Air Defence. That would I suppose help maintain the rule of five but do you think that the SP version of HVM (on Stormer) will survive? They have been seen recently exercising on Salisbury Plain and there has been all sorts of speculation about their being fitted with LMM for use against land targets, etc.

    And will the joint GMLRS/Fire Shadow regiment you suggested come in to being, do you think?

  3. One of 3 AS90 batteries in each regiment has been converted to L118, so it is 2 + 1.
    Unless further cuts are rolled in, and IF the Telegraph is right, the risk is damn high.

    39 regiment with GMLRS exists, and will start deploying mixed batteries with Fire Shadow already this year, so it is very much a reality. Fire Shadow has been assigned to them.
    Will it maintain five batteries? I don't know, but i hope it will.

    As to the merge of the Air Defence regiments, mind that it is pure speculation. I was just trying to find a solution able to preserve capability as much as possible while bringing down manpower levels to fit into the (possible) cuts.

    It is certainly a revolution, and one with a big - ahead of it, but there is still some hope.
    The big worries are:

    - Artillery
    - MBTs
    - Engineers

    If a solution is found that saves enough of the above, it is not too bad.

  4. @Gabriel

    Thanks for your interesting reply.

    I wanted to ask a further question, this time concerning the Royal Engineers. I rather like your idea of having a General Support Regiment keeping specialized capabilities and kit e.g. M3s, Talisman etc. I suppose that it could also hold a fairly large quantity of Plant (dozers, excavators, dump trucks, cranes, etc.) available on demand to supplement that already held by the individual MRBs. (I am assuming here that your General Support Regiment is a kind of “Divisional” support resource to be called on by the MRBs when needed). By the way, I am sure that you are right in your suggestion that Talisman should be retained. It will certainly be needed again before long.

    What I wanted to ask was whether you have yet formulated any concept of what the Brigade Engineer Regiment will look like, or what you personally would like it to be? (assuming that there is to be such a thing). I suppose it will contain armoured units with perhaps Titan, Trojan and Terrier, some bridging troops with BR90, perhaps REBS etc, some plant units (see above) and some mine warfare units.

  5. Gabriele

    Sorry, forgot to ask this question also.

    I am amazed that, with hugely important decisions to be made concerning the future of Britain's Armed Forces to be revealed in the very near future perhaps tomorrow) that the military websites are not buzzing with correspondence, arguments, etc.

    But no, wherever you look (on any military site) there is little or nothing about this. At least you have posted something very relevant. Any explanation? Are we all battle-weary and just become resigned accepters?

  6. So far i thought that the Engineer Regiment in each MRB would stay pretty much structured like the current ones, but as i said the need for manpower cuts could bring the number of squadrons in each regiment down to 2 (i suppose. Speculation here, always best to make it clear!)

    About the General Support Regiments: yes, they are divisional assets. So far there's 2 (one for 1st and one for 3rd Division). 2 were planned for the future as well, but that plan possibly dates back to the 94.000 strong army, so it is almost certainly no longer valid.

    One single General Support Regiment holding the more specialized capabilities (Plant, M3s, Talisman, Search) and assigned to the single deployable divisional HQ in my view is the solution that makes the most sense.

    As to the brigade regiment, again.

    Each Regiment should have a Resources Troop (holds the stores and cranes and other handling kit)

    Plants Troop (holding plant machinery)

    Bridging troop (holding the bridging equipment)

    Then there's the 3 Armoured Engineer Squadrons, each with

    - HQ and Support

    - Signals element (with a FV432 Radio re-broadcast?)

    - Engineer recce (2 x 6-man teams)

    - a fitter section with a CHARRV, 1 command vehicle, 2 mainteinance vehicles (Warrior recovery, FV434 or FRES Recovery in future, perhaps)

    - Mechanical Transport with trucks

    - Echelon (includes 2 Unipower 8x8 trucks carrying 2 Close Support Bridges each)

    - There used to be (eventually) a Shielder section with 3/4 vehicles, but gone the Shielder, gone the section, i bet.

    - Armoured Engineer Troop
    [HQ element with a couple of 6 tons trucks, command post vehicles and such]
    [AVRE Section with 2(?) Trojan] (NOTE: each regiment should have a total of 4 Titan and 4 Trojan, unless there are cuts. With 3 Armoured Squadrons in the regiment, i guess one of the squadrons has no AVRE Section, otherwise there would be 6 vehicles of each kind)
    [Bridging section with 2(?) Titan] (NOTE: see above)
    [Field Troop with 4 sections of 9 men each, mounted in 4 FV430 APCs, plus a recce element on Spartan APC]
    [Support Troop with 3/4 Terrier; 2x Medium Wheeled Tractors; 2x Light Wheeled Tractors; plus one FV430 APC with engineer section and Barmine layer]

    Each regiment has 3 Armoured Squadrons.

    Each Squadron has

    1x Armoured Engineer Troop
    1x Field Troop
    1x Support Troop


    4 Titan
    4 Trojan
    Barmine layers and APC-mounted engineer sections
    9 (?) Terrier
    6 Medium Wheeled Tractors
    6 Light Wheeled Tractors


    This is the most up-to-date breakdown i can provide.

    As to why there's so little talk of the Army restructuring, i don't know, honestly. I have no idea. I guess people is waiting for the announcements to comment them, instead of speculating wildly.
    Which makes sense as a course of action, actually. But i am anxious, and i try to see in the future somehow, to prepare as much as possible for what's to come, and to try and understand what's going on and the difficulties of restructuring.

  7. Gabriele

    Thanks very much for your interesting reply. I have tried to work out the formation of a Brigade Engineer Regiment but rather unsuccessfully. Your suggestions have helped clarify my thinking.

    I suppose we still don't know for certain whether heavy armour such as Titan and Trojan will actually be distributed to the MRBs or retained centrally, at divisional level.

    All very interesting, though. Where would a medium bridgelayer (such as Warrior) fit into your format?

  8. The 4 Trojan, 4 Titan figure is a certain fact. Time ago i published the complete breakdown of the usage of the two fleets, inclusive of vehicles used as spares and for training. It is how the regiments are kitted and structured now, more or less.
    I think at most there will be a drive to keep more vehicles in storage and do the training in the regiments on less vehicles, but a centralization move seems unlikely to me.
    Perhaps, though, i just hate the idea too much to accept it.

    As for a Medium Bridgelayer, i don't know. It could be added to the Bridging Troop and serve alongside Titan.
    Or, depending on how the brigade engineer regiment is restructured, be part of a particular squadron.

    For example, perhaps the Brigade regiment will grow "lighter" by transforming one armoured squadron in Close Support Squadron with wheeled, lighter vehicles and better configured to support the brigade's Light Infantry Component.

    The remaining two Armoured Squadrons could be 1 "Heavy" with Titan and Trojan and dedicated to support the maneuver of the "heavy" component of the brigade (tanks and armoured infantry) with a "medium" armoured squadron with the Medium bridgelayers and Terrier could support the Brigade Recce Regiment and its Mechanized Infantry battalion, for example.

  9. Gabriele

    All riveting stuff. Thanks ever so much. I have other comments and questions forming in my mind about the kind of vehicles to be used by the Mechanized Infantry and Light Infantry but I shall give you some peace for now!

  10. Gabriele

    “I'd very much personally try to find solutions here, instead of chopping severely artillery, armour and engineers.”

    First of all, I’d like to say how much I agree with you on trying to find savings from the Logistics sector, rather than from the “teeth arms”. I also agree that there is space to expand the roles given to the reserves in this field.

    On the subject of Logistics, I wonder what kind of presence you see for Logistics in the Multi Role Brigades. One source I referred to said that there was one RLC squadron in both the present Armoured Brigade and Mechanised Brigade organizations. I think the writer probably meant one RLC regiment in each.

    Wherever the truth lies there, I wonder what kind of units you envisage for the RLC in the new MRB set-up. It would seem to me that the Brigade Support squadrons would almost certainly be equipped with the “mainstream” support vehicles i.e. MAN SVs (6-tonne, 9-tonne and 15 tonne). However, depending on the tasks and composition of the formations being supported, at present some of the RLC regiments have specialist squadrons: e.g. for Artillery support the General Support Regiment mans an Artillery Support Squadron (with DROPS) and within the United Kingdom-based General Support Regiment there is also a Tank Transporter squadron.

    I don’t think that we could afford to have both a Close Support Regiment and General Support Regiment in each MRB. There wouldn’t be enough regiments, I think. However, as each MRB will have both Tank and Artillery elements, do you think that you think that there will be DROPS/EPLS squadrons and Oshkosh HET squadrons in each MRB or will such assets be kept centrally?

    The whole question of centralization versus dispersal to the formations (that need such assets very quickly) fascinates me. I must say I would be in favour of the latter.

  11. I think i covered this topic rather extensively in the mega-article http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.it/2012/02/previous-posts-in-this-series-ff2020.html

    My preferred solution remains the one highlighted in that article: giving each brigade a large Sustainment Regiment bringing together RLC and REME resources, plus a Security and Escort element.
    The Sustainment Regiment would be composed of Squadrons each structured to support one of the components of the brigade, so:

    1 Artillery Squadron, with ammunitions, REME, and all kit necessary to support the artillery regiment of the brigade
    1 RECCE support Squadron
    1 Armour support Squadron

    The squadrons would be obtained taking away the LAD elements from the line regiments, and merging its kit with that of the current RLC formations in a major restructuring.
    It's what the US did in 2003. The worry i have is, of course, about basing issues, for the UK, since bringing away the LAD from a regiment might create issues as the brigade sustainment regiment could be based at quite some distance, also judging by how widely spread the scottish based MRB seems set to be.
    That complicates things.
    I'd still try to find a way to adopt this kind of solution, though.
    I think that considerable duplication could be removed with this method: currently, the Army has a ridiculous amount of recovery and repair vehicles, for example, because they are spread all over the place.
    227 MBTs and 81 MBT-recovery vehicles, come one! France has 254 Leclerc tanks and 18, i repeat 18, leclerc recovery vehicles.
    Of course, the CHARRV is not used just in tank regiments, but seriously.
    And some 126 Warrior in the Repair and Recovery variants, too.
    And the ancient FV434.
    And FRES SV Repair.
    And FRES SV Recovery.

    I think rationalization is overdue. And thanks to the specialized squadrons, each tailored on a particular regiment, it wouldn't be the "bad" kind of centralization.

    The Armour Support Squadron would definitely have a quota of HETs. The HETs should be 92 if i remember correctly, so it should be possible to have them separated. The deploying brigade would of course get additional HETs, crewed by contractors and/or TA drivers from the 2 Reserve brigades assigned to it. [it seems that each MRB will be a "Division" with 1 regular and 2 reserve brigades, indeed].

    It would be a good thing to restructure the TA rather extensively, like Australia did, and organize the reserve brigades exactly like the regular ones to improve the support they can give.

    And there would definitely be ELPS and DROPS too.

    Last but not least, i'd take the Gurkha RLC element and transform it into an Escort formation, specialized in providing squadrons for the force protection of logistic convoys.

  12. Gabriele

    Thanks ever so much for the reply. Apologies for not consulting your mega-article on the Army, which I did read with great interest. It was mainly my forgetfulness, combined perhaps with lazy-mindedness but also the desire to discover your latest ideas on the subject. Will consult the oracle again!

    I agree wholeheartedly with most of your views here, I must say.


  13. Made a bit of research in the meanwhile, and refreshed my knowledge. Today there's 3 regiments with Tank Transport squadrons. Each tank transport squadron has 28 trucks, with contractor crews eligible for 9 months calls in service under a 20 years PFI.

    I think it is totally feasible to have 5 smaller tank transport squadrons with some 16 trucks each.
    For what i've read, just 13 deployed to iraq and even less to Afghanistan, so 16 HETs for brigade, considering also that there are less tanks than ever before, does not seem bad.
    And anyway the deploying brigade can always be reinforced as needed.

    I think it is doable to create brigade-focused Sustainment Elements.

    The most "american" of all Logistics regiments of the UK is 3rd Commando's logistic regiment, which, like the american equivalent, also includes the Medical squadron, with the two surgical groups and everything.
    It is a good baseline for the kind of SUST element i have in mind.

  14. Gabriele

    Thanks for the information you have supplied about Tank Transporter Regiments. I too think it would be perfectly possible to have, say, 16 Tank Transporters in each of 5 squadrons, each squadron attached to an MRB. That would be roughly 1 HET for just over 2 tanks. Not a bad ratio.

    In the meantime I have checked back to your magnum opus on the future of the Army and have found that you have covered almost every single question I asked, so once again apologies.

    By the way, I particularly liked the idea of taking the Gurkha RLC element and transforming it into an Escort formation, specialized in providing squadrons for the force protection of logistic convoys.” Very apt!

    I don’t think you mentioned some other logistic vehicles in your mega-article. I am concerned about how we might manage to cut down on the number of types in service but I can see roles for the Coyote (possibly supporting the Jackals in the Reconnaissance role), the Husky (proved very successful in Afghanistan and could succeed vehicles such as the Reynolds Boughton – it is already helping 16 AA Brigade) and the Wolfhound (could be a towing vehicle for the 105mm Light Gun or support the Mastiffs if they are used in some of the Mechanised Regiments). It does seem that we shall not be cutting many types. Panther should be used in the Command role in Armoured regiments.

    By the way, I have hit on a solution as to why the announcements concerning future defence cuts have been delayed. I think that the powers-that-be (Government, MOD, etc.) have started the cuts in manpower too rapidly in order to solve economic problems but have not fully considered fully the effect those cuts would have. They have therefore been forced to delay announcements until they can close all the gaps. No?

  15. Or perhaps the delay is only due to Easter recess not being over! The 12 April date on the British Army website might refer to physical publication of the plan and (perhaps) the first announcements within the Army, with the actual reveal to the public coming only in the coming weeks when parliament gets back in session. I really don't know.

    For the rest, do not worry: i'm glad to talk and reply to all questions. I just wish i had more answers!

  16. "It seems that each MRB will be a "Division" with 1 regular and 2 reserve brigades, indeed].

    It would be a good thing to restructure the TA rather extensively, like Australia did, and organize the reserve brigades exactly like the regular ones to improve the support they can give."

    I would be all for this idea but I can't at all see how it can be managed in terms of equipment. For instance, there are not enough Challengers, FRES SVs, Warriors, Foxhounds, Terriers, MAN SVs etc. etc. to go into the TA reserve brigades, how can they be organized exactly like the regular ones? Yes , you can give them similar structures but without the same kit, how can they function similarly? If your good idea is going to founder, it will be on the matter of equipment.

    How did the Australians manage it, do you know?

  17. I do not think the australians reserve brigades have the same kit of the regular ones they support, but, for what i understand, they have the same structure and trades.

    For them it is somewhat simpler, since their brigade has a single tank squadron and a single self-propelled howitzer battery, which are some of the most complex stuff.

    In general, we will never see a TA brigade deployed anywhere, so it does not need kit. We will hopefully see formed, smaller formations (perhaps at Company, Squadron and Battery level) deployed with the regular brigade and kitted from the same pool of vehicles and kit held centrally.


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