The article is, however, well informed, and fits in the plan introduced by General Wall's speech at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference, so it is definitely worth reporting.
Under plans drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter the regular Army will number 82,000 by 2020. Reserves will be expanded to 30,000.
It will be split into Reaction Forces and an Adaptable Force.
Reaction Forces will be made up of a division of three armoured brigades, each with a tank regiment and two armoured infantry regiments [General Carter mentioned FRES SV as part of them, i think they will have a Recce Regiment embedded as well. Hopefully they will have at least another infantry battalion, Light Role, as well) plus an airborne brigade.
This division will be commanded by a major general and will be responsible for short-term interventions from instant deployment through to a larger dispatch of troops, which could take a year to prepare.
One armoured battle group and a parachute battle group would be on standby for immediate dispatch to a global emergency.
The airborne brigade and one mechanised brigade, armed with Warrior fighting vehicles, will be capable of deploying inside three months. Emergency missions would be backed by two regiments of Apache helicopters.
This is absolutely certain, save for the "each with a tank regiment and two armoured infantry regiments", which is likely, but won't be certain until i hear it from the official sources. However, it is the force structure i was anticipating and expecting. It will be interesting to see if the number of Warriors to be upgraded is incremented accordingly: the previous plan was for 5 battalions, plus 1 to cover the rotation into Training and Demonstration role.
Now we are looking at 6 frontline battalions, and we have a Training issue to be solved. We'll see how this is tackled: seen that these brigades are the "high readiness" force, one would hope that they won't lose a battalion in turns to the training role...
Also, i wish people would stop using "Armored" and "Mechanized" titles interchangably for the same three brigades like nothing changed: the terms have a precise meaning, stick to it, goddamnit.
Adaptable Forces will be made up of seven infantry brigades capable of providing troops for a long-term operation of several years. They will also provide the troops for on-going commitments to ceremonial duties, protecting the Falkland Islands, two battalions based in Cyprus, and one in Brunei.
This division [so are they listening to me and keeping two Divisional HQs...?] will depend heavily on reserves soldiers who will be grouped into battalions to shadow the regulars. During a long-term operation, General Carter believes that 30% of forces in the field would be reservists.
Both parts of the Army will share resources from a new element called Force Troops And Logistics Support.
This will include one artillery, an engineer, a surveillance, a medical, two signals and two logistics brigades - many of these made up of reserves.
These reforms are expected to result in the cutting of five infantry battalions and two armoured regiments.
Defence sources have told Sky News that the largely Welsh Queens Dragoon Guards and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are unlikely to be disbanded, which would put pressure on English cavalry regiments especially the Royal Tank Regiments.The above is also generally true and certain already, as it was announced by General Wall. However, Sky News talks of "Division" regarding the 7 infantry brigades, and this is still a controversial point, as the Army has just finished creating a 2-stars, non-deployable HQ in Aldershot, the UK Support Command, which was supposed to control the regional brigades.
The Brigade of Guards, Parachute Regiment, and the Gurkhas are also to be spared the axe, sources have said, leaving many of the cuts likely to fall disproportionately on English regiments, especially the Yorkshires and the Mercians.
Now that the regional brigades effectively vanish into fewer but deployable, "reg-res" brigades, putting them under a restructured but hopefully deployable Divisional HQ would make total sense; however, this would almost certainly bring to the disbandment of the newly created HQ, which barely months after being announced is effectively without a real purpose.
UK Support Command might still be the HQ that commands the 7 Infantry Brigades, even if i hope in a second Divisional HQ instead, so take this passage with some prudence.
Also, the composition of the Force Troops and Logistics Support (effectively a - pointless - renaming of the current "Theatre Troops") is to be taken with prudence. While Force Troops have been specifically announced, there was no indication in General Wall's statement about the brigades that would compose the force.
Sky New's version does not imply too dramatic changes, at least in the number of Brigade HQs: the Artillery Brigade already exists (1st Artillery Brigade) and controls the GMLRS regiment, the STA regiment and the UAV regiments, [and now will get the Air Defence formations currently under Joint Ground Based Air Defence command...?]; the engineer brigade is also already there [8th Force Engineer Brigade, with 29 Land Support Group, 12 Air Support Group and 170 Infrastructure Support Group], the Medical brigade is also already an old reality (2nd Medical).
The Signals Brigades are currently 3, but it's already been more than one year from the internal announcement that 2nd 'National Communications' brigade would disband after its involvement in the Olympics with the (surviving) regiments re-assigned to the other two brigades, so both 1st and 11 Signals Brigade would seem to be safe. Not all of their parts will be, however: for example, 7th Signal Regiment will vanish by 31 July, and others might well follow.
The Logistic Brigades are also 3 (104 Brigade is the strategic "deployment-enabling" brigade, while 101 and 102 Logistic Brigades were the Divisional support formations) and so it seems that one is doomed: i realize that speculation should probably be avoided, but i can't hold back from observing that the most likely victim is 102 Logistic Brigade, as it is based in Germany.
I doubt that the unique roles of 104 Brigade can be "devolved" to two restructured divisional logistic brigades, after all, while it makes sense, with the reduction of defence ambitions to operations at most at single division scale, to retain a single support formation. This will be bad news for RLC and REME, but it has been in the air for some time, and i can't say i did not expect it: i made mention of this possibly happening in several of my past articles on the Army. I suspect in the Army they had been imagining it as well.
The only real news is that "Surveillance Brigade" mentioned in passing, given no real attention by the press. A pity, because this one might actually be new, unless the journalists are calling "surveillance brigade" the current 1st Military Intelligence brigade. This is an HQ controlling a force of 3 regular and 2 Reserve Multi-Role intelligence battalions.
The "Surveillance" name suggests that it might be a new formation having to do with UAV regiments, which would transfer from 1st Artillery Brigade, RAF collaboration (always via drones, but perhaps Sentinel R1 will continue to play a part in it) and Base-ISTAR, i guess. Probably the Intelligence Battalions would be part of it, too, especially if the Army is taking inspiration from the US Army Battlefield Surveilance Brigades, or even from France's army, or Italy's with its RISTAEW brigade [Reconnaissance, ISTAR and EW].
Who's been following my posts for some time knows that i've proposed forming a "Force Protection Brigade" bringing together a Base-ISTAR regiment, the RAF Regiment inclusive of CBRN Wing and the Military Working Dog Regiment, to concentrate under the same joint command the valuable experience and skill in the protection of bases and deployed forces. My aim was also to add to it a C-RAM artillery formation, in time.
I wonder if under the "Surveillance" title there might be at least part of what i envisaged. I think, after all, that it is a good idea, at least as good as the idea of a single command overlooking UAVs and intelligence exploitation, closely connected to the RAF's own resources in this field. The Army's Intelligence and RAF's own experts can and indeed should collaborate on IMINT, ELINT and SIGINT.
As to the cuts, i won't comment on the identity of the regiments that will be lost. The names that go around by now are known and have "stabilized". There's a few names being reported, and they never change. So it is likely that the cuts will be made in that group, in a way or another, but how it will happen, we don't yet know.
The loss of 5 infantry battalions and 2 Armour Regiments is a rumor circulating from quite some time, and it seems to be correct, but again, no certainties yet.
Take it as "likely" or "very likely" for now.
Only thing, very personal, that i want to note is that the latest rumor of cuts to "Irish units" sounds politically non realistic. There is no really much in terms of Irish units: there's a single regular battalion, other than the Irish Guards (that should be definitely safe), and i honestly can't see it being cut. I might be proven wrong, but it just sounds unlikely to me.
What i'd really want to know is what happens to the Artillery and Engineers, which are two critical enablers i want to see efficient and well structured. They are the two areas i really worry about, and i'm indeed very critical about this idea of brigades without organic artillery and engineers. I just hope that the reductions that will be announced won't make for a suicide...
And the composition of the 7 Infantry Brigades, too, that is something else i'm eager to learn about. But at least Sky News seems to suggest that they will be more akin to deployable brigades than to the old Regional ones. And this at least is a good thing.