Friday, July 6, 2012

Some more info arrives

The Army has released a new, brief pack of information:

The Army of 2020 will be an adaptable and integrated structure that is broken into two forces: a Reaction Force and an Adaptive Force that are both supported by Force Troops.

The Reaction Force will provide the lead Armoured Infantry Battle Group and the lead Airborne or Air Assault Force to provide a rapid reaction war fighting/deterrent capability.
It will consist of three Armoured Infantry Brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade under the command of a divisional headquarters. Each Armoured Infantry Brigade will have three manoeuvre units: a type 56 tank regiment and two armoured infantry battalions. They will also have a heavily protected mobility infantry battalion, and an armoured cavalry regiment which will be able to task organise with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Reaction Forces will also have 101 Logistic Brigade under their command for logistic support.

The Adaptable Force will be a pool of Regular and Reserve forces held at lower readiness. They will provide further capacity when required and be able to generate additional brigade-sized forces for enduring operations. However, more routinely these soldiers will carry out wider engagement overseas to help to build capacity in friendly nations’ armies, and fulfil the UK’s standing garrison tasks in Brunei, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. In addition, these troops will be responsible for public duties and state ceremonial tasks.
Adaptable Forces will encompass seven Regular infantry brigades, paired with a Reserve unit, reporting to a divisional headquarters. How these paired forces will be deployed will depend on the operational requirement, but the Reserves could make up as much as 30 per cent of a deployed unit in an enduring operation, whereas simple operations could have the Reserves deployed as a complete battalion.
Like the Reaction Force, the Adaptable Force will have its own logistic support provided by 102 Logistic Brigade, which will be predominantly made up of Reserve troops.

Force Troops will support both of these forces. They will consist of an Artillery brigade with supplementary Fire Support Teams, and an Engineer Brigade that will integrate the Explosive Ordinance Disposal squadron in response to the improvised explosive device threat of the modern battlefield. It will also include the Medical Brigade, and 104 Logistic Support Brigade, which might take on the Joint Force Logistic Support role.
In addition, there will be two Signals brigades, one of which will include five multi-role signals regiments providing Information Communication Support, together with a newly created non-deployable Surveillance Brigade under a 1-star headquarters. Furthermore, there will be a newly created Security Assistance Group pulling together the soft effect capabilities of the Military Stabilisation Support Group, 15 Psychological Operations Group and potentially Media Operations Group.

"This is not something that will be delivered overnight, and indeed it is going to take till 2020 for it to be fully implemented," said Lieutenant General Nick Carter, "but the capabilities of the structure we have created is one that we have measured against the hardest threat we could have to fight in the future."

I'm proven right on 104 Logistic Brigade surviving the cut, as i wrote yesterday, and the 5 Theatre Support Signals Regiments are also a pretty official reality.
My guess is that the other Signals brigade will get the "specials", so 10, 14(EW), 15, 22 and 30 Regiments.

The Artillery brigade also seems to be heading in the path i expected it to go: it will probably contain the 5 Fires regiments. However, this new release makes me think that Fire Support Teams will be removed from the single Fires regiments and centralized on their own, and assigned for deployment each time. For the non-initiated, the Fire Support Teams are 6-man squads capable to direct Mortar, Artillery and Air Attacks against the enemy, and they are the british answer to the ANGLICO squads of the US Marines, which so impressed the british army during operations in Iraq in 2003.

The Engineer Brigade will take over the EOD force (squadron...? Weird term, and rather scary, but EOD capabilities shoud be ringfenced, so no worries) and, i believe, will actually centralize the 5 Engineer Regiments, which will be pulled away from the frontline brigades and assigned for deployment/training exercises.

The news release does not really make clear what the Surveillance Brigade is. The non-deployable attribute bugs me, but i actually think that none of the 1-Star Force Troops HQs will be deployable. The units within each brigade will be.
I stand by my guess that the Surveillance and Intelligence brigade will bring together Royal Artillery UAVs and Intelligence Battalions.

Interesting bit of information on the Security Assistance Group, too, which will bring together the Military Stabilization Support Group with the PsycOps group and the Media Operations Group.

The MSSG was formed on 1st April 2009, following 8 months of successful training and operations. Soon after its formation the Group provided vital support to Operation PANTHERS CLAW in Afghanistan, for which it was awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace.

The MSSG current establishment consists of 65 Regular staff drawn from across the three services, up to 60 individual augmentees and 115 reserves predominately from the TA, but also from the RAF Reserves. The Group operates from Its Headquarters at Gibraltar Barracks, Camberley and delivers training and doctrinal responsibilities out of Corunna Barracks – Ludgershall, Tidworth.

The Group answers to the task of Military Assistance to Stabilisation and Development (MASD) to ensure that the Armed Forces have the capability to support stabilisation and reconstruction efforts after war operations.
The new task formally recognised that the Armed Forces should plan and conduct operations to help stabilise and reconstruct in those locations where the security situation is too difficult to allow civilian agencies to work alone. MASD has three defined requirements: Military Assistance to Civil Effects (MACE), Military Capacity Building (MCB) and Cultural understanding and specialisation. MACE is the working term used to describe the tactical level military capability which assists civilians in the delivery of Civil Effect (CE).

The MSSG mission is to prepare and deliver MACE Planning Teams and functional specialists capable of providing stabilisation support to all deployed Formation and Battlegroup HQs in order to contribute to Permanent Joint Head Quarters (PJHQ) and Joint Task Force (JTF) operational capability.

It does make sense to bring together the MSSG and the Psyops and media group, it should better enable the british forces to interact with foreign populations both during peacekeeping and stabilization operations and during "upstream engagement" efforts during peacetime.

Reading on ARRSE forums, it also seems that RAC personnel was briefed about the 4 Territorial Army regiments being all re-roled to Light Cavalry, as i expected. 

I'm trying to get even more info, so stay tuned for further updates as they come! 


  1. Hey Gabbie,

    Glad to see the details out last, but I would really like to see a top level summary of units and their assigned combat formation, i.e. breakdown into brigades/battalions/companies.

    The honourable regiment of mcguiggens arbusqiers really does mean nothing to my civvy brain, and the piecemeal fashion in which info is released is preventing me getting an overall picture of what the structure will look like.

    p.s. What exactly does the Military Stabilisation Support Group consist of?

    1. I would love a detailed information pack myself, Jedi, but who knows if we'll ever get it!

      The MSSG provides Military personnel for the Province Reconstruction Teams working in Afghanistan.

      Very shortly, its task is to provide military teams that can manage the transition from combat ops to peace, by training the local police and military, protecting the local institutions, directing reconstruction and so along.
      I've added a bit of info about the MSSG into the article, too: it is, after all, not a branch of the Armed Forces that many do know.

  2. p.p.s.

    what is the exact status of the regular RAC units?

    eight, nine, ten?

    i can see six easily (1x arm + 1x brr in each armoured RF brigade)

    plus, presumably one as a training establisment as per current.

    but, is there another brigade recon regiment, and where does it sit?

    1. 9 units to stay:

      Household Cavalry
      Royal Lancers [formed from merging as announced]
      Light Dragoons
      Queen's Dragoon Guards

      Are Recce regiments.

      Royal Tank Regiment [formed from merging as announced]
      Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
      King's Royal Hussars
      Royal Dragoon Guards
      Queen's Royal Hussars

      Are tank regiments.

      One Tank regiment will be in Training role, and one will re-role to Light Cavalry, i think. There's too many tank regiments.

      This way, with 2 regular and 4 TA Light Cavalry regiments, 6 out of 7 of the infantry brigades could have their recce/cavalry formation.

    2. Still hides the face of how all the reduced number of Challenger 2s will be deployed--esp. those outside the 3 brigades. Will the rest be for training? The Adaptable Force holds no Tank formations.

    3. At least 30 Challengers are always based in BATUS, Canada, where the large scale training takes place. Some will be in training, some in storage.

      Numbers do add up quite nicely.

    4. About Yeomanry regiments (reserve cavalry regiment), there are 18 Yeomanry squadrons :
      * Royal Yeomanry : 5 squadrons
      * Royal Wessex Yeomanry : 4 squadrons
      * Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry : 4 squadrons
      * Queen's Own Yeomanry : 5 squadrons.

      In new light cavalry regiment, we have only 3 squadrons. Do you think the British Army create 1 or 2 additional Yeomanry regiments?

    5. Perhaps! But it is nothing but wild speculation at the moment.
      Anyway, the Yeomanry is starting to get modern Land Rovers WMIK to train with, instead of the old and insufficient kit. This already is saying something nice.

      We can hope, i guess...

    6. That's a good news

  3. "This way, with 2 regular and 4 TA Light Cavalry regiments, 6 out of 7 of the infantry brigades could have their recce/cavalry formation."

    .....And presumably leaving an opening for these spare regular recce battalions to supply a squadron of light armour to 16AAB/3Cdo at need?

    Does this increase the likelyhood of a equipment level split in the Brigade Recon Regiments?

    i.e. ASCOD for the three heavy RF brigades, and something lighter for the two to be housed within AF brigades?

    1. The 3 regiments in the Armored brigades are shown having 3 Sabre squadrons each. One squadron is said to have 16 FRES SV vehicles. Either all Scouts, or 12 Scouts and 4 Protected Mobility APCs for carrying dismounts, i think.

      The Light Cavalry in the Adaptable force is shown on 3 Sabre Squadrons of 16 Jackal vehicles each.

    2. BTW, what's Sabre? Is is Armoured Recon, Armoured Infantry or Armour Tanks?

    3. "Sabre squadron" merely indicates the fighting squadrons into Cavalry formations.
      I think it might refer to the sabre swords used by cavalry in ancient times.

      Anyway, it is not indicative of vehicle type.

      In the Light Cavalry, the Sabre Squadrons will have FRES SV or Jackal.
      In the Heavy Cavalry/Tank Regiments, the Sabre Squadron has the Challenger 2 tanks.

    4. Oh Ok.

      Still risk to only have 3 brigades with basically one tank battalion

  4. Also, will they be upgrading the Challenger 2? The Americans are getting M1A3 Abrams, The Germans have refine the Leopard 2 so many times...

    1. The Challenger 2 Life Extension is part of the 10-years core budget and might begin in 2016.

      The switch to a smoothbore gun is not economically feasible and i think it won't even be considered, but there will be upgrades in other areas, including perhaps the change of engine, with the adoption of that used in the Challenger 2E.
      That would improve mobility, speed and range.

    2. I understand the Americans are making a lighter M1 tank so that it is easier to deploy via aircraft.

    3. I think that ambition was actually abandoned years ago now. They only plan an upgrade that would start in 2017 under current planning.


    The negative.

  6. Hi Gabriele,

    Well we have waited for it for long enough, now we know FF Army 2020.

    Considering that we are fighting a war, and the financial, political and other factors, I don’t think there was any other result other than what we have ended up with. Is that the best way forward for the British Army, in my view no.

    The army is to be half the strength is was when I joined in the mid seventies, but it now a different world, with different challenges, I am afraid the army will have to take a back seat as it resumes it’s peace time role, with the RN and RAF being the first tools in the box.

    As a former infantryman, I am disappointed in the pain of a thousand cuts it is being forced to suffer, and the effect this has on morale within the infantry. I could write pages on my views on the infantry, and the way forward, maybe a good subject for the future Gabriele. But I will just put one fact forward;

    IRISH GUARDS, should be 537 strong actual; 483, a shortfall of 54
    2 BN RRF, should be 532 strong, actual; 523, a shortfall of 9

    Do I need to tell you which unit got disbanded?

    The other things that worry me, are that I can’t see the 3 armoured brigades ever being concentrated around Salisbury plain. That would be a massive under taking. Therefore, with most of there vehicles in storage, the lack of suitable training, these brigades will be armoured in name only.
    The second one, is that I do not think that a target of 30,000 trained reservists is an achievable one.

    I think that by 2020, the army will see further changes, and FF Army 2020, will a different one from the one we see on paper today.


    1. Phil, if you ever felt like writing about your vision for the infantry and such, and wanted to put your articles online, just let me know, and we'll put them up here.
      They'll be good for debate, to say the least.

    2. Gabriele,
      Thanks. Will start putting down some stuff on paper.
      But feel free to start things off!

  7. Wikipedia says 16 AA will only have 2 para battalions. So there's no augmented infantry battalion along side?

    1. I think they'll continue to have the Royal Irish as Air Assault battalion, and they have been given direct command via Joint Helicopter Command over the Territorial Army battalions (4 Para and 2 Royal Irish).

      I think 2, 3 Para plus 1st Royal Irish plus the 2 reserve battalions is the structure 16AA is heading for in the long term. Waiting for confirmations, though.


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