Friday, December 14, 2012

Multi Role Brigades and Army 2020

Some more information has been coming to the light regarding Army 2020, thanks to a speech delivered by general Nick Carter to the International Institute for Strategic Studies that was clearer and more honest than any announcement, speech or description delivered so far to the british public.

I also found the video of another IISS conference during which part of the Army 2020 approach was explained by Mayor General K. D. Abraham, and this confirmed the identity of the brigades contained in the Force Troops command:

1st Artillery Brigade
8th Engineer Brigade
1st and 11th Signals Brigades
1st Intelligence & Surveillance Brigade
2nd Medical Brigade
104th Logistic Support Brigade
Security Assistance Group

The Reaction Division will be supported by 101 Logistic Brigade, and the Adaptable Division will have the support of 102 Logistic Brigade.

Some additional indications (not much in terms of new info, actually) came from the hearing of the Chief General Staff, general Peter Wall, with the Parliamentary Defence Committee, of which is already available the uncorrected transcription. It is also possible to watch the hearing in video here.

Moving on to the solid information that these sources provided, i'll start by saying that, in part to provide a figleaf to politicians, the Multi Role Brigade is not entirely dead.
As we know, the October 2010 SDSR promised a 95.000-strong regular army formed in five 6500-strong Multi Role Brigades, one of which would be based in Scotland, each with:

1x Tank Regiment (size unspecified, possibly as small as 38 tanks per regiment)
1x Recce Regiment (during the planning it emerged that each would have 2x FRES Scout squadrons and 1x Jackal-mounted squadron) 
1x Armoured Infantry Battalion (mounted on Warrior)(6 Battalions would have been mounted on Warrior, with the sixth having a Training and Demonstration role, filled on rotation)
1x Mechanized Infantry Battalion (mounted on Bulldog, then on FRES UV)
2x Light Role Infantry battalions 
1x Artillery Regiment (it was intended that each regiment would have 2x AS90 batteries and 1x L118 Light Gun battery)  
Full Embedded Logistic Tail

Accordingly, there were big promises of army manpower increases in Scotland, and, with heavy armor headed up north, there even were talks to open a large training area in Scotland, a "Salisbury Plain" north of the border.
Big promises that are all going to be broken, entirely or almost entirely, with Army 2020 and the Basing Plan announcement that will come early next year.

The infamous supplementary "3 months Exercise" (effectively a second, emergency Review) in July 2011 eventually ended with the Army ordered to plan for a regular force of just 82.000 men, and a much smaller budget, and that spelled the end of the Multi Role Brigades as originally intended. A team guided by general Nick Carter put together the Army 2020 plan to accommodate the savage cut to manpower and deliver a force structure still able to (somehow) meet the (unchanged) Defence Planning Assumptions that had been written for a 95.000-strong regular army of 5 Multi Role Brigades.

The key planning assumptions are:

- The Army must be able to deploy, at the same time, a 6500-strong brigade on an enduring operation, a 2000-strong battlegroup on a complex but not enduring intervention and a 1000-strong force in support of a non-complex, non-enduring operation such as a Non-Combatant Evacuation.

- The Army must be able to deploy, with suitable warning, a Division of 3 brigades, roughly 30.000 strong for a non-enduring operation. 

The Multi Role Brigade, complete with its own artillery and logistics and with the full spectrum of capabilities (from heavy armor down to light infantry) was ideally suited to ensure that the Army was realistically capable to meet the needs of a complex, enduring operation, even if this required deploying tanks and heavy artillery.
The number of 5 is not casual: the Army works with harmony guidelines that expect personnel to deploy in the warzone for a 6 month tour, followed by 24 months at home to rest, reset, train for a new tour. This means that out of 5 men, one is deployed and 4 are back in the UK. The five brigades, supported by services also organised to the "Rule of the Five", would have be able to support an enduring operation with minimal disruptions and changes to their structure, ending a long practice of "patchworking", pulling battalions and units from multiple brigades to put together a deployable force package containing all of the various capabilities needed.
A new concept that the Army had been planning out since 2008.

The 3 month review has brought the Army back, effectively, a concept of operation that is, in good measure, a return to its pre-2004 structure. Back then, the army took its force from the 3-year rotation (Low Readiness year, Collective Training year, High Readiness year) of 3 Armored and 3 Mechanized brigades: under Army 2020 it will use the same concept, but will have 3 Armoured Infantry Brigades (Reaction Force) and 3 Adaptable Infantry Brigades on the same 3 year readiness cycle, supported by a further 4 Adaptable brigades.

And here comes the figleaf: for the Army and for the Government, the 3 Reaction and 3 of the 7 Adaptable brigades are "basis for Multi Role Brigades".

On the composition of the Army 2020 brigades, we have some detail:

the 3 Armoured Infantry brigades will have each a tank regiment (Type 56, so with 56 Challenger 2s), a Cavalry/RECCE regiment, with Scimitar first and then, in the 2020s, with the FRES Scout (CVR(T) vehicles will not be fully replaced before 2026...!) in 3 large squadrons with 16 vehicles each. 9 Squadrons of 16 vehicles means more vehicles needed than with 5 regiments each with two squadrons of 12, even if, of course, there would have been also 2 more tank regiments needing their own embedded Recce component with 8 Scouts (unless the recce element in the tank regiments is removed, at this point nothing would surprise me anymore...).
Each brigade will have 2 Battalions of infantry on upgraded Warrior vehicles (6 armoured infantry battalions, as for earlier MRB plan, and indeed with all six in full frontline role, instead of 5 + training unit).
A third infantry battalion will be present, mounted on Mastiff when the vehicles are brought back from Afghanistan and, in the future, on FRES UV if it'll ever arrive for real.

The composition of the 7 Adaptable brigades is far less clear. Nonetheless, we know the regular army will have 14 Light Role infantry battalions and 6 Light Protected Infantry battalions (infantry mounted in Foxhound vehicles) to distribute in them.
The Army 2020 brochure indirectly suggested that, in the end, only 3 of the 7 Adaptable brigades would really be relevant and base for deployable maneuver formations.
The brochure provided a graphic illustration of the 3-year Readiness Cycle, and showed an indicative adaptable brigade output comprising one Light Cavalry regiment (on Jackal), one battalion of infantry on Foxhounds and one Light Role battalion, each with a paired Reserve formation.
An internal Army briefing document, initially not released to the public, shows the 3 brigades formed by:

- Cavalry regiment - with paired reserve formation
- 2x Light Protected Infantry battalions - with paired reserve formations
- 3x Light Role Infantry battalions - with paired reserve formations    

The Adaptable brigade output; general overview from the Army 2020 brochure
The Adaptable brigades as shown in the internal Army briefing package

Both general Wall and general Carter report that the 3 "main" Adaptable brigades are intended as the basis for the generation of "Multi Role Brigades" to be used to sustain a future enduring operation, and they would be responsible for the Fourth and Fifth tour in theatre.
A future enduring operation, in fact, would be met with a rotation of this kind:

Reaction Brigade, Reaction Brigade, Reaction Brigade, Adaptable Brigade, Adaptable Brigade, Reaction Brigade... 

and so along.
The 3 main brigades in the Adaptable Force are described by the two generals as "light-ish brigades", which is frankly more than a bit pathetic as they will in fact be light brigades with the addition of some Foxhounds.
It is to be expected that the 6 Protected Mobility Infantry battalions and a good number of the regular light battalions will be concentrated in these 3 brigades that, and here comes into play the figleaf again, will be based in Scotland (i can already hear the secretary of state saying "we promised a Multi Role Brigade, and here it is!"), in Edimburgh area (with units in Leuchars too, it seems, but until the Basing Plan is announced we can't be really sure), one in Catterick and one on the ex-RAF Cottersmore base, now Kendrew Barracks, already selected as home to the 2nd battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment and 7 Theatre Logistic regiment RLC.  

The generals also confirmed that the regular infantry battalions in the Adaptable Force will be smaller, but did not venture into details. As i've reported for a long time now, this means, apparently, that each infantry battalion will lose one platoon from each of its 3 rifle companies.
It is not casual, therefore, that the generals described the "formed unit" to be provided by the Reserves as company-sized elements: general Carter in his speech says that the regular battalions, reduced to a total establishment of 561 men (Light Role) and 581 (Light Protected Mobility) will be paired to Reserve battalions that he expects will be 400 to 450 strong.
Only working together, the regular and reserve battalions will be able to put in the field a complete battalion which, Carter hopes, will actually be larger than before, assuming the reserve element can really generate deployable formations.

The new look of the Territorial Army, or Army Reserve as it will almost certainly be renamed, is not known in detail yet, but the outline of roles for the existing reserve force has been announced: one battalion will be in the Air Assault role and will be part of 16 Air Assault brigade, in the Reaction Force. That will be 4 PARA, which has indeed been recently assigned to the brigade command.

That will leave 13 infantry battalions (The TA counts 14 infantry battalions in total), of which 6 would (in theory, since all documents show the Foxhound battalions paired with TA formations) support the Foxhound-mounted regular infantry, leaving only 7 other battalions.
This is a controversial point: the internal briefing graphic on the Adaptable brigades output alone shows 15 TA battalions, 9 Light plus 6 Light Protected.
Again, we are told that the regulars will have 14 Light Infantry battalions, and even if the 2 Gurkha battalions get no paired TA formation (despite seeing their establishment reduced to 567), up to 12 other reasonably should.
Will some TA battalions support more than one Regular formation at once? Are the Foxhound-mounted battalions really going to get a paired formation from the reserve? Will some more battalions be raised in the Reserve component? At the moment, it is impossible to say.

The generals then explain that the remaining four brigades in the Adaptable Force will be very much like the current regional brigades: non-deployable HQs tasked with administration of a variety of units (mostly Reserves, but also 1/2 regular units) based in their area. General Wall provides the example of the Welsh brigade, which he says will contain "one regular battalion, one reserve battalion, a big training area and a lot of other TA units". More interesting than this pretty vague description, is the point he makes: the brigade will mostly be about UK resilience tasks (support in the event of floodings etcetera) and upstream defence engagement abroad, with the possibility of using the brigade to build enduring relationships with a particular region of the world, as the americans hope to do by "regionally align" some of their Brigade Combat Teams.
If the graphic from the internal army briefing is correct and not just an example, 9 of the 14 regular Light Infantry battalions will be in the 3 "main" adaptable brigades, leaving 5 for the other 4 brigades. Even if not exactly 100% correct, it should be quite close to a ratio of this kind.

Gone the Multi Role Brigades, it seems that supports like Artillery, Engineers and Logistics will be removed from the single brigades, and all reunited in the Force Troops formations. But this, even if it happens, is kind of an illusion that the Army 2020 document itself destroys: we know, for example, that there will be 5 Artillery regiments, 3 of which will line AS90 and GMLRS batteries, while 2 more will only have L118 Light Guns.
Similarly, there is going to be 3 fully-regular manned engineer regiments and 2 "integrated" regiments with a strong embedded reserve component.
There are even 3 Armoured Medical Regiments and 3 Armoured Close Support REME battalions! Even if they are formally removed from the maneuver brigades and managed centrally, it is pretty clear which regiments will support who.

Indeed, the supporting elements arrangement gives away the trick, showing that the Army is indeed still planning to the rule of the five: even though the "Deployable" Adaptable brigades are 3, for them there is only going to be 2 Engineer Regiments, only 2 Artillery regiments ("paired" to two Reserve artillery regiments also on L118 Light Guns), only 2 regular Close Support Battalions REME, only 2 regular Medical Regiments... In short, there is only going to be the elements needed to support the Fourth and Fifth roulements within an enduring operation.

With a difference: compared to the original Multi Role Brigades plan, the Army loses the capability to deploy formed regiments of tanks, heavy cavalry, armoured engineers and heavy artillery enduringly. It will be realistically able to sustain such elements in the field for around 18 months only. After that, only sub-units will be sustainable in the long term if the men within the affected regiments have to see their break between tours protected.
It is not casual that both Carter and Wall have observed that the "6 months deployed, 24 months at home" rule "might not be the right solution". It is "about right", and "a good benchmark", and but not set in stone.
I have the benefit of not having to justify the cuts imposed by government, so i can say that the above expression are weak diplomacy: the reality is that the generals are entirely aware that, in the future, regular soldiers in many roles and trades will possibly be deploying for 6 months, but won't have 24 months to spend at home before going again if the operation becomes an enduring effort. The rule of the 5 is no longer sustained by the new army structure: in many trades, there are going to be only 3 men in the role.

Even in terms of infantry, light artillery and other "simpler jobs", the dependency on reserves is going to be great. The adaptable battalions will have 3 companies, but that will be "virtual": if 3 platoons are removed for real, it will be like having only 2 companies. The battalions will depend on reserves to achieve their intended trinary structure, and there is no telling if the "war time" establishment on 4 companies (1 for Maneuver, 1 for Support, 1 as Reserve and 1 Echelon) will ever be obtainable again.

A slide from an Army briefing helps in better understanding the impact of the changes:

The expected minimum amount of reserves deployed is 14.4% in a Reaction Brigade deployment, rising to a 39.2% of reservists in the 5th tour.
In support of the Reaction Brigade tours, most of the reservists will be Individual Augmentees, with some formed sub-unit or unit at logistic and medical level. But when the 4th tour comes around and the first Adaptable Brigade deploys, the number of formed Reserve units required to support the operation grows dramatically.

It is also evident, that Army 2020 maximized the use of "patchworking" to form deployable force packages by picking units up from all over the army: a concept that is not wrong in itself, but that will impact the lives of serving personnel and the efficiency of basing, training and of the brigades themselves, which will end up missing pieces more often than not. 

In addition, it must be kept in mind that reservists are intended to be at readiness for a year in five, which means six months of deployment followed by five years at home. Eventually, the harmony guidelines will collapse: the british army is now severely limiting the meaning of "enduring", because the manpower will simply be insufficient to sustain operations abroad beyond a certain amount of time.

The generals also noted that, to deliver the "Best Effort" and deploy a 30.000-strong division in the field, the new army will need 12 months of notice. The Army's feeling is that, given less warning, it will only be able to deploy a couple of brigades.

Earlier figures released tell us that the composition of the Reaction Force will be 20.000 regulars and 2000 reserves, while the Adaptable Force will have 12.500 regulars and 8000 reserves, with the rest of the personnel part of the other units and of Force Troops.

Another interesting change is the committment to develop a collaboration with industry, to exploit the training period of the Reaction Brigades to test and innovate: the armoured infantry brigade in its training year will spend part of the time working in an experimentation role, to define new tactics, approaches and, of course, requirements that industry can work upon.

The generals provide evidence that Gurkha battalions will continue to rotate in and out of Brunei, and the Falklands will continue to be garrisoned. Two infantry battalions will continue to be based in Cyprus, as well, and here comes the big surprise, when general Carter drops in the mention of one of the two battalions being expanded into a battlegroup. How and why, this is not at all clear at the moment.


General Carter also interestingly notes that, in the long term, the Royal Artillery is likely to adopt one single calibre for its guns, kind of confirming that the long delayed program to replace the 105 mm L118 Light Gun will look at acquiring a 155mm weapon. The M777 lightweight howitzer has always been considered the perfect solution, and this is unlikely to have changed, but there won't be a budget to replace the Light Gun until well into the 2020s, so for now this is philosophy.

39 Regiment Royal Artillery will disband, as we know. It has been expanded to 5 batteries to support the constant deployment of one in support of operations in Afghanistan (well over 800 rockets have been fired, with great success) and it is also supporting the entry in service of the Fire Shadow loitering ammunition, but it will nonetheless be lost in the cuts in coming years.
3 Batteries of GMLRS will move into the 3 "heavy" artillery regiments: these will have 2 batteries of AS90 guns and 1 battery of GMLRS each. A further battery contains the Fire Support Teams.
A Reserve GMLRS regiment will also be maintained: currently, 2 batteries are found in the 101 (Volunteers) regiment of the TA: it is not clear if there will be changes to this arrangement or if it will stay exactly the same. 

89 AS90 self-propelled guns will be retained (down from an earlier figure of 95), while 48 will be stripped of all valuable parts and scrapped. The six batteries planned, i hope, will at least grow back to an 8-gun establishment.

The "Heavy" artillery regiments are expected to be 1 Royal Horse Artillery, 19 Royal Artillery and 26 Royal Artillery.
3 Royal Horse Artillery and 4 Royal Artillery will be "adaptable" artillery regiments, with just two batteries of L118 Light Guns and a battery of Fire Support Teams.
There will be 2 reserve regiments using the Light Gun in support.

There are also been no known developments regarding the promise of a "force protection system to protect against indirect fire such as artillery and mortars". Some C-RAM artillery would surely be a welcome capability. 

Carter also says that the Army has considered improving and expanding communications and data-sharing (C4ISR) down to Company level if not further down the scale, but that the Army is now looking at expanding communications capability at battlegroup level: the budget won't allow much more than that. On the issue of communications in the Army, i had already written, noting this very problem and very urgent requirement, here and here.
Talking about communications, the changes in the Royal Signals have been explained in great detail and can be read here
In terms of communications, efforts have also been announced in trying to make brigade and even more so division HQs better able to "talk" to HQs from other NATO nations, with which the UK obviously expects to work frequently.

In terms of Engineer support, as we said, there will be 3 regiments fully manned by regulars. These will probably be heavy, armored engineer units which will have the majority (or very possibly all) of the Trojan and Titan vehicles.
The other two regiments will be "integrated", sporting a smaller regular component supplemented by embedded reserve sub-units. My guess is that there will be only 2 regular squadrons in each of these two regiments, supplemented by 2 reserve squadrons.
Encouraging my guess is the recently released breakdown of roles planned for reserve units, where 4 Close Support Engineer squadrons appear. Details here.

There will also be 3 Reserve regiments in the Force Support role, helping 36 and 39 Regiments delivering the wide range of engineer capabilities needed to enable land and air operations. In this field, apparently it is not yet fully decided how the wide river crossing capability will fit in the force structure: currently, the M3 rigs are based in Germany with 23 Amphibious Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment, but 28 Regiment is to be disbanded, and the unique capability of the amphibious squadron will have to be retained somehow.
I suspect 36 Regiment will, in good time, inherit the M3 rigs and have a Squadron in the amphibious role, assuming that 39 Regiment maintains its airfield and air support focus. I think it is less likely that the M3s will be made a wholly-Reserve managed capability, although it must be noted that, already now, one of the 3 Troops composing 23 Squadron is 412(V), the only unit of reservists based outside the UK. 

It is also not clear what will happen to TALISMAN, the family of systems and vehicles procured to give the Royal Engineers an invaluable Route Clearance capability, for which an impressive training simulator solution has been just acquired. My hope is that at least a Squadron in the Force Support engineer regiments will have a Route Clearance role and will continue using this precious kit: too many times in the past the British Army has developed this kind of capability only to throw it away at the end of the operation at hand, regreting it just a few years later. 

The British Army is retaining 227 Challenger 2 tanks, plus 16 more than will be converted in Driver Training Vehicles. The army already had 22 Driver Training Vehicles: the 16 new ones might replace some of the old ones, or be a partial compensation for the loss of A Squadron, 1st Royal Tank Regiment, which used to have 12 to 16 Challengers for training and demonstration role.
102 Challenger 2s will be harvested for spares and then sold for scrap. As we said, there will be 3 regular Type 56 tank regiments, established for 587 men, all ranks, all trades, and a Reserve regiment tasked with providing replacement crews.

Challenger 2 Driver Training Vehicle

The Army hopes to upgrade "at least" 381 Warrior vehicles. The Capability Sustainment Programme is progressing, and 11 prototypes will be prepared: 6 in the Infantry Section Vehicle configuration, 2 in the Infantry Command variant and one each in the Recovery, Repair and Artillery Observation.
It must be noted that the Artillery Observation variant will need a separate upgrade, which the Royal Artillery is trying to determine and secure at least since 2010, to modernize its artillery-specific sensors and electronics.
The Battery Command Post variant of the Warrior is probably destined to vanish: it used to be a command post for AS90 gun batteries, but some or perhaps all of them had been turned into ambulances by the REME. So far, i've heard nothing about the future of these Warriors.
In 2005 it was also decided that many Warriors, removed from disbanded Armoured Infantry battalions, would be converted into Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicles, with an APC, Ambulance and Mortar variants planned: it was to be part of the wider Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, but i never heard anything about it ever since, unfortunately.
Lastly, in 2011 a Warrior Bridgelayer was showcased, fitted with a multipurpose front mount point which allowed swapping the bridgelaying arm for other engineering devices including mine ploughs: such a bridgelayer Warrior could at some time be chosen as solution for a requirement for up to 35 medium weight engineer support vehicles for the FRES-equipped Cavalry regiments.
Prototypes should be demonstrated from 2014 onwards, with production starting in 2016 and with dDeliveries of the first upgraded Warriors for service in 2018. The first armored infantry company on the upgraded Warriors should be ready in 2020 and full capability should be reached by 2022.
Armored infantry battalions will number 729 men. 

The new Scout vehicles will replace Scimitar and will be fielded in 3 Heavy Cavalry regiments, each with 3 squadrons of 16 vehicles. The regiments are established for 528 men.

The 3 main Adaptable Brigades will each have a Light Cavalry regiment, on 3 squadrons of 16 Jackal vehicles each. Establishment is for 404 men, and each Light Cavalry regiment will be paired to a reserve cavalry regiment.  

The Army Air Corps will suffer a significant downsizing with the retirement of the Lynx AH7 by 2015, but will retain the 22 AH9A helicopters out to 2018. The number of Wildcat helicopters to be delivered to the Army are unclear: everywhere you can read of a plan for 34 machines (6 of which will actually go to the Royal Marines in 847 Naval Air Squadron, however), but in Planning Round 2011 a decision was made to convert 4 Wildcats into "Light Assault Helicopter", and procure a further 4 new LAH, bringing the total to 38 machines in two variants instead of 34 in one.
The 8 Light Assault Helicopters were expected to go to 657 AAC Squadron, supporting the Special Forces, but there has been no update on this plan ever since, and i'm waiting for the NAO Major Projects report 2012 to discover what happened.
The Army is planning to have 4 Squadrons equipped with Wildcat helicopters within 1st Regiment AAC: this is down from 5 Lynx squadrons today (2 in 1st Regiment and 3 in 9th Regiment) and includes the announced merging which will see 9th Regiment vanish.

1st Regiment AAC will return from Germany and find home at Yeovilton, where the Navy's own Wildcats will be based. This is likely to mean closure for Dishfort, current home of 9th Regiment AAC. 

The Army Air Corps is also fearing reductions in its Apache force, despite SDSR promises to retain the whole Attack Helicopter fleet. From a six squadrons force plus Conversion to Type training squadron, the apache force could go down to just four squadrons plus training formation. Details here.
In the meanwhile, one airframe was written off after a very hard landing in Afghanistan in 2008, reducing the fleet to 66 from 67.

In terms of base-ISTAR, the RAF Regiment and the Army are collaborating under Project Outpost to determine the best way to retain in the long term the valuable network of sensors built up under Project Cortez to protect bases in Afghanistan.
Watchkeeper's future is certain, while more of a question mark hovers on the Desert Hawk III: for all the talk of focusing on ISTAR and on providing the soldiers with enhanced surveillance, there is at the moment no certainty about this UOR's future. The Treasury will stop funding it when operations in Afghanistan end, and the Army will need to bring it into the core budget somehow, if it has to stay.
The RAF will have to make the same kind of decision for the Reaper fleet itself. 

I believe that the two Royal Artillery regiments using drones will be moved into the Military Intelligence & Surveillance Brigade although i have no evidence for it at the moment, while it has already been officially announced that 14 (Electronic Warfare) Signal Regiment is definitely moving in. Unfortunately, a (highly questionable at best) decision was made to size the EW regiment at 4 Field plus Support Sqn. Even this vital capability, when Afghanistan operations end, won't meet the Rule of the 5.

5 Regiment Royal Artillery will probably remain in 1st Artillery Brigade, and i can only hope that at least this regiment, which has been keeping at least a battery on the field for over 10 years, constantly, is allowed to retain the five deployable batteries that have been raised in these years: in 2003, 5th Regiment had the 4/73 Sphinx special ops observation battery, K and P batteries and Q (HQ and Support) Battery.
53 Battery was added in 2004, Z battery followed in 2009 and 93 Battery was added over the course of last year. In a decade, this rarely celebrated regiment provided constant Surveillance and Target Acquisition to over 100 different battlegroups and introduced into service more than 30 different UORs. 4/73 Bty provided a 'behind enemy lines' observation patrol which kept the men totally isolated in hostile territory for 56 days, the longest patrol since World War II.
This regiment now needs to receive new Battlefield Surveillance and Artillery Locating radars, since the COBRA has been prematurely dismissed, and i hope the formation is properly resourced and supported in its current form, to be ready for the next operations. 
Training Areas

A review into the future training areas for the new Army is ongoing, but decisions might not be taken before 2014 or 2015.
Salisbury Plain is the only true certainty, with the 3 Reaction brigades headed there. BATUS, in Canada, should also be retained, while the british army base in Kenya is being expanded to accommodate greater use.
The "Salisbury of Scotland" is, i think, definitely a dead idea. 

There is also an option for retaining a presence in Germany, and the army is, in particular, evaluating the possibility of using much more frequently the US training areas in Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr in South-Eastern Germany, which make up the largest US training area outside of the USA and have received huge investment in the last years. These two areas offer a much more complex environment, more challenging than that offered by BATUS, and thanks to american investment the targetry and infrastructure is top class. There is also another advantage, which is the possibility to train alongside very relevant contingents from the US and from other european allies, while in the BATUS area the US and Canadian presence is not constant and normally numbers in tens or a hundred men at most.
However, the areas are much, much smaller than BATUS, possibly too much to accommodate all of the heavy armor maneuvering training.
Anyway, the 5th Rifles battlegroup will train there next year, instead of going to BATUS and last October the 3rd Mercian also trained there, participating in the massive Saber Junction NATO exercise. And the soldiers liked it.
Are we in for a major surprise regarding BATUS in the coming years...?

General Carter mentions expanding the presence in Cyprus by transforming one of the two resident infantry battalions in a full battlegroup, and i suspect this is connected to training plans.
And lastly, Brunei is willing to engage more widely with the british forces on its territory.

For an army that is shrinking rather dramatically, there sure seems to be abundance of training areas. 

Earlier Articles explaining Army 2020 

Strenght of the Army after the cuts 

An in depth analysis of the british infantry's weapons and capabilities

Beyond the announcement: an in depth analysis of Army 2020


  1. Hi Gabriele,

    I have watched most of it, interesting stuff, some of which I have to disagree with.
    However, he mentions that one battalion in Cyprus will become a battle group?
    I also notice that training areas and basing are still to be decided. In my view putting the cart before the horse in my opinion.


  2. Gabriele

    No matter how I try, I cannot seem to access this video.

    Is there any possibility that you could outline anything new that the good General said? It can be as brief as you like. Was there anything dramatic or revelatory that he said about either new structures or new equipment or whatever?

    I realize that I am being extremely lazy about this but I don't particularly want to install a new anti-virus system, which, I think, is causing the problem. If you can oblige briefly, it would help.

    1. The article now should answer your questions and say more than the video itself does. I'm sorry, though, that you can't access it.

  3. They seem to be disregarding the MBTs. Even the US still cares for MBTs.

    1. They are cutting manpower by 20%, they are not specifically disregarding armor. Actually, quite the opposite, honestly. They put a lot of focus on it, and if the numbers hold, the UK will have 3 tanks more than even Germany. XD I'm serious, even if it does not seem so. Germany is cutting down to 225.

    2. If I read correct, the US armoured BCT will have the most numbers of MBTs. Also, why aren't they upgrading Challenger 2 and only just Warrior?

    3. A Challenger 2 CSP is anticipated around 2016 or so, and is part of the Core Committed Budget, but not much is known about it as of now, other than plans to fit smoothbore cannons has been abandoned.
      BAE and army officers are exploring the requirements and possible solutions already.

      As for the US BCT, it has exactly 56 tanks, in four companies of 14, two in one Combined Arms Battalion and two in the other.
      The US, in fact, have merged tank and armoured infantry into Combined Arms Battalions on 4 companies: 2 of armoured infantry on Bradleys and 2 on Abrams tanks.

    4. That might change soon enough if they go ahead and reorganize the BCTs making fewer brigades but putting 3 Combined Arms Battalions in each one. That would of course change the math.

    5. I still see MBTs taking a back seat in the British plan. At least the US BCTs vision the usage of MBTs. And the M1A# (urban combat) is in the works.

    6. Wikipedia says 12 M1s per company.

    7. May be, but US Army papers seem to suggest to me that 12 tanks per company is incorrect.

    8. No it's 14 tanks per co, 4 in each of the 3 platoons plus a 2-tank HQ section.

    9. Thanks, Ken. That's what i thought.

  4. Sorry to all of you, this was not intended to be posted, not like this! It is just the opening of a major article i've been writing since this morning. When it is ready, it should answer many of your questions.

    Phil, glad you head that "battlegroup thing" too. I listened to that passage, like, one thousand times. I still was doubting my english might be betraying me: but if you heard it too... What will be the purpose of the battlegroup, i wonder? Just for training purpose?

    Anyway, hopefully the article will be online soon enough

    1. Gabriele,

      Battle group Cyprus, not sure if this would be part of one of the 3 ready brigades?
      I assume not, as they are armoured.

      On another subject, how do the new cuts affect the MoD budget affect things? Or will the 8 billion kept in reserve cover it? What about the 1% increase, has that been with drawn?


    2. I don't think the Cyprus battlegroup can be part of a Reaction Brigade, but it really is hard to say at the moment what that might be. It was a total surprise, honestly.

      As for the new cuts, apparently the idea is that the treasury will eat away the underspend money the MOD ended up having spending more prudently. And it'll possibly eat into the 4 billion headroom, too.

      For now, the 8 billions should be safe, and the 1% equipment budget uplift is still being promised.

  5. Gaby

    Could it be that the Cyprus battlegroup will be based there simply to act as a rapidly deployable formation to meet any possible contingency in the Middle East or Far East? It would be far more conveniently placed there than if it had to be shipped/flown out from the UK. Or is that naive?

    1. I thought about it too, but i don't know how practical it would actually be. We'll have to wait for some more detail on this one...

  6. "General Carter also interestingly notes that, in the long term, the Royal Artillery is likely to adopt one single calibre for its guns, kind of confirming that the long delayed program to replace the 105 mm L118 Light Gun will look at acquiring a 155mm weapon. The M777 lightweight howitzer has always been considered the perfect solution"

    Do you really feel that it will be well into the 2020s before M777 can be introduced? Many other nations seem to be acquiring it now, including Australia (extra numbers recently ordered) and India(?) but apparently we can't afford a British gun ourselves! The unit cost of this weapon must be coming down, so why are we finding it so difficult to procure, say, a couple of batteries worth?

    1. There is no money at the moment, and the Light Gun does work well, so the army cannot (and probably doesn't want) to push too much on this front, while there are much greater urgencies.
      The out of service date for the L118 was 2022, but i think it was pushed all the way to 2030 after a cheap program of upgrade and maintenance. Which didn't escape its share of cutbacks either, since the plan for fitting spades made of titanium had to be abandoned.

      It would be so much better to have the M777, but at the same time, it is the area that worries me the least. The Light Gun will do.

      Retaining all Apaches is a better battle to committ to in the near future, for example.

    2. Are they using all extended-range munitions for all guns now? What's the range? The problem with NATO 155mm is always the range.

    3. The Excalibur round can reach the 40 kilometers in range. And the UK has plans to procure, in the coming years, a guided long range ammunition.

      If the Type 26 is fitted with the Oto Melara 127mm, the Navy and Army could (and should) go Volcano, which comes both in 155 and 127mm adaptations. Following the closure of the naval 155mm development effort, this is the only real way to achieve some standardization in heavy artillery between the two services.

    4. A cheaper alternative could be upgraded 105 incorporating digitalized FCS for firing precision rounds. US Army is equipping M119A2 (which BTW is a variant of L118) with FCS borrowed from M777 to give it ability of using guided projectile in future. This option is very cost effective versus purchasing a new weapon system.
      Using 155/39 barrel, maximum reach for current generation Excalibur is 40 km. With a longer caliber howitzer such as AS90 you can achieve deeper range, plus the same 10 m CEP precision. More importantly Excalibur is already proven in real world combat. Competing products still have to go through learning curve.

    5. The british L118 has already quite sophisticate FCS fitted, which could potentially make it capable to employ precious ammunition in the future. Nonetheless, moving to the 155 is desirable.

      Regarding Excalibur, the AS90 fleet is virtually ready to adopt the round following exhaustive trials in 2010. However, the Volcano 155mm deserves a thought, particularly if the navy goes 127/64 LW. The fact that Excalibur is already battle proven does not necessarily mean they should go for it when a more capable alternative comes out that offers commonality with the Navy and several partners in Europe, such as Italy and Germany.

      As for the AS90, following the cancellation of the Braveheart upgrade, the AS90 is using a 155/39 barrel, not the longer 155/52, so 40 km is about the max you would get with Excalibur.

    6. Oops my mistake. The Poloish adoption of AS90 (aka Krab) utilizes a local produced 52 cal gun mounted AS90 turret.
      I have a related question for you Gabriele. Is it possible to have Volcano rounds fired from BAE 127/62 MK54 gun? BAE is also working on a lighter version AGS 155 which supose to cut down the gun mount weight by half. It would be awesome if RN can select it to retrofit Type45.

    7. The Volcano should be certified for NATO standards, so in line of principle yes, it will be possible to adopt it on the BAE 127 too, eventually, and the 155mm variant (main difference is the sabot, anyway) should be compatible with all NATO 155 mm guns, even if it is being developed mainly for the Pzh
      The Oto 127/64 is a superior gun to the Mk4 from BAE, though, and there have been rumors of negotiations ongoing between UK and Oto Melara, so i'm hoping the Type 26 will sport the Oto.

  7. Gaby

    "and the unique capability of the amphibious squadron will have to be retained somehow. I suspect 36 Regiment will, in good time, inherit 23 Squadron and its M3 rigs."

    In the latest issue of "Sapper" magazine, the Royal Engineer Corps Report states that all regular unit and sub- unit reductions have been announced. They include the disbandment of 28 Engineer Regiment, including 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron.

    So shall we ever see the M3s again? Perhaps 23 squadron will have to be resurrected at some time in the future or perhaps the duties will be taken over by the TA (or Reserve Forces).

    1. If it won't be 23 Squadron, it will be another squadron in the Force Support regiments, if they are not entirely idiot.

      Anyway, i saw a British Forces News report not long ago, about the visit of the commander of 1st Division to 28 Regiment. He said they have not yet decided who gets the M3 rigs, but he seemed certain that the capability and vehicles are due to be kept.

    2. Here it is:

  8. That's great news, Gaby. I could never imagine a British Army without some kind of wide, wet gap crossing ability and the M3 are great bits of kit.

    One more question for you:

    " battalion will be in the Air Assault role and will be part of 16 Air Assault brigade, in the Reaction Force. That will be 4 PARA, which has indeed been recently assigned to the brigade command."

    I am getting more than a little confused with regard to the number of infantry regiments 16 Air Assault Brigade will have. There used to be four and 5 Scots and 1st Battalion, Royal Irish are still listed in some sources. There also used to be a battalion from the Rifles attached to the Brigade, I believe. Will there now just be the two Para battalions together with the Reserve 4 PARA, or what?

    1. It would seem that the plan is to have the 2 regular PARA battalions, plus the reserve battalion.
      The other infantry will move to the Adaptable pool, it would appear.

  9. Why no mention of the French? Have they gone away?

    1. Why should i mention the french in this particular article...?

  10. Hi Gabriele,

    Good article with lots of detail, Thanks.

    Shooting holes in the plan;

    A. In my opinion, 2 units (2 and 3 PARA) with 4 PARA, in 16 AA, is not enough.
    There should be at least 3 regular units. In my view, as the current plan stands, this brigade could only be expected to provide a combat team at high readiness, it should be aiming for the same deployable force as 3 CDO, a battle group.

    B. Yes, Salisbury plain is the only training area suitable for training armoured units in the UK.
    However, basing 3 brigades there seems to me to be unworkable. This would require a massive building programme to build barracks to accommodate all those units, and would concentrate a large number of military personnel in a small area of south east England, which is already home to 3 CDO.

    C. Cyprus, why are we keeping 2 battalions in Cyprus post Afghan? Would it not be better to move one of those battalions to 16 AA? As I understand the situation, 1 battalion was kept there to provide security for the UK assets there, (The airfield and listening post), the second battalion is there as an over the horizon reserve for Afghan. In my view. Having 2 battalions there is a waste. Any way, shouldn’t the RAF Regiment be doing the guarding of airfields? (Or am I being an ex pongo with an attitude?)

    D. Did he mention anything about public duties? Will public duties battalions be 2 company battalions, if so why do the Guards have 3 extra public duty company’s, how does that make sense?


    1. Agree as a reaction rapid deployment Brigade, 16 AA should be at brigade-level strength. Unless they re intertwining it with 3 CDO.

    2. I would prefer it if 16AA had a genuine trinary structure with 3 regular battalions, but what has been said so far seems to rule this out.
      This might be indirectly confirmed by the fact that the Airborne Task Force is described as 1300 strong, differently from a Commando group which is 1800-strong.

      As for Cyprus, as i said, i was surprised myself. At the moment, i do not know what the rationale behind the decision is.

      As for public duties, it has not been explained yet. It is relatively safe to assume there will be no changes from today's methods.

  11. Gabriele,
    No mention of 29 Cdo or 7 Para. I believe they will both follow the format of 3 and 4 Regiments with 148 moving into a 'HQ'/Supporting Fires battery which, in this day and age, should also include a Scaneagle troop. Perhaps with a reserve gun battery for each Regt?
    I really sat up with the mention of moving to one calibre too. M777 is the obvious answer and goes a little way towards the lack of info on replacement gun tractors ..... Warthog? Viking? After all the BV (202 in my day) is used as a gun tractor in Norway. The HC3's will, presumably, lift more than the Seaking HC4.
    As for the Engineers Amphibious Squadron. Is this not answered by an Amphibious squadron in the Cdo Bde??

    1. No mention because there is no additional detail at the moment.
      148 Meiktila battery was to be disbanded, it appeared, but the rumor has been mostly silenced as it seems the Navy is fighting to preserve the battery and FSTs.
      There were also prospects of seeing 29 Commando cut back to just 2 gun batteries, but that would make absolutely no sense: at least the reaction brigade should retain one gun battery for each of its maneuver battalions.
      It would make more sense to cut a battery from 7 RHA, if the air assault brigade really ends up having only 2 battalions. 3 gun batteries for 2 battalions? Why?

      It would be the height of ridiculous and absurd if 7 RHA kept its batteries despite supporting only 2 battalions, while 29 Commando tasked to support 3 or 4 was given only two batteries.

      As for gun-towing, the definitive replacement of the RB44 and others is still far away in time.
      Currently, Pinzgauers and 4-tonners trucks retained specifically for this task are doing the job, and of course BV206, Viking and Wolfhound do it in theatre and/or whenever it is necessary.

      As for the Amphibious squadron, you have to keep in mind that 23 Squadron is not "amphibious" in the sense that it works with Marines or at sea: it uses the M3 floating rig vehicle to provide rapid wide river crossing capability. It has not much to share with Marines directly, but all to share with "Force Support" and maneuver enhancement, so its place is somewhere within the Force Support engineer force.

    2. Gabriele, thanks for clearing my thoughts.
      One other thing is the Battle Group in Cyprus. This obviously becomes a form of the French Demi Bde which would be available for Deployment. Real forward basing. My guess is that it would rotate through all Infantry, Light, PMR, Airborne(Parachute) and Commando. In my experience this would not only be of operational but also recruiting benefit. Of course it really throws the Force Protection of Akrotiri/Episkopi aspect firmly into the RAF Regiment camp.... is 3 Wing still in being at Akrotiri??

    3. I don't think it'll have to do with the PARA or Commando battlegroups, and i really am unconvinced that it will be a battle group at readiness. It would have been announced in some great way and presented as a big awesome thing or something, in that case.
      I really don't know, though.

      As for 3rd Wing, no. I think there is no permanent RAF Regiment presence in Akrotiri at all, in fact.

  12. Gaby

    Did either General Carter or General Wall say anything about Air Defence, which in my opinion, is becoming something of a Cinderella in terms of future Army planning? Was the in-service date of CAMM mentioned, which I last read was supposed to be 2020, although I have also seen 2016 but I think that is the entry date for the sea-going version (Sea Ceptor). Was anything said about HVM or its lightweight version? Are these still certain for 2020? We might , for instance, have a future quarrel with an enemy with a half-decent Air Force!

    1. 12 Regiment in very short range air defence with Starstreak and with 106(V) Regiment in support.

      16 Regiment with Rapier, and from 2020 (was 2018) CAMM.

      Starstrak should live into the 2020s, a replacement should come out of a collaboration with France, which will need to replace the Mistral, but it's early to talk about it, apparently.

      In documents such as Future Characters of Conflict air defence is said to need greater attention (particularly for adapting to threats such as rockets, artillery, mortars and drones and, eventually, ballistic threats. But i wouldn't expect any major investment in the near future, nonetheless...

  13. Gaby

    Thanks very much for your informative reply. Maybe the eventual HVM replacement will involve a mobile AA vehicle combined perhaps with a C-RAM system (again something we've not heard of recently). I was thinking of something like the German Skyguard/Skyshield systems.

    One more question, Gaby, if you can bear it. Now that you have seen the latest plans for Army 2020 and had time to digest them, do you still think we would have done better to have gone for the 5 Multi-Role brigades set-up? On balance, I think I do. It would have provided the kind of reaction forces necessary to fight modern types of conflict, with the type of training that would create unity and coherence between contributing units.

    However, the argument is a very finely balanced one and those that argue that it is not easy to re-configure and re-form heavy armoured formations, once they are lost, certainly have point. Against that, surely nobody could argue that the Reaction Forces as planned, with the exception of 16 Air Assault Brigade, are genuine rapid reaction forces, ones which are rapidly deployable.

    It will be extremely interesting to see how the Australian experience works out.

    1. Regarding air-defence / C-RAM, one interesting possible solution is the RapidFire, which is an adaptation of the CTA 40 mm gun for anti-air defence role. It has the gun, and can also employ missiles in addition, Starstreak and/or LMM in particular, but also other missiles in the same class. It is a solution with quite some merit, as a gun is likely to be the best mean to deal with most UAVs with the minimum possible expense.
      We'll see.

      As for Army 2020, i do not entirely dislike the current plan. But the Army 2020 structure is good for an army with more regulars and kit than the british army has and will have, in my opinion.
      There is more infantry than the army can adequately protect, move and support.
      In order not to face the backlash of cutting too many "regiments", precious capability as been lost, giving the army 11 brigades of which only 6, and more realistically 3 + 2, have actual usefulness and high end military value.

      As for the reaction brigades as they are now, well. It is questionable, at best. An armored brigade is a great thing. Literally. Moving all its vehicles, its manpower, and even the political and military weight of sending in heavy tanks... it makes them "demanding" in many ways.

      Part of why the Army does not really expect to deploy the Armoured Brigades as they are, but to use them as base for MRBs.

      But at some point i'll try and write my opinion in a more accurate and articulate way.

  14. Gaby

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    I did not know about RapidFire but apparently it was shown at Eurosatory. Seems a good idea to combine a gun system that is certainly going into service with missiles.

    I like your views on Army 2020. Particularly telling is your comment: "But the Army 2020 structure is good for an army with more regulars and kit than the british army has and will have, in my opinion."

    Look forward to your future article or comments.

  15. Hello gabriele, just want to say like many others how accurate and thought provoking this blog is. I wish i had known about it last year when i was writing my disertation on the sdsr and its consequences! I did however also want to ask, you mention in this article about the battalians being kept in cyprus. Have you ever written an article about the flexibility our overseas bases give the british armed forces? Such as the falklands, gilbraltar, cyprus, ascension. And also whats the situation with diego garcia? Would it be possible to base an opv there, much like hms clyde as out commitment to addressing piracy in the region. I have never been certain of the situation their regarding the uk and us.

    1. Thank you, i'm glad you found this blog and, moreover, glad to hear it is proving interesting and useful.

      As for an article specifically on the bases oversea, i guess i did not write it yet, even if i dealt with overseas bases matters in multiple posts.
      As for basing things in Diego Garcia, it would of course be possible, but it would take a clear strategy and, moreover, funds, ships and personnel. I think there is literally a handful of british men posted to Diego Garcia, or Ascension, on a normal day. So it would take some investment to base there permanently a forward force.

  16. Hi Gabriele,

    I am really looking forward to the basing plan, and the expression on Mr Hammonds face when his sees the cost of building 3 Catterick size bases around Salisbury plain.

    Of course the MoD will never get planning permission to build such huge bases on green belt land in the South West, and accommodation for 20,000 service personnel, and there families, and of course all there vehicles.

    If the army wants the army to be based around the warrior platform, as Nick Carter suggests, it should be based in Germany.

    Other points;

    Could the battle group to be based in Cyprus be part of 3 CDO?

    I also would say that a year to deploy a multi brigade force is far too long; we are living in the 21st century not the 19th.


    1. The need for further work on Salisbury is known, and i'm hoping Hammond and the others are a bit more aware of things than what you suggest.
      But lately i've been studying things over, and i'm kind of writing my own basing plan. There's lots to do, but, at the same time, i can now seen that a good bit of the stuff needed for Army 2020 is already where it is supposed to be.

      For example:

      2 tank regiments out of 3 are already in the Salisbury area [KRH and RTR)

      2 heavy artillery regiments out of 3 are already were you'd want them, in Tidworth (19 RA and 1 RHA)

      1 Adaptable artillery regiment is already in a good place (4 RA, at Topcliffe, good to support Catterick's own Adaptable brigade)

      39 Regiment will disbad and its accommodations at Newcastle give you space for 3 RHA to arrive from Germany and become an Adaptable regiment, relatively "close" to the Edinburgh-based adaptable brigade.

      2 out of 3 Heavy engineer regiments are already in Salisbury (22 and 26 RE), while 21 RE at Ripon is nicely positioned to become "Adaptable" and support the Catterick's brigade.

      The Royal Welsh and Royal Fusiliers with their Warriors are already in the place you want them to be, at Tidworth.
      4 Rifles at Bulford used to work with Bulldog, so it is in the right place and should have the infrastructure to become Mastiff-mounted without big challenges.
      1 Royal Anglian, at Bulford, same reasoning.
      3 Yorks, at Warminster, is also acceptably positioned.

      2 out of 3 tank regiments are already there
      2 out of 6 Warrior battalions are there
      3 out of 3 Mechanized infantry battalions are potentially there
      2 out of 3 Engineer regiments are there
      2 out of 3 Artillery regiments are there

      It is not a bad start, at least. Not downplaying the extent of the challenge, but i try to be positive on this one. Besides, even assuming the army is all back in the UK by 2020, it might very well be a longer time before all relevant units move to Salisbury: Catterick might have a tank regiment and at least one Warrior battalion for many more years, for example. Can't exclude that. Would be another obstacle on the way to obtaining good brigade readiness, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened.

      The battlegroup in Cyprus has, i think, nothing to do with Commandos.

      As for the year time, it sure is a rather long period. But i think the overall planning horizon for Telic wasn't

    2. Sorry, i was meaning to say that i'm not entirely sure how we should read the "1 year period".
      In 2003 the notice to move for a division was 90 days, and 30.000 men and their stuff was phisically moved in 10 weeks, between 20 January 2003 and 19 March 2003.

      However, planning and preparations and UORs had been ongoing for months already in 2002. I can't find a date at the moment for the "start" of Iraq planning, but we should also consider the benefit of the major exercise in Oman, Saif Sareef, held in 2001, if i remember right. That was massive, and immensely helpful to be ready later on.

      So, the year might be about right, in the end, depending on how the generals are intending it.

  17. Hi Gabriele,

    Thank you for your comments.

    My point is that basing the army around the warrior is not the best option under the circumstances.

    a. The warrior is a big bit of kit that takes a lot of time and effort to deploy.
    b. It also requires large areas of land suitable for heavy tracked vehicles to train on.
    c. Once deployed it needs a large amount of support and logistics to keep it operational.

    If Nick Carter had said, we are going have 3 mechanized brigades, each with one warrior battalion and two foxhound battalions, and base them in the UK, I really wouldn’t have a problem. Even 1 armoured and 2 Mechanized would work. But having 3 heavy armoured brigades just does not work for me.

    d. To heavy to deploy quickly.
    e. To expensive and complex to train when based in the UK.
    c. High maintenance when deployed.

    It’s still my view, that warrior based brigades are better based in Germany at the moment, as in the UK there just is not the same brigades style garrison bases. In my view, Catterick, Aldershot and Colchester are the only real Brigade bases in the UK, none of which are suitable for armoured brigades.

    Why I mention Cyprus and 3 CDO is, I still can’t understand keeping to army battalions there, when we are so short of them. But if a RM Battalion was moved there it would free up another barracks in the South West, and of course if it moved there with its battery, it could be called a battle group. In the past a sunshine commando battalion was based in the Med.

    I am looking forward to reading your basing article.


  18. I know it may sound too US centric but I am going to ask anyway ;) Is British Army planning any significant investment in battlefield network, something similar to US Army’s NIE initiative? Network on the Move seems to be American #1 modernization priority in her ground forces. Your post explained many details regarding various platform and vehicle programs but it seems that the Brits are not putting much emphasis on acquiring critical enablers such as networking or sensors. Or maybe I missed something here.

    1. There are not many details out in the open yet, but the development of the Bowman radio network is to continue, and eventually the FALCON system will be expanded with, it is expected, On the Move capability down all the way to battlegroup level.

      In the current planning horizon there is no money to expand the full range of communications and data sharing down to company level, as would be desirable.

    2. You have to view the changes in the context of a changing threat, the new proposals as long as there are no further cuts represent a very flexible and superior equipped fast response to any scenario around the world.
      Indeed with regards to the multi role fighting brigades they will be better trained and equiped than previous generations of infantry brigades and trained in all aspects and all climatic conditions .
      As for the Cypus question reference 2 battalions to be based there I think it is because of the extreme importance and closeness of Cyprus to the middle east in general and Iran .
      What you have to remember also is that it has become noticeable in recent decades that the British government view Cyprus strategically as far more than an Island base but as a major strategic asset as an extra unofficial and unsinkable aircraft carrier and staging post for ground forces in the area you only have to look at Syria at the moment to grasp the British rationale with regards to Cyprus.
      What do you think Gabriele ?.

    3. I'm not that optimist about Army 2020 and i will believe in the regional engagement of brigades when i'll eventually see it happening.
      As for being flexible and superior and targeted at a changing, uncertain future... yes and not. It is simply the best force structure the army came up when given manpower, funding and political constraints.
      As a consequence, it is a supreme example of compromise, more than anything else.

      As for Cyprus, its strategic importance is not to be undervalued, but i still don't really see the need for two battalions in the area. I want to see exactly what the idea is, before expressing my opinion.

  19. ery interesting Gabriele, and you are probably correct regards a compromise given all the funding and political constraints at this time.
    One issue I feel that is being overlooked at the minute is the situation regarding Gibraltar and Spain I would certainly back further assetts being deployed to Gibraltar at this time the 30,000 pro British population of mainly italian and maltese descent do feel very vulnerable given the unstable nature of Spain at this time many of whom have given loyal service to the UK armed forces over the generations particularly with the Royal Navy.
    I think we are pre occupied with he Falklands and are taking our eye off the ball regards Gibraltar.
    The Gibraltarians deserve our attention and more assett deployment in the area.


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