Army 2020 is taking shape
The British Army restructuring is ongoing, alongside the basing review, since the physical structure of the army has much to do with its future homes and with the availability of training areas. The basing review should have been published before the end of last year, but things are taking longer than expected and we are still waiting for it. In the meantime, changes are happening within the army, unfortunately covered by little or no reports to the general public.
In this article I’m going to try and review the information currently available and also outline my own vision of how things might evolve in the coming months and years. I will take great care to make clear what is official and what is a guess.
In a Written Answer, it has been announced that The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment will be part of the Adaptable Force. The regular battalions of the regiment will thus serve in Light and Light Protected Mobility roles.
Judging by the current homes of the two regular battalions of the regiment, my guess is that 1LANCS is likely to be in the Light Protected Mobility role (mounted on Foxhound) as part of the Catterick-centered brigade (to understand the brigades layout and roles, see this earlier article if you missed it). 1LANCS is home-based in Somme Barracks, Catterick.
2LANCS home is Weeton, which suggests it will be a Light Role infantry battalion in the North West adaptable brigade.
4LANCS, the reserve battalion of the regiment, will be assigned a precise role as part of the ongoing planning process for the Territorial Army.
The Yorkshire regiment will see the colours of 3YORKS laid up as a consequence of the Army 2020 cuts.
3YORKS is currently based in Battlesbury Barracks, Warminster, and is an armoured infantry battalion. It is perfectly placed to be part of the Reaction Force and in fact it is not physically vanishing, despite the loss of its identity and colours: it will “merge” (effectively take the identity of) 1YORKS.
2YORKS is currently in Cyprus and when it returns to the UK in July 2013, it will head to Elizabeth Barracks in Pirbright.
4YORKS, the reserve battalion, will remain centered on York, but its exact role will be defined as part of the TA plan.
The Royal Welsh will see its two regular battalions merge into one, with the colours of 1R WELSH. The battalion will stay in Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth, and will serve in the armoured role as part of the Reaction Force. The merge will be largely complete by 1st April 2014. A presentation of new colours will take place in Cardiff on 15th July 2014 to formally mark the occasion.
The Royal Welsh battalion is now looking forwards to a turn in High Readiness, with BATUS training later this year to be ready to make up the Lead Armoured Infantry Task Force from April 2014.
The colors of 2nd Battalion will be laid up, and the loss of one battalion frees up Dale Barracks in Chester for future use, which is still to be determined.
3WELSH, the reserve battalion, will stay as part of the ORBAT. Its trained strength will grow to around 410 personnel, with an additional allowance for training. The battalion will be restructured on 3 Rifle Companies [down from 4] and will have integral support weapons. This might be indicative of what will happen to another 12 of the 14 TA infantry battalions (4PARA is likely to be a different case as is the only battalion of the reserve assigned in support to the Reaction Force, providing manpower for 16 Air Assault Brigade).
With the exception of 4PARA, the TA infantry battalions will all be paired to regular battalions in the Adaptable Force. 3WELSH is likely to, “pair up with a Foot Guards Battalion in Pirbright for training and operational convenience; although existing links to the 1st Battalion will be maintained.”
The Royal Anglian Regiment will maintain all of its battalions, but both regular formations (Vikings and Poachers) will serve in the Light Infantry role as part of the Adaptable Force. Surprisingly, despite 1st battalion being ideally based in Bulford, ready to serve as a mechanized or armored battalion in the Reaction Force, the current plan is to transfer the battalion after August 2014.
The 2nd Battalion has already moved in to the former RAF airbase at Cottesmore, now known as Kendrew Barracks.
The plan for the Royal Anglian seems to be a future of moving in and out of Public Role (based at the old Royal Artillery HQ in Woolwich) (To Be Confirmed, but proposed), Cyprus tours and turns in the Cottesmore-centered Adaptable brigade.
The 3rd Battalion, the Steelbacks, will remain as part of the reserve.
I’m surprised to see that 1ANGLIAN is not expected to be in the Mechanized Infantry role in the Reaction Force: unless something changes in the coming months, someone else will take the place of the battalion in Bulford.
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is to be reduced to a single regular battalion, but it will be a large one, as it will stay in Tidworth as Armoured Infantry battalion in the Reaction Force.
The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment will for now see its first battalion fixed in the Armoured Infantry role, but the battalion is based in Padeborn, Germany, and for now we can’t be sure that it will remain an armoured formation when its return to the UK mainland eventually takes place. It is among the candidates for the remaining Armoured Infantry “slots” in the Reaction Force.
The Rifles Regiment will see 1st and 2nd Battalion in the Light Role, assigned to the Adaptable Force. 3RIFLES will also be in the Adaptable Force, but will be a Light Protected Mobility formation, mounted in Foxhound vehicles. 4RIFLES will be one of the 3 Mechanized Infantry formations in the Reaction Force, and 5RIFLES will remain mounted on Warrior, and is thus expected to transfer to the Salisbury Plain area on return from Germany.
There is much less clarity regarding the two Reserve battalions (6th and 7th) at the moment.
The Royal Regiment of Scotland will see 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions in the Adaptable Force, almost certainly in the Scotland-based brigade. 1st and 2nd will be Light Role infantry, while 3rd Battalion will be in the Light Protected Mobility role, mounted on Foxhound.
4SCOTS is to be part of the Reaction Force, but will not be Warrior-mounted when it returns from Germany: it is due to become a Mechanized Infantry battalion, mounted on Mastiff first, and on FRES UV later in the 2020s.
The basing plan, as of November 2012 was still very much up in the air: the Army wishes to centralize its units in large garrisons, pulling out of single-unit bases such as Fort George, but moving battalions is never easy, and with the considerable financial challenges ahead, along with the priority of bringing back Germany-based units, suggests that the Black Watch could remain in Fort George for many more years.
1st Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment is, in my opinion, likely to transfer to the Salisbury Plain area to serve in the armoured infantry line-up of the Reaction Force. Assuming that I’m right on the Tigers, this will leave a sixth Warrior-mounted battalion slot to fill. With the disbandment of 3rd Mercian, a Warrior-mounted battalion, the Scots Guards are left. I honestly thought the Scots Guards would lose their Warriors and go Light Role at some point in the future, but this is just my guess, based on the fact that involvement in Public Role and a home in Catterick both play against them being an effective part of the Reaction Force. I’ve been unable, so far, to discover what the plan is: it could very well still being worked out.
On the cavalry front, the Light Dragoons are going to become a Light Cavalry regiment in the Adaptable Force [Spring Newsletter, 2013]. Currently based in Swanton Morley, they are almost certainly going to be the cavalry unit of the Cottesmore-based brigade. In line with what I already said for Fort George, there are rumors that the Army would like to move the regiment and close the site at Swanton Morley. This appeared in some press reports, but there is nothing official yet and, just as with Fort George, money is tight and the move might not be possible, at least not in the immediate future, as priority is likely to be accorded to other transfers.
The merge of Queen’s Royal Lancers and 9th/12th Royal Lancers is likely to result in a regiment that will be known as The Royal Lancers. The two regiments hope to be assigned the role of Armoured Cavalry formation within the Reaction Force, which would mean a large establishment and FRES Scout vehicles.
There’s nothing official, as far as I know, on the other cavalry unit’s future. The expectation in the RAC seems to be Household Cavalry in the Armoured Role, on FRES Scout, alongside the Royal Dragoon Guards.
The Challenger 2 regiments should be the Royal Tank Regiment, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Queen’s Royal Hussars.
If these expectations prove correct, the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards will both become Light Cavalry units, mounted on Jackal. Late last year, the regimental newsletter of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards reported that there is indeed a solid proposal for bringing the regiment back from Germany and base it in Scotland as a Jackal-mounted formation.
Salisbury Plain area (including Bulford, Warminster, Larkhill, Tidworth and other garrisons) is already home to:
Headquarters 3rd (UK) Division
Headquarters 1st Mechanized Brigade
Headquarters 12th Mechanized Brigade
Headquarters 43 (Wessex) Regional Brigade
2nd Royal Tank Regiment ---- > to become Royal Tank Regiment following merge with 1 RTR
King’s Royal Hussars regiment
1st Royal Horse Artillery
19 Royal Artillery
32 Royal Artillery (UAV regiment)
14 Royal Artillery (training regiment)
22 Royal Engineers
26 Royal Engineers
1st Royal Anglian
This in addition to the already mentioned 1st Welsh, 1st Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and 3rd Yorks (soon to be 1st Yorks).
In time, it should expand to be the home of 9 infantry battalions (6 Armoured Infantry, 3 Mechanized Infantry) and an additional tank, artillery and engineer regiment respectively.
The HQ 43 Regional Brigade will be removed from the ORBAT, but a third regular, reaction force brigade will take its place (possibly literally, taking up the same offices and building).
The MOD expects to bring back the HQ 1 (UK) Division from Germany within 2020, and it has been announced that, when it happens, it will move to Scotland (possibly to Edinburgh, or alternatively to Leuchars). Rumors have circulated that say that when the German-based division and brigades return, there will be a fair amount of colours-swapping, in order to pass the 1 Division title and badge to the Tidworth-based HQ, which will command the Reaction Force, while the Scotland-based HQ would command the Adaptable Force.
Similarly, it has been suggested that the 3 reaction brigades in Salisbury will be 7th, 4th and 20th brigade, but the 4th has its HQ in Catterick and the other two are in Germany. I don’t know if the army will effectively rework the identities of the formations, or if it is only a wild rumor.
102 Logistic Brigade, once it returns from Germany, is likely to be based in Grantham, home of the Royal Logistic Corps and in particular of the TA RLC component. The brigade is to be assigned to the Adaptable Force and a big share of its capability would come from the reserves, while 101 Logistic Brigade, based in Aldershot, is assigned to the Reaction Force. The assignment was evident in the Army 2020 brochure.
On the Artillery front, it is expected that the Army will want to reunite the two UAV regiments in Larkhill, where the Watchkeeper infrastructure has been built. 32 Regiment is already in place, while 47 Regiment is still based in Thorney Island due to its past as vSHORAD formation.
16 Regiment, the Air Area Defence formation, could take 47 Regt’s place in Thorney Island. 16 Regt was close to transferring there in 2006/7, but it eventually went to North Luffenham instead, where it currently remains.
This double move would reunite the UAV force in Larkhill and the Joint Ground Based Air Defence in Thorney Island, simplifying things for both.
In the meanwhile, the Artillery has more or less finished its planning process under Army 2020, Jane’s reported.
The report, supported by updates on relevant pages of the British Army website, explains the structure that the 3 Reaction Force artillery regiments are going to assume: each will have three batteries of AS90 self-propelled guns (6 guns per battery), plus a battery with six GMLRS launchers. The Royal Artillery would also like this battery to have a Troop armed with the EXACTOR precision strike missile, currently in use in Afghanistan as UOR, but this is subject to securing funding to bring the weapon into the core budget.
A big effort has been made to retain the invaluable Fire Support Teams, squads of 6 men trained to call in and direct mortar, artillery and air attacks. Indicatively, each gun battery has a TAC Group comprising some four FSTs, and there is a regimental TAC Battery with six FSTs. The disbanded 40 Regiment, for example, has seen its own TAC Groups reassigned to the other regiments.
Jane’s article identifies the EXACTOR with the Israeli SPIKE Non-Line Of Sight missile, confirming a rumor, started by Jane’s itself, that dates back at least to 2011. The missile, procured secretly from Israel, is reportedly installed in M113 tracked vehicles, which captured the attention of reporters in Afghanistan as they aren’t standard issue in the British Army.
This also rises interesting questions as to the eventual future vehicle carrying NLOS if it is taken into core budget: will the army pay to support a whole new vehicle in the inventory, or will it try to move SPIKE NLOS on a different carrier?
Israel has showcased SPIKE NLOS launchers integrated on M113 but also on the Sandcat and Humvee 4x4 vehicles, so transferring it to a different vehicle shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
|SPIKE NLOS system integrated on an M113 tracked vehicle (Top) and on a Sandcat 4x4 (Bottom)|
Currently, the EXACTOR capability in Afghanistan is delivered by one battery of 39 Royal Artillery regiment. In each Herrick deployment, a battery from 39 Regiment is always present. In theatre, it operates a Troop of GMLRS launchers (4 plus one spare) and two Troops of EXACTOR systems.
But 39 Regiment will be disbanded as part of Army 2020, with the HQ Battery and one firing Battery (56 and 51 Batteries) going into suspended animation, while the other three will transfer to the Reaction Force support regiments. Namely: 35 battery to 1 Royal Horse Artillery (1RHA) (to be re-named H Bty), 132 Battery to 26 Royal Artillery and 176 Bty to 19 Royal Artillery.
This confirms once more the identity of the third Reaction Force artillery regiment as 26 RA Regt.
The British Army has upgraded and updated a total of 36 M270 GMLRS launchers to the B1 standard. Of these, 18 appear destined to active service in the Reaction Force, with the others used as sustainment fleet and to equip the intended GMLRS reserve regiment.
The Army had originally taken delivery of over 50 M270 vehicles, and four have been converted into recovery vehicles (M240 RRV): it would be interesting to know if there are other hulls in good conditions in storage, because if there were, they could be a perfect solution for the fitting of EXACTOR.
|The M270 RRV vehicle. The bottom image, courtesy of Plain Military, shows the RRV uparmored to Afghanistan Theatre Entry Standard level|
74 Battery is also expected to survive, moving from 39 Regiment to the UAV force (32 and 47 Regiment). The UAV force currently has 5 integrated UAV batteries, but I don’t think there are enough Watchkeepers on the way to form six batteries: the role of 74 Bty at the moment isn’t clear. It could act as a TAC Group containing additional TAC Parties, I guess, but at the moment I’ve no solid indications on the envisaged role.
Another option is an involvement for the battery in the planned Unmanned Air System Test and Evaluation Squadron to be based in Boscombe Down, and there is at least a third option I can think of, which is the use of Fire Shadow: the loitering munition was due to be brought into service by 39 Regiment, but its disbandment means a different solution will eventually have to be found.
The current five integrated UAV batteries were obtained by the reorganization of eight earlier batteries from the regiments 32 and 47. As a result of the passage to the UAV role, 3 batteries were put into suspended animation. Those that remain have been shaped by Afghanistan-related needs, and all are 190-strong, including 8 civilian contractors from the LYDIAN consortium, which provides the Hermes 450 drones currently in use as interim solution in the wait for Watchkeeper’s entry in service.
Each battery supports 5 Hermes 450 Task Lines, while also delivering 12 Desert Hawk III detachments, which are assigned to the various elements of Task Force Helmand. There is also a Troop with three detachments of T-Hawk drones: these are assigned to the TALISMAN convoys. Each Desert Hawk III detachment counts 5 men with all ground equipment and with 5/6 drones carried in waterproof cases.
The last available official document from the Royal Artillery suggests that the batteries will retain more or less the same structure also post-Afghanistan if the army manages to secure funding for bringing the Desert Hawk III and T-Hawk into the Core Budget.
As Watchkeeper replaces Hermes 450, the contractors should leave the ORBAT, but the manpower total should still grow, as the addition of a sixth TUAS task line is expected.
A Watchkeeper training facility has been built in Larkhill, and the drone, currently being tested at Aberporth in Wales, should be cleared to fly in civilian air space later this year. This will enable the entry in service and the beginning of regular training flying over the Salisbury Plain area. Watchkeeper drones will fly from the Boscombe Down airport, and a grass strip is available at Upavon to enable austere airfield operations training.
|The Watchkeeper training building in Larkhill|
Jane’s article says that Army 2020 implies, for the Royal Artillery, the loss of one regiment HQ (39 RA, with 40 RA considered a pre-Army 2020, unrelated loss) and a total of 4 batteries.
Unfortunately, I do not have access to the whole report and I’ve not got any accurate info regarding the latest plan, but three of the batteries to be lost should be the already mentioned ones from 39 Regiment plus Z Battery, which will be removed from 5 Regiment, according to the last reports I had the chance to read.
If this is correct, only one more battery is left to be identified, and this possibly means that the number of gun batteries in the Adaptable artillery regiments (4 Regt RA and 3 RHA) and in the High Readiness regiments (7 RHA and 29 (Commando) Regt RA) has been preserved.
Until at least October 2012 the plan had reportedly involved cutting down to just 2 gun batteries the two Adaptable regiments, which are equipped with the L118 Light Gun, but this now seems to be off the cards, thankfully.
29 (Commando) Regt RA also seemed particularly at risk, with 148 Meiktila battery and one of the three gun batteries seen at one point as very much at risk of being cut. I hope that this absurd
However, on ARRSE it has been suggested that the Royal Artillery has somehow managed to save the frontline batteries by downsizing from Battery to Troop size the HQ elements of 12, 32 and 47 Regiments, and by putting in suspended animation (read: disbanding) the HQ Bty of 39 Regiment.
This is in theory possible, as the RAF is reportedly going to gain greater operational control of the Joint Ground Based Air Defence units, making a downsized HQ element for 12 Regiment a realistic proposition. 32 and 47 Regts are the integrated UAV force, and with their expected move under the new Surveillance and Intelligence Brigade, a revised HQ structure is also realistic.
Under this rumoured new plan, the two Adaptable Artillery regiments would manage to stay full-size in terms of firing batteries, and are apparently expected to include 2 batteries on L118 Light Gun, one battery armed with AS90 self-propelled guns and one battery of GMLRS.
However, at the moment I have no way to confirm this report. Uncertainty seems to be still the rule, at the moment, regarding the Adaptable regiments. The rumour above deserves to be reported, but cannot at this stage be confirmed. Personally, I find it hard to believe in such a regimental structure. I wouldn’t complain if it turned out to be true, but it honestly looks too optimistic to me.
The Royal Engineers, in similar fashion, will have 3 full-capability regiments in the Reaction Force and 2 regiments in the Adaptable force, which reportedly will be downsized from three to two squadrons.
It has not been clearly disclosed yet how the regiments will be organized, and while it is fair to assume that 22 and 26 Regts are due to be in the Reactive force, there is not yet an official confirmation I’m aware of, and the identity of the third Reaction regiment is still up for debate. 21 Regiment should be part of the Adaptable force, as it is in the Catterick area. The last regiment, I guess, will relocate somewhere in or around Cottesmore on return from Germany.
The latest update provided by the Royal Engineer’s colonel states that the readiness levels and training requirements for the engineers have been determined:
a. Reaction Forces (RF). RF Formations will complete sequenced Collective Training (CT) level 2-4 (CT2-4) training on Salisbury Plain Training Area and BATUS (Canada). Outside the Training Year, RF units will retain currency through one CT1-2 event and a period of Command & Staff Trainer and Combined Arms Tactical Trainer annually. RF Bde HQs will train to CT5 twice every three years.b. Specialist Forces. The Specialist Bdes (3 Cdo and 16 Air Asslt) will operate on a 2-year FORM. A training period of 12-months will achieve CT2-4 at BATUK (Kenya) and CENZUB (France) followed by 12-months on Very High or High Readiness where they will conduct low-level CT1-2 training to retain skills.c. Adaptable Forces (AF). AF Forces will train to CT1 on Back-Door Training Areas with CT 2-3 exercises conducted mainly on Salisbury Plain, but with some training delivered at BATUK and/or selected Overseas Trg Exercise. Units will train to CT3 once every three years.d. Force Support (FS). The two FS Engr Regts will be required to conduct training and provide troops at readiness to AIR/SF and LAND/Log/Maritime components either sequentially or concurrently. Each FS Regt will conduct Special To Arm CT3 training in the UK as well as deploying Troops and Squadrons to participate in supporting LAND CT4 exercises in BATUK/ CENZUB, or AIR Support training at air bases as required.e. Infra Sp. Wks Gps will be tied to Log Bdes for training and readiness periods. In addition to conducting their own ‘Professional Deepening’ and CT 1-2 in the UK, each Wks Gp will support Joint Force Enabling Exercises, selected CT3-4 Overseas Training eXercises (OTX) and “upstream capacity building” (future capacity) activities.f. EOD & Search. Owing to their commitments and bespoke training requirements, the UK Ops Regt will operate outside of the usual FORM cycle of training and readiness.g. Military Stabilisation & Support Group (MSSG). The MSSG will be the core of the new Security Assistance Group developing the Land Environments role in Defence Engagement, including upstream capacity building. This commitment will require bespoke stabilisation training outside of the usual FORM cycle, but with stabilisation teams at readiness to support VHR, RF and AF Bdes.6. Geo. Support to Op HERRICK continued and Field Survey team deployed to survey three of the airfields in Afghanistan and the Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus. Thirty Geo personnel deployed in support of Op OLYMPICS, providing Geo support and advice across all levels of command; five personnel deployed on Op ESCALIN providing Geo advice and support to COBRA, Ministers and operational commands. Geo support has been provided to a number of JTFHQ exercises and in an effort to consolidate resources and provide better multi-intelligence analysis the moves to Wyton in 2013 and 2014 are firmly in the planning frame. Finally, JAGO hosted a French delegation and plans to develop further the relationship and conduct joint exercises in 2013 and 2014.
The Force Support regiments are 39 Regt and 36 Regt. I expect 36 Regiment to inherit the River Crossing capability provided by the M3 rigs of 23 Amphibious Squadron, 28 Regiment, but I’ve not yet seen anything official speaking in this sense.
It is also not yet clear what will happen with the invaluable TALISMAN route clearance equipment. I very much hope it is retained as a Force Support capability, since the need for it is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
JAGO, which is the Headquarters Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation, is expected to transfer, along with 42 (Geographic) Regiment, from Hermitage to RAF Wyton.
Wyton is due to become, under Project PRIDE, the home to the new Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) which brings together the Command Group and elements of the Intelligence Collection Group. Wyton will also host the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (DGIFC), formerly known as Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC). DGIFC provides specialist imagery intelligence to the armed forces through the exploitation of satellite imaging systems, as well as airborne and ground-based collection systems.
The training requirements for the engineer components provide an interesting insight into the readiness levels the Army plans for its brigades in the future. CT stands for Collective Training, and is a measure of the training undergone by a formation. It is a key component of the wider concept of Readiness, and measures the capabilities of a formation on a scale going from Level 1 to 6:
CT 1: Training at up to troop / platoon level.
CT 2: Training at sub-unit level.
CT 3: Sub-unit training in a task organised unit or combined arms BG context.
CT 4: Task organised unit or BG training conducted in a combined arms formation context.
CT 5: Brigade level formation training.
CT 6: Division level formation training.
CT 2: Training at sub-unit level.
CT 3: Sub-unit training in a task organised unit or combined arms BG context.
CT 4: Task organised unit or BG training conducted in a combined arms formation context.
CT 5: Brigade level formation training.
CT 6: Division level formation training.
Force Troops and brigades
Another point of Army 2020 that remains all but clear is the exact composition of the Force Troops element and the exact distribution of Artillery, Engineer and Logistic regiments.
The Army 2020 plan as announced in July last year implied that all artillery regiments would be removed from the manoeuvre brigades and grouped under the command of 1st Artillery Brigade. The same was going to happen with the engineer regiments under 8th Engineer brigade and with RLC regiments too.
The plan even included standing up a Military Police brigade to reunite all RMP regiments, removing them and the provost companies from the brigades they have been a part of for so many years.
This meant a total of 21 brigade headquarters appeared on the Army 2020 structure.
The plan has left me unconvinced from the very start, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies has agreed with my assessment when writing about Army 2020, noting that removing such elements from the brigades is likely to have an impact on the chances for proper collective training to take place. The reassignment of the various regiments also makes little sense because the formations are still likely to be based in the various brigade-garrisons around the UK, close to the brigades they support, and far away from the rather meaningless Artillery or Engineer brigade HQs.
Lastly, with the Army forced, by logic and by necessity, to structure 3 regiments of each support element (Medical, REME, Engineer, Artillery, Logistic) to support the Armoured brigades and two more to support the adaptable force, centralizing the control over the regiments is kind of deprived of any real meaning: in the end, it is still 3 “armoured” and two lighter formations.
After holding a series of meetings and talks with generals Wall, Abraham and Carter, the IISS this January wrote a general overview of the Army 2020 plan, and slipped in the detail that the brigade HQs will be 18.
After that, the Royal Engineers have rolled out the training plan reported above, which evidences that the Reaction Force regiments will need to train in Salisbury regardless of what command they are under, and Jane’s deliberately talks of artillery regiments assigned to the armoured brigades.
I can’t help observing that 18 brigade HQs are those that Army 2020 would imply if the Artillery, Engineer and Military Police 1-star HQs were removed.
This is what the Army 2020 brochure described (left) alongside the current map of regional brigade HQs (right):
While it is not yet official, it is fair to assume that no regular brigade HQ will be lost, so where they overlap with existing regional brigades, I’m assuming the regional brigade colors will be laid up. So:
- 43 South West brigade gone, regional point of contact in 1st Artillery Brigade
- 49 East brigade gone, possibly with regional point of contact within the Cottersmore-based brigade
- 143 West brigade gone, regional point of contact within 11 Signal Brigade
- 15 North East brigade gone, possibly with regional point of contact within Catterick-based brigade
- 145 South, 2 South East and London District gone. London will have a brigade HQ, could be either 145, 2 or a new brigade identity. The South East will be controlled via regional point of contact within 8th Engineer brigade.
Things might have changed, if the IISS is right and the brigade HQs are going down to 18.
I’m personally in favor of the 18 brigade HQs.
Here is how I’d do it: I’d keep the RMP companies and regimental HQs assigned in the same way as now, doing away with the need for a new 1-star command.
I’d assign the engineer and artillery regiments directly to the brigades and do away with Artillery and Engineer brigade HQs.
Three Artillery and 3 Engineer regiments are already in the right places:
1 RHA --- > Tidworth
19 RA --- > Tidworth
When 26 RA and one Engineer regiment return from Germany and are accommodated somewhere in the Salisbury area, the Reaction Brigades are served.
4 RA --- > Topcliffe
21 RE --- > Ripon
4 Regt RA and 21 Regt RE are in good positions to be part of the Catterick-based Adaptable Brigade.
The other Adaptable Brigade to be given regular-manned supports would, in my opinion, be that based at Cottesmore. I can’t see much real will or logic in sending artillery and engineers up to Scotland. The brigade up north will have to do with 105 Regt RA(V).
The engineer regiment for the Cottesmore brigade could move directly from Germany into the ex-airbase, while 3 RHA could find a home in St George barracks, North Luffenham, when 16 Regt RA moves out to Thorney Island.
The disbandment of 39 Regt RA has also freed up a place in Newcastle, so that 3 RHA could move there (and in this case I’d say it would be assigned to the Catterick brigade, while 4 Regt RA would “look south” to be part of the Cottesmore brigade, without moving from Topcliffe).
This is my proposal. I think there are realistic options for direct assignment and no visible need for a subordination to specialist brigades that would end up being nothing more than very virtual containers.
The Army 2020 brochure also assigned to the Artillery and Engineer brigades control over two regions of the UK (in replacement of current Regional Brigades that will cease to exist): 1st Artillery Brigade would have control over Cornwall and 8th Engineer Brigade would command the South East.
I’d give these responsibilities respectively to the Surveillance and Intelligence Brigade and to the London-centred infantry brigade. Judging from what is happening with 11th Signal Brigade in the West region, after all, the local control is exercised by an additional office known as Regional Point of Contact (RPoC) which should be easily added to any HQ.
Another change I made would be to the 2-star “UK Support Command” established in Aldershot to replace the regional division HQs. This new command in my opinion has been overtaken by the events: it was envisaged as part of an army structure that had to comprise 5 multi-role brigades and up to ten regional brigades in support. With Army 2020, it makes more sense to make it a “normal” divisional HQ, such as 4 Division, which used to be in Aldershot. This HQ would control the four “non-deployable” adaptable brigades, including the one centered on London, which is likely to be the least deployable of all, mostly acting as a “container” for the battalions posted in Public Role and possibly for the Brunei and Cyprus garrisons.
My proposed Army 2020 layout follows:
I’ve not numbered the brigade and Division HQs, other than 4 Division in Aldershot, replacing the “UK Support Command”. The eventual swapping of colours and identities to allow, as rumoured, 7, 20 and 4 brigades to be the Reaction Force is a matter of seniority that the army will sort out. I’ll focus more on the “physical” changes.
These are, overall, minimum: the London Brigade takes the responsibility for the South East region, and the Surveillance & Intelligence brigade HQ replaces the 1st Artillery Brigade in Netheravon, taking up responsibility over Cornwall with a RPoC. There is no military police brigade.
The Reaction Division HQ controls the 3 armoured brigades and 16 Air Assault Bde.
The Adaptable Division HQ controls the 3 “deployable” adaptable brigades
4th Division in Aldershot controls the 4 “regional” brigades left.