Monday, April 14, 2014

Force Troops Command and Royal Engineers of Army 2020

The Army has produced a good, clear brochure showing the structure of the "new" Force Troops Command, which is more honestly describable as a restructured Theatre Troops command.

The brochure is very clear in showing how units are assigned to the various brigades of the FTC, so i'll let you read it directly from the document. It is however worth noticinga few things: after a lot of speculation about the fate of the Self-Propelled Starstreak (Stormer HVM) air defence platforms, we can now say that the system looks like a big winner, not a loser.
Fears for the future of the system were generated by the news, dating back to 2009, that the Stormer vehicle would be withdrawn from service and sold. While it is true that several Stormer vehicles have been put up for sale, a sizeable force of modernized Stormer HVM remains very much in service and important. Under Army 2020, Stormer HVM will equip a total of five artillery batteries, of which three regular and two reserve.

As of now, 12 Regiment Royal Artillery has a couple of Stormer HVM batteries (9 (Plassey) Bty and 58 (Eyre's) Bty), and is apparently due to form a third battery. I've been trying to find out which colors will be assigned to the new battery, but at the moment i still don't have the answer.
Predictably, the three Stormer batteries are meant to support the three armoured infantry brigades of the Reaction Force. 
12 Regiment also maintains 12 (Minden) Bty employing the LML triple launcher. This battery has the task of generating air defence packages at very high readiness, notably to be assigned to 16 Air Assault Brigade.

106 Regiment Royal Artillery, in the Army Reserve, is to have two Stormer HVM batteries (295 and 457 Batteries) and a Lightweight Multiple Launcher (LML) capability in 265 Bty.

The document also finally clears up the position of 49 Bty Royal Artillery, which is confirmed as LEAPP formation, as passing under the command of Joint Ground Based Air Defence and as based in Thorney Island. It will however remain an independent battery, instead of being absorbed by 16 Regiment RA. 
Joint Ground Based Air Defence is under Air Command OPCON, but Force Troops Command will have a coordinating authority over the force.

Less operationally relevant, but still worth noticing, is that the badge for the Intelligence and Surveillance Brigade might not have been firmly chosen yet. In earlier Army 2020 documents produced by the Army, the new brigade was identified by the glorious badge of what in the past was Reconnaissance Corps. But in the whole FTC brochure, the Intelligence and Surveillance Brigade always appears without any badge. This might indicate that the Army is still thinking about it, on the way to the formation of the brigade, which will stand up on 1 September.

Will this be confirmed as the badge for 1 ISR Bde?

Moving to the Royal Engineers, an excellent graphic has been produced by the corps of Royal Engineers, showing the structure that the force will assume as part of Army 2020 restructuring:


The graphic is clear and immensely useful, but it needs a couple of notes. Since it dates November 2013, it shows 24 Commando Engineer Regiment in red, denoting its uncertain future. It has now been announced that the regiment will not disband as earlier announced as part of Army 2020 cuts.

Another note regards again the use of color code. Despite being an official document, the graphic contains a couple of errors: 106 Field Squadron, in 32 Regt, is shown in black, denoting regular forces. It should be written in green, as it is actually a reserve squadron.
In 33 EOD Regiment there's a second mistake, exactly opposite: 821 Sqn is written in green, denoting reserves, but it is actually a regular squadron, comprising two Air Assault and two Commando EOD troops for the support of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3rd Commando Brigade.

In the EOD regiments, including 11 Regiment EOD Royal Logistic Corps, much is changing, as Search and EOD functions are combined in the squadrons, and RE and RLC elements get mixed and integrated together. 821 Sqn has been the first mixed RLC and RE squadron, born out of a wider restructuring process that saw the disbandment of 49 EOD Sqn in July 2013.
According to a Royal Engineers report, 11 Regiment RLC is assuming the responsibility for the provision of Search support to Special Forces for UK Resilience and work is ongoing to give it a UK Military Aid to Civil Powers (MACP) Search capability as well.
33 EOD Regiment is primarily tasked with EOD support to the Reaction Force, while 101 EOD Regiment supports the Adaptable Force.

In the EOD area there are also promising news regarding the future of the TALISMAN Route Clearance system. I have to thank MikeW for dropping me a comment in which he linked me to the website of the 101 EOD Regiment association, which contains information about the future:

As a result of OP Herrick EOD deveopments in support of Afganistan it is envisaged that the 'Talisman Troop' concept for route enablement and IED search and destroy missions will be retained and further developed. It is thought that 101 and 33 Engineer Regiments will each operate four enhanced Talisman Troops.
Talisman currently comprises 5 key equipment elements: Buffalo clearance vehicle, Mastiff 2 command and control 'Protected Eyes', T-Hawk micro UAV system, Talon robotic vehicle and a High Mobility Engineer Excavator.
It is probable that Talisman will be enhanced further in the near future with one or two 'Terrier' vehicles, and a 'Husky' vehicle equipped with ground penetrating radar. 

This brief passage does not quite contain all the information i'd like, but it does give good hopes. The Royal Artillery seem set to retain the T-Hawk micro UAV. The purchase of the proven, capable Husky would provide better capability than the current PANAMA system, made up by a number of Land Rover Snatch converted into remotely-operated vehicles fitted with ground-penetrating sensors.
The incorporation of a number of Terrier vehicles is not surprising. What remains in doubt is the future of the High Mobility Engineer Excavator, which was originally purchased as a gap-filler between the withdrawal of CET in 2008 and the entry in service of Terrier itself.
It might well be that a number of HMEE will actually stay, to provide a deployable wheeled capability to complement the tracked Terrier.
No details about another component of TALISMAN, the unmanned Mini Minewolf MW240.

Mini Minewolf with all its tools
Buffalo rummaging vehicle with PANAMA in tow
PANAMA in action
Husky: a possible future addition

The retention of TALISMAN elements (or even the interity of it) and its further evolution are a relatively cheap way to meet the  Route Clearance and Mine Countermeasure RCMC requirement of the wider Army 2020 plan. Thales UK, already Mission System Design Authority for TALISMAN, is working with the Army to develop the concept to bring forwards. There is the ambition to maintain the capability and further evolve it, and Husky with ground penetrating radar could well have a role to play.
However, there are alternatives: Pearson Engineering offers its impressive Pearson Engineering Route Opening and Clearing Capability (PEROCC) vehicle, which while expensive to buy new, would arguably replace at least two big parts of TALISMAN: the sensor (PANAMA or Husky) and the rummaging vehicle, currently the US-built Buffalo. It also has a full set of rollers.
PEROCC is a big vehicle, but is air portable inside the C-17, and replacing at least two different platforms with only one could well be actually advantageous.

The huge and very impressive PEROCC brings three capabilities into one vehicle: a complete set of rollers; ground-penetrating radar and sensors; and a powerful rummaging arm. On its own, it can replace two or three of the current TALISMAN vehicles, which could very well prove advantageous.

Other big changes in the Royal Engineers have taken place in 170 (Infrastructure Support) group, which has taken under command the Royal Monmouthshire RE (Militia) regiment and has seen the Specialist Teams (STREs) reorganized across Works Groups.
67 Works Group has been disbanded under the cuts, with the remaining STREs redistributed to concentrate all Heavy Teams (Power, Water, Fuel, Force Protection Engineering (FPE) and Materials)
all under 66 Wks Gp, leaving 62, 63 and 64 Works Groups as construction teams.

How 170 (Infra Sp) Group changes

20 Works Group, for support to air force deployments, sits under 12 Force Support group, alongside the Air Support regiment (39 Regt, paired with the reserve 71 regiment).
36 Regiment, which in these years had been "loaned" to EOD Search work, has moved back into Force Support role, mainly land. In support it has 75 Regiment, Army Reserve, which is receiving the M3 rigs to become the Army's sole Wide Wet Gap Crossing regiment, replacing the regular capability which used to come from the now disbanding 28 Regiment RE.

25 Group (Close Support) is wholly new, and is born out of the Army 2020 decision to centralize control of combat support units. It will have two Hybrid Adaptable Regiments, including reserve squadrons (21 and 32 Regt) and 3 regular Armoured Engineer Regiments, for support of the Reaction Force armored brigades.
Only 16 Air Assault and 3rd Commando are retaining direct control of their supporting units. 25 Group will anyway have coordinating authority over them.

Now, if only the Royal Artillery could produce a similar graphic with all the many changes at battery level, it would be very handy! As it stands now, there is still uncertainty regarding many of the details of the Royal Artillery reorganisation, from the unnamed new battery for 12 Regiment to the exact fate of the batteries in 4 RA [97 (Lawson's Company) Battery] and 3 RHA [J (Sidi Rezegh) Battery] that lose their guns but do not disband. These two batteries become additional TAC Groups, but it would be nice to have clarity on this and other things. If the two regiments don't lose other batteries in exchange, they will both end up with two gun batteries each, and two or three TAC Batteries each, denoting that they will be containers for large numbers of Fire Support Teams.
This might be the result of the assumption that FSTs are better provided by regulars due to their more complex role (and training), while additional L118 Light Guns could be provided by the paired regiments of the Army Reserve: 4 RA is paired with 103 RA, and 3 RHA is paired with 105 RA.


  1. Great post, one of the best for a while. This is valuable information on the orbat.

    Much to absorb and make note of.

    1. It was a pleasure to write this one, and i knew it would be appreciated. Glad to hear it.

      I really do wish the Royal Artillery could make its own graphic now...!

  2. 299 & 131 Squadrons still part of 21 & 32.

    Bloody bad management.

    Stick them with 24 and 23 surely???!

    1. That's definitely what i'd do.
      I really can't understand the sense in that subordination of those particular squadrons. One of the things i'd definitely want to see corrected if i was the one pulling the strings.

  3. Reading in 1st Artillery Bde.

    " Battlefield Coordination Detachment ( Air ) "

    Had not heard of that one. Commands all TACP apparently.

  4. Did you create the Scridd doc yourself? Can't find it on

  5. Of course no, i didn't. The brochure was a media hand-out at the FTC stand up event.

    1. ok soft copy?

      How did you guess which batteries go to Stormer?

    2. I didn't guess. Two batteries already are on Stormer, and the 106 Regiment restructuring is detailed everywhere already, on the army's website as well.
      What's left to discover is the identity of the third Stormer battery for 12 Regiment.

  6. I also note that 74 Battery from 39 Reg is listed seperately from 32 and 47 Regiments?

    Involved with UAV? Why seperate formation?

    1. "UAS Support battery". Not very clear yet what it means, though.

  7. I am looking forward to seeing how much the British Army cares about C-IED by 2020...


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