Thursday, December 15, 2016

Army 2020 Refine: even worse than expected - UPDATES

23 February 2017 UPDATE: the Royal Engineers are working on their own restructuring plan for Army 2020. What is already decided is that 35 Engineer Regiment, on return from Germany, will re-role to EOD & Search. As part of the process it will lose 29 Sqn, re-subordinated to 21 Engineer Regiment; and 37 Squadron, which will go to 32 Engineer Regiment. This will bring the future Strike Brigade engineer regiments up to strenght. Currently, as part of the earlier Army 2020, both 21 and 32 are severely understrenght, missing a whole regular sub-unit, although they control a reserve squadron each. 
At the moment they are under control of 12 Force Support Engineer Group, but they continue to support the brigades in the Adaptable Force.

The enlarged EOD & Search group will be reorganized, but details are still being worked out.

Growth is expected in Wide Wet Gap Crossing, which might be a way to say that some regulars will get back in the M3 rig business, after it was offloaded to 75 Engineer Regiment (Reserve) in the earlier version of Army 2020. Another effect of the "return to East Europe"?

Works Groups will also face a reorganization, and Royal Engineer Reserve units will be realigned to better support the new structure and new aims.

16 February 2017 UPDATE: the composition of the STRIKE Brigades artillery regiments (3 RHA and 4 RA) will be: 

HQ Bty
2x Gun Bty
3x Tac Gp Bty

3 RHA is ending the 3 gun batteries "experiment" (an attempt to avoid shrinking to just two gun batteries by having 3 batteries on 4 guns rather than 2 on 6 guns as for initial Army 2020 thinking) and is pulling the guns out of J (Sidi Rezegh) Bty.
The regiment expects to grow by some 110 posts.

1 February 2017 UPDATE: the Attack Helicopter Force 

While the Army Air Corps waits to learn the fate of its bases, which is being decided in a separate and specific review of infrastructure and could still result in closures (Middle Wallop, close to Salisbury Plain but with less machines than ever because of the smaller fleets under UK Military Flying Training System Rotary Wing; or Wattisham, less geographically fortunate but full of stuff that would require quite a few quids to relocate...?), the Attack Helicopter Force is being asked to modify its Readiness mechanism to deliver even more with, if not less, the same. 

Up to the end of 2016, 3 and 4 Regiment have been alternating yearly in High Readiness. During the year at High Readiness, each regiment aligned one Apache squadron with the Lead Air Assault task force and one with the Lead Commando Battlegroup.

From 2017, the mechanism is changing towards one of "permanent readiness". Gone is the training year, and the demands increase a lot as 4 Regiment is assigned permanently to support of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando, with 664 Sqn specializing in Land Air Assault and 656 Sqn in Maritime operations.

3 Regiment, on the other hand, will align with 3rd UK Division. Details are still to come, but it seems reasonable to assume that its two frontline Apache squadrons will be required to align to the Armoured and Strike Brigade that will hold Readiness every year.

31 January 2017 UPDATE: some confirmations. 

SOLDIER magazine of February provides another partial update on Army 2020 Refine, which contains confirmation to some of my assumptions. Among these, the role of 3 RIFLES, 21 Engineer Regiment and 3 Medical Regiment. 
Some unit moves are detailed, although not with dates. All should happen within 5 years, apparently. The new readiness mechanism, with one armoured and one Strike brigade at readiness at once every year, should become operational around 2023.
Some moves were already known and planned, some others are new.

Household Cavalry Regiment will move to Bulford from Windsor

Scots Guards to Catterick from Aldershot 

1st RLC from Bicester to Catterick 

3 Medical Regiment from Preston to Catterick (this is the image of the Army's incoherent planning: from Catterick to Preston and back again) 

21 Engineer Regiment, from Ripon to Catterick 

Royal Dragoon Guards, from Catterick to Warminster

1st YORKS, from Warminster to Catterick 

Royal Lancers, from Catterick to Warminster

4th Royal Artillery, from Topcliffe to Newcastle 

2 Close Support REME, from Leuchars to Catterick 

16 January 2017 UPDATE: The Army finally speaks. 

The armoured brigades of Army 2020 Refine will be 20th and 12th Brigades. 

The Strike Brigades will be 1st Brigade, converted from the armoured role, and a "new" brigade. 
This year will see the Scots Guards and the Household Cavalry move into a "Strike Experimentation Group. In 2019 they will be joined by King's Royal Hussars and 4 SCOTS, and at that point the Group will become a brigade, picking a badge. To me, 4th Infantry Brigade, being based in Catterick, continues to look best positioned candidate, but it seems the deal is not quite sealed. 

The Specialised Infantry Group will form during January and will take command of 4 RIFLES and 1 SCOTS in April, to achieve an IOC hopefully by the autumn. The Specialised Infantry Battalions are expected to take a permanent regional focus, and probably, for obvious reasons, the first two will probably be Middle East and Europe. 

Nothing on the surviving Armoured and Infantry brigades. Note that Strike Brigades are peculiarly described as something that will "enable maneuver at Division level", which reinforces my feeling that these weird things are supposed to be kind of like the Division's reconnaissance element. 

The first announcement about Army 2020 Refine is out, and the news it brings are even worse than expected. General Carter apparently wants to shed Challenger 2 tanks quickly, before his successor can perhaps think again about it: the King's Royal Hussars will be put inside the first Strike Brigade, which can only mean losing Challenger 2 to get Ajax instead. Rushing the cut through is the only explanation for converting one of just 3 tank regiments before converting the cavalry formations that were due to get Ajax in the first place.
The Royal Lancers were planned to be the first regiment to get Ajax, and this statement throws that very much in doubt. Why should the few and precious Challenger 2s go out of the window before Scimitar does, considering that it is the latter that badly needs replacement and is supposed to be entirely gone by 2026? 

There is no telling yet whether or not the armoured brigades will get their own cavalry regiment, and how Ajax will now be distributed and employed. Horribly, the Chief of Staff now openly calls it a "medium tank" in its video to the troops.
A MOD-supplied written evidence paper draws a line between "cavalry" (reconnaissance) Ajax regiment and "Medium Armour" regiment, with each Strike Brigade to have one of each.
What the actual differences will be isn't easy to guess. Unless the Army is in the budgetary position to resurrect the Medium Armour variant of the vehicle, which was to be armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, the key piece in either formation will be the same Ajax in Scout configuration. Same protection, same firepower. Same thing. The difference could thus be mostly about numbers, sub-variants distribution (the very few Joint Fires and Ground Based Surveillance vehicles would go to the recce cavalry, one would guess) and the number of Ares APCs and, consequently, of dismounts.
Of course, if the Army had the money to procure an actual "medium tank" or direct fire vehicle for the Strike Brigade it would probably purchase a wheeled one based on the MIV hull, so i don't expect Ajax Medium Armour to return. That means Scouts will become "medium tanks" by virtue of empty words. This is a lie that will break the army's back with this ill informed reform and that will one day cost lives if some politician unaware of what a tank is ever believes to the statement.

The other Ajax regiment will be the Household Cavalry (no change, it was already going to be an Ajax regiment), with the infantry represented by the Scot Guards and 4 Scots. Both battalions were already planned as Mechanized infantry as part of Army 2020.
The Household will move out of Windsor, heading probably for Salisbury Plain, and the Welsh Guards will move in to replace them. 

No clue to the identity of the brigade, but it seems pretty much certain that it'll be either one of the currently armoured brigades or 4 Brigade by virtue of its base already being Catterick.

Whether the RLC regiment(s) assigned to the Strike Brigades will be suitably restructured to give a bit of credibility to the talk of these brigades moving rapidly back and forth across as many as 2000 km on land to dominate "vast battlespaces" is an open question. The French have created combat companies within each logistic regiment so that they can self-escort and fight through, and this appears to be one of many key requisites for the Strike Brigade concept to make any kind of sense. We'll see if anything is done about it.
The direct mention of RLC units is interesting in itself, however: is the Army backtracking on its earlier decision to pull the supporting regiments out of the manoeuvre brigades? Is it true only for the Strike Brigades due to a "french-like" approach for them? We do not yet know, since nothing else is said about the shape of the Strike Brigade and even less about the future of the remaining Armoured brigades.

Strike Brigades: the first Strike Brigade will operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and will be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units will be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.

UPDATE 23 December 2016: 

Collating together the various news and an ORBAT table for the second Strike Brigade which the MOD passed along to Jane's, the intended structure for the two Strike Brigades is as follows in the tables:

CORRECTION: The 1st Brigade will eventually convert from Armour to Strike. 
The other Strike Brigade (which might actually be the first to form, though) will "pick a badge" in 2019, evolving from what will start this year as "Strike Experimentation Group". 

20th and 12th brigades will stay in the Armoured infantry role.

I also don't yet know the identity of the medical regiment that will be aligned with the first Strike Brigade, although 3rd Regiment looks to me to be relatively well positioned for the role. 
There is no official confirmation of 21 Engineer Regiment being assigned to the first Strike Brigade either, but being already based in the right place it seems an obvious pick. 

UPDATE: the reserve tank regiment, Royal Wessex Yeomanry, a 3rd Division asset, is getting a modest uplift in manpower, in no way substitutive for the loss of a regular tank regiment. 

Message from the Commanding Officer of the RWxY.

On Friday, the detail of Army 2020 Refine was announced. For our Regiment, it is excellent news that sees you and RWxY rewarded for all of your individual and collective efforts. You have demonstrated that the Reservist can train on and operate the CR2 platform with a success that has attracted CGS' attention. From 2017, the RWxY will continue to deliver the Armd Reinforcement Regt, but will also take on an additional Armd Replacement role. Y (RWY) Sqn is now a fully established sub unit on our orbat with the benefits of Perm Staff that that brings. Each Sqn will also grow in size by an additional tank crew per Troop. This will strengthen each of our Sqns by another 20 Officers and Soldiers. This is exactly what we asked for and have worked hard for.

For sure, 1st YORKS is due for transition from Warrior to MIV in 2020. Remarkably (but unsurprisingly), the commanding officer himsef knows little of what is to come:

I have received orders yesterday confirming that 1 YORKS will redesignate to the Mech Inf role in 2020. The Bn is expected to relocate from WARMINSTER to CATTERICK in 2020.
At this time, we understand little about the detail of this change and I would encourage you not to speculate. I have been told that our establishment will grow, with bigger rifle platoons and a larger REME Light Aid Detachment. There is more work to come to confirm our mix of vehicles, which barracks we will occupy in Catterick and the finer details of the move.

The Fusiliers will retain the Armoured Infantry role on Warrior and will see their reserve battalion strenghtened: 

First Fusiliers will remain in Tidworth in the Armoured Infantry role. Part of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade it will remain on the tip of the spear for the UK Reactive Force. Fifth Fusiliers will grow to incorporate MG Pl in Bury, A Company in Sheldon and C Company in Balham. This is a significant win and will see us once more with a Regimental C2 node in each of our recruiting areas. The Fifth Battalion will also become officially 'paired' with First Fusiliers, presenting further opportunities for training and operations.

UPDATE: Within 1st UK Division, the 1st Royal Irish will lose Foxhound and re-convert to Light Role, rebuilding the 3 platoons lost with the Army 2020 downsizing. It will also move to a new home which has yet to be chosen.

Basing: Barracks will close in 2022 and 1 R IRISH will move to a new location. There has been no decision yet as to where this will be.

Role and establishment: 1 R IRISH will convert to Light Role Infantry. The battalion will also increase in size, growing by 3 rifle platoons and some positions within the Quartermaster’s department. The regular/reserve partnership with 2 R IRISH will remain and 2 R IRISH will also grow by 3 platoons.

Infantry division affiliation: Both 1 and 2 R IRISH will remain under operational command of 1 (UK) Division. The administrative infantry division - which coordinates career management and appointments - will change. The Regiment will become part of a new infantry division, with the Royal Welsh & the Royal Regiment of Scotland. This new division will bring Regular and Reserve posting opportunities for our soldiers within the Armoured, Mechanised, Light Role and new Specialised Infantry career fields.

UPDATE: the Mercian regiment enjoys stability and will keep its two regular and one reserve battalions. It is also confirmed in the current roles, (1st battalion is Armoured Infantry and 2nd is Light Role). 

Two battalions will be downsized and transformed into Defence Engagement / "Specialized Infantry" battalions during 2017:

The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland    (Light Role) 4th Battalion The Rifles   (Mechanized Infantry / Heavy Protected Mobility infantry) 

4 Rifles is a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Army 2020, so a unit of 700 men. It'll be savagely slimmed down to 300 with excess manpower progressively redirected elsewhere.
Come 2019, they are due to be joined by

2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Light Role)2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (Light Role) 

UPDATE 16 January 2017: The Duke of Lancaster's regiment future has emerged thanks to a House of Commons Written Answer which also provides useful information that probably applies to all battalions in similar roles: 

1st Battalion will stay as a Light Role formation and will rebuild the missing Rifle Platoons lost under the earlier version of Army 2020. Its regular liability is exected to go from 560 to 630 men as a consequence of the restructuring. All Light Role infantry battalions should be rebuilt in similar fashion. 

2nd Battalion will become a Specialised Infantry formation, as announced, and will drop from 560 to as few as 270 regulars. 

4th Battalion, in the Reserve, is expected to grow from 400 to around 500 men. 

The regimental headquarters is based in Fulwood Barracks, Preston, which is planned for disposal under the Better Defence Estate Strategy in 2022. A future location for the regimental headquarters will be determined following a process of detailed assessment and planning.

UPDATE 16 January 2017: It is not yet possible to confirm this news, but it seems that Army 2020 Refine intends to reconvert all Light Mechanized Battalions into Light Role infantry battalions. Foxhound-mounted battalions would cease to exist as a permanent ORBAT feature very soon after appearing. 
The future of the Protected Mobility fleet (Mastiff, Ridgback and Foxhound, chiefly) remains uncertain at this stage. 

Specialised Infantry Battalions
In 2017 the Army will also create the first two new Specialised Infantry battalions to pioneer this new capability. These units will be The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and 4th Battalion The Rifles, the former relocating to Aldershot from Belfast by 2019. A new Group headquarters for the units will be established, initially based in York alongside the 1st (UK) Division of which the Group will be part, before moving to Aldershot by 2020. To reinforce this capability the Army plans to create two further Specialised Infantry battalions by 2019. These units will be the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment both joining the group in Aldershot by 2020.

Let's recall Carter's words about the Specialised Infantry Battalions: 

General Sir Nicholas Carter: Putting that smartly to one side, what it actually means goes back to when I talked about specialised infantry battalions in answer to the very first question. These creatures, which will only be about 300 strong, allow me—because they will be built from battalions that are 550 strong—to be able to reinvest over time the 250 saving which you make into the other infantry battalions around them to make them more resilient.

General Carter oral evidence to the Defence Committee

"Adjustements" are to follow within supporting units and it is here that the pain spikes up, as the Army seems to be rushing towards the loss of the capability to work to a "1 in 5" rule as it has so far. The pain hits all trades but the Signals, with regiments "rationalized" to feed what remains: 

32 Royal Artillery  (currently one of the 2 UAV regiments, alongside 47 RA) 

35 Royal Engineer  (currently an armoured engineer regiment) 
2 Medical  (Adaptable Force) 
33 Field Hospital (one of only 3 regular field hospitals) 
HQ 4 Regiment Royal Military Police
HQ 64 Works Group Royal Engineer 

102 Logistic Brigade HQ will also be "rationalized" as had already been reported. 

21 and 32 Engineer Regiments, based in Catterick, are in the intended "Strike Brigades" home, so they can expect a manpower, equipment and structure uplift as they feed on the remains of 35 Engineer Regiment. A number of Titan and Trojan will no doubt be lost as a consequence.

UPDATE: 35 Regiment will become the new EOD unit to be formed in the reserve.

In the artillery, the loss of 32 Regiment is curious, given that it currently operates Tactical Batteries equipped with the Desert Hawk III mini-drone. The UAV mission is not going away, i assume (you never know, in these days no decision is too insane, apparently...) so either 47 regiment will be enlarged to take on the totality of the UAV role or something else is brewing. Probably one of the other regiments will replace 32 RA in the role, i'm guessing. The selection of 32nd RA for disbandment is probably mostly tied to the fact that it will be easier to convert one of the gun regiments already in place for the Strike role. 

UPDATE: 32 Regiment won't be cut before 2021. Until then, business largely as usual although the Force Generation cycle will change in 2019 to follow the army-wide change to a 2-brigades-at-readiness stance. 

UPDATE: a letter from 1st Artillery Brigade HQ has been published that provides some more information about the future of the Artillery. 
The Precision Fires Batteries that have been built within the heavy artillery regiments after 2010 and which are equipped with regular-crewed GMLRS and EXACTOR will be removed from the regiments and concentrated into Larkhill, under 26 Royal Artillery which becomes a Division Fires Regiment, with 101 Royal Artillery keeping the reserve GMLRS role. 

26 Royal Artillery will take under command H Bty and 176 Bty, while its AS90s and Tac Group will be redistributed. The change of role comes in 2019. Equipment will be GMLRS and EXACTOR. 

"Subject to further planning" 101 Regiment's future will be as follows: "Regimental liability will be reduced to better reflect a modern expeditionary division. The Regimental structure of 4x Sub Units and an RHQ will remain the same.

3 Royal Horse Artillery and 4 Royal Artillery will become the Strike regiments and a "new medium weight wheeled gun" will be put into service before 2025". STRIKE 155, the artillery programme for the Strike Brigades, maybe has a budget after all. 
If i have to guess what will be picked, i say CAESAR or M777. If the Royal Artillery is extremely lucky, it will be able to purchase the proposed 8x8 CAESAR, which unlike the variant already in service in the Armee de Terre is a true self-propelled gun, automated and with no requirement for the crew to leave the armoured citadel. The BAE-Bofors Archer would be better, but cost and political considerations probably mean CAESAR is the favorite. It has also already been trialed by british gunners in several occasions. 
Both regiments to be based in Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but 4 Royal Artillery will not move there before 2026. 

The CAESAR 8x8 with autoloader and increased protection and mobility, in a photo from Eurosatory by Army Recognition

UPDATE: Jane's says it has been given a briefing about the new Army structure and is reporting that 3 RHA and 4 RA will lose their guns for good and that 155 STRIKE is not happening.  
I have no reason to doubt of Jane's word, yet the report clashes with what the COs of both regiments have been saying in the last few days and also with the 1st Artillery Brigade's letter to the troops. 
The COs messages: 

4th Royal Artillery

Army HQ has confirmed that 4 Regt RA will convert to become a STRIKE close support artillery regiment. This means that over the next 10 years or so our Light Guns will be replaced by a new medium weight gun and our tac gps will be mounted in a combination of brand new wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles. This is great news and an exciting time for the Regiment! The Army has also confirmed that we will arms plot to Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but NOT BEFORE 2026. Full details will be briefed to the Regiment in the New Year. This announcement brings stability in the short term and some fantastic opportunities in the longer term.

3rd Royal Horse Artillery 

The Army 2020 Refine announcements will hit the press in the next couple of days. We have time scheduled in the New Year to brief in detail, but I wanted you to know the headlines for Our Regiment now:
- 3 RHA will stay in Albemarle Barracks. 4 Regt RA will join us here in around 10 years time.
- We will become a Strike Regiment, affiliated to a Strike Brigade. I'll brief you in more detail on this but essentially we retain the same capabilities but grow a little.
- PF will move South in 2019. We will fully support our Gunner brethren in the interim and in the move.
- Training programmes will change slightly to enable us to more efficiently support affiliated Brigades.
That's all you need to know for now, it's all good and the Mighty Third goes from strength to strength. More to follow, and have a great Christmas and New Year!

Note that, whatever happens to 3 RHA and 4 RA, the regiments will indeed not be organic to the Strike Brigades: they are part of 1st Artillery Brigade and only "aligned" to the Strike Brigades. The same is true of 1st RHA and 19 RA in the Heavy role. 
Also note that Jane's talks of a reduction from 6 L118 regiment to 4. This is again puzzling: the british army has 4 regular and 2 reserve L118 regiments, so it would in theory go down to 4 if the guns are removed from 3 RHA and 4 RA. But since 104 RA is being converted to L118, we get back to 5. 
Somewhere, there are misunderstandings at play here. 

If Jane's is right, the Royal Artillery officers and units have been fed with horribly inaccurate information in these days. 
What i think can be said with confidence at this point is that the Army 2020 Refine "announcement" is a monstrosity, a crime and a complete failure. The CDS posted a useless two minutes video on Twitter and provided no information at all; the secretary of state provided a statement completely devoid of detail and officers have been left in the dark. In the last few days there have been COs writing that they literally don't know what is going to happen to their units and that they were looking into the announcement. 
This is amateurish at best, and criminal at worst. This is not how you deliver such important news to thousands of families and to the country. 

UPDATE 22 December 2016: 3 RHA reaffirms that it and 4 RA will field guns and that STRIKE 155 is funded.

Just to make you aware, there is an article circulating that suggests that ourselves and 4 Regt RA will not be equipped with guns under the A2020R structure.
The journalist has got his facts wrong and the Chain of Command may consider a rebuttal or correction to the story. Rest assured, A2020R structures see us still equipped with guns as part of our larger Joint Fires Orbat, and the Gunners have a funded medium-weight gun capability to replace Light Gun.

103 Royal Artillery will stay as a Close Support gun regiment, paired with 4 Royal Artillery. 
105 will continue to support 3 Royal Horse Artillery.  

104 Royal Artillery, currently the reserve ISR / mini-UAV regiment will convert to the Light Gun. Again, this is the biggest surprise in the plan for me. I did not expect the ISR component to suffer, and now the question is how the capability will maintained in the future. Apparently, nobody yet knows what (if anything) comes after Desert Hawk III in 2021, and there is a need for "resilience" in the Close Support role right now. 

It has now been confirmed that as part of the Army’s reorganisation, 104 Regiment RA will be re-designated as a Reserve Close Support (CS) artillery regiment and will re-role to light gun. This will take place from 2017 (date tbc) and will see the Regiment re-subordinate to 1 Artillery Brigade and provide support to an Armoured Infantry Brigade. The construct of the Regiment will remain unchanged with a HQ Battery and 4 equipment batteries and there are no associated basing implications (less those already announced concerning the Royal Citadel and 289 Tp). In due course we will be paired with a yet to be confirmed Regular CS Regiment.

Many of you will no doubt be asking what has brought about this change. Simply put, it is because the wider restructure of the Army, and the rationale underpinning aspects of that change, requires a Reserve component structured to meet the demands of a modernised expeditionary division. For us as a Regiment, at a time when the delivery of future MUAS capability was still to be determined and the need to enhance resilience in CS artillery was apparent, redesignation was the most sensible course of action. As we look forward, it is also opportune to reflect and you should all be immensely proud of what has been achieved both on operations and in training as a MUAS regiment. Make no mistake, you have proven the provision of MUAS capability was well within your gift. 

UPDATE: My personal attempt to divine the new role of 104 Regiment leads me to guess that it might provide reserve support to 29 Commando and 7 RHA. Both regiments are known to need such support: 7 RHA has recently formed a reserve gun troop within the Honourable Artillery Company and 29 Commando was looking at the possibility of forming its own Reserve troop. 
Of course, if 3 RHA and 4 RA truly do lose their guns, the role of the reserve Close Support regiments will get even more demanding and vast.

1 Royal Horse Artillery and 19 Royal Artillery will stay in the armoured role and will keep AS90. 3 batteries each, apparently re-absorbing the Tac Group battery within the gun batteries and the wider artillery brigade. 1 RHA will lose H Bty to 26 RA and L Bty (Tac Gp Bty) to 3 RHA, but not before 2019. 

Exactly how it all will work out is all to be seen, but a cut to the number of AS90 is assured as one armoured brigade vanishes. Hopefully GMLRS will escape undamaged by virtue of 26 Royal Artillery becoming a Div Fires regiment.

The letter provides hints of what happens to the Royal Artillery

UPDATE: regarding the Royal Signals, there is no certainty yet that there won't be cut backs, but there should not be. The 5 multi-role signal regiments are barely enough to assign one to 3rd Division HQ and one each to the major brigades, so i wouldn't expect cuts. General Carter also went on record saying that they would "think long and hard" about how to improve manpower figures for the key signal brigades, so he is at least aware that this area is particularly problematic. 

Announcements on the future of the Royal Signals might have to wait until sometime in early 2017 when the "Information Manoeuvre Command" is expected to stand up to manage all things Signal, ISR, Cyber. 

The changes announced will require adjustments in some supporting and enabling elements of the Army. HQ 102 Logistic Brigade, 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment, Headquarters 64 Works Group Royal Engineers, 2 Medical Regiment, Headquarters 4th Regiment Royal Military Police, 33 Field Hospital and 104,105 and 106 Battalions of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers reserve will be rationalised, with all manpower in those units being redeployed to other areas of the Army in its refined structure.

Only the reserve gets somewhat good news. 3 REME battalions (104, 105 and 106) will be rationalised, but two new infantry and one EOD regiments will be formed beginning next year. 

UPDATE: 105 REME battalion will change name and will be restructured into a new "101 Theatre Support Battalion", tasked with supporting 5 TSB REME, a regular unit supporting 3rd UK Division.  

105 Battalion REME will change its name to 101 Theatre Support Battalion in 2019 (the name 105 will cease to be used, as will 104 and 106). It’s new role will be to support 5 Theatre Support Battalion REME in the regeneration of theatre-level equipment during a time of war.It will consist of Bn HQ and four sub-unit locations (names not yet known) as follows:

HQ 101 Bn REME will be in KEYNSHAM

UPDATE: apparently, the Strike Brigades will, for whatever reason, be supported by a "super" CSS regiment formed by merging one RLC and one REME battalions.
One such regiment will be formed by 2 REME and 27 RLC, according to reports by The Courier. 2 REME will apparently become part of a regiment in combination with 27 RLC in 2021, but it'll be 2030 before the REME element leaves Leuchars to join the rest of the unit in Catterick.

The other CSS regiment should at this point be born out of 1 RLC and 1 REME. The ministerial statements name both units as parts of the 1st Strike Brigade but fails to mention the merging.

The merge of RLC and REME does not seem to extend to the rest of the Army. Support to the armoured brigades seem set to stay "in traditional format".
7 RLC and 6 RLC will transit into 101 Logistic Brigade, presumably to become Force Support elements for 3rd UK Division:

The Army 2020 Refine (A2020R) results are out. The key points are:- 7 Regt will continue to exist under A2020R.- It will remain in Cottesmore until 2029, when it is due to move to Topcliffe (near Dishforth).- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019.- The detailed structure and role are still being worked on but will likely require only a small adjustment.

- 6 Regt will continue to exist in the future.- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019 (102 Log Bde will disband).- The Regt will remain in Dishforth until 2030 when it will move to Topcliffe along with 7 Regt RLC.

I've seen suggestions that 9 RLC will move to 104 Logistic Brigade instead, but i have no way to confirm this as of now.

Army Reserves. As part of our continued investment in the Army Reserve we will build on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 plan. We will optimise reserve structures to better support the modernised division, embed the successful pairing of regular and reserve units and increase the number of reserve combat units supporting the division. As a result, two new reserve infantry battalions will be created from 2017. These are 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 8th Battalion The Rifles. A new reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) regiment will also be created.

4th PWRR is expected to be formed around one company taken from the LONDONS and two newly formed companies: 

Battalion Headquarters and Headquarter Company will set up in Crawley on the site of 103 Bn REME. 
A Coy, 3 PWRR in Farnham will re-subordinate from 3 PWRR 
B (Queen's) Coy in Edgeware will re-subordinate from the London Regiment 
A new Company will then be created in either Southampton or Portsmouth. 
A replacement company for 3 PWRR will be formed, again location still to be decided. More detail to follow as it becomes known.

The London Regiment will take back a company from 7 Rifles and create a new one to make up for the losses, It will also be more formally aligned with the Guards battalions: 

B and C Companies will transfer next year to, respectively, a new 4th Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. In partial replacement, we will welcome back F Company 7th Battalion The Rifles in 2017 as an integral part of the Regiment. We have also been tasked to generate a new company next year, in a new location, which raises exciting possibilities.The reformed London Regiment will retain its historic name but will become known colloquially as the ‘Guards Reserve Battalion’ and will become a single-capbadge Regiment, grouped within the Foot Guards Division of Infantry.

8 RIFLES will include existing RIFLES reserve elements in the North East, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Birmingham. 

A number of batteries, squadrons and companies across the army are going to re-subordinate over the next few years and at the moment it is not possible to track all moves from outside. 

Changes are coming in the Administrative infantry divisions as well, with regiments being grouped differently: 

Renaming of administrative structures The introduction of the Specialised Infantry capability will mean some reorganisation of the infantry divisional structure, within which infantry regiments are administered, from seven to six divisions. The Scottish and The Prince of Wales’s Administrative Divisions of Infantry will merge, incorporating The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Welsh Regiment and The Royal Irish Regiment. This administrative division will be called The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division. The Mercian Regiment from the Prince of Wales’s Division will join with the King’s Division. Army administrative divisions of infantry are the groupings within which the Army manages its infantry soldiers and officers to give them the necessary broad spread of relevant career experience from across a number of different units and activities. They have no operational role. There will be no changes to the names or regimental construct of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Mercian Regiment, The Royal Welsh Regiment, or The Royal Irish Regiment as a result of these administrative changes. 

A lot of things continue to be shrouded in mystery and we've not heard the last of the bad news for sure. The prominent thing that emerges so far is CUTS. Regiments, tanks, heavy artillery. All cut back. 
And this is just the beginning. A bad one.

UPDATE 27 December: Army 2020 Refine's big day is January 17, when CDS is planned to finally unveil the new "Land Operations" doctrine. Not clear how public that will be, but hopefully some information will be released.
Briefings for the army personnel seem scheduled to begin from 4 january.


  1. Jesus Gabriele.

    About the only positive I can find in there is that 2 Regiments will get something better than the Light Gun, which is welcome, and that the GLMRS is back in its own Regiment.

    If the structure of the 4 "useful" Brigades is 4 Warrior and 4 Mechanized Battalions in total then that is another cut as there are 9 Battalions in 1, 12, 20 Brigades now. Surely they need 3 Infantry formations per brigade as now.

  2. So 104 RA switches from UAS to light gun. Light gun in support of which brigade? No reserve UAS regiment?

  3. I suspect this will last as long as it takes to realise a 24 month cycle, one Heavy / Medium Brigade on / off is unsustainable. Perhaps a better way of doing this would be to a) cut 2 light infantry battalions, b) disband 16 AA Brigade and create 3 'multi-role' brigades with Air Assault, Medium and Light Mechanised BG's (one of each), keep all the heavy tracked stuff in the 3 existing Brigades, c) accept as money is tight there will only be enough kit for 2 of the 3 heavy brigades to ever deploy, d) point 3 Division and all the heavy stuff squarely towards Europe, 1 Division and the new multi-role brigades towards out of area intervention. Any spare cash left over, invest in strategic mobility

  4. DH3 will scrapped in 2021, no named replacement and no unit to operate such a replacement. The UK MOD sees no need for this type of equipment in the future, so just watchkeeper and a couple of mini UAS operated by SF.

  5. If 103 and 105 Royal artillery are to continue supporting 3/4 RA within the strike brigade format, is it to be expected that these reserve formations will also be equipped with a wheeled gun system in the future?

    If they are to adequately support the regular artillery regiments in the strike brigade they would need to operate the same equipment surely? Unless the plan is to slot in a battery of light guns into the regular regiments at a time of conflict/crisis, after all... the light gun has wheels and is technically road deplorable over large distances with the associated support vehicles.

  6. The Royal Artillery will have the same structure the French artillery: 1 regiment with MLRS (1e RA), 1 UAV regiment (61e RA), 1 Air defence regiment (54e RA), 2 regiments for heavy brigades (40e RA and 68e RAA), 2 for medium brigades (3e RAMa and 11e RAMa) and 2 for light brigades (35e RAP and 93e RAM)

  7. From MikeW

    My initial reaction was Madness!”. You are quite right to state that it is worse than expected. Are we really expected to believe that the British Army will be down to a mere 112 main battle tanks? I suspect that also means that the Challenger LEP upgrade will only be carried out on that number, not on the full 200-odd that we still have left. I expect the Russians are quaking in their boots! And to convert one of the 3 tank regiments before converting the cavalry formations is equally foolish.

    The Chief of Staff calling the Ajax a “medium tank” is typical of the spin and distortion that we are increasingly getting from out leaders nowadays. Unless the Ajax is to be fitted with a decent heavy weapon, it is utterly reprehensible to call it a “medium tank”, and, to the best of my knowledge, such a programme has not been funded. It would seem that we are also likely to lose some specialized heavy armour (Titan and Trojan) from 35 Armoured Engineer Regiment, unless they are used to strengthen the remaining Armoured Engineer units in the Heavy (Armoured Infantry) Brigades.

    I’m not even sure that the withdrawal of the Precision Fire Batteries, equipped with GMLRS and EXACTOR, from the regiments and concentrating them in the "Division Fires Regiment" constitutes an improvement. I suppose that GMLRS has always been, essentially, a deep-fire weapon but wouldn't a weapon like EXACTOR be better placed in the regiments?

    If the Strike Brigades are to go ahead, then I suppose the news about a new wheeled gun seems very welcome and, if we purchase CAESAR, then the 8 x 8 would be version would be preferable. However, won’t the purchase of both hundreds of MIV vehicles and scores of wheeled guns be hideously expensive? Far better, in my opinion to get the heavy armoured formations well equipped first of all (Challenger LEP, Ajax, Warrior 40mm, ABSV etc. etc.), and then, and only then, turn our attention to Strike.

  8. My thoughts.

    A new 155mm Gun is good news, I expected Light Gun and nothing else in the Strike Brigades.

    Lets hope for the modified Scout with bigger gun, otherwise that is the biggest madness of this whole affair and needs to be shouted from every rooftop as it's downright dangerous. To a Politician, A Tank is a Tank, as Gab has pointed out. Lives will be lost.

    What happens to LPM ( LMI ) Foxhound Battalions? I expected that the Warrior or Mastiff Battalions would re role to MIV, not a Light Role Battalion like 3 Rifles.

    What happens to Jackal and the 3 Light Cavalry Regiments? Gabriele already did an article on this? Maybe reduced to 2 and placed with 16AA and 3 Cdo brigades?

    Does this move to Strike Brigades ( ridiculous name, they are Mechanized Brigades and we used to have 3 of them ) mean the end of the 5th "deployable" Brigade? If the cut of 2 Medical Regiment and 35 Engineer are anything to go by then this looks likely as there are no longer enough enablers to go round 5 brigades.

    Will there be a third Infantry Battalion in each Brigade or are we now stuck with 2 each, 4 Warrior / 4 MIV total. There are 9 at present. The extra Mastiff unit has been sent to be a Defence Engagement Battalion. Too few.

    Curious as to how 64 Works Group RE is affected by this?

    I expect additional cuts to come in the form of 1 REME Battalion and 1 RLC Regiment, IF the reduction from 5 Brigades to 4 is confirmed.

    The news of 104,105 and 106 REME getting the chop is ironic as I din't think they had all even fully formed yet!!! being fairly new formations from previous reviews which have not even taken effect yet before the next round of cuts and reorganisation arrives.

    Another great article by Gabriele giving us all a heads up, it's going to be hard to AGAIN keep track of the changes.

    1. From MikeW

      @Daniele Mandelli

      Much enjoyed reading your post, Daniele. Agree absolutely with the point you make here:

      “Let’s hope for the modified Scout with bigger gun, otherwise that is the biggest madness of this whole affair and needs to be shouted from every rooftop as it's downright dangerous.” Hear, hear!

      You also say:

      “Does this move to Strike Brigades (ridiculous name, they are Mechanized Brigades and we used to have 3 of them) mean the end of the 5th "deployable" Brigade?”

      Again I agree with you over the point about Mechanized Brigades. We used to have three of them but the real point is that each of those brigades used to have an Armoured Regiment with approx. 58 Challengers, so that they had more than adequate firepower. The proposed Strike Brigades have nothing like that!

      However, I am not 100% sure of how you define the five “deployable” brigades. If we are talking about the structure as proposed in “Army 2020”, those “deployable” brigades would be the three Armoured Infantry Brigades from the ”Reaction Forces”, then 16 Air Assault Brigade, then 3 Commando Brigade (?) (Navy, of course). Under the new structure we would have two Armoured Infantry Brigades, two Strike Brigades, plus 16 Air Assault Brigade. That makes five, or are we talking at cross purposes here because I am referring to the wrong formations? Actually, I think Phil might be near the truth here when he suggests:

      “I also think, we are looking at 4 brigade structure.
      2 armoured, 1 strike and 16 AA. (The 2nd strike being a paper formation)”

      Then there is you question about whether there will there be “a third Infantry Battalion in each Brigade or are we now stuck with 2 each, 4 Warrior / 4 MIV total. There are 9 at present.”

      I agree with you total of present brigades (nine) but if you had a third battalion in each Brigade, that would make a total of twelve, would it not (too many?). I am probably just being stupid here.

      Anyway, things are far from satisfactory, and unless the Army hierarchy knows far more than we do, there will be a need for a considerable re-think.

    2. Mike W

      Hi Mike. Always enjoy seeing your posts here.

      As Gabs has pointed out below, the original A2020 did indeed have 5 Brigades, as I mention.
      The Reaction Force - with 1st, 12th and 20th Armoured Infantry.
      And the "Adaptable Force" of 7 ridiculous Brigades of which 2 were meant to be deployable using the "Golfbag" approach of mixing and matching. This was evident when looking at the Support elements - the RLC Regiments, REME Battalions, Artillery Regiments, Engineer Regiments, and RAMC Regiments. There were 2 of each of these in the Adaptable Force, not held with the actual Brigades as they should be, but in the Force Troops Command under 8 Field Engineer Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade.
      These 2 Infantry Brigades have at present a Light Cavalry Regiment on Jackal, usually 3 Infantry Battalions, and those supporting enablers mentioned above.
      Due to the previous 2010 cuts parts of these Regiments, the RA and RE, were to be made up of reservists, with Squadrons and Batteries not regular manned.
      These 2 Brigades, to make the 5 I mentioned, were probably the 7th Infantry ( famed 7th Armoured Brigade!! Scandalous ) and I think 51st Infantry, again from the famous Highland Division line.
      So indeed there are 5 Brigades. 1st, 12th, 20th. Then the 7th and 51st from adaptable force, and on top of this 16 Air Assault and 3 Commando of the Royal Navy.
      These last 2 I don't count nor does I think Gabriele when considering "deployable" as in committed to an enduring operation, as they were themselves stripped of supporting elements and are really used as Rapid reaction units.
      I hope this long winded explanation makes sense!!!


    3. From MikeW

      Hi Daniele

      “and on top of this 16 Air Assault and 3 Commando of the Royal Navy.

      These last 2 I don't count nor does I think Gabriele when considering "deployable" as in committed to an enduring operation, as they were themselves stripped of supporting elements and are really used as Rapid reaction units.”

      Ah, that makes perfect sense now! Thanks for taking the trouble to reply. If I can find some time this week (i.e. get away from the missus’ Christmas shopping!) I might post some more. I am deeply perturbed about the way in which the British Army is being hacked about. Constant change cannot be good for morale either.

      By the way, what did you mean when you said in an earlier post that “the extra Mastiff unit has been sent to be a Defence Engagement Battalion”. Has that already happened then?

      “What happens to Jackal and the 3 Light Cavalry Regiments? Gabriele already did an article on this? Maybe reduced to 2 and placed with 16AA and 3 Cdo brigades?”

      Would like to something like that to happen. As you say, they have already been stripped of supporting elements. They could also do with some fire support from the CVR(T)2 family. Don’t suppose it will happen, though.

    4. Hi MikeW

      Sadly most people, especially ignorant Joe Public and ignorant Politicians, take these cuts as a one off. They are not, and have been happening in a serious manner since 1998 and the SDR. There were cuts previous to this of course, 1995 Front Line First and the 1991 Options for Change, and others back in the Cold War. The DIFFERENCE is that then there was critical mass, the forces were large and could take the blows. Now they cannot.

      Your comment re morale with cuts is a good one. The army has been facing constant reorganisations since 2004 Future Army Structures! A new plan comes out before the previous is even fully actioned. Madness.

      Back to your comments. As highlighted by Gabs, 4th Battalion The Rifles, is on Mastiff. It is one of 3 "Heavy Protected Mobility" Battalions, and each of our Armoured Brigades has one, giving 3 total.
      With the third of our Armoured Brigades downgraded to Strike,and with 2 Mechanized Battalions on MIV planned for each ( As far as we know ) this battalion will be stripped and reduced to 300 odd personnel. This is ANOTHER cut. They could use any of our many Light Infantry Battalions for the Defence Engagement role! No.

      Under the new structure as far as we know the Armoured Brigades will only have 2 Warrior units. I still hold out hope that they will have a 3rd Infantry unit, these current Mastiff Battalions, still 2 at present, 1 on each Brigade. It's probably too much to hope.

      Jackal and Light Cavalry nobody yet knows. I agree with your idea, put one regiment as fire support and recc with 16 Air Assault, and one with 3 Commando.

      One surprise for me in this is that one of the current 6 "Light Protected Mobility" Foxhound Battalions, now renamed "Light Mechanized" apparently, could be moving over to MIV in the Strike Brigades. Gabs has already highlighted it as 3rd Battalion Rifles.

      Could we speculate that these Foxhound units will be reduced to 4, and 2 placed with each Strike Brigade?
      Giving a structure of 2 Mechanized ( MIV ) and 2 Light Mechanized ( Foxhound ) per Brigade. A decent force. The extra manpower from "rationalized" ( cut ) artillery regiments like 32 could then go into 3rd and 4th Regiments RA ( the units probably supporting the Strike Brigades ) to form a 4th Gun Battery on each. I wonder what Gabs makes of this idea?

      The cuts to the various regiments are not losing the manpower this time, so it will be interesting to see where the uplifts come and what units gain extra Batteries, Companies, or Squadrons from the manpower from disbanded units.

      From what we see so far, the "Adaptable Force" which was always a bit of a joke and a collection of maimed units lacking in support, is going to the wall. People don't realise that when they see our 3 Brigades becoming 4 and think oh Goody! It's a cut. It's ALL about cuts! If they really wanted these Strike Brigades why not make them out of the Adaptable force alongside our current Reaction Force? No. Cuts. I have ranted enough!

      Finally. Have a look around Gabs site and you should find the chart he made a few years back giving the original 2020 force structure. It will help you visualize what we had and what is being lost.



    5. From MikeW

      Hi Daniele.

      Again many thanks for replying. Very much enjoyed your “rant”, which was not really one because it was entirely rational, simply a piece based on common sense. How true your comment is about cuts starting a long time ago and how we have now lost critical mass. Another striking point you make is about how a new plan comes out before the previous is even fully auctioned! That does smack of frenetic thinking and crisis management.

      You have explained the very clearly the situation pertaining to 4th Battalion, The Rifles, and its being reduced. I join you in hoping that the Armoured Brigades will each have a third infantry regiment, although like you, am not very optimistic. Am also glad that you think that 16 Air Assault Bde and 3 Commando Bde need restoration of their strength and “beefing up” in areas such as fire support and recce (possibly with Jackal and Light Cavalry). Also agree that The Strike Brigades would benefit from 2 Light Mechanized (Foxhound) placed with each Brigade.

      The truly infuriating thing is, though, that actions which we can see only too obviously as severe cuts are constantly being “dolled up” and presented as being as being improvements! Take, for instance Michael Fallon’s comment in his statement on the 15th December regarding Army re-organization. He presented some of the changes as follows:

      “A modernised division will be centred on the 3rd (UK) Division, organised with four brigades of two Armoured infantry and two Strike, rather than three Armoured infantry as now. A significant uplift in capability,”

      Uplift in capability? Where? What a distortion of the truth! An all-too-common technique of spin doctors and politicians nowadays and they think the public can’t see through it!

    6. The Public can see through it, if they are like us on here who are interested in the subject. Sadly, too many in my country are too bothered with what benefits are coming in and who they are not offending, by actually having an opinion that isn't riddled with PC nonsense, to worry about old fashioned things like defence of the realm!

      Another issue is a lack of an MP who knows the subject and a decent Journalist who has the depth of knowledge on UK defence matters to report the facts which Joe public are largely blissfully unaware of.

      Your right that Fallon is talking rubbish and it's spin doctored. The part truth in it is that they want to have 2 Brigades ready to go rather than the current 1 so I guess there is their increase in capability.

      16 AA did once have a dedicated Squadron assigned to it from the Household Cavalry on CVRT Scimitar so maybe a Light Cavalry Regiment would be good, if there is the airlift to take it! Has Jackal been airdropped or have we lost that capability too?

      16AA's supports were reduced in the A2020 cuts with the REME Battalion and Royal Engineer and Royal Artillery Regiments all being reduced.

      As for 3 Commando, it has never had the type of support 16AA even has now, with but a single Logistic Regiment covering REME, Logistic and Medical roles. The Artillery has ( I think ) 4 guns per 3 batteries and the Engineer cover is 24 Regiment RE which is a regiment in name only.
      It does however have the Armoured Support Group with Viking so possibly the Light Cavalry are not needed there.

      I try to be upbeat though as it's never all doom and gloom and there are other nations which have no where near our levels of capability, training, renown and assets, in many areas, so I try to remain positive. SDSR 2015 was better than many feared but the army is indeed getting it in the neck again with these stealth cuts.



  9. Gabriele,
    Thank you very much for keeping us updated.
    I still have no idea what our 'strike' brigades role is? Does Carter know?
    Taking units from two balanced brigades to make up a third, which had no anti tank weapons apart from javelin is nuts. To me, its just a recce brigade.
    I doubt very much that the Ajax order has been changed to include a 120mm gun version, I also have my doubts about a new 155mm artillery gun. Adding these to the 800 new MIV's would add up to a huge cost, which I don't think the Army has the money.
    I hope I am wrong, but when you have to cut your MBT fleet down to 112, and your 4th brigade doesn't have any vehicles that sounds like you don't have any money to spend.
    I also think, we are looking at 4 brigade structure.
    2 armoured, 1 strike and 16 AA. (The 2nd strike being a paper formation)
    Phil (The cycnical ex pongo)

  10. The MIVs will never be 800, mark my words. 4 battalions, with 60 vehicles each, is 240. Let's say 300 with some reserve and extra variants.

    If part of the ABSV requirement is taken into MIV some more will be added, but we are worlds away from 800 vehicles.
    If the Army ever had any chance of funding 800 MIVs, the Ajax would not be in the Strike Brigade to start with.

    1. By the way, your interpretation of the Strike Brigade as a reconnaissance formation is a thought that occured to me, as well. Supposedly, Carter wants to deploy a brigade of two armoured and one strike brigade, and the Strike Brigade could be, effectively, a Divisional reconnaissance and cavalry unit. On its own, it is full of problems. As reconnaissance for a Division, it is a bit better.

      If the armoured brigades end up having no recce cavalry due to Ajax going to the Strike Brigades, this idea, in my mind, will grow even stronger.

    2. Hi Gabriele,
      Is there any army that has such a recce brigade?
      As to the number of MIV's, I am suggesting that they are just wishful thinking.
      If you had money for MIV's, wouldn't you buy more Ajax instead?
      You could then have order Ajax with 120mm gun and the whole brigade would be tracked.
      Wouldn't that be money better spent? Or am I being far to sensible?
      Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

    3. Not really, there is no equivalent anywhere i can think of.

      As for buying more Ajax if there was the money... no, i probably would not. I do not entirely disagree with a wheeled, medium weight brigade, so i would seek to complete it using only MIV variants, with the tracked vehicles in the armoured brigades.

    4. Hi Gabriele,
      I don't have a problem with having a proper wheeled 'strike' brigade.
      But in my humble opinion, a brigade should be either wheeled or tracked, not a mix.
      Whatever vehicles we have they should be in the UK, not in a hanger in West Germany for the next ten years.
      It would also be better to extend the Ajax production run and replace the 50 year old 432's than the recently purchased Mastiff's, if there is any money to spend wouldn't it?
      Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

    5. I think the problem is that no one really knows what the intended role is for it. If it is meant to be a strike brigade similar to a US Stryker one, then all wheels seems to be the best. As one of the ideas is for it to deploy over long distances by road. If it is meant to be a reconnaissance brigade or a actual Medium armoured brigade then either all tracks or a mixture make more sense.

      Another question is what do you actually want from a medium tank? What level of targets do you want it to be able to engage? People want a 105mm or 120mm gun, but what targets do you see it engaging? Even with a 120mm you aren't likely to send it out to take on a modern main battle tank head on.

      As for the question of the artillery regiments losing their guns? Could it be a case of Jane's source, having it partly right but not knowing/telling the whole story. In that the regiments could be losing the 105mm light guns and be without guns until whenever the 155mm wheeled gun is bought? If the first strike brigade is going to start to stand up in the next couple of years, there could be a gap of a number of years before any 155mm gun enters service. Maybe the thinking is that there is no point keeping the 105mm in those regiments during that time.

    6. In response to the question 'Is there any army that has such a recce brigade?', were not the US army Armored Cavalry Regiments not brigade sized recce formations?

    7. Back in the days of glory of Desert Storm, the ACR was British-army 2020 sized, you could almost say.

      123 tanks, 127 Bradley, 24 Paladin M109, 18 mortar carriers, 26 Kiowa Warrior recce helos and 26 Apache gunships plus all supporting elements.

      But, in some ways, yes, i'm tempted to see the Strike Brigade as a Divisional recce asset like the ACR used to be for Corps.

  11. A budget looking for a capability whilst ignoring the threat.

  12. I don't quite understand by what you mean by worse than expected; what actually did you expect ?

    Neither do I understand why Army 2020 Refine is supposed to be worse than Army 2020 ? Why are 4 brigades worse than 3 ?

    1. I've written at lenght about why the Strike Brigades are a scam. As for why it is even worse than expected, it is because the Army is losing some key support units which mean that it is going from 5 brigades to 4 (remember, Army 2020 had three armoured brigades but also was meant to generate a further two deployable brigades to support an enduring deployment to the 1-in-5 rule, 6 month deployed, 24 in rest and training). Also, the cut of one tank regiment makes the UK exceptionally weak in this area, behind everyone else but small players like Belgium and Netherlands. Also, the net balance of mechanization is negative: from 9 battalions (6 Warrior, 3 Mastiff) to 8 (4 Warrior and 4 on MIV).
      And we aren't done learning the nasty bits, either.

    2. Thank you. What is happening to the 3 infantry battalions, and their equipment, and the spare Challenger tanks from the brigade that's converting to become a strike brigade ? I couldn't glean that from the announcement.

    3. The equipment for the most part will be scrapped, i fear. The battalions will shift around the army. Some move into the Strike Brigades as you can see in the tables i've now added.

  13. Interesting times ahead. While change can be daunting, our current ability to deliver such a small number of soldiers at "readiness" is just not acceptable. Lets take this on (there will, no doubt, be pain), and see what happens. Who knows, we may end up in a better place than we are currently at.

  14. The Royal Welsh Regiment? Surely this is a typo, by the Sec of State and Mod! 'Regiment' is not their title / name

  15. It's almost criminal how they release dribs and drabs just before Christmas.

    If Strike 155 is a no go that is a disaster as that is all I can find positive in this whole affair.

    Janes must be incorrect as a Brigade must have a supporting artillery regiment, and if they remove the guns there is nothing else left! All the remaining gun regiments are committed.

    As for the CSSR. Hmmm. Last time that happened as I recall was 19 Combat Service Support Battalion supporting 19 Light Brigade in NI before it was chopped. Don't see a problem with this? Or am I missing something? Probably the loss of half the companies and squadrons of the current 2 separate units....with a reduced internal ORBAT that they then call an "enhancement" Hang on, 27 Tank Transport Squadron is in 27 Regiment! They won't be needing that will they.

  16. You got it wrong on 3 RIFLES that I can say.

    1. Hopefully a Foxhound Battalion within the Strike Brigades then. Alongside the MIV Battalions so we have 2 Mechanized and 2 Light Mechanized per Brigade. One can hope.

    2. If i'm guessing wrong, 3rd RIFLES future must be in Light Role, then...? Because it will have a "new role" according to the regiment's officers. If it is not MIV, yet the base is Catterick, considering that currently Foxhound is their ride, the only role they could pick up would be Light Role.
      Rather bad news capability wise, in other words. What news do you have?

  17. Thanks for doing your best to keep us all updated Gabby.

    With the news of 1 Royal Irish above, I'm wondering if all the Light Mechanised (Foxhound) Btns are going to be converted back to Light Btns?

  18. Regarding 155 Archer would not be better at all, indeed because of the cost but also because of the way munitions are loaded in the turret through one slot at such a height that you need another truck to do so. Therefore,for each gun you need an ammo truck (if not the other gun has to wait 10 mns until the 1sr gun has been reloaded). For this reason Archer is not able to sustain high rates of fire. Plus, although itself a very gool all terrain vehicle, it is not the case of the ammo truck, unless u pay the price, and its 21 rounds can be used very fast, so you need to stay close from the ammo trucks.

    1. It would absolutely be better. You'll still need ammo trucks anyway. And 21 rounds might seem few... but CAESAR carries 18, and they'll only last longer because being manually operated it fires them at a somewhat slower rate.

      Less ammo, more vulnerable as the crew needs to dismount to operate the gun, virtually no traverse unless the entire vehicle moves.

    2. My point is that if u need very high rates of fire, for Caesar or towed guns u just dump ammo nearby. With a turret such as the one on the Archer you will have to reload and it takes 10 mn. Plus with different types of ammo Excal, HE, Smk...and more, a 22 rounds turret is a nightmare, and it is not the case for Caesar or towed guns which can be recompleted at any time. Plus Caesar 8×8 has at least 30 rounds. Firing at up to 40 km doesn't make it so necessary to be inside the vehicle for the crew. My point about the ammo truck is that if u have a highly mobile gun and ammo trucks stuck to roads you have wasted some of your money because Archer will have to stay close from the roads anyway...

    3. Ammo dumped around the guns like that is only a problem in a scenario in which the enemy is unable to return fire. Otherwise you are on the move again swiftly after firing.

    4. Gabrielle, i must have got it wrong in posting my last reply so I try again. I meant the Archer is made in such a way that you need a crane on a ammo truck to fill the ammo, from the right side of the turret. You can't reload 2 guns with one truck and if you dont have one ammo truck per gun, it takes ages to reload ur gun platoon regardless of the theoretical rate of fire. A turret with only 21 rounds is a nonsense at a day and age where you have many sorts of munitions, you are better with either a big turret like Pzh 2000 or guns like Caesar or towed guns even. Plus firing from inside has no real value, u r talking of 52 Cal guns, mobility and range are their real protection. Plus Caesar 8x8 carries 30 rounds at least. What is the point having a highly mobile and expansive gun if the ammo truck can't follow and limits you to the vicinity of roads ? Unless u pay even more to have a highly mobile ammo truck for each an every gun (Caesar or towed guns are level to the ground and can be reloaded 2 at the same time by one truck).

    5. I disagree entirely. Besides, you are painting the reloading process of Archer as a more complex affair than it actually is.

      I'd rather take the protection and the traverse and the fire-from-under-armour capability than the "reload just like it was a towed howitzer" method of CAESAR. There is really no comparison. Money and politics will probably mean CAESAR for the British Army, but it will be a poor man's choice.

    6. Norway isn't exactly poor and yet they didn't choose the Archer, probably because it is full of contradictions from a manoeuvre perspective (despite the fact that it is a nice piece of kit, but u buy a gun for combat).

  19. Gabriele
    Firstly,thanks very much for your efforts in providing this blog over many years.
    Im a long time lurker here and over on UK Defence Forum. This is my question.
    Is there anyway at all of constructing a graphic showing the current army orbat as is planned??
    Things are becomeing more and more confusing by the day. Re-orgs are happening before the most recent re-orgs have even taken place...
    Any sort of graphic would be much appreciated- its impossible to keep up at the moment.
    Luke Jones

    1. I've prepared graphics in the past, but it is a time consuming business. Perhaps later on, when things are clearer and more stable.

  20. Just reading the section on artillery. What's a Tac Gp battery and what's PF ?

    1. PF stands for Precision Fires. At the moment, regular GMLRS and EXACTOR are distributed in one PF battery within each armoured artillery regiment.

      Tac Groups are composed of Fire Support Teams, made of 6 men each, who detect and track targets and direct artillery fire and air attacks. Each gun battery tipically has 4 FSTs, while a Tac Group Bty has 6 teams but no guns of its own.

  21. Good news re Strike155. For a day I actually feared they would be so stupid.

    1. I notice that Jane's have now updated their article (now dated 23 Dec) effectively conceding that these two 'strike' artillery regiments will have guns.

  22. From MikeW

    Reading one of Gabriele’s tweets (the one concerning the US Army decision to re-introduce the min-laying system Volcano), I am moved to make the point that the British Army decided to “ditch” its very good anti-tank laying system, the Shielder, a result of the SDSR in 2010. Shielder carried the Volcano on a Stormer chassis
    To my mind, that really was a most unfortunate decision. If the American Army has decided to bring back the Volcano, you can bet your bottom dollar that they think it is needed if they have to fight a high intensity war. Therefore the British must be thinking about bringing back similar systems. They have already looked at replacing the Barmine, also withdrawn.
    Now the Army had 29 Shielders. Surely to goodness, a decision could have been made to put some at least some of them in storage, on the basis that history has a habit of producing recurring situations. Apparently the US Army will have to adjust their vehicles to take the Volcano. I suppose it is the case that either the British Army has binned their Volcano mines along with the Stormers, or that, if they do re-introduce them, they will have to adapt other vehicles to take them, the Stormer having gone! They have already had to re-introduce the Fuchs.

    1. I believe that at least most of the flat bad Stormers were sold off. However at least one of them did get a nice update :

      Maybe we could borrow it back.

      Although it would be nice to have a tracked platform for such a mine layer, the US seem to mainly (only?) use trucks and helicopters for their version. So more important would seem to be if the UK scraped the actually mine layer system and mines? If they are still in storage somewhere then they might be brought back in service if required.

    2. Also one thing that I think all armies have to at least be thinking about is systems similar to these on unmanned drones. Anything from a swarm of quadcopters, each carrying one or two canisters of mines, up to a few unmanned helicopters. Having a swarm of quadcopters flying in at anytime and laying a mine field a few km in front of an advancing force, could have a big effect. You could also use them to lay mines in the rear areas of the enemy to disrupt their movement. You would most likely lose some drones on each mission, but it would be hard to stop all of them.

    3. From MikeW


      Thanks for your reply. It looks from the “Defense News” article as if the USA has been involved in (manned) helicopter Volcano operations fairly recently in Korea.

      Your ideas about unmanned systems (drones, quadcopters etc.) are very interesting and I’m quite sure possibilities are being looked into.

      The US Army obviously sees Volcano as a key capability. The idea now seems to be to “develop engagement areas”, using the mines to guide the enemy into certain terrain and away from other areas, and also to set up perimeter defences.

      I imagine the British won’t be far behind in looking at such capabilities again.

      Another intriguing development is Spider. Spider is a munition system that is not a mine, nor is it activated by the intended victim(s). It uses a man-in-the-loop arrangement and has been mainly used for perimeter defence and offensive capabilities during ambushes.

  23. I've been researching on the internet about this. Apparently at the moment the British army has 3 armoured infantry brigades, but you can't use them all straight away. There is one brigade at high preparedness, with the second brigade able to follow on later, and the third brigade at lower readiness. These 3 brigades then rotate, each becoming the highest readiness brigade when it's their turn. Assuming that the more prepared a brigade is the greater call it has on manpower, equipment and training then these 3 brigades will not at any given point in time be identical. Hence if one deletes the lowest readiness armoured infantry brigade then its equipment might be used to reinforce the highest and second highest readiness armoured infantry brigades. Provided the manpower in the strike brigades is lower than that of the armoured infantry brigades (can anyone help me here?) then some of the manpower might also reinforce the two remaining brigades. If the highest readiness strike brigade is also available then one is presumably able to generate more capability more quickly, but noting that more heavy capability might have been generated over a more prolonged period under the previous construct. Viewed from this perspective the Army 2020 Refine's design of 2 armoured infantry and 2 strike brigades appears quite rational, although only time will tell if it's the right decision.

    1. I'm sure Gabriele or someone else could explain this all better than myself, but I'll give it a try.

      The differences between the readiness levels isn't really man power. Rather it is basically the training cycle. You can't keep a brigade on high readiness indefinitely. As you need to allow the personal to rest, go on courses, etc. Then at other times, you need to focus on training. So they use a 3 year cycle (at least until the changes for 2020 refine happen), where one of the brigades is in each of the cycles. (Low Readiness year, Collective Training year, High Readiness year)

      Just deleting one of the brigades and adding the personal to the other two, wouldn't have meant that they both would be in high readiness all the time.

      So between the three brigades the personal is normally about equal. At least on paper. Due to people being on courses, or temporary assigned to some other task, there could be differences. Also if the high readiness brigade was deployed then it is common for people/sub units or whole units from the other brigades to be assigned to that deploying brigade to reinforce it, or fill any under manned positions.

      In theory the brigades also have the same equipment. Although in recent years they use a whole feet management system for some equipment, where the equipment is stored/maintained centrally and units are issued it as they need it.

    2. Thanks. But doing a bit more research the paras in 16 air assault brigade seems to make do with a 1 in 2 readiness cycle. This begs the question as to why the armoured infantry and strike brigades shouldn't do likewise; which seems to inherent to the army 2020 refine plan. To me it seems that the 'refine' plan, while not without controversy, represents a reasonable approach.

    3. While 16 kind of does a 1 in 2 (depending on how many squadrons your individual unit has that can vary)the thing is there is a big difference in terms of kit maintenance between 16 AA and for example 20 AI. Once you start adding heavy armoured vehicles into the mix it makes a lot of things more complicated.

      Keeping armoured and medium units on readyness is very intensive. The other thing is it is a killer for morale. The Paras basically sign up for this, and even they have a *massive* (even unhealthy) turnover rate.

  24. I thought the comments by Nick de Larrinaga on twitter that they are considering a smaller gun than 155mm for the "medium wheeled gun" requirement was interesting.

    Unless they are just considering a more modern 105mm towed gun, then there aren't that many options. Either a 105mm version of something like Ceasar to a turreted 105mm (wonder if there are any Abbots we could press back into service). Or 120mm mortars. I would think (hope) we could rule out a towed 120mm, as that would certainly seem a downgrade from the 105mm light gun. So that would leave either a 120mm mortar carrier or a turreted system.

    I think either of those turreted systems could be interesting in that they would both at least be able to provide some direct fire support. So could there be any thoughts flying around in trying to solve some of the direct fire requirements and indirect support with one vehicle. The japanese seem to be thinking along those lines, but they have a project that aims to be as good in both roles. So doesn't sound like just a standard turreted howitzer or mortar. Also from the reports from Ukraine, it seems that 122mm howitzers were used in the anti tank role by both sides. With apparent success. In a similar idea, Chris from defencewithac suggested using surplus AS90s in the direct fire role, a few months ago.

    So just maybe, there could be some thought going into this? Although its more likely there are just thinking of something smaller than 155mm for logistics (and cost?) reasons.

    1. Frankly, i'm very puzzled by the suggestion of something smaller than 155mm. Options are few and vague.

    2. Indeed, at the moment tge UK is one of the very few European armies not to have 52 Cal guns, like the US but without the US Air Force

  25. From Mike W


    Among all this welter of information, two questions which intrigue me:

    i) Throughout this discussion we have had questions posed such as what will happen to the Light Protected Mobility Battalions, now equipped with Foxhound. Daniele has even asked whether some of them might be placed within the Strike Brigades. Elsewhere it has been suggested that the Battalions might all be converted to Light Battalions.

    Is there a possibility then that Foxhound might be withdrawn from the British Army orbat altogether? Its OSD is quite a way away and I understand it is quite a good vehicle.

    ii) You have said yourself that the Ajax fleet is now expected to form four rather than three regiments, without an increase to the number of vehicles purchased. You have added that this suggests that the two Armoured Brigades could each lose their cavalry reconnaissance regiment. I am puzzled because surely an Armoured Brigade must have some kind of reconnaissance. Will the CVR(T) family possibly serve on until their out-of-service date in 2026. Nobody has really given a satisfactory answer to this question.

    1. Unfortunately, i don't know. Those are some of the biggest questions that remain unanswered, but it is unlikely we'll get any answer before 4 january at the earliest. Hopefully in January the army will finally be arsed to post a better and more complete document about this whole thing.

    2. A minor point... but nowhere in the announcements does it say that KRH are losing their Challengers (entirely) - perhaps they'll be mixed Challenger/Ajax so there is only three (two plus two half) regiments on Ajax?

  26. Great posting as usual , so reductions in AS90 would leave say 65-70 vehicles?, and Challenger 2 numbers say 150??. Many thanks

    1. AS90 i'm guessing around 60. Challenger 2 reportedly 167 / 170 or so, even though only 112 would be operated by the two regular tank regiments remaining, unless there is some good news we have yet to hear.

    2. Do you think the TA might end up operating the Challengers from the regiment that's been converted to Ajax ?

    3. They are adding some crews to the Royal Wessex Yeomanry regiment, the only reserve tank regiment. Hopefully, they'll have easier access to vehicles too, now...

  27. Hi Gabriele and guys,
    Can anyone tell me how a 40mm cannon can take out a MBT?
    This seems to be the latest suggestion, Ajax can defeat many peer MBT?
    I am pleased to hear that the artillery are to get a new gun, of some sort!
    Could the Foxhounds be the new MIV? For now anyway.
    Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

  28. Also you mentioned that Trojan and Terrier numbers will be reduced, but have these vehicles not just entered service?. Indeed will all vehicle numbers including the MAN trucks be reduced as well?. Many thanks and Merry Xmas to you .

    1. Titan and Trojan are relatively recent, but are also heavy and clearly outside the scope of the Strike Brigades, so a part of them will end up in storage, no doubt, as they go from equipping 3 to just 2 regiments.

      MAN SV probably won't suffer much, instead. Those will be badly needed if this whole thing has to be supported logistically. And indeed there is always the huge problem of replacing DROPS with decent numbers of new vehicles. A fair bit of the MAN 9 tonners will probably be converted into EPLS.

  29. How do the Specialised Infantry battalions differ from the US army's Green Berets ?

    1. Nobody knows yet how exactly they will work.

  30. Perhaps army 2020 refine represents the best that can be done within limited budgetary and manpower constraints ?

  31. Ahh..the joys of restructuring. I think the British Army is probably one of the most restructured Military organisations going. Every time we have a new CoS or a SDR it’s an all change. It’s come to the extent I do not even worry about it anymore.
    I will only add one comment to this thread as to the normal chaos that surrounds the Army. FYI, 32 Artillery Regiment is being disbanded, yes, well no. 32 is being broken up and batteries placed in with Field Regiments. This would seem a good decision except it will fall and 32 will come back together again in the future.
    Why it will fail, because they done the same to GMLRS, disbanded 5 Regt, split the MLRS amongst the AS90 Regiments. Seemed like a good idea, until personnel promotion gets in the way. If you are a MLRS Battery Sergeant looking for promotion, then the chances of you going to a AS90 Battery are virtually zero, because you know absolutely nothing about guns, you are all about rockets. Your only choice is to be posted out of the Regiment and maybe into a position into another MLRS Battery in another Regiment. There were so many complaints about the system that they are bringing back a Regular GMLRS Regiment.
    Now lessons learnt and all that, you would think they would realise they will have the same issue with UAV Batteries being integrated into Field Regiments, but hey, we will wait and see!!

    1. From MikeW

      @Cbrn Guru

      Nice to hear from you again. Always read your well-informed comments with interest.

      First to your comment about re-organization: - ! I think the British Army is probably one of the most restructured Military organisations going. Every time we have a new CoS or a SDR it’s an all change. It’s come to the extent I do not even worry about it anymore.”

      It would seem to me that re-structurng cannot possibly be good for morale. I remember talking to a Royal Engineer officer some years ago and asking him how things were and he said that change was going on apace and that when that happened, it was not usually good for morale. You might have ceased to worry about it, which shows a certain strength of mind, but others almost certainly still do.

      I understand your point about regiments being broken up and then reformed because promotion gets in the way. People in the newly formed “hybrid” regiments do come from different disciplines and therefore possess different knowledge (e.g. guns and rockets), something that I had not fully registered previously.

      Now to a last point. Is there anything new on the CBRN front? I would be interested in any developments. Being something of a vehicle “geek”, I wonder where Falcon Squadron RCT are with their kit now. I have seen one or two Huskys among their vehicles in photographs but I wondered whether they ever got the Coyote MEP vehicle. I think it was intended for Command and Control and for Logistic support. I would be interested in any developments. Thanks.

    2. Interesting. So you say there will be a UAS battery in each artillery regiment now...? Well, that would not be bad at all in my opinion. I kind of hear what you say about career progression, but surely tactical UAS and radars could and should fit into reworked Tac Group Batteries. They should evolve into STA Batteries, and the brigade as a whole would gain from it.
      Surely a career path can be designed? The french have a STA and a SAM batteries in each artillery regiment, and don't seem to have insurmontable problems with it.

  32. Hi Gabriele and Guys.
    Just my end of year rant.
    Gabriele thank you for all your great articles during the year. I hope you keep up your excellent work next year, despite what seems like the never ending bad news.
    Next year in my own cynical opinion will be worse than this, even more cuts I fear.
    My predictions for the future;
    Royal Navy, to paint ‘Please don’t shoot at us with missiles’ on the side of there ships.
    Army, To scrap its remaining 112 MBT, after all a 40mm cannon can defeat peer MBT and Carter to become Lord Carter, and criticise the army for scrapping its MBT.
    RAF, to build a scale replica of camp Bastion in the Arizona desert, for the RAF Regiment to guard.
    Happy new year everyone!
    Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

  33. Gabriele, you say that a cut in the number of AS90 is assured as the army goes to two armoured infantry brigades. However the announcement says that 26 regiment's guns and associated manpower will be redistributed. Now one interpretation is that the AS90s could redistributed to the TA or into storage. But could not some, or all, of these guns not be redistributed to the two remaining regular AS90 regiments?

    1. Don't think it is likely. Manpower is at a premium and priority will probably go to rebuilding some strenght in the now Strike-roled regiments. Hopefully something for 7 RHA and 29 Cdo, too, which have been cut back badly and are struggling.
      The rest depends on the shape of the new 26 Regiment and decisions to be made on UAV etcetera.

  34. How does the UK's light cavalry differ from the French 2e Régiment de Hussards ?

    1. Not sure what the 2e Regiment is like but British Light Cav regiments are mounted on Jackal II vehicles, armed with .50 cal BMG and GMG's.

    2. By being a smaller regiment, and on open topped vehicles, mostly...

  35. Hi Gabriele,
    I notice on your tweets 3 RIFLES getting a briefing.
    Can you make out the vehicles on the screen?
    Today the units start getting there 2020 refine news.
    Has anything leaked yet?
    I have hear nothing yet.
    (My Regimental news letter not out for another month).
    Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

    1. Ajax on the left; then VBCI with 40mm CTA on top in the center, a Patria AMV on the bottom (i think) and a Stryker to the right. Basically, a selection of 8x8 that only say "MIV is supposed to look more or less like this". The slide is titled "Strike Brigades" and the rest cannot be read.
      Doesn't really tell us anything new.

  36. Did any one else see the Times article on the Challenger 2 LEP. Apparently Krauss Wegmann made the offer of 100-400 used Leopard 2 tanks, upgraded to the latest standard, for the same money as is being touted for the LEP.
    This was rejected, apparently for fear of bad press / headlines, given "Britain invented the tank"....
    Given the reason for rejecting the offer, I would say this story appears entirely plausible, particularly as purchasing Leopard 2 appears to be the most effective way of maintaining a credible MBT capability through to 2035 while minimise monies spent....

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. That's really interesting, thank you. FV432, ugh. A MIV variant or an ABSV variant are asking too much...? That thing won't go ahead forever...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. On a slightly different subject, were you aware the MOD considered an offer of Leopard IIs? Seems like a decent solution to the problems with upgrading Challengers, though it would hit some British jobs in the supply chain.

    1. I don't know anything specific about the matter, but i do believe the purchase was considered.

      I also believe that if the money allocated to Challenger 2 LEP can truly buy at least 170 Leopard 2 at A7 standard they should sign the contract not even today, but yesterday.

  39. From MikeW:

    From Mike W:

    If it is true that the Army intends to re-convert all the Light Mechanized Battalions into Light Role Infantry battalions, that will mean that they will not be very well protected at all. As you say, "Foxhound-mounted battalions would cease to exist as a permanent ORBAT feature very soon after appearing." Back in 2012 I wrote to your blog stating that “our Light Infantry can no longer really go without adequately protected vehicles and cannot expect go on being transported by Land Rovers and 4-tonne (or now 6-tonne) trucks. They are now more than motorized infantry.”

    Now, I realize that that was in a time of war in Afghanistan when the need for such protected vehicles was urgent. However, the MOD and the Army must have thought that the vehicle had proved successful because they kept on buying more of them, (an extra 50 in November 2012 and a further 24 in September 2014, using an underspend to fund the purchase). I know that it might be argued that if it were necessary during a future conflict, such vehicles could be issued again at short notice but our soldiers need to train on them and furthermore, if they are withdrawn, what guarantee is there that they will be kept in storage, in reserve?

    Is there perhaps another role for them, maybe in the Strike Brigades until the new MIV comes onstream? They have been proven to be valuable vehicles and certainly, given the nature of modern warfare, our infantry cannot go on being merely motorized and largely unprotected.

    1. There are several Light Role battalions that continue to exist just to avoid the dreaded "capbadge disappearance" scenario. Manpower and money could and should be better used on more supports and more mechanization for the infantry, to maximize the return from the manpower the army has.

  40. As I understand it there is an role for foxhound currently in Kabul and Iraq. Both are small Battlegroup deployments.
    Perhaps the LT Mech fleet is needed to keep these commitments equipped on an enduring basis.

  41. I have some mates in LT Mech.

    They reckoned that it was an unsustainable main stream capability because:-
    1. Infantry dismounted mass(dismounts to platform ratios) was terrible
    2. Driver training bill ( around every 3rd Pte must have Cat C)
    3. Any Mech infantry platform only really works when it squirts a formed section out the back.
    4. Lt Mech units had more platforms than armoured units but a tiny LAD department.

  42. I could not watch more than a few minutes of that "Army Propaganda Mouthpiece" brigadier but seems just more of the usual excuses. I liked how he claimed we'd be at the same as before with 2 Armoured, 2 Strike and 1 Air Assault. He seems to forget we currently have 3 Armoured, 2 Infantry, and 1 Air Assault. 6 not 5. CUT!
    I wonder if this has been timed to coincide with PM May's welcome announcement on the UK quitting the Single Market and properly taking its place in the world! Bravo. Good news there, yet bad news for the Army is nicely buried by bigger news elsewhere.

    1. While I agree with you it's a stealth cut and the man was only selling 2020 refine, not giving us a rounded look at it I'll give my two cents on what he said: I interpreted it as us going to 2 Armoured, 2 Strike, 1 Air Assault and 2 Infantry Brigades because as far as I can see there are no changes to the structure of 51st and 7th Inf. Brigades.

      The problem is that they don't have support arms to facilitate their deployment now. But realistically they didn't have that anyway.

    2. No supports, no brigades. They are just spare infantry battalions in search of a role. Or, sadly more likely, in waiting for the next cut and a government / army brass that do not sacrifice capability to fantasy ORBATs and shiny badges.

    3. What your failing to realise is that in reality they are just as deployable as they where before. The support elements in 1 UK Div where so understrength and underequipped that the 51st and 7th would never have deployed without sending a lot of men from 3div to fill the gaps. That's why the loss of 2 med isn't that big a deal, instead of 6 barely functioning medical regiments the army now has 5 that actually have some semblance of manpower.

      If where ever in a situation where they want to rotate 2 infantry brigades from 1 Div through they'll just do the a more overt version of the "congrats on the tour lads now get straight back out there" deal they give supporting troops anyway.

    4. No, this is the confirmation that Army 2020 1 and 2 are both gigantic lies and make-believe exercises. There is very little in these plans that goes past capbadges preservation at all costs. Army 2020 could be fixed easily by doing the one and only thing the army needs to do: cut some Light Role infantry and shift manpower to beef up the supports to make the army smaller, yes, but actually deployable. There is a GIGANTIC amount of money and manpower which is basically wasted in an Adaptable Force with little real meaning. And it is exactly what i've been saying since Army 2020 first emerged. Army 2020 Refine just made things even worse.

    5. 1 and 2? Do you mean 1 Div and 3 Div? They are not gigantic lies as your reference to the "adaptable force" (1 UK Div) proves.

      But from the logistical side Army 2020R has not really made it worse. It only appears to make it worse to people on the outside who don't realise that some of the supporting units *had* to be amalgamated or they'd just stop functioning completely. The same issue you have with infantry manpower being wasted in too many units was happening in the support units. From our point of view all that's changed is that instead of individual personnel being shuffled from one unit to the other to do back to back exercises and deployments it'll be whole units.

      Yes it would be ideal if they could take a load of the wasted infantry battalions in the adaptable force and generate more support units out of them to create native support to the two actually credible brigade formations in 1 Div (what you call the adaptable force). But that's not going to happen. So if we can ignore the debacle that is the strike brigades and the lack of procurement of new equipment, consolidating manpower in the supporting units is the best choice.

    6. No, it is not. It is institutionalizing failure and waste by deliberately losing more capability than the budget cut actually dictates. Much better things could be done with the money and manpower available. Far better things.

    7. It's not if you keep unrealistic options that where not going to happen on the table. Realistically what we got in the support arms was an improvement.

    8. Very little about this whole thing can ever be described as "improvement" with a straight face. The fact that capbadge mafia politics is being allowed to bend the army completely out of shape is a sad reality, but one that dramatically needs changing, and supporting in any way plans like this, that only drum the marching troops towards a future with less and less operational capability, is not helping anyone.

    9. Marcus - I am really not following your argument - I am really sorry. Gabriele is correct and her ideas and positions are completely sustainable. She works within the manpower, resources and money that are currently available to the Army (ie there are no "fantasy fleets" here). Your assertion appears to be that even given the above they are "unrealistic options". They are only unrealistic because the Army itself and the politicians that support it are institutionally (intellectually?) incapable of taking the resources they have and using them in the most effect manner for war fighting. There is no reason whatsoever that the UK should not be able to generate at least 6-7 fully deployable Brigades (including 3 Commando) + two divisional headquarters + a Spec Ops force from the resources available. The point that it can't isn't due to resources or money, it is due to institutional failure

    10. I'm most definitely not a "she", but thank you for the rest.

    11. My sincere apologies but you are welcome....

    12. Gabriele if you can't call it an improvement then you have no knowledge what things are like in the supporting arms right now.

      Anonymous, gabriels ideas would be sustainable if they where politically acceptable. He's asking for things that we all knew where not going to happen, so being dissapointed when they didn't happen is like hoping the sun won't set tonight and then being saddened when it does. Given the limitations we knew where on the army going into 2020 Refine, knowing we where not going to get more money for recruitment and that infantry capbadge where not going to be sacrificed, actually making some of the supporting units resilient and capable of doing their job is the preferred option. Gabriele thinks that the loss of (for example) 33 Field Hospital is a loss of capability when that capability was on paper only in reality.

    13. 35 Engineer regiment wasn't paper. 26 Royal Artillery wasn't paper. The army had a residual ability to sustain a 1 in 5 brigade level enduring deployment, and now it won't have it. It is not defensible, and next time it will be even less defensible. No matter what, someone has to step in and do whatever it takes to shut the capbadge mafia before the whole army turns into a bunch of forlorn rifle companies maskerading as glorious regiments of the past.

  43. Hi Gabriele and Guys,
    Watched the video, would have loved to be asking the questions!
    Are The Scots Guards being taken out of the public duties rotation?
    If not how's that going to work?
    As we have said all along, army 2020 refine is a cut.
    The 3 brigade division is make up from units of the 2 of the original armoured brigades, in my view wasting a brigade HQ which we are so sort of.
    The new strike brigades, are nothing of the sort, just recce.
    As to the loss of the Foxhound, I agree the number of dismount's was an issue, but they could be used in the land rover role and mixed with the mastiff's.
    I also noticed no news on when or if the army will start getting new MIV's. Just a 'when' in my humble view never.
    Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

  44. It is truly remarkable. Senior Army officials have created and endorsed (enthusiastically) an army structure that, at best, can deploy 2 Armoured Brigades (although in reality in old speak they are not Armoured, but Armoured Infantry Brigades given their lack of Tanks), 1 Air Assault Brigade and 1 Marine Brigade (although in all 4 cases whether they are fully deployable as they are currently structured and equipped is questionable and they certainly all lack recon and artillery assets). In addition we have grouped all of the armoured recon and some to be purchased mech infantry assets into two Brigade structures, although for what purpose and whether they are ever going to be deployable is highly questionable.
    We have one deployable Divisional Headquarters and part of 1 Corps Headquarters.
    This last comment will cause much upset, but in my opinion other than Spec Ops, any other assets which aren't in the Orbat of the 4 Brigades, 1 Division and 1 Corps are non-deployable and hence of questionable use. If it isn't in a deployable organisation then it is dead weight (no supports = no Battalions, Brigades or Divisions).
    This is compared to the French, German and Italian armies all of which have at least 6-7 larger, more supported and more deployable Brigades. This in an Armed Forces which claims to be the best in Europe (and is by far the best funded) and which the political class tells people is world class and is a key contribution to Europe.
    This would appear to be a joke, but I would suggest it is actually just another version of truth being whatever people want it to be. Britain's Army is great, therefore it is great.... God help us if this assertion is ever tested in the real world.

  45. A question about the Cyprus rotations...

    At the moment, 1RAng, 2RAng and 2PWRR rotate between Cottesmore, Woolwich and Dekhelia in Cyprus; meanwhile, 1 Lancs, 2 Lancs and 2 Yorks rotate between Catterick, Weeton and Episkopi

    Given that one each of these triplets is becoming a Specialist battalion, has anyone gained an insight into the future rotations through Cyprus?

    Perhaps 1PWRR will fill one slot, having no future Armoured or Mechanised slot?

    1. That looks likely. It appears that someone has decided that, regardless of excellent results obtained by 1PWRR in the armoured role, their future is in Light Role. Just another of the many things i hate about this "plan".

    2. It seems likely that 1 PWRR will replace 2 PWRR in the Dekhelia rotation. The recent Written Answer on the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment indicated that 1 Lancs -currently at Episkopi-will move to Chester in 2018. This suggests that 2 Mercian will move to Episkopi in place of the previously anticipated move by 2 Lancs. That same answer indicated that 1 Lancs will return to Cyprus in 2022 -after only 4 years in the UK. This suggests that the earlier plan for each of the three battalions in each cycle would spend 3 years in Cyprus followed by 6 years in the UK. Has the scheme been altered to accommodate the two operational readiness mechanism being introduced in 2019 in place of the current 3 year mechanism.
      The choice of battalions for special roles and for mech. roles threws up two further problems concerning the deployment of the light role battalions. Firstly, which battalion, if any, will replace 1 Scots in Belfast; and, second, which battalion will replace 3 Rifles in Edinburgh in 2020. Suspect 1 Royal Irish might be heading to Edinburgh, and nobody going to Belfast. Will have to wait and see for answers on all of this.

    3. 1 R ANGLIAN will move from WOOLWICH to HOLYWOOD in 2020 replacing 1 SCOTS.

  46. Mr Spin in the video is talking of these specialised Battalions not just training oversees forces but then accompanying them too. Should they not then be getting extra supports such as TAC Parties and the like as they will need support if they are going to be expected to fight with a mere 300 men, assuming of course the whole formation is deployed.
    The army trains oversees units already, I don't see the need for these units other than a way to mutilate a few more units to free up manpower.

  47. @Marcus.
    I do understand your comment. In effect you are saying that things other than amount of money and number of personnel are immutable - specifically the desire to retain infantry and cavalry cap badges. But the point is that we are then stepping over into the realms of where politics stops. The Army should have no authority in the setting of budgets, it can only ask for an amount of money to achieve a set of outcomes. Where it can shape things is to present suitable structures to politicians and ask for funding to develop them. The problem here is that we have politicians intervening to secure outcomes other than the best war-fighting outcomes and the Army at best not arguing against this and at worst actively supporting it, both by agreeing (or not refusing to accept) that cap badges need to be preserved and also presenting frankly idiotic unit structures. This is a failure of both duty and intelligence on their part.
    As an aside if it very noticeable that the Army hasn't taken an obvious step to maintain cap-badges and also retain combat power - by introducing armoured combined arms regiments. As Gabriele has pointed out before, each armoured brigade could have 3 combined arms regiments which were both retained more tanks, were more effective, fudged the cap-badge issue and actually reduced manpower to output. The fact that they haven't gone down this route is very suggestive of both a lack of intelligence on the part of the Army brass and also ongoing infighting within the Army.
    This all comes back to the original point - there is lots the Army can do with the resources and political constraints that have been imposed on them. The fact is that they aren't and that is reprehensible.

  48. From MikeW:

    Couldn’t help seeing your Tweet that asked the question whether Foxhound has possibly just become Multi Role Vehicle - Protected package 1? You mention how the Army has been “looking at a JLTV purchase, but with Light Mech Inf vanishing...”

    Well, back in September Janes reported that MRV-P Group 1 will be met by an off-the-shelf purchase of Oshkosh Defense's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and that the purchase would be carried out via a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal. Has that contract been signed yet, do you know, or is the MOD still involved in talks?

    I also do not know whether the JLTV will carry more infantrymen than the Foxhound. I suppose that depends on the version of JLTV which might be purchased.

    1. There have been no contract signatures and i'm not even sure the FMS request was filed. For sure it hasn't been examined and approved by the US authorities: when a FMS request is approved, the DSCA publishes a notice and there hasn't been any about JLTV for the UK.


    2. I think that the infantry has flirted with Lt Mech and came to the conclusion that it's just to high maintenance to keep as a mainstream role.
      The dismounted mass issue is not confined to fox hound. These platforms are classed as AFVs and as such they must have a dedicated driver and commander that cannot be used as dismounts in most circumstances therefore:-
      A foxhound delivers a fire team
      A husky delivers two mortar-men
      An R wimik delivers one recce/AT/MG and he's the crews gunner
      Imagine trying to put any credible formation on the ground with a decent bump plan for breakdowns etc.
      The tried and tested infantry delivery systems are armoured,Mech,Air,boat and the ultimate fall back option that saves most unit exercises over the years the Man truck.

      Then there's the massive driver trading bill. Taking recruits from 0 to C licence is expensive and time consuming. Bearing in mind that lads are only serving for 4 years on average nowadays that level of competency is really difficult to maintain.

      Then there's retention lads think they are joining the infantry only to be handed a luminous vest and embark on endless driver training.

      Don't get me wrong these are really good capable platforms, but not suited to infantry unless it's mission specific, in a medium threat environment.

    3. Try this as an idea. Very heavy Motorised infantry.
      Design a very large coach that delivers 40-60 infantry that is:-
      Armoured, full ECM, comms, weapon locating radar UAV and down links. The underside carries the dismounted equipment and squirts out couple of simple load carrying platforms (large quads or small jeeps) The platform converts to an Ops room once dismounts are deployed.
      Two or three road legal platforms to deliver a company group from barracks to assembly area projecting across great distances.

  49. I want a general to explain to me why they are sending the Jackal to Poland where the occupants will be hopelessly exposed to the elements ... if I cycle on my bike for 5 mins in the current conditions in London, my extremities know about it so what must a Polish winter do to a man's operational ability when they have frostbite! [ps... I've been to Warsaw/ Krakow in winter] ... madness

    Second, I want them to explain why they are prepared to spend yet more of the limited budget on another 4x4 vehicle, JLTV, when we have Foxhound [now looking for a role], Panther [a pointless purchase], and a host of other 'support' type 4x4

    I want to ask that General why the French, AMX 10RCR, and Italians, Centauro, have seen the sense in having a big calibre guns, on wheels, in their 'mobility' brigades ...but we have under gunned, tracked vehicles...

    I am so angry, Gabi ... that even an armchair corporal such as I can see there is a total lack of coherent thinking in the vehicle procurement of the British Army ...

    and you can't blame politicians [as I am happy to do when it is their fault] ... these decisions are being made by generals..

  50. From MikeW:

    Have been looking at tweets again. The image from Defence Photography listing future British Army programmes is very interesting. I see that in the Defence Equipment Plan Reports the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).programme is included but there is no mention of the ABSV. Is that still subsumed into the WCSP programme and therefore likely to go ahead?

    One of Nicholas Drummond’s tweets refers us to a “Daily Telegraph” article stating that plans for new aircraft and tanks are at risk because of a need to cut £6 billion in defence spending, mainly because of a drop in the value of the pound. If that is true, then that makes all of our discussion redundant and it looks as if SDSR 2015 might have to be looked at again and altered significantly. It is all very depressing! Do you really think it will be as bad as all that? I suppose it will depend on to what extent the pound recovers over the next few years. Of course, you might take the view that it will be a good thing if the Strike Brigades were looked at again. And I would almost certainly concur with you.

    Can’t help but agree with everything that the last Anonymous has said (about Jackal, JLTV and Foxhound etc. etc.)

  51. Regarding some comments made earlier, I don't accept the unflattering comparison of the British army's proposed structure with that of the French. There are good grounds to be cautious when comparing the structures, on paper, of these two armies. Just because the French army is organised into two divisions does not mean that both of these divisions are deployable. In particular when one looks at their successful operation in Mali it becomes clear that it had the greatest of challenges in deploying and sustaining a brigade sized wheeled force. The fact that France had significant standing forces in the region and still had to rely heavily on heavy air lift from Canada, the UK and Qatar and on heavy sea lift from the UK must pose a question mark over its ability to deploy even part one of these divisions outside France. Looked at from another angle the difference between spending 1.6% of GDP on defense and 2.0% probably has has an impact upon the actual, rather than paper, capability to deploy and sustain a large force.

    In terms of the 'Army 2020 refine' structure I think that one does have to accept that the army had to do the best it could within the resources it was given. It does appear that it has gone for a more balanced force structure than its earlier 'army 2020' plan. Whether or not this represents the best way ahead only time will tell. So let's see how the current plan pans out before judging it too early. What will be interesting to see will be whether, and if so to what extent, prime minister May's recent speech distancing foreign policy from the earlier practice of liberal interventionism, will have an effect on the UK's expeditionary outlook, and thus the structure of the armed forces.

    1. I cannot agree. In particular there is no way in which, try as i might, i can think of this structure as "best that could be done with the resources given". This is a rather terrible use of resources in many areas.

  52. This just gets better and better. Effectively you have the whole British Army jumping around on the basis of the personnel whims of General Carter. He has
    1, I'm an old infantry commander so we'll base everything in Catterick, which nobody in the Army likes being based at as it's in the middle nowhere s**t hole.
    2. I'll make a Scottish Brigade but I won't make it the 51st Brigade and base it Scotland where most of the troops are, nope I'll move them all South and all there Support Arms North instead of using the units next to them in Scotland.
    3. My thinking was severely affected in getting people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending Soldiers out in inadequate vehicles because politicians would not give me the tracked vehicles I wanted. So I will be obsessed in getting 8x8 under gunned but heavily protected against any weapon the Taliban would have so as its got wheels its not a tank. I am risk adverse so lets not do anything that might get things done, instead I'll risk young soldiers in completely inadequate units.
    4. Use Ajax which are useless and can not self deploy or keep up on roads with the 8x8's so I don't have to take them with me. Infantry are king, bloody tanks just get in the way.
    5. I'll make the rest of the Army unusable by stripping them back to 300 men Battalions that don't have transport, support, enough fire power to do anything else than fill a few sandbags in the UK for flood protection. Thus I never have to risk them.
    6. I will make the armoured division completely useless as it will have so few tanks, armoured anti air and armoured artillery that it will be over run in 10mins flat.
    7. Final I will place the emergency self deployable brigades over 300 miles around the major choke point of London/M25 from the channel ports from which they would have to deploy to Europe
    So the Jobs a good'un make a 82,000 Army useless, but I will never be accused by politicians of taking risks because I'll never do anything. Even none Army people can see the madness of this reorganisation, it will destroy morale in the British Army (if it hasn't gone already) all because of the scars of one old General who rightly was accused of recklessness by his American Counter parts in Afghanistan.

  53. The reported new AAC readiness arrangements would effectively bring it into line with both the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm.

  54. Is the British army likely to join the Franco-German brigade or Eurocorps?

  55. Just looked through the SDSR where it says the army will have "Two innovative brigades comprising a mix of Regulars and specialist capabilities from the Reserves able to contribute to our strategic communications, tackle hybrid warfare and deliver better battlefield intelligence." What are these two brigades?

    1. It is actually talking about 1 and 11 Signal Brigade, i'm afraid.

  56. What is the new 77 Brigade classed as?

  57. In which sense? By role, by size...? If it was classed by size, it wouldn't even make up a battalion. They call it "brigade", but it is just a few hundred strong.

  58. Sorry. Their role. Stabilisation? Soft force projection?

    1. Not sure if a single term is applicable. Both are good in some ways, since it contains everything from Media Operations to civil-military cooperation.

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