Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!
The comment at the end of the video about the navy and airforce already being on the limits of being a credible force is rather indicative that army will bear the brunt of the cuts, particularly heavy forces in germany.
The number of one hundred tanks remaining is interesting, what does that equate to in current armoured regiments, and how might it work under a new lighter force structure?
100 tanks ! I thought we were still on “type 57 regiments” which are called that because there are 57 Challenger II’s per regiment ! So are we really below 2 full strength armoured regiments ?
Ahhhh – he says “we could be down to 100 tanks”
So its a suggestion by a talking head – actually its one I agree with – heavy armour and AS90 batteries to the TA. Withdraw from Germany, get squaddies and their families spending their cash in UK local economies
The worst bit is the “the commitment to Afghanistan is absolute” – grrrrr…….
Theoretical question here; if we accept that the army is going to ‘lighten’, is there any sense in creating a combined Armour/Force-Reconnaissance regiments in an effort to preserve heavy skills in this smaller army?
Good question: “is there any sense in creating a combined Armour/Force-Reconnaissance regiments in an effort to preserve heavy skills in this smaller army?”
I would answer with one of my own, what is the value of setting up your force structure in order to keep skills ? The force structure should reflect what you want your forces to do, so if that does not include a requirement for a mixed MBT / medium armoured Recon capability in a single unit – then the answer would be no – but thats just my humble opinion….
Liam Fox says nothing here. It’s just speculation by outsiders. Does anyone know when the review is due to be completed?
“what is the value of setting up your force structure in order to keep skills?”
Based both on the recent/current wars (which, like Chechnya and Lebanon latest time round have shown some ways to blunt both Soviet- and NATO-designed armored maneuver) and the chance the UK might end up fighting someone with some heavy kit, it seems like the Army does need to rethink the Royal Armoured Corps’ tables of organization. “Formation reconnaissance” was fine with BAOR and lots of tank regiments and artillery behind, and at times in Iraq/Afghanistan where the enemy’s so lightly armed it can’t roll up your scouts and motorised infantry with heavy gear.
But Chally 2s may be more useful (even more useful? Warriors are nice) than Warriors and I’d rather sacrifice the latter (grudgingly) than too many of the former. Have a bare handful (two? three?) of Type 56 regiments, and the rest “cavalry” regiments rather like the American armored cav regiments or the similar German-Dutch models from the Cold War. A mix of light armored recon with Challys and then UAVs in place of helicopters.
do you say type 56 to indicate a difference from the type 57 i believe from the comments that we operate now?
Formation Reconnaissance appears to be a role that is specific to ‘heavy’ brigades, so if we are going to seriously lighten those brigades but still wish to keep a heavy capability spread over enough brigades to represent a ‘capability’, is it possible to have combined Ar/FR regiments?
it is possible it wouldn’t work, but if it would work then it would be a very useful way of preserving heavy armour in a mobile/rapid-reaction army……….
In the spirit of introductions, I very much enjoy your shop too, in addition to your contributions here.
Og no tpye good: yeah, that would be the Type 57 if I paid attention to where my fingers went! It seems, purely to me, like a very good way to keep the gear/skills/firepower/tactical flexibility in the mix. Certainly a chunk of NATO (Italians and Danes if memory serves, besides the ones I mentioned) went for mixed armoured cavalry/recon units of that sort on the “finding and fixing” edge of larger Cold War formations. And it would let the cavalry regiments go back to being, well, *cavalry* rather than just tank battalions ripe for budgetary slaughter. That would appeal to their regimental sense of self. And it would mix the all-terrain armoured scouts with an ability to survive bumping into all sorts of enemies. Always nice in the “whoops, advance to contact” moment to have some sixty-plus-ton, fire-belching, Chobham-ized castles of death handy.
lol, cheers for the response, i like the analogy, and recognise the point behind it too.
Given the logistical requirements of actually deploying tanks to a battlefield, I don’t believe an advancing armoured force bumping into an enemy advancing armoured force is a likely scenario.
It was probably possible once, but times change.
Tanks are a logistical nightmare. If we have deployed tank regiments, we have deployed a combined arms army, with our full ISTAR capability in tow, enemy tank formations would be spotted by our ISTAR and destroyed by our airpower long before a tank formation of our own could locate and destroy them.
My kind of view, if we accept the above to be true, is that Challengers should be mixed with the mechanised infantry, maybe one Challenger to three to five Warriors.
That way when the mechanised infantry advances, the few individual enemy tanks that have remained hidden are quickly dealt with.
Then again, my concept of a mixed battalion of 350 men, split into 50 sections, mounted in 50 warriors, and supported by 10 Challengers was roundly laughed out.
How is that different from a mechanised regiment, which includes C2′s if wiki is to be believed?
Ref: “Always nice in the “whoops, advance to contact” moment to have some sixty-plus-ton, fire-belching, Chobham-ized castles of death handy.”
Superb, nearly lost a rib laughing at that one, as they might say say “For recce in force priceless, for everything else, there is the Royal Armoured Corps….”
Thanks again, and I appreciate the attention to the tactical point.
Can’t you just see a marvelous viral recruiting ad out of that? Wonders for morale, probably. Glad you liked it so much.
The point about tanks as a logistical black hole is a fair one. I have an uncle who was an American armoured officer Vietnam-era (did some time in the U.S.’s only airborne armoured unit in Europe, a very curious beast.) So I grew up hearing stories about their unseemly demands. And, except perhaps for a couple of “heavy” regiments (something akin to the American armoured cavalry squadron, which I think had a mix like 41 M1s and 39 reconnaissance Bradleys) in the Army as a whole, the mix could slant closer to your model with tracked recon in place of the IFVs.
Part of my logic derived from the recent wars, not just Iraq and Afghanistan but also Israel’s, Chechnya, and the Balkans, all places where armour has turned out to be very useful in urban warfare (wouldn’t surprise a single WWII vet) and where, in nearly all cases (there’s a nice piece on it somewhere in the U.S. Army’s “Parameters” journal, damned if I can find it) even armies with good-quality ISTAR kept bumping into enemies they didn’t expect, even if those were just dug-in guerillas. In those situations, either because the bulk of the friendly force was infantry dismounts, or because it was a really tiny scout detachment that didn’t expect a concentrated opposition, just a handful of tanks made a giant difference, ending the engagement quickly without the need to divert more resources to a local firefight.
My own view (happy to have it picked apart, which I think you do with a good eye) is that a ground force that mixes lots of mobile infantry with well-directed fires (and oft-neglected engineers) is the proper base, but the cavalry could stand some heft. The top end of commitment should still probably include (like Op Granby) a division for allied operations against a foe with decent kit, or command of a corps-like formation for defense of northern Scandinavia (a melting Arctic may make a strategic mess, and it would be valuable cultural and economic strategy to build friendships around Europe’s rim, from the ex-vikings and Dutch down around to the Spanish and Portuguese.) To hedge those conventional-war bets, the cav needs some find-and-fix plus the ability, like lancers and dragoons way back, to screen the infantry’s flanks effectively. We could still maybe cut active-service Challengers by half which is not a mean feat.
The Americans seem less inclined to laugh at your mixed battalion (it’s bigger in their TO&E though, but it’s a size-is-everything culture so you have rights to wait and see.
Defence review timeline
End of June Completion of the “foreign policy baseline” co-ordinated by Sir Peter Ricketts, national security adviser.
Mid-July Conclusion of the “threat assessment”, with the security service contributing to a study on security challenges to Britain. The judgment on the relative importance of state-on-state aggression or asymmetric threats will make a dramatic difference to the shape of forces.
End of July Draft budget is submitted to Treasury as part of the spending review. August/September Crunch time for decisions to be made on the equipment programmes required to deliver the necessary military capabilities.
I think we might be at cross purposes here.
I’m in favour of tanks, just not tank formations.
The logistical comment was just to demonstrate that tanks are only deployable when lots of other kit is out as well, we dont deploy them on Palliser sized operations.
If we are fighting a war with a full ISTAR capability, then the only enemy tanks our ground forces will engage are tanks that are hidden and operating on their own.
So, my thought was that when we were entering this imaginary city, the infantry would dismount from the warriors and do the infantry fighting, the warriors would follow along to provide fire support to break strong points and carry extra gear and the challengers would follow them for countering enemy armour that ambushed the advancing infantry.
I just think a mix of 7:1:1 for Infantry:IFV:MBT is a little tank heavy.
It was my understanding that Armour losses in Grozney and Lebanon were so high because the tanks were operating with insufficient infantry screening.
I started to suspect, as that conversation went on, that there was more syntax than daylight between us. And we both clearly prefer an approach that combines arms right down to a fairly minute level. I’d agree that the ratio you set out is too high for the vast majority of brigades. (The Americans approach it in their new-model heavy brigades but that’s a temporary luxury of money and resources to a degree no one else shares.) It does seem to be useful for a larger (platoon to company sized) infantry force to have a couple of tanks moving with them in a wide variety of environments rather than segregating units (the case of Grozny in ’94 is legendary for that reason; often the infantry didn’t even dismount and were shot to pieces inside thinly armoured BTRs.) The cavalry approach provides recce in force and may help flush out even lightly armed opponents so that the larger infantry-based, artillery-supported formations (for “artillery” substitute values anywhere between mortars and MLRS or ordnance dropped/fired from the air) can respond as appropriate. Or, unless they’re packing significant mass of armour or IEDs themselves, can deal with some threats while the big battalions hew to strategic objectives. With you wrt Palliser-like missions, using elephants to crack nuts and such.
Very interesting article, especially for the apparent threats of corporte arm-twisting. Interested to see what you make of it over at your shop.
There’s a lot of speculation….as far as I know there is no set completion date but it seems there won’t be a cut in operational costs more a shift from MoD to operational spend. This video analyses the potential cuts that could be made from a Air and Sea perspective…http://bit.ly/baKksi
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