CBRN Role to Transfer to RAF Regiment

No doubt we will be seeing more of these kinds of splits, mergers and capability reductions as the SDSR announcements and Planning Round 11 decisions begin to crystalise.

The RAF Regiment is to assume all responsibilities for CBRN across the MoD although the statement does mention the Yeomanry (TA)

The current Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment comprises elements of RAF Regiment and elements of 1 Royal Tank Regiment, based at RAF Honnington. Although it is a relatively small unit it’s expertise and vital role is not under any doubt so how the MoD thinks it is a wise move to reduce capability in this area is rather confusing

CBRN is one of those typical capability areas that are vulnerable to the chop because there are no industrial benefits, no major equipment projects or no one in high places rooting for them.

This is the description from the Army website

Elements of 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) equipped with a variety of highly technical vehicles and specially trained personnel provide the Army’s contribution to the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiolgical and Nuclear Regiment (Jt CBRN Regt).  The Regiment provides detection, survey, reconnaissance and decontamination capabilities with analysis and advice to the three Services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and, where necesary, other government departments.

Their high-profile specialist role calls for solders with a unique blend of skills and determination.

The Regiment delivers an essential capability deployable world-wide.

A particularly sophisticated piece of equipment they hold is the specialist Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance vehicle.

Despite their sophistication and relative newness, all ten will be withdrawn as part of the change. The Multi Role Brigades will now be supported by the RAF Regiment and TA although only with very light role equipment, because the Fuchs will be withdrawn the ability of the MRB to maneuver in an NBC environment without such a specialist vehicle seems to unclear, perhaps we will rely on enemies not to bother deploying such weapons.

This has been covered by both the Director RAC and Commandant General RAF Regiment.

From the Royal Armoured Corps


A key decision was taken on Tuesdayin the MOD on thefuture of 1 RTR’s CBRN role.CO 1 RTR’s sitrep is as follows:

“OnTuesday, the Secretary of State for Defence agreed to the SDSR measure (subsumed by a PR11 option) to delete the Joint CBRN Regiment and transfer all of Defence’s specialist CBRN capabilities to the RAF Regiment.

This brings to a close a protracted and difficult period for the Regiment. The debate has been intensive and impassioned, and the Regiment has punched well above it’s weight in making the argument for CBRN to remain in the Land domain.

The Commanding Officer announced the decision to the Regiment at 1200 hrs yesterday. General Sir Nick Parker, C-in-C Land Forces, addressed the Regiment at 1545 hrs and then took questions from the Officers’ and WOs’ and Sergeants’ Messes. Brigadier Simon Levey, Director Royal Armoured Corps, was also in attendance.

C-in-C assured the Regiment with 3 major points, as follows:

1. 1RTR would not be disbanded as a result of the Secretary of State’s decision on CBRN. The long term future of 1RTR would be examined on equal terms with other Armoured Regiments in the Army re-structuring work being undertaken by Major General Carter. This work seeks to deliver an integrated force of 82,000 regular and 30,000 reservists by 2020, and will report for decision by ECAB in the Autumn.

2. There was no more likelihood of 1RTR soldiers being made redundant as a consequence of the decision than any other soldiers in the RAC.

3. 1RTR would retain a footprint in Honington until at least April 2013, giving stability to individuals and families for the next 18 months.

C-in-C explained that he saw 3 phases in going forwards:

1. The handover of CBRN skills and equipment to the RAF Regiment and the Yeomanry.

2. An interim phase of constructive and meaningful activity for the Regiment in a new role.

3. The implementation of the findings of the Carter Review, in a 3-5 year timescale.

C-in-C remarked that having been the Brigade Commander in Germany when 1RTR converted to the CBRN role, he understood the challenge this represented and the extraordinary professionalism that the Regiment has shown ever since.

DRAC then outlined some of his ideas for an interim role for 1RTR, including:

1. Generating a Squadron for deployment to Op HERRICK with the SCOTS DG and then QRH battlegroups, subject to future force levels in theatre.

2. Running the Crew Training School in Bovington.

3. Becoming the lead unit for experimentation and TTP development for the Army, in the AGILE WARRIOR workstream.

The Regiment takes great heart from the reassurance given personally by C-in-C and DRAC. Whilst the announcement was an undoubted shock to most, its implications are perhaps not as dire as first imagined. We have been impressed by and are very grateful for the support shown to the Regiment by the chains of command, both Army and RAF.

The Regiment will go on leave after duties tomorrow relieved that a decision on CBRN has finally been made and reassured over the implications. On return all ranks will be ready to take up the new challenges. We will conduct a professional and orderly handover of CBRN capability. We can look forward to formally standing up again as 1st Royal Tank Regiment, and a challenging interim role thereafter.

Fear Naught


RAF Regiment

On Tue, 2 Aug 11, the Secretary of State for Defence agreed to the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) measure – subsumed by a Planning Round (PR)11 Option – to delete the Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regt and transfer all of Defence’s specialist CBRN capabilities to the RAF Regt.

The key implications of this decision will be as follows: there will be no impact upon those capabilities currently provided by the RAF Regt (26 and 27 Sqns RAF Regt and 2623 Sqn RAuxAF Regt), and the RAF will remain the Lead Service for CBRN; the wide area CBRN reconnaissance and survey capabilities, based upon the Fuchs armoured vehicle, will be gapped; all other capabilities currently provided by the Army element of the Jt CBRN Regt (the Multipurpose Decontamination System, some of the Light Role Teams, and all command and control) will transfer to a wholly-RAF Regt manned Defence CBRN Wg, which will include 26 Sqn RAF Regt, 27 Sqn RAF Regt and 2623 Sqn RAuxAF Regt. Whilst there will be a modest increase to the RAF Regt establishment, there will be a net reduction of 319 Army posts in the current specialist CBRN force. The total saving to Defence will be £129 million over 10 years.

CINC LAND personally informed 1RTR yesterday of the decision to cease all Army involvement in specialist CBRN. No decisions have been made on the future of 1RTR; this will be considered as part of the wider requirement to restructure the Army in light of the recent outcome of the ‘3 Month Exercise’, and is wholly a matter for the Army. 1 RTR will remain at RAF Honington for at least the medium term, whilst the transfer of capabilities takes place and their future is decided.

This decision brings to a conclusion a protracted period of intensive, sometimes understandably impassioned debate over the future provision of specialist CBRN capabilities for Defence. Detailed planning for the implementation of the measure will now commence. This will be the responsibility of the AOC 2 Gp, on whose behalf I will develop plans for the appropriately timely transfer of operational command and control and operational capabilities, the continued delivery of which remains the Defence priority. This will be done in close cooperation with HQ Land (specifically, Director Royal Armoured Corps) to ensure that Army personnel matters are addressed positively and sensitively.

1RTR have made a quite extraordinary (and often largely unsung) contribution to Defence over the past 12 years. They have done so with all the exemplary professionalism and commitment typical of their proud heritage. It has truly been an honour to serve alongside them, and I know that all members of the RAF Regt will wish them every success in whatever the future may hold.

As for the RAF Regt, this decision will leave the Corps as the UK’s sole provider of specialist CBRN capabilities for Defence. Clearly – given the circumstances of the MOD’s preparedness to take risk against the deletion of the Fuchs capability in the context of a parlous financial climate, this is the right decision for Defence and it is not the time for inter-Service triumphalism. Be under no illusion that the responsibility placed upon the RAF Regt will be enormous and expectations will be high – we must deliver, and I know that we will, no matter what the challenges that lie ahead.

So there you go.

Lets kill off genuine capability that is pretty essential to save just less than £13 million a year.

The government talks of tough decisions in the SDSR remind me how much the Red Arrows and Kings Troop Royal Artillery cost per year. This is why project CVF, JCA, FRES, Typhoon, FSTA and all the other big projects with dubious underlying decision making distort the defence budget and lead to the sacrifice of essential capabilities, boring, not very glamorous but essential nonetheless.


About The Author

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!

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
August 6, 2011 9:14 pm

I had read rumors of this one month ago or so…

And my reaction had honestly been “No way, you gotta be kidding…!”

How does this fit in the Terrorism being Tier 1 threat and all that – now it really is official – JUNK?
This is just completely, royally ABSURD.

steve taylor
August 6, 2011 9:26 pm

Why do members of the RAF Reg refer to themselves as “the Corps” ?

Mike W
August 6, 2011 9:44 pm

I find the decision to withdraw the Fuchs capability quite astounding.

TD mentions the question of how much the Red Arrows and Kings Troop Royal Artillery cost per year. I disagreed with him previously about the importance of ceremonial and pageantry, arguing that it was important symbolism and an essential part of the nation’s tradition. However, I am now coming round very much to his point of view, especially in the light of this decision. And it won’t be the last!

Gabby has chosen ‘le mot juste’ to describe the decision. It is ‘absurd’! Madness!

August 6, 2011 9:57 pm


I’m not sure and I’m based with them in Honnington…I think it dates back to when the regiment was too small to be ccalled as such, however your far more to hear them call themselves ‘the regiment’ or ‘rock apes’…but I prefer pebble monkies :P


I think they are capable enough to fullfill the role, how is it absurd? They are given enhanced training from normal infantry…all the difference is their cap badge and uniform colour..
Only ‘benefit’ if there is any, is that at they are RAF, transporting them to areas would be more quicker…then again, I doubt thats the case.

I think this should be a joint unit, not specialist within one arm of the forces…alas.

The withdrawl of the Fuchs, then I agree 100% – the threat from chemical weapons from terror organisations/indiduals is far greater than state sponsored/directed aggression to our country, its crazy, yet another capability cut, and I doubt a lot that the media will have anything to say about it :/

steve taylor
August 6, 2011 10:08 pm

@ Mike

Back in the mists of time I think Churchill wanted to put them on a similar footing to the Royal Marines.

I used to the pull the leg of an ex-cadet of mine who joined the RE by constantly referring to it as a “regiment.” I would always get a very colourful reply conveying to me that the RE was a corps…….

August 7, 2011 8:17 am

If the MRB is going to be of similar structure to FAS (Next Steps), then surely this decision was more motivated by the need for a 10th cavalry regiment? Or have I fallen for MoD fudge? They’ve then thought ‘We can save a few bob!’ and got rid of something fairly essential. Do they read their own ‘reviews’?

With the RAF Reg calling itself a corps, the Parachute Regiment was once called the Parachute Corps, perhaps it’s all part of that ‘big three’ nonsense…

August 7, 2011 8:31 am

“I think they are capable enough to fullfill the role, how is it absurd?”

Note that my shock is not due to the RAF Regiment getting the totality of the job, but is due to the CBRN regiment being left without its most capable component, the Fuchs, which is also that little bit of high-mobile armor protection they have.

CBRN never really did get an hold in the UK, did it…?
Most armies, from US to several major european armies, all but have a CBRN company in each brigade, after all, while the UK is all but cutting back on its only formation in the role.

FRES SV CBRN variant, anyone…?

Mike W
August 7, 2011 10:45 am

@Gabriele et al

Yes, if the plans do not include a CBRN variant of the FRES SV, then it is of the utmost importance that the Fuchs vehicles are placed in low humidity storage against an emergency. Actually, that should still happen even if the the FRES SV plans do include a variant. Such programmes are often cancelled, are they not?

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 7, 2011 12:45 pm

I’ve not yet seen any comment on the possible impacts of the reduced capabilities from the army’s top end. Be interesting to know what they make of it, and whether the army has willingly accepted the changes. It is also quite difficult to see at this stage just how serious a cut this is.

August 7, 2011 1:10 pm

I think the Fuchs were given to the UK as a contribution in lieu of German forces not actually taking part in GW1!!

Maybe they might have to give them back!

Failing that, expect to see them for a knock down price at Withams very shortly! There us no way these fcukwits will keep them just in case they may be needed in the future!

I dare not think what they will cut next!

steve taylor
August 7, 2011 1:13 pm

I am missing something. What vehicle will they have?

Surely the important thing about the Fuchs is protection from the nasty NBC stuff more than protection from bullets etc. ?

August 7, 2011 1:32 pm

Same vehicles they had before the Fuchs! NBC suited bod in Landrover or probably on foot!!!

August 7, 2011 4:29 pm

Simple really, somebody somewhere said what role can we give the RAF Regt in order to NOT get rid of it – et voila….

steve taylor
August 7, 2011 4:50 pm

When I say things like that here I get accused of making comments whilst wearing a tin foil hat.

Brian Black
Brian Black
August 8, 2011 10:07 am

If we are going to be sticking all our fast jets onto big ships in the future, rather than on airfields, perhaps the RAF Regt should take over fleet protection too.

It would give them something to do, and free up a few Marines for other tasks.

August 8, 2011 5:33 pm

Lets kill off genuine capability that is pretty essential to save just less than £13 million a year.

Essential? Not sure about that, to be honest. You know what happened to the last British soldiers to be attacked with chemical weapons? They all died OF OLD AGE.

Andy Quantick
Andy Quantick
August 27, 2012 12:18 am

Why do the RAF Regiment refer to themselves as the Corps.

After the failure to hold Crete from the German invasion force, we lost a vital air hold due to lack of defence from the Army who were otherwise occupied in other campaigns. Winston Churchill was outraged of the loss of the RAF airfield there which was vital for operations, so after discussing the situation an idea was conceived that an Aerodrome Defence Corps should be formed for the protection of RAF airfields. So on the 1st February 1942, King George the 6th warranted that the Corps of the Royal Air Force Regiment be formed within the RAF. Thereafter all RAF airfields in theatre had squadrons of RAF Regiment defending them. The role of the Corps was not just defence, but was also used in offence in such campaigns as Normandy, Cassino and Burma.
So although the RAF Regiment is part of the RAF, it is a Corps and not a trade as all other RAF departments.

Gareth Jones
August 27, 2012 9:45 am

@ Andy – thanks for that, very interesting. Do you know what role they played in the offensive camapaigns?

October 3, 2012 9:10 pm

“@ Andy – thanks for that, very interesting. Do you know what role they played in the offensive camapaigns?”

I have had to do some research at work about the regiment and its role in offensive campaigns, I have found this in the journal of the Royal Airforce historical socitey No.15 as it descirbes the Regiments role within the 2 Tactical Airforce.

“A highly successful operation involving three RAF Regiment task forces passed the Army forward positions and moved up into the Schleswig-Holstein, occupying airfields right up to the Danish boarder and in the islands. In this operation the Regiment seized 15 airfields and received the surrender of over 50,000 troops, a large number of German Generals and Staff officers. inevitably in the final stages of the campaign pockets of the enemy put up some exceptionally stiff resistance, a lot of severe actions took place and we suffered many casualties.”

This is just one of many things i have found researching the regiments history i hope it helps.

Also cutting down the JCBRN Regiment was crazy, i just never knew it was that crazy by getting rid of the FUCHS…. what a bunch of mongs.