So, the morning after the leaks and briefing had been concluded we will have the results later.
- PREPARING THE GROUND
- THE DETAILS
- QUICK THOUGHTS
A few of observations before getting into the details…
ONE – Did we Actually Need to Make Any Cuts At All?
There is absolutely no question in my mind that without economic security there can be no other security so the need to address the deficit as the overriding strategy of the coalition government was a sound one. However, that does not mean that it should automatically follow that defence should be subject to any budget reductions whatsoever.
There is equally a need to address the profligate MoD that have wasted money on a biblical scale but successive Governments have written cheques the emaciated and inefficient MoD and Armed Forces were unable to cash. Both Iraq and Afghanistan have been failures of resourcing as much as one might argue they were failures of anything else.
The current SDSR argues that significant reductions, and they are significant, can be achieved without strategic shrinkage.
That is clearly nonsense of the worst kind and the equivalent of putting ones fingers in your ears and shouting la la la la.
Setting the armed forces up for failure in the future by pretending all in the garden is rosy is fundamentally dishonest and it needs to be said.
TWO – Backbone; or Complete Lack of It
One of our commenters made the very valid point that the armed forces are political and should always be, so it is inevitable that politics would play a large part of the decision making. Instead of looking at the Household Division, Gurkhas or other untouchables the government has tied the hands of those trying to deliver the reductions.
Timing is always an interesting point but I also wonder if these announcements could have been made earlier, avoiding keeping people in uncertainty.
Getting the Jubilee and Armed Forces Day out of the way seems like a bit of cynical PR to me, should we be suprised?
THREE – Leaking, Spinning and Vested Interests
When is the leaking culture going to stop?
The MoD and political leadership in Government needs to get a grip of this, it is wholly unhealthy and breeds a culture of mistrust. No matter what the justification there is no excuse and it is pretty saddening to be honest that those in positions of trust feel they are justified in undermining the process.
When I read about either cap badge or service special pleading and corrosive politicking by the higher echelons of the forces I despair. All of them seem to be guilty of it and this is yet another failure of political leadership.
FOUR – Speculation
Having looked at this for a while now I came to the conclusion that hanging on to every leaked report and breathlessly pronouncing on the future of individual units really was unhelpful to those that might be looking at a very uncertain future.
I also have a bad taste in my mouth when I read people being critical of those making these incredibly difficult and detailed decisions from a position of zero experience or access to anything beyond a leaked report, Wikipedia and copy of the Soldier magazine.
If anyone thinks those that will be affected by this already know and therefore it doesn’t matter clearly have no clue whatsoever of how these things work and little regard for the indviduals involved.
So, in general terms, I have stayed away from that, apologise if you were expecting different.
FIVE – A Sudden Interest in ‘Homeland Resilience and Security’
When the Conservative Party released its pre-election defence strategy I covered in some depth its focus on using the Armed Forces to deliver against an increased obligation for homeland security and resilience.
Oh, stop there a minute…
Anyone who uses the term homeland in relation to the UK should be taken outside and debagged, it’s a pathetic and demeaning display of a slavish devotion to US military and security fashion, like warfighting, it needs expunging from any British defence language.
For several years the Armed Forces had seen civil contingency support as something they should do as a last resort and rightly so. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and subsequent guidance shifted the relevant responders away from any form of reliance of the Armed Forces but as the end to operations in Afghanistan is in sight it seems that they are now all over the ‘mission’
Like the ‘security theatre’ and anti-aircraft missiles on rooftops for the expensive summer sports day that are part of the new found interest we need to have a very long think about this, not sure we are travelling the correct road.
SIX – The Reserves
There is an almost religious belief that the reserves can make up the short fall in regular force numbers and whilst it should be obvious to all that there exists a tremendous reserve component across all three services without any change in primary employment legislation are we just hoping for the best?
SEVEN – Its Not Just About The Infantry
Most of the press has focussed on the infantry but the cuts in the combat support and combat service support (if rumours are true) seem more disproportionate, perhaps the strategy is to rely on the reserves and contractors for some of these functions, if so, that is equally worthy of debate.
PREPARING THE GROUND
Writing in The Times newspaper, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall has outlined the thinking behind the changes to be made to the Army in today’s Army 2020 announcement.
General Wall writes:
Today the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will set out what the Army is for.
After the experiences of the past ten years there is unlikely to be much of a national appetite for protracted war. Yes, the United Kingdom faces new threats from terrorism and cyber attack. But in an era where there has been no threat of conventional invasion since the end of the Cold War, some might ask why we can’t shrink our Army by even more than the significant numbers already announced.
Fighting wars through precision attacks from air and sea has obvious political as well as military attractions. And if that won’t work then why not rely on our allies to do the hard yards? Or support a local proxy force to deliver ‘boots on the ground’?
The answer lies in the level of assurance that we as a nation require when our interests are being threatened and we are vulnerable. The world is not going to be any less confrontational just because of its economic plight; in all probability it will be more so.
Some threats we face will come from well outside the military sphere: challenges to our economic interest, to our values and beliefs, to the conditions that underpin stability around the world. Diplomacy and negotiation will always be our first resort. But the credibility of these approaches often depends on the implicit understanding that military options exist – and that, when the preferred means aren’t working, we may need to turn to them.
And that when we do, they must work.
Increasingly that means forming coalitions that include regional partners as well as our traditional allies. They are becoming ever more important in political and military terms, but also to confer international legitimacy on our actions. We should only commit forces when we have a clear understanding of the nuances of the situation at all levels – including the human terrain. Understanding that is critical as both Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated. Such a level of clarity is hard to come by.
We have designed Army 2020 against this backdrop. Our future force will be structured around three core purposes. The first is intervention and conventional deterrence; the second is overseas operations in multinational alliances to prevent conflict at source; the third purpose is activity within the UK – partly to make us more responsive to domestic operations such as flood relief and the Olympics and to improve homeland resilience, but primarily to ensure that we can sustain the reformed Army Reserve that will be a key element of our new forces.
The Army Reserve will include armoured forces and light forces, intelligence and surveillance. It will work with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force as well as government departments and NGOs [non-governmental organisations]. It can be adapted to handle smaller operations, or configured as a full-scale brigade for a sustained period, as we currently operate in Afghanistan. Given warning it will field a division for even larger challenges.
Despite a reduction of 20 per cent in our regular manpower, our future capacity will not be far short of its current level. We have managed this by building a high dependence on the new Army Reserve, and a support network of specialist contractors. This is a groundbreaking change. But I am confident that with imagination and the help of employers and industry – supported by changes to legislation – this will work.
Relocating the Army from Germany calls for some focused spending on new bases – and the sooner we can do this the better. We will have important new equipment, including the excellent capabilities returning from Afghanistan.
But what of our officers and soldiers who are so critical to this venture? They are to be found in the warrior generation that has fought courageously in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need them to soldier on into the new era, and we need people of comparable courage, talent and commitment to join them.
After our departure from Afghanistan in 2014 life in this new Army is going to be different for sure; but it will be just as challenging. So we will look after them and their families. The ongoing redundancy programme is unavoidable. We must do everything possible to support those soldiers making the transition into civilian life. Equally we need to ensure the military continues to attract the best.
Change is always difficult, and for an organisation as mindful of its history as the British Army this is especially so. I am confident that Army 2020 is imaginatively configured and properly resourced to meet the future demands of this uncertain world, manned by soldiers of the highest quality.
Apart from the sacred cows I think we might be surprised by how well thought out this will be given the poison chalice the Army had been handed and political meddling that s only too obvious, we might only get the general announcements later with details following.
Watch live here
Bullet points from Phil Hammonds statement to the House of Commons and associated releases
Army 2020 announcement confirms Army to be reduced by 23 units
The Army is to be reduced by 23 Regular units since the Strategic Defence and Security Review as part of Army 2020. The changes are due to be implemented by 2015, with the overall mandate to reach the capacity of 82,000 for the Regular Army and 30,000 for the Reserves by 2018.
The announcement came today in the House of Commons by Secretary of State for Defence the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP after months of work by the Army to create a modern force for the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
The changes to the Order of Battle (ORBAT) will include:
Household Cavalry and Royal Armoured Corps
The Queens Royal Lancers will amalgamate with 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) upon completion of scheduled operational commitments and not before October 2014.
[TD: The new unit will be called The Royal Lancers (RL)]
The 1st Royal Tank Regiment and the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment will merge upon completion of scheduled operational commitments and not before April 2014.
Royal Regiment of Artillery
39 Regiment Royal Artillery and 40 Regiment Royal Artillery will both be removed from the ORBAT by October 2015.
Corps of the Royal Engineer
24 Commando Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2013.
[TD: Reverts to 59 Independant Commando Squadron RE and 131 Independant Commando Squadron RE (V)]
25 Engineer Regiment and 28 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2015.
[TD: 25 squadrons moved to 39 a while ago]
38 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT.
[TD: Already disbanded when 19 Lt Bde disbanded]
67 Works Group will also be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2015.
Royal Corps of Signals
7th Signal Regiment (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) is to be removed from the ORBAT.
5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,) will be reduced to form a Public Duties Incremental Company on completion of current task and not before August 2013.
2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers upon completion of scheduled operational commitments in the autumn of 2014.
The 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howard’s) will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Yorkshire Regiment on completion of their Cyprus tour and not before the Autumn of 2013.
Message from the Colonel of the Regiment –
We have been directed to form two regular battalions in Autumn 2013. We shall therefore merge the current 2nd Battalion into the current 1st and 3rd Battalions. The 3rd Battalion will become the 2nd Battalion. The 4th Battalion will remain as a TA Battalion. We shall not retain the names of our antecedent regiments in our battalion titles.
This is a change that affects the whole Regiment, not merely one battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment. This is a merger, not a takeover or disbandment. The priority is to ensure that our people are managed properly. All directly affected individuals will be consulted and kept informed. The chain of command will work closely with the Army Personnel Centre to manage careers. The Executive Committee of The Yorkshire Regiment chaired by a senior member of the Board will oversee the merger.
We do not like losing a Battalion from the Regiment’s Order of Battle. But for this change to work, we must accept and embrace it. Resistance to the merger will be an unnecessary and destructive distraction – the Regiment will not engage in special pleading or lobbying. We will make this merger work
After the merger, we will have two fully manned regular battalions of The Yorkshire Regiment supported by a reserve battalion. These battalions will not be PWO, Dukes or Green Howards. They will be YORKS. Hence the removal of the antecedents from our regular battalion titles. The Executive Committee, having consulted widely, will recommend how we are to retain the ‘golden thread’ connecting us to our antecedent regiments for endorsement by me and approval by our Colonel in Chief.
The 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffordshire) will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Mercian Regiment on completion of Op HERRICK 19 and not before October 2014.
2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Royal Welsh Regiment not before Autumn 2013.
1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment will join the Prince of Wales’ Division.
Army Air Corps
1 Regiment Army Air Corps will merge with 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, bringing the Wildcat force under a single HQ based at Yeovilton not before October 2015.
Royal Logistic Corps (RLC)
1 Logistic Support Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2015.
2 Logistic Support Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2014.
23 Pioneer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2015.
8 Regiment, 19 Combat Service Support Battalion and 24 Regiment RLC will be removed from the ORBAT.
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer
101 Force Support Battalion will be removed from the Regular Army ORBAT not before Autumn 2015, and will transfer to the Reserve.
Royal Military Police unit
5 Regiment Royal Military Police is to be removed from the ORBAT as part of the drawdown from Germany. The three remaining Regiments will be re-organised.
All SIB capabilities will be reorganised under one headquarters, while the Military Provost Service will be increased, and a specialist Support Operations group will be created.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles are to remain with two Battalions to sustain their capability and meet their unique operational requirement in Brunei.
The current Regular and Reserve structure for the Army Medical Services will remain largely unchanged with three Regular and ten Reserve field hospitals.
The Intelligence Corps will retain three Regular military intelligence battalions.
Sustaining cap badges
Addressing questions about specific unit reductions, Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen, said the units to be lost from the Royal Armoured Corps were selected on the basis of armoured corps principles and to sustain as many cap badges as possible.
“We will still have three heavy armoured regiments equipped with an upgrade of Challenger 2, which will satisfy our requirements for the future. This is based on analysis that sees tanks being used less in a mass armoured role but still playing a very important role in terms of supporting the infantry.”
The five Infantry Battalions were selected based on a number of factors including their ability to recruit over the last ten years, and the demographic projections about the population in their recruitment areas over the next ten years.
The six RLC units to be disbanded were selected based on future projections for logistic requirements, and were also those that provided a role that could be fulfilled by the Army Reserves and contractors.
“The RLC will still remain a critical part of the Army and one of considerable size. But we needed to find places where we can employ Reserves and contractors to alleviate some of the high costs of military manpower, and the RLC is an area where that works well,” he said.
Fair distribution of resources
On the subject of the Reserves, CGS confirmed there were very few adjustments being made but until the laydown of the Regular Army is confirmed there would be no further announcements on how the Reserves would be recast to partner and complement Regular units in their areas.
“I appreciate that it is a difficult day for those people who have heard that the Regiments they have fought in are going to be amalgamated or disbanded, but in the round it is a good day for the Army as it gives us the clarity and springboard to shape the Army to confront the challenges of the future.
“This is fair to the country as it delivers the very best capabilities that we can with the resources that we have been given. It rebalances the Army to the demands of the future with a fair distribution of resources and manpower across all of the cap badges. And it it is fair at the soldier level where we shall we doing our utmost to make sure that everybody gets the best chance of being re-employed in the Army.
CGS was keen to stress to soldiers serving with the units to be disbanded or merged that they were no more or less likely to be selected for redundancy that others with similar skills and service record.
“Your prospects of redundancy are no greater by dint of being in a Regiment that has been selected to be removed from the order of battle,” he said.
When units are withdrawn, their personnel will be reassigned to other units – where possible, within the same regiment or corps.
Although the majority of the changes are due to be made between 2014 and 2016, there may be some unit reductions before 2014, dependent on force levels in Afghanistan.
Optimistic for the future
“Overall I am optimistic that this will work well and has used the best of the resources that have been afforded to us by the country.
“Army 2020 is an ambitious vision for unprecedented times. It will demand resilience, flexibility and genuine adaptability from talented and committed officers and soldiers. In return it will provide challenge and opportunity in abundance. Soldiering in this Army will continue to be an exacting and rewarding vocation,” CGS concluded.
- Given the crap hand it was dealt, I think we need to show some humility and congratulate the Army on coming up with a sensible proposal
- Hammond needs a good shoeing for using the term warfighting in his speech
- I don’t for one second think the Army’s hand wasn’t forced on Gurkhas, ceremonial, Guards and Scottish units which made the outcome less coherant than it might have been. craven political cowardice on the part of the Government
- Concentrating on cap badges and regiments, listening to vested interests but lacerating those units with one cap badge i.e. the CS/CSS shows a distinct lack of moral courage on the part of the Government
- Lots of work to do in the future, especially with the Reserves and contractors, the outcome of which is uncertain in the extreme i.e., this is a calculated gamble
More information from the MoD
Army 2020 sets out plans for transformation of the Force
The Army of 2020 will be an adaptable and integrated structure that is broken into two forces: a Reaction Force and an Adaptive Force that are both supported by Force Troops.
The Reaction Force will provide the lead Armoured Infantry Battle Group and the lead Airborne or Air Assault Force to provide a rapid reaction war fighting/deterrent capability.
It will consist of three Armoured Infantry Brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade under the command of a divisional headquarters. Each Armoured Infantry Brigade will have three manoeuvre units: a type 56 tank regiment and two armoured infantry battalions. They will also have a heavily protected mobility infantry battalion, and an armoured cavalry regiment which will be able to task organise with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Reaction Forces will also have 101 Logistic Brigade under their command for logistic support.
The Adaptable Force will be a pool of Regular and Reserve forces held at lower readiness. They will provide further capacity when required and be able to generate additional brigade-sized forces for enduring operations. However, more routinely these soldiers will carry out wider engagement overseas to help to build capacity in friendly nations’ armies, and fulfil the UK’s standing garrison tasks in Brunei, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. In addition, these troops will be responsible for public duties and state ceremonial tasks.
Adaptable Forces will encompass seven Regular infantry brigades, paired with a Reserve unit, reporting to a divisional headquarters. How these paired forces will be deployed will depend on the operational requirement, but the Reserves could make up as much as 30 per cent of a deployed unit in an enduring operation, whereas simple operations could have the Reserves deployed as a complete battalion.
Like the Reaction Force, the Adaptable Force will have its own logistic support provided by 102 Logistic Brigade, which will be predominantly made up of Reserve troops.
Force Troops will support both of these forces. They will consist of an Artillery brigade with supplementary Fire Support Teams, and an Engineer Brigade that will integrate the Explosive Ordinance Disposal squadron in response to the improvised explosive device threat of the modern battlefield. It will also include the Medical Brigade, and 104 Logistic Support Brigade, which might take on the Joint Force Logistic Support role.
In addition, there will be two Signals brigades, one of which will include five multi-role signals regiments providing Information Communication Support, together with a newly created non-deployable Surveillance Brigade under a 1-star headquarters. Furthermore, there will be a newly created Security Assistance Group pulling together the soft effect capabilities of the Military Stabilisation Support Group, 15 Psychological Operations Group and potentially Media Operations Group.
“This is not something that will be delivered overnight, and indeed it is going to take till 2020 for it to be fully implemented,” said Lieutenant General Nick Carter, “but the capabilities of the structure we have created is one that we have measured against the hardest threat we could have to fight in the future.”