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Defence for 2015 and Beyond – Part 7 Global Intervention

A series of guest posts from AndyC

The forces and capabilities required for global intervention are very similar to those required for mobile operations within the NATO area.  Where there is a difference is the greater use of transport aircraft and aerial tankers to transport and supply forces over greater distances.

RAF Tactical Transport Aircraft C130 C17 A400M 640x305 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 7 Global Intervention
RAF Tactical Transport Aircraft – C130 C17 A400M

In addition, some equipment may need to be modified to operate in more challenging climates and environments.  In particular the Army may need different vehicles.  After recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan much of this has already been acquired and needs to be stored in a condition where it can easily be brought back into use should the need arise.

Emphasis needs to be given to light, highly mobile forces but with significant firepower such as Special Forces, the Air Assault Task Force and the Lead Commando Unit.  Deployment would be at Brigade level strength initially with the ability to upscale to Division strength by the start of any fighting.

Appropriate combat air power would be deployed from air bases or QE aircraft carriers as appropriate.

raf voyager lands in uk for the first time 640x480 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 7 Global Intervention
The A330MRTT Voyager and A400M Atlas are essential components of global mobility.

Our planning needs to take into account two potential scenarios.

A.  Co-operation with Allied Forces

By far the most common situation would be for British forces to be deployed in partnership with allies who would provide their own combat forces.  Local allies would also provide air bases to operate from and we would supplement this with naval forces where appropriate

In this scenario we would provide a minimum effective Reaction Force consisting of the appropriate elements of:

  • At least 1 Division strength unit made up from Special Forces, the Air Assault Brigade, Royal Marines Commandos and 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade
  • 2 Apache AH Regiments
  • 1 Wildcat AH Regiment and 1 Wildcat Marines AH Squadron
  • 1 C-17 Globemaster Squadron
  • 3 A400MC Atlas Squadrons
  • 2 A330MRTT Voyager Squadrons
  • 3 Chinook HC Squadrons
  • 2 Puma HC Squadrons
  • 3 Merlin HC Squadrons
  • 3 swing-role fighter Squadrons
  • 1 E-3 Sentry AWACS Squadron
  • 5 ISTAR Squadrons
  • 1 Maritime Patrol Squadron
  • 2 QE aircraft carriers
  • 4 F-35B Squadrons – 2 fleet air defence/anti-shipping and 2 CAS/SEAD/land strike
  • 2 amphibious transport docks
  • 3 landing ships
  • 9 destroyers/frigates
  • 3 Merlin HM/AEW Squadrons and
  • 2 Wildcat HMA Squadrons.

What is clear from both Iraq and Afghanistan is that the armed forces may be required to stay involved for much longer in conflict zones than had been previously assumed.  This is now reflected in the structure of the Army that allows for rotation at Brigade level over the long-term.  The same can be applied to the RAF and FAA Squadrons making up the Expeditionary Air Wings and any Royal Navy units.

B.  Lone Operations

The number of situations where the UK would be forced into a conflict on its own would seem very limited and are largely covered in the section relating to any future Falklands conflict.  In such a scenario all of the Reaction Forces detailed above would be needed.  In particular for any independent naval task force to be successful it would be vital to be able to deploy two aircraft carriers for them to be able to supply mutual air support and to be able to provide a necessary minimum amount of air cover.

In addition, the support of long-range Maritime Patrol Aircraft supported by aerial tankers would be invaluable for reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-shipping requirements and so increase the security of the carrier force.

 

 

The rest of the series

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Defence of the United Kingdom

Part 3 – Other Sovereign Territories

Part 4 – NATO

Part 5 – A Southern or Middle Eastern Threat

Part 6 – An Eastern and Northern Threat

Part 7 – Global Intervention

Part 8 – British Army 2025

Part 9 – Royal Navy 2025

Part 10 – Royal Air Force 2025

Part 11 – Conclusion

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!

5 Comments

  1. Repulse

    Out side of UK mainland defence we should be planning that anything beyond a couple of rapid reaction battle groups would take 6 months to scale up. The bulk of any fighting should be done by local forces with UK support. I cannot think of any real scenarios where we would be shipping a Division to outside of Europe anymore.

  2. AndyC

    If Putin were to lose office and be replaced by someone more pro-Western removing any threat to NATO and troubles in the Middle East were to escalate threatening Saudi Arabia or the Gulf then I can just about envisage a scenario where we might still want to deploy a Division.

  3. John Hartley

    I think its not our choice. That will be dictated by the action of a future enemy. We just need to stay flexible enough to cope with whatever happens.

  4. Engineer Tom

    I keep wondering what will happen if we send the army into a theater where there is zero (or very low) IED threat. How long until the press is moaning that the soldiers are driving around in armoured vehicles and not getting out and meeting the locals on foot, and doing the hearts and minds work.

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