Defence for 2015 and Beyond – Part 4 NATO

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A series of guest posts from AndyC

NATO is clearly the UK’s most important international defence obligation.  Our forces need to be able to operate in defence of any member nation whose security is under threat.  This requires a high degree of mobility and the ability to co-operate effectively with allies in many different terrains and environments.

The Ukraine crisis shows that we must plan for contingencies and possible future threats and maintain a high level of deterrence and preparedness.

Under existing plans the UK maintains a Joint Rapid Reaction Force in a state of high readiness made up of elements from:

The British Army including Special Forces, the Air Assault Task Force and the Lead Armoured Task Force with support from three Army Air Corps Regiments;

The Royal Marines consisting of the Lead Commando Unit with support from one attack and three transport helicopter Squadrons and;

The RAF providing support aircraft from one Squadron of C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircraft, three Squadrons of A400 Atlas medium transport aircraft, two Squadrons of A330 Voyager aerial tankers/transports and five helicopter transport Squadrons plus ISTAR and AWACS aircraft.  The air combat element would be provided by one swing-role fighter Squadron.

To provide a minimum effective Joint Rapid Reaction Force requires:

  • At least 1 Brigade strength unit made up of elements from Special Forces, the Air Assault Brigade, Royal Marines Commandos and an 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
  • 1 swing-role fighter Squadron
  • 1 E-3 Sentry AWACS Squadron and
  • 5 ISTAR Squadrons.

If further escalation is required the full complement of the Air Assault Brigade, Royal Marines Commandos and an Armoured Infantry Brigade would be deployed bringing the Reaction Force up to Division strength.  Two additional swing-role fighter Squadrons would also be deployed in support.

Next would come two Armoured Infantry Brigades and two Adaptable Force Infantry Brigades which would provide enough troops for a second Division.   In this planning scenario 3rd (UK) Division would form up around the three Armoured Infantry Brigades and 1st (UK) Division would be based on the Air Assault Brigade, Royal Marines Commandos and the two Adaptable Force Infantry Brigades.  Further swing-role air combat support would be provided by the Test & Evaluation Squadron.

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

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