Thoughts on Future Force Design
Based on the #SDSR18 series in which I defined a number of general conditions, risks and approaches this post is a few thoughts on a resultant force structure.
The RAF needs to be able to deploy a force package of Typhoon, F-35B and support aircraft to Norway and sustain them there in order to provide air power in defence of the north. Deploy and sustain means the same in both well found and austere locations, and also force protection. The RAF Regiment will need cold weather capability (including mobility) and the Royal Artillery air defence units, the same. The Royal Engineers will need an enhanced air support capability that can both be air landed and parachute delivered.
It is proposed that expeditionary air logistics and support will be enhanced and expanded
The major war role for the UK’s amphibious force would be to prevent Russian Special Forces infiltration from the sea that would interdict the RAF’s deployed air power. 3CDO would therefore be reduced in size, lose many of the Army CSS /CS functions and concentrate on small craft, raiding and in support, the Royal Navy will need to be augmented to deliver an enhanced shallow water ASW and MCM capability. Outside of this, the same function will act in support of Special Forces, provide security for expeditionary theatre opening, littoral/maritime security and capability development in support of conflict reduction.
It is proposed that the Royal Marines and supporting elements will evolve to form a Littoral Security Group
In Eastern Europe, the British Army should provide a powerful and fully resourced armoured brigade as part of a multinational division, trading mass for capability, as a counter attack force based in southern Poland. In addition, the UK should contribute a range of divisional capabilities that might include rear area security, combat engineering and other support functions. In the Baltic States, the UK should concentrate on capability generation and unconventional means of providing a delaying capability that enables the counter attack force to reach the area.
It is proposed that the British Army combined arms armoured manoeuvre capability be reduced in size but enhanced in capability, essentially, trading size for punch and depth. This will be in the form of a single high readiness Armoured Brigade but with oversize supporting capabilities from a sufficiently sized pool of forces to enable the readiness cycle to be maintained.
In Africa, again, focus should be on local capability generation but in addition, a highly mobile light mechanised force and supporting enablers to engage with emerging threats in support of French, USA, and local forces across the ‘arc of instability’ is required.
It is proposed to generate a light to medium weight capability at Brigade strength that is capable of sustained operations in support of an enduring commitment over large distances
Other suggestions include increasing the size and capability of Special Forces and their supporting functions, creating a multi-agency stabilisation and defence capability generation group that comprises air, sea and land, re-role some of the British Army’s light role infantry into specialist urban operations group and creating a light cavalry air manoeuvre brigade that has no parachute capability.With an icreased focus on ASW operations in the North, a reduction of standing committments and a more modest approach to RN activity in the Gulf with Carrier Strike, we might also have a conversation about Type 31 and other planned RN capabilities.
The above is just a very short abbreviation, for more details read the linked posts above.
Each of these proposals will be outlined in future Journal articles so consider this a look forward, in addition to the Reference articles described in the previous post.
Fundamentally, this is a philosophy of doing a fewer number of things really well and breaking the crisis cycle by focusing on achievability and sustainability, or, doing less with less
Watch this space but have at it in the comments.