A few questions General....

Discussion in 'Infantry' started by dogmonkey, Jul 22, 2004.

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  1. Personal message from The Chief Of The General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson, to the Army

    I wrote to you all last December, following the White Paper, about the Future Army Structure (FAS), and its implications. Today the Secretary of State will tell Parliament what the Chancellor’s statement on the annual Spending Review (SR04) last week will mean for Defence, so I am now able to tell you some of the emerging detail of FAS, how things stand on the resource front and how it will affect us. Three things first:

    a. I would be dishonest if I did not say that the spending review exercise this year has been very challenging for Defence and the Army. It has required us to think very hard about what capabilities we really need in the expeditionary age. We have had to make some tough choices and I am realistic about the fact that the outcome in some areas will mean a reduction in certain capabilities as well as much-needed uplifts in others. But it is worth reminding ourselves that the overall outcome of SR04 is a Defence budget that will continue to grow in real terms.

    b. It would be quite wrong to think that the re-balancing in FAS is driven by money. It isn’t. FAS has been developed over the past couple of years quite independent of the present resource exercise. Indeed, the robust logic underpinning FAS, coupled with our current levels of commitment, were vital in securing a relatively positive outcome for the Army from SR04. We need to re-balance the Army for, as we all know, the legacy of the Cold War is in some degree still with us, not least in the equipment field. And, again to be realistic, FAS re-balancing will take time to achieve on the scale that is needed – though we shall start down the path early next year.

    c. Most of this message is about changes we shall make over the next few years. But I am very conscious of what faces you all in the here and now. This is a very busy and demanding time for the Army and many of you will have had repeated operational tours in recent years as well as other duties that have taken you away from your homes and families. We are an Army for use and it is right that we should be engaged. But I know you feel, as I do, that if we demand a lot from our officers and soldiers we should invest in them properly. I should highlight in particular the unacceptably poor accommodation in which too many live and work. This will change, but it cannot do so as quickly as we would wish. We shall have to be realistic about what we can achieve but I hope as you read on you will see that what we are doing now, and plan to do, is about getting a better balance between what we ask of the Army and how we support that. I shall explain what the changes are likely to mean shortly.

    To remind you, FAS will bring:

    a. An overall shift from a heavy/light mix to heavy/medium/light and from combat to combat support and combat service support in order to make the Army more suited to the expeditionary operations that are now part of life.

    b. Greater brigade capability by improving combat and logistic support at that level.

    c. More robust establishments, particularly at brigade level and below, which should make it possible to deploy for the more likely tasks without the current degree of back-filling.

    d. Greater integration of the TA so that it can be used yet more effectively, recognising that in most instances in future we shall turn to the TA before the Regular Reserve.

    The Next 4 Years
    During the next 4 years we intend to carry out the majority of re-balancing to deliver FAS – the plan is being put together now and we have been set some demanding targets. Probably the most demanding is the need to reduce our manpower liability from the current Army trained establishment of 108,500, down to a target of around 102,000 once full normalisation is achieved in Northern Ireland. This means that the current trained Army strength will remain at broadly its current funded level of 103,500 before reducing to the new target liability. I know that the slowdown recently imposed on recruiting is frustrating, but we have no choice other than to keep the Army at the funded level. We are looking at ways to alleviate these constraints. Notwithstanding the need to live within our means, there are also some very practical reasons that demand our path to the future Army strength is as smooth as possible, avoiding an unnecessary rise and fall.

    That said, many of you may see little apparent change over the next year or two – almost certainly we shall remain committed to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, and we shall continue to implement the Bowman conversion programme, linked to the introduction of Whole Fleet Management.

    Significant change will start to become apparent in about 2 years as we begin to re-role and adjust the structure of all of our brigades. The re-balancing will occur across the Army but what will be most eye-catching in these 2 years will be the planned re-roling of 4th Armoured Brigade to mechanised and 19th Mechanised Brigade to light. This will shift the balance in the RAC, Gunners, Sappers and Infantry in particular as we convert armoured forces to light role.

    In the RAC we shall reduce by 7 CR2 squadrons. This will allow an armoured regiment to re-role to formation reconnaissance, and provide each of the armoured and mechanised brigades with its own reconnaissance regiment. It will also provide each of the armoured regiments in the mechanised brigades with a CVR(T) squadron as the first step in developing a medium armoured capability ahead of the introduction of Future Rapid Effects System (FRES).

    In the Gunners, the armoured brigades will continue to be supported by AS90 regiments each of 3 gun batteries, as will the mechanised brigades until LIMAWS (Gun) is fielded around 2009. The current sixth AS90 regiment will be re-roled to light gun to support the new light brigade. Across the RA order of battle the gun groups from 3 AS90 batteries will be drawn down, and this will be balanced by the creation of a third weapon locating battery, a fourth rocket battery and a fourth UAV battery. Finally, it has been decided that there is to be a 50% reduction in ground based air defence across the Services. This will mean a reduction of HVM fire units from 156 to 84 and consolidation of Rapier as an Army-only asset in 16th Regiment Royal Artillery. Headquarters 7th Air Defence Brigade will form the basis of a new Joint GBAD Headquarters, which will be part of RAF Strike Command.

    The Sappers will be enhanced with improvements to our EOD capabilities. A new close support squadron will be established to ensure that we are able to group squadrons with all the armoured and mechanised battlegroups. Each of these brigades will be enhanced through the affiliation of a regiment, and through improvements to the resource cells of the Field Support Squadrons throughout the ORBAT. Further enhancements will follow as resources are released from Northern Ireland. This will provide a truly resilient structure, able to support expeditionary operations, including providing an additional RHQ and squadron to support 3 Commando Brigade.

    Changes in the R SIGNALS structure reflects the overall FAS move to more robust establishments that are not dependent on backfilling and augmentation to meet the more likely tasks. 22nd Signal Regiment will be formed to field FALCON, with 2nd and 30th Signal Regiments providing an enhanced strategic communications capability through the CORMORANT and REACHER systems. This will mean they are better able to provide strategic communications to the JTFHQ, JFLogC and Land Component HQ when deployed.

    ECAB has decided that the current provision of Infantry capability through the Arms Plot system is unsustainable in the future. The disadvantage of the loss in available capability as battalions re-role now outweighs the advantages of providing experience and variety through this mechanism. The need to improve family stability where possible is also self-evident. We have, therefore, decided that in the future individual battalions will be fixed by role and, largely, by location. Challenge, experience and variety will be provided by individual posting between battalions whilst maintaining continuity of role and allowing more stability for those of you who seek it. I am convinced that our Regimental system underpins the proven strength of our Infantry, but its structure will accordingly need to adapt for the future as it has done often enough in the relatively recent past. The future Infantry structure will be based on large single cap-badge regiments of 2 or more battalions to facilitate individual postings in the post arms plot era. In addition to this new structure, the recent decrease in the requirement for infantry battalions for Northern Ireland means that the total requirement has reduced, and so the Secretary of State has announced that the number of Regular battalions in the Army will reduce by 4 to 36 by April 2008. This will allow the resulting manpower to be redistributed across the Army to create more robust unit establishments under FAS. ECAB’s approach to this difficult and sensitive restructuring of the Infantry is laid out at Annex A.

    We will continue to support the introduction of the Apache attack helicopter (AH) into service, although there will be reductions in the Lynx fleet in Northern Ireland. Whilst 5th Regiment AAC will be reduced in size there will be some ISTAR capabilities that will be retained for both operations in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Having completed its task as the AH fielding squadron in Middle Wallop, 651st Squadron AAC will not now reform as a squadron within 7th Regiment AAC, and the manpower released will be re-invested elsewhere in the Army. 7th Regiment AAC (V) will therefore remain unchanged in role and structure.

    Logistic transformation, spurred on by the earlier End to End logistic review, will underpin change within the Combat Service Support arena. The focus for the RLC and REME will shift from divisional to brigade level and units will be restructured accordingly. The RLC will be reorganised to provide Brigade Logistic Support Regiments for the armoured and mechanised brigades, with the REME and RLC combining to provide a CSS Battalion for the new light brigade. The RLC will be further enhanced through additions to the port and maritime, movements, EOD, and medical supply capabilities. Similarly the REME will be reorganised to provide greater capacity at second line and like the RLC regiments, REME battalions will be dedicated to the 5 armoured and mechanised brigades. The line of communication will be enhanced through the provision of an additional Theatre Troops Company in each Logistic Brigade. The future Joint Force Logistic Component headquarters will be based on Headquarters 104th Logistic Support Brigade.

    Elsewhere there will be enhancements to the Intelligence community through a reorganised intelligence structure, a more robust RMP capability with more resilient structures for garrison policing, and finally enhancements to the medical order of battle aimed at reducing the degree of cadrisation within a more modular structure.

    Closer alignment of the TA is a key element of FAS, including, wherever possible, integration of Regular and TA infantry battalions in the new large Regimental structure. Achieving this adjustment will require some re-balancing and re-roling of units to ensure that the TA has the necessary capabilities and capacity to reinforce the Regular Army on enduring operations above medium scale where the Regular Army’s tour intervals are reduced below the 24-month norm (the situation now). In the process, the TA will remain broadly the same size as it is today but will take on some new or expanded roles in such areas as ISTAR (including UAV operators), helicopter support teams and linguists.

    Beyond The Next 4 Years
    The Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) will underpin our robust medium weight capability in the future. This will develop over time as new equipment, such as FCLV, LIMAWS, and WATCHKEEPER enter service, and we are following this intent with the creation of light armoured squadrons. We shall also continue to invest in our heavy and light capabilities, including the recent introduction to service of AH, so that we can give substance to the concept of the balanced force. However, the equipment programme is likely to remain under considerable pressure in the future and we shall have to target our resources on areas where we can maximise increases in capability. This is also true in relation to the estate. The first of the new garrison re-builds is under way at Colchester, with a completion date of of mid-2008, and the Allenby Connaught build for Salisbury Plain and Aldershot should start next year. In 10 years we should have almost 60% of the Army living in 21st Century standard accommodation and barracks, both single soldiers and families. That of course is not enough and we shall always look for opportunities to do better than that. We now have a much clearer picture of what we want in the UK estate and how we want the FAS Army based, although there is more yet to be done on this. But I cannot disguise from you the fact that property maintenance is not going to improve overnight, although the first indications from Scotland of the new way of doing this business – regional prime contracting - are positive. We all need to understand that FAS in its fully developed form will take up to 12 years to implement. Along the way there will be progressive changes and certainly some of the benefits, such as better focussed training across the Army, will come much earlier.

    So What?
    So that is where we want to be. But I am conscious that some of the changes may appear counter-intuitive to an Army which is under sustained operational pressure, and which may – at least in part - see these changes as a threat as much as an opportunity. But it is imperative that we think ahead and get it right for the future. For many people the announcements made today will actually make little discernible difference to their lives in the next few years. Overall the Army will only reduce by some 1500 posts from its present actual size, although the balance within it will alter. It is, however, unlikely that we will be able to avoid a redundancy programme, but it should not involve more than a few hundred personnel. We shall do our utmost to ease the change in the lives of those affected.

    We shall run the Army differently in some areas: force generation, collective training and headquarters structures in the digitised era are already on the agenda; career pattern developments as a result of the Review of Officer Career Courses (ROCC), the Non-Commissioned Engagement and Career Structure Study (NECst), and Command, Leadership and Management training, (CLM) are already being implemented and will continue to develop; our peacetime arrangements will change in some areas with LAND and AG likely to co-locate in the next 4 or 5 years. But I can assure you that we shall continue to recruit and train soldiers and officers to the same high professional standards we require for a warfighting army that embraces the combat ethos.

    I do not underestimate the scale of the task ahead and I am under no illusion that some of the decisions announced today will be painful, particularly where they result in the loss of units or discrete areas of capability. I should emphasise, however, the great importance of keeping on the front foot and having the courage to make adjustments to the current Order of Battle in order to get the Army right for the future. I have no doubt that soldiering will continue to be challenging, varied, interesting and unique – as, indeed, we all know that it is. I am sure you will approach what lies ahead in exactly the way that you do everything else – energetically and professionally.

    Finally, let me emphasise that it is the duty of us all to ensure that we continue to have an Army in the future which wrests the maximum operational capability from what we have; by so doing we will maintain, and where possible improve, our ability to tackle whatever task is put before us, and thereby our confidence to achieve the operational success which is the hallmark of the British Army.


    Annex A to
    GS/5/1/7 (CGS)
    Dated 21 Jul 04

    1. The decision to stop the Infantry Arms Plot was not an easy one, as the ramifications are inexorable. But whether it is true or not that the current Infantry structure drives the Arms Plot, the advantages of change are clear:

    a. Operational Availability. An order of battle comprising 36 battalions which are always available will be more capable than one of 40 drawn down by a significant number of battalions moving, re-roling and re-training1.

    b. Experience Base. Individual experience will be better achieved through individual postings within a large regiment structure; the Arms Plot only provides this on an uneven and haphazard basis.

    c. Continuity of Role. The new structure will provide continuity of expertise in role and greater brigade coherence; the Arms Plot dissipates this expertise and coherence.

    d. Career Development. In the future, career development for officers and SNCOs in particular can be much more carefully planned; at the moment this is partly dependant on what role a battalion has at any one time – also haphazard.

    e. Family Stability. The new structure will offer much improved family stability compared to that provided by the Arms Plot.

    2. Given this decision to stop the Infantry Arms Plot and the reduction of four battalions, ECAB examined the future structure of the Infantry. The Board was informed by AG’s paper on the Regimental System, which is enclosed.

    3. ECAB first considered the Brigade of Gurkhas, and particularly the position of the 2 battalions of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. The Board noted that the Brunei Garrison commitment would continue, but concluded that it was not practical for a British battalion to take on this task. This conclusion, coupled with the relatively limitless Gurkha recruiting ability, led ECAB to decide that there should be no change to the current structure of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

    4. ECAB then considered how to reduce the British Infantry by 4 battalions. The Board decided that the only truly objective criteria were those which led to a judgement as to the sustainability of future recruitment. It had before it a ranked list of vulnerable battalions on the basis of manning performance, recruiting, retention and regional demographic data. The Board exempted 1 R IRISH from further consideration on the representational grounds of retaining a line infantry footprint in Northern Ireland. Whilst it was clear that no battalions of the Foot Guards or the Parachute Regiment would be taken against the criteria, the Board also concluded that there were additional specific operational, organisational and state ceremonial reasons not to reduce these battalions. The analysis then showed that the first 4 battalions for removal all came from those 3 divisions which have not adopted a large-regiment structure: Scottish, King’s and Prince of Wales’s. ECAB decided to reduce one battalion from the existing 6 battalions of the Scottish Division, and 3 battalions from the existing 13 battalions of the King’s and Prince of Wales’s Divisions. It is not the intention of ECAB to name names, as this would be divisive, and, more importantly, unnecessary because the reductions will form part of the move to large regiments occasioned by the end of the Arms Plot.

    5. ECAB accordingly decided that:

    a. The Scottish Division will restructure from its present 6 single-battalion regiments into a new organisation of one or two large regiments.

    b. In England, the King’s and Prince of Wales’s Divisions will restructure from their present 13 single-battalion regiments into a new organisation of one or two large regiments per Division.

    c. The grouping and boundaries of the current Divisions of Infantry are not immutable.

    d. The TA Infantry will wherever possible, integrate into the future large regiments, thereby restoring a true sense of identity at TA battalion level.

    e. The Infantry will have a period of consultation lasting until October 2004 during which detailed proposals for the implementation of ECAB’s decisions are to be worked out.

    f. Before the end of this year, and in the light of the Infantry’s proposals, the Board will issue final and definitive direction as to the future organisation of the Infantry.

    6. ECAB’s decision to restructure the Infantry on the basis of large single cap-badge regiments of 2 or more battalions provides Divisions with a broad choice of proposals:

    a. The ‘small/large’ option of 2 (3 in the case of the Queen’s Division) regiments, each of 2 or 3 battalions.

    b. The ‘large/large’ option of one regiment of 4 or more battalions.

    In either case, it may be appropriate to adjust current Divisional groupings and boundaries.

    7. As part of the consultation process, ECAB urges the Divisions of Infantry, including the Guards, Queen’s and Light Divisions, to consider adopting the large/large regiment model as carefully as the small/large regiment model, taking into account which model is best calculated to maximise the advantages of ending the Arms Plot: increased capability, greater continuity, better planned careers, wider experience and increased family stability; to preserve the best of the regimental system as articulated in AG’s paper; and to adapt to future regional demographic changes.

    8. I am acutely aware that this will be sad and unwelcome news for at least part of the Infantry, but ECAB is determined to seize this opportunity to set in place a new infantry organisation which will prove to be sound and robust for the indefinite future, and one which with minimum difficulty will accept expansion, contraction, and future variations in the regional ability to sustain recruitment. All in all, it is an essential step in re-balancing the Army for the future; the manpower thereby made available will be reassigned throughout the Army, including some reinvestment in the remaining 36 battalions of the Infantry, to ensure we have robust unit establishments.

    Before I get going, it is worth pointing out that CGS has put considerably more effort into explaining stuff than the other 2, for which we should be grateful. However....


    To whom was it 'clear' that the Paras / Foot Guards were outwith the review? Let's play on a level field. How about we look at all battalions / cap-badges. The review criteria, if things are to be done equitably, should have been applied to all. If the Paras and the Guards came above the cut-line, then fair enough. I do not see anything 'large regiment' about the Guards, surely they too are single cap-badges?


    As far as this applying only to the single cap-badged battalions, reading between the line, this is clearly not the case. Annex A makes it quite clear that this review applies to all cap-badges within the Inf, so PWRR, RRF, RANGLIAN, LI, RGJ, RGR all look out. There is nothing to suggest that there will not be mergers here either.


    FAS notwithstanding, and I would have to agree with the methodology behind it, and the getting rid of the Arms Plot, I am sure you would agree). What I cannot understand is why we are being sold a Defence Cut, as a good thing. FAS might not have been driven by financial measures, but make absolutely no mistake, the cuts are financially driven. We are all soldiers, and can take bad news. But, to coin a phrase "don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining". The truth is a far better option.

    Finally, one for you Buff, how dare you threaten our senior staff, across all three services with 'early retirement' if they do not agree with you? They are our representatives, and ultimately put forward the view which is in the interest of their services. But you probably wouldn't understand putting others interests before your own, or standing up for what you know to be right. Perhaps that is why you do not have the respect of Her Majesty's Armed Forces?

    Points, questions?
  2. ...and likewise,

    (and I am not having a dig at the Jocks here) whay, all of a sudden, was the cut changed from 2 to one Scottish Regiment? If those north of the border did not make the grade, then I am afraid you have to go.

    The whole political dimension (Guards, Paras, Scots) sucks.
  3. perhaps it was changed from 2 to 1 Scots Div as 1 regt has made noises that it might choose to disband rather than amalgamate??
  4. Perhaps it was a more Politically motivated decision...after all Labour holds a fantastically large number of Scottish seats in Parliament.....perhaps they had one eye on voter backlash!!
  5. Do you really think Tone and his cronies could be that shallow? Surely not!!!
  6. Yeah........shame on me :roll: 8)
  7. Ummm... maybe I'm being dumb, but I was under the impression that the re-roling of The Welsh Gunners had already created these three "extra" batteries.

    Or have I got it wrong (again!)
  8. Sorry, sorry... I'm obviously just being thick, but why weren't the Guards or Paras touched?
    Is it simply because they reach their recruitment targets?
  9. On the nail. Now there's the question. If they are up to strength, fair enough, but to write them out of the equation, and not therefore put them in the melting pot with everyone else under consideration, is not on.
  10. According to the Express today 2 Parachute Btns and I think 1 of the Guards were understrength...........so have they hit their targets?
  11. Voter backlash may be inevitable

  12. Hitting targets aside, I do not see any second battalions of any guards regiments. Anybody else know of any?

    hmmmm, that would make them, unless they've been hiding their 2nd / 3rd bns, single battalion cap-badges would it not? Taking this a step further, doesn't that make 24 single cap-badged battalions and not 19?

    Come on, play fair. That's all anyone can ask.
  13. I can see where you're coming from, and I completely agree, but let's be honest. If you were a politician, would you touch the Guards? There would be bloody murder!
    Just one more question. Can we still justify the existence of three Para Battalions?
  14. that is one of the major issues. It should not be politicians making the decisions on who goes and who stays - it should be the military using clinical military judgement. Distorting the facts with concern over movement into the lords/ retaining seats in scotland etc makes a mockery of a capability led review. And no there is no need for 3 Para Bns, a re roled inf bn could do just as much non-jumping as the paras do, but if the required model is large regts then I suppose they are already there (despite the requirement for a coy of our colonial, stumpy friends to bring them up to strength).
  15. Paras were exempted on the grounds of the need for cadreised intervention forces (ie the AA and Cdo Brigades) and also the fact that they allegedly provide about half the manpower for Hereford.

    But then again, they would, wouldn't they? If line battalions were exempted from the RAAT table, given tons of overseas exercises and deployed on every operation going then they'd probably be able to field more successful candidates. Not to mention the vagaries of training wings when they're choosing between old pals and strangers (ooooh!targets up!)

    Guards were discounted from the estimate because of the need to maintain the standards in ceremonial and public duties.

    With the best will in the world...this is bollocks, isn't it? As long as the we institutionally place public duties above operational duties (and that's precisely what we've done here), the treasurey will justifiably say there is more fat in the system. A battalion in Wellington and a battalion in Hounslow are fixed by this commitment, along with 2 or three incremental companies. This doesn't include Troops in Scotland on ceremonial. I'm with DM on this...they could maintain an english, irish, scots and welsh gaaards battalion, and still have gone into the estimate pot with everyone else.

    There is nothing 'good' about any of this.