Army 2020 Refine

I'm far from sure that I agree with the idea of "modular fighting organisations" being the way ahead as in my limited experience every op needs a different sort of module so every time you deployed you'd be having to reform units that weren't designed to be inter-operable or even integrated, so you'd be trawling for individuals rather than units which may not be the best idea.
But that is precisely the current situation.

More importantly the majority of units have no support. There are for instance limited 'real' RA and RAC resources, so who gets them? In reality we have the manpower and equipment to field far fewer Bdes than we think, four may be wishful thinking and certainly not an Armd Division.
 
But that is precisely the current situation.

More importantly the majority of units have no support. There are for instance limited 'real' RA and RAC resources, so who gets them? In reality we have the manpower and equipment to field far fewer Bdes than we think, four may be wishful thinking and certainly not an Armd Division.
We're in agreement over the shortage of resources, but apparently not the solution. To me the only answer has to be reducing with 'dormant' bns until you've stopped the exodus due to over-stretch, then building up with decent manpower.

I don't think just stretching thin support resources and making them integral to equally thin inf units solves anything.
 
We're in agreement over the shortage of resources, but apparently not the solution. To me the only answer has to be reducing with 'dormant' bns until you've stopped the exodus due to over-stretch, then building up with decent manpower.

I don't think just stretching thin support resources and making them integral to equally thin inf units solves anything.
I think we are agreeing on slightly different tangents. You are looking through the 350 year old Infantry (regt) Bn lense and I am trying to imagine a warfighting organisation for the 21st Century.

I do not disagree with your dormant Bn point and I am not suggesting stretching thin resources. If we only have enough Arty to properly support 3 Bdes, then that's our lot, no point kidding ourselves we can field more. The debacle created by current and recent VSOs means we have two, very broken Armd Bdes as we only have two regts of MBT (should be 1 & 2 RTR not some pointless Victorian nomenclature), the Armd Cavalry Regiments should be broken up and distributed around the infantry to create Recce Coys, as should Light Cavalry Regiments which are little more that Support Coy material. Likewise with 105mm Artillery
 
I think we are agreeing on slightly different tangents. You are looking through the 350 year old Infantry (regt) Bn lense and I am trying to imagine a warfighting organisation for the 21st Century.

I do not disagree with your dormant Bn point and I am not suggesting stretching thin resources. If we only have enough Arty to properly support 3 Bdes, then that's our lot, no point kidding ourselves we can field more. The debacle created by current and recent VSOs means we have two, very broken Armd Bdes as we only have two regts of MBT (should be 1 & 2 RTR not some pointless Victorian nomenclature), the Armd Cavalry Regiments should be broken up and distributed around the infantry to create Recce Coys, as should Light Cavalry Regiments which are little more that Support Coy material. Likewise with 105mm Artillery
Change you say? Not likely with this many Star ranks still on the payroll I am sad to suggest. Fighting it out between themselves at Corps and Service level, or on the take in retirement with their preferred PFI entity, can we just have the competent few left who actually care about aggregate UK defence capability please?

I am in the most violent of agreements with your point, it's about time we faced up to reality with Troops to task and available capability and plan with what we've got, not what we may have at the other end of the rainbow. Enough tanks for 2 Regiments - then let's have two regiments. Enough Infantry to man the hard power slots and form them appropriately. What we call them is irrelevant for planning purposes.

FFS I hope someone grips this before we need them again. If the MoD won't reform, pick the best expert amongst them and do it to them. Pretty sure the soldiers won't bat an eyelid, and I don't care about SO2 Equlaity and Diversity's opinion.
 
OK, here goes with the first of five essays - Infantry Regimental Structure.

In my view infantry regiments need to be centred primarily around ROLE - what they do. It makes them readily and immediately identifiable to anyone, including and most importantly those in them regardless of where they’re from (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Fiji, Tonga, India or anywhere else), where they were trained or what sort of training they had (adult, junior or reservist transferee), or their background (ethnicity, religion, etc).

To that end you simply have regiments cap badged by role, nothing else:

Airborne: Parachute Regiment (1 Para, 2 Para, etc)
Light Infantry / Air Portable: Light Infantry (1 LI, 2 LI, etc)
Mechanised: Grenadiers* (1 Gren, 2 Gren, etc)
Armoured: Fusiliers* (1 Fus, 2 Fus, etc)
Specialised (BMATT): Rangers* (1 Rangers, 2 Rangers, etc)
Ceremonial: Guards (1 Gds)

There’s some room for retention of geographical identity on an informal / semi-formal basis within each regiment, like the Scottish Gunners, with subtitles such as ‘1 Fus (Scots)’ or ‘1 LI (Irish)’, although this would only be intended as a transitional phase if required. Separate geographical identities could be retained across the Guards, however, with individual Companies retaining separate geographical identities (Scots, Welsh, Irish and English) with pipes, kilts and trews as appropriate.

What I see no point in is a gradual reduction in the number of divisions and commensurate increase in the size of each division’s recruiting area, whether they’re Celts, Scots, English or Commonwealth, which is that’s happening at the moment.

That’s it - nothing complicated, just purely professional, maximising talent and ability across the infantry and across the ranks, with equal misery for all regardless of current cap badge or region / national identity.


* just suggestions, to utilise names we already have and keep some happy.
Very interesting John and probably the way to go now at this juncture. However as a sop to tradition, what would your opinion be of the following (just an off the cuff example).....

Armoured Infantry
The Queen’s Fusiliers
1st Bn (Princess of Wales’s)
2nd Bn (First Fusiliers)
3rd Bn (Royal Highland)
4th Bn (Royal Welch)
Etc......
 
I think we are agreeing on slightly different tangents. You are looking through the 350 year old Infantry (regt) Bn lense and I am trying to imagine a warfighting organisation for the 21st Century.

I do not disagree with your dormant Bn point and I am not suggesting stretching thin resources. If we only have enough Arty to properly support 3 Bdes, then that's our lot, no point kidding ourselves we can field more. The debacle created by current and recent VSOs means we have two, very broken Armd Bdes as we only have two regts of MBT (should be 1 & 2 RTR not some pointless Victorian nomenclature), the Armd Cavalry Regiments should be broken up and distributed around the infantry to create Recce Coys, as should Light Cavalry Regiments which are little more that Support Coy material. Likewise with 105mm Artillery
@21st, I'm completely lost. I've said since they first appeared that lt cav are inf in all but name, as have many others including many cav.

Are you seriously accusing me of being 350 years out of date because I haven't suggested (and don't agree) that 105mm Arty and armd cav should be part of the infantry?

I totally disagree with that proposal, if I've understood it correctly - not only is it stuck in the Cold War era but the roles are too specialised to give those in them general infantry careers so it would be counter productive for too many in all ranks.
 
Very interesting John and probably the way to go now at this juncture. However as a sop to tradition, what would your opinion be of the following (just an off the cuff example).....

Armoured Infantry
The Queen’s Fusiliers
1st Bn (Princess of Wales’s)
2nd Bn (First Fusiliers)
3rd Bn (Royal Highland)
4th Bn (Royal Welch)
Etc......
I'd be strongly against it as it's completely missing the point - you're directly linking bns to former regts, including contrived former regts.

It MUST be equal misery for all so there are no winners and no losers; if you don't do that you go down the Queen's regt route, not the PWRR one.

As an example, @Andre's version of regt'l history (3rd bn) is totally different to mine (2nd bn). I simply didn't work as units preserved their own 'bits'. What happens if, for example, 3rd bn (Royal Highland Fusiliers?) is one of the ones which is dormant?
 
@John G

Im not going to quote as it will end up messy.

Absolutely agree with you on role centric infantry (with some limited arms plotting between locations & roles for light Inf). Which seems to be in line with A2020R.

To me it doesn’t matter where they recruited from (be it every county or just one) or what they are called so long as they are fully manned and equipped correctly.

If historical links can be justified and maintained well and good but if they can’t be...

Divisions of Infantry...... do they have a purpose?

The way it should work is the UK Government says they want the army capable of doing x. The MOD and military says they need y and z. And then they work out how to do it (without thinking about cap badges). While being realistic about it.

It isn’t realistic to have 1 Bn feeding into the manning of another. But when you have people injured etc what do you do? Your Reserve Inf Bn?

I’d suggest that all combat formations (Bdes and Division) must have they own integral combat, CS & CSS elements that they need to go to war (at all times).
 
... and finally on to Infantry Reservists.

I'm all for reservists as the Regular Army can't get by without them and it doesn't just want the specialists (medics, techies, loggies, etc) but it simply has to have them.

Does it need them in the infantry (and cavalry), though? I'm far from convinced, and far from sure that they're even financially justifiable.

Maybe I should just leave that one alone for now ...
The fact that you have needed them to back fill would say you do.

I would task reserve infantry battalions/Coys with:
- backfilling the undeployable (to a degree)
- force protection
- BCRs
 
@21st, I'm completely lost. I've said since they first appeared that lt cav are inf in all but name, as have many others including many cav.
I did not say anything to the contrary but they would also be a quick fix to the infantry shortfall

Are you seriously accusing me of being 350 years out of date .
No but your starting point is. Just like Carter opening the toybox an saying 'oh look what we have here, how can we rearrange it?

because I haven't suggested (and don't agree) that 105mm Arty and armd cav should be part of the infantry?.
Why don't you agree? Isn't that a bit Luddite? After all the infantry should surrender the Armd Role, MG and mortars following the same logic.

I totally disagree with that proposal, if I've understood it correctly - not only is it stuck in the Cold War era but the roles are too specialised to give those in them general infantry careers so it would be counter productive for too many in all ranks.
Why?
 
I did not say anything to the contrary but they would also be a quick fix to the infantry shortfall
If you give the infantry an extra role they need extra manpower in their orbat to do it so there's no fix at all!
No but your starting point is. Just like Carter opening the toybox an saying 'oh look what we have here, how can we rearrange it?
What 'starting point' ? I'm still no closer to having any idea what you're talking about.
Why don't you agree? Isn't that a bit Luddite? After all the infantry should surrender the Armd Role, MG and mortars following the same logic.
I don't agree for the same reason that I don't think the Army should be one big corps - you need Engineers, Signallers, Gunners, Drivers, who are specialists who can do more than their Infantry equivalent of Assault Pioneers, Sigs Pl, Mor Pl, MT, etc. There's a finite limit and a fine line to be drawn and I draw the line at 105mm, etc, which I just see as not something that's within the infantry's range in so many theatres.
Stuck in the Cold War era because not every theatre or op requires armour or arty, and in many cases air sp (hels or fast air) is far more appropriate.
Not in career interests as a major who does his time at RD as an arty bty comd or armd sqn comd lacks the relevant experience for inf bn comd that a rifle coy comd has. TBH I'm surprised I have to explain that to an infanteer - is this a wind up?
 
What about going all the way and go for a Napoleon core d'armies concept where we create Bn's which are almost mini-Battlegroups with Heavy Cav, Infantry of all types, it's own RA assets, REME, RE etc....

(arguably this is already the idea with Spech Inf becoming Spech Bn's once the full re-ORBAT idea occurs...)
 
What about going all the way and go for a Napoleon core d'armies concept where we create Bn's which are almost mini-Battlegroups with Heavy Cav, Infantry of all types, it's own RA assets, REME, RE etc....

(arguably this is already the idea with Spech Inf becoming Spech Bn's once the full re-ORBAT idea occurs...)
The British Army would be better served have true all arms integral capability at Bde level (which assuming they were organised (correctly) would be task org’ed to BG Level.

With theatre entry, theatre level, 3rd line, specialist, lesser used capabilities etc etc held at Divisional and Force level
 
The British Army would be better served have true all arms integral capability at Bde level (which assuming they were organised (correctly) would be task org’ed to BG Level.

With theatre entry, theatre level, 3rd line, specialist, lesser used capabilities etc etc held at Divisional and Force level
I think the Army's view is that that's what we do. Separate units that come together at BG level for Armoured or Armoured Inf Battlegroups, with some assets held at Bde and Div level.
 
I think the Army's view is that that's what we do. Separate units that come together at BG level for Armoured or Armoured Inf Battlegroups, with some assets held at Bde and Div level.
Bde’s only have organic combat and Sigs assets don’t they?

How often are Bdes deployed compared to Divisions (especially when there will only be 1 Division)?

Look at the organic orbat of 16 Air Aslt and 3 Cdo Bde. That’s what I mean by all arms
 
We're in agreement over the shortage of resources, but apparently not the solution. To me the only answer has to be reducing with 'dormant' bns until you've stopped the exodus due to over-stretch, then building up with decent manpower.
John I think you are right conceptually, but I can't see it happening. To do so would require a level of recognition about the true situation that doesn't exist, implying a level of self-honesty by leaders and honesty towards stakeholders that is inherently not there in the CofC. That's not a criticism as much as an observation; no organisation as closed as the Army is ever really likely to self-assess and make the necessary changes. The parochialism of cap badge infighting is merely an inevitable symptom of closed hierarchical structure.

I'd go a stage further. The last thirty or so years have been about management of decline. Its all been about salami slicing to protect vested interests. In very few cases has the Army actually built anything new, if at all in the Infantry. Sure, the senior leadership may have far more combat experience than has been the case for a very long time, but they have precious little program management experience. If your baselined the Infantry down to what can actually be manned, does the skillset exist to build out new capability?

I don't think just stretching thin support resources and making them integral to equally thin inf units solves anything.
Its a very bad idea, probably Herrick centric. Penny packeting combat support dilutes its effect and efficiency. Scarce CS assets need to be concentrated on the Main Effort, not divided out to make up numbers in the combat arms. You only have to take a cursory look at how Engrs were grouped on Granby, Agricola 1 & Telic 1 to see the issue.

On a slight tangent, why would you take the Army's best recruited Corps with retention rates amongst the best and divide it up amongst units that can't recruit and retain their own soldiers?
 
John I think you are right conceptually, but I can't see it happening. To do so would require a level of recognition about the true situation that doesn't exist, implying a level of self-honesty by leaders and honesty towards stakeholders that is inherently not there in the CofC. That's not a criticism as much as an observation; no organisation as closed as the Army is ever really likely to self-assess and make the necessary changes. The parochialism of cap badge infighting is merely an inevitable symptom of closed hierarchical structure.

I'd go a stage further. The last thirty or so years have been about management of decline. Its all been about salami slicing to protect vested interests. In very few cases has the Army actually built anything new, if at all in the Infantry. Sure, the senior leadership may have far more combat experience than has been the case for a very long time, but they have precious little program management experience. If your baselined the Infantry down to what can actually be manned, does the skillset exist to build out new capability?


Its a very bad idea, probably Herrick centric. Penny packeting combat support dilutes its effect and efficiency. Scarce CS assets need to be concentrated on the Main Effort, not divided out to make up numbers in the combat arms. You only have to take a cursory look at how Engrs were grouped on Granby, Agricola 1 & Telic 1 to see the issue.

On a slight tangent, why would you take the Army's best recruited Corps with retention rates amongst the best and divide it up amongst units that can't recruit and retain their own soldiers?
@Bob, we're in total agreement on all points. I think it's always been that way for the military which is why, as I've pointed out many times, all the major and vital reforms (Cardwell, Childers) came from outside and were forced on the military. I just can't see it happening without a very strong and bright SofS.
 
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What about going all the way and go for a Napoleon core d'armies concept where we create Bn's which are almost mini-Battlegroups with Heavy Cav, Infantry of all types, it's own RA assets, REME, RE etc....

(arguably this is already the idea with Spech Inf becoming Spech Bn's once the full re-ORBAT idea occurs...)
The big (massive) difference was that Napoleon only had one sort of threat to worry about and his Army only had one role - the polar opposite to ours.

Penny packeting is a very bad idea, as @Bob said, unless you know exactly what you'll be doing.
 
@Bob, we're in total agreement on all points. I think it's always been that way for the military which is why, as I've pointed out many times, all the major and vital reforms (Cardwell, Childers) came from outside and were forced on the military. I just can't see it happening without a very strong and bright SofS.
I'm not sure how much even a very strong and bright SofS would achieve. I think he or she would end up like Gove at Education in the Coalition, fighting the "blob" of institutional resistance and vested interest.

In my memory, only two SofS have actually made a difference; Robertson and Hammond. Robertson had the benefit of five years or so in Shadow to plan, but the 97 SDR was a genuinely visionary piece of work. Shame it didn't get properly implemented; he moved on far too early to the Lords and NATO. Hammond because he is the only SofS to get a grip of the defence budget, although that was more happenstance than forethought. The imperative was driven externally (the GFC) and Hammond the accountant was only SofS because the Conservatives went into coalition so he missed out on the Treasury No 2 job to Laws.

IMHO there's a governance issue at the heart of this, exacerbated by the amalgamation of the CGS and CinC roles, which effectively combined the Chairman of the Board and CEO roles and the creation of what is in effect a unitary board. As a result, we now have the situation where those responsible for setting the long term vision and accounting to stakeholders (ie Ministers) are the same as those who are responsible for delivering the change and do so whilst conducting current business. Meanwhile, there are no independent board members to take the external view and bring insight.

I think both Carter and Wall had a clear vision of where they wanted to take the Army, but not the systems in place to do it. The most obvious example would be rebalancing to the Reserve under Wall. Concept fine, implementation dreadful. Someone would have been there to advise that the Reserve recruitment targets were unachievable without some major system changes. Instead, it went ahead doomed to fail, but "she'll be right, mate". I think Carter is in the same boat; surrounded by people who say yes because their career depends on it and advised by consultants who have no responsibly or skin in the game.

Which I guess takes us back to SofS.
 
I'm far from sure that I agree with the idea of "modular fighting organisations" being the way ahead as in my limited experience every op needs a different sort of module so every time you deployed you'd be having to reform units that weren't designed to be inter-operable or even integrated, so you'd be trawling for individuals rather than units which may not be the best idea.

I do agree with you, though, that it isn't just an infantry problem and I'm sure that all (or at least most) of "the Armd Recce, Logistic, Artillery, Engineer, Medical, Aviation, Communication and other support units required" are little or no better off manpower, recruiting and retention-wise than the inf units they're needed to support. To that end, while they don't have the cap-badge issues the inf (and cav) have, reducing the number of units they are required to support would allow them to similarly get rid of their own dross (sorry again, @Bobtheb), similarly have no excuse for the over-stretch, and similarly have active and dormant units until they can also make them all fully and effectively manned and all fully active.

Is anyone at the top brave enough to openly admit the issues and address them, though, or is A2020 just going to be another band-aid ..... ?
A2020 is going to be BS, and crap for the taxpayer, I'm confidently predicting. There is simply not the will or force of personality to make the scale of changes needed Again, I blame the senior military in this.

Why not look at the USMC MEF concept and Combat Teams? For our combined
capability (aggregate) of Sea/Air/Land, we are roughly the same order of size as the USMC and could project accordingly. Their manning structure is good value, and we might even outpoint them in some capabilities, they also speak NATO fairly well.
 

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