CGS' Press Statement

Apologies for the length of it.


For now, I will speak about the broad principles lying behind FAS. After the Secretary of state has left, I will go into greater detail. It is important to set the Future Army Structure (FAS) firmly in context. FAS is about the whole Army – Regular, and TA. It is not about perceived winners or losers; it is about setting the Army on the right track to meet the challenges of the future. The Army has never stood still. It has always evolved to meet new challenges. It must again. Let me make a few general points to set the scene:

 We have spent more than two years looking extremely hard at what capabilities and structure we need in the future to provide a truly robust and expeditionary Army. Of course, we have had to make some tough choices to keep within the resources allocated to us and, while some areas will grow; some will contract; and a few will remain broadly the same. The under-pinning rationale for restructuring however is based on an operational need for a more agile, deployable and flexible force, and to build a medium-weight capability. This re-balancing – the shift in emphasis from a heavy / light mix to heavy / medium / light mix – and a greater emphasis on combat support and logistics at brigade level is essential to ensure that we are structured to provide the most powerful capability possible from the resources available. You will be aware that the end-state is 2 armoured brigades, 3 medium brigades and 2 light brigades.

 There are some changes that we will seek to take forward quickly, 19 Mechanised Brigade for example, starts its conversion to an all-arms light brigade in the New Year, but not all changes will happen overnight. Although the majority of the re-balancing is planned to be carried out over the next 4 years, it could be up to 12 years before we see FAS in its fully developed form.

 Let me just touch on three background issues:

+ Progress towards normalisation in Northern Ireland has provided a welcome opportunity to reduce the permanently committed forces . This has been key to enabling us to release manpower – some 3,000 posts – for reinvestment in areas that are more hard-pressed in today’s and tomorrow’s operating environment than the infantry: engineers, logisticians and intelligence operators being prime examples.

+ Units are currently not established for war-fighting without considerable augmentation. Furthermore their deployment often requires them to be reinforced to bring them up to the required strength. This approach is inefficient and incoherent – not least of all from the perspective of pre-deployment training, and the disruption to follow-on deployments.

+ I have heard people question why we are taking forward these changes when we are so busy. People talk about ‘overstretch’ – something that is impossible to judge without a benchmark. The benchmark the Army uses is a 24 month interval between operational tours, or, put another way, 20% of the Field Army deployed. Right now, across the board, that is where we are. But it is of course an average figure, and some capabilities are in short supply, with tour intervals significantly below the target of 24 months. This can properly be said to be overstretch and highlights one compelling reason why we need to rebalance to reduce that stretch. This is powerful evidence that FAS and the rebalancing that it entails is the proper and necessary thing to do.

You have the detail of the changes by Arm and Service for the Regular Army and the TA. This highlights the scale and the benefit of FAS to the whole. If we had the time, I would go through each Arm and Service in detail. However, I know that it is the changes to the Infantry – about which there has been much in the Media over recent months – that you are keen to hear about. I will turn to these later. When I do, I would ask you to look at what FAS means for the Army and to bear this in mind. Thank you.

You have a copy of my letter to the Army, which gives you the detail, but I will now speak of the restructuring of the Infantry. Please remember that whilst nothing can be done without the Infantry, it represents only one quarter of the Army.

The changes to the Infantry have been a highly emotive issue and they have been the subject, rightly, of rigorous debate. The reduction of 4 infantry battalions, as a result of the improvements in Northern Ireland, is a step that we must make if – within the Army manpower ceiling of around 102,000 - we are to structure the rest of the Army properly. Whilst the Infantry have been very heavily committed over the last few years, the level of routine commitment is now beginning to flatten. Operational tour intervals for the Infantry have now improved from around 15 months last year to about 21 months now and I expect them to continue to improve towards our ideal target of 24 months. Further progress in Northern Ireland will assist this.

The ending of the current Arms Plot system is a logical change that is broadly supported by the infantry, both serving and retired.

The inherent re-roling was inefficient and costly in terms of time, hard-won capability and money. It also adversely affected family stability – always a compromise in a mobile profession such as ours, but an area that we, for the sake of our soldiers and their families, have to improve. In simple terms, the Arms Plot rendered some 7 to 8 battalions unavailable at any one time: we did not have, therefore, 40 battalions in the effective Order of Battle, but rather some 32. In the future, the 36 battalions will all be available. By fixing infantry battalions by role and largely by location, we will have a new Infantry structure that will involve individual postings rather than unit moves – an approach that is already widely used across the Army to good effect and will provide challenge, variety and experience whilst improving continuity of role, operational capability and family stability.
The Army Board, and indeed the Army, is convinced of the need to develop a new regimental system for the challenges ahead. We want to get on with the job. The ending of the Arms Plot means that the current existence of single battalion regiments has run its course. The whole Infantry must now move to a large Regimental structure. It is significant that this was the intent of previous Army Boards in 1961/62, 1966/67 and to some extent in 1992. This Board has had the opportunity to grasp the nettle.

Before I cover the detail, we must not lose sight of the enhancements FAS makes to infantry capability:

 There will be an increase from 19 to 23 infantry battalions in All Arms Brigades; the 9th platoon in Armoured Infantry battalions will exist in fact and not just on paper; Reconnaissance platoons will be enhanced as will integral infantry firepower. All in all some 550 posts will be reinvested throughout the infantry.

The Regimental System is at the core of the British infantry. As a system, it has wisely and sensibly adapted as circumstances have changed – it has had many models. Circumstances are changing again, and the Infantry and the Regimental System are adapting again. The new Regiments and Battalions will continue to enshrine the history, traditions and ethos of their antecedents. This along with the leadership, training, esprit de corps and the values and standards that epitomise the Army will ensure that they and the Army continue to deliver operational success.

What of the detail. My message to the Army, which you have, explains some of the background and how decisions were reached. I will not go into all the detail just now, but I want to touch on the key criteria upon which the Army Board based its decisions.

The Board decided that the only truly objective criteria upon which to determine from where the Infantry would reduce 4 battalions were those which led to a judgement as to the sustainability of future recruitment balanced against the pragmatic factors of regional representation and future structural and regional coherence. The Board had before it the historic manning performance of every infantry battalion over the last 10 years, recruiting, retention, manning trends and regional demographic data. The Board:

- Considered the Brigade of Gurkhas and, noting their almost limitless recruiting ability and that the Brunei garrison commitment would continue, concluded that there should be no change;

- Exempted The Royal Irish Regiment 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 Parachute Regiment would be taken against the manning criteria, the Army Board also concluded that there were additional specific operational, organisational and state ceremonial reasons not to include these battalions.

On this basis the Army Board decided to make the reductions by taking one battalion from Scotland and 3 from England.

Let me highlight some of the most significant changes.

 The Scottish Division will reduce by one battalion. This will be achieved by the union of the Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. The new battalion will be one of the five battalions of a new large, single-cap badge regiment provisionally called ‘The Royal Regiment of Scotland’. The battalions will retain their antecedent names.

The move to a single large regiment is a bold move by the Scottish Division, reflecting their determination to move forward grasping the opportunity that FAS offers and meeting tomorrow’s challenges.

 The Prince of Wales’s Division will reduce by one battalion and it will form two larger regiments. This will be achieved by:

+ The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The Royal Regiment of Wales will come together in a new 2 battalion regiment called The Royal Welsh.

+ The Cheshire Regiment, The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters and The Staffordshire Regiment will come together in a new 3 battalion regiment called the Mercian Regiment.

+ The Gloster element of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment merging with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and the Light Infantry within the Light Division. It will be known as 1st Battalion the Light Infantry. The current battalions of the Light Infantry will renumber as the 2nd and 3rd battalions in accordance with seniority.

+ The remaining elements of the RGBW, previously the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, will merge into the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment within the Queen’s Division.

 The King’s Divison will reduce by one battalion.

+ The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment will amalgamate to form a new 2 battalion Regiment on the west of the Pennines called The King’s, Lancashire and Border Regiment.

+ On the east of the Pennines, the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment and the Green Howards will come together to form the new 3 battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

+ The Foot Guards will continue to serve on Public Duties, a task that whilst prestigious can become somewhat repetitive over time and therefore demands greater movement between this and other roles to provide variety for our Guardsmen. The Army Board also decided that maintaining the national identities of the individual battalions was critical in representing the whole nation – this would therefore make a system of individual postings unworkable as, over time, the national makeup of the battalions would become blurred (for example the Scots Guards would not be largely manned by Scotsmen). We have therefore decided that any restructuring into a larger regiment serves no practical purpose and would be entirely cosmetic, The Foot Guards will therefore retain their current organisation and Regimental names and will commit 2 battalions to Public Duties and 2 battalions to the light role which will conduct some limited relocation between each other to provide variety. One battalion will be fixed in the Armoured role.

These battalions will retain their antecedent names.

- You will have heard the Secretary of State’s comments regarding the identification of the 4th battalion reduction. There is a clear operational requirement to establish a dedicated direct support battalion to our special forces, thereby making a very significant improvement to our prosecution of global counter terrorism amongst other important tasks. We need to do a little more work to completely define the construct and role of such a battalion and this will be done in the New Year. However, given this capability requires a unit of particular skills and experience the fourth reduction will now be found by the removal of the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment from the line Infantry, using its highly trained manpower and structure as the core of this new ‘ranger’ battalion. As the Secretary of State has said, this capability sits alongside the other much needed enhancements to specialist elements of the Army and will be developed over the coming few years.

- Within the TA we will reorganise into 14 battalions, each one will be more closely integrated with a regular regiment, with one TA battalion in each regiment of 2 or 3 regular battalions and 2 TA battalions for the 5-regular battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland. The only exception to this will be the TA battalion affiliated to the Guards Division. The details of this reorganisation will be confirmed in the New Year after further consultation with the reserves.

These decisions have not been taken lightly. They are, as I have said before, the result of significant work and they represent, emotions aside, the right answer for the Army.

Leaving the infantry aside for the moment, I should like to now touch upon two other areas that have been the subject of much speculation; The Corps of Army Music and the Territorial Army.

– Firstly the Corps of Army Music. The number of musicians in the Army is predicated on their operational role as NBC Specialists and medics. The studies that led up to the July White Paper reduced the numbers required. There must therefore be a reduction in the number of Army bands, to a considerable extent reflecting the reality of undermanning. The new structure gives primacy to the requirement to undertake their musical role, not their operational duties. It aligns bands to FAS and addresses the vagaries that exist in the current structure. In essence it will see a reduction of 2 Royal Armoured Corps and 4 Infantry bands. The reorganisation ensures: that the Army retains effective bands with every Arm and Service; that they have the opportunity and ability to train for their operational role; that their career management is properly addressed; and that the Army’s rich musical tradition is maintained.

The reductions in the Infantry and the Corps of Army Music require a small targeted redundancy programme in order to ensure the right age and rank balance.

This will involve about 400 people. We will do our utmost to support those affected to ensure that they are looked after and well prepared for the transition to civilian employment.

This should not be interpreted as implying a scaling down of recruiting. It is not. The Army is still recruiting. We require highly motivated men and women and we will still need to recruit approximately 11,000 young people each year for the Regular Army and about 10,000 for the Territorial Army.

Turning now to the TA and Regular Reserve. They have been used significantly during all recent operations, and they have done a splendid job. The planned changes to the TA complement those to the regular structure building on the TA’s success on operations. I might take this opportunity to pay special tribute to all those reservists who have contributed so much on operations alongside their regular counterparts. In broad terms, the TA will remain the same size as it is today at some 42,000. The change involves rebalancing – growth in some areas and reductions in others – that will enhance the TA’s ability to provide specialist support. In addition, and for the first time, the TA’s structure will be robust enough to cater for those who are unable to be mobilised or who are not fully trained. The final structure will be validated following a period of consultation with the reserves over the next six months. The changes ensure that the TA and Reserves are better integrated so that they can be used more effectively. As the Army’s reserve of first choice we intend that they will be more relevant, capable and useable.

Let me conclude.

FAS is good news for the Army. Its implementation has already started and, while full implementation will extend over a number of years, its delivery is being taken forward positively. It represents where we want to go and what we need to deliver.
Synopsis for those who can't face reading the whole thing:

- Gordon Brown told TCH to make cuts

- TCH doesn't understand the military, so he asked me to tell him how to meet the Chancellor's targets

- I have made cuts, but I have called them reorganisation

- I have made sure the Paras & the Guards won't suffer, because in moving forward to face the new challenges of the 21st century we really need to retain a capability to deliver troops in a way not used since 1956, and a tourist attraction
In a way, i hope it does. And i hope the Balkans kick off and the firemen decide to have another whinge. My reasoning is that it will show this "reorganisation" up for what it truely is - an absolute shambles


War Hero
Book Reviewer
The pollies say 'Its not me, its the Army'

The Army say ' Its not me its the pollies'

Do you think there is much chance of anyone taking responsibility for this fu ck up?
Of course it was Brown who caused this.

How many Admirals and Generals do you really think went up to TCH and said, "Please, please sir , I really have too many soldiers (or boats) but I need you to give me an excuse to make cuts. Trust me it will be much better for u in Iraq to scrap some infantry battalions."
So no one noticed that the Government have ordered an additional 89 Eurofighter Typhoons?

Rob Peter - Pay Paul.
ViroBono said:
Were these additional Typhoons, or had MoD contracted to purchase them and couldn't get out of it?
From what little I understand about it, these are the second tranche, that were already on order. BuffHoon did waiver about abit a few months about ordering them. Then somebody pointed out that the first batch were the air-defence varient that is unlikely to see any use, whereas this lot are the ground-attack varient. It would have been a bloody silly idea to scrap the ones that might actually get some use!

So the Eurofighter isn't "Mission Flexible" like the F/A-18 , the F-16 or the F-15E?
MikeMcc said:
ViroBono said:
Were these additional Typhoons, or had MoD contracted to purchase them and couldn't get out of it?
It would have been a bloody silly idea to scrap the ones that might actually get some use!
I shall expect the announcement of their scrapping from MoD any day, then! :evil:
PartTimePongo said:

So the Eurofighter isn't "Mission Flexible" like the F/A-18 , the F-16 or the F-15E?
Sorry, took some time to pick myself off the floor again!! :) :)

It would have been a nice, cheap and quick idea to buy a stack of F18s (Carrier capable, if only on the spam monster carriers!), quick and easy to fix and carries one hell of a bombload.

Instead we presently got Tornado and will get Typhoon. If you need to change an engine it takes ages. The spams were changing engines on F15s in a morning at Honington a few years ago (they were re-surfacing the runway at Lakenheath).
What this basically means is that all of the other re-organisations, cutbacks and re-structuring to meet future requirements and roles have all been for nothing and this one will be the one that finally works.
What's the betting it does not, just like the rest and results in further cuts, sorry, re-structuring several years for now. One day they will issue policemen with rifles and tell us all that due to recruitment and retention problems we are going to be protected by our police service and not to worry about them carring out this work in the govt's name. When the numbers of police are greater than that of the armed forces does this make us a police state?
ViroBono said:
MikeMcc said:
ViroBono said:
Were these additional Typhoons, or had MoD contracted to purchase them and couldn't get out of it?
It would have been a bloody silly idea to scrap the ones that might actually get some use!
I shall expect the announcement of their scrapping from MoD any day, then! :evil:
No need to scrap them. If they really don't work, Canada will buy them
The thread stared well and was steaming along and then got crabised, nice move.
The formal statement made intresting reading and explains much.
I will go to my grave saying Gerry demanded the Brits get rid of 4 infantry battalions and Gordon found it financially convinent to agree as did Tone who IMHO hates the Army/Military. For altho they are the decendants of the Old Parlimentary Army which chopped a king in its day, They know where there loyalty lies.
The problem with Typhoon is that the penalty clauses for pulling out of the contract (designed to stop the Germans from doing this) were written so tightly that it is only fractionally more expensive to buy the things than to cancel them. The work would also be lost to the remaining partner nations. Meanwhile, the RAF would be left without six squadrons of combat aircraft and looking to spend more money to buy them.

The RAF, AIUI, wanted to buy some F/A-18s in the 1980s, but were told that they couldn't. They also wanted to buy F-15s in the late 1970s, but were told that they could do so only if Pan Am bought Concorde. Oddly enough...

Edit - just occurs to me, what is happening to 1 PARA? Is it to be given some new name (1st Ranger Btn??) or will it simply be a component part of the new outfit, retaining the 1 PARA title? )
1 Para when it moves into its latest role will be called, err, 1 Para. To be followed in rotation by 2&3. Hoon as always has his head up his grinner and when referring to "Rangers" and obviously meant the Glasgow type, which no doubt he is planning to merge with Celtic as part of his yet to be anounced "Scottish Super League" defence cuts...
sandfly said:
1 Para when it moves into its latest role will be called, err, 1 Para. To be followed in rotation by 2&3.
Hmmmmmm and guess which Battalion PoD used to be CO of? As for rotation, I wonder if that will actually happen especially as its supposed to be a Tri-service unit.

For example, Joint NBC is based mainly upon 1RTR, and no mention has been made of rotating this role amongst any other RAC unit.

Hoon as always has his head up his grinner and when referring to "Rangers" and obviously meant the Glasgow type, which no doubt he is planning to merge with Celtic as part of his yet to be anounced "Scottish Super League" defence cuts...
I'd love to see that tried..............................NOT!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe the ParaRangers could get some FIBUA training in Glasgow with the civil war that would ensue?
sandfly said:
1 Para when it moves into its latest role will be called, err, 1 Para. To be followed in rotation by 2&3.
Rotation? I thought the whole idea of FAS/FIS was to do away with the Arms Plot and avoid constant re-roling of units?

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