Changing the army - how?

@Cynical

I very much appreciate the "Like" from you, that followed my post from which I've lifted the passage below, and emphasised the key piece.

I'm hoping that part of your "Like" is - irrespective of percentage - similarly rooted.

I try to reserve my deliberately gratuitous rudeness for the odd Arrser who may have stalked me on the internet in the past, but the insistent perpetuation by the hard of thinking, of the Mission Command delusion is something that to this day really, really, makes my blood boil.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
At the end of my last post I suggested that the only way to fix the army was to find a Cardwell (for ignorant readers, over the course of about 6 years he changed the army from a system of commissions by purchase to a professional one and reorganised regiments into (broadly) a county basis, with one home bn and one overseas - further reforms were made by Childers and Haldane - Cardwell being stopped when Gladstone lost an election.

In some ways Carwell had it easy, he was minister for War (i.e. the Army) and thus not in permanent internal conflict for resource with the Navy and no-one had invented the air force.

Secondly the stimulus for his reforms were an external event (The professional German Army beating the French - nowadays one wonders why this was a surprise, but of course German had only just been invented and the French Army was regarded as the most capable in Europe, which of course it had been apart form a bad day ion June 1815).

Today's (or tomorrows) Cardwell will immediately be stuck into a battle with the RN and RAF and dealing with an Army that has lost two wars in a row and forgotten what it exists for. It seems to me to be questioning everything, learning little and to have bet the military ranch on the Strike concept, which is not resourced (other than a bunch of groovy 8x8 APCs). Moreover fairly early in his process he /she is going to have to:
  1. Address the orbat. Cost neutral (ish) but yet another round of the battle of the Regimental system.
  2. Address officer career structure. Probably cost saving, but many of the individuals that are needed to make any reform working may find that their psc dream of becoming 4*CDS down grades by at least two stars.
  3. Consider WFM, the exercising / training cycle.
  4. Get real about what an armoured brigade looks like. And indeed air assault brigade (cue happy discussion with RAF on support helicopter ownership, tasking etc.)
  5. Explain to PM and Cabinet what military capabilities we can field.
  6. (Really for fun) sort procurement.
  7. (Day of rest) Find a sensible way to produce a carrier battle group without denuding our ability to secure the freedom of the seas from British interests. Or sell a carrier, or two. Oh, and deliver world peace.

Questions:
  1. IS that about the list?
  2. Who would want that job?
  3. Who could do that job?
  4. Where would one find them (not in House of Commons)?
 

Alamo

LE
At the end of my last post I suggested that the only way to fix the army was to find a Cardwell (for ignorant readers, over the course of about 6 years he changed the army from a system of commissions by purchase to a professional one and reorganised regiments into (broadly) a county basis, with one home bn and one overseas - further reforms were made by Childers and Haldane - Cardwell being stopped when Gladstone lost an election.

In some ways Carwell had it easy, he was minister for War (i.e. the Army) and thus not in permanent internal conflict for resource with the Navy and no-one had invented the air force.

Secondly the stimulus for his reforms were an external event (The professional German Army beating the French - nowadays one wonders why this was a surprise, but of course German had only just been invented and the French Army was regarded as the most capable in Europe, which of course it had been apart form a bad day ion June 1815).

Today's (or tomorrows) Cardwell will immediately be stuck into a battle with the RN and RAF and dealing with an Army that has lost two wars in a row and forgotten what it exists for. It seems to me to be questioning everything, learning little and to have bet the military ranch on the Strike concept, which is not resourced (other than a bunch of groovy 8x8 APCs). Moreover fairly early in his process he /she is going to have to:
  1. Address the orbat. Cost neutral (ish) but yet another round of the battle of the Regimental system.
  2. Address officer career structure. Probably cost saving, but many of the individuals that are needed to make any reform working may find that their psc dream of becoming 4*CDS down grades by at least two stars.
  3. Consider WFM, the exercising / training cycle.
  4. Get real about what an armoured brigade looks like. And indeed air assault brigade (cue happy discussion with RAF on support helicopter ownership, tasking etc.)
  5. Explain to PM and Cabinet what military capabilities we can field.
  6. (Really for fun) sort procurement.
  7. (Day of rest) Find a sensible way to produce a carrier battle group without denuding our ability to secure the freedom of the seas from British interests. Or sell a carrier, or two. Oh, and deliver world peace.

Questions:
  1. IS that about the list?
  2. Who would want that job?
  3. Who could do that job?
  4. Where would one find them (not in House of Commons)?
Observation on Point 4, give the Army sole control of support helicopters and within 10 years the capability would very possibly have atrophied.
 
At the end of my last post I suggested that the only way to fix the army was to find a Cardwell (for ignorant readers, over the course of about 6 years he changed the army from a system of commissions by purchase to a professional one and reorganised regiments into (broadly) a county basis, with one home bn and one overseas - further reforms were made by Childers and Haldane - Cardwell being stopped when Gladstone lost an election.

In some ways Carwell had it easy, he was minister for War (i.e. the Army) and thus not in permanent internal conflict for resource with the Navy and no-one had invented the air force.

Secondly the stimulus for his reforms were an external event (The professional German Army beating the French - nowadays one wonders why this was a surprise, but of course German had only just been invented and the French Army was regarded as the most capable in Europe, which of course it had been apart form a bad day ion June 1815).

Today's (or tomorrows) Cardwell will immediately be stuck into a battle with the RN and RAF and dealing with an Army that has lost two wars in a row and forgotten what it exists for. It seems to me to be questioning everything, learning little and to have bet the military ranch on the Strike concept, which is not resourced (other than a bunch of groovy 8x8 APCs). Moreover fairly early in his process he /she is going to have to:
  1. Address the orbat. Cost neutral (ish) but yet another round of the battle of the Regimental system.
  2. Address officer career structure. Probably cost saving, but many of the individuals that are needed to make any reform working may find that their psc dream of becoming 4*CDS down grades by at least two stars.
  3. Consider WFM, the exercising / training cycle.
  4. Get real about what an armoured brigade looks like. And indeed air assault brigade (cue happy discussion with RAF on support helicopter ownership, tasking etc.)
  5. Explain to PM and Cabinet what military capabilities we can field.
  6. (Really for fun) sort procurement.
  7. (Day of rest) Find a sensible way to produce a carrier battle group without denuding our ability to secure the freedom of the seas from British interests. Or sell a carrier, or two. Oh, and deliver world peace.

Questions:
  1. IS that about the list?
  2. Who would want that job?
  3. Who could do that job?
  4. Where would one find them (not in House of Commons)?
The army isn't leaving UK without naval or air force assistance.
We
Observation on Point 4, give the Army sole control of support helicopters and within 10 years the capability would very possibly have atrophied.
Alternatively give the airborne and AAC to the RAF, give light infantry to the RM, and use the remaining army to rebuild a credible all arms armoured brigade or two?
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Observation on Point 4, give the Army sole control of support helicopters and within 10 years the capability would very possibly have atrophied.
A decade may be a tad optimistic!

By way of yet another aside:

One of the many merriments of 1 BR Corps was the airmobile Bde, I think bases in Haemer, that was MILAN heavy and tasked with being the counter penetration force. (CPen is where the Sovs, having broken through part of the main defensive position (MDP) were heading for the Rhine, France and line Omega. The idea was to drop this bde on their path (pre recceed ground) and get busy converting T72/BMP to funeral pyres while whatever ws left of the armd divisions either did a counter stroke (effectively destroying within boundaries) or counter attack (recapturing ground).

So far, so good. The problem was that his move would almost ceratinly involve a flight path outside of the 1 Br Corps boundary which made de-conflicting with SHORAD a bit of a nausea - to the extent that it was often quicker to deploy by road (in battle winning Bedford 4 ton GS). Of course, given the paucity of SH hours for exercises the trusty 4 tonner was used as SH simulator anyway, so the bde's drills were far slicker for real road moves.

The point of the aside being that one of the brave things Cardwell#2 will have to do is assess whether air mobile is desirable, deliverable and valuable.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
The army isn't leaving UK without naval or air force assistance.
Indeed, but Cardwll#2 as a minister of defence, rather than war will be both fighting for funds in Cabinet (as per usual) and within his own department.

There is an (unsubstantiated and probably impossible to prove/disprove) theory that while the Army was focusing on Afghanistan (in particular) and Iraq it was losing the battle for funds in the MOD.
 
Indeed, but Cardwll#2 as a minister of defence, rather than war will be both fighting for funds in Cabinet (as per usual) and within his own department.

There is an (unsubstantiated and probably impossible to prove/disprove) theory that while the Army was focusing on Afghanistan (in particular) and Iraq it was losing the battle for funds in the MOD.
Possibly because the army, in its wisdom, decided not to use the kit it had ( already paid for) but insisted it needed new/ different kit unbudgeted for?
 
A decade may be a tad optimistic!

By way of yet another aside:

One of the many merriments of 1 BR Corps was the airmobile Bde, I think bases in Haemer, that was MILAN heavy and tasked with being the counter penetration force. (CPen is where the Sovs, having broken through part of the main defensive position (MDP) were heading for the Rhine, France and line Omega. The idea was to drop this bde on their path (pre recceed ground) and get busy converting T72/BMP to funeral pyres while whatever ws left of the armd divisions either did a counter stroke (effectively destroying within boundaries) or counter attack (recapturing ground).

So far, so good. The problem was that his move would almost ceratinly involve a flight path outside of the 1 Br Corps boundary which made de-conflicting with SHORAD a bit of a nausea - to the extent that it was often quicker to deploy by road (in battle winning Bedford 4 ton GS). Of course, given the paucity of SH hours for exercises the trusty 4 tonner was used as SH simulator anyway, so the bde's drills were far slicker for real road moves.

The point of the aside being that one of the brave things Cardwell#2 will have to do is assess whether air mobile is desirable, deliverable and valuable.
As I recall, the Airmobile Bde didn't have dedicated air assets. It depended on the goodwill of the RAF for deployment. It's combat effectiveness also depended on MILAN actually being able to achieve K-kills on the best Soviet MBTs.

Mind you, so did the combat effectiveness of the entire BAOR. I always felt there was a degree of 'optimism' in their planning.
 

JCC

LE
At the end of my last post I suggested that the only way to fix the army was to find a Cardwell (for ignorant readers, over the course of about 6 years he changed the army from a system of commissions by purchase to a professional one and reorganised regiments into (broadly) a county basis, with one home bn and one overseas - further reforms were made by Childers and Haldane - Cardwell being stopped when Gladstone lost an election.

In some ways Carwell had it easy, he was minister for War (i.e. the Army) and thus not in permanent internal conflict for resource with the Navy and no-one had invented the air force.

Secondly the stimulus for his reforms were an external event (The professional German Army beating the French - nowadays one wonders why this was a surprise, but of course German had only just been invented and the French Army was regarded as the most capable in Europe, which of course it had been apart form a bad day ion June 1815).

Today's (or tomorrows) Cardwell will immediately be stuck into a battle with the RN and RAF and dealing with an Army that has lost two wars in a row and forgotten what it exists for. It seems to me to be questioning everything, learning little and to have bet the military ranch on the Strike concept, which is not resourced (other than a bunch of groovy 8x8 APCs). Moreover fairly early in his process he /she is going to have to:
  1. Address the orbat. Cost neutral (ish) but yet another round of the battle of the Regimental system.
  2. Address officer career structure. Probably cost saving, but many of the individuals that are needed to make any reform working may find that their psc dream of becoming 4*CDS down grades by at least two stars.
  3. Consider WFM, the exercising / training cycle.
  4. Get real about what an armoured brigade looks like. And indeed air assault brigade (cue happy discussion with RAF on support helicopter ownership, tasking etc.)
  5. Explain to PM and Cabinet what military capabilities we can field.
  6. (Really for fun) sort procurement.
  7. (Day of rest) Find a sensible way to produce a carrier battle group without denuding our ability to secure the freedom of the seas from British interests. Or sell a carrier, or two. Oh, and deliver world peace.

Questions:
  1. IS that about the list?
  2. Who would want that job?
  3. Who could do that job?
  4. Where would one find them (not in House of Commons)?

They'll have to have cross-party support throughout their tenure which should probably span two parliaments. They mustn't be UK politicians so they'll have to go straight into the House of Lords and be appointed from there. They're going to have to be paid top dollar.

So they'll have extensive top-level military experience and have no particular axe to grind which suggests a foreign former VVSO or foreign Defence Minister or CS.

Who springs to mind in US, NATO, Commonwealth etc?
 

TC20

Old-Salt
They'll have to have cross-party support throughout their tenure which should probably span two parliaments. They mustn't be UK politicians so they'll have to go straight into the House of Lords and be appointed from there. They're going to have to be paid top dollar.

So they'll have extensive top-level military experience and have no particular axe to grind which suggests a foreign former VVSO or foreign Defence Minister or CS.

Who springs to mind in US, NATO, Commonwealth etc?

Why?
 
This is a fascinating thread. I don't mind admitting that much of the discussion concerns issues well above my (former) pay grade, but it's interesting nonetheless.

My reaction is that the thread misses a fundamental reality. Unless a credible existential threat emerges in the next decade - one that focuses the minds of politicians and public alike - the army will cease to be an army as we know it.

There are plenty of people in positions of influence who will be happy to see a small, gender neutral defence force of less than 40,000 personnel. No heavy armour, a token NATO commitment, and an (Eire style) emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Beyond some spluttering in the right wing press, the public won't care.

The writing is on the wall and has been for some time. Iraq and Afghanistan were the last spastic twitches of the old expeditionary army of the British Empire. Through a combination of deliberate social engineering, and death by a thousand defence cuts, we're going to be left with a Tier Two defence force.
 

JCC

LE
This is a fascinating thread. I don't mind admitting that much of the discussion concerns issues well above my (former) pay grade, but it's interesting nonetheless.

My reaction is that the thread misses a fundamental reality. Unless a credible existential threat emerges in the next decade - one that focuses the minds of politicians and public alike - the army will cease to be an army as we know it.

There are plenty of people in positions of influence who will be happy to see a small, gender neutral defence force of less than 40,000 personnel. No heavy armour, a token NATO commitment, and an (Eire style) emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Beyond some spluttering in the right wing press, the public won't care.

The writing is on the wall and has been for some time. Iraq and Afghanistan were the last spastic twitches of the old expeditionary army of the British Empire. Through a combination of deliberate social engineering, and death by a thousand defence cuts, we're going to be left with a Tier Two defence force.
Is that a bad thing?
 
To change, the army needs to bin the idea that officers should have full term careers therein.
Realistically no officer from the support Corps will ever command at brigade or higher formations, ergo they top out at Lt Col.
But are LtCols really needed in support Corps that generally operate as company sized units?
Similarly within the teeth arms, if, as claimed, the army can only field a couple of brigades, where's the need for so many VSOs?
Before anyone jumps in with the usual guff about Defence attaches, NATO posts etc, do explain what a Major General adds to those pists that a Brigadier couldn't? They're appointments, not command positions, so cut cloth accordingly and use Colonels.
 
Is that a bad thing?
I'm not entirely sure.

Britain is not a global power. It is a merchant kingdom with international interests. Those interests need to be protected - individually and as part of wider alliances. Probably this means greater investment in the RN, and, as space plane and missile technology develops, the RAF.

I think there's a strong case for maintaining expeditionary ground forces - and they should be well armed, well equipped and able to fight like lions. The world is a jungle and if we're going to walk confidently, we need to be able to assume the role of predator in an instant. It's a lot easier to make friends and sign trade deals if your partners know that you could back them up with an airmobile brigade at a week's notice.

Ultimately, the UK is a small country - martial rather than militaristic - and with no public appetite for defence spending. Recruiting and retaining quality soldiers, already a challenge, is likely to get even harder over the next decade. A super-high tech RN and RAF, backed up by a small expeditionary army, or enlarged marine division is probably the way ahead.
 
The Army probably needs to stop saying “yes” to every MACA task that comes its way. Why are we paying for all this expensive war stuff, if all you’re going to do is Covid tests and ambulance driving…
 
This is a fascinating thread. I don't mind admitting that much of the discussion concerns issues well above my (former) pay grade, but it's interesting nonetheless.

My reaction is that the thread misses a fundamental reality. Unless a credible existential threat emerges in the next decade - one that focuses the minds of politicians and public alike - the army will cease to be an army as we know it.

There are plenty of people in positions of influence who will be happy to see a small, gender neutral defence force of less than 40,000 personnel. No heavy armour, a token NATO commitment, and an (Eire style) emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Beyond some spluttering in the right wing press, the public won't care.

The writing is on the wall and has been for some time. Iraq and Afghanistan were the last spastic twitches of the old expeditionary army of the British Empire. Through a combination of deliberate social engineering, and death by a thousand defence cuts, we're going to be left with a Tier Two defence force.
Except that both the RN and RAF manage to retain global significance, respect and ability.
That the current army is a shadow of its former self is entirely its own fault.
 
Why would any PM waste political capital on doing the things you’ve outlined? Defence is rarely a vote winner; it can be a vote loser (cf Corbyn, the ‘outrage’ over cap badge deletions, etc). Why do something that Defence is fundamentally unable to do itself, and will cause all kinds of headlines - by the Army briefing against itself, natch - with the end result that’s probably not that much different.
 
I think the first thing that is needed is to get the current crop of VSOs into a room and hit them repeatedly with something hard and heavy and knock all of the fantasy and delusion out of their systems. Next they should have no decision whatsoever of the size, shape and equipment of the Army. The role of a much reduced cadre of them should be to simply run the Army.

First task should be to bin the outcome of the Integrated review and take a realistic view of what we have and what we might be able to do with it. Once we have identified the immediate priorities we need to shape the Army to meet the needs of 2022 not 2032 and beyond.

Maybe then someone could come up with a cunning plan and also bring in Capital Punishment for any clown who suggests procuring anything that has not been invented or designed yet
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
The Army probably needs to stop saying “yes” to every MACA task that comes its way. Why are we paying for all this expensive war stuff, if all you’re going to do is Covid tests and ambulance driving…
Keeps the army in public eye, often saves the government from the consequences of it's latest balls up and IIRC generates revenue from non MOD departments.
back them up with an airmobile brigade at a week's notice.
That's a serious upgrade in capability.
And a lot of thought required to avoid rerun of Arnhem - waiting for some ally's equivalent of (the actually quite excellent) Horrocks XXX Corps.
 
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