Fantasy Armed Forces


Book Reviewer
So I've tried this thread in the Current Affairs forum, but it's showing signs of going a touch wobbly and I was actually rather hoping for some serious responses (I know, I've been around here long enough that I should have thought that through a bit more).

So here's a challenge. Sketch out the size, shape and configuration of the British Defence Force post-2014, keeping it all under around £30Bn annually. Ignore sacred cows, be radical and revolutionary. Feel free to play with reserve/regular balance, high/medium/low readiness forces.

For the purposes of the exercise, use these assumptions:

  1. No political appetite for foreign wars unless vital to UK national interest
  2. No significant UOR procurement - i.e. come as you're caught
  3. Configure for entire spectrum - general war to MACC
  4. Capabilities to maintain:
    • Deploy SF abroad at tp/sqn strength and maintain on ops indefinitely at immediate notice to move
    • Project Coy+ abroad and maintain on ops for 90 days at 7 days' notice to move
    • Project BG+ abroad and maintain on ops for 90 days at 28 days' notice to move
    • Stand up and deploy Bde+ for general war inside 180 days
    • Stand up and deploy Div+ for general war inside 270 days
  5. Maintain nuclear deterrent
  6. Maintain ability to project self-defending naval task group to protect UK interests

For starters and in no particular order:

Move SH from RAF to AAC.

Transfer much of CSS to the reserve, maintaining enough JF CSS in the regular component to deploy a Bde for 6 months contingency, after that reserves and contractors effectively take over much of CSS/enabling.

Restructure the reserves under new robust TACOS. Only a single TA Infantry Bn of about 8 very large companies. Each Coy of 3 or 4 Pls containing about 100 men but each with the same Pl and Coy hierarchy. The logic being that in most training only about a third of the jundees will tip up, and this structure will enable them to train and also force generate full strength Pls. The Bn would also be better suited to supporting operations where the principle requirement in the teeth arms from the TA is at Pte soldier level. Effectively by cutting down the TA hierarchy, you are making an efficiency saving. The remainder of the TA would go over to become enablers, who would probably keep existing structures, but would be on TACOS similar to the USNG, meaning when their called they come, no questions asked. Clearly changes in civilian employment culture and law will need to play a part.

Back to the regular army, I would think about amalgamating the infantry and parts of the RAC, creating combined arms Bns with effectively two career streams: mounted close combat and dismounted close combat within those regiments or battalions. I would consider giving all regimental/Bn support functions (QM, MT, etc) over to the RLC and consider amalgamating the RLC, REME and AMS.

I would separate ISTAR out as a function from targeting at all levels and create ISTAR regiments based on the BRR regiments, with each getting a UAV Bty sliced out of the RA and recapbadged.

Base ISTAR would sit within this construct but most could remain in the TA (the theory being that we will not move into FOBs until the second rotation, by which time the TA enablers will be mobilised). Airfield defence (RAF Regt) should also be moved to the reserve, for the same reason (plus due to lack of requirement for manoeuvre training). I genuinely think that there may be some savings to be made by putting all base defence into a single mixed regular and reserve pot based on an amalgamation of the RAF Regt and the MPGS.

CS (less for the transfer of UAV out of the RA), should pretty much remain untouched, but could see the reserve element adjusted toward the TA Inf model I propose, effectively reducing the number of 'chiefs' and increasing the number of 'indians'.

I think we need to look hard at specialist capabilities and decide what proportions of each best sit in the regular or reserve forces or in DSTL or indeed under contract. These include CBRN, cyber, psyops, and many of the nation building capabilities we will need after (but not during) a contingency operation. Many of the specialist areas will sit in the reserves, but need to be available at short notice. I see the use of sponsored reserves as critical in much of this.

Carrier strike is a critical capability and the RN should be geared around deploying a UK carrier/amphib task group. In addition it needs to maintain the nuclear deterrent and fly the flag. Linked to this is airborne maritime patrol lost with Nimrod. This capability must be resurected quickly and cheaply, possibly by buying off the shelf.

Air transport needs investment and I would consider putting it out to contract using sponsored reserves (like FSTA).

Enough for the moment...
You would have to change the MLSE contract of the MPGS and make them deployable. Factor in the costs of the increased training and the fact (like everyone else) we are undermanned, then who would stag on whilst we were on ops? That being said, I would relish the chance to deploy again.
Similar to what BC says... but

Disband all existing capbadges and completely smash them allup!!! Then rebuild.

6 area based Medium Brigades. 1 (Guards) Brigade in London. Other 5 in Scotland, Wales and Wessex, Midlands and NW, SE and NE. (rough areas).

So each Bde has its own capbadge ie Royal Regiment of Scotland the Wessex Regiment the Mercian and Lancastrian Regiment etc. All signals, RLC arty etc are in there to with the same capbadge.

It would be modeld on the RM practice of one route in and then diverse. Specialist Army wide schools would still be needed. Each medium Bde would have a bde of TA to IA it with pid in each purely for TA.

On top of that 3 Light Brigades with a mix of commandos, Paras and backed up with light role infantry. (3 Cdo would be moved to amry control). A TA Bde would support these 3.

a Div of about 4 Bdes to maintain home commitments and contingency ops. including 2 (Household) Bde acting as London District.

2 Bdes of regs and associated ta would form up a div, three divs in total. Each Div hq capable of performing JTFHQ. 1 BR Corps (ARRC) picks up the corps hq slot. 2 divs alwasy ready to go with a div hq. corps provides UK NCC if needed. (PJHQ is chopped to 1 BR Corps).

light bdes form up as 14 Div (with static hq), home bdes as 4 div (static hq) to make 30 corps, a static hq for G1/G$ i the main. light bdes form up of 2 regimental task forces so in total 2 RTFs are ready to go at any time.

3 bdes out of the door at anytime? out of 9 deployables. static hqs made up of 'cheaper' home service only bods or older boys or otherwise non deployalbels.

All SH and RAF Regiment chopped to Army. RAF capbadge used for AAC (Heavy).

All remaining AC to RN. RN picking up all strat movement.

Remainder divvied up between two.

British Airwasy or better still Virgin (I like Richard) approached and in exchange for generous tax breaks provides 'retained reservists' for heavys ie AAR, troopers and MR.
You would have to change the MLSE contract of the MPGS and make them deployable. Factor in the costs of the increased training and the fact (like everyone else) we are undermanned, then who would stag on whilst we were on ops? That being said, I would relish the chance to deploy again.
Understood that it would require some changes; but as you say, I suspect there are quite a few MPGS types who would gladly deploy if the conditions were right. Given that they are not going to be back filling the BRF or a strike company, it doesn't matter that many are a bit older (the RAF Regt tend to be older anyway). Likewise much of the experience gained guarding camps in the UK is likely to be transferable to operations. The theory behind identifying mortar base plate locations is going to be near identical, likewise much of the deployed base ISTAR is going to be similar in terms of employment to the fixed stuff on camps in the UK. The only real speciality is consideration of the MANPAD threat to the landing and taking off bits of an airfield; however, I gather that "this ain't rocket science."
Scap all the defence budget and use it to make the overseas aid budget really useful. Bribe any enemies/ likely opponents to do somthing else instead
Why have Force Protection and guard companies/MPGS when you allegedly have trained soldiers. Sorry folks but the days of all the lads and lasses twiddling their thumbs outside the MT or sleeping on their beds after dinner would be gone.

Stag on with a mag on.

I remember on Op Telic 4 we worked out that if every JNCO and below in the camp did a turn on guard each it would have been 1 x 8hour shift every 14 days.

As it was the Patrols Platoons/Multiples picked up the guard and it was roughly 36 per Pte soldier per week.

I know this is a tiny part of an armed forces orbat and remit but it shows how much waste there is in something as simple as guarding a camp. It shows how many soldiers despite being on operations were allowed to work 10 hour days with sundays off whilst infanteers and their immediate support units (Chefs/LAD/Sigs/Pioneers) were pulling on average 12-18 hour days, everyday, everyweek for 6 months. Lastly it shows that in The British Army there is quite often a few who carry the many.
I can't comment on the specifics you mention but with the pressure on force levels in theatre, there shouldn't be anyone deployed who is not pulling their weight. However, having dedicated force protection troops can create some real manning economies on operations by reducing the requirement for soldiers to be taken away from their "day-jobs". You also get the advantage of those soldiers/Pls/Coys being familiar with the task. It is not a particularly challenging job, but it is important.
I think a lot of folk are assuming Afghan circumstances and tempo/nature of operations post-2014. I don't think this'll be the case - we won't have the capability for routine sustainment of a brigade+ on operations and, while it's pretty much certain some poor sod, somewhere, will be on active service somewhere, my crystal ball suggests that the nature of that service is entirely obscure at the moment, so it's back to training and equipping for 'a war' vice 'the war'.

Similar threads

Latest Threads