Ranger Brigade(s)

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
You joke, but this isn't far off how the US runs things. Their SMUs are commanded one level up, so the CO slot is a brigade level command and the squadrons are battalion level commands. Their green beret battalions (theoretically doing the job were asking the rangers to do, more or less) have their own CO but are all sat within groups, each with a brigade level commander. There are, incidentally, four battalions per group.... Above that is the divisional level command, and above that is USASOC which commands at the corps level. None of those, less the battalion commanders, have any J3/5 function - that's executed by the COCOMs. All three levels of command outline above are responsible for J1, 4, 7, 8 and 9.

@Alamo is definitely right here. I agree with other posters that the British army has far too many unnecessary HQs (6XX and the Field Army for example) but the ranger HQ isn't one of them. There needs to be some kind of C2 function over those battalions. That doesn't mean it needs to be scaled as a deployable brigade HQ.
I was joking, but that was the model I had in mind - although the competence and capability gap between the UK Rangers and the US SMUs is huge, of course, as you say, what we're putting together doesn't look unlike a USSF SF Group. I suppose each of the new small battalions could put together A, B and C Teams and, given the right training and selection for aptitude, produce the necessary specialists to fit the various slots in an A Team.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
A cynical me, then, says that it's a way of continuing to ensure that the infantry retains its stranglehold at the top.
You say that like it is a bad thing! ;)
 
Thinking about it, this idea might not be so bad if we admitted that it's a project to expand SF substantially, paying for that by reducing light role infantry.
 
Building on the conversation in re the strategic role of the Army, it seems fairly clear to me that the Army, for the foreseeable future, is out of the peer- and near-peer conflict game in all but extreme existential circumstances. The ground defence of Europe effectively speaks Polish and, eventually, one hopes, German, but the British input to NATO and common European defence is in the air and at sea. Our ground capabilities going forwards will be OOA and raiding and unconventional operations in the Article 5 region . . .

If you/we were to accept that, we might as well disband the whole of 3 (UK) Div, which now serves as the repository for all our heavy armour capabilities . . . the "existential" purpose of which, is peer-on-peer fighting.

We could turn our backs on NATO's requirement for ground forces in Europe, but concentrating on "just" a "British input to NATO and common European defence . . . in the air and at sea", seems like the window-dressing of triple-locks, and burglar-alarms at the front of your house, but leaving the back-garden totally unprotected.

It would be a very "brave" decision, to abandon any-and-all capability, for a peer-on-peer conflict. WE do not choose, decide, upon when, where, such confrontations are going to happen :( !!

There is enough discussion already . . . that abandoning our armour capabilities, makes even defending against spear-chucker’s, only makes life difficult for our "light” infantry :( .

I'm fine with that as a strategy - it matches historic British grand strategy as it has been since the 16th Century and we, nationally, industrially, historically and culturally, are better disposed to that sort of commitment. The mass Army I joined and in which many of us served was an historical aberration.

I disagree. I do not regard the last fifty years of the 20th Century, as "an historical aberration".

That we had a glorious (and very remunerative!), Naval history over past centuries, does not erase the fact we have also had a very significant history in land-based conflicts across mainland Europe for many centuries. We had also developed a national industrial complex, capable of supplying the country's requirements for such conflicts.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
@Alamo is definitely right here. I agree with other posters that the British army has far too many unnecessary HQs (6XX and the Field Army for example) but the ranger HQ isn't one of them. There needs to be some kind of C2 function over those battalions. That doesn't mean it needs to be scaled as a deployable brigade HQ.
As regards HQ, for sure there needs to be an admin bit, either blistered onto DInf of DSF. As others have noted, a lot of qualified bodies are going to be needed.

As I understand it, the four Bns are going to have different geographic focuses. So no two Ranger Bns are likely to work alongside each other. I suspect therefore that the Ranger Bn HQ rear link is going to have to be pretty close to a Bde's capability. Whether we anticipate have two or more Ranger Bns deployed concurrently is not clear (reassuringly familiar) but if so, which seems sensible, that's a lot of kit. Whether the Ranger Bde HQ augments deployed Bns to provide signs know how is open.

A further question is who is providing force protection for the HQ? 300 highly trained Rangers up country being all ally with our ally, but who is protecting their comms?

I am increasingly persuaded that Rangers are Carter and Wallace's maskirovka (Russian deception plan for younger readers - they are really good at it) to divert press, public and other services/spending departments from the reality that the Army per se is a busted flush.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
If you/we were to accept that, we might as well disband the whole of 3 (UK) Div, which now serves as the repository for all our heavy armour capabilities . . . the "existential" purpose of which, is peer-on-peer fighting.

We could turn our backs on NATO's requirement for ground forces in Europe, but concentrating on "just" a "British input to NATO and common European defence . . . in the air and at sea", seems like the window-dressing of triple-locks, and burglar-alarms at the front of your house, but leaving the back-garden totally unprotected.

It would be a very "brave" decision, to abandon any-and-all capability, for a peer-on-peer conflict. WE do not choose, decide, upon when, where, such confrontations are going to happen :( !!

There is enough discussion already . . . that abandoning our armour capabilities, makes even defending against spear-chucker’s, only makes life difficult for our "light” infantry :( .



I disagree. I do not regard the last fifty years of the 20th Century, as "an historical aberration".

That we had a glorious (and very remunerative!), Naval history over past centuries, does not erase the fact we have also had a very significant history in land-based conflicts across mainland Europe for many centuries. We had also developed a national industrial complex, capable of supplying the country's requirements for such conflicts.
It's worth bearing in mind that, pre-WWI, pretty much all of our solo ground operations on the mainland, after, say, Agincourt, were disasters and the British contribution to Continental mass ground operations was, usually, either financial or smallish token contingents to justify British strategic command - see here Marlborough, Wellington and the like.

It's also worth noting that the greatest mass armies we've produced - both in the last century - were the BEF by early Summer 1918 and the British Liberation Army from Summer 1944 onwards. Both were manned and, to an extent, led by folk who wouldn't have been caught dead in a peacetime Army.

Even BAOR and its cutting edge, I (BR) Corps was, in retrospect, something of a paper tiger. Note that the three armoured divisions with their nine armoured brigades could only actually deploy two full-strength brigades on GRANBY, at the cost of hollowing out the Corps in Germany almost entirely.

I think you misunderstand my use of the term 'existential' - I have in mind conflicts, the loss of which would inflict unacceptable harm on our society, our economy and our way of life. I see no immediate prospect of such a conflict - China's a long, long way away and has no particular ambition, that I'm aware of, to become the planetary military hegemon and the Russians, as I've pointed out before, are running a stupendous bluff against NATO and the West, in terms of both their absolute capability and the sustainability, for them, of offensive operations.

Concentrating on air and naval - both of which are difficult and, at the peer- and near-peer level, frankly not doable for many of our partners - makes sense. I'm sorry you disagree and, sentimentally, as a former soldier myself, I rather mourn it, but I think it's a viable strategy.

I personally think we've been precipitate in slashing our heavy metal capability and there might have been a strong argument for maintaining a much stronger armoured force at reduced readiness, just in order to keep the capability warm; once it's gone, it's gone and it takes a lot longer to rebuild a military capability from scratch than re-energise it from a fixed level, however low, but, you know, hey ho, those carriers won't pay for themselves.
 

QRK2

LE
It's not just the Rangers having their own brigade with it's 1* command team that looks like a smoke and mirrors officer job preservation scheme but take a look at 6 Div as a whole. This 'division' is proposed to consist of:

Ranger Regt
A signal sqn
The 'Staff Corps'
A couple of 'Information Activities'
A hybrid (Reg/AR) MI Bn
An AR surveillance regt.

ETA

Compare and contrast:

Order of battle Second World War

Artillery
Engineers
  • 2nd Field Company, Royal Engineers 19 Feb – 30 Apr 41 & 29 Jun – 9 Oct 41
  • 12th Field Company, Royal Engineers 20 May – 7 Jun 40, 5 Mar – 6 Apr 41 & 15 Jun – 9 Oct 41
  • 219th Field Park Company, Royal Engineers 29 Jul – 9 Oct 41
  • 6th Divisional Signals Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals 3 Nov 39 – 7 Jun 40 & 1 Mar 41 – 9 Oct 41
22nd Guards Brigade

6 Division 17 Feb – 6 Apr 41
14th Infantry Brigade

6 Division 29 Mar – 30 May 40 & 10 Jul – 9 Oct 41
23rd Infantry Brigade

6 Division 29 Jun – 9 Oct 41
 
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Much is being made of the false comparison between the 75th Ranger Rgt and this new Ranger rgt if ours.

The roles are completely different, the 75th are essentially a direct action unit who also provide the same services as our own SFSG. They support other SF and SOF unit's when numbers are needed.

This new Ranger rgt has a role closer to the ODA's in 10th SF Group. But without the SF type of soldier involved, just some rebadged jocks and rilfes.

It all sounds a bit shit to me

But the thing is that the 75th Ranger Regiment has an enormous media and social media presence. They're in the news, in books, in games, in movies. US politicians brag, or walt, depending, of their service in it.


There is loads of both official and unofficial content on Youtube and Instagram. They are globally famous, maybe not as much as the US Marines, but in the same ballpark. Probably more Brits on the street have heard about them than have heard of some of the more obscure British regiments like the Mercians.

Whoever chose the name either didn't realise there would be this confusion, or deliberately chose to associate the name. Neither is ideal.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I am increasingly persuaded that Rangers are Carter and Wallace's maskirovka (Russian deception plan for younger readers - they are really good at it) to divert press, public and other services/spending departments from the reality that the Army per se is a busted flush.
It's not even a good camouflage job though, is it? They might fool certain political and journalistic types but they don't fool professional observers - or even keen amateur observers, for that matter.
Thinking about it, this idea might not be so bad if we admitted that it's a project to expand SF substantially, paying for that by reducing light role infantry.
Yes, but SF have a specific role. They are not he be-all and end-all, especially in conventional war - and conventional war will still happen. We can't decide unilaterally that it won't.
You say that like it is a bad thing! ;)
I put it to you that it's not going too well so far...
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
If you/we were to accept that, we might as well disband the whole of 3 (UK) Div, which now serves as the repository for all our heavy armour capabilities . . . the "existential" purpose of which, is peer-on-peer fighting.

We could turn our backs on NATO's requirement for ground forces in Europe, but concentrating on "just" a "British input to NATO and common European defence . . . in the air and at sea", seems like the window-dressing of triple-locks, and burglar-alarms at the front of your house, but leaving the back-garden totally unprotected.

It would be a very "brave" decision, to abandon any-and-all capability, for a peer-on-peer conflict. WE do not choose, decide, upon when, where, such confrontations are going to happen :( !!

There is enough discussion already . . . that abandoning our armour capabilities, makes even defending against spear-chucker’s, only makes life difficult for our "light” infantry :( .



I disagree. I do not regard the last fifty years of the 20th Century, as "an historical aberration".

That we had a glorious (and very remunerative!), Naval history over past centuries, does not erase the fact we have also had a very significant history in land-based conflicts across mainland Europe for many centuries. We had also developed a national industrial complex, capable of supplying the country's requirements for such conflicts.
I'll say it again rather more succinctly than in some of my previous posts ("Phew," I hear you say): the RN and the RAF have planned for and are equipping to be able to go head-to-head in peer-to-peer.

Only the Army seems to have decided that this can't and won't happen.
 
Why not?! You spent all them years running round pretending to be a soldier ;):biggrin:
CE88D813-F2F8-4EEE-BD40-AC0F2898904A.jpeg
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Building on the conversation in re the strategic role of the Army, it seems fairly clear to me that the Army, for the foreseeable future, is out of the peer- and near-peer conflict game in all but extreme existential circumstances. The ground defence of Europe effectively speaks Polish and, eventually, one hopes, German, but the British input to NATO and common European defence is in the air and at sea. Our ground capabilities going forwards will be OOA and raiding and unconventional operations in the Article 5 region.

I'm fine with that as a strategy - it matches historic British grand strategy as it has been since the 16th Century and we, nationally, industrially, historically and culturally, are better disposed to that sort of commitment. The mass Army I joined and in which many of us served was an historical aberration.

We may be good at putting off the evil day but, sooner or later, we generally end up taking on the enemy main force somewhere on the continent, albeit usually with allies.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
A concern which has been touched on upthread is that, with all these exciting new 'selected' opportunities for the ground close combat community - Rangers, SFSG, Pathfinders, UKSF - there will be a constant outflow of extremely well-qualified and -experienced junior and senior leaders from the broader ground close combat community with an accompanying diminution of both competence and, one suspects, reputation and morale, in the 'mainstream', which, unless this is very carefully managed, will become viewed as the also-rans.

With the best will in the world, I do somehow doubt that there are 1000 current infantrymen and cavalrymen, with the necessary qualifications, who have the 'soft' skills and aptitudes, notably for languages, described in all the briefing materials. Come to that, I rather doubt that the entire Army could muster, today, 1000 happy volunteers who meet all, or even some, of the requirements.

This is one for the recruitment and selection organisation, I think - the sort of folk upon whom the Ranger concept is based are - at the moment - probably not likely to find a Service, never mind Army, career, attractive.

On how it'll work for the couple of years or so the concept will be live before someone kindly shoots it in the head, one shudders to think. I hope, sincerely, someone's thought through how we're going to establish even a 250-strong force with some of the capabilities required.
I discussed this with a currently absent ARRSEr some months ago.

At risk of upsetting people and being a bit of a John G Walt, it is true that many people who end up in the infantry aren't supermen. Many didn't do too well at school even when trying. Some have to work very hard to come up to and maintain the physical standards even of ordinary infanteers. Which 1) is not a criticism and 2) does not describe all infantrymen.

But, to consider every infantryman as somehow omnipotent is nonsense.

Now, we suddenly expect them to be omniscient as well. Or, at least, those wearing this terribly fetching new cap badge.

Reality check: the kinds of mental abilities, in terms of the academic acumen to be able become these soft skills specialists, aren't found just by looking under rocks. They exist in only a portion of the population.

The army apprentice colleges used to engage in economic recruitment, taking in the lads from council estates etc. who were very bright but whose home circumstances probably precluded university/FE.

I'd contend that those are the sorts of people we need for these roles - academically and intellectually capable, as well being capable of doing the physical stuff.

Instead, we're simply re-badging some existing battalions.

There seems to be a real gap between the concept/ambition/hype, and the delivery.
 
Concentrating on air and naval - both of which are difficult and, at the peer- and near-peer level, frankly not doable for many of our partners - makes sense. I'm sorry you disagree and, sentimentally, as a former soldier myself, I rather mourn it, but I think it's a viable strategy.

As a former infantryman, I agree with the sentiments of your posts as well. The whole 'future soldier' concept looks like deckchair re-arranging bollocks. Post Afghan it's time to significantly scale the army back down again and focus on maintaining and developing our air and naval capabilities, which even to a layman are portrayed as potent, credible strategic assets that can greatly augment our allies unlike our half arsed attempts to maintain a credible 'ground' force against a (near) peer enemy. Let the Ukrainians, Polish etc contend with maintaining divisions' of armour against the this fanciful Russian horde.

I feel sorry for the thousand plus blokes (and women) that you know are going to get ****ed around* for the next couple of years to fulfil this VSO circle jerk of hoo-ah ranger btns while they fumble around from review to review trying desperately to grasp at being relevant post-Afghan.

*(Then again getting messed around is an infanteer's lot regardless of the motive of the powers that be.)
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Even BAOR and its cutting edge, I (BR) Corps was, in retrospect, something of a paper tiger. Note that the three armoured divisions with their nine armoured brigades could only actually deploy two full-strength brigades on GRANBY, at the cost of hollowing out the Corps in Germany almost entirely.
True. But much of the augmentation of 1 Br XXX was triggered by the various Queen's Orders.(The whole peace time / war time establishment thing. Lots of LOs, watch keepers etc. were WE only, from reserves, UK based units and TAVR).

And of course there was no need to out load the whole thing, to fight the Sovs as it was in situ, with all the CSups it needed. I suspect that when Treasury saw the bill for shifting a division with a couple of days combat supplies they got a bit of a shock. Moreover the Cold War had already ended and this, I suspect, had a significant adverse impact on availability of stuff like MBT major assemblies etc.
 

poo_finger

Old-Salt
Isn’t that the whole point of the project being ‘all arms’ to attract and screen talent from the rest of the army, to help build the model desired?
Building this from a initial core of infantry soldiers isn’t a bad thing seeing as this will likely be the skill sets being instructed upon, the badge collectors will be volunteering in droves and as most of these stem from Corps, then surely the increased intellect part will be a byproduct of this.
If a Para capability was desired even at company level, then the badge collecting volunteers will bring these qual’s with them, negating the need to put the masses through the course.

Granted it isn’t going to be the end product straight off the bat, but neither was the SAS and I don’t recall the originals having to go through selection to become SF. It was a work in progress, as this will be.
 
I'd contend that those are the sorts of people we need for these roles - academically and intellectually capable, as well being capable of doing the physical stuff.

Dick Couch notes in his book on the 75th Ranger Regiment that many NCOs have better degrees than their officers... The British Army is a LONG way off being able to recruit like that.
 

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