Regimental System

Is the Regimental System dead in the water?


  • Total voters
    74
#1
This is intended as a 'serious' (if we can manage that on ARRSE) topic for discussion. Considering the recent (comparatively) amalgamations, and the prospect of a severely downsized Army for a fairly considerable time, are we now in the right place to look hard at the death of the Regimental System?

While it has served the British Army well for many centuries, the actions taken by successive Governments have skewed the system. The majority of the old regional links through county Regiments have gone, and we're already seeing 'super' Regiments (Rifles, RRS, et al). Is the day when we knew of Warwicks, D&D, KOYLI etc etc are already gone. Should we be looking at 'Corps of Infantry', numbered battalions, trickle posting, a single capbadge?

Before anyone rips into me, I'm not proposing this as something that is either good or bad. I'm an ex Infantry Soldier, and as proud of my Regiment now as I was when I wore its uniform. However, with the financial constraints, manning problems and other difficulties the Army faces, I wonder has the time come to 'bite the bullet'.

It's your opinions, feelings and thoughts I'm looking for, as I'm not totally certain that my own are fully formed either way. After all, who better to have an opinion than soldiers about the world they live and work in.


I'll sit back now and await the incoming!!!
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#2
Yes it is. The powers that be are now moving towards and Corps of Infantry and a Corps of Tankies with a few support arms tacked on.
 
#3
It wont be long before it goes whole hog canadian style.
 
#5
we're already seeing 'super' Regiments (Rifles, RRS, et al).
Arguably only one of those has really become a super-Regiment. The other has taken a half-hearted approach at best. Personally I see no real threat to the Regimental system as such. It just needs to continue to evolve and adapt, as indeed it has had to over the centuries. The difficulty is that within much of the Army there is a deeply embedded culture of resistance to change, even (and perhaps particularly) at the most senior levels.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
I cant answer the poll as Hobo Ken points out the regimental system isnt the same now as it was 30 years ago or 30 tears before that and I'm not talking about names either. The regional linking of Bns (Haldanes reforms) really died when the regimental depots closed although the Brigade depots helped even they went in the 1080's. Trickle feeding replacements or drafts to other regiments is nothing new even in so called peacetime and has been a practise since expeditionary forces were first mooted.
 
#7
FFS whatever you do don't let Stonker see this thread!

Recruits today associate with the regiments they join. They will think of themselves as a Rifleman, or a Mercian as opposed to a LI, or RGJ.

This is where the RRS have let themselves down in not embracing the future, and the new ethos, and realising that for many joining today, they are more interested in first of all thier muckers, and secondly almost the attitude of forging a new reputation for a new regiment, rather than clinging onto old ones.
 
#8
Recruits today associate with the regiments they join. They will think of themselves as a Rifleman, or a Mercian as opposed to a LI, or RGJ.

This is where the RRS have let themselves down in not embracing the future, and the new ethos, and realising that for many joining today, they are more interested in first of all thier muckers, and secondly almost the attitude of forging a new reputation for a new regiment, rather than clinging onto old ones.
Correct. And within 10 years of amalgamation, pretty much nobody below the rank of Maj (offrs) or Sgt (ORs) will remember what it was like before. Or care. Change is not difficult if you embrace it, but very painful if you don't. Witness the SCOTS, and stand by to see whether the Cav regiments do any better when and if their time comes.
 
#9
to be fair most regiments of yesterday were amalgamations of older regiments anyhow - so it's a constantly evolving process - you just have to get on with it and embrace it which is what the RIFLES have done quite well.

for example - ask a Rifleman what battalion he is in and he will say 2RIFLES etc, whereas ask a Jock what battalion he is in and he will tell you 'Black Watch' etc - so they need to either get over it or get out of it.

i think the Regimental System is what sets the British Army apart from any other and enhances Esprit de Corps at all levels.

the Regimental System we have means everyone believe 'they are good, but we are better'.

you can only have pride in a name, not a number.

long live the British Army Regimental System.


Celer et Audax...
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#10
There is much talk of esprit d'corps etc, and there is certainly an element of that. However, I believe that pride and - to use a hated term - ownership come from a familial association. My old regiment had serving fathers, brothers, sons and even one grandson. In fact, some Very Senior and Important officers have evolved from that grouping, and Ed Butler is just one.

I recall a most experienced senior rank telling me, whilst slightly in his cups, that all the bollocks about fighting for Queen ( or in his case, King) and country was just that. Bollocks. He and his friends fought, killed and died for the regiment and their mates, and the deep feeling was that it was one and the same thing. He was inordinately proud of his regimental history, of the battles, the medals and the numerous VCs that were awarded. I felt the same pride in being a member of 3rd Greenjackets ( The Rifle Brigade) and even when we became 3rd Battalion, The Royal Greenjackets, the entire battalion, from Colonel down to newest recruit still referred to ourselves, collectively, as 'the RBs'.
I cannot believe at all that anyone will feel the same about being a member of 3rd of the 7th of the 29th, as seems to be the case in American infantry units.

**** durch. Just saying!
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#12
Well I long for the days of the 32nd of Foot!
 
#13
I recall a most experienced senior rank telling me, whilst slightly in his cups, that all the bollocks about fighting for Queen ( or in his case, King) and country was just that. Bollocks. He and his friends fought, killed and died for the regiment and their mates, and the deep feeling was that it was one and the same thing. He was inordinately proud of his regimental history, of the battles, the medals and the numerous VCs that were awarded.
I just don't think that's true anymore. To most of the lads today, they care less about what the Pre-Pre-Pre amalgamation regiment did in Spain in 1813, and more about what the Bn did in Helmand in 2010.
 
#16
I must say I'm pleased with the replies. Most seem to fit with my own thoughts. Previous amalgamations have diluted the older Regimental histories, and yes a battle 200 years ago has less relevance that the last outiong to somewhere sandy. However I have found that regimental loyalty, which as someone said they were told, was loyalty to 'mates', rather than anything else more 'airy fairy' is still there, and still strong. I've been out 23 years after serving 22, and those were my feelings when I was in. Good to see it's holding on!!!

I agree that amalgamation is a fact of life, and probably will increase. Also that the only way to go forward is the Rifles model, and not that of RRS. If it comes, you can't stop it, so embrace it and do the best you can. The 'esprit' has to get transferred to the new organisation, which itself enters the Regimental System.

I pray that we never do go the way of 1st of the 195th of the 242nd, because I think that would put too many obstacles in the way of developing the aforementioned 'esprit'. Also to develop it in an Army which is NOT war fighting probably is even more difficult.

I suspect I've rambled enough, and in now way logically. Sorry if that annoys you, but it's the way my brain cell operates without about 48 solid hours of research. My final excuse id that I'm Irish, so what's yours?
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#17
I must say I'm pleased with the replies. Most seem to fit with my own thoughts. Previous amalgamations have diluted the older Regimental histories, and yes a battle 200 years ago has less relevance that the last outiong to somewhere sandy. However I have found that regimental loyalty, which as someone said they were told, was loyalty to 'mates', rather than anything else more 'airy fairy' is still there, and still strong. I've been out 23 years after serving 22, and those were my feelings when I was in. Good to see it's holding on!!!

I agree that amalgamation is a fact of life, and probably will increase. Also that the only way to go forward is the Rifles model, and not that of RRS. If it comes, you can't stop it, so embrace it and do the best you can. The 'esprit' has to get transferred to the new organisation, which itself enters the Regimental System.

I pray that we never do go the way of 1st of the 195th of the 242nd, because I think that would put too many obstacles in the way of developing the aforementioned 'esprit'. Also to develop it in an Army which is NOT war fighting probably is even more difficult.

I suspect I've rambled enough, and in now way logically. Sorry if that annoys you, but it's the way my brain cell operates without about 48 solid hours of research. My final excuse id that I'm Irish, so what's yours?
There is no need to go the way of the 1st. of the 95th., as the Rifles have proved. I note that, as ever, no mention is made of the Household Division, the biggest roadblock to change ever created.

Until we see one Army (including the Household Division) acting as one army for the overall good of the Army and not a collection of tribes acting for their own best interest (that is the best interest of retired officer's; as has been stated, soldiers and officers joining see the regiment or battalion they join as thier regiment), we will never get the change that is needed.

Much is made of the Regiment, little is understood of the short time most serve in it. Look at Cav Mem last weekend; the old and bold fall in with their new regiments just as happily as the new chaps. So long as you have somewhere to fall in on such occasions all will be well.

That is the system and that is how it has worked for the last 100 plus years, there has always been amalgamation either forced on the battlefield or forced by bean counters. What survives is the inate feeling of belonging, unless you choose to put your self in the wilderness.
 
#18
for example - ask a Rifleman what battalion he is in and he will say 2RIFLES etc, whereas ask a Jock what battalion he is in and he will tell you 'Black Watch' etc - so they need to either get over it or get out of it.

Celer et Audax...
I do appreciate the sentiment, but what is really wrong with this? A group of lads who are proud of a heritage and belonging to a unit who (however misguidedly - in your opinion) have something to be proud of can be no bad thing? If the lads have something, anything, to be proud of then they have something to live up to. Just because the Rifles do it differently (and to be fair I've met a few who still refer to themselves as RGJ et al) doesn't mean that every "super-regiment" should do the same. Aren't these differences exactly WHY we have esprit-de-corps?

Even at Corps level (of which I've had the opportunity to serve with two fantastic ones) Corps history, however short, is ingrained and a source of pride. Not necessarily because of the breadth of it, but because of what we've achieved in our time.

I've also had the opportunity to serve with the Artillery, whose various (and very old) Battery's are placed fairly regularly into suspended animation. They have no qualms, when reformed with new personnel, of adopting the honours and traditions of those units.
 
Z

Zarathustra

Guest
#19
There is no need to go the way of the 1st. of the 95th., as the Rifles have proved. I note that, as ever, no mention is made of the Household Division, the biggest roadblock to change ever created.

Until we see one Army (including the Household Division) acting as one army for the overall good of the Army and not a collection of tribes acting for their own best interest (that is the best interest of retired officer's; as has been stated, soldiers and officers joining see the regiment or battalion they join as thier regiment), we will never get the change that is needed.

Much is made of the Regiment, little is understood of the short time most serve in it. Look at Cav Mem last weekend; the old and bold fall in with their new regiments just as happily as the new chaps. So long as you have somewhere to fall in on such occasions all will be well.

That is the system and that is how it has worked for the last 100 plus years, there has always been amalgamation either forced on the battlefield or forced by bean counters. What survives is the inate feeling of belonging, unless you choose to put your self in the wilderness.
People always seems to have a chip on their shoulder when someone mentions The Household Division and Amalgamations/disbandments.

I personally think that amalgamating The Household Division would change very little, we'd just go from being called the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiments of Foot Guards to being the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions of the Guards Regiment (or something similar). We could probably also stand to loose/amalgamate one of the lesser regiments though the rest of the Infantry/Army would have to be prepared to cover the shortfall in manpower when it comes to ceremonial duties as we currently have two Battalions and three incremental companies that are in London District.

As others have said the Rifles have got along fine and I see no reason why The Household Division should be any different, though when the Queen is one of your Company Commanders it does change things slightly.
 
#20
People always seems to have a chip on their shoulder when someone mentions The Household Division and Amalgamations/disbandments.

I personally think that amalgamating The Household Division would change very little, we'd just go from being called the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Regiments of Foot Guards to being the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions of the Guards Regiment (or something similar). We could probably also stand to loose/amalgamate one of the lesser regiments though the rest of the Infantry/Army would have to be prepared to cover the shortfall in manpower when it comes to ceremonial duties as we currently have two Battalions and three incremental companies that are in London District.

As others have said the Rifles have got along fine and I see no reason why The Household Division should be any different, though when the Queen is one of your Company Commanders it does change things slightly.

The Household Cavalry would probably become the 6th and 7th (Or 1st & 2nd, if they stuck to seniority) the have Mounted in brackets before it.
I think too much, too fast has problems because soldiers become proud of their regiments. Having been on courses with Foot guards before, when 30 soldiers tip up at a barracks unknown to them, for some they see that family crest. To me it was the Blue, red, blue flash. It meant you were able to sit down and have breakfast together - no "Who the **** are you?", it was one family that supports each other. Those two colours in 3 bands on my arm made a lot of courses more enjoyable and took the nerves away from an 18 year old Trooper in a strange place. People say family is important, virtually all in the HCav, RAC, Inf, see the members of their battallion / Regt as family. The closer, say cousin, units, e.g. QRH to KRH, Coldstreamers to Scots, still sometimes seem to show that family connection and maybe that's why the highest levels of bravery show at the hardest times.
 

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