The Arms Plot

No1 son is still thinking about an army career after Uni, to my pride and his mother's disgust. However he's been a busy beaver and is reseaching as much as he can about the army and it's history. He recently came across the term 'Arms Plot', not as it seems a modern Guy Fawkes event, but a process in the past where units were rotated around various ORBATs.

So can anyone enlighted us;

1. I see in SDSR it has been abandoned, but when did it start ?
2. What were the objectives from a military and career development perpective?
3. Did any other country have a similar 'plot'?
4. What were it's good and bad points?
5. Why was it abandoned? Shrinking size of the forces?, not appropriate to todays (or tomorrows) threats, technological or logistical reasons?
6. Any other comments on how it affected you, your unit, or even your family.

Thanks in advance

I've posted in here as it seems I might get a sensible answer or two, but MODs feel free to move to somewhere appropriate.
In it's simplest form, arms plotting saw units rotate through basing locations and sometimes in doing so through roles.

Arms plotting was principally focused at infantry and armoured Bns/Regts, which unlike corps, did not tend to trickle or cross post their soldiers between units (in order to retain the combat unit cohesion through the "regimental system"). Therefore the only way to give soldiers variety (in posting location and role) was to rotate the whole unit. Given that recruiting and retention was seen very much as regimental business this made some sense.

In terms of the re-rolling, the infantry would probably argue (with some justification, in my view) that by rotating a unit between the Armd/Mech and various Lt roles, the basic infantry skills of that unit would remain sharper than if it remained eternally in the Armd role.

Clearly (during the cold war at least), a unit based (forever) in Germany would become a very different beast to one based in the UK or one based in Cryprus, etc. As we wanted flexibility from our units and people, this also added weight to the argument for rotation through the arms plot.

The problem was that arms plotting was extremely expensive and given the move back to the UK from Germany, the fact that recently everybody has been getting operational experience and the move toward some trickle posting in the infantry (and to a lesser extent in the RAC), arms plotting has rapidly gone out of fashion. What has remained, is the rotation of infantry Bns through Cyprus and London District, as both are unique and would degrade a Bn where it to do either on a permanent basis.

Not sure if that is what you were after, but some food for thought at least.
That is the theory and applied to infantry armour and artillery units. I suspect that for retention and career develop-ment there will be quite a lot of rotation by NCOs and officers between units in the different roles.

On top of the planned arms plot for the reasons described above there is also the random factor described as "musical ordnance companies". I first heard this term used by General Michael Hobbs in his valedictory address on leaving 4 Armoured Division.

As the MOD makes some policy change or other units get shuffled around the defence real estate. Not only does th9is involved relocation but usually major new building work which is then abandoned as the changes are reversed some years on.
Many thanks guys for taking the time out of your weekend for the replies.

Good point about the Cyprus and London District, I must admit that hadn't crossed my mind.

Does anybody have any fond (or otherwise) memories of rotations, did it make the army more or less an interesting place to work. Now that it's gone, does anybody think that life will be better in job and family life, or duller (I've seen quite a few posts about the impact of germany closing and the antipathy of men faced with relocating back to the UK)

Thanks again.
The suggestion that there is or was a coherent arms plot, like the officer plot or the operational comittments plot, is similar to Blackadders question that "our battles are directed?"

It is a much vaunted but utterly worthless phrase. In essence a chimpanzee is given a bowl of ping-pong balls with the names of regiments on and is allowed to throw these onto a map. This is also how we choose where we invade next.

There may be a "system" to it, but in actual fact one would never be able to plan off it as it would almost certainly change at the last minute. A proposed 3 years in Paderborn could easily become 6 months in the Falklands followed by a 2 year residential of Northern Ireland.

Now that the arms plot has more or less stopped it is just individuals that get fcuked about at the last moment rather than whole battalions.

(sorry if this seems a little facetious - it has been one of those days)
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