The Infantry and The Future

Discussion in 'Infantry' started by Ramillies, Jul 7, 2004.

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  1. OK . . .

    Is the Infantry in its present guise going to survive ?

    Answer maybe not.

    Arms plotting is costly. We need to develop a system whereby sldrs and offrs can rotate roles by location for their professional benefit. Perhaps large Regiments permanently based and offrs and men move rather than the eqpt ?
  2. Like a Corps?

    Coming from a Corps background myself, and seeing the cohesion that infantry regiments have through their "permanency" and loyalty to their unique identity, I shudder at the thought.

    Why do we have to take a system that is respected and revered by the rest of the worlds professional armies and turn it into a "Corps of Infantry"

    Horrible idea
  3. One large Corps means easier control for the MOD when they want to do unpopular things. Individual Regts mean a lack of control from the centre, far too much chance of the Regimental Associations causing problems.
  4. Ram', The US Army have a system similar to the one you suggest. It destroys cohesion, continuity, consistency and does not promote esprit de corps. The US Infantry envy our regimental system. It works.
  5. I think the road we'll go down will destroy the regimental system. I abhor the idea of a Corps of Infantry. Where do we go from here?? :( :(
  6. Are they thinking the same way as Canada went? Call it a defence force? :cry: that failed!!
    Ramilies said:
    Can imagine the situation...pte bloggs does his3 roulement tours gets posted to another place, just as it starts their 2 years of tours and wars!! It happened in the 70's and 80's with some of the Corps,certain trades getting all the "glory" and medals while others didn't go anywhere for their 22years except UK and BAOR

    good retainer value that would be. 8O You might as well bring back conscription now,as I can't see many joining up to the forces for more than acouple of years.

    Unless it will be like 3rd Foot and Mouth Regt permanantly based in Bos 2nd in iraq and 1st In FI etc. and of course 4Regt permanently on Uk civil duties in UK. If you can find enough guys to join in the 1st place that is...
  7. I think a corps structure would be a serious mistake for the infantry, in the short, medium and long term.

    As has been said before the British Army's regimental system has been the envy of all the professional armies around the world - it is a system that is tried and tested (though not perfect with only 1 battalion in the majority of regiments).

    The Australians have the Royal Australian Regiment - with various battalions under it - this works though due to the small scale of the aussie infantry - I seriously doubt that it would work for the uk.

    Amalgamating Regiments to form for example The Royal Highlanders with differing capbadges at company or battalion level is also a recipe for disaster as it leads to serious political infighting and lack of cohesion between the bodies. It also leads to a reluctance to leave your Coy or Battalion which not only affects maning across the board but also promotion...JUST LOOK AT 51 HIGHLAND and 52 LOWLAND (TA) for crying out loud - i would suggest you ignore the official comments and back slapping and ask the jocks direct what they think about it all...

    Thirdly on a more uk note culling and destroying regimants links and identities in their recruiting areas destroys the recruitment effort for the whole army.

    Fourthly this would kill morale not only in the infantry, but also across the army as a whole - how much tinkering do you really think can continue before the system breaks????

    Finally, i believe that what is needed are more infantry soldiers (military police too for that matter), not less. If you want to ensure that there is a ready reserve of officers, nco's and soldiers i would strongly suggest that 2nd battalions are raised - these could be on a lower scale/volume to the 1st battalions. They could provide a useful break point for soldiers finishing their phase 2 training and allow them to be brought up to the required standards (if required) prior to being sent off to where ever they are would also provide a presence in the community - something that has been missing for a long time. It could also provide for the secrutity apparatus that the Chancellor mentioned in his speach early this week.

    Cutting soldiers at the expense of getting a gucci piece of kit is a mistake - no matter how shinny it will break down at some point and there will be a counter measure along shortly. Also much of the technical force multipliers are a waste of time when dealing with a non tech adversary.

    Arty and air power make nice big bangs (and kill quite a few punters) but the only way you can dominate or take and hold ground is by having bodies on the ground - the Roman Legions knew this as do why are the MoD choosing to ignore this key lesson is warfare?

    Yours very disheartened,

  8. X-Inf

    X-Inf War Hero Book Reviewer

    I have made my comments elseware in different threads and for those who have read them I think you can understand that I am totally against this idea of a Corps of Infantry.

    Many years ago, when most of our current serving soldiers were still playing with toy soldiers, I was on a NATO exercise in Greece which included a Bn of US infantry. I was speaking to one of their officers who had just joined the unit as Adjutant and he said that he did not know a single person in that unit and was finding life extremely difficult. He envied our Regimental system and with everyone not only knowing everyone else, they had been trained together, worked together and been in difficult sitations together. i.e. we all knew our capabilities. This would be lost with the forming of a Corpse (deliberate) of Infantry or even having 5 or 6 multi battalion cap badges which would appear to be the thinking for dealing with the Scottish Regiments.

    I fully endorse the comments made by those above.

    Remember during the Italy campaign in WW2 a group of Highland Division men who had been wounded in N Africa had recovered and were sent to Italy to rejoin their units. On arrival in the staging area, some Col Blimp decided that he would allocate the men to whatever Regiment he felt needed it most. This infuriated the men, all battle hardened soldiers and many carrying some rank, and they refused to go. This turned into a full scale mutiny ending with very long prison sentences for some of the so-called ringleaders. Sensible senior officers in dealing with this ensured the men eventually returned to their own Division and not just handed round willy-nilly. However, the feeling was very bad in Italy for a while and lost to prison were excellent soldiers. This is a very brief outline of what happened.

    What I am trying to say, in a long winded way is that the Regimental system works. To quote the Americans (who love our system) 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

    I hope that sense prevails at Whitehall and Downing St. There was an interesting article in yesterday's Scotsman which pointed out that there are now 102,000 soldiers in the army and over 102,000 civil servants in the MOD alone. Where would you suggest the cuts start? Answers to Downing St.
  9. From Todays Scotsman:

    Infantry cuts would be 'madness', says former army chief


    Key points
    • Field Marshal Lord Bramall attacks the idea of regimental restructuring
    • Lord Bach claims the restructuring may be inevitable
    • Opposition parties accuse First Minister of refusing to stand up for regiments

    Key quote
    "We have to shift from the current mix of light and heavy forces, to a more graduated and balanced structure of light, medium and heavy forces, together with a greater emphasis on enabling capabilities, such as engineers, logistics and intelligence." - Lord Bramall

    Story in full GOVERNMENT plans that could mean some of Scotland’s historic army regiments being scrapped to save money were yesterday condemned as "absolute madness" by one of the country’s most distinguished soldiers.

    And after Field-Marshal Lord Bramall, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, made his attack in the Lords, a defence minister admitted for the first time that regimental restructuring was on the government’s agenda.

    "With the army so manifestly overstretched, and the future so utterly unpredictable, it would be absolute madness and highly irresponsible to reduce the number of infantrymen and units available for sustained operational deployment," said Lord Bramall, a cross-bench member of the Lords.

    Lord Bach, a defence minister, pointedly refused to deny the threat to the regiments, and said a re-organisation of army divisions may be inevitable.

    "We have to evolve," he told Lord Bramall. "We have to shift from the current mix of light and heavy forces, to a more graduated and balanced structure of light, medium and heavy forces, together with a greater emphasis on enabling capabilities, such as engineers, logistics and intelligence."

    Government assurances that regimental restructuring will not affect the army’s operational capability are questioned by military commanders.

    Andrew Duncan, a former commanding officer of the Queen’s Own Highlanders, which was merged with the Gordon Highlanders to form a single Highlanders regiment, said scrapping historic units risks damaging close ties formed within regiments.

    "Without the regimental ties, it’s harder to retain the men who have served for several years and done two or three major tours, and all the experience they’ve gained," he told The Scotsman.

    "That core of long-term professionals is one of the unique strengths of the British Army."

    Meanwhile, amid unease about the Scots regiments, it emerged that Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, is set to meet Labour MPs next week in an effort to allay their concerns.

    Supporters of the regiments hope the MPs succeed where Jack McConnell has failed so far. Opposition parties have accused the First Minister of refusing to stand up for the regiments by declining to criticise the government line.

    Mr McConnell started the week demanding answers from Whitehall departments during a trip to London. Later on, he said that schools and hospitals must take priority.

    Trying to calm fears over defence, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, yesterday pledged to spend "what it takes" to protect Britain from terrorism.

    In the Commons, Angus Robertson, the SNP’s defence spokesman, challenged Tony Blair on Mr McConnell’s record, and asked the Prime Minister to provide assurances about the regiments’ future.

    Mr Blair refused to comment on the regiments, and declined to repeat an assurance he gave on Tuesday that there would be no cuts in the defence budget. That may be because although the Treasury is planning a real increase in the defence budget it falls short of earlier plans, meaning some cuts in current spending plans are inevitable.
  10. Here is the articles from yesterdays Scotsman as mentioned above by XInf.

    MoD funds an army of pen-pushers


    AS THE army braces itself for some of the most savage cuts in years, figures obtained by The Scotsman reveal that the Ministry of Defence now employs more civil servants than soldiers.

    With all army recruitment frozen until October, the army currently has no more than 102,000 soldiers on its books, while the MoD employs 102,600 civil servants.

    The MoD has been warned by the Treasury that it must find savings of up to £2 billion from its budget. When Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, announces the cuts next week, he is expected to say that at least four army battalions will be disbanded, including at least one - and possibly two - from Scottish regiments. The axe is also expected to fall on thousands of naval and air force personnel.

    The Commons defence committee has already warned that the government’s policy of reducing manpower, ships, aircraft and tanks because of an "obsession" with a new generation of hi-tech warfare systems is "potentially dangerous".

    Senior army officers have privately expressed grave concern, warning that cuts could lead to the disappearance of all of Scotland’s historic regiments in a massive shake-up of the army which would leave Scotland with just one "super regiment".

    The MoD hopes to save £70.4 million a year by cutting four army battalions - a fraction of the amount it needs to find in savings to meet the demands of the Treasury.

    But opponents say that even if the government accepts that savings must be made to balance the books, there are many other areas of expenditure that could be slashed without weakening Britain’s armed forces.

    Yesterday, Keith Simpson, the shadow armed forces minister, said: "The public will find it incongruous, to say the least, if the government was to cut front-line troops rather than the growing army of civil servants."

    Oliver Letwin, the shadow chancellor, yesterday highlighted a number of areas in which he accused the government of wasting public money on administration.

    The figures show that the increase in the government’s advertising budget alone since 1997 would cover the cost of running the threatened regiments for another year and a half. In 1997, the advertising budget was £60 million; last year it stood at £161 million.

    The government spent £21.3 billion on Whitehall bureaucracy last year, a figure equivalent to £850 for every household in the UK every year.

    According to Mr Letwin, Gordon Brown planned to spend £17.2 billion on administering central government last year, but over-ran his budget by £4 billion - twice the amount that he is now seeking to claw back from the armed forces.

    In both of the previous two years, spending on administration exceeded the budget by £2.5 billion and in 2000-1 by £1 billion.

    "It is not too far off the truth to say that the culture of big government has created exponential increases in overspending on administration," Mr Letwin said.

    He also pointed to the increasing cost of regulatory bodies, such as the Audit Commission. Its budget had risen from £111 million in 1997 to £217 million in 2003. Council inspections cost local government an estimated £1 billion a year, he said - £600 million in direct costs and another £400 million in indirect costs.

    Mr Letwin also questioned the costs incurred by the Scottish Parliament, pointing out that it now cost £100 million a year more to run Scotland’s administration than it did in 1997, an amount which would cover the £17.6 million annual running costs for one Scottish regiment for five and a half years.

    Last night, the MoD defended the number of civil servants it employed and promised that staffing levels among the bureaucrats would also be taken into consideration when decisions were taken on where the axe should fall.

    "We are looking at absolutely everything and we will be looking at civil service numbers," said a spokeswoman.

    "We don’t employ civil servants for our own amusement. I know it always looks as if the front line suffers first, but we are hammering down civil service numbers."

    Meanwhile, army sources revealed that they were losing potential recruits because the MoD had imposed a freeze on recruitment to avoid having to make soldiers redundant after the cuts are announced.

    Approximately 2,350 soldiers will be affected by the loss of four battalions, with 550 expected to be placed in other infantry regiments and 1,800 transferred to the engineers and logistics.

    In the meantime, the MoD has stopped all recruitment until October, effectively cutting troop numbers by not replacing soldiers who are leaving the army.

    Regiments say that some potential recruits have not been prepared to wait, and one army source revealed that 1,000 fewer recruits were expected to pass through the training centre at Catterick this year compared with last.

    An MoD spokeswoman denied that the freeze had been instituted to provide a more palatable way of cutting army numbers.

    She said: "We are trying to achieve a balance."

    Politicians have promised to keep up the pressure on the government until the decision is announced next week.
  11. X-Inf

    X-Inf War Hero Book Reviewer

    Thanks LG - by the time I got to the bottom of my 'rant' I was too lazy to look for the link. There was also an article by Margo macDonald in the Evening News which has been placed onto another thread called Blairs War Games.
  12. Well... whilst I agree we do not want a Corps of Infantry, when faced with the above we must do something rather than see fine old Regiments disappear for ever.

    We either go with the flow or do something that safeguards our Regimental traditions, reduces unnecessary expenditure and the Infantry has a structure that can take cuts without the loss of what we all hold so dear.

    We of course know our Regimental system and structure works as it has done through the ages, but many do not understand - in and outside the Army. We tamper at our peril.

    So what do we do..... take the cuts to be announced next week on the chin.. get on with life as good soldiers... only to have the same repeated year in and year out ? Or come up with a structure that retains Regimental identities in some form, ties Bns and Regts to capabilities so that the Infantry can contract and expand as required ?

    Unless we do something - change will be forced upon us. Food for thought.
  13. The 'spokeswoman' who made the statement about not employing civil servatnts for a laugh, is either lying, or hasn't spent much time in Town recently.

    The vast army (literally) whose role is somewhat dubious to say the least, is incredulous. But, let's not forget, a large number of those who will be carrying out the review are the same folk who arrive and go on the dot, and who do not understand anything about esprit de corps.

    Many civil servants witihin the MoD appear to forget that their decisions will ultimately end up with boots on the ground. It staggers me therefore, that most have no idea what a battalion, brigade, ship, aircraft squadron does / looks like. Neither do many understand the fact that whilst there are about 25-30k troops physically deployed, that the other 70-75k are not sat on their backsides polishing boots. They need education and we who can need to provide it.

    But we are our own worst enemy. We say that we have a chronic overstretch, yet we can still have blokes outside Horseguards in shiny breastplates, and a mean parade on the square in mid-June. The bean-counters, when we tell them that we are on our chinstraps, simply point up Whitehall to the blokes on the horses......

    As for the Regimental system. I have posted too many times to mention against a Corps of Inf. I fear / suspect that we are about to 'lose' four of our fine battalions, so I agree with Ramilles that something has to be done. I equally get narked about the techno-solution. As has been said many times before, air-power (Kosovo) cannot win your fights. And if fighting is what we wish ourselves to be capable of in the future, we need a tool-set of capability, from a jeweler's screwdriver, to a 20 pound sledge. And we need boots on the ground.

    Unfortunately our problems stem from a government who did not put its money where its mouth was, after SDR. But no suspirises there unfortunately.

    So, to the problem at hand, what do we do now/ how can we restructure?

    Arms plotting is expensive, but whilst we have 2 year postings in NI, what are the options. Hands up who wants to be the Palace Bn for their 22? The so-called 'peace-dividend' is in all likelihood about to be thrust upon us, but where is the paramilitary disarmament? And has the targetting stopped? Are we simply going to pretend that 'they have gone away' this time? Lower our defences until we get another kick where it hursts?

    I know that there are proposals to goto large regiments again, and to have a home and away. This is probably a good idea, but until the NI issue is solved, I do not see a way around the Arms Plot.

    Regimental system. We are going to lose the battalions, but need we lose the cap-badges? We battlegroup and fight together under different cap-badged COs, so why couldn't we live together? Could not the less-well recruited (not necessarily those at the mo, demographics must play a part in the long-term examination) go down to coy strengths. That way, we will not see the departure of that which we hold so dear. The cap-badged coys could also form the cadre for any large-scale mobilisation (and I am not talking necesarily DSG 'large scale' but probably larger yet).

    And what about multi-cap-badged battalions in different roles within divisions? This way we can provide our soldiers with the variety they need. This could either be done by trickle posting, or miniarms plotting at sub-unit level. As I have said before, our TATs can only convert a Coy at a time, so maybe the sub-unit arms plot is workable. This would allow, for the sake of example, the Queens Div (who are fortunate to be structured in three regts of two) to have one or two of each role, light, mech/med (whenever that may be) and armd.

    A bit of a meander / ramble, but I had a few spare minutes.....
  14. 10000 of the axis of weasel to be chopped, my voodoo dolls must have been worth it....