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The future form of the Army

Contains threads on British Army equipment of the past, present and future.
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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby RetroSicotte » 05 Feb 2020, 11:15

Lord Jim wrote:The AS-90 still have a very valid and useful role to play until a suitable replacement is available, which I why I advocate retaining at least one Regiments if not two, each of four eight gun batteries, and keep them as part of the Armoured Cavalry Brigade, but able to be redistributed if and when needed. We must however procure new ammunition types to maximise their capability.

If they're to be relevant then they need at least that L/52 gun upgrade. Ideally bigger.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Qwerty » 05 Feb 2020, 17:44


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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Ron5 » 05 Feb 2020, 19:09

SW1 wrote:LJ

A different view. A globally deployable small scale specialist warfare (commando) supporting the tier 1 SF capability, but able to operate independently as well. Units assigned to domains and regions of the world drawn from an stream lining and up spilling of marines, Paras and Gurkhas. This force will undertake direct action, national and international emergency crisis response, airfield seizure, port seizure, special reconnaissance, intelligence & counter intelligence, combat search and rescue, and counter terrorism.

The main field army formed around 4 medium weight brigade configured to begin with along the lines of a US Army Stryker brigade as the units are worked up and exercised tweaks and changes can follow. The primary focus is rapid deployment for reinforcement across the nato area. Bridges crossing points ports and airports that support this formations deployment and movement can be secured initially but units from the commando force above in any major conflict.

To support these formations they can use modify to any configuration any of the following three vehicles Supracat HMT400/600 series, boxer and MAN 8x8 series trucks. Once these formations are manned equipped and supported and funds left over can be used to add what niche vehicles the army wish’s but only once these units are established.


So let's not defend the UK?

Sounds like a cunning plan.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 05 Feb 2020, 21:50

Some new kit that would be useful for Boxer etc.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 06 Feb 2020, 04:06

Qwerty wrote:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vice-chief-of-the-defence-staff-signs-future-force-development-charter-to-reaffirm-ukus-defence-relationship

May be there is 'beef' somewhere there, between the lines, but it is v difficult to find in the wording.

A contrary example , where the goals are strictly stated so as to avoid expressing " will always be with you, no matter what" political alignment is the US-German agreement to achieve full compatibility in their digitization of land forces.
- a bit deeper than "if" one runs out of rounds, drawing on the stock piles of the other party will be simple as the "stuff" will actually fit

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 11 Feb 2020, 02:05

It does appear to be more a PR exercise with very little meat on its bones. It in no way contradicts previous US statements where they express serious concerns about the size and composition of our Armed Forces. Of course we will continue to co operate but whereas in the past British Units have sometimes "Borrowed", equipment form US units, and have needed the logistical and ISTAR support of the US Military as a matter of routine, in future we may have to make this the standard practice, having lists of equipment needed and the amounts, to make out units combat effective.

I am pretty certain most senior US Commanders are fully aware of how hollow out military has become, with little or no spare capacity in any of the three services to absorb losses in personnel or material. With the exception of our Special Forces, future deployments may well be mainly shows of solidarity rather than the UK actually contributing effective combat power. I have no doubt of the courage and bravery of our service men and women but we simply lack the mass for anything but the most minor conflict.

Simply look at Afghanistan where we had to drastically reduce our area of responsibility and hand over large areas to the US because we lacked the mass to effective fight and control our area of responsibility. Basra in Iraq is another example, there out lack of mass forced us to retreat out of the city and hand over responsibility to US and Iraqi forces. The image of crewmen bailing out of a burning Warrior surrounded by a mob will be with me forever.

I used to think that pictures of body bags arriving in the UK would force the Government to realise that their defence policy was broken but to no avail. When the Tories got back into power I thought things may change for he better, with the 2010 SDSR they c0g far worse and the 2015 SDAR only managed to put a sticking plaster on a dire situation.

The British Army is at a crisis point. If the current plans are implemented without alteration we will have an Army that is no longer fit for combat against anyone but poorly armed insurgents. Yes it has a broad range of capabilities but these mean nothing if we do not have the mass to be able to use them effectively and replace losses rapidly and have the levels of spares and munitions to maintain a high combat tempo. SO much of its equipment is either obsolete, worn out or simply no longer combat effective. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have broken the equipment cycle, where scant funding has been used to provide equipment under UORs that really has no place in the force structure. Deciding to use the "Snatch" Landrover was a criminal act by the MoD and until a suitable platform was available, the best protected vehicle available should have been used, no matter how intimidating it may have been to the local populace. If such a vehicle couldn't traverse certain street then you adjust things.

With Boxer for example we should be receiving the first examples by the end of this year not waiting until 2023. The production line is up and running and we could be receiving some from the German line, albeit in small numbers ASAP, having UK specific kit installed by REME if necessary, so that the "Strike" trials unit can actually have the vehicle it will be using rather than Mastiffs.

Ajax is a square peg the Army is trying to jam into a round hole. It was suppose to re equip the Army's Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments, belonging to the Armoured Infantry Brigades and also held at Division level. The clue is in the title "Reconnaissance", they are not supposed to be used as light tanks in a medium weight formation, but are being used as so for lack of a suitable platform. And knowing that the 40mm Auto cannon has limitation against possible peer opposition does the MoD equip the vehicles, any of the vehicle in these new Cavalry Regiments with ATGWs that might give them a chance against hostile armour. No not one, instead each regiment may have eight dismounted Javelin teams.

The Army's "Make do" attitude may have worked in the analogue age but today the Services To Brass needs to do their duty to the country, the Man and Women under their command and make sure the situation is not kept behind closed doors. They need to make it clear that without the right equipment, personnel levels, training and stockpiles of spares and munitions, then the Army is not capable of conducting many of the operation the Politicians may require. For the Army there can be no more "Jam tomorrow", they need it now and in large quantities, otherwise again with the exception of its Special Forces, be limited to a Home Guard and Parade force, unless the Politicians are willing to under write a large casualty bill that could have been avoided.

Rant over now I need a drink! Damn it I am tea total :evil: :)

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 11 Feb 2020, 03:50

Well, the thrust of the argument is certainly accurate, but as for some details
Lord Jim wrote:we had to drastically reduce our area of responsibility and hand over large areas to the US because we lacked the mass to effective fight and control our area of responsibility.
Helmand held 3% of the Afghan population for starters, before the shrinkage. OK, it was hot with the Taliban due to the supply bases just over the border... but still. Reading our own press one could have easily concluded that the whole war was waged within Helmand
Lord Jim wrote:The image of crewmen bailing out of a burning Warrior surrounded by a mob
Well, the guy who jumped out was already half out when the Molotov cocktail was hurled... no doubt 'talking sense' to the mob. What a way to use armour
Lord Jim wrote: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have broken the equipment cycle, where scant funding has been used to provide equipment under UORs that really has no place in the force structure.
It is interesting to note that there was a 'net' settlement between the Treasury and MoD for the early UORs that weren't UOR'ed; BUT it is even more interesting that the settlement has not been released to the public domain. As the army kept such a large part of that fleet, may be it was the wear & tear that was compensated for :roll:

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 14 Feb 2020, 17:55

We seem to discuss mainly the 3rd Division, when there is also the 1st and 6th?
- put some thoughts on the SDSR thread; perhaps should have put them here as they were mainly about the army

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 14 Feb 2020, 21:28

Doing a bit of digging and the new 6th Division is proving to be a very interesting formation.

In addition to its ISTAR and Signals units there is the SIG or Specialist Infantry Group, which currently consists of five Infantry Battalions. The role of this formation appears to be to deploy company sized units to work with and train the forces of allies nations. Each Regiment has a strength of only 270 personnel and although I can see the benefit of having troops in this role it does appear to be more an exercise in retaining cap badges. I can see no reason why units form 1st (UK) Division could not carry out this role. Therefore I would actually disband the SIG Disbanding four of the five Battalions only retaining the 3rd Royal Gurkha Rifles, which I would bring up to full strength and transfer to 1st (UK) Division for the time being. In the future I would like to explore the possibility of combining this units with the 1st Royal Gurkha Rifles and their related support units, and make the Brigade of Gurkhas our key Army formation deployed East of Suez. possibly combining with the 2nd Battalion in Brunei or elsewhere in the region.

Two units that are also now part of 6th Division, being part of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance ISR) Brigade are 21 and 23 Regiments SAS, the Army's two reserve Special Forces units. It appears these two units have had a hard time finding a role since the end of the Cold War, being deemed unable to operate alongside the regular SAS or SBS. WE should look at how the US Army and Navy categorise their Special Forces, using a number of Tiers to designate the capabilities and types of operations a units is capable of. This would make 22 SAS Regiment and the SBS out Tier one units, 21 and 23 SAS as our Tier two units together with the Tri Service Special Reconnaissance Regiment. The existing Special Forces Support Group would be disbanded with the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment joining the two other Battalions to reform 16 Air Assault Brigade, which would be re roles to be more akin to a US Army Ranger Regiment. This Brigade would still provide the support needed by out Special Forces but with a larger and more capable formation. I have gone into more detail on this in a previous post.

In my mind, 6th Division's role must be to support 3rd (UK) Division, providing specialist support to formations from the former when deployed operationally, and there to train with said units on a regular basis. It should also if necessary be able to provide specialist support to the Civilian Authorities within the UK and its overseas territories during a state of emergency. In particular 1st ISR Brigade must be properly funded and resources to allow it to carry out its mission which will become more and more important as the face of warfare evolves rapidly over the coming decades. The same must he said of the two Signals Brigades (1st and 11th), as information and date transfer have become more and more essential, and the security of our communications is vital, given the resources potential adversaries are putting into disrupting them.

The final formation within 6th Division is 77th Brigade, which appears to be the home of the Army's developing asymmetric capabilities, including media and behavioural experts, but I can find little further information on the units beyond the broadest description.

Well that is a quick look at the 6th Division, next with the bloated formation known as 1st (UK) Division.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 14 Feb 2020, 21:46

Lord Jim wrote:possibly combining with the 2nd Battalion in Brunei or elsewhere in the region.
It is designatated (in addition to its daily job) as the acclimatised theatre reserve
Lord Jim wrote:In my mind, 6th Division's role must be to support 3rd (UK) Division
whereas the blurb says that they are not just the pool holding specialist units, to be apportioned to bdes as they prepare to deploy, but are also the specialists in under-threshold ops (so is the Strategic Command, but they don't hold many deployable units, so there is no contradiction in the descriptions)

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 15 Feb 2020, 00:26

Light Infantry is something we do have plenty of and is something I think needs addressing, but having a Brigade forward deployed in and around Brunei, Singapore etc. might be a good way of showing that we do have a vested interest in the area and are will to support our allies.

This would be even more so as the Brigade will contain the Gurkha support units like the Signal Regiment and so on so will be bale to provide a large skill set that can be offered for training or joint operations. Yes it may have to rely on our allies for strategic movement and to some extent tactical movement, but that will only bring closer co-operation. The Gurkhas are a world renown unit and ideal for this role.

As for integral support, I would like to see one Squadron of Wildcats stripped of enough kit to allow them to operate in the same way the previous Lynx AH9s did, though retaining the EO systems to allow some expanded capabilities. eight of these helicopters would provide the Brigade with limited air mobility and recce. If and when the Royal Navy receive the planned Littoral Combat Ships, one of these on semi permanent deployment in the region with an Escort would also increase the capabilities and effectiveness of the Brigade.

The Brigade will be supported by ISTAR assets operated by either the Gurkha Signals Regiment or the attached Gurkha Artillery units, of which one would be a Regiment equipped with either the 105mm Light Gun or ideally the M777A2 extended range 155mm Gun with precision and cub munition shells. The Infantry Battalions would retain their 81mm Mortars but would adopt the Carl Gustav M4 instead of the ATGWs, though a number of Spike-LR would be available at Brigade level. This would replace Javelin as it is a more effective weapon system and is in use by a number of allied nations in the region. The Artillery units that are part of the Brigade would include a Battery/Company of Starstreak MANPADS, including the three round pedestal launchers, with sufficient fire teams to provide protection to both rear and frontline areas. One Battery of Extractor Mk2 would be held at Brigade level to provide long range precision fire and finally one of the Battalions should be either Motorised or Mechanised using the MRV(P) or Boxer respectively, with the latter the preferred option.

Having the Brigade of Gurkhas as out EoS force would allow 3 Commando Brigade to concentrate of its NATO mission. Though only consisting of three Battalion of Infantry, the increased number of integral support units, aviation support and possible naval support would provide a balanced, well equipped force, able to support both the UK's interests and that of out Allies in this large challenging theatre.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby jedibeeftrix » 15 Feb 2020, 09:10

i'm not sure I agree with the logic of permanently placing an immobile garrison as justification for making our most mobile fighting formation... less mobile and less of a formation.

garrisons are expensive, and reduce our ability to amass capability to respond to contingency.
to be sure we need some garrisons, but to be used minimally as we don't have the exorbitant privilege of resourcing [both] immovable objects [and] unstoppable forces.

norway is [a] 3Cdo mission, making it [the] 3Cdo mission is a great way to salami slice it into a marine-infantry battalion in fifteen years time**.

** albeit with some real sexy speedboats!

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 15 Feb 2020, 09:49

Even though this (from defencemediareview, by Josh Cohen) is about US Forces, USMC more particularly, I'll post it here as a pointer to how an infantry-support tank upgrade path would diverge from an MBT-on-MBT path, as there has been, earlier more than now, controversy around Challenger LEP and whether tanks in the heavy class are needed at all:

"USMC M1A1 A Unique Inventory Here to Stay

As the US Army moves to a fleet of common M1A2 SEP tanks, the Marine Corps has no plans to replace its current M1A1 inventory. “We expect to keep our M1A1 inventory in service until the 2050 timeframe,” according to Bodisch. For Marine Corps needs, Army M1A2 SEP main battle tanks, are beginning to exceed 70 tons, are too heavy for transport on Navy Landing Craft Utility (LCU) and on the Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) (Textron Marine and Land Systems) ship to shore connectors.

USMC M1A1 tanks have undergone numerous upgrades and product improvements ensuring relevance on the modern battlefield. Bodisch pointed out due to the number of modifications, USMC M1A1 tanks are highly differentiated from older Army and internationally exported M1A1 tanks “we have a Deep Water Fording Kit and have modified our M1A1 with a stabilized commanders weapon station allowing firing the .50 caliber machine gun at night while on the move, engaging targets independent of the main gun, so the upgrade lets us take on two targets simultaneously.”

Reminiscent of older flechette rounds available for 105 mm main tank guns, Bodisch said Marine M1A1 tanks now employ 120 mm canister rounds filled with 1100 steel balls, ideal for anti-personnel targets. A new multi-purpose main gun round with data links on the cannon breechblock allow firing modes to be selected and entered as the round is loaded is also in use. “We also have the tank-infantry phone, as we’re an integrated infantry support platform, infantry need to be able to communicate with tank crews,” Bodisch said.

Marine M1A1 tanks have been further modified with M1A2 suspension kits, Tiger Engines (Total Integrated Engine Revitalization [TIGER] Honeywell AGT 1500 engine), and new thermal sights and optics “we made a conscious decision to upgrade USMC M1A1 tanks without adding the weight,” Bodisch added."
- for clarity, the interviewee quoted is a senior tanker from 2nd Marine Division

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 15 Feb 2020, 19:49

The idea would be far from an immobile formation as in the day of Empire. The two Light and one motorised Battalions together with two to four support Regiments would be contently sends forces of various sizes to allies countries to work in co operation. One of these Battalions is already out east and has a substantial part of its cost covered by the Sultan of Brunei.

Really what I was trying to do was find a valid use for a few of the multitude of "Light" Battalions than remain within the British Army and regarding which I will get to when I post about the future of 1st (UK) Division. Without additional equipment these have little or no value in even COIN operations let alone in any peer conflict.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Tom8 » 19 Feb 2020, 14:54

Lord Jim wrote:the role of this formation appears to be to deploy company sized units to work with and train the forces of allies nations. Each Regiment has a strength of only 270 personnel and although I can see the benefit of having troops in this role it does appear to be more an exercise in retaining cap badges.


These units are infantry battalions in name only, as they have been stripped of most of the junior ranks, just leaving officers and NCOs. Creating them means that other battalions should have more troops. The army may have found a way around the cap badge issue simply by naming a non-infantry unit with a historical infantry badge?

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Tom8 » 19 Feb 2020, 15:01

Lord Jim wrote:Light Infantry is something we do have plenty of and is something I think needs addressing, but having a Brigade forward deployed in and around Brunei, Singapore etc. might be a good way of showing that we do have a vested interest in the area and are will to support our allies


Aside from Brunei, is there evidence that an East Asian country wants to be host to a British light infantry battalion? For such a tiny country Singapore has a well equipt army, with current troop numbers not far off the UKs (I do understand that half of these are doing national service, but they also have 500K of reserves).

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 19 Feb 2020, 17:57

Well other countries would have to be approached to see if they would be willing to allow a Force to be stationed there, the size of any establishment and its infrastructure and so on. Alternatively the facilities in Brunei could be expanded with equipment for the other two Battalions and support units held there so that reinforcements could easily be sent for use in the region.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby SW1 » 19 Feb 2020, 18:44

What would you be trying to achieve deploying a brigade to the Far East?

The distances that would need covered are vast and as such would require significant air transport assets to be fwd deployed also. We struggle moving a brigade around Europe.

Its likely better to ask countries in the region what they would like us to assist with rather than the other way round. Generally speaking it involves ISTAR, logistics and SF assets as being the most in demand.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Voldemort » 20 Feb 2020, 07:08

Lord Jim wrote:Well other countries would have to be approached to see if they would be willing to allow a Force to be stationed there, the size of any establishment and its infrastructure and so on. Alternatively the facilities in Brunei could be expanded with equipment for the other two Battalions and support units held there so that reinforcements could easily be sent for use in the region.


Finland has enough room to house a British Light Infantry battalion, just saying... maybe even political will, or not.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby Lord Jim » 20 Feb 2020, 08:12

SW1 wrote:What would you be trying to achieve deploying a brigade to the Far East? The distances that would need covered are vast and as such would require significant air transport assets to be fwd deployed also. We struggle moving a brigade around Europe.


Given the size of any force we could send to the far east, your argument covers all options. The reason for the proposal regarding the Gurkhas was that I am going to suggest gutting 1st (UK) Division of over half of its Infantry units in a later post but wished to retain the Gurkhas. I have another option for them but I will leave that until the relevant post.

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Re: The future form of the Army

Postby SW1 » 20 Feb 2020, 11:07

Lord Jim wrote:
SW1 wrote:What would you be trying to achieve deploying a brigade to the Far East? The distances that would need covered are vast and as such would require significant air transport assets to be fwd deployed also. We struggle moving a brigade around Europe.


Given the size of any force we could send to the far east, your argument covers all options. The reason for the proposal regarding the Gurkhas was that I am going to suggest gutting 1st (UK) Division of over half of its Infantry units in a later post but wished to retain the Gurkhas. I have another option for them but I will leave that until the relevant post.


I would definitely want to retain the Gurkhas it’s the scale I’m questioning, the RM have the right template with 42 commando and that should be extended to the Paras and Gurkhas with the Gurkhas focusing on the Far East and in particular jungle/mountain roles but doing that would require enabling air assets and possibly closer engagement with the Singapore and Malaysia and the consideration to expanding voyager fleet.


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