Future of the British Army (Army 2020)

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Army 2020, formerly known as Future Army Structure (Next Steps) or FAS (Next Steps), is the name given to an ongoing review of the structure of the British Army, and in particular its fighting brigades.

The British Government gave an indication of its proposals for the future structure of the British Army in early 2008 in a press report stating that it was considering restructuring the Army into a force of three deployable divisional headquarters and eight 'homogenous or identical' brigades, each with a spread of heavy, medium and light capabilities. This report indicated that the existing 16 Air Assault Brigade would be retained as a high-readiness rapid reaction force.[1]

Subsequently, it was reported that the former Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, wanted to see the Army structured so as to extend the interval between operational tours from two to two and a half years.[2]

In 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review was published. As part of the plans, the British Army will be reduced by 23 regular units, and by 2018 will number 82,000 regulars and 30,000 reservists.[3] In addition, the number of Challenger 2 tanks will be cut by 40% to an estimated number of just over 200, and the number of AS-90 self-propelled guns will be cut 35% to an estimated 87.[4]

On 7 June 2012, the Secretary of State for Defence set out some key considerations for the future of the British Army.[5]

Future structure[edit]

Also see Structure of the British Army#Army 2020

Originally envisaged structure[edit]

The originally envisaged future structure was announced on 19 July 2011 in a briefing paper entitled Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions.[6] This structure involved five identical multi-role brigades, each of around 6,500 personnel.[7] However, in June 2012 a significantly different structure known as Army 2020 was announced.[8]

The divisional headquarters of 2nd, 4th and 5th Divisions were disbanded in 2012 and replaced by a single formation known as Support Command based at Aldershot.[6]

Up until June 2012, it was envisaged that FAS(Next Steps) would results in five large multi-role Brigades. Each of these brigades would have comprised:[9]

  • One armoured regiment of Challenger 2 tanks
  • One armoured reconnaissance regiment
  • One armoured infantry battalion in Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles
  • One mechanised infantry battalion in FV432 Bulldog armoured vehicles
  • Two light role infantry battalions

Combat Support and Logistics would have been retained at a divisional level. It was envisaged that 19th Light Brigade, which is currently part of 3rd Mechanised Division, would be disbanded.[10]

Army 2020 Structure[edit]

Structure of the British Army after the "Army 2020" reform (click to enlarge)


At the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in June 2012, the army's Chief of the General Staff set out a significantly different army structure from that foreseen in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The new structure was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Phillip Hammond, on 5 July 2012. The Army Command will comprise the reaction force, the adaptable force, and force troops:[11][12][13]

The Reaction Force[edit]

  • The 16 Air Assault Brigade, comprising two battalions of the Parachute Regiment and two Army Air Corps regiments of attack helicopters. This will deliver a very high readiness Lead Air Assault Task Force, with the rest of the brigade ready to move at longer notice.
  • The 3rd (UK) Division, comprising three armoured infantry brigades (1st, 12th and 20th).[14] These three brigades will rotate; with one being the lead brigade, a second involved in training and the third involved in other tasks. The lead brigade will deliver a Lead Battlegroup at very high readiness, with the rest of the brigade at longer notice. Each armoured infantry brigade will be made up of:
    • 1 Type 56 armoured regiment comprising:
    • 1 armoured cavalry regiment comprising:
      • 3 sabre squadrons, each of 16 CVR(T) vehicles — to be replaced by the Scout Specialist Vehicle;
      • 1 command and support squadron.
    • 2 armoured infantry battalions, each comprising:
    • 1 heavy protected mobility infantry battalion comprising:
      • 3 rifle companies, each with 14 Mastiff armoured utility vehicles;
      • 1 support company.
  • 101 Logistic Support Brigade.
  • Royal Wessex Yeomanry providing Armoured Resilience to the 3 Challenger 2 Regiments

The complete air assault brigade and a full mechanised brigade will be available for deployment within three months. All three brigades HQs are to be based in the Salisbury Plain Training area.[15]

The Adaptable Force[edit]

  • The 1st Armoured Division, renamed as the 1st (UK) Division, along with Support Command (British Army) made up of seven infantry brigades (4th, 7th, 11th, 38th, 42nd, 51st and 160th) of various sizes, each made up of paired regular and Territorial Army forces, drawn from an Adaptable Force pool of units.[16] These infantry brigades will be suited to U.K. operations or overseas commitments (such as the Falkland Islands, Brunei and Cyprus) or, with sufficient notice, as a brigade level contribution to enduring stabilisation operations. This force pool will comprise:
    • Three light cavalry, Paired with three yeomanry regiments, each comprising:
      • 3 sabre squadrons, each with 16 Jackal vehicles;
    • Six light protected mobility infantry battalions equipped with Foxhound vehicles, each comprising:
      • 3 rifle companies.
      • 1 support company.
    • Several light role infantry battalions, each comprising:
      • 3 rifle companies.
      • 1 support company.
  • 102 Logistic Support Brigade.

Force Troops[edit]

This will comprise:

Joint Helicopter Command/Army Air Corps[edit]

The Joint Helicopter Command will remain an integral part of the land force. The Army Air Corps will be reduced by one regular regiment. 1 and 9 Regt AAC will merge with the new Wildcat helicopter not before Oct 2015.[17] One Regiment will be at high readiness annually, with one Apache Squadron committed towards the Lead Armoured Battlegroup[18]

Reductions of the Infantry[edit]

Four of the British Army's 36 regular infantry battalions will be disbanded/merged with sister units in their regiments:

A fifth battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, will be reduced to a single company to carry out public duties in Scotland.

Armoured Corps and Artillery[edit]

Four of the Royal Armoured Corps' Regiments will merge into two regiments:[19]

39 Regiment Royal Artillery will disband, with its Multiple Launch Rocket Systems being transferred to the rest of the Royal Artillery and Territorial Army.

Territorial Army to be the Army Reserve[edit]

The Territorial Army will be renamed the Army Reserve, and will be expanded from 19,000 to 30,000 personnel.[20] Units will be realigned according to this ORBAT.

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers[edit]

The regular component of the REME structure will reduce by one battalion to seven regular battalions. 101 Force Support Battalion will be removed from the Regular Army ORBAT not before autumn 2015.

Royal Military Police[edit]

As part of the drawdown from Germany the Royal Military Police will lose one regiment, 5 Regiment RMP, from the ORBAT. The three remaining regiments will be re-organised.[17]

Royal Artillery Air Defence[edit]

12th and 16th Royal Artillery will continue to be placed under a joint Army-RAF unit, Joint Ground Based Air Defence.[21][22][23]

Other[edit]

British Forces Royal Logistic Corps in Germany will be withdrawn back to the UK by 2015:

Note: There is no mention of where 12 Close Logistics Regiment will be in the Army 2020 documents. Newspapers say it will be disbanded.[citation needed]

Formation Structure[edit]

Regular units only

3rd Division
Brigade Armoured Cavalry Armoured Armoured Infantry Heavy Protected Mobility
1st Armoured Infantry Brigade HCR RTR 1 RRF
1 MERCIAN
4 RIFLES[24]
12th Armoured Infantry Brigade RL KRH 1 YORKS
1 R WELSH[24]
1 SG[25]
20th Armoured Infantry Brigade RDG QRH 1 PWRR
5 RIFLES
4 SCOTS[24]
1st Division (rotation until 1 September 2016)
Brigade Light Cavalry Light Protected Mobility Infantry Light Role Infantry
4th Infantry Brigade LD 2 YORKS [26]
7th Infantry Brigade QDG 2 R ANGLIAN 1 R IRISH
1 R ANGLIAN[24][26]
11th Infantry Brigade 1 WG
1 GREN GDS
1 RGR[26]
38th Irish Infantry Brigade 1 SCOTS
2 RIFLES[24]
42nd Infantry Brigade 2 LANCS
2 MERCIAN[24]
51st Infantry Brigade SCOTS DG 3 SCOTS
3 RIFLES
2 SCOTS[24]
160th Infantry Brigade 1 RIFLES[24]
16th Air Assault Brigade
Infantry Air Corps Support troops
2 PARA
3 PARA
3 AAC
4 AAC
7 Para RHA
23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault)
216 (Air Assault) Signal Squadron
13 Air Assault Support Regiment
16 Close Support Medical Regiment
7 Air Assault Battalion REME[24]
Other commands
Formation Light Protected Mobility Light Role
British Forces Cyprus 1 LANCS
2 PWRR[26]
British Forces Brunei 2 RGR[24]
Public Duties 1 CLDM GDS
1 IG
4 x incremental infantry companies1

1: There are three Foot Guards incremental companies stationed in London, and one Line Infantry incremental company stationed in Edinburgh.[24]
Note: The Foot Guards units will continue to Unit Move (-), rotating through the 5 Foot Guards Barracks - Aldershot (Mons & Keogh), Pirbright, Hounslow and Windsor. The table shows all moves up to Summer 2018 when the next rotation is due to take place.[27]

Basing[edit]

An initial basing plan located infantry brigades throughout the United Kingdom, with the three reaction force brigades situated in the Salisbury Plain Training area.[28] On 5 March 2013, a future basing plan of units in the UK was released.[15] As noted above, all Germany-based units will be relocated to different parts of the UK, with the Salisbury Plain area holding the largest concentration of troops.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 July 2008, page 4, "British Army proposes to revamp brigade structure"
  2. ^ General Sir Richard Dannatt announces major Army changes Daily Telegraph, 20 January 2009
  3. ^ http://www.army.mod.uk/news/24264.aspx
  4. ^ http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=14484
  5. ^ Defence Secretary on Army 2020
  6. ^ a b Briefing Paper SN06038 Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions House of Commons Library
  7. ^ Defence review: Army to face less pain than RAF and Navy Daily Telegraph, 19 October 2010
  8. ^ General Sir Peter Wall on Future Army 2020
  9. ^ Britain lowers its military sights IISS, 19 October 2010
  10. ^ Column 637 Hansard, 18 July 2011
  11. ^ Top Officials Offer Glimpse of a Restructured British Army
  12. ^ Defence Cuts: How The Army Will Be Overhauled
  13. ^ British Army looks to reactive and adaptive division, page 5, Jane's Defence Weekly, vol 49, issue 26, dated 27 June 2012
  14. ^ "Famed Desert Rats to lose their tanks under Army cuts". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  15. ^ a b "Regular army basing plan" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  16. ^ "Regular army basing plan". MoD. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Transforming the British Army Annex D
  18. ^ http://forces.tv/60545910
  19. ^ Jonathan Beale (2012-07-05). "BBC News - Army to lose 17 units amid job cuts". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  20. ^ Reservists to fill frontline army gaps - The Guardian - 29 June 2013
  21. ^ http://www.1846southall.com/The%20Royal%20Air%20Force.pdf
  22. ^ http://www.aff.org.uk/linkedfiles/aff/latest_news_information/cregulararmybasingannouncementgridunclas.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/uc1655/m165502.htm
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Regular Army Basing Announcement". AFF. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  25. ^ {http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/20130703-A2020_Update.pdf
  26. ^ a b c d http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/20130703-A2020_Update.pdf
  27. ^ page 5
  28. ^ Figure 6