Commander Field Army
of the British Armed Forces
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Commander Field Army is a senior British Army officer who has responsibility for generating and preparing forces for current and contingency operations. He reports to the Chief of the General Staff who has executive responsibility for the higher command of the British Army. The Royal Navy equivalent is the Fleet Commander. The RAF's Deputy Commander (Operations) is the close equivalent of the two positions.
The responsibilities of the postholder were exercised through HQ Land Command from 1 April 1995 to 1 April 2008. From 1 April 2008, HQ Land Command, with elements of HQ Adjutant-General, became HQ Land Forces. From 1 November 2011, HQ Land Forces was subsumed within the new formation known as Army Headquarters.
On 23 November 2015, it was announced that the post of Commander Land Forces would be renamed as Commander Field Army as part of the Army Command Review. CFA will have four brigadiers working under him: Assistant Chief of Staff Commitments, Assistant Chief of Staff Support, Assistant Chief of Staff Warfare and Assistant Chief of Staff Training.
History and prospects
The headquarters was formed from Southern Command at Erskine Barracks near Fugglestone in 1968 and was initially referred to as HQ Army Strategic Command. In 1972, it became HQ UK Land Forces, and in 1995, it was renamed HQ Land Command.
HQ Land Command assumed control of almost all British Army combat and combat support troops on 1 April 1995. Three major exceptions were British Forces Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, and HQ Northern Ireland. In the last of those, the General Officer commanding reported to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for operations in support of the civil power. HQ Northern Ireland was reduced in status to 38th (Irish) Brigade on 1 January 2009.
On 1 April 2008, HQ Land Command amalgamated with HQ Adjutant General under 'Project Hyperion' and became HQ Land Forces. It moved from Erskine Barracks to the former RAF Andover site now known as Marlborough Lines on 23 June 2010.
Commander-in-Chief Land Forces (CINCLAND) also became the Standing Joint Commander (UK) or SJC(UK), responsible for overall command to Ministry of Defence contributions to national crisis response activities within the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland).
Under a major army command reorganisation effective 1 November 2011 the Chief of the General Staff took direct command of the Army through a new structure, based at Andover and known as "Army Headquarters". Within this new organisation, the rank of Commander, Land Forces was shifted to that of a three-star instead of the former four-star rank. The post of Commander-in-Chief ceased to exist.
Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010, the government announced significant changes to the structure of the formations under Land Forces that would be implemented in the years up to 2020:
- Field Army: By 2020, the total withdrawal of British forces stationed in Germany will be complete, and the Army's operational structure will be formed around a total of five multi-role brigades (MRB); these will be taken from the two brigades currently stationed in Germany under 1st Armoured Division, and three of the four in the UK under 3rd Mechanised Division. To ensure costs are kept down, the MOD's proposal will be to station units as close as possible to training areas.
- Regional Forces: While the regional forces elements have been retained at brigade level, with all ten regional brigades remaining as they are, the regional divisional HQs (2nd Division, 4th Division and 5th Division) were replaced with a single 2-star regional headquarters at Aldershot known as Support Command from Spring 2012.
This has been updated in the future plan commonly known as Army 2020. On 23 November 2015, it was announced that the post of Commander Land Forces would be renamed as Commander Field Army as part of the Army Command Review. CFA will have four brigadiers under his command, namely: Assistant Chief of Staff Commitments, Assistant Chief of Staff Support, Assistant Chief of Staff Warfare and Assistant Chief of Staff Training.
Historical elements of the organisation
Divisions and Districts
Land Command was initially divided up into eight formations, each one commanded by a Major General, and several smaller units including the training units and training support units in Belize, Brunei, Canada (Suffield for armoured battlegroups and Wainwright for infantry units) and Kenya. Land Command was later divided in 2003, under the LANDmark reorganisation, into two suborganisations, Field Army and Regional Forces, that paralled the Cold War structure of UKLF. Commander Field Army had 2 deployable Divisions (1st Armoured Division, 3rd Mechanised Division), Theatre Troops, Joint Helicopter Command, and Training Support under him, while Commander Regional Forces was responsible for 3 regenerative Divisions (2nd Division, 4th Division, 5th Division), London District, and UK Support Command Germany. In 2007 it was announced that a new deployable divisional HQ would be established until at least 2011 as a means of meeting the UK's commitments to provide divisional HQs on a rotational basis to Regional Command (South) in Afghanistan and as the lead nation of Multi-National Division (South-East) in Iraq. This was based in York and formed around the re-established 6th Division.
HQs 2, 4, and 5 Divisions (originally referred to as Regenerative Divisions) effectively used to act as military districts in the UK itself and would only have been able to generate field formations in the event of a general war - these three divisions were disbanded in Spring 2012 and the component units were transferred to Support Command.
London District's most public concern is the administration of ceremonial units and provision of garrisons for such installations as the Tower of London. However, its primary responsibility is to maintain units directly for the defence of the capital.
The British Army has only seven genuinely operational, deployable brigade groups – the six incorporated in 1st Armoured Division and 3rd Mechanised Division, plus 16 Air Assault Brigade. 3 Commando Brigade, a Naval Service formation formed predominantly by units of the Royal Marines but with significant army support, is under the direct command of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET). In November 2007, the Ministry of Defence announced the temporary creation of another deployable brigade, designated as 11 Light Brigade, which commanded the Operation Herrick rotation between October 2009 and April 2010.
The numerous other ‘brigades’ within the new Support Command would be better described as regional districts whose function is to administer all Territorial Army units within their area and to coordinate the provision of support to the civil authority if necessary, as well as home defence tasks. An example was the coordination of military support the regional brigades did during the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001. The fourteen new Civil Contingency Response Forces (CCRFs), each parented by a TA infantry battalion, are also linked into this structure. They form force elements which may be called on, alongside regular units, by the established chain of command (Ministry of Defence, Army Headquarters, HQ Land Forces, Support Command and Regional Brigades) in the event of a request for military assistance by the civil authorities.
There are a number of specialist brigades which bring together under a single administrative apparatus several units performing similar functions. There are two logistic brigades 102 Logistic Brigade in Germany and 101 Logistic Brigade which contain logistic units to support the two deployable divisions directly. Additionally 104 Logistic Support Brigade operates the specialist units needed to deploy a force overseas such as pioneers, movements and port units. These brigades come under the authority of the GOC, Theatre Troops.
Under the new Army 2020 plan, the British Army will have at least 3 brigades that form a "Reaction Force", along with other brigades formed from a pool of forces called the "Adaptable Force."
UK Land Forces formations, December 1989
In December 1989, Headquarters UK Land Forces at Wilton directed field forces through a three-star's command, UK Field Army. Many of the units stationed in the United Kingdom were to move immediately to Germany to reinforce British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in case of war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. For administrative purposes these units were under command of brigade HQ based in the UK during peacetime. Such reinforcement units are shown in the list below in italics followed by the higher command they were to reinforce in Germany in brackets.
- North-Eastern District (Imphal Barracks, York)
- 2nd Infantry Division, York, (to reinforce I British Corps within 72 hours)
- 15th Infantry Brigade, Alanbrooke Barracks, Topcliffe
- Queen's Own Yeomanry (TA), Newcastle upon Tyne, (80x Fox, 20x Spartan)
- 1st Btn, Yorkshire Volunteers (TA), York
- 2nd Btn, Yorkshire Volunteers (TA), York
- 6th Btn, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (TA), Newcastle upon Tyne
- 7th Btn, The Light Infantry (TA), Durham
- 8th Btn, The Light Infantry (TA), Wakefield
- 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery, Newcastle upon Tyne, (18x FH-70, one battery with Blowpipe SAM)
- 24th Airmobile Brigade, Catterick
- HQ & 210th Signal Squadron, Catterick
- 1st Btn, Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, Catterick
- 1st Btn, Green Howards, Catterick
- 3rd Btn, The Light Infantry, Blackpool
- 27th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Topcliffe, (24x FH-70)
- 51st Field Squadron, Royal Engineers, Catterick
- 9th Regiment, Army Air Corps, Dishforth, (24x Lynx AH.7, 12x Gazelle AH.1)
- 49th Infantry Brigade, Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell
- Royal Yeomanry (TA), Chelsea, (80x Fox, 20x Spartan)
- 3rd Btn, Staffordshire Regiment (TA), Wolverhampton
- 5th Btn, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (TA), Coventry
- 5th Btn, The Light Infantry (TA), Shrewsbury
- 5th Btn, Royal Anglian Regiment (TA), Peterborough
- 7th Btn, Royal Anglian Regiment (TA), Leicester
- 100th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery, London, (18x FH-70, D battery with Blowpipe SAM)
- 5th Btn, Royal Green Jackets (TA), Oxford
- 4th Btn, Queen's Lancashire Regiment (TA), Preston
- 38th Regiment, Royal Engineers, Ripon
- 655th Squadron, Army Air Corps, Ballykelly, Northern Ireland
- 15th Infantry Brigade, Alanbrooke Barracks, Topcliffe
- South-Western District (Bulford Camp)
- Allied Command Europe Mobile Force assigned units:
- 2nd Btn, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Bulford Camp, Light Role
- 1st Infantry Brigade, Tidworth, United Kingdom Mobile Force, dedicated to the defence of Schleswig-Holstein under LANDJUT
- Royal Hussars, Tidworth, (43x Chieftain)
- 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Tidworth, (48x FV107 Scimitar)
- 1st Btn, Queen's Regiment, Tidworth, (45x Saxon)
- 1st Btn, Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, Bulford, (45x Saxon)
- 2nd Btn, The Light Infantry, Tidworth, (45x Saxon)
- 1st Btn, The Wessex Regiment (TA), Devizes
- 47th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Thorney Island, (24x FH-70
- 22nd Engineer Regiment, Perham Down
- 656th Squadron, Army Air Corps (7th Rgt, AAC), (6x Lynx AH.7, 6x Gazelle AH.1)
- 43rd (Wessex) Brigade, Wyvern Barracks, Exeter, guards channel ports
- 1st Btn, Royal Regiment of Wales, Warminster, Infantry Demonstration Unit
- 94th Locating Regiment, Royal Artillery, Larkhill (Target Acquisition) (to 1st Artillery Brigade)
- Royal Wessex Yeomanry (TA), Light Reconnaissance
- 6th Btn, The Light Infantry (TA), Bath
- 4th Btn, Devonshire and Dorset Regiment (TA), Exeter
- South-Eastern District (Aldershot)
- 2nd (Southeast) Infantry Brigade, Shorncliffe, guards channel ports
- 5th Airborne Brigade, Aldershot, may reinforce any NATO command
- Life Guards, Windsor, (48x FV107 Scimitar)
- 1st Btn, Parachute Regiment, Aldershot
- 2nd Btn, The Parachute Regiment, Aldershot
- 1st Btn, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles, Church Crookham
- 1st Btn, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Canterbury
- 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, Aldershot, (24x Light Gun)
- 658th Squadron, Army Air Corps (7th Rgt, AAC), (6x Lynx AH.7, 6x Gazelle AH.1)
- Eastern District (Flagstaff House, Colchester Garrison)
- 19th Infantry Brigade, Colchester, (to join 4th Armoured Division within 48 hours after receiving marching orders)
- HQ & 209th Signal Squadron, Colchester
- 1st Btn, King's Own Royal Border Regiment, Colchester, (45x Saxon)
- 1st Btn, Royal Anglian Regiment, Colchester, (45x Saxon)
- 3rd Btn, Royal Anglian Regiment, Colchester, (45x Saxon)
- 45th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Colchester, (24x FH-70)
- 9th/12th Royal Lancers, Wimbish, (48x FV107 Scimitar) (to 4th Armoured Division)
- 54th (East Anglian) Infantry Brigade, Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, Grantham, guards RAF/USAF bases
- 1st Btn, Royal Highland Fusiliers, Cambridge (71x FV432)
- Queen's Own Mercian Yeomanry (TA), Light Reconnaissance
- 3rd Btn, Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (TA), Newark-on-Trent
- 3rd Btn, Yorkshire Volunteers (TA), Huddersfield
- 4th Btn, Yorkshire Volunteers (TA), Sheffield
- 4th Btn, Parachute Regiment (TA), Leeds (to Parachute Regiment Group, 1st Armoured Division)
- 6th Btn, Royal Anglian Regiment (TA), Bury St Edmunds
- 16th Air Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery, Kirton in Lindsey (48x towed Rapier missile systems) (to 1st Artillery Brigade)
- North-Western District (Fulwood Barracks, Preston)
- 42nd (Northwest) Infantry Brigade, Chester, guards Merseyside Ports
- 3rd Btn, The Light Infantry, Blackpool, Light Role
- Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry (TA), Chorley, (80x Fox, 20x Spartan)
- 4th Btn, King's Own Royal Border Regiment (TA), Lancaster
- 5th/8th Btn, King's Regiment (TA), Warrington (to 4th Armoured Division)
- 3rd Btn, Cheshire Regiment (TA), Runcorn
- 103rd (V) Lancashire Artillery, Royal Artillery, Liverpool (64x Javelin) (to 1st Artillery Brigade)
- Scotland District (The Castle, Edinburgh)
- 51st (Highland) Infantry Brigade, Perth, guards the Northern Scottish RAF bases
- 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Brigade, Edinburgh, guards the Southern Scottish RAF bases
- 1st Btn, King's Own Scottish Borderers, Edinburgh, Light Role
- 1st Btn, 52nd Lowland Volunteers (TA), Glasgow (to 4th Armoured Division)
- 2nd Btn, 52nd Lowland Volunteers (TA), Edinburgh
- 15th Btn, Parachute Regiment (TA), Glasgow (to Parachute Regiment Group, 1st Armoured Division)
- 105th (V) Scottish) Air Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery, Edinburgh (80x Javelin) (to I British Corps)
- London District (Horse Guards, Whitehall)
- 56th (London) Infantry Brigade, London, home defence
- Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Hyde Park Barracks
- 1st Btn, Coldstream Guards, Wellington Barracks
- 1st Btn, Irish Guards, Chelsea Barracks
- 1st Btn, Welsh Guards, Victoria Barracks
- 2nd Btn, Grenadier Guards, Caterham Barracks
- 2nd Btn, Scots Guards, Cavalry Barracks
- Honourable Artillery Company, Finsbury (to Corps Patrol Unit, 1 (Br) Corps)
- 4th Btn, Royal Green Jackets (TA), London (to 1st Armoured Division)
- 8th (V) Btn, Queen's Fusiliers, Clapham (to 1st Artillery Brigade)
- 10th Btn, Parachute Regiment (TA), London (to Parachute Regiment Group, 1st Armoured Division)
- 101st (London) Engineer Regiment (V), London
- Western District (Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury)
- 143rd (West Midlands) Infantry Brigade, Shrewsbury, home defence
- 30th Engineer Brigade, Stafford (to BAOR)
- Wales (The Barracks, Brecon)
- 160th (Welsh) Infantry Brigade, Brecon, guards Welsh ports
- Special Air Service
- 11th Signal Brigade, Stafford (to BAOR)
- 31st (City of London) Signal Regiment (V), London
- 33rd (Lancashire & Cheshire) Signal Regiment (V), Huyton
- 34 (Northern) Signal Regiment (V), Leeds (to I British Corps)
- 35th (South Midland) Signal Regiment (V), Coventry
- 36 (Eastern) Signal Regiment (V), Cambridge (to I British Corps)
- 40 (Ulster) Signal Regiment (V), Belfast (to I British Corps)
- No. 666 Squadron AAC (7th Regt, Army Air Corps)
- Jersey Field Squadron (Royal Militia of the Island of Jersey)
The current structure is as follows:
- Commander Field Army: Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders
- 1st (United Kingdom) Division: Major General Ralph Wooddisse
- 3rd (United Kingdom) Division: Major-General Nick Borton
- Force Troops Command: Major General Tyrone Urch
- Regional Command: Major-General Richard Stanford
- British Forces Germany: Brigadier Ian Bell
- London District: Major General Benjamin Bathurst
- Joint Helicopter Command: Major-General Richard Felton
- 16 Air Assault Brigade
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces (Prior to November 2011)
- See Article Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces
Commander Land Forces (November 2011 to November 2015)
- November 2011 - December 2012 General Sir Nick Parker
- January 2013 - November 2013 Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Bradshaw
- November 2013 - Lieutenant-General Sir Nick Carter
- September 2014 - Lieutenant General Sir James Everard
Commander Field Army (Since November 2015)
- November 2015 - Lieutenant General Sir James Everard
- December 2016 - Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders
- Jane's Defence Weekly article in 1995 on Land Command
- HQ Land Forces on the move Archived 7 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Drumbeat, June 2008
- Andover becomes HQ Land Forces on 23 June Andover Advertiser, 29 April 2010
- Interim Joint Doctrine Publication 2
- Correspondence from Army Secretariat
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- Higher Command Archived 5 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- Higher Command Archived 19 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Ministry of Defence
- Defence equipment budget rises as Future Force takes shape - MOD, 18/07/11
- "Flag raised to signal new HQ Field Army". 23 November 2015. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "Letter from Army Headquarters" (PDF). Army Headquarters. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Lt Col Richard Quinlan, R Signals, HQ Theatre Troops, in News From Formations, The Wire, April 2003, p.127
- "Defence". Hansard. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- British Forces Germany
- HQ London District
- 11 Brigade will provide vital support to Afghan operations Archived 14 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
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- Royal Logistics Corps and Port logistics
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- Army Commands Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
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