Commander Field Army

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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 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.

History and prospects[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2] It moved from Erskine Barracks to the former RAF Andover site now known as Marlborough Lines on 23 June 2010.[3]

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).[4]

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[5] and known as "Army Headquarters".[6][7] 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.[8] The post of Commander-in-Chief ceased to exist.[6]

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:[9]

  • 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. Therefore, it is planned that 19 (Light) Brigade, stationed in Northern Ireland, will be disbanded.
  • 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.[10]

Elements of the organisation[edit]

Divisions and Districts[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[9]

British Forces Germany forms the district HQ for personnel based in Germany that are not attached to 1st Armoured Division.[13]

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.[14]


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 MOD 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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17]

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."[18]

UK Land Forces formations, December 1989[edit]

In December 1989, Headquarters UK Land Forces at Wilton directed field forces through a three-star's command, UK Field Army.[19] 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.

Current formation[edit]

The current structure is as follows:[20]

Previous Commanders[edit]

Prior to November 2011

Current Commanders[edit]

Since November 2011

Commander Field Army

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly article in 1995 on Land Command
  2. ^ HQ Land Forces on the move Drumbeat, June 2008
  3. ^ Andover becomes HQ Land Forces on 23 June Andover Advertiser, 29 April 2010
  4. ^ Interim Joint Doctrine Publication 2
  5. ^ Correspondence from Army Secretariat
  6. ^ a b Army Command reorganization Defence Marketing Intelligence, 10 November 2011
  7. ^ Higher Command
  8. ^ Higher Command Ministry of Defence
  9. ^ a b Defence equipment budget rises as Future Force takes shape - MOD, 18/07/11
  10. ^ "Flag raised to signal new HQ Field Army". 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  11. ^ Lt Col Richard Quinlan, R Signals, HQ Theatre Troops, in News From Formations, The Wire, April 2003, p.127
  12. ^ "Defence". Hansard. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  13. ^ British Forces Germany
  14. ^ HQ London District
  15. ^ 11 Brigade will provide vital support to Afghan operations
  16. ^ Hansard 24/02/03
  17. ^ Royal Logistics Corps and Port logistics
  18. ^ The Army 2020 Structure
  19. ^ Army Commands
  20. ^ "Army 2020 Report" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Defence Viewpoints, Up and Out: Promotions, leavers, new jobs May 2012

External links[edit]