The first announcement about Army 2020 Refine is out, and the news it brings are even worse than expected. General Carter apparently wants to shed Challenger 2 tanks quickly, before his successor can perhaps think again about it: the King's Royal Hussars will be put inside the first Strike Brigade, which can only mean losing Challenger 2 to get Ajax instead. Rushing the cut through is the only explanation for converting one of just 3 tank regiments before converting the cavalry formations that were due to get Ajax in the first place.
The Royal Lancers were planned to be the first regiment to get Ajax, and this statement throws that very much in doubt. Why should the few and precious Challenger 2s go out of the window before Scimitar does, considering that it is the latter that badly needs replacement and is supposed to be entirely gone by 2026?
There is no telling yet whether or not the armoured brigades will get their own cavalry regiment, and how Ajax will now be distributed and employed. Horribly, the Chief of Staff now openly calls it a "medium tank" in its video to the troops.
A MOD-supplied written evidence paper draws a line between "cavalry" (reconnaissance) Ajax regiment and "Medium Armour" regiment, with each Strike Brigade to have one of each.
What the actual differences will be isn't easy to guess. Unless the Army is in the budgetary position to resurrect the Medium Armour variant of the vehicle, which was to be armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, the key piece in either formation will be the same Ajax in Scout configuration. Same protection, same firepower. Same thing. The difference could thus be mostly about numbers, sub-variants distribution (the very few Joint Fires and Ground Based Surveillance vehicles would go to the recce cavalry, one would guess) and the number of Ares APCs and, consequently, of dismounts.
Of course, if the Army had the money to procure an actual "medium tank" or direct fire vehicle for the Strike Brigade it would probably purchase a wheeled one based on the MIV hull, so i don't expect Ajax Medium Armour to return. That means Scouts will become "medium tanks" by virtue of empty words. This is a lie that will break the army's back with this ill informed reform and that will one day cost lives if some politician unaware of what a tank is ever believes to the statement.
Due to the Christmas break, a video message to reach all our soldiers about the statement in Parliament today https://t.co/hURWkxiGxG pic.twitter.com/Jb6RPFRebR— Gen Nick Carter (@ArmyCGS) 15 dicembre 2016
The other Ajax regiment will be the Household Cavalry (no change, it was already going to be an Ajax regiment), with the infantry represented by the Scot Guards and 4 Scots. Both battalions were already planned as Mechanized infantry as part of Army 2020.
The Household will move out of Windsor, heading probably for Salisbury Plain, and the Welsh Guards will move in to replace them.
No clue to the identity of the brigade, but it seems pretty much certain that it'll be either one of the currently armoured brigades or 4 Brigade by virtue of its base already being Catterick.
20th Brigade is expected to remain in the Armoured role, leaving one between 1st and 12th.
Whether the RLC regiment(s) assigned to the Strike Brigades will be suitably restructured to give a bit of credibility to the talk of these brigades moving rapidly back and forth across as many as 2000 km on land to dominate "vast battlespaces" is an open question. The French have created combat companies within each logistic regiment so that they can self-escort and fight through, and this appears to be one of many key requisites for the Strike Brigade concept to make any kind of sense. We'll see if anything is done about it.
The direct mention of RLC units is interesting in itself, however: is the Army backtracking on its earlier decision to pull the supporting regiments out of the manoeuvre brigades? Is it true only for the Strike Brigades due to a "french-like" approach for them? We do not yet know, since nothing else is said about the shape of the Strike Brigade and even less about the future of the remaining Armoured brigades.
Strike BrigadeThe first Strike Brigade will operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and will be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1 Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units will be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.
UPDATE 23 December 2016:
Collating together the various news and an ORBAT table for the second Strike Brigade which the MOD passed along to Jane's, the intended structure for the two Strike Brigades is as follows in the tables:
Not yet sure about the identity of the first Strike Brigade. Having read bits of news confirming 20th and 1st in the armoured role, i'm personally convinced that it will come out of the current 12th Armoured Infantry brigade, but can't give this as a certainty yet.
I also don't yet know the identity of the medical regiment that will be aligned with the first Strike Brigade, although 3rd Regiment looks to me to be relatively well positioned for the role.
There is no official confirmation of 21 Engineer Regiment being assigned to the first Strike Brigade either, but being already based in the right place it seems an obvious pick.
UPDATE: the reserve tank regiment, Royal Wessex Yeomanry, a 3rd Division asset, is getting a modest uplift in manpower, in no way substitutive for the loss of a regular tank regiment.
Message from the Commanding Officer of the RWxY.
On Friday, the detail of Army 2020 Refine was announced. For our Regiment, it is excellent news that sees you and RWxY rewarded for all of your individual and collective efforts. You have demonstrated that the Reservist can train on and operate the CR2 platform with a success that has attracted CGS' attention. From 2017, the RWxY will continue to deliver the Armd Reinforcement Regt, but will also take on an additional Armd Replacement role. Y (RWY) Sqn is now a fully established sub unit on our orbat with the benefits of Perm Staff that that brings. Each Sqn will also grow in size by an additional tank crew per Troop. This will strengthen each of our Sqns by another 20 Officers and Soldiers. This is exactly what we asked for and have worked hard for.
UPDATE: 1st and 20th Brigade appear set for continuing in the armour role, which would make 12th and 4th brigades the most likely Strike Brigade identities.
UPDATE: with 3rd Rifles expected to move from Edinburgh to Catterick in 2021, we can assume it will be a mechanized infantry battalion within the second strike brigade, although there is no clear confirmation yet.
For sure, 1st YORKS is due for transition from Warrior to MIV in 2020. Remarkably (but unsurprisingly), the commanding officer himsef knows little of what is to come:
I have received orders yesterday confirming that 1 YORKS will redesignate to the Mech Inf role in 2020. The Bn is expected to relocate from WARMINSTER to CATTERICK in 2020.
At this time, we understand little about the detail of this change and I would encourage you not to speculate. I have been told that our establishment will grow, with bigger rifle platoons and a larger REME Light Aid Detachment. There is more work to come to confirm our mix of vehicles, which barracks we will occupy in Catterick and the finer details of the move.
The Fusiliers will retain the Armoured Infantry role on Warrior and will see their reserve battalion strenghtened:
First Fusiliers will remain in Tidworth in the Armoured Infantry role. Part of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade it will remain on the tip of the spear for the UK Reactive Force. Fifth Fusiliers will grow to incorporate MG Pl in Bury, A Company in Sheldon and C Company in Balham. This is a significant win and will see us once more with a Regimental C2 node in each of our recruiting areas. The Fifth Battalion will also become officially 'paired' with First Fusiliers, presenting further opportunities for training and operations.
UPDATE: Within 1st UK Division, the 1st Royal Irish will lose Foxhound and re-convert to Light Role, rebuilding the 3 platoons lost with the Army 2020 downsizing. It will also move to a new home which has yet to be chosen.
Basing: Barracks will close in 2022 and 1 R IRISH will move to a new location. There has been no decision yet as to where this will be.
Role and establishment: 1 R IRISH will convert to Light Role Infantry. The battalion will also increase in size, growing by 3 rifle platoons and some positions within the Quartermaster’s department. The regular/reserve partnership with 2 R IRISH will remain and 2 R IRISH will also grow by 3 platoons.
Infantry division affiliation: Both 1 and 2 R IRISH will remain under operational command of 1 (UK) Division. The administrative infantry division - which coordinates career management and appointments - will change. The Regiment will become part of a new infantry division, with the Royal Welsh & the Royal Regiment of Scotland. This new division will bring Regular and Reserve posting opportunities for our soldiers within the Armoured, Mechanised, Light Role and new Specialised Infantry career fields.
UPDATE: the Mercian regiment enjoys stability and will keep its two regular and one reserve battalions. It is also confirmed in the current roles, (1st battalion is Armoured Infantry and 2nd is Light Role).
Two battalions will be downsized and transformed into Defence Engagement / "Specialized Infantry" battalions during 2017:
The Royal Scots Borderers, 1 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Light Role) 4 Battalion The Rifles (Mechanized Infantry / Heavy Protected Mobility infantry)
4 Rifles is a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Army 2020, so a unit of 700 men. It'll be savagely slimmed down to 300 with excess manpower progressively redirected elsewhere.
Come 2019, they are due to be joined by
2 Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Light Role)2 Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (Light Role)
Let's recall Carter's words about the Specialised Infantry Battalions:
General Sir Nicholas Carter: Putting that smartly to one side, what it actually means goes back to when I talked about specialised infantry battalions in answer to the very first question. These creatures, which will only be about 300 strong, allow me—because they will be built from battalions that are 550 strong—to be able to reinvest over time the 250 saving which you make into the other infantry battalions around them to make them more resilient.
General Carter oral evidence to the Defence Committee
"Adjustements" are to follow within supporting units and it is here that the pain spikes up, as the Army seems to be rushing towards the loss of the capability to work to a "1 in 5" rule as it has so far. The pain hits all trades but the Signals, with regiments "rationalized" to feed what remains:
32 Royal Artillery (currently one of the 2 UAV regiments, alongside 47 RA)
35 Royal Engineer (currently an armoured engineer regiment)
2 Medical (Adaptable Force)
33 Field Hospital (one of only 3 regular field hospitals)
HQ 4 Regiment Royal Military Police
HQ 64 Works Group Royal Engineer
102 Logistic Brigade HQ will also be "rationalized" as had already been reported.
21 and 32 Engineer Regiments, based in Catterick, are in the intended "Strike Brigades" home, so they can expect a manpower, equipment and structure uplift as they feed on the remains of 35 Engineer Regiment. A number of Titan and Trojan will no doubt be lost as a consequence.
UPDATE: 35 Regiment will become the new EOD unit to be formed in the reserve.
In the artillery, the loss of 32 Regiment is curious, given that it currently operates Tactical Batteries equipped with the Desert Hawk III mini-drone. The UAV mission is not going away, i assume (you never know, in these days no decision is too insane, apparently...) so either 47 regiment will be enlarged to take on the totality of the UAV role or something else is brewing. Probably one of the other regiments will replace 32 RA in the role, i'm guessing. The selection of 32nd RA for disbandment is probably mostly tied to the fact that it will be easier to convert one of the gun regiments already in place for the Strike role.
UPDATE: 32 Regiment won't be cut before 2021. Until then, business largely as usual although the Force Generation cycle will change in 2019 to follow the army-wide change to a 2-brigades-at-readiness stance.
UPDATE: a letter from 1st Artillery Brigade HQ has been published that provides some more information about the future of the Artillery.
The Precision Fires Batteries that have been built within the heavy artillery regiments after 2010 and which are equipped with regular-crewed GMLRS and EXACTOR will be removed from the regiments and concentrated into Larkhill, under 26 Royal Artillery which becomes a Division Fires Regiment, with 101 Royal Artillery keeping the reserve GMLRS role.
26 Royal Artillery will take under command H Bty and 176 Bty, while its AS90s and Tac Group will be redistributed. The change of role comes in 2019. Equipment will be GMLRS and EXACTOR.
"Subject to further planning" 101 Regiment's future will be as follows: "Regimental liability will be reduced to better reflect a modern expeditionary division. The Regimental structure of 4x Sub Units and an RHQ will remain the same.
3 Royal Horse Artillery and 4 Royal Artillery will become the Strike regiments and a "new medium weight wheeled gun" will be put into service before 2025". STRIKE 155, the artillery programme for the Strike Brigades, maybe has a budget after all.
If i have to guess what will be picked, i say CAESAR or M777. If the Royal Artillery is extremely lucky, it will be able to purchase the proposed 8x8 CAESAR, which unlike the variant already in service in the Armee de Terre is a true self-propelled gun, automated and with no requirement for the crew to leave the armoured citadel. The BAE-Bofors Archer would be better, but cost and political considerations probably mean CAESAR is the favorite. It has also already been trialed by british gunners in several occasions.
Both regiments to be based in Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but 4 Royal Artillery will not move there before 2026.
|The CAESAR 8x8 with autoloader and increased protection and mobility, in a photo from Eurosatory by Army Recognition|
UPDATE: Jane's says it has been given a briefing about the new Army structure and is reporting that 3 RHA and 4 RA will lose their guns for good and that 155 STRIKE is not happening.
I have no reason to doubt of Jane's word, yet the report clashes with what the COs of both regiments have been saying in the last few days and also with the 1st Artillery Brigade's letter to the troops.
The COs messages:
4th Royal Artillery
Army HQ has confirmed that 4 Regt RA will convert to become a STRIKE close support artillery regiment. This means that over the next 10 years or so our Light Guns will be replaced by a new medium weight gun and our tac gps will be mounted in a combination of brand new wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles. This is great news and an exciting time for the Regiment! The Army has also confirmed that we will arms plot to Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but NOT BEFORE 2026. Full details will be briefed to the Regiment in the New Year. This announcement brings stability in the short term and some fantastic opportunities in the longer term.
3rd Royal Horse Artillery
The Army 2020 Refine announcements will hit the press in the next couple of days. We have time scheduled in the New Year to brief in detail, but I wanted you to know the headlines for Our Regiment now:
- 3 RHA will stay in Albemarle Barracks. 4 Regt RA will join us here in around 10 years time.
- We will become a Strike Regiment, affiliated to a Strike Brigade. I'll brief you in more detail on this but essentially we retain the same capabilities but grow a little.
- PF will move South in 2019. We will fully support our Gunner brethren in the interim and in the move.
- Training programmes will change slightly to enable us to more efficiently support affiliated Brigades.
That's all you need to know for now, it's all good and the Mighty Third goes from strength to strength. More to follow, and have a great Christmas and New Year!
Note that, whatever happens to 3 RHA and 4 RA, the regiments will indeed not be organic to the Strike Brigades: they are part of 1st Artillery Brigade and only "aligned" to the Strike Brigades. The same is true of 1st RHA and 19 RA in the Heavy role.
Also note that Jane's talks of a reduction from 6 L118 regiment to 4. This is again puzzling: the british army has 4 regular and 2 reserve L118 regiments, so it would in theory go down to 4 if the guns are removed from 3 RHA and 4 RA. But since 104 RA is being converted to L118, we get back to 5.
Somewhere, there are misunderstandings at play here.
If Jane's is right, the Royal Artillery officers and units have been fed with horribly inaccurate information in these days.
What i think can be said with confidence at this point is that the Army 2020 Refine "announcement" is a monstrosity, a crime and a complete failure. The CDS posted a useless two minutes video on Twitter and provided no information at all; the secretary of state provided a statement completely devoid of detail and officers have been left in the dark. In the last few days there have been COs writing that they literally don't know what is going to happen to their units and that they were looking into the announcement.
This is amateurish at best, and criminal at worst. This is not how you deliver such important news to thousands of families and to the country.
UPDATE 22 December 2016: 3 RHA reaffirms that it and 4 RA will field guns and that STRIKE 155 is funded.
Just to make you aware, there is an article circulating that suggests that ourselves and 4 Regt RA will not be equipped with guns under the A2020R structure.
The journalist has got his facts wrong and the Chain of Command may consider a rebuttal or correction to the story. Rest assured, A2020R structures see us still equipped with guns as part of our larger Joint Fires Orbat, and the Gunners have a funded medium-weight gun capability to replace Light Gun.
103 Royal Artillery will stay as a Close Support gun regiment, paired with 4 Royal Artillery.
105 will continue to support 3 Royal Horse Artillery.
104 Royal Artillery, currently the reserve ISR / mini-UAV regiment will convert to the Light Gun. Again, this is the biggest surprise in the plan for me. I did not expect the ISR component to suffer, and now the question is how the capability will maintained in the future. Apparently, nobody yet knows what (if anything) comes after Desert Hawk III in 2021, and there is a need for "resilience" in the Close Support role right now.
It has now been confirmed that as part of the Army’s reorganisation, 104 Regiment RA will be re-designated as a Reserve Close Support (CS) artillery regiment and will re-role to light gun. This will take place from 2017 (date tbc) and will see the Regiment re-subordinate to 1 Artillery Brigade and provide support to an Armoured Infantry Brigade. The construct of the Regiment will remain unchanged with a HQ Battery and 4 equipment batteries and there are no associated basing implications (less those already announced concerning the Royal Citadel and 289 Tp). In due course we will be paired with a yet to be confirmed Regular CS Regiment.
Many of you will no doubt be asking what has brought about this change. Simply put, it is because the wider restructure of the Army, and the rationale underpinning aspects of that change, requires a Reserve component structured to meet the demands of a modernised expeditionary division. For us as a Regiment, at a time when the delivery of future MUAS capability was still to be determined and the need to enhance resilience in CS artillery was apparent, redesignation was the most sensible course of action. As we look forward, it is also opportune to reflect and you should all be immensely proud of what has been achieved both on operations and in training as a MUAS regiment. Make no mistake, you have proven the provision of MUAS capability was well within your gift.
UPDATE: My personal attempt to divine the new role of 104 Regiment leads me to guess that it might provide reserve support to 29 Commando and 7 RHA. Both regiments are known to need such support: 7 RHA has recently formed a reserve gun troop within the Honourable Artillery Company and 29 Commando was looking at the possibility of forming its own Reserve troop.
Of course, if 3 RHA and 4 RA truly do lose their guns, the role of the reserve Close Support regiments will get even more demanding and vast.
1 Royal Horse Artillery and 19 Royal Artillery will stay in the armoured role and will keep AS90. 3 batteries each, apparently re-absorbing the Tac Group battery within the gun batteries and the wider artillery brigade. 1 RHA will lose H Bty to 26 RA and L Bty (Tac Gp Bty) to 3 RHA, but not before 2019.
Exactly how it all will work out is all to be seen, but a cut to the number of AS90 is assured as one armoured brigade vanishes. Hopefully GMLRS will escape undamaged by virtue of 26 Royal Artillery becoming a Div Fires regiment.
|The letter provides hints of what happens to the Royal Artillery|
UPDATE: regarding the Royal Signals, there is no certainty yet that there won't be cut backs, but there should not be. The 5 multi-role signal regiments are barely enough to assign one to 3rd Division HQ and one each to the major brigades, so i wouldn't expect cuts. General Carter also went on record saying that they would "think long and hard" about how to improve manpower figures for the key signal brigades, so he is at least aware that this area is particularly problematic.
Announcements on the future of the Royal Signals might have to wait until sometime in early 2017 when the "Information Manoeuvre Command" is expected to stand up to manage all things Signal, ISR, Cyber.
Only the reserve gets somewhat good news. 3 REME battalions (104, 105 and 106) will be rationalised, but two new infantry and one EOD regiments will be formed beginning next year.
UPDATE: 105 REME battalion will change name and will be restructured into a new "101 Theatre Support Battalion", tasked with supporting 5 TSB REME, a regular unit supporting 3rd UK Division.
105 Battalion REME will change its name to 101 Theatre Support Battalion in 2019 (the name 105 will cease to be used, as will 104 and 106). It’s new role will be to support 5 Theatre Support Battalion REME in the regeneration of theatre-level equipment during a time of war.It will consist of Bn HQ and four sub-unit locations (names not yet known) as follows:
HQ 101 Bn REME will be in KEYNSHAM
Sub unit 1: BRIDGEND & GLOUCESTER Sub-unit 2: SWINDON & BRISTOLSub-unit 3: LIVERPOOL & BELFASTSub-unit 4: TELFORD & WEST BROMWICH
UPDATE: apparently, the Strike Brigades will, for whatever reason, be supported by a "super" CSS regiment formed by merging one RLC and one REME battalions.
One such regiment will be formed by 2 REME and 27 RLC, according to reports by The Courier. 2 REME will apparently become part of a regiment in combination with 27 RLC in 2021, but it'll be 2030 before the REME element leaves Leuchars to join the rest of the unit in Catterick.
The other CSS regiment should at this point be born out of 1 RLC and 1 REME. The ministerial statements name both units as parts of the 1st Strike Brigade but fails to mention the merging.
The merge of RLC and REME does not seem to extend to the rest of the Army. Support to the armoured brigades seem set to stay "in traditional format".
7 RLC and 6 RLC will transit into 101 Logistic Brigade, presumably to become Force Support elements for 3rd UK Division:
The Army 2020 Refine (A2020R) results are out. The key points are:- 7 Regt will continue to exist under A2020R.- It will remain in Cottesmore until 2029, when it is due to move to Topcliffe (near Dishforth).- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019.- The detailed structure and role are still being worked on but will likely require only a small adjustment.
- 6 Regt will continue to exist in the future.- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019 (102 Log Bde will disband).- The Regt will remain in Dishforth until 2030 when it will move to Topcliffe along with 7 Regt RLC.
I've seen suggestions that 9 RLC will move to 104 Logistic Brigade instead, but i have no way to confirm this as of now.
Army Reserves. As part of our continued investment in the Army Reserve we will build on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 plan. We will optimise reserve structures to better support the modernised division, embed the successful pairing of regular and reserve units and increase the number of reserve combat units supporting the division. As a result, two new reserve infantry battalions will be created from 2017. These are 4 Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 8 Battalion The Rifles. A new reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) regiment will also be created.
4th PWRR is expected to be formed around one company taken from the LONDONS and two newly formed companies:
B Coy LONDONS
A Coy Farnham
HQ Crawley from REME
New Coys Portsmouth and Southampton
The London Regiment will take back a company from 7 Rifles and create a new one to make up for the losses, It will also be more formally aligned with the Guards battalions:
B and C Companies will transfer next year to, respectively, a new 4th Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. In partial replacement, we will welcome back F Company 7th Battalion The Rifles in 2017 as an integral part of the Regiment. We have also been tasked to generate a new company next year, in a new location, which raises exciting possibilities.The reformed London Regiment will retain its historic name but will become known colloquially as the ‘Guards Reserve Battalion’ and will become a single-capbadge Regiment, grouped within the Foot Guards Division of Infantry.
8 RIFLES will include existing RIFLES reserve elements in the North East, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Birmingham.
A number of batteries, squadrons and companies across the army are going to re-subordinate over the next few years and at the moment it is not possible to track all moves from outside.
Changes are coming in the Administrative infantry divisions as well, with regiments being grouped differently:
Renaming of administrative structures The introduction of the Specialised Infantry capability will mean some reorganisation of the infantry divisional structure, within which infantry regiments are administered, from seven to six divisions. The Scottish and The Prince of Wales’s Administrative Divisions of Infantry will merge, incorporating The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Welsh Regiment and The Royal Irish Regiment. This administrative division will be called The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division. The Mercian Regiment from the Prince of Wales’s Division will join with the King’s Division. Army administrative divisions of infantry are the groupings within which the Army manages its infantry soldiers and officers to give them the necessary broad spread of relevant career experience from across a number of different units and activities. They have no operational role. There will be no changes to the names or regimental construct of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Mercian Regiment, The Royal Welsh Regiment, or The Royal Irish Regiment as a result of these administrative changes.
A lot of things continue to be shrouded in mystery and we've not heard the last of the bad news for sure. The prominent thing that emerges so far is CUTS. Regiments, tanks, heavy artillery. All cut back.
And this is just the beginning. A bad one.
UPDATE 27 December: Army 2020 Refine's big day is January 17, when CDS is planned to finally unveil the new "Land Operations" doctrine. Not clear how public that will be, but hopefully some information will be released.
Briefings for the army personnel seem scheduled to begin from 4 january.