Learning from how our Allies’ armies are organized

By Thomas C. Theiner

A controversial but interesting guest article that looks at how various NATO alliance members and partners organise their armies to suggest ways in which the British Army could deliver more combat power within its existing headcount cap.

Learning from how our Allies’ armies are organized

What the British Army can learn from how other NATO ground forces are organized?

Currently the UK Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of its foreign policy, overseas development, defence and security needs. If recent press articles are anything to go by, it would be easy to assume that the only object of the integrated Review is to work out how to further hollow-out Britain’s Armed Forces. Leaked suggestions include a reduction in aircraft numbers for the Royal Air Force, and the retirement of the Army’s main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. Although there has been talk of a new class of Royal Navy frigates, the Type 32, there are not enough sailors to crew them.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, it had become clear that the ambitious modernization plans of all three services were increasingly unaffordable and unsustainable. It is not clear where economies will be made, but reducing critical mass is a high risk option as the world becomes more volatile and unstable. It takes a decade or more to bring new warships into service. It takes even longer to introduce new combat aircraft. And, so far, it is taking forever for the British Army to upgrade Warrior and Challenger and bring Ajax and Boxer into service. Should any of these capabilities be lost or gapped, it would take a generation to restore them.

If the UK further reduces its armed forces, the RAF, which is already smaller than the Italian and French air forces, would fall behind the German Air Force. The Royal Navy, which until now has had the largest fleet in Europe, would fall behind the French and Italian navies. And, the British Army, which is already smaller than the Ukraine, French, Italian, and Greek armies, would fall behind the Spanish and Polish armies; all of which field generous quantities of tanks and IFVs.

With Brexit, the UK has given up its seat at the table of the European Union, leaving the UK’s membership of NATO as the last European organization where the UK can, through its commitments and loyalty, influence relationships with its neighbours. Reducing these commitments to a few helicopters, limited cyber warfare capabilities, and a handful light infantry battalions, would reduce the UK’s credibility on the continent. NATO expects the UK to contribute an armoured division so that Europe as a whole can provide credible land forces capable of deterring aggression. The USA also expects the UK to contribute an armoured division for the same reason and to preserve the special relationship.

If Poland, with a GDP that is a fifth of the UK’s, can field four armoured divisions. if Hungary, with a GDP that is one-sixteenth of the UK’s. can acquire Leopard 2A7+ tanks, KF41 Lynx IFVs, and PzH 2000 howitzers. If France, which, like the UK maintains a submarine-based nuclear deterrent, can field six over-strength brigades, and easily bring into service a steady stream of new equipment, then the problem of the British Armed Forces isn’t a lack of money, the problem is deeper – it is structural. To prove this, we need to look at the organisation and structure of the British Army’s divisions.

How British divisions compare to allied divisions

1st UK Division

The graphic depicts the envisioned structure of the 1st UK Division under Army 2020 Refine.

Looking at the structure of the division a few points make themselves glaringly obvious:

  • No artillery
  • No logistic support 
  • No organic artillery
  • A mix of active and reserve units
  • An over-reliance on reserve units to filed regular units
  • The army’s entire medical component is part of the division
  • Two brigades are understrength
  • All four infantry brigades double as administrative / territorial command

In short, the 1st UK Division is an administrative formation for infantry and cavalry units that have no clear operational role and that supports other miscellaneous units that don’t fit in any other division.

3rd UK Division

The graphic depicts the envisioned structure of the 3rd UK Division under Army 2020 Refine. With eight brigades and two multi-battalion groups, it’s the largest division in NATO, but not the most powerful division in NATO.

Looking at the structure of the division a few points make themselves glaringly obvious:

  • The most complex structure of any division in NATO
  • A mix of active and reserve units
  • A mix of tracked and wheeled battalions in the two strike brigades
  • A mix of operational, administrative and regional functions
  • An overabundance of logistic and maintenance units

Besides combat brigades and support brigades, the division also has tactical command of 1st Military Police Brigade – specifically 1st and 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police, but military police investigations are the responsibility of the Chief of the General Staff, while administrative control of other Royal Military Police Brigade units is under Regional Command. It’s a soup with three cooks, with no operational value for 3rd UK Division, but it is attached to 3rd UK Division, because the British Army didn’t know where else to stick it.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_units_and_formations_of_the_British_Army_2020

Now let’s compare these two divisions to divisions of allied nations.

US Army

The US Army fields ten divisions with three types of brigades: heavy, medium and light. The eleven heavy or armoured brigades are tracked formations with M1A2 SEP Abrams tanks, M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles, and M109 self-propelled howitzers. The seven medium brigades are equipped with wheeled Stryker vehicles and towed howitzers, while the 13 light brigades (five airborne, five light, three air assault) are in the process of receiving the wheeled Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Each brigades consists of a Headquarters Company, a cavalry reconnaissance squadron, three maneuver battalions, a field artillery battalion, an engineer battalion, which includes the brigade’s signal and military intelligence companies, and a brigade support battalion, which fields ten companies that provide logistical, maintenance, transport and medical support to the brigade. No brigade mixes wheeled and tracked vehicles, and no brigade mixes active, National Guard and reserve battalions.1

Unlike all other NATO armies, each US division fields a Combat Aviation Brigade with an assortment of Apache, Black Hawk, and Chinook helicopters, plus Grey Eagle and Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles. At divisional level, there is centralised  coordination and mission command for the training of the division’s field artillery units, plus a sustainment brigade to provide logistic support.

This organization is consistent across all US divisions2, which all field six brigade headquarters and headquarters companies, and 29 battalions.

1 Three light brigades based outside the continental United States, the 2nd and 3rd brigades of the 25th infantry Division in Hawaii, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy consist of two instead of three maneuver battalions, and therefore have each one Army Reserve or National Guard infantry battalion associated for training purposes. Likewise three National Guard brigades are associated with three active divisions in a test program, which runs since 2016.

2 Except the 1st Infantry Division, which is short of one brigade, and the 25th infantry Division, which fields four brigades, including a two-maneuver battalion airborne brigade in Alaska.

Example: 1st Armored Division

Each brigade of the 1st Armored Division fields all the units it needs to deploy and fight. The command structure is clear. Each brigade is equipped exclusively with tracked vehicles. In total, a heavy US division fields 264 M1A2 SEP main battle tanks. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

Additional field artillery, engineer, air defense, military police, sustainment, medical, etc. assets are grouped in brigades at corps level. Tactical intelligence is provided by Military Intelligence Brigade at corps level, which combine unmanned aerial vehicles, signals intelligence, human intelligence and long range surveillance patrols. The Army Reserve provides additional combat support, combat service support, medical, sustainment, etc. formations.

The Army National Guard fields eight divisions, which after federalization and an intense training period would nearly double the army in times of a crisis. Currently the National Guard fields five heavy (armored), two medium (Stryker), and 20 light brigades. Besides these combat formations, the National Guard fields nearly 40 support brigades.

French Army

The French Army fields two divisions with three types of brigades: heavy, medium and light. The two heavy and two medium brigades share (partially) the wheeled VBCI infantry fighting vehicle. The medium and the two light brigades share the wheeled AMX-10 RC reconnaissance vehicle and the VAB armoured personnel carrier, which are being replaced by the EBRC Jaguar respectively the VBMR Griffon. In addition to the units assigned to each division, the French Army also fields eight regiments and three battalions permanently deployed overseas, which together are comprised of more than 6,000 troops. 

Each brigade3 consists of a Command & Signal Company, five manoeuvre regiments4, a field artillery regiment, an engineer regiment, and an Initial Military Formation Centre (CFIM), which provides the practical training for the brigade’s recruits. Each regiment includes a Command & Logistics Company, which provides first-line signals, supply, maintenance and medical support to the regiment. The six regiments of the Logistic Support Command and the six regiments of the Maintenance Command provide the second- and third-line logistic support for the six brigades. In total French divisions field 29 regiments and battalions (CFIMs).

With the exception of the 11th Paratroopers Brigade, which includes the Airborne Troops School and the 1st Paratroopers Logistic Regiment.

4 With the exception of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade, which fields four manoeuvre units and includes the Military Mountain School and the Mountain Acclimatization Grouping.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_French_Army

Example: 3e Division 

The 3e Division, like the 1er Division, fields a heavy, a medium, and a light brigade. Each tank regiment fields 51 Leclerc main battle tanks. Infantry in wheeled VBCI infantry fighting vehicles with 25mm auto cannons support the heavy brigade’s tank regiments. As the VBCI can self-deploy the French Army is able to transport an entire heavy brigade’s complement of tracked vehicles in one go. The last tracked AMX AuF1 Howitzer will be replaced by 32 wheeled CAESAR 8×8 howitzers, further improving the mobility of the heavy brigades.

Medium brigades are equipped entirely with wheeled vehicles. More than 90 AMX-10 RC reconnaissance vehicles provide organic firepower. Each medium brigade fields one VBCI equipped infantry regiment and two infantry regiments with VAB armored personnel carriers, which are being replaced by VBMR Griffon armored vehicles. In the future EBRC Jaguar vehicles with 40mm CT40 cannon and two MMP anti-tank guided missiles will provide the medium brigade’s organic firepower. Artillery support is provided by wheeled CAESAR howitzers and towed 120mm mortars.

Light brigades are equipped with VAB armored personnel carriers (to be replaced with VBMR Griffon), CAESAR howitzers, and in case of the 27th Mountain Brigade, tracked Hägglunds Bv206S and BvS10. Organic firepower is provided by AMX-10 RC and ERC 90 Sagaie vehicles, which are being replaced by the EBRC Jaguar.

All regiments are over-strength; i.e. as well as having a full complement of tanks, armoured regiments also have either two brigade reconnaissance companies or two VBCI infantry companies, while infantry regiments each field between 1,200 to 1,300 troops.

The Light Aviation Command’s 4th Air-Combat Brigade provides aerial Support, while additional signals units are grouped in the Information and Communication Systems Command. Tactical Intelligence is provided by the Intelligence Command, which combines unmanned aerial vehicles, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, human intelligence, long range surveillance patrols and psychological operations.

All territorial or administrative functions are assigned to the Territorial Zones Command or the National Territorial Command. Most regiments field a reserve company consisting of recently discharged soldiers, which could be called up if a unit has to deploy and falls short of it assigned manpower. The command structure is clear and even though the logistic support units are not permanently assigned to the brigades, each support unit is permanently associated with one of the brigades.

German Army

The German Army fields three divisions with: five heavy brigades, a Special Forces command, a mountain infantry brigade and a paratroopers brigade, the latter two being unique in their structure and equipment. All heavy brigades field a Staff and Signal Company, a reconnaissance battalion, three to four maneuver battalions, an armored engineer battalion, and a support battalion. Each German Army battalion fields a Supply and Support Company, which consists of a headquarters, a signal, a supply, a maintenance, and a quartermaster platoon.

On 17 October 2005 the German Army merged its Supply Troops, Maintenance Troops, and Transport Units to form the Army Logistic Troops, which today provide one support battalion for each brigade, respectively one support company for each of the army’s two paratrooper regiments. With 1,000 to 1,300 troops the support battalions are the largest battalions of the German Army.

The Rapid Forces Division consists of the army’s high readiness units: 1st Airborne Brigade, Special Forces Command and the army’s helicopter assets. Additional 3rd-line logistic battalions are assigned to the Joint Support Service, which also includes the military police, CBRN-defense and the Territorial Tasks Command. The Joint Medical Service provides medical regiments to the army’s divisions, while the Cyber and Information Domain Service provides signal and electronic warfare battalions. The army disbanded all its air defense units in 2012 and the equipment was transferred to the Air Force’s 1st Air Defense Missile Wing, which maintains units destined to support deploying army divisions.

The two heavy German divisions field: 21 respectively 22 battalions, including each a partially active bridge engineer battalion.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_German_Army

Example: 10th Panzer Division

The two heavy brigades of the 10th Panzer Division are fully tracked units, which field 

three respectively four maneuver battalions. The 909th Panzergrenadier Battalion is an Ergänzungstruppenteil – an administrative unit managed by the 371st Panzergrenadier Battalion with discharged Panzergrenadiers being assigned to the 909th as possible augmentation personnel if a Panzergrenadier battalion should have to deploy without having its full complement of troops.

The 8th Mountain Panzer Battalion has been reduced to an Ergänzungstruppenteil after the activation of the 414th Panzer Battalion in 2016 and the 363rd Panzer Battalion in 2019, which limited the number of available tanks. With the ongoing increase of the army’s Leopard 2A7V fleet from 224 to 328 the 8th Mountain Panzer Battalion is planned to return to operational service by 2023, with the army then fielding six Panzer battalions (plus the Dutch / German 414th Panzer battalion) and nine Puma infantry fighting vehicle equipped Panzergrenadier battalions.

The 23rd Mountain Infantry Brigade fields one wheeled Boxer equipped battalion, and two tracked Wiesel 1 and Bv206S equipped battalions. The two 1,800 men strong paratrooper regiments of the 1st Airborne Brigade are equipped with Wiesel 1 and Bv206S vehicles. Thus Germany does not field a medium brigade – the army’s  remaining five Boxer units are assigned to the three heavy brigades of the 1st Panzer Division respectively the Franco-German Brigade. This brigade is also the only brigade with organic artillery – two batteries with eight PzH 2000 each and one battery with eight M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

Three artillery battalions provide artillery support to the two heavy divisions, with the battalions fielding between three and five batteries with eight PzH 2000 each and one MLRS battery with eight M270.

The command structure of the division is clear. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units need to be assembled before the division can deploy. Powerful divisional artillery battalions compensate for the lack of organic artillery in the brigades.

Italian Army

The Italian Army fields two divisions. A third division can be activated from personnel of the Alpine Troops Command. The divisions field three types of brigades: heavy, medium and light, as well as a cavalry brigade and an air assault brigade.

Due to a lack of money, one of the three heavy brigades and one of the three medium brigades aren’t fully manned and equipped yet. The remaining seven brigades of the army field a Command & Tactical Supports Unit, a cavalry reconnaissance regiment, three maneuver regiments, an artillery regiment, an engineer regiment, and a logistic regiment. Each regiment fields a Command and Logistic Support Company, with a signals, medical, transport and maintenance, and quartermaster platoon.

The two heavy Ariete and Garibaldi brigades are equipped with Ariete tanks, tracked Dardo infantry fighting vehicles and PzH 2000 Howitzers. The planned third heavy Granatieri di Sardegna brigade is understrength until the army finds the funds to acquire 257 main battle tanks as replacement for the current 200 Ariete tanks.

The two medium Aosta and Pinerolo brigades are equipped with wheeled Freccia infantry fighting vehicles with 25mm auto cannon and FH-70 towed howitzers, which the army hopes to replace with a wheeled 155mm howitzer. The planned third medium Sassari brigade is continuing to expand, but for lack of funds only one regiment is currently equipped with Freccia vehicles.

The three light Folgore, Julia and Tridentina brigades are fully manned and equipped with VTLM Lince vehicles and FH-70 towed howitzers.

The remaining two brigades, the Cavalry Brigade “Pozzuolo del Friuli” and the Airmobile Brigade “Friuli” stand apart as the Pozzuolo is the army’s contribution to the National Sea Projection Capability, with the Navy providing the brigade’s two missing infantry battalions, while the Friuli is the army’s combined helicopter attack / helicopter assault formation.

Each cavalry reconnaissance regiment fields 30 Centauro tank destroyers, which are being replaced by 14 Centauro II tank destroyers and 12 Freccia EVO Reconnaissance vehicles. The brigade logistic support regiments field a regimental Command and Logistic Support Company, and a brigade Supply Company, Maintenance Company, and Transport Company.

For operations the divisions can be reinforced by units from five administrative commands (Artillery, Anti-aircraft Artillery, Engineers, Signals, Logistic), which combine the training, development and administrative functions of their corps, with the oversight over divisional and corps-level regiments, i.e the non-deployable Engineer Command administers the Engineer Corps, runs the Engineer School, trains the troops destined for the army’s engineer regiments and oversees four division/corps level engineer formations (2nd Bridging Regiment, 6th Pioneer Regiment, Railway Engineer Regiment, and the CIMIC Group).

Additionally the army fields an Army Aviation Brigade and a Tactical Intelligence Brigade, the latter of which combines unmanned aerial vehicles, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, and human intelligence.

In total, the two Italian divisions field 27 and 34 regiments / units respectively. 

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_Italian_Army

Division “Acqui”

The Division “Acqui” controls the five brigades in Southern Italy: two fully manned medium and one fully manned heavy brigade, as well as an understaffed medium and an understaffed heavy brigade. In 2019 the medium Brigade “Sassari” added its logistic regiment and received its first Freccia IFVs, but it still lacks its cavalry reconnaissance and artillery regiment.

The Division “Vittorio Veneto” controls four brigades in Northern Italy: the light Paratroopers Brigade “Folgore”, the heavy Armored Brigade “Ariete”, and the aforementioned “Friuli” and “Pozzuolo del Friuli” Brigades.

The light alpine brigades “Julia” and “Tridentina” are assigned to the Alpine Troops Command.

Each of the seven fully manned brigades fields all units needed to deploy and fight. The command structure of both divisions is clear. Each light and medium brigade is equipped exclusively with wheeled vehicles, while the heavy brigades’ only wheeled formation is their cavalry reconnaissance regiment – at least until the army begins to introduce the first of the planned 661 new tracked armored combat vehicles. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

Polish Army

The Polish Army fields four divisions5 with two types of brigades: heavy and medium. The ten heavy brigades field a command battalion, three maneuver battalions, a self-propelled artillery group, an anti-aircraft group, a reconnaissance company, a sapper company6, and a logistic battalion. Heavy brigades are equipped with main battle tanks (Leopard 2A4/5, PT-91 Twardy, T-72M1Z), BWP-1 tracked infantry fighting vehicles and 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm self-propelled howitzers. All Leopard 2 tanks will be upgraded to Leopard 2PL, while the Gvozdika will be replaced by tracked AHS Krab 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The Polish Army plans to replace its obsolete BWP-1 with up to 1,600 Borsuk IFVs from 2022 and a development program to replace the army’s PT-91 Twardy and T-72M1Z  tanks is underway.

The medium 12th and 16th mechanized brigades field a Command Battalion, three maneuver battalions, a self-propelled artillery group, an anti-aircraft group, a sapper battalion, a reconnaissance company, and a logistic battalion. The three maneuver battalions are equipped with wheeled KTO Rosomak infantry fighting vehicles, with 30mm Bushmaster II auto cannons; the field artillery group with 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm self-propelled howitzers, which will be replaced by wheeled AHS Kryl 155mm self-propelled howitzers.

Eight infantry battalions have already received eight wheeled, automatically loaded M120 Rak 120mm mortars, with a further seven battalions scheduled to receive the wheeled variant and the remaining nine battalions a tracked variant.

Furthermore each division7 fields an artillery regiment, an anti-aircraft regiment and a logistic regiment. The artillery regiments field a command battery, four artillery groups, a sapper company and a logistic battalion. Currently the artillery groups are equipped with wheeled SpGH DANA 152mm and tracked AHS Krab 155mm self-propelled howitzers, and WR-40 Langusta, RM-70, and BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS). The AHS Kryl will replace the DANA howitzers and the three types of MLRS will be replaced by up to 160 HIMARS systems.

The anti-aircraft regiments field a command battery, three to four anti-aircraft groups, and a logistic battalion. As the Polish Air Force fields only 48 modern fighter jets, the army fields this large number of air-defense units to defend its forces from potential Russian air attacks. A development programs to replace the Soviet era Kub and Osa systems of the anti-aircraft groups is underway.

The logistic regiments field a command company, maintenance battalion, transport battalion, supply battalion and medical support group.

The army’s rapid response formation are the 6th Airborne Brigade and the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade, the latter combines airmobile infantry and transport helicopters. The 1st Aviation Brigade fields the army’s attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. A program to replace the army’s 48 Soviet-era attack helicopters with at least 32 news ones is underway.

Three reconnaissance regiments, two CBRN-defense regiments, four engineer regiments, two field hospitals (with three field hospital groups each), a Signals Intelligence Centre and a PSYOPS Group support the four divisions. 2nd and 3rd line logistic support is provided by the 1st Logistic Brigade and the 10th Logistic Brigade.

The Polish Army is supported by the Territorial Defense Force, which has an authorized strength of 53,000 troops and fields approximately 70 light infantry battalions for territorial defense and rear area security. 

In total each Polish divisions fields 36 to 37 battalions and nine companies. 

The 18th Mechanized Division is still forming and will be fully operational by 2022.

The 15th Mechanized Brigade and 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade field a Sapper Battalion.

The 18th Mechanized Division’s artillery and anti-aircraft regiments are still forming.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_structure_of_the_Polish_Land_Forces

11th Armored Cavalry Division

The 11th Armored Cavalry Division is based in Southwestern Poland along the German border. Together with the 12th Mechanized Division the 11th forms the Polish army’s reserve. Unlike the 16th Mechanized Division (along the border with Kaliningrad) and the 18th Mechanized Division (between Belarus and Warsaw), which both field only heavy brigades, the 11th and 12th divisions field a medium brigade capable of self-deploying to the East.

Each brigade fields all the units it needs to deploy and fight. The command structure is clear. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

Spanish Army

The Spanish Army fields the Division “Castillejos” and the Division “San Marcial”. Until January 2020 the Castillejos fielded three medium brigades, with a fourth medium brigade based in the Canary Islands, while the San Marcial fielded four heavy brigades. Two additional brigade sized formations are based in the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Mellila.

As part of the ongoing army reform the Castillejos will take command of all brigades, with the exception of the XVI Brigade “Canarias” in the Canary Islands, while the San Marcial will take command of the army’s high readiness formations: the medium VI Paratroopers Brigade “Almogávares”, the Special Operations Command, and the Army’s Airmobile Forces.

The Spanish Army fields only two types of brigade: heavy and medium. Heavy brigades field a headquarters battalion, an armored cavalry (reconnaissance) group, a tank battalion, a mechanized infantry battalion, a protected infantry battalion, a motorized infantry battalion, a field artillery group, an engineer battalion, and a logistic group.

The tank battalions are equipped with Leopard 2E main battle tanks, the armored cavalry groups with Leopard 2E tanks and wheeled VEC-M19 6×6 reconnaissance vehicles. Mechanized infantry battalions are equipped with Pizarro IFVs and protected infantry battalions with M113 armored personnel carriers.8 The motorized battalions operate VAMTAC and LMV Lince 4×4 vehicles. The field artillery groups operate M109A5 155mm self-propelled howitzers.

Medium brigades field a headquarters battalion, a light armored cavalry (reconnaissance) group, two protected infantry battalions, a motorized infantry battalion, a field artillery group, an engineer battalion, and a logistic group.

The light armored cavalry groups are equipped with wheeled Centauro tank destroyers and wheeled VEC-M1 6×6 reconnaissance vehicles. The protected infantry battalions field wheeled BMR-M19 6×6 armored personnel carriers and RG-31 Nyala MRAPs, while the motorized battalions are equipped with VAMTAC and LMV Lince 4×4 vehicles. The field artillery groups operate 105mm L119 light guns and 155/52 APU-SIAC 155mm towed howitzers.

The two formations in Ceuta and Melilla field each a headquarters battalion, an armored cavalry group with Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks and Pizarro IFVs, a protected infantry battalion with BMR-M1 vehicles, a motorized infantry battalion, a field artillery group with 155/52 APU-SIAC 155mm towed howitzers, an anti-air artillery group with Mistral surface-to-air missiles, an engineer battalion, and a logistic group.

The headquarters battalions field a headquarters company, a military intelligence company, a signal company, an anti-tank company, a CBRN-defense company, and a military police platoon. The logistic groups field a headquarters company, a supply company, a maintenance company, a transport company, and a medical company.

Units from four administrative commands (Field Artillery, Anti-air Artillery, Engineers, Signals), two brigades (Logistic, Medical) and four regiments (Reconnaissance, Intelligence, PSYOPS, CBRN-defense) can reinforce the divisions during operations.

The I/66th Mountain Hunters Battalion “Montejurra” of the I Brigade “Aragón” is equipped with tracked Bv 206s all-terrain armored carriers.

998 wheeled Piranha V 8×8 vehicles are currently being acquired to replace VEC-M1 and BMR-M1 vehicles.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_Spanish_Army

Division “Castillejos” 

The Division “Castillejos” controls six brigades, each of which fields all the units needed to deploy and fight. Unlike other NATO brigades each Spanish heavy and medium brigade includes a motorized infantry battalion. Medium brigades are equipped exclusively with wheeled vehicles; 14 Centauro tank destroyers with 105mm cannon and 13 VEC-M1 reconnaissance vehicles with Bushmaster 25mm auto cannons provide organic firepower. 

The command structure is clear. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

Canadian Army

The Canadian Army fields five divisions, four of which are territorial and administrative formations headed by brigadier generals, while the 1st Canadian Division is the Canadian Joint Operations Command’s joint operational headquarters. In 2014 the four Canadian Army land force areas (Quebec, Western, Central, Atlantic) were renamed 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Canadian Division, while retaining the land force areas mission to generate, train and maintain forces located within their geographical area.

2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian Division each administer an active brigade and two to three reserve brigades. 5thCanadian Division administers the Combat Support Brigade and two reserve brigades. The three active Canadian mechanized brigades field a headquarters and signals squadron, a mixed reconnaissance / armored regiment10, two mechanized infantry battalions, one light infantry battalion, a Royal Canadian Horse Artillery regiment, an engineer regiment, and a service battalion.

The reconnaissance / armored regiments are equipped with Leopard 2A4/A6 CAN main battle tanks and Coyote 8×8 reconnaissance vehicles, the latter of which are being replaced by a mix of by a mix of light Tactical Armored Patrol 4×4 Vehicles and LAV VI 8×8 armored vehicles with 25mm auto cannons. Mechanized infantry battalions are equipped with LAV III 8×8 vehicles with 25mm auto cannons, while the artillery regiments field M777 155mm towed howitzers.

The service battalions consist of a transportation company, a supply company, a maintenance company, and an administration company, which includes the battalion’s headquarters platoon.

The Combat Support Brigade consists of five regiments (Intelligence, PSYOPS, Electronic Warfare, Engineer Support, and Artillery Support, the latter of which fields the army’s counter-battery radars.

The ten reserve brigades field one or two light cavalry reconnaissance regiments, two to eight light infantry regiments, one to three field artillery regiments, a signal regiment, an engineer regiment, and a service battalion. All reserve units are severely understrength and field between one or three companies. The field artillery regiments are equipped with C3 or LG1 Mark II 105mm towed howitzers. The understrength reserve units form the basis to grow the Canadian Army quickly into a five division force if needed.

Active and reserve forces are not grouped in a single brigade. The army’s active component is not assigned any territorial or administrative functions. The Canadian army is capable to field a division with three brigades and support units, capable of deploying and operating without the need to assemble reserve units. 

10 Lord Strathcona’s Horse: two armored and one recce squadron; Royal Canadian Dragoons: one armored and three recce squadrons; 12e Régiment blindé du Canada: one armored and two recce squadrons.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_Canadian_Army

Australian Army

The Australian Army fields two divisions, with the 1st Division being the Joint Operations Command’s joint operational headquarters and the 2nd Division administering all Australian Army reserve forces.

1st Division is also provides command and control for brigade-level training and oversees the Australian Landing Force centered around 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. The army’s three active brigades (1st, 3rd, 7th) and three support brigades (6th Combat Support, 16th Aviation, 17th Sustainment) are assigned, together with 2nd Division, to Forces Command.

The three active brigades field a mixed armored cavalry regiment, a mechanized infantry battalion, a motorized infantry battalion, an artillery regiment, an engineer regiment, a signal regiment, and a combat service support (CSS) battalion.

The armored cavalry regiments field one squadron with M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks and two squadrons with ASLAV reconnaissance vehicles, the latter of which are being replaced by Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicles with 30mm auto cannons. The mechanized infantry battalions are equipped with M113AS4 armored personnel carriers, which will be replaced by a modern IFV from 2022 (either Lynx KF41 or Redback AS-21). The motorized infantry battalions are equipped with Bushmaster vehicles, and the artillery regiments field M777 155mm towed howitzers.

The CSS battalions consist of a transport squadron, a field supply company, a field workshop squadron, and an administration company, which includes the battalion’s headquarters platoon.

The 6th Combat Support Brigade fields intelligence, military police, engineer support, electronic warfare, air-defense, surveillance and target acquisition units, while the 16th Aviation Brigade fields the army’s helicopter forces. The 17th Sustainment Brigade provides 3rd line logistic and medical support.

The 2nd Division administers six reserve brigades and the Regional Force Surveillance Group. Each reserve brigade, with the exception of the 8th, fields a cavalry regiment11 with two to three reconnaissance squadrons; two to four light infantry battalions, with two to three rifle companies; an engineer regiment12, a signal squadron13, and a CSS battalion14. 8th Brigade consists of six training regiments dispersed throughout Australia. The only artillery unit of the Australian reserve is the 9th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, whose six batteries are equipped with 81mm mortars.

Active and reserve forces are not grouped in a single brigade. The army’s active component is not assigned any territorial or administrative functions. The Australian army is capable to field a division with three brigades and support units, capable of deploying and operating without the need to assemble reserve units. 

11 The 9th and 13th brigades field a cavalry squadron instead of a regiment.

12 The 9th and 13th brigades field an engineer squadron instead of a regiment.

13 The 5th Brigade’s signal squadron is part of 8th Signal Regiment, which is directly subordinated to 2nd Division.

14 The 5th Brigade fields two CSS battalions.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_the_Australian_Army

PS: Besides the above-mentioned armies also the Romanian, Greek and Turkish armies field divisions. However the available data is either too outdated (Romania), or unconfirmed (Greece) or sparse (Turkey) to analyze.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways from peer armies for the British Army are as follows:

  1. Each European army has the ability field at least two divisions with an adequate number of brigades in each This includes Greece, Romania, and Turkey.
  2. No army double-hats its active division and brigade commanders with territorial and administrative functions.
  3. No army pairs active and reserve units in a brigade.
  4. No army has a separate maintenance corps.
  5. All brigades have their organic artillery, engineer and logistic support units.
  6. Every peer fields main battle tanks.
  7. Every peer is upgrading its heavy and medium forces; opting in all cases for increased firepower.

How to reform the British Army

Operational, administrative and territorial functions

The British Army is the only Western army that combines operational, administrative and territorial functions in its brigade headquarters, e.g. the British Army’s 11th Signal Brigade doubles as Headquarters West Midlands, with more than 20 disparate units under command: from active infantry battalions, to operational signal regiments, to reserve signal regiments of another signal brigade, to reserve squadrons and companies of battalions assigned to other brigades, to reserve infantry, artillery and logistic battalions, to the local University Officer Training Corps and the army’s community engagement activity across the region.

All other armies separate their operational commands from administrative and territorial functions. The British Army began this separation by establishing Regional Command in 2015, which for some time co-administered the army’s regional headquarters, but by 2020 all of them reverted back to being assigned to operational headquarters. Some British military commentators argue that this mixing of functions doesn’t influence the operational quality of operational headquarters, as the brigades’ commanders don’t involve themselves with the administrative and territorial functions under their command. If that is the case, why are these functions assigned to them in the first place?

The British Army needs to split its territorial and administrative functions. Regional Command exists – give it the functions, tasks and units it was created to administer.

Active and Reserve Forces

The British Army has a large reserve force, with many units paired with active units. Two examples from the 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade: the active 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment is paired with the reserve 4thBattalion, The Mercian Regiment, while the active 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery is paired with the reserve 104th Regiment Royal Artillery.

No other Western army15 has such pairings, because such pairings only work for long ahead known deployments.

During the buildup to the first Gulf War the US Army discovered that its Cold War round-out concept of two active brigades and one National Guard brigade per heavy division in the continental United States did not work when called upon to deploy. The round-out brigades did not assemble quickly enough and were not trained well enough. Except for the 3rd Armored Division (which deployed from Germany), all heavy divisions deploying to the gulf required an active brigade to replace their National Guard round-out brigades.16Ultimately the US Army managed to deploy each division with three brigades as the army’s remaining active brigades were entirely staffed with professional troops.

However today’s British Army brigades are a hodgepodge of active and reserve units, which will either prevent their rapid deployment or force them to deploy without their reserve units.

Even the two armies most closely associated with the British Army, the Australian Army and Canadian Army, do not include reserve formations in their active brigades: the Australian Army’s three active brigades are readily deployable for any conflict, while the reserve brigades can generate additional forces for longer lasting conflicts. Similarly the Canadian Army’s three active brigades are easily deployable, while the ten reserve brigades provide the basis to grow the Canadian Army to five divisions. Neither of them mixes active and reserve formations within the same brigade, and neither does the US Army.

The British Army needs to end the pairing of active and reserve formations and it knows this to be true. For its newest brigades, the two Strike Brigades, the British Army decided not to pair reserve formations with the brigades’ active infantry and cavalry units. 

If the British Army is serious about 3rd UK Division being a rapidly deployable formation it needs to remove all reserve formations from the division’s organization. Some British military experts argue that the retention of these pairings will allow the army to generate additional forces for upcoming deployments, which is true, if you know that in 16 months time you will need to rotate a new brigade into Afghanistan. But Russian armored formations need six hours from Pskov to Riga and three hours from Brest to Warsaw. If the UK wants to show-up when NATO or the US calls, it needs to have at least one division that is deployable without having to wait for reserve formations to assemble and train.

15 The Royal Netherlands Army’s three National Reserve Corps battalions, although assigned administratively to the army’s three brigades, are not organic to the brigades and are not allowed to deploy outside of the Netherlands.

16 Active brigades used to fill up the US Army’s divisions during the Gulf War were the: 1st Brigade, 2nd Armored Division; 3rd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division (Forward); 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized); and 197th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized).

Royal Logistic Corps and Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers

The existence of the latter is not justified. All NATO armies combine the functions of these two in a single corps. All armies except the French Army combine these two functions in a single support unit per brigade. The British Army is the only army, which has not yet merged its logistics corps (Royal Logistic Corps – RLC) and its maintenance corps (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers – REME). Furthermore, the Army’s belief that units of these two types must be paired with reserve formations has led to 3rd UK Division fielding 21 logistic and maintenance battalions. In contrast, a US division fields six battalions, a German division fields three battalions, and French divisions are assigned three to six battalions.

To emphasise this point: Germany’s 1st Panzer Division fields a total of 21 battalions, while 3rd UK Division fields 21 logistic and maintenance battalions, and 67 units in total.

The British Army needs to merge the RLC and REME to create a single support unit for each brigade. For its two newest brigades, the Strike Brigades, the British Army will merge a REME battalion with an RLC regiment to thus reduced the brigade’s logistical footprint from five to three units, which is still two too many. Simplicity is key to success. Five units with five commanders supporting one brigade is the opposite of simplicity.

Combat support units

Unlike its peers the British Army does not assign combat support units to brigades. I.e. the combat support units of 20th Armoured Brigade are assigned to: 1st Artillery Brigade, 1st Military Police Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 101st Logistic Brigade and 25th Engineer Group. In short, 20th Armoured Brigade with three active and two paired reserve battalions, has ten support units assigned to five other commands.

No other army, even if it put all its effort into it, could replicate such a complicated structure. By assigning units permanently to its combat brigades the British Army can streamline its command structure and disband a dozen superfluous brigade and group commands. Again: Simplicity is key to success.

The Infantry Corps

Another uniquely British complication is that the British Army is the only Western army, which does not have an infantry corps. Instead its infantry regiments are separate entities, with separate regimental headquarters. This parallel structure, which adds nothing to the combat value of the army, ought to be scrapped. The claim that the British Army can only ensure unit cohesion and ongoing recruitment through this system can easily be disproved when other armies are analysed. All have a single infantry corps, yet still manage to unite soldiers within different units strong regimental traditions and affiliations to follow.

All Italian soldiers joining the infantry corps receive their basic training in the 17th, 85th, or 235th Infantry Regiment. Afterwards soldiers, like NCOs and officers, are sent to their chosen specialty training center: Alpini (mountain troops) to Aosta, Grenadiers (mechanised infantry) to Spoleto, Lagunari (marines) to Venice, Paracadutista (parachute infantry) to Pisa, etc. where they receive their practical training and familiarization with the history and traditions of their infantry specialty. After training they are assigned to their battalion-sized regiments and throughout their careers they will remain Alpino, Bersagliere, Fante, Granatiere, Lagunare, or Paracadutista and wear their specialties’ headgear, badge and collar patches, even if they become Chief of Staff.

Canada has an infantry corps, Australia has an infantry corps, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, the US – and all soldiers of these armies proudly fly the colours of their regiments, have strong unit cohesiveness.

Creating an infantry corps would actually strengthen British Army’s tradition: with the creation of an infantry corps, regimental names, which have been amalgamated away solely to reduce the number of administrative regimental headquarters, could return. In Italy, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, etc. each battalion-sized infantry unit carries the name of a traditional regiment. In the same vein the three battalions of the Mercian Regiment could return to their pre-amalgamation names.

Again: simplicity is key to success and a streamlining of the British Army infantry’s administrative organization will save costs and improve the organization of the army, while losing none of the unit cohesion and traditions the British Army so values.

The Light Infantry battalions

The British Army has an overabundance of light infantry battalions. In fact the British Army fields more active light infantry battalions than the French, German, Polish and Dutch armies combined. If one also includes the Army Reserve’s light infantry battalions, then the British Army fields 35 light infantry battalions, which is the same number as the US Army’s light infantry battalions. 17

Should the British Army proceed to retire its entire tank and infantry fighting vehicle fleet, then the number of light infantry battalions would increase even further and leave Britain unable to fight an enemy equipped slightly better than the Taliban on mules. But perhaps this is the idea, because with such massive numbers of light infantry one can re-fight Isandlwana, but not participate in any high-intensity peer-to-peer conflict?

The British Army needs to reduce, disband, re-role more than half of its light infantry battalions, i.e. 1st UK Division fields 19 light infantry battalions but not one logistic battalion. Some British military commentators argued that an increase in logistic battalions is unnecessary, as the British Army prefers to work with contractors in theatre. If this is correct, then I am looking forward to see the British Army’s tenders for bread, water, food, showers, etc. in the Suwałki Gap.

17 US Army: 13 light, 13 airborne and 9 air assault battalions.

Create coherent brigades

All of the UK’s peers in Europe and overseas have created coherent brigades: heavy brigades to confront peer level adversaries, medium brigades capable of self-deploying, and light brigades for rapid deployment. The British Army has no such coherence in its brigades.

The UK 12th and 20th armoured brigades each include two army reserve light infantry battalions and one army reserve light, towed-artillery battalion, all of which would be turned to ash if thrown into the maelstrom of armored warfare, for which these two brigades are supposedly meant.

The British Army’s strike brigades mix tracked and wheeled vehicles, with the tracked Ajax vehicles unable to self-deploy and the Boxer vehicles too lightly armed to make a difference against a mechanized enemy. The great advantage of medium brigades is the ability to self-deploy over large distances and bring organic firepower to bear on an enemy. French and Italian medium brigades are purely wheeled formations equipped with 8×8 vehicles with 25mm auto cannons, supported by AMX-10 RC or Centauro vehicles with 105mm cannons. Italy plans to up-gun its Freccia 8×8 fleet to 30mm cannons and is introducing the Centauro II tank destroyer with 120mm cannon, while France is planning to up-gun its VBCI to 40mm cannons. Polish18medium brigades are wheeled formations equipped with 8×8 vehicles with 30mm auto cannons. The future Australian and Spanish 8×8 fleet will be armed with 30mm cannons. The US Army has already up-gunned the Stryker vehicles of its 2nd Cavalry Regiment with 30mm auto cannons and continues to upgrade it remaining Stryker brigades.

The British Army’s chosen 8×8 is armed with heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers, which won’t even dent the oldest of the many Russian IFVs. And when the heavy tracked Ajax vehicles finally arrive on the battlefield, all of the 8×8 will already have been destroyed, and Ajax will face the enemy main battle tanks alone. Needless to say that Britain’s Ajax stands no chance against main battle tanks.

The British Army needs to finally understand that it must develop a coherent heavy brigade organization and a coherent medium brigade organization, BEFORE it signs contracts for expensive equipment.

A credible military needs heavy brigades. Heavy brigades need tanks and IFVs. Leopard 2A7V tanks, Lynx KF41 IFVs with CT40 40mm cannons, and PzH 2000 howitzers are the package for that.

A real medium brigade needs to be an all wheeled formation with organic firepower. Boxer 8×8 vehicles with CT40 40mm cannons, a 120mm tank destroyer variant, and a self-propelled 155/52 howitzer variant are the package for that.

The UK’s political class keeps talking about Britain’s role in the global world, talks about deploying forces “East of Suez”, but without heavy and proper medium brigades, “global Britain” is militarily just a slightly better Belgium.  

18 The Polish medium brigades still field tracked self-propelled artillery, which will be replaced by wheeled AHS Kryl self-propelled howitzers.

A possible future British Army organization

If the British Army wants to be able to deploy its Army Reserve units along with regular units, then the training days must rise from the current 19 to 27 days to the US National Guard’s 38 days. And then the Army Reserve needs to be grouped into proper brigades, which need to be equipped like their regular peers. This would entail either an increase in cost or a sharp reduction in reserve personnel.

If the British Army decides that it doesn’t want to deploy entire Army Reserve units, then the existence of the Army Reserve makes no sense: to retain 30,000 men, which cannot be deployed, except in little homeopathic doses19, at the cost of approximately £350 million per year is wasteful. This money should then be better spent to retain a third armoured brigade.

For the following thought experiment I assume that the British Army will retain the Army Reserve and form three types of brigade: light, a medium, and a heavy. I also assume that there will be no further cuts in manpower and that all regiments, with the exception of the entire REME, will be retained.

19 In the nearly two decades of the Afghanistan war no Army Reserve unit deployed to Afghanistan. Only four company sized reserve units participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even with years of advance planning did the British Army not once manage to deploy an Army Reserve unit.

1st UK Division

1st UK Division would be the army’s regular light division with four deployable brigades. Three signal regiments and two artillery regiments would need to be formed to complete this division. 16 Air Assault Brigade would be the army’s rapid response formation. Equipped with 6×6 protected mobility vehicles, M777 towed howitzers and a fire support vehicle like the French EBRC Jaguar, these brigades would be a coherent, credible light force.

Each brigade fields all the units it needs to deploy and fight. The command structure is clear. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

2nd UK Division

2nd UK Division would be the army’s reserve formation with two light, one medium and one heavy brigade. An additional Yeomanry cavalry regiment would need to be formed to complete this division. Equipped like their regular peers these four brigades would be aligned with their regular peers on a 1 to 2 basis: i.e. one reserve infantry brigade aligned with two of the regular infantry brigades.

3rd UK Division

3rd UK Division would be the army’s primary combat formation with two medium and two heavy brigades. The 2nd Royal Tank Regiment would need to be raised again to complete this division. The medium brigades equipped with Boxer IFVs with 40mm cannons, Boxer tank destroyers with 120mm cannons, and Boxer self-propelled 155mm howitzers would be self-deployable and a coherent, credible force to confront a peer-level adversary.

The heavy brigades equipped with Leopard 2A7V main battle tanks, Lynx KF41 IFVs with 40mm cannons, and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers would be some of the most powerful formation on the European continent and superior to every possible enemy.

Each brigade fields all the units it needs to deploy and fight. The command structure is clear. No administrative or territorial functions weigh the division or brigade commanders down. No reserve units slow down the division’s deployment.

4th UK Division

4th UK Division would be the army’s non-deployable support command tasked with managing the divisional support units:

  • 1st Missile Artillery Group with two active and one reserve artillery regiment. One regular regiment supporting 3rd UK Division with tracked M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, one regular regiment with M142 HIMARS supporting 1st UK Division, and one reserve regiment with M142 HIMARS supporting 2nd UK Division
  • 7th Air Defence Group with two active and one reserve artillery regiment supporting the army’s three divisions.
  • 8th Engineer Group providing rear area EOD, Bridging and Construction support.
  • 1st Military Police Group with two active and one reserve military police regiment supporting the army’s three divisions. The reserve Signal Regiment would have to be formed.
  • 11th Electronic Warfare Group with two active and one signal regiment supporting the army’s three divisions. The reserve Signal Regiment would have to be formed.
  • 2nd Medical Brigade with four active and three reserve medical regiments providing medical support to the army’s divisions and 16th Air Assault Brigade.
  • 102nd Logistic Brigade with three theater logistic regiments, three transport regiments, and the military working dogs regiment providing 2nd line logistic support to the army’s three divisions. One theater logistic regiment would have to be formed.
  • 104th Logistic Brigade providing 3rd line logistic support.

6th UK Division, London District, Joint Helicopter Command

6th UK Division would transfer 1st Signal Brigade to Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), as the brigade is already today tasked with supporting ARRC. 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade would lose its artillery and electronic warfare units. London District, and Joint Helicopter Command would remain unchanged.

Other units

1st Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, Mercian Regiment would remain in Cyprus and rotate with other light infantry units of 1st UK Division. 2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles would remain in Brunei and rotate with 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles. The Balaklava Company would continue to perform public duties in Edinburgh.

The following army reserve units would need to re-role: 4th Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, 4thBattalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and 8th Battalion, The Rifles. As five reserve regiments would need to be formed for complete 2nd and 4th UK Division no manpower would be lost.


With a bit of daring the British Army could reform is convoluted, incoherent, contradictory organization into three powerful deployable divisions. No manpower, no cap badges would be lost. Equipped in a coherent way these divisions would be formidable combat formations every ally would want to deploy with and fight alongside.

However it is doubtful the British Army has the daring-do and finances to pull such a restructuring off and the rumors circulating in the British press point to a radical reduction in manpower and capabilities. It is unfathomable to me how the country spending most money on defense in Europe and the second-most in NATO, claims to be unable to even maintain a single combat division.

If there are reductions in the British Army, then it must be manpower, not capabilities. Taking the above proposed three-division structure as a starting point: if there need to be cuts, first axe a light brigade, followed by one of the reserve light brigades, and then another light brigade.

If that would still leave the British Army short on money, then the entire army reserve has to go. Followed by of the Gurkhas, the incremental companies, deployments to Brunei and Cyprus:

  • If the British Army has no money to properly equip its regular forces, then it certainly can’t equip its 30,000 army reserve personnel properly. If you can’t equip and train them to fight, then scrap them. Use the saved money to train and equip your regular forces, as the regulars are the first to deploy and fight. Don’t shortchange your core units to maintain weekend soldiers you can’t deploy.
  • The ten Gurkha regiments were raised to help subjugate India and India has been independent for 72 years now. The UK has enough infantry and there is no need to hire mercenaries from one of the world’s poorest countries to protect the riches of the Sultan of Brunei at British taxpayers expense. Before axing the tanks, axe the Gurkhas.
  • The Guards incremental companies exist for traditional reasons, but today all the guard’s public duties are mere touristic folklore. The tourists outside Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St. James’s etc. have no knowledge about the various guard units at all – if it wears a bearskin cap – it will do for their Instagram photos. So at least disband the incremental companies.
  • Britain, in the time of steamships and later propeller planes, had need of bases around the world to pre-position infantry battalions to reach every corner of its empire if the people there should rebel. With all colonies gone, transcontinental air travel commonplace and Britain unable to invade any country on its own anyway, there is no need for prepositioned battalions in Cyprus. Furthermore the two battalions based there haven’t been deployed to anywhere in the world in the last 30 years and therefore are wasteful expense that can be cut. BUT: RAF Akrotiri is valuable and needs to remain.
  • The Gurkha battalion in Brunei has not been deployed anywhere since the British presence there commenced and it won’t ever be deployed. The Sultan of Brunei is wealthy enough to hire Gurkha mercenaries on his own. Unless Britain builds a major naval base there the British military presence in Brunei can be scrapped in favor of closer cooperation with Australia.

If these cuts are not enough to maintain the core capabilities of a modern army, then all infantry battalions save for the first battalion in each regiment and The Black Watch battalion have to go. That would leave the British Army with six modern equipped and highly trained brigades.

And if more savings are needed, perhaps active Guards battalions of the Household Division could be re-organised as a infantry super regiment. A single separate public duties battalion incorporating the five cap badges (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish, and Welsh Guards) could be retained for public duties in London and Windsor? There is certainly scope to reduce the cost and commitment required to perform public duties. 

Even with reducing manpower, streamlining the number of headquarters and administrative units would allow the British Army to field combat brigades with the required Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) assets it needs to be effective.  As difficult as it may be to accept this, no army needs two dozen light infantry battalions that are undeployable because they are not supported by armoured regiments, artillery, engineers, and logistic elements. Also, with sufficient firepower including copious quantities of ATGM, tube and rocket artillery, air defence, EW, aviation, and other elements capable of delivering effect, infantry manpower dies very quickly on modern battlefields. A contemporary army shouldn’t be a anachronistic  association for fans of a lost empire. It must be configured and equipped to fight with the means to locate, target, engage and destroy a peer adversaries. It is by no means certain that the British Army can do this today.  

And what such a radically pared back British Army with all the capabilities maintained could look like is shown below.


  1. This is a fascinating and well-considered article. It will annoy certain constituents within the British Army and, while I don’t agree with every recommendation, it makes some extremely valid points. In particular, the British Army has too many HQ and Admin units that make it top heavy and unnecessarily bureaucratic. Streamlining some of these units would be an excellent way to relate headcount to generate additional Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) assets. It also suggests that we need to re-think the Army Reserve. I agree with this too.


  2. Blimey, there are so many themes here, where to begin…

    1. Yes our organization is arcane and diabolical
    2. No we do not have a large reserve component (relatively speaking)
    3. Other countries not mentioned, Scandinavian countries for example do a very good job of integrating reserves
    4. You concentrate on the Divisional level, and brigades, and I am certainly not suggesting the article should be even longer but we are weak compared to allies down to the platoon level – we simply don’t seem to grasp “firepower” (or maybe we do, but you know…. cash)
    5. The interesting thing about French you missed is below Brigade level – the GTIA and SGTIA all arms tactical battle groups that they organize around to actually deploy. A British Army organized around this concept would fit very well with our expeditionary conops

    There is no doubt that we could be organized to more effectively generate combat power with the numbers we have, or a result iron to the actual head count of c.75k


  3. Article certainly highlights how cumbersome and unwieldy the British Army is organised.

    I’d lean more to the second proposed ORBAT purely on costs however proposed equipment adds more to the costs which could inhibit progress.

    Although the article is about the army, I believe 3 CDO Bde needs a mention. With RM looking more to the maritime, to add to their amphibious and arctic roles, there is scope to move 1-2 light inf battalions to the brigade.


    1. @Dale – Good point reference 3 Cdo Bde, but looking to history, when 1 RIFLES were part of the Bde they have very limited utility given lack of Commando trained ranks and amphibious competence. Given 3 Cdo X’s transition to the Future Commando Force, the gap between the Commandos (RM and AACC trained) is widening even further from the line infantry.


      1. In reference to 1 Rifles being part of 3 Cdo Bde, I get the sneaky suspicion that politics played a part in it’s failure.

        Plus if you were going to set up an army commando regt would you just select a regiment and tell them to get on with it while the system for the other army units within 3 Cdo is mainly based on a volunteer ethos, where individuals want the challenge of completing the AACC.

        If you look at the history of the commando’s themselves this is how they were originally formed from within the army, so why would you not replicate an historically succesful method.

        I don’t think it would be too difficult over a couple of years to have got to a position where an army commando regt would have have been stood up by actively seeking and encouraging volunteers from the the whole of the infantry to apply.

        Pretty much how it is done for the CS and CSS units currently supporting 3 Cdo.

        It seems to me that the failure of 1 Rifles was in the interests of both the RM and the Army ( I maybe wrong who knows? ).

        The direction of the commando forces is however interesting as it seems they slowly moving away from the concepts we would traditionally expect the brigade to carry out.

        This is indeed an opportunity for the army to provide light role battlegroups for the over the beach follow on forces of an amphibious operation ( and the follow on forces of an airborne operation ).

        If we chose something like the Protolab PMPV as the basis for the MRVP 2 category we would have a vehicle that would cover both of those bases and allow our light infantry to operate in a much more useful way in supporting defence as a whole.

        As a side note I believe that every infantry regiment should have the opportunity to stand up an airborne platoon in the same manner as the Guards.

        If we want more people to both stay in the army ( via greater opportunity and challenges ) and to get into the special forces then this should be done as it allows a stepping stone of progression to the special forces for some rather than the deep plunge that is the case now. I would also not go the route of just getting volunteers to try for the parachute regiment as an easier alternative either and thus losing their original cap badge. If for example someone within 3 Rifles was contemplating trying for the airborne forces and realised that they would in essence sease to be a riflemen ( under which cap badge they had completed a tour of Afghanistan and had formed a bond with the regiment ) would they be more inclined to pass at the opportunity?


  4. I broadly agree with many of your observations such as increasing efficiency and decreasing administration headquarters if even come corps would be amalgamated. Numerous light infantry battalions could be gotten rid of. For ceremonial units why not go down the German options of one large battalion with 8 incremental companies plus the HRA and household cavalry. This could decrease the number of soldiers being wasted in London. The most important observation that you make is that other nations are creating combined arms brigades and not wasting soldiers on an excessive number of light infantry battalions without support
    Where I think you are wrong is with the number of deployable combat brigades that could be generated from only 82,000 soldiers. For the proposed eight brigades, 100,000 soldiers or more would probably be necessary for all the supporting bits such as artillery, logistics, engineers, and signals plus the divisional and theater-level assets that would require more soldiers too. This proposal falls apart because you have roughly the same number of infantry and cavalry units with an increased number of those supporting units without an increase in the overall headcount of the army.
    Overall, you have some good ideas though.


    1. I am not comfortable with parts of this. I believe we need the ‘family’ identity in units/arms.
      Every soldier will tell you, theirs is best, it is a competitive ideal usually, leading to ‘productivity’

      We are not French, German, US, all have their cultural advantages, disadvantages.

      Let us look at how the RN has its loyalty to the ship, The RAF to its squadron (though I do wonder how so many Squadron leaders can be fitted into one)


  5. Some historical comments. At Imphal the BCR churn in battalions was very high from both casualties, sickness and entitled repatriations. In the process recruits were sent where needed and not to regiments they might have intended to join. Many/most Cameron Highlanders at Kohima were Yorkshireman and they did just fine. On the one hand, the reason they assimilated so quickly into a Scottish Regiment was there was a strong tradition for them to identify with. On the other hand evidence suggests the bonds which sustain comrades in battle are quickly formed and have little to do with regimental context. RE/RA etc all do just fine in combat. That said regimental identity is an asset there has to be a good reason to cast aside and I do not read one here. Hmm Isandlwana, (about which @bandoolafilm is making a film), might not be an exemplar battle to aspire to!! Key thing, I contend in the blog below is that it took place during a 1879 version of Revolution Military Affairs. There had been organisational reforms (Cardwell) and much new technology (Martini Henry) but a new doctrine had not really caught up. Wars during or just after transitions are more risky. Gulf War 1 and 2 were more or less BAOR doctrine and methods applied albeit to a non peer opponent. We are in a very different place now. Lots of new tech but limited conceptualisation of what war is, let alone how to fight one. 1879 is worth comparing to our present situation. https://nohillside.com/2020/12/06/the-case-for-history-1879-as-2019/


  6. That was big! Thank you for putting it all down.

    Mr Mitchell draws attention to the importance of family; the human brain basically tops out at a couple of hundred people in that respect, I would argue that what lies beyond is identity.
    I’m hopefully showing some consistency then in suggesting larger organisations of the same cap badge akin to the Royal Marines or The Legion (French not British); this might also be somewhat sympathetic to the general direction of travel toward super regiments.
    It would be the job of these ‘corps'(?) to each generate a brigade to feed a BEF umbrella, the divisions are really just words at this point, they’re not going to go anywhere.
    To begin, attaching and badging respective support elements (including cavalry and artillery) to The Rifles and The Guards (largely as is) would immediately create two such entities. I’m (perhaps optimistically) hoping that this would provide both a family and an identity as well as frictionless opportunity within a larger organisation.
    To maximise flexibility I’d then take that organisation and smash it with a hammer to give a floating command structure sitting above multiple SGTIA of about a couple of hundred… and I’m back at the beginning.


    1. Capt Nemo – Yes, this, exactly!

      I would have 3 super regiments in the Corps of Infantry:
      Foot Guards – all armoured infantry and Strike brigades (so tracks or Boxer)
      Light Infantry – as per ThinkDefence’s “Light Strike” concept
      The Rifles – mechanised infantry on MRV-P based mobility.

      Plus, all 3 Battalions of Para’s morphing into the armies version of the forward deployed, grey zone “Company Plus” (SGTIA ?) battle groups being touted as the way forward for the Future Commando Force. They could still provide an SGTIA that can jump, meanwhile a couple of others get the forward deployed Tier 2 SOF tasking.

      Each of the 3 main “regiments” within the Corps get their specialities:
      Guards – armoured / mechanized warfare – UK Panzer Grenadiers
      Light Infantry – air assault, amphibious, Alpine Mountain (?)
      The Rifles – urban specialists, including under-ground, operating in dense urban canyons etc.

      The use of GTIA level all arms battle groups (based on 2 companies) also allows suggests a transition from 3 rifle companies and a support company to the Commando 21 style organization – 2 Close Combat Companies, and 2 Stand Off Combat companies. This would provide an excellent level of force generation from as low as 24 infantry battalions, based on my theories of how this could be structured.


      1. I did good!?
        As the author points out we do have a lot of regiments, my worry is that the current structure is too rigid to accept change in the form of things like robots without it making:
        a) surprised Pikachu face
        b) a complete mess.
        I’ve stopped trying to micro as I think it’s counterproductive to the sweep of my argument which is simply that larger organisations are more flexible and will be better able to adapt and – as counterintuitive as it seems – better protect their history and their identity.
        I’d expect them to be constantly evaluating things like structure and equipment and then pulling that learning through to high readiness, so the bunch at the front might not be the same as the bunch at the back, basically letting them sandbox it (within the parameters of their tasking).
        Maybe no two would be the same either by process, necessity or design.
        I like the idea that the enemy might not know what they are getting.


  7. A lot in this article, and much of it I agree with. While tradition and history have benefits the British Army is in desperate need of breaking away from the constraints imposed upon itself by its past to enable it to generate a fighting force fit for the future. How on earth can anyone objective defend so much money being spent to produce such a hodgepodge of none deplorable , unbalanced brigades and divisions?


  8. A few mistakes about the French Orbat :
    – Amoured regiments are all made of 3 Leclerc Squadron and 2 VBL scout squadrons. Only the 5th Dragoon gets additional infantry coy and artillery/engineering support because it’s also used as a testlab for Scorpion and act as the OPFOR at the CENTAC training area.
    – VBCI won’t get upgraded to 40mm CTA as far as I know. Only Jaguar will have it for now.

    But as other have said, you indeed missed the GTIA/SGTIA level on the French side. Brigades regiments and divisions don’t deploy organically. Instead, Brigades act as a pool from which regimental size combined arms battlegroups will be assembled themselves divided into company size battlegroups. They also provide HQ. The 2 Divisions provide higher level HQ and rotate between internal and external operations. Also, a significant part of the equipment is not at the regiment’s disposal but instead stored in a ready pool and will be dispatched as operational need arise. Regiments only get what they need for day to day training.
    The highest hypothesis of engagement is to form the core of a nato division with 2 combined arms brigades made of GTIAs and SGTIAs pulled from the organic Brigades.
    I hope this makes things easier to understand.


  9. And personally, given our similar penchant for expeditionary, global operations, I think this is the single best model we could customize to our own way of doing things as part of a major restructuring.

    US system will not work for us, we are not that big. Polish system will not work for us and we are not sharing a border with our potential enemy. Italian system, hmm well, kinda closer to Polish model, structured around territorial defence?

    The French system could form a good basis for the UK, because of our similar international outlook and political goals.


  10. Interesting, and more than a touch of the grass is greener on the other side, together with a quaintly unquestioning acceptance about what other armies say about themselves. However I expect it’s far, far too late to influence the Integrated Review now. So let’s just wait for a month or two to see what it says.


  11. I agree with the premise that we should reduce our light infantry numbers and use the manpower slots to bring greater balance to the army as a whole, but I don’t understand the Corps of Infantry aspect of the argument.

    We currently run the Infantry as a Corp now but without the rubber stamp. All training is cenralised and run on a common syllabus. The cap badges themselves do not make that much of a difference in that respect. The differences come at a later date in terms of senior command slots, but are they that disruptive in the scheme of things?

    The reduction of cap badges however is something that should have been done properly when the creation of the Rifles was done many years back.

    More multi battalion regiments with a wider geographical catchment is more desirable than the current system we have now.

    Regiments such as the Rifles if administered in the same way as some corps units within the army would allow the individual postings to other battalions to take adavntage of promotion slots and skills progression etc and facilitate the contracting and expansion of manpower without rousing the ire of the public and press, as a battalion may be going but the cap badge is not.

    You never really see articles in the press about a field hospital or signals regiment being disbanded, but mention an ifantry cap badge and it’s a different ball game.

    This is also a reason to keep the regimental system as time and time again it has shown that it still matters.

    In refernce to the conversation regarding battlegroups and bde’s and particulary the interest in the French system.

    We already work this way. Battlegroups are usually tailored for the task drawing on support from the bde as and when, the Bde’s are also tailored, a quick look up of the changing orbats for Telic and Herrick will show this is common practice.

    Have the French found some secret sauce? maybe, but then again we used to have CS and CSS units allocated within Bde’s until not too recently ( and I think some still are, maybe some can clarify? ).

    Should we go back to allocating CS and CSS units to bde’s officially? Probably, but would that show how little true combined arms capability we have?


  12. In the navy we have ships manned by Geordies, Scousers and Janners, and we all get on together. Their loyalty is to their ship and branch not their post code. So I can’t understand why Infantry regiments are so set on recruiting all its squadies from the same place. Just recruit them and then send them to where they are most needed. Might be easier if there was a Royal Corps of Infantry.


    1. But what would you honestly achieve by having a corp of infantry?

      I agree that creating larger regiments is what we should look at to modernise etc but what would completely shelving the regimental system achieve apart from destroying a large amount of history and connections to the population that they represent, and a history that is there to inspire the current members of the regiment.

      History is important and even the navy are a highly traditional institution as they understand the neuance that having a history brings. If it was not important why carry on the tradition of naming ships after past vessels with a proud history and if having no connection to the communities of tyhe countries you represent is of no merrit why are ships named after places?

      Would it not be better to name them HMS 1,2 and 3 etc?

      The regimental system may seem odd but it is no diiferent in essence to what the navy do.

      Further more the complete disbandment of the regimental system would not rid the army of tribalism or sub cultures being created, as it is a human trait to create an ethos that singles out your organisation over the competitors.

      If we were starting from scratch then maybe we would not have a regimental system but we are not so modernisation and not cultural vandalism is required.


  13. A key point about the Australian structure that seems to be missed and that is relevant to the British discussion is that the Australian structure is not designed to deploy a division and probably couldn’t. Even the Australian Multirole Combat Brigade is not really designed as a fighting formation, but more a toolbox of capabilities that a land combat task force can be supplied from. The Australian Army force structure is designed to ensure that the toolbox is continuously available to government either in in use or at high readiness.

    The three Brigade structure is driven by the understanding that in military reality, one of anything is a training capability that you will never actually be able to deploy in a reasonable timeframe. Two of anything is a one shot capability, because by the time you cannibalise your second to bring your first up to strength to fight, you don’t have a second rotation without pouring in a lot of extra resources. Three of something is the minimum number to have a reasonable chance of having one available to deploy at short notice and resources in your system to sustain it through multiple rotations. If you want to be sure that you can continuously provide a capability you really need four (eg CASD).

    For the British Army, this means that the current structure of 3(UK) Div as a 2 Armoured Brigade and 2 Strike Brigade Division translates into an actual deployment of an under strength Division with 1 Armoured Brigade and 1 Strike Brigade followed by a shambles if you have to sustain it in operations for any length of time.

    The other point from the Australian experience that may be worth consideration is the way reserves are employed. The Australian Army has paired two reserve brigades with each regular brigade as they go through their readiness cycle, with expectation that the reserve element will be able to generate a battalion sized battlegroup at reasonable readiness. When the regular army gets busy, the reserves have been used in lower intensity commitments and operations such as the rotational rifle company at Butterworth in Malaysia and previous pacific island stability operations. There would seem to be no reason that UK reserves couldn’t fill deployments like the Falklands roulement company or the Cyprus battalions. This may make reserve service more attractive for some of the people you want in your reserve force.

    BTW, the Gurkhas in Brunei did deploy to East Timor in 1999 and represent a tangible commitment to the FPDA and Asia Pacific.


      1. Bob,

        7 Rifles did deploy recently as a BattleGroup (BG) but to be clear its a BG (Minus) and the minus is a pretty big one. BGs can form with just two sub units (a 1:1 Armoured BG) but its VERY rare and would be supported by a Support company as a minimum, and potentially Arty, Engr and HQ elements so in terms of numbers it would be closer to 450-500, double the size of 7 RIFLES BG. So, yes, the press release calls this a BG but thats because, well, its a press release and it wants to paint 7 RIFLES in a good light. But its a BG(-). I don’t think you’ll be able to find ANY other BG Reserve deployments which is a problem. Its also telling that a BG came from two Battalions. A single Bn couldn’t get 240 odd troops out of the door from an establishment of 450 odd Reservists is telling.

        There have been a handful of Coy deployments in the decade odd that I’ve been a Reservist (4 PARA FIRIC, 4 LANCS Cyprus and now 7 RIFLES/5RRF to Tosca, there may be one or two that I’ve missed). The fact that I can name the above with no research should tell you something. They are rare which is the problem with current T&Cs. There are still some loud mouthed, long in the tooth, bounty hunters in the Reserves (although they are really still TA and there is a big difference) who will tell you there is nothing wrong at all and no change to T&C is acceptable. Sadly some of these are also MPs, some of whom are misty eyed and mid 60’s.

        The bounty hunters answer to any changes is to question ‘what is the purpose of the Reserves’? clearly having missed FR2020 which clearly states its sub unit deployments. They are stuck in a cold war mentality. If we were as busy as we’ve ever been (07-15 ish) and we can only get a handful of sub units out the door then something is wrong and needs changing.

        All this is not to take away from the Reservists that deployed as Individual Augmentees throughout Iraq and Afghanistan and who I fought alongside. Many are first rate and can easily cut it with Regular soldiers. But FR2020 needs sub units.

        Finally a cynic (like me) might go as far as to suggest the Reserves are throwing people out of the door to justify their existence at a time when the axe is about to fall. Some of Carters previous comments have been pretty hostile to the notion of the Reservist.


  14. I’d be interested to see the references for this articles as the facts I know for sure are either incocrrect or cherry picked (other than the wikipedia link that you dropped in). You don’t use the reserve numbers for the British Army but neglect to mention the proportion of conscripts that make up other Armies such as the Greek and Turkish.

    You say that each European army can field at least two divisions. I would be interested to see this happen in Turkey where Officer manning is at 60% since the purge, conveniently left out.

    Germany also struggles to fill it’s NATO HQ Officer manning commitments because they are heavily undermanned.

    You also seem to believe that Infantry battalions can only fight wars and therefore are only useful as part of combined arms. I susspect that you understand all the other roles that they can be used in and have negelcted this for the sake of your argument.


  15. This is a great article.

    I do disagree with Thomas on the option of disbanding the Reserves, but I do agree with him on much of what he suggests around Army Reserve reform. For context I’m a former Regular, now Reserve Officer having served in Helmand in the period 2007-2013. I’m not some mid 60’s former TA Captain thinking back with a misty eye about my weekends on Salisbury Plain (and the very cheap TA Bar) and insisting, usually very loudly and usually on twitter (they retired a while back, have plenty of time on their hands and have just discovered technology) there is nothing wrong and no reform whatsoever is acceptable.

    Another article that I thought was very good (https://wavellroom.com/2019/06/20/closing-the-personnel-gap-robin-hood-and-sacred-cows/) pointed out the problem with Regular Military personnel – that they are bloody expensive and without reform (getting rid of expensive HQs – some of which you touch on above) will only get more so, relative to the rest of the budget. And the option right now is to cut numbers in the blind hope that technology will be able to make up for it.

    So here is what I would do:

    1. Expand the Reserves to 50,000 (accepting a couple of things – 1. Right now you can’t make people join and many will say thats an unrealistic number with but with only opinion to back it up 2. Although the Reserves is at around strength now, about half (can’t find the reference now) achieve Certificate of Efficiency) so the measure should move to number of efficient Reserves)

    2. A change in the law stating that if a person joins the Reserves and completes training that they are compelled to serve a certain number of days AND be on standyby/deploy for 6 months every five years and do a minimum of one rotation of this. Civilian employers would be supported through this time financially and would be given plenty (6 months) of notice to find temporary hires and train people to fill gaps

    3. Change Terms and Conditions – A Reserve unit (example of Infantry Battalion) work on a readiness cycle and have to provide a sub unit every year so the Army would – link to tour length below

    4. Standby/Tour would be six months in TOTAL including build up and post tour leave so giving around 4 months of deployed time (no hassle with R and R). So with 16 Infantry Battalions currently, the forces would get the equivalent of about 5 sub units worth of days served every year. The Regular Army could hand off the Falklands and Cyprus totally and possibly some low level tasks like base security in Afghanistan/Iraq/Mali/Sierra Leone (16 Bns X 4 months = 64 months deployed time = 5.333 years)

    5. Reserve Infantry Light role and Regular Infantry ‘specialise’.

    Reserve Infantry Light role – get rid of the Support Weapons Courses. They don’t qualify reservists to do anything and frankly, I don’t want an MFC with two years worth of training, maybe done 3 or 4 years ago bringing in HE over my head. Each Infantry Reserve Unit would have 5, purely Light role companies. There would be no HQ Coy. No one (ok maybe very few) joins the Infantry Reserve with the express wish to be a chef/clerk/storeman

    Regular Infantry ‘speclaise’ – A Light Battalion may have a Company of soldiers multi skilled. A Company are Light role AND Mortars, B Company are Light role AND Javelin….
    Armoured/Mech Battalions – Everyone a driver or gunner and another skill (signaller, medic, Mortars). Dismounts by and large from the Reserve.

    6. Restructure Reserve Training – Reservists in the Infantry are qualified after two weeks. A Regular Infantry soldier does 2.5 times this training in the field alone in their course. There needs to be structured follow on Infantry training based on the Regular CIC that is periodically refreshed. The Reserves should be thought of as always in training.

    7. Reserves = Infantry. Lets be realistic. You cannot be a proficient mechanic with two weeks training every year. Same with things like Engineering/Arty/Police work. The barrier to entry for that task is just too high. There may be pools of specialists who join but given there will be little consistency in that pool they should be thought of as deep specialists and on call if required within the bounds of what everyone else does.

    All of this because, like it or not, we MAY need mass in the future. Why? Because if war is a people centric activity and people live in cities then that is where we will need to fight. I cannot find a single article on Urban warfare that states (all things including technology being equal) we will need less mass. And we need it at a price we can afford.

    Indeed, a BAR article (British Army Review Special Report Winter 2018 Urban Operations – page 47) stated ‘certain TA Battalions are becoming as proficient as many and better than some regular battalions in FIBUA’. Although anecdotal, when you think about it this makes sense. Reservists live in towns and cities, not messes or accommodation blocks. They are architects, plumbers, electricians, bankers, officer workers – they know what modern urban structures are like, how they flow etc.

    So in short, more Light role Reserves BUT with significant changes in T&C to make they useable.

    Thomas has put some intellectual rigour behind what he suggests. All to often military commentators engage in purely conceptual hand waving mistaking their opinion on the subject with hard hitting analysis


  16. As someone who has been proposing a USMC organisational model for the uk for some time I believe we can field 4 full time divisions of 22.5k personnel.

    1 Royal Marines brigade
    3 strike brigades
    1 logistics brigade

    The whole organisation s based upon the following unit sizes

    Platoon 36 FTE
    Company 180 FTE
    Battallions 900 FTE
    Brigade 4500 FTE
    Division 22.5k FTE
    Force 90k FTE

    FTE = full time employee

    Each company, brigade and division is based upon 4 combat arms and 1 integrated logistics arm. This is based n a premise that forces going forward will operate within a 360 degree bubble that needs a combat force in the rear able to reinforce, support or screen the rear as necessary whilst the combat support elements operate within the bubble.

    One of the strike bgdes could be an armoured formation, but my preference is for a ‘full fat’ boxer formation able to fully defend itself and with the base IFV having a CTA40 with ATW and 6 dismounts as standard backed up by a range of precision and long range fires and AAD.

    This organisation has the following benefits

    1. Recognises the RMC as a key capability and integrates into the larger field force as a specialist capability.
    2. Allows us to go big on boxer and get the maximum utility out of our investment whilst vastly improving lethality and reinvigorating capability.
    3. Moves our smaller modern force away from light and gets more protection across the force.
    4. Broadly aligns to a MEU structure which will aid with commonality with our closest ally the USMC.
    5. Creates a structure that other assets can be aligned to (air)
    6. Allows for overall resilience if in the worst case scenario of us losing 1 or more divisions the remaining assets remain functional down to the battalion level.
    7. Updates every platform to become an ISR asset.
    8. Allows us to standardise on 48 infantry battalions plus 16 commando battalions.
    9. It would reignite the competitive nature of the British army as each division would compete against each other.
    10. Allows for clear rotations to take place.

    Not for everyone, but I believe the army is in its worst state for generations and something dramatic needs to happen to make it an employer of choice with the ability to have a career.


  17. I find @ Chris comments insightful and after the condensed bet-bits version , below, will post questions (hopefully not exposing my ignorance of the channels as to how people join):

    ## Reserve Infantry Light role – get rid of the Support Weapons Courses. They don’t qualify reservists to do anything and frankly, I don’t want an MFC with two years worth of training, maybe done 3 or 4 years ago bringing in HE over my head. Each Infantry Reserve Unit would have 5, purely Light role companies. There would be no HQ Coy. No one (ok maybe very few) joins the Infantry Reserve with the express wish to be a chef/clerk/storeman

    Restructure Reserve Training – Reservists in the Infantry are qualified after two weeks. A Regular Infantry soldier does 2.5 times this training in the field alone in their course. There needs to be structured follow on Infantry training based on the Regular CIC that is periodically refreshed. The Reserves should be thought of as always in training.

    Reserves = Infantry. Lets be realistic. You cannot be a proficient mechanic with two weeks training every year. Same with things like Engineering/Arty/Police work. The barrier to entry for that task is just too high.
    ….There may be pools of specialists who join but given there will be little consistency in that pool they should be thought of as deep specialists and on call ##

    OK, so despite the naming changes (TA/ Reserve…), I would be broadly in agreement.
    – then we come to specialists; how many army Med. Units could be stood up without any such
    – go down to other trades, if one can use such a broad label for highly skilled specialists:
    … artillery, let’s just mention GMLRS. Logs; Transportation; Ports & something else Rgmnt

    To conclude, I think the proposals need to be honed with the consideration of the fact that 40% of the Reserves would serve (back-fill?) in such specialist capacity
    – and then, we could set up the ambition for formed units (infantry?) and training days, to make such units deployable with minimal ‘refresher’ training


    1. accattd

      Thanks. Its a subject I’ve given considerable thought to.

      In terms of your comments above my personal view is that the majority of the Reserves should be Infantry generalists, not the specialists that you are talking about (GMLRS/P&M etc.). Have a read of Mission Improbable by Patrick Bury. It talks about P&M specifically and their training burden to be proficient. Its very high and for a person who gets a couple of weeks off a year, its nigh on impossibly high to get quals in a meaningful timeframe. So what you get is the people that can turn up often as opposed to those most capable (accepting that this isn’t binary). The job is just too difficult to be done by part timers. BUT General Support logistics is arguably not that difficult. Its analagous to Light Role infantry in that regard.

      So what you could sensibly do is multiskill general support Logistic soldiers to P&M and General Support. When the time comes to exercise then you have a mass of reserve General Support Logisticians who support. Enough Reservists so that when needed they can form full sub units.

      Personal view is things like GMLRS speciality is a political exercise to allow the UK to claim that they still have deep fires. If an MFC can’t bring 81 in with just two weeks training then the chances of a Reservist launching something 0’000ft in the air (think MH17 and the UK getting that wrong) is fanciful. Reserves are just playing at this and

      There are specialties that could work and Med is the oft cited example. But again, its piece meal and dependent on who wants to join. You can’t go to Greater Manchester NHS trust and say ‘I want 3 trauma surgeons, 9 emergency nurses etc. You have to take what you can get. There aren’t any reciprocal agreements (that I’ve heard of) with big NHS trusts to train Reservists in a normal (non COVID) summer when things tend to be quieter for the NHS.

      The Med arguement also ignores why people join the Reserves. To be soldiers not to do their day job in another set of clothes. And when you think of soldiers you think of the Infantry. So some might like to join the Army and join, say, the REME, as its their closest unit and then they are part of the tribe so don’t leave but fixing wagons probably wasn’t their first thought.

      Not to say that you have a load of nurses/paramedics/ambulance techs in an Infantry unit and have them trained up as CMT1/3 and they deploy in support of Reg units of as Team Medics with their sub units but its their secondary purpose in the AR, not their primary.

      So in short, loads of generalist mass, properly trained and ready if we need it and leave the specialised stuff (everything from the Machine Gun Platoon to Structural Engineering to Surgery) to people who do it all the time (with some noteable exceptions).


  18. From my seat the problem with reserves training is that they are so fixated on very basic soldiering because they are forced to by the MOD and the regular forces by way of linking the bounty to MATTS.

    MATTS are refreshed during mobilisation so as there is nothing wrong with doing them as part of training they should not be the be all and end all and used as rod to either beat the reserves with or as a yard stick to measure them.

    Further training and depth is far more important in the scheme of things.

    Do away with the bounty so that training can progress without having it reverted every year so that everyone can chase the bounty with their finite time. Pay a larger bounty for mobilising and leave it that.

    More simulation and access to it is more benefit to the reserves than the regulars (by way of not having access to physical equipment in the same manner) and should be used more to train them, which would require inevestement.

    Drill nights should be scrapped or organised in such a way that only a small number are required to turn up for a specific reason.

    The reserves are the reserve and should not be seen by the regular army as way of mitigating poor recruitment and retention. This does not mean the reservists are not encouraged to deploy etc but reservists should not be penalised for not wanting to disrupt their lives or forced to deploy at an arbitary time point.

    Lastly the reserves are useless without a war reserve of equipment for them to use. How many MRVP are we planning to purchase above the bare minimum for a few reg Btn’s and a training fleet for example?

    I know what I have written is very simplistic and as always a great deal of nuance is involved when it comes to real life.


    1. Few things I don’t agree with here

      MATTs – Most professions have standards that require proof or refreshing. I don’t see MATTs as a problem per se. The problem is doing them every year with a limited amount of time that eats so much time as to leave little for decent progressive training. But I don’t feel like MATTs are a rod to beat reservists with, they are a necessary evil.

      Bounty – Bigger for deployment does make sense. If you do away with it though I’d want a days leave for every 2.5 days served so a similar amount of additional pay to a Regular which I don’t think is unreasonable. As a reservist I’m masses cheaper than a Regular and I don’t have a problem being on a deployment rota so closer to Regular T&C’s Again, David and I see the world differently, which doesn;t mean either is right or wrong.

      Drill nights – I thought the same until I read Mission Improbable by Patrick Bury. Drill nights are the equivalent of someone’s football team, squash ladder, yoga club. To take this away takes away their social cohesion. I definitely agree that drill nights are CRAP and feel by and large pointless a lot of the time. Not progressive in part because different people, attend as different time are at different stages because of life and work. So, make a drill centre into a digital training hub for drill nights. Doing e.g. simulation (or more likely more digitally enabled training) which is a good suggestion whilst the PSI takes the training that has to be hand essential (WHT, BCDT). Do some phys and then have a couple of drinks. Crack MATTs (not necessarily yearly) in the weeknights and keep weekends for good training.

      The reserves are the reserve – I think you mean that they should only be used in extremis which isn’t in line with FR2020 but may well be your entirely valid opinion. BUT we do know that experience (and having some prior to extremis) can only be a good thing. And using the sports analogy if a team is under pressure (in the Army’s case because of regular staff shortages) then the team brings on fresh legs to give others a break. So I don’t see a problem them deploying periodically with a known schedule and with the individual given some control over it. And if they know what they are signing up for (6 months in 5 years) then they aren’t forced out the door arbitrarily. They have decided.

      The reason some Reservists get so emotional (and anyone that doesn’t should just read a few comments on twitter on the Wavell Room any time ANY change is suggested) is the reason doing away with drill nights is a bad idea. Its their club and its their patriotic duty so its a double emotional whammy. But the country’s debt level should alarm all of us and if we are paying for something we as taxpayers should expect some output. That is also patriotic duty.


      1. I have no problem with MATTs, like you say they are a minimum standard that must be met so show competance. The problem I have with the current system is linking the bounty to MATTs. As you yourself said

        ‘The problem is doing them every year with a limited amount of time that eats so much time as to leave little for decent progressive training’

        To me it just encourages regression and stagnation in the training year by linking a monetry value to it and therefore pressure from members to have the opportunity to tick all the boxes every year, are we really saying that someone is not a trained soldier because they have missed a law of armed conflict lecture?.

        Just pay reservists equal to regs and do away with the yearly bounty or encourage a more fluid approach to the bounty requirement.

        ‘The reserve is the reserve’

        By this I mean the reserve needs to be equiped and roled to support Div manoeuver. We are now back into the business of preparing for peer and near peer conflict so the reserves need to be reformed to recognise this and mandated to have formed units to allow this.

        If we cannot get enough qualified pers to form a reinforced combined arms battlegroup from 30000ish members then the reserves are just a buffer to conscription during enduring ops.

        There are plenty of AS90 hulls sitting idle for example some of which should be earmarked for the reserves (some might be it’s just an example). this is also what I mean by simulators being used a lot more by reservists to offset the barrier of not having the physical equipment at hand and keep costs to a minimum.

        We can still call on them for enduring ops but like the rest of the armed forces they need to play a role in the full spectrum of conflict and we will not have the luxury of being able to train and equip them over time in the future.

        ‘So I don’t see a problem them deploying periodically with a known schedule and with the individual given some control over it’

        I think it’s just too arbitary. What if we do not have any enduring ops in 5 years to deploy too? Are people going to be willing to get mobilised to sit in Tidworth for 4 months? Are we going to be willing to pay for them to do this without a clear case to do so?

        In regard to drill nights I think that they can be better utilised. I see nothing wrong with a training programme where by X Plt/Troop shows up this week to do something specific and Y Plt/Troop turns up the following week and then a Coy/Sqn get together monthly or 5-6 weekly etc.

        I think they need reforming regardless.


  19. It is very kind, that you write so nicely about the german army, but neither make the german brigade structure any sense, neither are its divisional artillery units powerful – and therefore is there a gigantic lack in artillery in the troops – and neither is the division usable in any way as an force for its own or as an whole division. Today the german army could only scratch together from different pool units some brigade sized non-organic combat teams and thats all. No Divison in germay can deploy at all and not only reserve units have to be assembled to deploy some brigades, for that also other units from other brigades have to be assembled (pool units).

    Like with the artillery the reconaissance in its todays form and TOE are not an ideal solution to say at least. The division lacks reconaissance units totally and for the brigade they are oversized, especially if you regard the lack of organic artillery in the brigade.

    Moreover what you call the Joint Support Service, the joint medical service, and the cyber command are not joint structures assisting the army et al, but they are three of the four so called Military organizational areas, and the army, the air-force and the navy form together the fourth one. Therefore this three organizational areas have too much power, influence and build a to great part of the overall armed forces and are more an hindrance and weaken the military fighting power instead of improving it. They have become an problem, not an solution and a bigger one that the british incorporation of such things into the divisions / army structure.

    PS: The Franco-German Brigade (directly in its german parts) also part of the 10th Panzer-Division. So the 10th Division has de facto 4 Brigades, not 3.

    PPS: there are actual plans to change the divisional structure and the structure of the brigades heavily in the next years. The so called Division 2027 will differ completly from the current state because this current state is so unsufficient and annoying. And this new divisional and brigade structure is only an beginning as an interim solution to change this structure even further.

    The reason for changes is simply: we are more than unhappy with the todays german army structure as it is unable to fight and unusable for warfare. The end target is the Heer 4.0 which should start at 2032.


    1. @Ulrich Reinhardt
      That was an interesting comment thanks. Out of interest how do you make 3 x Division 2027 out of 8 brigades? Is one of the brigades Dutch? Also how does the Panzerbrigade differ from the Panzergrenadierbrigade; is it just more tanks in the Panzerbrigade or is the Panzergranadierbrigade more of a mechanised formation than an armoured one? Finally on the Franco-German brigade I’ve always struggled with the notion of to what extent it’s a political construct as much as, or even more than, a military one. What’s your view of its capability? Sorry for all the questions but yours was an interesting perspective.


      1. JT:

        I have written a longer answer, but it seems it is gone. Again and in short form:

        The Division 2027 is only ONE Division, not three. The target is to have one combat ready division in 2027 because actually we have 0.

        Also it is our target to include more brigades of the netherlands in our current divisional structure over time.

        A Panzer-Brigade originally means 2 Tank Bataillons and 1 Mech-Infantery-Bataillon and 1 Anti-Tank Unit. A Panzergrenadier-Brigade was 1 Tank-Bataillon and 2 Mech-Infantry-Bataillonns and 1 Anti-Tank Unit.

        So the difference was 1 Tank Bataillon more or 1 Mech-Infantry Bataillon more.

        Moreover the armoured recce bataillons of the divisions were units with MBT (even Leopard 2 Tanks) and with more combat power than an tank bataillon and they were also used to strengthen brigades if necessary. So an Tank Brigade could therefore had the equivalent of 3 tank-bataillons for example

        But today the structure is complete different and does not have any logical reasons:

        For example the Panzerbrigade 12 (Tank-Brigade) has only 1 Tank-Bataillon and 2 Mech-Infantry Bataillons and therefore it would have been classified as an Panzergrenadier-Brigade in the original structure. But for tradition and because it as an second inactive / reserve tank Bataillon, the 8 Mountain Tank Bataillon it is classified as an Tank-Brigade.

        And for example the 21 Panzer-Brigade (Tank-Brigade) has only 1 Tank, 2 Mech-Infantry but also 2 Light Infantry Bataillons. Therefore because of its strong logistic units it is more an combined independent brigade, but nether an Tank-Brigade in the classical sense of the word. And one bataillon is again nonactive/reserve unit.

        So the todays structure differs strongly from the traditional classification and the naming therefore has become hollow.

        The FG Brigade is an political construct, but theoretically it is an very good unit with precious abilities. It could be used for example like the planned uk strike brigades for an kind of strike concept. Moreover it has an strong recce part and could therefore deliver several combat recce troops for divisions with enought combat power and size. Purly militarly the unit is very good, but there is the problem, that the french try to dominate everything and only act accroding to their national advantage. Because of the french it is sadly in the reality not usable, despite its tremendous abilities.

        Also it would excel in expeditionary warfare, coin etc..

        I hope my answer reaches you and will not get lost again.


      2. Ulrich:

        Many thanks for the extra info. Out of interest why are the Gebirgsjäger Bataillone not in the same division as the Fallschirmjäger? i.e. why aren’t light forces kept together?

        Also are the Jäger in the Panzer and Panzergrenadiere brigades truly light infantry or are they in protected mobility?


    2. Ulrich, that was a really interesting post.

      It looks as if 2023 will be a big year for the German army with VJTF. In preparation for this, 43 pumas are being upgraded. Do you know if the rest of the IFV fleet will get the same upgrades?



  20. Bob2:

    It is planed to give with the time all pumas the same upgrades BUT: acutally it is doubtfull that even the VJTF will have sufficient pumas with this standard. The puma makes more and more problems and this year an discussion has started even to replace the puma and to proccure the KF41 instead (which would also be catastrophic). It is like choosing between different evils. The puma has become an annoyance for everyone and the numbers will so oder so not be sufficient for the long term aims. The problems reach much deeper and farther than it is known in other countries. The overall concept to transport the tank with an A400M is one of the reasons, the incompetence of the politicans and high ranking officers and and systemic corruption and incompetence of the industry add to this. Some think, the puma is rotten to the core and we should give it up, but that would mean to loose tremendous amounts of money that were invested in this project.

    IMO we should right away stop the idea to transport this tank with an A400M and especially we should give up the weight limits. Then we could complete the vehicle promptly and more cheaply with actually available systems and eliminate many of the problem areas, even if not all (keyword engine problems etc)


    1. Hi Ulrich,

      Interesting that the puma is undergoing so many issues, considering it is quite a new platform.

      In your opinion, what is the issue with the KF41?



      1. Bob2:

        The Puma is actually not that new. It was started as a project in 1998, accelerated from 2001 and the first PUMA was launched in 2010. Since then, there has been a list of problems and necessary upgrades that is almost impossible to manage. In the end the puma will be much more expensive and will still have many unsolvable problems, for example with his engines.

        With the kf41, it is simply not known whether it actually fully delivers the services promised by the industry (or if it will become a second puma desaster). You will have to wait for the tests in Australia. If this goes well, the Bundeswehr is currently considering no longer purchasing the Puma and switching to the KF41 instead.

        The primary advantage of the kf41 is that the industry have apparently learned from the many mistakes made with the PUMA and apparently avoided them with the KF41. But that was not that difficult, as many specifics of the Puma were not necessary for the Kf41. Therefore, here and now, the KF41 is overall more capable than the PUMA although it is a really very new vehicle.


  21. @Ulrich Reinhardt,

    I don’t know whether you work for a competitor to KMW, but your information about Puma is is misleading if not completely fabricated. Yes, Puma had a troubled development history that delayed its entry into service. In particular, the requirement to mount additional protection required an extra pair of road wheels to be added during the development process. However, today it is a mature platform that delivers reliable service. The Bundeswehr has no plans to replace it with KF41.

    Puma introduced a number of radical innovations that have since become widely adopted among other NATO armies, including the first unmanned turret. in general service, before one was seen one T-14 Armata. The RCT-30 turret carries 200 rounds of ready ammunition. Stored in the turret bustle, this ensures that the crew compartment is totally isolated from ammo storage. The turret also has optical sights as well as electro-optical sights, which gives it a dependable back-up mode in case the main sights are damaged. A dual control set-up for the weapons allows the commander to perform the gunner’s duties and vice versa. Puma has the highest level of protection of any NATO IFV in service. Exact levels are classified, but it is at least Level VI across the frontal arc and Level V elsewhere. Puma has a de-coupled suspension. This means that noise, vibration and bumps are not transmitted from the driveline to the crew compartment. It is extremely clever. The MTU-Renk powerpack builds on 40 years of experience with Leopard 2. I would say based on these facts and my own intimate knowledge of the platform that Puma is a standout design.

    If Puma has a fault it is that it lacks interior space. Its roof is low. But this is what delivers exceptional protection in a 43-tonne package. Also, this weight propelled by 1,000 bhp engine means that it is exceptionally agile across country. In contrast, KF41 has a much larger crew compartment within a weight envelope that is broadly similar. This means that KF41 has less protection. You could easily increase the interior space offered by Puma by adding an 30 cm of headroom. This would increase the weight to around 48-50 tonnes. Puma is what it is because it had to fulfil the Bundeswehr’s exacting requirements. This allows for a basic weight below 32 tonnes without appliqué armour so it can be transported in an A400M.

    Since I work closely with KMW in the UK, I am fully up-to-speed with their entire product portfolio. I can honestly say there are no fundamental issues and outstanding concerns. Meanwhile, KMW continues to develop Puma. You certainly haven’t seen the last of this platform. KMW is working on enhancements to the design that will elevate it above anything else on offer. Mark my words and wait and see.

    I am sure KF41 will evolve into a great vehicle, but it is still very new and in its development cycle. I am sure it will experience its own share of development gremlins too. As good as it may become, I will take my chances in Puma.


    1. UK Landpower:

      i by no means work for any armaments company, i’m just a simple, humble german soldier who has to grapple with all the failures in the bundeswehr every day.

      I did not mean that the puma should be replaced by the kf41, but that army is thinking about purchasing kf41s instead of further additional puma. The reason for this is simply that the puma still has numerous problems (despite your claims) and the costs have gotten so out of hand that the quantities required for the current plans cannot be realized with it. We simply do not have the money to set up the planned brigades and then divisions with the puma. But it is an open discussion at the moment, although the voices for the kf41 became stronger and stronger this year.


      Zitat: Nach Einschätzung von Mais bestehen allerdings auch Lücken im Bereich der Hauptwaffensysteme. So ist es aus seiner Sicht „völlig ausgeschlossen“, die für die Division2027 benötigten 266 Schützenpanzer Puma ….noch einmal durch Rückgriff auf den Schützenpanzer Marder zu substituieren, um die benötigten fünf Panzergrenadierbataillone und drei Jägerbataillone auszurüsten. …….

      Gegenwärtig fürchten Industrievertreter, dass die Bestellung einer zweiten Tranche des Schützenpanzers Puma auf der Kippe stehen könnte. Zum einen verengen sich – nicht zuletzt wegen der Corona-Pandemie – die Spielräume des Haushaltes. Zum anderen hat der Puma die Einsatzreife für die VJTF 2023, die als Voraussetzung für die Beschaffung des nächsten Loses gilt, nicht wie geplant im Sommer erreicht. Die Nachprüfung ist gegenwärtig für Februar kommenden Jahres geplant.

      use google translator if you wish, the main point are the last two sentences:

      For another, the Puma did not reach the operational readiness for the VJTF 2023, which is a prerequisite for the procurement of the next lot, as planned in the summer (2020). The review is currently planned for February next year (2021).

      So we will have to wait until february and only after this review it will be clear if even an second lot of puma will be ordered or not. Without this review no one can claim seriously what will happen.

      I also find it a little bit funny that you claim i have an bias here, but youself are directly related to KMW according to your own statment here. You can believe me or not, i know the puma firsthand as an user and i am still annoyed from him. All the innovations you wrote about are not in all cases good and sometimes it is especially the very special concept and the attempt to define an new state of art that have become the main reason why this IFV sucks in many things. Of cause not all is bad and in comparison to many other IFV for sure the puma is not an bad one. But your portrayal of puma certainly doesn’t match either.

      >>>I am sure KF41 will evolve into a great vehicle, but it is still very new and in its development cycle. >>>>>

      I am not sure that the KF41 Hype will be true in the end and i we will see if it will become an great vehicle. It is still too new to make any serious statement about it and therefore i wrote that one should wait for an real assessment.

      And as an statement: if i personally should choose between an puma and an kf41 i would choose the puma in every case. Please regard what i write negative about the puma with this statement of mine in the background. To know the problems and to know the weaknesses of an vehicle and name them does not mean i am hostile to this vehicle. Its better to know whats wrong than to be suprised in combat.

      The main problem with the puma is imo especially the idea, the concept to transport him with an A400M. This concept was the main reason for most problems and without this demand the PUMA would be ready since years and it would be an much better IFV than it is now. The PUMA could have become an tremendous IFV and the best in the world without this concept which realy crippled the vehicle design.

      And i still think, that without this concept of air-transport with the A400M the producer could develope the PUMA in an outstanding armoured plattform, even into an basis for an united armoured plattform for all kind of tracked armoured vehicles in the armed forces. But because the air transport dogma had so much negative consequences for the vehicle at every aspect of it, this is now doubtful.

      Lets talk only about one unsolvable problem: the MT890V10. And i ask you as an expert and as someone who is attached to kmw:

      Is it true or not, that if i start the engine and demand high power from it at the spot the engine will be destroyed ? As we are not allowed to drive full speed or demanding cross country without really warming up because then the engine is bursting.

      Moreover: because of the airtransport concept and the weight and size limits the enine was an crucial part to make this concept function. But this results in a very special construction of the engine and resulting from this with problems with the torque of the motor and the achievable power in relation.

      With 2200 Nm it doesn’t have a lot of torque. For this he has to turn up to 3000. For comparison: The Liebherr Diesel of the Lynx has 50 kW more power, which is already available at 1800 (instead of 3800 for the puma) and delivers 6230 Nm of torque at 1,500 rotations.

      The motor of the Lynx has therefore almost 3 times as much pulling power and achieves this at significantly lower speeds. 6230 instead of 2200 Nm torque.

      Moreover as an funny sidenote: the puma has fewer vibrations in most cases because of the decoupled suspension as you mentioned but: in reality at certain speeds with an specific torque half the tank flies apart and even targeting becomes hardly possible and it doesn’t help the SEM 80/90 (VFH) either, which is already not holding up.

      Are this claims of mine here now fabricated or not?

      >>>>You certainly haven’t seen the last of this platform. KMW is working on enhancements to the design that will elevate it above anything else on offer. Mark my words and wait and see. >>>>

      I hope so very much, but how will KMW solve the problems with the torque, the vibrations, the bursting engines if you realy need all power at the spot without changing the engine – and with what engine at all if you regard the available space and weight limits ?

      >>>Puma is what it is because it had to fulfil the Bundeswehr’s exacting requirements. >>>>>

      Exactly and nothing to add.

      The true problem of this IFV is the concept. But that is not the fault of KMW, it is the fault of the leadership of the bundeswehr and the incompetence of high ranking german officers. Without the binding at the A400M i am sure KMW would have delieverd with the PUMA the best IFV ever – years ago.


      1. Mr. Reinhardt, are you writing out a reply in German and putting it into a translator?

        Specifically, “the engine is bursting” is a bit opaque in meaning: do you mean the engine catch’s fire if it is not properly warmed up?

        I apologize for the question, but I couldn’t catch the meaning of several critical sentences. Ihr english ist sicherlich besser als mein Deutsch.


  22. And Back to Topic and that the grass is not greener in germany:

    Actually we are even not able to deliver only 1 Mechanized Brigade without cannibalizing equipment and soldiers from other brigades. The target was then to change this with the VJTF 2023, and that then 1 Brigade will be combat ready for its own, but:



    “During the NATO spearhead (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force / VJTF) 2019, the troops deployed there were dependent on pulling together personnel and material from other formations – and returning them after the leadership phase of this reaction force ends. The stated goal of the Bundeswehr leadership is that this deficiency management should no longer be necessary the next time Germany takes over the leadership role in 2023. The starting position should be better at all levels.

    The fact that this goal will not be achieved already leaked at the turn of 2019/2020.

    The Army Inspector, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, admitted this at a digital event of the German Army Support Group on November 4th (2020). In front of an audience that mainly came from the political arena, Mais said: “We have not achieved the claim postulated three years ago to be able to support the next VJTF from a brigade of the German Army. The associated goal of setting up a so-called “standard brigade” had to be abandoned early on.”

    “It is already becoming apparent that not all of the material to be procured for VJTF 2023 will reach the troops in time.”

    “Since the Puma infantry fighting vehicle in its introduced form has not yet reached the threshold of operational readiness, the Bundeswehr has commissioned the development of 41 systems with a “VJTF” design status that is detached from the series.”

    Has not reached the threshold of operational readiness. And because of the budget situation and development of public finances and because of the still outstanding review in february 2021
    it is very doubtful that the planned second lot will come in 2022. I hope very much that KMW will deliver what was promised and the second lot will come. If not, no further pumas will be purchased and then a two-system fleet with pumas and kf41 will become inevitable.

    But as the topic is here the comparison of the UK forces and their structure with the german armed forces i do not see the bundeswehr in any way as an example for the uk, at most as a deterrent example of how not to do it. Actually we still not have even one operational mechanised brigade. Not one. 0.

    And it is doubtful that even in 2023 we will have one complete mechanised brigade combat ready, despite all what is tried now to make at least this happen.

    Without radical changes the german army will further near to worthless. It is a shame, especially for me, but it is the truth. Theoretical plans on papers are one thing, but the sad reality differs from them completly.


    1. Hi Ulrich,

      Happy Christmas!

      Could you please clarify a few things regarding division 2027?

      Is the aim to dramatically transform the 1st or 10th divisions to make them deployable, with the other division going through the same transformation by 2031,

      or is the aim to break up both the 1st and 10th divisions and form a single deployable division?

      If it is the second option, and division 2027 consists of just 1 panzer and 2 panzer grenadier brigades, what happens to the rest of the German army? Will they for the equivalent of the UKs 1st division i.e light with no support units.

      What will happen to your airborne/mobile brigade, will it still be in a separate division with the special forces and the Dutch airmobile brigade? Currently your Tigers are attached to this special forces division, but it appears some will be transferred to division 2027.

      In an earlier post you said the aim was to integrate more Dutch forces. You already have their mechanised brigade in your 1st division and their airmobile brigade in your rapid/SF division, which only leaves the Dutch boxer-equipped light brigade still to integrate. Regarding division 2027, where do these Dutch brigades fit in?

      Regarding the Dutch troops, how is the integration going? It does seem odd to an outsider that the Dutch are giving up control of their whole army to another nation. On paper they have well equipped forces that could form their own divisional sized formation.



      1. Bob2:

        1 About the Division 2027:

        Because of the time schedule there is no other possibility than to transform the 1 Division, although this is not said openly in most publications on this.

        Moreover what is not shown in the organisational diagrammes of the Division 2027 is, that it has slots for 2 additional foreign / mulitnational brigades. So the target is to have 3 fully operational german brigades and optional up to 2 additional multinational brigades in the same Division (so the division would consist of 5 Brigades overall full strength).

        In addition, and that goes well with the topic here, the reserve is to be expanded considerably and integrated very strongly into the new structures. So the complete opposite of what the author of the article has strived for as ideal. And there is a simple practical reason for this: the plans are not feasible without the reserve. So you see this development of the german army will go completly contrary to what the author of the articel here has written: Zitat:

        >>No reserve units need to be assembled before the division can deploy. >>

        But in the reality our aim is: Zitat:

        >>The reserve also plays a key role on the way to three fully equipped divisions. In this way, the non-active units would be preserved, expanded and finally made ready for action – with the aim of integrating the reservists strongly into active structures. “Readiness for action and deep integration of the reserve” is what drives the army.>>


        Also here:


        Moreover every german brigade will become a strong brigade artillery unit with this new type of division. So what the author wrote here is only the current state:

        >>Powerful divisional artillery battalions compensate for the lack of organic artillery in the brigades.>>

        The future brigades will all have their own artillery.

        2 About the airmobile and aviation units:

        This units will stay in their own divison, but the plan (and I want to emphasize the word plan) is to strengthen this division with additional troops. In particular, it has been stated several times that even a mechanized brigade is to be drawn into this division as preparation for the final divisional structure 2032 ff. In addition, foreign or multinational brigades are also planned here, which can optionally be led through the division. All of this is aimed at further integrating our neighbors’ armed forces into our structure.

        Here is for example an graphic about an possible overall structure as it was discussed ca. one year ago:

        Right on Page 1, the Heeresplan 2031:

        Click to access Bw-2018-32-txt-web.pdf

        But i have to say here, that all this information is very questionable because everything is constantly being overturned and changed. For example, the helicopter component declared for division 2027 suddenly no longer appears here.

        Strictly speaking, this army plan for 2031 is not realistic. With the current defense budget and the current “speed” in the development, influx and operational readiness of our main weapon systems, he is just as fantasy as any elaboration by desk generals (like me). For example it was an aim to develope an standard-brigade but this aim was also given up, because it became impossible etc

        3 Integration of foreign brigades:

        The target is not only to include the dutch brigades, but also other foreign brigades into our divisional structure. Mainly from our eastern neighbours. As mentioned above the Division 2027 has two slots for foreign/multinational brigades. Like the FG Brigade the target is to have more and more mulitnational brigades with german and foreign parts and this brigades then as part of the new divisions. The reason for this simply: we cannot afford and put up fast enough own brigades to make the 3 fully operational divisions an reality.

        4 integration of the dutch and reasons for this:

        The dutch has not given up the control about their army to us, the brigades are in reality only part of our divisons for training and practice. It is very doubtful, that they will give us full controll in warfare, in reality the use our infrastructure and abilities to spare money and to get better training and practice for cheap. The same with our “partners” like the polish. but the german leadership sincerly believes in an european army and that our current forces will more and more merge with other armed forces – and of cause they sincerly believe gemany will then get the overall command, Which is ridicolous. If it comes hard to hard, there will a bad awakening.

        Especially for the dutch one have to know, that the dutch army and the 1 german tank division build the so called I. DEU/NLD Corps – which is an multinational unit and in reality also includes units of several other countries. The integration of the dutch brigades into the german divisional structure is a direct result of this overhead structure of an german-dutch corps.

        The same to the east with the Multinational Corps Northeast with denmark and poland. funnily enough the germans declare that the 1 Panzer-Division will be part of both corps if demanded. How this will practically work is an complete other thing.

        But this wishful thinking of the germans is not only about brigades, but even there are such attempts for integration on the bataillon level. For example the german 411 Panzergrenadier-Bataillon is part of the Polisch 34 Cavalry Brigade and one Polish tank bataillon is part of the german 41 Panzergrenadier-Brigade. This mulitnational bullshit does not work well in reality, but it is the great dream of the current german military leadership. The same now with hungary.

        Why does this countries do this? Simply because they can spare money, get better training and practice for lower costs and can develope their national militaries easier and cheaper at our costs.

        With an exception perhaps of the dutch units, which are at least sometimes realy interested in cooperation (for whatever reasons). That reaches even further than the army: for example there is also an strong cooperation between the corps marinier and the german seebataillon which is an kind of pet junior partner for the korps marinier in their eyes. And for sure they are better than the german seebataillon as the korps mariniers are some of the findest soldiers i have ever seen or even heard of. So the dutch have a very good standing in the german army and the integration is very good, the merit for this lies with the dutch and in serious cases you will first have to see what will become of it.

        I hope i could have clearified some of your questions.

        Best regards.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Ulrich for your detailed reply to my questions. It is really insightful to get a serving German soldier’s perspective on their own army.

      I hope you could answer one more question I have. Your appear to be well acquainted with the Puma, suggesting you serve in a Panzer Grenadier battalion, which means there is a good chance your brigade also has a boxer equipped Jager battalion.

      There is lots is discussion on uk military forums about the mixing of Ajax and boxer in our strike brigades. It would be insightful on your experience of how well boxer and puma operate together.

      Many thanks


      1. Bob2:

        Unfortunately, I can’t give you an answer to how Pumas and boxers operate together. Unfortunately, the Puma is still not fully operational, the 41 Puma for the VJTF have yet to be completed and a second lot will not be procured until 2022, if at all.


        In Afghanistan, however, GTK Boxer and Marder IFV were deployed together. Therefore one can say something about this from this practical application experience. As far as I know from comrades who were there, both systems in Afghanistan worked together without any problems and outstanding, although the main burden of the fighting always remained on the Marder. The Marder has proven itself immensely there, although it is so old.

        The question then remains as to whether this experience in Afghanistan is of any significance at all. Just because something in Afghanistan worked very well for the bundeswehr on a small scale (we are talking about 10 Marder at the beginning and 25 Marder at the height of the deployment) that does not mean, in my opinion, that this also applies to larger associations at a higher level or that because it worked for the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan against third-rate asymmetrical opponents that it will then work for the British Army against more serious conventional opponents.

        The meaningfulness of these german operational experiences is therefore very limited in my opinion and of very little use for the British Army.

        I am familiar with the discussion in the UK about it mainly from this blog, but honestly I cannot contribute anything useful. Whether such a mixture actually makes sense or not – and under what circumstances exactly is beyond my knowledge and experience.

        If you are interested in the german combat experience with the Marder, an Book of some comrades is available in english:

        This book shows also clearly the very specific german circumstances and how our fight was hindered in any thinkable way by the high ranking leadership and many other problems and oddities of todays german combat troops.


  23. Well one thing this article seems to have inadvertently identified its that too many commentators have a tendency to see foreign forces through rose tuned tinted spectacles. The organisational diagrammes of foreign armies are taken at face value, their procurement and support experiences go unchallenged, and their often smaller defence budgets, rather than posing probing questions about how such apparent minor miracles are achieved, are held up as uncritical examples of efficiency. Meanwhile the UK is subject to the most intense scrutiny. (e.g. French mixing wheels and tracks in their armoured brigades is looked at with admiration, U.K mixing wheels and tracks in Strike brigades is vilified).

    Now I’m certainly not saying Britain had nothing to learn, but rather that the commentaries on, and analyses of, the UK’s armed forces are far too often hopelessly imbalanced and ill informed.


  24. Double hatting 1 Panzer is not unique as you mention the Danes. In addition they have a key role also in the MND North… but have only one mech. bde – and are contributing to two divisions?

    Anyway, if 1 Pz becomes a fully working division, the US have already set up a Div. HQ in Poland and then there are MNDs NE and North (eventually)
    – and eventually we will also fit in, somewhere in there
    – so progress, but at a glacial speed


  25. PS: Forgot to mention the 4. brigáda rychlého nasazení, a czech brigade which is also now part of the 10 Division together with the FG Brigade. Also a thing that is not so commonly known outside of the bundeswehr and the czech forces. Also it is the plan to integrate the rumanian Brigada 81 Mecanizata „General Grigore Balan“ into the Division Schnelle Kräfte, and to increase the cooperation with rumania in this direction further.

    As you can see the german army now tries to change its very nature into an kind of leading structure for foreign brigades – but that is also out of necessity and the overall weakness of german armed forces today. The actual bullshit buzzwords for this process are affiliations and Framework Nations Concept. Which means:

    I”t is one of the main strategic goals of the Bundeswehr: over the next ten years it wants to mature into a Framework Nations Army.”


    And with Framework Nations Army we mean that states come together to form armaments clusters – coordinated by Germany – in order to procure coordinated new equipment. At the same time, the multi-nation associations should grow up with the Bundeswehr as the “backbone”,

    The true reason behind this bullshit-buzzword-bingo is to sell more german weapons and to increase the profits of the german weapons industry and systemic corruption.

    The means of the Bundeswehr to build up this frame or base army are so-called “affiliations”. The bulky term means something like “approximations”. This is what it’s all about: Partner armies dock brigades (around 5,000 soldiers) to Bundeswehr divisions.

    The units remain under national command.

    But the German divisions serve as platforms for aligning training and education of the partners. The units are thereby “interoperable”.

    This merging is to be facilitated in perspective by using the same material that is procured via armaments clusters.

    The Germans’ calculation: they can position themselves as the main coordinator in a European military network and gain political influence. And sell more weapons and gain more money. Yeah.

    Heres a card of our current “succsesses”:

    For example one platoon of lithunian tanks is now nominally under german command and lithunia buys the gtk boxer which is nonsense for their defence.

    So much of the current german defence policy only appears to be related to defense and is in fact used for political, economic and industrial policy purposes.


  26. One interesting thing that’s come out of the commentaries above is that the article has fundamentally misunderstood the structure and operation of the German, French and Australian armies.

    Now this misunderstanding doesn’t absolve the British Army from its organisational issues, nor mean that Britain can’t learn from its contemporaries, but what it does do is to focus our thoughts onto what Britain’s army is required to achieve and how it should go about doing this. Once this is worked out the structure is something to be then determined, not the other way around; i.e form follows function.

    Most blogs however, including this article, seem to get things the wrong way round. They focus on purist notions of organisational structure (form) without first asking what armies are required to do by their governments (function). For me what will be interesting from the integrated review is what the UK’s armed forces are required to do as part of a new foreign and security policy. The challenges likely range from the north Atlantic, through Eastern Europe, into Africa, the middle East and beyond. What will be the British Army’s role in this is still to be seen, and it is a prioritised understanding of that role which should determine its structure.


    1. The problem is that significant changes to force structure can take more than a decade to implement properly, while policy requirements can change rapidly. Thus while form should follow function, function is also defined by form. Attempting to change force structure frequently to follow the policy idea of the minute appears to be prime cause of the mess that the British Army is looks to be in at the moment. Frequent changes tie up a lot of resources in nugatory effort and leave you with an incoherent mess.

      Efficient development of a force requires steady guidance and gradual change. It has taken the Australian Army two decades since the strategic shock of East Timor to get to the point where it is today and it is still a work in progress. However I think that the underlying principle that the army provides a range of sustainable options for the government to employ when responding to a variety events is a good place for the UK to start. Single shot capabilities like the plan for 3(UK) Div are more likely to fool yourselves than your adversaries about what your real capabilities are.


  27. JT:

    >>>Out of interest why are the Gebirgsjäger Bataillone not in the same division as the Fallschirmjäger? i.e. why aren’t light forces kept together?>>>

    I do not know the exact reasons for the todays structure but i think it is simply and only the result of organic developements as part of the downsizing and permanent restructuring of the bundeswehr in the last two decades. The original Divison to whicht the Gebirgsjäger belonged was also an very heterogen division (1 Gebirgs-Division). At its beginning the 1 Moutain Division had 1 Tank Brigade and 2 Mountain-Infantry Brigades, then 1 Tank Brigade, 1 Mech-Infantry Brigade and 1 Mountain Brigade and additional 1 Tank-Bataillon and 1 Armoured Recce Bataillon with further MBT as divisionl troops, so it was quite tank heavy for and mixed brigade. The todays 10 Division reflects de facto this former structure.

    The reason for the structure of the former 1 Gebirgs-Divsion resulted from demands of the NATO as far as i know it. The NATO wanted originally 2 Mountain-Infantry Brigades and 1 Tank-Brigade in one Division in southern germany and for that reaons this division was structured this way. The background of this nato demands are unknown to me.

    >>>Also are the Jäger in the Panzer and Panzergrenadiere brigades truly light infantry or are they in protected mobility?>>>>

    The Jäger Units in the todays Bundeswehr are not longer true light infantry. The last Jäger Unit which was truly light infantry was the 1 Jäger-Regiment which was also an Air Assault Unit. It was disbanded 2015. Today the GTK Boxer is the main vehicle of the Jägertruppe (Mutterschiff-Konzept (Mothership-concept), but the Jäger are theoretically an kind of hybrid troop. If necessary they can fight as light infantry without the GTK but normally they use the GTK Boxer (or other protected mobility) and are bound to this vehicles for several reasons as this is the overall concept. Especially for the network-centric-warfare within the Infanterist der Zukunft the vehicles are necessary for them.

    And they wil become more and more “heavier”. For example as an next step the GTK in the Heavy Companies will get Turrets with Machine Cannons and will replace the Wiesel in this companies. And even the Gebirgsjäger now have GTK Boxer (at least one Bataillon) – Mountain Infantry with quite heavy APCs on wheels despite we have more Bv206s than actual used…..


    1. Hi Ulrich,

      Some interesting comments on the Jäger units.

      Would the two Jäger battalions in the Franco-German brigade still be classed as light units? I can only find reference to them being equipped with Mercedes G-wagons.

      Has it been decided what turret the German boxers will be getting? I assume the 35mm Lance 2 is the front runner.

      The Wiesel also carries the mortars for the Jäger units. Will a mortar version of the boxer be purchased as well as the turreted version. It would make sense for the uk to purchase the same type (but we probably won’t as that would be sensible).



      1. Bob2:

        FG Brigade:

        The Jäger-Bataillon 291 is a very special unit. It is not realy an light infantry unit, but an unique combination of motorized / semi-mechanized infantry and reconaissance. For this reason this Bataillon has actually one company with GTK Boxer, one company with Fuchs APC, and one de facto independent company with Fennek (strengthend recce company). For this reason it is the only unit in the german armed forces in which infantry and recce are mixed, and therefore the only combined bataillon of this kind. Also it has only 3 combat-companies (2 Jäger and 1 Recce) is therefore smaller than all other Jäger-Bataillons. Overall it is more useful as an recce unit than as an light infantry unit.

        The Jäger-Bataillon 292 to the opposite is an kind of standard Jäger-Unit of the todays bundeswehr and therefore also not true light infantry. It has GTK Boxer, Eage IV, some Fuch APC and M113 Tanks with Mortars, Wiesel with TOW and Wiesel with MK (both will be replaced by GTK Boxer in the following years) and has three Jäger-Companies and one Heavy-Jäger Company, therefore 4 combat companies.

        The 1er régiment d’infanterie is perhaps more an light infantry unit than the two german Jäger-Bataillons, but from its self understanding it is motorized infantry and perhaps interesting, this unit is the oldest still active military unit worldwide and it was founded 1479.

        Turret for the GTK:

        Which turret exactly will be used is not clear at the moment but it is said since this summer, that it will be the LANCE Turret with an 30mm MK and MELLS. There is still some discussion if the Bundeswehr should not use the Turret of the PUMA on the GTK Boxer, this concept is called the PuBo (Puma-Boxer) and would be advantagous. Because the PuBo Solution would be more clever, because then the IFV and the GTK would have the same turret – i think it will be the Lance Turret.



        The Wiesel Mortar Carrier is not the vehicle which carries the mortars for the Light Infantry. This is only theory. In reality most mortars for Jäger and Gebirgsjäger Units are still on M113 Tanks. Actually we have only 8 MrsKpfSys (Wiesel 2 with Mortars) and they are part of an artillery-bataillon, the ArtLehrBtl 345 – and not of any light infantry. And they are not even used any more but they wered stored. I do not even know the current state of this weapon system.

        Mortars (from bad to worse):

        There is some discussion to buy GTK Boxer with Mortars for the Division 2027 (there is actually only one version as far as know it), but in reality the plan is actual the following:

        The bundeswehr will double the mortar platoons in the light infantry bataillons, but the number of mortars and the type (M113) will be the same. So the new platoons will have only half the number of mortars as before. For example the Jäger-Bataillon 292 has actual 8 Mortars left in one platoon. In the near future it will have two platoons with 4 Mortars each. What is new is, that additionally the bundeswehr will buy some 60mm Mortars and will incorporate them into this mortar platoons. The 1 Mortar Platoon will then have 4x 120mm Mortar and 4x 60mm Mortar, but the 2 Mortar Platoon will have only 4 Mortar Groups with 4x 120mm Mortar and (strange) this same 4 groups will have then additionally 4x 60mm Mortars as an second armarment. So overall the two platoons will have 12 Mortar Groups (8 in the first platoon and 4 in the second platoon) with overall 8x 120mm Mortars and 8x 60mm Mortars (overall 16 Mortars) in the same unit.

        Also every Mortar Platoon will have an small own recce-group (Erkundungstrupp). The first platoon will be lead by an officer, the second by an NCO. Lucky light infantry, especially the mountain infantry is still strong in armoured mortars, as today the Panzergrenadiere has no mortars at all.

        Please do not ask me about the sense or purpose.


  28. In terms of ‘Learning from how our Allies’ armies are organized’ this discussion seems as much about learning from our allies’ mistakes as anything else.


  29. Seems to me it’s very simple; you can either have the “welfare state ” or you can have fully functioning military forces ,but you can’t have both .In the USA we have crap health care and scads of poor people, but aircraft carriers and tanks out the wazoo .It all depends upon your priorities .


    1. Competency note to foreigners pretending to be Americans in various forums:

      Americans never use the short form acronym “USA”. They always write and say “US” only. The ONLY time an American ever uses the term “USA” is verbally, and even then it’s restricted to chants during sports (“USA! USA!”).

      This is universal. Foreigners immediately give themselves away by saying using the “I am ashame(sic) USA so bad, we evil, yes yes” type writing typified by your writing here, Jim. It also helps to sound like an American would.

      Basically all foreigners (including Brits and Aussies) use “USA” as a short form national identifier and Americans never use it. Never.

      So: if you want to pretend to be an American, use the terms they use in daily writing. Better yet? Try sounding like one when you write.

      So. What helpful tips did we learn today? Let’s recap for those who aren’t so sure: No one from the US uses the term “USA” either verbally or in writing.

      Just a hint, “Jim”.


      1. Dear Sir-Not to bust your bubble but I am indeed an honest to God Yankee Doodle Dandy,A true Balti-Moron born,bred and raised in Baltimore Maryland.{except for my time in the US Air Force} living here still as my taxes go up and my property values go down.I don’t do Facebook but last time I checked I was still listed in the Baltimore phone book. In the future I’ll try to remember what we Americans say and don’t say .Forgive me as I am a product of the Baltimore Shitty Public Schools. Anyhoo hope this clears things up for you and we’re not going to have a Battle of the Bulge like stand-off over my bonafides as a citizen of The USA .Don’t ask me who won The World Series last year,but i can tell you it wasn’t our beloved Orioles .


  30. That’s a breath of fresh air! If only wishes were horses…
    I think it’s what I find most frustrating whenever the Army is looked into. In essence, it could be such an incredible force, because it’s still made up of such incredible people, yet…. so frustrating. However tantalizing and clear your ideas presented here, and regardless of best will in the world within the army itself to remain relevant, they will never fly, and why? That is the very question…why can’t such clear and evident facts ever seem to translate themselves into that iron-hard, tip-of-the-spear force that everyone yearns for? Ah, now there’s a rabbit hole we never seem able to climb back out of…


  31. Now i have to add, that UK Landpower was partly right with his post 25 Dezember 2020. There were new tests of the puma and many major issurs which were still there even in late autumn 2020 were solved by the company within a few months (to my suprise). In summer 2020 it was openly discussed in the german army to even replace the puma with an other ifv, now this seem to have worked and the producer has solved realy many issues.

    Today i have to correct my information about the puma that it is now not longer what i have written about it. It seems that the immense pressure for the company was very good for every one. The concept is still bullshit, but that is not the fault of the producer. It has produced what the Bundeswehr ordered, which is in itself a miracle as the demanded conditions were near to impossible to realize (strongest armour, best protection, light enough for an A400M etc). So my respect for this to produce an tank with specifications which are nearly impossible.

    Still the ability to be transported by an A400M is near to useless, and causes some excentric stuff with this tank – but well, so be it. Now the bundeswehr should stand to its decision and buy much more Pumas. The price will not go down otherwise and we also need much more of them for our current plans. And the production speed should be faster.

    But at least: finally the tank can now be used in combat, thank god after such a long an painful way.


  32. And another update: Corona kills perhaps the PUMA programm:


    >>The Bundeswehr is threatened with massive savings in the procurement of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. According to an internal cross-off list from the authority, the appointment, which has already been postponed to 2022, is due to be canceled.

    According to an internal cross-off list of the authority, the second order for 220 copies, which has already been postponed to the year 2022, should be canceled.

    The technical retrofitting of the 350 vehicles that have already been delivered to the so-called VJTF standard is also to be stopped until further notice. This involves orders with a total value of up to 5.2 billion euros for the manufacturers Rheinmetall from Düsseldorf and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) from Munich. According to industry estimates, the cuts threaten well over 1,000 jobs. KMW would have to close at least one location.>>

    This is bad and ridicolous beyond anything. If this is realy true, it is the greatest thinkable disaster for the german Panzergrenadiere.


    1. I’ve been speaking to others who have said (admittedly, as non-experts) that the Puma was coming into being a decent IFV after its teething troubles.

      Clearly you’re correct about the disaster, but my question: was it being improved enough to be a good fighting vehicle? I thought for certain they would try to get an American order for the Bradley replacement vehicle: it seems like a good fit for the yank OMFV program except for weight issues (which plagued ALL the main competitors except the Redback).


  33. The contract for modernizing Germany’s fleet of Puma IFVs was signed on 28 June 2021 at the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in Koblenz. In awarding this contract, the Bundeswehr remains on track toward an operationally ready, fully digitized fleet of infantry fighting vehicles. Work is slated to begin immediately in July 2021 and is expected to be complete in 2029.

    Now official, the initial phase of the order encompasses 154 vehicles, generating sales for the consortium of €1.04 billion. Rheinmetall’s share here comes to €501 million (with value added tax), which will be booked as an incoming order at the start of the third quarter of 2021.

    For Rheinmetall, anticipated consortium-internal subcontracting, e.g., in the electronic vision systems domain, is expected to mean additional orders in the three-digit million-euro range.

    The contract also contains an option for modernization of a further 143 Puma infantry fighting vehicles, which for the PSM consortium would mean additional sales volume totalling €820 million, once again including VAT. Well over half this amount would be allotted to Rheinmetall.

    The major refit now being embarked on is intended to bring the majority of the first lot of the Bundeswehr’s existing fleet of 350 Puma vehicles up to S1 enhanced design status. In preparation for the NATO High Readiness Joint Task Force VJTF 2023, which will be furnished by the Bundeswehr, forty Puma IFVs have already been upgraded to S1 status. Of Germany’s 350 Pumas, the only ones not included in the modernization programme are the 13 driver training vehicles.

    Among other things, the new S1 version of the Puma is characterized by standoff-capable effectors like the MELLS multirole lightweight guided missile system; additional sensors such as the new driver’s vision system; and an improved command-and-control architecture. The parabolic and driver vision system heralds the end of the periscope era. For the first time, the entire crew will be able to “see through” the armour, day and night.

    The fusion mode combines daylight vision with a high-quality thermal image, enabling early detection of camouflage targets around the clock. The S1 version of the Puma version is the first western combat vehicle that includes a system of this type as a standard feature.

    Teamed with the VJTF 2023 version of Rheinmetall’s Future Soldier – Expanded System infantry (IdZ-ES) system, the S1 version of the Puma forms the System Panzergrenadier. For the first time in Germany, the System Panzergrenadier links a digitized platform – the advanced S1 version of the Puma IFV – to a soldier system featuring digital radio technology.

    On 18 March 2021, speaking on behalf of the Bundeswehr, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, the German Army chief, declared the system “ready for action”.


    PUMA: Meet The Infantry Fighting Vehicle Which CONNECTS DIGITALLY To Troops


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s