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.
Now let’s compare these two divisions to divisions of allied nations.
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.
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).
3 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 The 18th Mechanized Division is still forming and will be fully operational by 2022.
6 The 15th Mechanized Brigade and 21st Podhale Rifles Brigade field a Sapper Battalion.
7 The 18th Mechanized Division’s artillery and anti-aircraft regiments are still forming.
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.
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.
8 The I/66th Mountain Hunters Battalion “Montejurra” of the I Brigade “Aragón” is equipped with tracked Bv 206s all-terrain armored carriers.
9 998 wheeled Piranha V 8×8 vehicles are currently being acquired to replace VEC-M1 and BMR-M1 vehicles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The key takeaways from peer armies for the British Army are as follows:
- 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.
- No army double-hats its active division and brigade commanders with territorial and administrative functions.
- No army pairs active and reserve units in a brigade.
- No army has a separate maintenance corps.
- All brigades have their organic artillery, engineer and logistic support units.
- Every peer fields main battle tanks.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.