Optimising UK Strike Brigade Structures

By Nicholas Drummond

Over the last 12 months, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall have shown various new Boxer mission module proposals that promise to expand the family of variants on offer and realise the potential of Boxer’s modularity. This article reviews some of these new options to envision what an ideal Strike Brigade might look like. This article will immediately be criticised for playing “fantasy fleets.” Is this a bad thing? Defining what an ideal Strike Brigade ought to look like sets a benchmark standard against which actual brigade generation can be measured. This allows the gap between what we would ideally like to acquire and what we can actually afford to be understood, so that the right trade-offs can be made. Overall, this exercise recognises that modernisation plans for the British Army must be rooted in a strategy that makes it relevant and credible while being affordable and sustainable. 

UK Boxer configuration

Contents

01 Introduction
02 Strike doctrine
03 Strike brigade structure
04 The basic “must have” Boxer variants
05 Follow-on “highly desirable” Boxer variants
06 Third wave “optional extra” Boxer variants
07 Summary

01 Introduction

In his annual RUSI lecture in December 2020, Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, described the future force as one that would encompass an agile manoeuvre division. This implies that the UK’s Integrated Review strategy will reconfigure the Army around the emerging Strike Brigade concept. The goal is to create an army that is expeditionary by design, meaning that it can self-deploy and operate over long distances thanks to increased operational mobility and reduced logistical dependancy. It will also be a more flexible force, able to perform a variety of tasks and to switch between them easily and quickly. This suggests a wheeled future with the Army’s combat vehicle fleet built around Boxer and Multi-Role Vehicle, Protected (MRVP). 

Tracked armour, including Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) will definitely still have a place, although some defence analysts believe that heavy armour is likely to have a reduced role in high tempo, rapidly evolving mobile warfare scenarios. In some instances, however, tanks will remain essential to dislodge firmly entrenched enemies via set-piece attacks. It should also be remembered that, as good as 8×8 vehicles are off-road, they cannot match tracked vehicles when negotiating the most extreme terrains. So we will still need a mix of wheels and tracks.

Prior to the Integrated Review the Army 2025 plan envisaged two Armoured Infantry brigades, two Strike brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade in a single war fighting division. In the run-up to the IR, there has been suggestion that the desired structure is unaffordable. If the rumours are correct, then the division will be re-configured around two Strike Brigades and one Armoured Infantry Brigade. In other words, one Armoured Infantry Brigade will be lost. The remaining Armoured Infantry Brigade will likely have two MBT regiments, two IFV battalions, plus a reconnaissance regiment.

Proposed Army 2025 plan which is likely to be revised by the integrated Review.

Behind the emerging structure is a growing recognition of the threat posed by Russia and, increasingly, China. The Army’s emerging strategy is based on the Integrated Operating Concept. This includes the need for UK forces to operate below the threshold of conflict, in the “grey zone.” While there is a need for soft power, it is no substitute for hard power. We forget at our peril that we still need the capacity to physically eject those who would invade our territory. The more that potential enemies perceive us as weak, the more likely they are to test our defences. The problem with hard power is that, like our nuclear deterrent, it is expensive to maintain and seldom used in anger. This makes it a costly insurance policy. While we must spend the money allocated to defence wisely – and there is much evidence to suggest that we waste too much – the overall structure of the Army must align a commitment to the tasks that are vital with a commitment to the tasks that are affordable. This obviously requires us to make hard choices about which tasks are mandatory and which are discretionary. We may be better off by resourcing a reduced set of roles properly and perform them well, rather than by trying to do everything badly. In any event, having a potent army is not discretionary. It’s basic requirement. There is a genuine concern that if the Army had to “fight tonight” it might struggle to generate an adequately equipped force. For these reasons, investing in substantial tracked armour formations that are difficult to deploy and expensive to maintain when forward deployed is seen as an inefficient use of scarce resources. Far better to invest in rapidly deployable ground forces that offer utility across multiple scenarios. 

There is also the issue that many of the people who insist that replacing obsolete capabilities is unaffordable have no idea what a credible force looks like. If we end-up with an Army built on technicals (Toyota pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns bolted on at the back), it will be inexpensive, but not credible. The other aspect is mass. The 1998 Defence Review suggested that the optimum peacetime size of the Army was 110,000. For those of us who served in the Army when it had 160,000 troops, the 82,000 we have today seems like tokenism. 

Even without increasing the Army’s current headcount, the British Army ought to be able to generate two deployable divisions, each with three brigades, within the existing cap of 82,000. If a brigade typically requires 5,000-6,000 personnel, then six brigades require a maximum of 36,000 personnel. Add an extra 8,000 personnel to each division for additional Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) assets, such as Artillery, Aviation, Logistics, Signals and Engineer units, or 16,000 extra troops, and this adds up to a total of 52,000 personnel. This still leaves an additional 30,000 troops for other tasks, including HQs, training and admin roles. It might look something like the Army 2025 Revised plan below.

Revised Army 2025 Proposal with two Strike Brigades and a single Armoured infantry Brigade.

With two deployable divisions, one should be a Strike Division to perform expeditionary roles with the capacity to take its place beside other NATO forces and fully able to counter peer adversaries. The second deployable division should be a light role, rapid reaction division. This could perform overseas roles across low and medium intensity scenarios. It could also conduct domestic security tasks at home. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased national resilience. The ability to protect vital UK infrastructure is paramount. Traditionally, home defence has been a major task of the Army Reserve. It should be again, but until such time that it is properly reorganised, then the Regular Army needs to assume this responsibility. In any event, the proposed structure would generate six combat brigades. 

An army with two deployable divisions is not necessarily unaffordable. Much of what is needed to generate it already exists. It simply needs a bit of reorganisation. Ultimately, affordability is a question of priorities. If we decide that a credible Army is necessary and important then we should to invest appropriately. The Navy and RAF have been very effective in justifying their existence; the Army less so. During the Cold War, the threat posed by the Soviet Union gave the British Army a very clear focus. Today, it faces multiple threats, so we need a multi-role army. If we can’t afford to do everything, where do we place our capability bets? Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have delayed a response to this question. In fact, the Army has not been properly re-imagined since the end of the Cold War and is now in urgent need of renewal.

The situation described above has been the inspiration behind the development of UK’s Strike Brigade concept. The Army has set-out a bold new vision that seeks to fulfil the four modernisation criteria: relevance, credibility, affordability, and sustainability. 

02 Strike doctrine

There are plenty of articles on the UK Land Power Blog that explore the “Strike Concept” in more detail, so what follows is a summation that sets the scene for force structure re-design. The first point to make is that the Strike Concept is based on a doctrine or a way of fighting that is fundamentally platform neutral. It is not about Boxer or Ajax, but how the British Army would address the massive imbalance between the forces at our disposal and those of potential adversaries, like Russia. It is a recognition that our previous Cold War approach to manoeuvre warfare would have been costly and unsustainable. Had the Strike concept been developed during the Cold War, it might have been implemented using reconnaissance regiments in CVR(T) and infantry battalions in FV432. 

Essentially, Strike doctrine is about locating the enemy and fixing him in place while air power, submarine launched TLAMs, and massed land-based tube, rocket and missile artillery are brought to bear. A key organic capability is ATGMs. Anti-tank missiles like Javelin, NLAW, Hellfire, Brimstone, Spear, and Exactor are all hugely capable and would impose friction and delay on an attacking enemy force. If there is one valid criticism of the Strike Concept is that it needs much greater investment in artillery. But this is coming, so we need to be patient. 

Strike achieves impact through several enabling factors. One is a network-centric fully digitised C4I system that connects entire formations. The ability to share information securely in real time via voice and data is a force multiplier that allows faster, better informed decision-making and thus more effective command and control. Connectivity allows Strike brigades to out-think and out-manoeuvre enemy forces. It is the military equivalent of an ice hockey player skating, not to where the puck is, but where it will be. The Army has already an updated Bowman system (BCIP 5.6) which is more reliable and secure over long distances, but Strike brigades will gain a substantially improved communication and information system when the LEtacCIS and Morpheus programmes start to deliver from 2025.

The second enabler is operating dispersed. Effective C4I systems allow units to be concentrated and dispersed easily and quickly, something that agile wheeled vehicles also help to facilitate. With individual platoons spread-out within their areas of responsibility, adversaries will not know where to prioritise artillery fire. If they try blanket coverage, they will need to delete multiple grid squares, meaning that they will rapidly run out ammunition. With Strike Brigades operating across frontages of 100 km, units will be harder to find and neutralise. 

The third enabler is ISTAR assets. Third-and fourth-generation sensors offer the ability to detect enemy units at greater distances. This is one area where NATO has achieved a competitive advantage over potential enemies. Capabilities include satellite surveillance, UAVs and drones for reconnaissance, as well as the sights and sensors fitted to individual vehicles. Again, the network effect of multiple sources providing an overall picture of the battlespace will be a force multiplier.

The fourth enabler is a reduced logistical footprint. This is a benefit that flows from configuring combat formations around wheeled platforms, which require less maintenance and fewer spare parts. The aspiration is for individual units to be autonomous for at least 72-hours and ideally for 7-day periods. The British Army has always excelled at logistical planning and the way in which units will be supported by new systems like the MAN EPLS. Integral health, usage and monitoring systems (HUMS) on vehicles will provide real time data on consumables, allow replenishment needs to be predicted with greater accuracy. When resupply becomes necessary, drones and AI-enabled vehicles will allow automated delivery and other innovative solutions. Reduced logistical dependency is a concept that the US has fully validated with its Stryker Brigades. Operational feedback showed that they could operate with much greater autonomy than traditional tracked formations. 

The fifth enabler is operational mobility, which is the ability of wheeled units to deploy rapidly from a theatre entry point to the area of combat operations. Boxer will not be dependent on Heavy Equipment Transporters (HETs). It will self-deploy. Modern wheeled combat vehicles have the added benefit of improved tactical mobility. Although they are ultimately less agile than tracked vehicles off-road, Boxer is capable of keeping-up with MBTs across most terrains. In most potential scenarios, Strike Brigades would deploy by sea in roll-on, roll-off ferries (as would tracked vehicles). Once in theatre, they would then self-deploy to the desired forward location. Rapid independent transit within a theatre of operations is something else that increases responsiveness and thus tactical effectiveness. 

This brings us to the sixth and most important enabler: artillery systems. As already mentioned above, investment is planned. Upgraded systems will include G/MLRS, tube artillery and air defence systems. We are starting to see highly sophisticated loitering munitions and other beyond-line of sight systems deliver high levels of performance. Relying on advanced targeting technology to avoid counter-measures, troops concealed in foreword locations will be able to direct long-range fire on enemy units. In particular, we will see a greater reliance on rocket and missile artillery. New munitions developed for G/MLRS launchers offer impressive gains in lethality and precision. 

There is much more to Strike than this, but at its core it is about rapid manoeuvre to to seize and control ground. Delivering infantry mass quickly and unexpectedly via pre-emptive movement is an essential part of this. The other key concept is long-range engagement. We first saw this trend emerge in naval warfare and then with combat aircraft firing beyond visual range air-to-air missiles. Now it is being translated to ground combat via a new generation of missiles. Ultimately, the Strike Concept reflects the old US Civil War maxim: he who arrives, with the most troops first, wins.

Boxer IFV with KMW RCT-30 Puma remote turret. This mounts a 30×173 mm Rheinmetall cannon , a coaxial 5.56×45 mm MG, plus twin Spike ER ATGMs in a side pod. Electro-optics are combined with glass optics to provide a reversionary mode in case the main weapon sights are damaged or compromised. (Image: KMW)

03 Strike brigade structure

UK brigades are already moving to a structure comprised of 12 separate unit types. Evolving from a triangular structure to a square structure means they will have four manoeuvre units.  This will be either two cavalry regiments plus two infantry battalions, or one cavalry regiment plus three infantry battalions. The latter is the structure used by US Army Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and is preferred. 

The four manoeuvre units are supported by three primary Combat Support (CS) units, including an Artillery Regiment with 155 mm guns, an Engineer Regiment with integral assault gap-crossing capabilities, and a Signals Regiment (rather than just a squadron) that will not only support the Brigade HQ , but also provide offensive and defensive Cyber / Electronic Warfare capabilities.  

UK Strike Brigade Structure

Five Combat Service Support (CSS) assets will complete the structure. Logistics regiments and logistics transport regiments will be combined into a single logistic support regiment. This will be supported by a Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) battalion. Some armies integrate equivalent units into a logistics maintenance regiment, but this is not considered to be necessary as the component expertise of such soldiers differs from logistical planning and replenishment. The next unit is a combined Royal Army Medical Corps regiment and field hospital. Finally, a Military Intelligence company and Military Police company will complete the structure. 

At divisional level, deployed Strike Brigades will rely on additional artillery regiments. These will include G/MLRS regiments. The Royal Artillery is expected to purchase HIMARS mounted on a 6×6 or 8×8 armoured MAN truck. It is also planned that the UK will acquire a wide range of rocket munition types to support the defeat of different targets. In particular, it would be useful to include a PrSM missile with 500+ km range. Another essential artillery capability is a deep fires precision missile system. This would be a successor to Spike NLOS / Exactor. Something like a ground-launched Brimstone with a 30-40 km range would be pivotal in providing a timely and massive response to enemy armour breakthroughs. Next, each brigade would be supported by divisional-level VSHORAD and SHORAD regiments to provide a layered air defence system. VSHORAD batteries would have a mix of 30-35 mm cannons and Starstreak HVM missile launchers. SHORAD batteries would have Land Ceptor / CAMM ER missile launchers. Both air defence units would be supported by an integrated radar system designed for counter-battery and air defence roles.

Also at divisional level, Strike Brigades would be supported by an Army Air Corps Apache AH-64E attack helicopter regiment, a UAV regiment, and a further Signals Regiment. Overall the proposed structure would create a potent and responsive ground force able to perform a variety of roles as well as being effective against a peer adversary. It would be equal to any equivalent formation fielded by our NATO allies.

04 The basic “must have” Boxer variants

The basic range of Boxer vehicles ordered by the Army so far consists of four variants:

  • Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV)
  • Command & Control Vehicle (C2)
  • Specialist Vehicle (SV)
  • Battlefield Ambulance Vehicle (BAV)
The Four Initial UK Boxer Variants

The role of each of these vehicles is self-explanatory, except for the Specialist Vehicle (SV). This is the same as the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) except that it has removable seating allowing it to be used as a mortar carrier, engineer, reconnaissance and anti-tank vehicle. 

Most criticism of the UK Strike Brigades has centred on the remote weapon station that we plan to fit. It is very much much hoped that all infantry Carrier Vehicles will mount an unmanned turret. Remote turrets offer important advantages versus standard crewed turrets. They are lighter and smaller with lower centres of gravity. They isolate ammunition stowage from crew compartment by storing rounds in the turret, so are safer if penetrated and enable the crew to benefit from hull protection rather than being exposed by sitting above in the turret. Remote turrets do not intrude into the crew compartment, so do not take-up valuable interior space. This allows all crew members, including the driver, to exit easily and quickly through the rear of the vehicle. Finally, remote turrets tend to be less expensive than manned turrets. There are three remote turret options to choose from. One is Nexter’s 40×255 mm T40 remote turret. Then there is KMW’s 30×173 mm RCT30 Puma turret. Thirdly, there is Kongsberg’s 30×173 mm RT60 turret, which is a development of the same MCT30 turret fitted to the Stryker Dragoon vehicle. Of these, the Kongsberg RT60 is likely to be the most mature and least expensive. It can also readily incorporate Northrop Grumman’s new 50×228 mm cannon, a major advantage if increased lethality becomes essential. 

A few words need to be said about calibre choice. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the ammunition costs of CTAS 40×255 mm cannons are all but unaffordable. A HE airburst round costs £250. An APFSDS round is close to £1,000. In contrast, a 30×173 mm HE round costs less than $50, while an APFSDS round less than $150. A 30 mm cannon plus ATGM may be a better solution than a CT 40 mm cannon alone. Another reason to go with a 30×173 mm is that it might allow an easier upgrade path to 50×288 mm, should a larger calibre be needed. Right now, 30×173 mm is more than sufficient engage most targets. In any scenario, a 30 mm or 40 mm cannon is preferable to a 12.7×99 mm heavy machine gun. If all infantry battalion section vehicles had a turreted Boxer, all concerns about firepower would evaporate. 

Boxer with a Kongsberg RT60 remote turret. This mounts a 30×173 mm Bushmaster cannon, a coaxial 7.62×51 mm machine gun, a 12.7×99 mm HMG in a remote weapon station and twin anti-tank missiles in a recessed box.

In case a remote turret is genuinely unaffordable – which is more about the cost of the ammunition than the turret itself – then a second option could be a remote weapon station with the Northrop Grumman 30×113 mm M230LF chain gun (which is the same weapon fitted to the Apache AH-64E attack helicopter). A UK firm, AEI Ltd., makes its own 30×113 mm cannon, the Venom. This is based on the old Royal Ordnance Aden cannon and is a low recoil, gas-operated weapon. 30×113 mm ammunition combines the higher velocity and accuracy of a 12.7 mm HMG with the explosive payload of the 40×53 mm automatic grenade launcher. Fitted to a remote weapon station, like the Kongsberg RS4 with a coaxial ATGM, it would be credible if not ideal. With new natures including an air burst round under development, this could be an acceptable compromise choice.

Two other basic Boxer variants are also needed as a matter of necessity. The first is a dedicated repair and recovery vehicle. The German company FFG, which makes the Wisent 2, a dual Armoured Recovery and Armoured Engineer version of the Leopard 2 MBT, has developed a Boxer Repair & Recovery mission module. This has a crane with a 20-tonne lift capacity, which is enough to lift any mission module off the Boxer driveline module. This is needed to enable under-armour recovery missions under fire.

FFG Boxer Repair & Recovery module. The crane has a lift capacity of 20 tonnes, enough to lift all current and proposed mission modules. It has a capstan winch which can also pull 20 tonnes.

The second additional variant is a dedicated mortar vehicle. Developing a mission module able to carry the Patria NEMO 120 mm breech-loaded mortar would be a significant step-up from the legacy 81 mm mortar. 120 mm mortars offer double the range of 81 mm mortars (10-12 km versus 5-6 km). They also pack the same explosive content as a 155 mm shell. Breech-loaded mortars have a direct fire mode, making them an ideal support weapon for taking out bunkers. It also important to remember that the concussion effect of firing mortars through the roof of an APC is undesirable. Turreted mortars avoid this problem while offering higher levels of crew protection. The protection and firepower of a turreted 120 mm mortar system makes this a highly desirable system. 

Finally, attaching a boxer blade or mine plough to a standard ICV variant would be a very useful asset for Engineer and Pioneer units. Add a bridgelayer variant and you have an ideal basic set of Boxer variants: 

  1. Standard ICV with a remote weapon station
  2. Standard IFV with a remote turret
  3. C2 with a RWS
  4. Mortar variant
  5. Ambulance
  6. Repair & Recovery variant 
  7. Engineer variant
  8. Bridgelayer variant

These eight variants would create an extremely potent brigade that would be more than capable of taking-on peer enemies.

The Eight Essential 1st Wave Boxer Variants

05 Follow-on “highly desirable” Boxer variants

The next set of follow-on Boxer variants seeks to add additional firepower. This consists of four variants. The first is a L/52 calibre 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. This weapon is needed to provide fire support between 10-50 km, filling the gap between mortar fire and G/MLRS artillery. This could be something like the Bae Systems Archer or Nexter Caesar. There is also the KMW Boxer RCH155, which is fully automated. This will come with an ammunition resupply vehicle that can reload the turret from under armour. The advantage of this system is very rapid in-to-action and out-of-action times – less than a minute to execute a fire mission of five rounds. It can deliver multiple rounds with a simultaneous impact (MRSI). It can also negotiate terrain that would leave gun on truck (GOAT) competitors stranded.

Revised Boxer RCH155 with compact turret and Boxer Ammunition Resupply Vehicle.

The second variant is a mobile gun system for the cavalry regiment attached to each brigade. Mounting something like the John Cockerill Defence (formerly CMI) 3105 turret mounting a new 105 mm gun, this would be an ideal direct fire support vehicle for assaulting infantry. It also has the added advantage of being able to defeat MBTs up to T72 (including T73 B3 with 2-3 hits). It can also defeat other IFVs at longer ranges than a 30 or 40 mm cannon would allow. The Italian Army has recently acquired the Centauro 2 which mounts a 120 mm gun. If such a weapon could be mounted on Boxer, it would be worth considering above a 105 mm gun, as this can neutralise a wider range of armoured vehicles including MBTs.

The third system is precision fires missile launcher for carrying loitering munition or long-range ground-launched NLOS ATGM. This could be an overwatch vehicle for cavalry regiments, a modern day equivalent of the old CVR(T) Striker which fired Swingfire ATGM missiles. If all infantry battalions have a turret or RWS capable of firing ATGMs, then a separate anti-tank platoon would no longer be necessary. If an anti-tank platoon is retained, then it could potentially have an NLOS missile launcher. This could be something like Spike ER, a ground-launched version of Brimstone, or a new missile with 10+ km range. On balance, this capability might be better employed by cavalry reconnaissance or artillery regiments, allowing infantry battalions to focus on delivering dismounted mass.

The fourth system would be an air defence capability. Something like Rheinmetall’s 30 mm or 35 mm SkyRanger with Starstreak HVM would be ideal. A launch set could include one radar vehicle, one Starstream HVM vehicle and one cannon vehicle. Alternatively, all three systems could be integrated on a single platform. A radar carrying vehicle is certainly needed for a counter-battery tasks. The Royal Artillery presently has an STA regiment, but it might be worth adding an STA battery to each artillery field regiment to support target acquisition. STA batteries would have a counter-battery radar troop, a surveillance troop, and a UAV troop with quadcopter drones and a light UAV with a 20-30 km range, possibly with an offensive capability. In any event, UAVs need to become a regimental or battalion-level asset. In summary, the need for follow-on Boxer variants  creates a list of six additional Boxer mission modules: 

  1. Self-propelled L/52 calibre 155 mm howitzer (SPH)
  2. Ammunition resupply vehicle (ARV)
  3. Mobile Gun System with a 105 mm or 120 mm gun (MGS)
  4. Precision Fires Missile Launcher (PFML) 
  5. Short Range Air Defence vehicle with 30 / 35 mm cannon plus Starstreak HVM (SHORAD)
  6. Short Range Air Defence Radar / Counter Battery Radar vehicle (CBR)

Some might suggest that the air defence version should form part of the initial set of eight variants. This view would be hard to disagree with. 

The six 2nd Wave Boxer Variants

06 Third wave “optional extra” Boxer variants

Beyond an initial follow-on set, a further five Boxer variants could be added. An obvious future development is a high-roof command variant. This would offer more interior space so that operators could stand inside the vehicle. It would also be able to accommodate more C4I equipment. A Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Reconnaissance vehicle will eventually be needed to replace the ageing 6×6 Fuchs. This might also be based on the high roof mission module. An armoured logistics vehicle might also be useful for resupply in high risk areas. This could be based on the artillery ammunition resupply vehicle or simply a flatbed module. A dedicated armoured engineer variant will also be needed. This could be fitted with interchangeable dozer blades, a mine plough and hinged-arm excavator. leveraging the Repair and Recovery mission module, but substituting the crane for the digger arm., would save development time and cost. Finally, we could consider mounting a high energy laser on Boxer. This would be ideal for neutralising drones or could be used as a non-lethal weapon.

  1. High roof command vehicle (C2)
  2. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Reconnaissance Vehicle (CBRN)
  3. Logistics Vehicle
  4. Armoured Engineer Vehicle (AEV) 
  5. High Energy Laser Vehicle (HEL)
The five 3rd Wave Boxer Variants

While the overall number of Boxer variants is extensive, it represents a range of vehicles that could be acquired over time. What is significant about the modular approach of the Boxer concept is that it allows new variants to be easily developed as needs dictate, shortening the time required to bring them into service. It also means that vehicles can be “recycled.” For example, a new type of platform could be introduced simply by swapping the mission modules of an older version. Similarly, when hybrid technology matures, the diesel engine driveline module of existing versions could easily be swapped for a hybrid driveline.   

07 Summary

In an ideal world, the Army would have three identical Strike Brigades based on the above structure. In the short term, it will have one Strike Brigade and one Armoured Infantry Brigade, with a second Strike Brigade fielded after 2025. It is hoped that Ajax will be repurposed, so that the AI Brigade becomes exclusively tracked. In addition to being a reconnaissance vehicle, mounting an unmanned turret on Ajax could allow it to be used as an IFV. The AI brigade would have two MBT regiments, two Ajax IFV battalions and a reconnaissance regiment. 

In all scenarios, Boxer is a multi-role armoured vehicle that replaces the protected mobility fleet (Mastiff, Ridgeback and Wolfhound), and the FV432 family. Ajax replaces Warrior, as well as the CVR(T) family. This leaves the Rapid Reaction division to be built around MRVP, Jackal, and whatever replaces the BVS10 Viking. The latter vehicle is important because it ensures that the Army can conduct out-of-area operations in extreme terrains.

The Strike Brigade structure that is proposed becomes the British Army’s primary war fighting formation. The mix of variants described would ensure it was able to take-on peer adversaries. Within a defensive context, such brigades would have sufficient capabilities to counter MBTs, but it should be remembered that the primary tank-killing responsibility devolves to precision artillery and aviation assets, including Brimstone-armed Apache and F-35 JSFs.

There are two controversial aspects to this proposal. One is the need for Strike Brigades to have an ability to kill tanks using kinetic energy APFSDS rounds – which may make a Boxer Mobile Gun System more important than previously imagined. However, it should be possible to attach tank regiments to Strike Brigades when the need arises. This is the French approach. 

The second contentious issue is whether wheeled Strike Brigades have sufficient mobility to provide utility across all of the most likely deployment scenarios? In Southern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, wheeled platforms are unlikely to encounter significant mobility issues. Operating in Northern Europe in Winter may be more problematic. The question is whether we should acquire additional BVS10 or CV90, or whether we should leave a Northern European Winter role to our Scandinavian allies, so we can focus on Central and Southern Europe?

Summary Mechanised Infantry Battalion Structure

One significant issue connected to the UK’s acquisition of Boxer is platform weight growth. When the MRAV programme was originally conceived in 1998, we aspired to emulate the US Army Stryker’s sub-20 tonne weight, so we could airlift British 8x8s via C-130 Hercules. As the IED threat in Iraq and Afghanistan evolved, we added extra protection, particularly ballistic floor plates. The US Army’s Stryker vehicle now weighs 28.5 tonnes. But Boxer GVW has grown to 38.5 tonnes. In developing the platform further, the challenge is not to increase GVW, but to reduce it. We can do this with lightweight armour technology. A Boxer weighing closer to 35 instead of 40 tonnes would have better off-road performance. In the meantime, tyre technology helps to offset weight growth. This reminds us that an important advantage of 8x8s is that they can lose a wheel on each side and still limp home. Once a tracked link is broken a vehicle is stranded.

Overall, Boxer does an excellent job of balancing a range of complex requirements, and makes sensible compromises. It offers unprecedented mobility and protection for infantry soldiers. A Boxer with a 30 mm or 40 mm remote turret would be a highly capable and flexible general purpose combat vehicle. Once the British Army is equipped with Boxer, it will acquire increased relevance and credibility while being affordable and sustainable.

Boxer GBAD variant with Starstreak HVM mounted on a MOOG RiWP remote weapon station. A 30×133 mm Bushmaster M230LF chain gun could be added to this variant enabling it to engage drones (like the US Army’s VSHOARD Stryker). (Image: KMW)

91 comments

  1. A great read & really showing what Strike should look like. A couple of points if like to clarify 1) I am pretty sure that 230LF & venom LR doesn’t approach the velocity of 0.5hmg although combined weight & speed may total greater terminal energy also no APFDS equivalent exists in the calibre so advantages of the system being adopted maybe slightly exaggerated Vs a GMG+GMG combination
    2) the John Cockerill gun mounted is not the L7 but a brand new design offering higher pressures & different rounds as well indirect fire

    Also overlooked is we are more or less committed to Ajax also with the advent of composite rubber tracks & a virtually maintenance free 2000km road march demonstrated on FFGs PMMC it may not be as problematic (if CRTs procured) in which case the premise of all Boxers may not be required.

    Otherwise excellent & many thanks for writing

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  2. Since i started to read here about the british strike brigade i found it very interesting how similiar this type of brigade is to the Deutsch-Französische Brigade.

    But in the case of the German-French-Brigade we have no such concept and doctrine behind this structure, so i think we could here learn from the british how to use such an brigade in better ways and improve our own structure further. In comparison with the UK Strike Brigade the German-French-Brigade has an combined Recce-Infantry Bataillon, therefore it is a kind of 1 and 1/2 Cavalry and 2 Infantry. This combined Recce-Infantry Bataillon has proven to be very capable in both roles as an kind of hybrid unit. Therefore i want to ask you about the idea of mine, to make all the four bataillons to such hybrid units. Instead of 1 Cavalry and 3 Infantry, the Strike Brigade would then have 4 Mixed Bataillons (Recce and Infantry in the same bataillon). What do you think about that idea?

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    1. @Ulrich

      You really raise an interesting point. I suppose a deeper question is whether Germany and France have a common vision for the Franco – German brigade?

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      1. That is exaclty what i mean, we have no common vision for the Franco-German-Brigade. No common concept. No common doctrine. We have an de facto Strike Brigade but no Strike Concept.

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  3. Food for thought, I just fear post-COVID defence budgets will only enable the initial procurement and any subsequent vehicles and variants will become a more protracted effort? The ideas in this article appear feasible, and the modular concepts allow the base vehicle to be converted without the need for dedicated platforms, thus keeping the base units at currently planned numbers? The ‘bitch’ question has to be the cost of the modules, if they prove to be too expensive, then less could be procured and the full advantages of modulation somewhat diluted?

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  4. Thank you, an interesting read. I don’t really regard these things as fantasy fleets because the army also pursues its fantasies and somewhat shy of reality.
    What I don’t understand about the existing ORBAT is taking Ajax and Boxer and then stretching the numbers drum tight across three brigades like that gives you three brigades, there seems to be no wiggle room in there at all.
    If you try to bring those three on-line to go East you’re immediately coping with a two speed availability issue before you even get to the two speed deployment issue, lack of Ajax in particular renders all three ineffective, none of those formations will fight tonight.
    Better to dump all 500 boxer on the one brigade, deduct a third for training and maintenance and at least be able to say you have a brigade ready to go tonight at Stryker numbers and in good order.

    Looking in my taxpayer pocket there’s a Dutch half and half C2/Logistics module which carries I think four passengers and a ton of cargo (instead of the usual two). I’d suggest this could fulfil three roles: redundant C2, EW and logistics (although people will probably get upset when you open the door looking for a pot noodle).
    Similarly, I think serious consideration should be given to combining direct and indirect fire in the 105, I’d rather have the one doing both than an either or neither. TD did a number crunching exercise on this this and found against 120mm mortar I believe.
    Finally, Cockerill 3000 would seem to be the match made in heaven for Boxer, it’s a big bugger but it does absolutely everything we could want and when we decide that’s no longer what we want, we can change it by morning.

    Hope everyone has a good year.

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    1. Hi Nemo

      The problem with 105mm in a JCD turret for indirect fires is that it is a sub-optimal round, with far less international development and investment in specialist nature’s. The US is developing 120mm mortar rounds that should exceed the range of the 105mm (20km as opposed to 17). There are already GPS and laser guided precision rounds for use in COIN or other ops where minimizing collateral damage is a requirement. Plus just about everyone we might fight alongside has 120mm mortars I’m their inventory and so there is ammo supply we can use, no one is using 105mm for close fires (?). Of course the bottom line is dual use systems cannot be in use for both things at the same time. Just as a 105mm DF vehicle could be used for IDF in an emergency, a 120mm turreted mortar could be used for DF in an emergency too, but it might be worth two systems with two logistics chains to have the right tool for the right job ?

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      1. Hi Jed and thank you for your thoughts.

        It’s a discussion I’d like to see had, so I’ll lay out a few observations of mine (and others), be warned this will be fairly long and boring.

        TD never published his findings but he began with a comparison of bursts and knowing him (which I don’t) there’re several sides of A4 covered with effects by weight and number of rounds per standard one ton pallet, he was also pretty enthusiastic about the synergy created with the L118.
        Counter to that would be that maybe light infantry could/should be vehicle mounting a 120 and maybe that will work better with FCF etc, etc.
        Which leads me on, whenever a 120mm rears its head infantry types seem HUGELY supportive of the 81mm, it’s portability, simplicity and rate of fire.

        I’m generally pessimistic about procurement so would make the argument that we will not get both and that the 105 does do both jobs to a satisfactory degree where the 120 mostly does the one well, so you can make a good business case for the 105. It offers distinct range and penetration advantages in direct fire and roughly matches the 120 in indirect (future natures not withstanding). It also offer affordable guided rounds out to 10km in the form of LAHAT which would allow for overwatch with ATGM under armour and limited SHORAD.

        Moving on to an observation by Jon Hawkes at Janes that the 140mm system if adopted by NATO for MBT’s will be extremely expensive to the extent it may affect numbers and doctrine and that a cheap and cheerful kinetic round may be desirable to complement. That would also work immediately in support of current generation MBT attached to strike in packets.

        I’m also considering a conversation I had on this forum where it was observed we’d possibly be introducing (and relying upon) two complex automated systems in the form of 155mm howitzer and 120mm mortar; basically going somewhere we’ve never been before very quickly and that perhaps we should exercise a little caution.

        Finally my own preference would be to square strike with a T44 cavalry and a T44 LHA at the expense of Ajax, so I’m perhaps thinking unfairly in terms of a lot of 105 against a couple batteries of mortars. This I think would offer great utility along 100km front in the strike role but open ‘Strike’ itself up to something French + elsewhere, increasing its versatility.

        For me 105 seemed to safely provide the best average result, providing a relative step change while satisfying the most number of people.

        Done. Sorry boring.

        Regards,
        Nemo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Jed “no-one is using 105mm close fires” what is “close fires” IDF L118/M119 DF the Striker mobile gun system is using 105mm as are a growing number of JCD users in close combat/ DF? The new light tank the US is acquiring will use 105mm. They are likely to invest in new ammo add to this JCD say that there’s 30% growth & nexter/mecar as well as Elbit have a large choice of rounds, HESH, I-HEAT, Smoke, STUN, Multi-purpose HE with airburst + LAHAT & falarick GLATGM
        Although the actual vehicle had issues it was vital in Afghan for winning the fight. To prevent dismounted infantry from getting bogged down I think it is important than we learn from this (& history) and acquire such as system. By the way the DF muzzle velocity of 120mm breach loading mortar is abysmal so most likely useless against concrete reinforced bunkers it’s for limited self-defence & against limited protected structures, troops in the open.
        L3 Harris Alamo round for LCS 57mm is easily scalable for different calibers as are other artillery rounds so it’s not completely impossible that IDF role could be developed (not that I see it as a primary role).
        The problem is everyone jumps on the anti-tank bandwagon for DF & wants 120mm for DF Boxer as in Stryker Brigades AT is not for 105mm but for TOW equipped Stryker the fact that 105mm could take out the majority of Russian tanks (T72) through frontal armour (most likely all others except T14 from the sides) is a bonus.
        My understanding of Strike is that it is designed to use mobility, Comms, IDF, infantry & should be in all cases avoiding direct contact with enemy armour that’s for AI brigades?
        In terms of 120mm mortar IDF I think it would be a great addition especially if we can add strix & the new rounds you mentioned & I do not really see it as a competitor for 105mm in fact they perfectly complementary of each other 120mm IDF main role secondary DF
        105mm DF main role secondary IDF

        One thing I’d consider if either cash is tight or we can afford a little extra capability is the adoption of L118 on MRVP using something like the Hawkeye system we have bought & paid for the guns & likely have a good stock of ammunition plus obtaining more is likely to be cheap. If funding really is desperate it could be added to Boxer as an IDF & possibly (depending on set-up) DF alternative to both 120mm & 105mm would I be happy? no but probably better than nothing other than total reliance on medium calibre though.

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      3. Great post Simon. Totally agree with you re: 105 mm. There are other new weapon/ turret options in development, it just needs customers to recognise the potential of the system and the benefits of having commonality with the US Army.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Years to all.

    Thanks for an interesting read.

    The proposed structure has SHORAD units at divisional levels and VSHORAD at brigade level, similar to the US Stryker brigades.

    As somebody with no real understanding of the topic, if a strike brigade is to be dispersed over a 100km front, should air defence assists, especially VSHORAD, be at battalion level, possibly 6 in each support company?

    Likewise with the long-range precision fires

    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. If infantry battalions have a Boxer with turreted cannon and integral ATGM down to section level, then a separate anti-tank platoon may not be necessary. This could be replaced with a VSHORAD platoon. A MOOG RiWP with a 30×113 mm cannon, Starstreak HVM and a Giraffe 1X radar would fit the bill nicely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The MOOG-Leonardo RIWP used by the US also comes with a 7.62 mm MG and the Anti-air missile pods can be switched over to ATGM pods.

        Being able to have 8x starsteak or a mix of 4x starstreak plus 2x ATGM would give this platoon flexibility and be useful against ground targets. The 30mm would also be dual role.

        Same remote weapon system could be used in the light brigades.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Another interesting read, thank you.

    I do have one question though which stems from my understanding that the current plan is for two armoured infantry brigades plus two strike brigades but with the division deploying with only one strike brigade in a manoeuvre support role. Correct me if I’m wrong but that implies we’ve equipment for only one deployable strike brigade. If that is the case just how much extra equipment, especially vehicles, would need to be procured to put into effect your proposal of two to three deployable strike brigades?

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    1. 500 Boxers is enough to equip a single Strike Brigade. Replacing Ajax with Boxer would require an additional 150 vehicles per brigade, or 650 in total. I can see this being achieved by 2025. To field a second Strike Brigade would require another 650. And this could be achievable by 2030. There was talk of a long-term total purchase of 1,400 Boxers when the contract was signed. Actually, once it is in service and it’s utility is fully understood, I can see 1,800-2,000 being purchased. That would give us three Strike Brigades. Add a further three Light Role brigades and we would have a credible army again. Ultimately, it’s more about political will than absolute cost.

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      1. The problem is that currently 500 are planned for 2030 so it in reality would require a big change in acquisition plans & Boxer contract & we will also need to replace Mastiff & hopefully finally FV432 as well in that timeframe. As I think I’ve mentioned before Ajax is not only the vehicle but sensors, computing power & pretty much most enablers of Strike so all that equipment etc. will need adding to Boxer it isn’t simply about the hulls. Hopefully either the specs of the current tracks are high & Strike requirements were taken in to account on trials or we have a larger HET fleet or my preference composite rubber tracks are fitted. If they are Ajax road speed increases, it’s more fuel efficient & are maintenance free. Whatever the case Ajax in Strike is going no where the Army has committed to it, it was outlined in SDSR15 on delivery of Area the Household Cavalry obviously still expect to be at the vanguard of Strike. At best (for those that do want it) Ajax will be Recce only in Strike, & Fire Support could be replaced by remote turrets on Boxer (although we still contractually be committed to Ajax & by all accounts significantly changing the contract is a no go as I found out on Twitter.

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      2. I’m a bit confused by the idea here. Are you suggesting to get rid of the 589 planned Ajax, and replace everything with Boxers? Also, how many Boxers would be required per Light Role brigade?

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  7. Well detailed. I cannot help but think that the army have been putting the cart before the horse in that surely it should organise it’s theatre wide artillery and it’s local artillery first… since this supports whatever vehicle (or none) that the troops use.

    Somewhat off topic, I must say the ‘strike’ nomenclature seems misplaced. I’m not sure where or who we strike. Our posture in North Western Europe would be defensive.
    We have Armoured and Mechanized units. Should we not have ‘Mobile Infantry Brigades’. But with 150 vehicles at 40 tonnes, and being the weight of a Churchill tank, how mobile will these formations be?

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  8. The reality is that “strike” is a golf bag of ideas, one of which is retaining a 4th combat manoeuvre brigade HQ vice 3, noting we had 6 until 2010. This shouldn’t be underestimated given the opportunity to sustain the numbers of people with Bde HQ experience – which is actually the most important thing in a fighting Army and which makes whether Boxer has a 30mm or RWS a complete irrelevance.

    The taskorg concept would rapidly see assets moved around – the strike bde becoming the Div’s “deep battle” HQ with some of its extant assets as well as others assigned (likely the actual striking bits eg Arty/Avn/Air) and is where the clever integration of ISR and attack would happen as much discussed. The rest of the strike Bde (Ajax Cav and Boxer Mech Inf) would be split up to augment the deployed Armd Inf and likely Air Asslt Bdes to provide them capabilities they need to be balanced and capable forces which they mostly are.

    So reorganising the “strike” concept to merely replicate a better US Stryker Bde at significant cost (all that weapons porn of cannons and mortars and so on) seems rather to miss the point. Especially trying to build a Division of it – when fundamentally it is just a temporary and convenient hold-all for Ajax and Boxer (that 4th HQ) and conceptually trying to drive greater flexibility of integration both administratively and operationally, rather than the need for permafrost Bdes, which have never actually ended up being used in that way in any of our conflicts – and which the above proposal attempts to reset to.

    Think whole force- currently we have 4 Ajax, 4 Warrior, 4 Boxer and 2 Chally units plus 4 HQs. From that we generate a HQ with a Warrior and Boxer infantry component, Ajax cav augmented by CR2 sqn(s). Alongside say a Light Role Bn in Foxhound or whatever and 3/16 Bdes and you have a capable and flexible force as we deployed in 2003 – all updated for 21st Century and indeed, much more capable.

    So I’m sorry but whilst all this UK Styker Plus is tempting, it isn’t really suited to what the UK is doing.

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    1. But what is the UK doing ? While I can agree that Nicks design of a structure for the army is based around generating brigades and divisions for “big ops” because you should absolutely plan for the worst fight, not the easiest, what exactly is it you see the UK doing ?

      The recent rhetoric is that we should be “forward” – be that “forward engagement” or “forward presence” – and for the Army that’s seems to have provided a great excuse (?) for undermanned infantry battalions to be converted to “Specialised Infantry”; units heavy with experienced NCO’s (?) for engaging with and enabling partners through training and mentoring. How does that fit in with the “whole force golf bag” as hoc task organized approach in your mind?

      You also mention 3 Bde and 16 AA – perhaps the only inkling we have of what forward presence and grey zone operations really means is comments about the ‘Future Commando Force’ and it looks like 40 and 45 CDO are going to be split into Company Plus sized battle groups of 150 Marines and supporting Army personnel, rotating through deployments with the two ‘Littoral Strike Groups’ – so 3 Bde no longer really exists as a fighting brigade, or at least on that would take some time to reconstitute for an op. Personally I think 16 AA should go down the same path, if we can use two RM Commandos to provide forward deployed “tier 2 SF” , then the army can configure and utilize two or all three battalions of the Parachute Regiment in a similar way.

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  9. Great and interesting article Nick. What do you see as being the force generation cycles for this structure? If there is a single Armoured Brigade, how is that split up to provide roulement through European deployments (NATO FP), training, downtime and an “at readiness” force for use elsewhere. Do you see the three Strike Brigades being held for major operations on a one in three basis ? Or do you see each brigade providing say three or more all arms battle groups ? If Brigade HQ’s are going to “higher formation” HQ from which elements are more regularly deployed, then I struggle with how some of the capabilities allocated as divisional assets will be able to create a force generation cycle required for constant “global forward presence” deployments ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jed, I envisioned what I believe is the ideal Strike Brigade organisation within the overall force structure that I feel the Army will be forced to adopt. Initially, this will be one Strike Brigade, one Armoured Infantry Brigade and 16 Air Assault Brigade. The later aspiration is to add a further Strike Brigade. Other cavalry regiments and infantry battalions will form additional non-deployable brigades. These ad hoc brigades will be used to achieve some semblance of a force generation cycle. It should work, but it isn’t what I would choose. I would prefer three identical Strike Brigades with Boxer and three identical Light Role brigades with MRVP. I would additionally retain three MBT regiments in a single armoured brigade with individual units able to be added to Strike brigades when needed. This gives you a meaty armoured force for high end warfare against peer adversaries and a more flexible, rapid response force for low end deployments against less capable adversaries. I achieve this by having only 14 major Regular Army HQs: 1 x Corps HQ, 3x Divisional HQ, and 9 Brigade HQs. (The Army Reserve would add a further divisional HQ and three brigade HQs.) Each combat arm would have its own HQ, training and admin arm co-located to streamline organisational management and staffing. Streamlining HQs is crucial to releasing the extra headcount to generate additional CS and CSS assets. To support two deployable divisions, we would need 14-16 artillery regiments. This is a step-up from what we have now, but not impossible to achieve. Ultimately, you only have credible force generation cycles if you invest in additional logistics units. We have enough for four brigades at present, although we are meant to have enough for five. Stretching to six ought to be realistic.

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      1. Thanks Nick.

        I can see that we get to 6 Brigades if 3 CDO and 16 AA are disbanded and their CS / CSS are used for the light brigades. I also see the point in MBT’s grouped together to be pushed out as needed to Strike or Inf Bdes. In real life I believe two REME and two RCL regiments are being merged to provide a single CSS u it for each Strike Bde, but in the article you caution against this. Do you think this won’t work in practice or that it’s just a way of reducing head count to form two units ?

        I do massively disagree with you on the use of reserves. There is no way on earth we are generating Div and Bde HQ’s from reserves. I believe you will go to war with what you have and that we are beyond the point of industrial warfare and citizen soldiery that you can call up and train to make up “mass”. I do think there are many specialist roles where reserves can excel as they being specific skills to the party, and a “home defence” role is also obvious. Still many European allies do a much better job of integrating reserve components into regular formations, so we need to work on that.

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      2. Dang, seem to have lost a comment so will try again.

        Thanks again Nick, for the extra clarity. I don’t think a “meaty” Brigade for high end war fighting, a light rapid reaction brigade and under equipped and potentially undermanned as hoc brigades will work in the way you envisage. I also think we have a cat in hells chance of creating a Div HQ and 3 Bde HQ’s from reserves. We do need to do a better job of integrating reserves, and using specialists, but we are no longer able to generate mass through calling up and training reserves, it takes too long.

        The way forward seems to be forward presence and engagement. Any formation equipped for high end warfare in a NATO article 5 scenario in the Baltic’s is going to be far more likely to be deployed fighting extremists in Africa. With that in mind I think we need to Anglify the French GTIA and SGTIA all arms battle group structure with the understanding that whole brigades will be formed and deployed in times of emergency when the force generation cycle can be disrupted for a good reason. Other than that we are talking about Infantry Coy plus Cav Sqdn plus Artillery Batty, plus CS / CSS at company / squadron level to create a British GTIA style all arms BG that adds up to around a battalion + of personnel, with the Brigade able to generate enough of these for a full range of forward presence roles and tasking.

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  10. @UK Land Power

    Nicholas, Just a thought but your structures, particularly at Div level, are focused on close combat with deep fire artillery supporting. I just wonder what a structure would look if one reversed that assumption, e.g. reduce the number of strike/ armoured/ light brigades and replace them with artillery/ armed UAV brigades? I admit this is hypothetical and I’m sure they’ll be someone with a million and one reasons why it won’t work but I just wondered if it had ever been tried, or even thought through and wargamed?

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  11. @Jed,

    Combining REME with RLC units could encourage further cuts by stealth. Moreover, I think vehicle maintenance is fundamentally a different discipline from logistical planning and implementation – even though the provision of spare parts is a logistical requirement. So, I see no merit in combining them at this time.

    Re: Army Reserve. I would raise sufficient CS and CSS assets to make the cluster of additional regular infantry battalions deployable as a third division. So that’s 10,000 soldiers including Cavalry, RA, RE, Signals, REME, RLC, RAMC and AGC units. I would raise additional infantry and cavalry units, but see these as forming the basis of a home defence force, rather than augmenting an expeditionary force. I would want the Regular Army to be deployable without relying on the Army Reserve. And I very much agree that we go to war with the Army we have, not the one we would ideally like. So Army Reserve priorities are as follows:

    1. Generate additional CS and CSS units to support UK 2 Division
    2. Generate additional Infantry and Cavalry units to create a fourth home defence division (but it lacks CS / CSS units)
    3. Establish regional recruitment hubs to help the expand the Army in a time of crisis
    4. Reduce the number of regular HQs and establish additional Army Reserve HQs to ensure command resilience.

    I think we can do all this with 30K – what do you think?

    @JT

    I wouldn’t want to reduce infantry and cavalry to generate more artillery. Once you’ve destroyed the enemy, using 155 mm howitzers, G/MLRS, PrSM and other rocket or missile artillery, you will need to seize and hold contested ground. There is no substitute for infantry mass to do this. If you don’t do this, then you allow enemy forces to retake territory uncontested.

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    1. Once again Nick, thanks for the detailed reply.

      So I get your point ref reserve CS / CSS units but I don’t see us ever using them to creating additional deployed brigades, rather the Iraq / Afghan model of using them to augment regulars in order to maintain an ongoing presence, but and this is the big one, does HMG want to get into that game again? Still logistics win wars not battles, so better to have the flexibility.

      On the HQ’s- I don’t think it will work. Again I can see reserves having the time to do the training required for staff or specialist roles to augment an HQ for ops, but not to provide a whole functioning HQ, they simply are not enough training days in the year to gain proficiency IMHO. I can see a “hard core” of available and deployable reserves who’s civvy jobs allow them, to be available to augment infantry and cavalry units, the CS / CSS stuff for sure, and “specialists” such as Psyops, CIMIC, Media Ops, cyber etc.

      On JT’s comment – I disagree with your comment and hopefully we can laugh about this over a beer at some point, because I am going to accuse you of being “old fashioned”. If we are reinforcing European mainland NATO allies to deal with Russian aggression, as an example, then the host country or allies with bigger armies than ours can provide infantry to “hold ground” – although I would argue that the availability of combat power that is enough to reduce an enemy formation to being combat ineffective is what is really needed in this scenario. If we can afford the expensive missile, rocket, and tube artillery, ISTAR and C4I capabilities to enable their use, then we don’t need a mass of infantry (or heavy armour) to hold the smoking craters, so let others provide them. In the completely odd / weird out laying scenario, such as the Falklands, where we are forced to operate alone and not as members of a coalition, then the small scale of any operation we could reasonably undertake alone, should mean that we will have enough infantry to achieve our objectives.

      Heresy I know….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Jed,

        If our land contribution to NATO is to purchase expensive missile, rocket, and tube artillery, ISTAR and C4I capabilities, would we be willing to forward deploy these to Eastern Europe to support the host nations infantry?

        By the way, which European countries have bigger armies than the UK? I’ve just done a quick wiki search (not that accurate I know) and we have more infantry than Germany, Poland or France.

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      2. @Jed

        On 2 Jan you said “With that in mind I think we need to Anglify the French GTIA and SGTIA all arms battle group structure”. I’m not quite sure that a French GTIA differs from a British army battlegroup all that much. I remember chatting to a French colonel a few years back who’d just come from commanding a regiment. He painted a picture of UK battlegroups and French GTIA being pretty much the same thing. The only real difference being that a bigger French regiment (compared to a UK battalion) tended to be more regarded as a more of pool of forces to draw upon to form a battlegroup/ Groupement tactique rather than a unit deployable in its totality.

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    2. Generating new units isnt going to happen. Lovely fantasy Orbats (I have one too!) but not relevant to where the Army should go.

      Ref combined REME and RLC, that was always the case in light Brigades as the requirement is so much lower that each only needs a sub-unit or two and a single unit level HQ can handle it. At Mech/Armd level you need multiple sub-units and so a specialist unit level HQ makes sense. Both Corps work very closely (every REME unit has a RLC sect and of course everyone has a REME LAD!). I was REME for a decade and saw both the Brigade Bn and Unit LAD.

      I absolutely agree they are different disciplines (see how the RAF and RN have seperate Engineering and Logistics branches/divisions) and need to be kept seperate – but combined CSS Bns can and have been done.

      For 2 Div and expanded AR, you seem to be planning for WW3, yet we moved away from that decades ago and the last flushes were in the 1990s, indeed it wasnt until the mid 2000s the last “Warfighting Establishment” stuff got binned (a raft of extra “indian slots” in units to supposedly be filled by regular reservists / newly traind / magicked up” people and we focussed on what we actually could have regular/TA.

      I dont see why we’d need to do this – the threat from Russia is short timeframe, i.e. forward presence and then getting reinforcements there. There will be no time to regenerate more units.
      Else it is expeditionary, again, fighting with what we have.
      The last time we had such a regenerative approach was the late 60s with TAVR III which lasted a year as it was pointless in the view of NATO doctrine and had probably only been a cover for massive reductions to the TA anyway. We had TA Home Defence in the 80s but even that was paltry vs the TA deployable component and in the face of a clear threat to the homeland. Putin does not have GSFG and what he does have is twice as far away with most of Warpac in the way rather than helping!

      Note, there are some excellent websites detailing the 1989 Orbat, which show just integrated the TA was and how much NORTHAG depended on the mass of TA Infantry etc. for the formations of Regular Corps Divisions to actually fight even what was expected to be a few weeks at best. It also explains why in 1991 it took nearly all of a 4 Division strong BAOR and UKLF to actually generate a single warfighting regular Div.

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  12. There seems to be a small mistake in the MIV calculation: the mortar platoon commander’s vehicle seems to be missing from the tables. Overall there should be 88 MIVs, not 87.

    I am also curious about the support vehicle count. 22 4×4 trucks for 88 Boxers? Does that provide sufficient supply for an independently acting battalion? What is the payload of that truck? 5 tons? 6? What about some containerized shops?

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  13. @Wojtek,

    The mortar platoon commander’s vehicle is included in Support Company HQ. It is a command vehicle not a mortar vehicle, which is why it is listed separately. (Support Company HQ has a lean structure because most of the platoons operate detached.)

    The MAN HX 60 trucks are shown as 4×4 with an 8-tonne payload, but they could easily be MAN HX58 6×6 or HX77 8×8 which have 12 and 16 tonne payloads respectively. The HX77 could include the EPLS variant which can drop and recover ISO containers.

    Overall, the structure is designed to be lean and simple without being overly dependent on manpower. Much of the heavy lifting would be done by the RLC logistic regiment attached to the Brigade. Of course, this structure isn’t complete, because certain things haven’t been decided or are not in the public domain.

    I have tried to keep Boxer totals below 90 vehicles and headcount under 700.

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    1. Thank you, Nick. In that case all I was saying is that in the “Summary Mechanised Infantry Battalion Structure” graphic there are 88 MIVs pictured, not 87.

      But my curiosity was caused by the similarity in size to the Polish motorized battalions. According to our current unofficial plans we shall have ~90 AMVs in 4 motorized cos, support co, logistics co, and headquarters co. This is very close to what you have proposed. But our logistics footprint seems to be significantly larger, even though there’s some consensus that our DOS’s are not very generous. Hence my curiosity regarding what is the volume of DOS and how many of those would you expect your battalion to carry for an independent mission. Because even though switching from 4x4s to 8x8s might solve that problem, it is bound to create issues with mobility.

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      1. Wojek, I am wrong and you are right! Visuals now updated, but it should be 86 Boxers in total, not 87 or 88. Mortar Platoon has 8 x 120 mm tubes with the Platoon commander in a separate C2 Boxer.

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  14. Hi @Bob2 ref your 041350 Jan 2021:

    Wikipedia has Polish Army at 77,000 – smaller than ours on paper, but they have 240-ish Leopard 2, over 200 PT91 (Polish built T72 derivative) and are modernizing another 230 T72, leaving around 400 T72’s in “reserve”. They are constantly modernizing to replace Soviet era equipment, thus they already have the equivalent of Strike Brigades based on Patria AMV (Rosomak) and have developed their own 120mm turreted mortar. They use the updated Braveheart version of the AS 90 155mm turret that we never purchased. Mostly of course, although a big country, they are already in it, and mobilization is much easier https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Land_Forces#After_1989
    They also have 53,000 personnel in the Territorial Defence Force which is aiming to generate 17 Light Infantry Brigades (not battalions, Brigades): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Land_Forces#After_1989

    Germany let things slip a bit, going all in the peace dividend for a while, however Bundeswher is at 183,000 as of Nov 2020, so over twice the size of the British Army. New Leopards on order, Puma being introduced to service, Boxer in services, PZH2000 etc.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundeswehr#:~:text=As%20of%20November%202020%2C%20the,Union%20behind%20France%20in%20personnel.

    Obviously the 3 Baltic nations have very small standing armies, hence the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroups, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_Enhanced_Forward_Presence

    UK is the lead for the eFP Battle Group in Estonia, providing an armoured infantry battalion on Warrior and a Squadron of Chally 2. In Poland we provide a Light Armoured Recce ‘Sabre’ Squadron on Jackal’s.

    Putting a squadron of Jackal’s into a US led multinational division, in a country that has 4 times more tanks than the UK is a political tick boxing exercise, look at us we are being good allies. I will admit the Estonia BG has more ‘combat power’ but as its on the door step of the potential aggressor, and relies on other allies for air defence, I am pretty sure it would not last long, and there absolutely could be other, better ways of providing different, more subtle or unique support to European NATO in the north east.

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    1. @Jed

      You say “Bundeswher is at 183,000 as of Nov 2020, so over twice the size of the British Army”. I’m afraid this is inaccurate. The word Bundeswehr refers to the entire German armed forces (army/navy/air force), and not just their army. The UK’s armed forces are actually somewhat larger than Germany’s and the German army (Deutsches Heer) is smaller than the British army.

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      1. Good point sir! I guess that’s what happens when I should be working instead of commenting…. 🙂

        I still don’t care if the British Army is bigger, it is bigger by having unprotected immobile “light role infantry”, and its a lot easier for a German battle group on Boxer, or even on Leopard and Puma on the back of HET’s or trains, to get to Poland than it is for an equal British force.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. This is technically right, but not really true. Because Germany has basically moved most of its logistics into a seperate Joint Support Service (Streitkräftebasis). Also includes MPs and the active components of the (reserve) home guard.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Support_Service_(Germany)

        Same for the other seperate services: docs and medics (Sanitätsdienst) and Cyber. Plus Heer members in “civilian” occupations in the MoD.

        If you just count the Heer soldiers detached to the Streitkräftebasis back in, you get close to 100.ooo.

        Current plans of the German MoD are to do away with this system (introduced for monetary reasons) again as part of the reorientation away from Out of area deployments (Afg) towards defense against Russia.

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  15. A great article and is very close to the work I have been doing over Christmas (which is good from a logic perspective).

    I believe the UK can generate 4 fully integrated divisions (1 reserve) and a HQ Division and remain within the 82k, what I really can’t see is us being relevant with a smaller force (I have tried modelling to 65k and it is really large brigades at that point).

    couple of observations if I may

    1. technology is king here: smart purchasing can really improve our footprint. Examples:
    a) Amos double barrel mortars on Boxer (Mortar and Direct fire – fully autoloading)
    b) reducing the boxer to 6 dismounts (same as warrior) and adding improved turret (CTA or other as per article)
    c) making as many of the infantry IFV/MIV’s ISTAR assets and doing away with Cavalry as this becomes the norm that all units share data constantly
    d) as noted in your article, we need to find innovative ways of getting boots on the ground (maximising infantry numbers) whilst ensuring we are able to maintain or enhance our combat support and logistics with fewer personnel.
    e) against a peer we will lose brigades or even divisions, our organisational structure needs to have a splinter cell mentality whilst also being able to work en masse, this may sound like a contradiction, but we need a way of sharing information across nodes, but ensuring that a cyber, nuclear or EMT that removes that node does not impact the others, organisationally this will require standalone commands that can operate together or separately.

    2. Infantry units should be separated from platform (ie all infantry should have a basic structure and get their vehicles attached for role.

    3. Each Combat unit should have 4 combat units and a combat support unit, with the 4th unit securing the rear, it always amazes me that we take about Boxer operating far into enemy territory without any way of securing the pocket that the CSG/Fires/GBAD will need to operate in or having a viable means of reinforcement or extraction. If we are 2k miles into enemy territory we need to be able to circle the wagons and fight our way out.

    4. by separating platform from dismounts we are able to structure training and availability more efficiently.
    a) Brigade 1 – Operational – Strike (Boxer)
    b) Brigade 2 – High Readiness – Familiarisation Training – Strike (Boxer)
    c) Brigade 3 – Medium/Low Readiness – Division level training – Heavy Armour (Tracks)
    d) Brigade 4 – Low Readiness – Basic training and fitness – Light Infantry (Supacat/MAN)

    5. By adopting the above we can retain a Heavy Armour capability, and gain value from it as part of the training up to operations levels. Whilst accepting that Strike(wheels) is probably going to be our most used assets going forward. It helps troops transition through the cycles, gives a known training cycle and allows for consistent force generation. We essentially will be using our Armour as a key training tool, instead of it sitting waiting for use once per 20 years, if we are not willing to do that we should forgo heavy armour totally and accept the consequences

    6.The US model of organic air should be adopted, which will means circa 4.5k personnel per Brigade – with 22.5k per Division, creating 3 permanent divisions and a reserve division that is targeted with providing a brigade at any given time.

    7. I would also like to put the following out there as an alternative to heavy armour. A fully loaded Boxer Brigade, with significant organic air (32 Apache per brigade) and a proper ground based air defence system could be better and more useable than a heavy armour formation we can’t afford to use.

    Whilst I recognise the merits of HA, I just don’t believe our government are willing to fund its use except in extreme circumstances, time to generate is also an issue and it may be that the UK’s Heavy Armour capability should be in the hands of the reserve who can train on simulators regularly, go to BATUS or Salisbruy plain for their annual training and be conscripted when the force is actually needed. Again something to think about

    Great article

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  16. Thank you, Nick, for these explanations. This makes the idea behind the structure much more clear. (Perhaps it is also time to delete my posts above, as they are no longer relevant.)

    But now, in view of these changes, I would like to ask you if you think it might be worth to go down from 3 companies with 9 platoons, to 2 companies with 8 platoons (4 each). This is related to something I saw a while back that a couple of gentlemen from RUSI proposed (Watling and Bronk). They were arguing for a new concept of a “platoon group”, which was a larger and more diversified version of an augmented platoon. Besides the core 4-vehicle platoon, it also included a mortar, an engineering vehicle, and a couple more.

    Now, your previous graphic presented 9 platoons, 9 mortars, and a total of 9 command vehicles across 4 companies (3 rifle and 1 support). So on a certain level it looked like 9 “platoon battle groups” 🙂

    However, your structure very naturally leads itself into forming 8 such groups, each with a mortar, a recce vehicle, and a recovery vehicle. Together with 4 IFVs, a command vehicle, and an ambulance, it is almost the size of a former soviet company (1+3×3).

    What is your opinion about these platoon groups and including them as a core principle of organizational design?

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    1. Wojtek,

      With 120 mm mortars, you actually only need six tubes, not eight or nine. In fact, nine is over-kill, and creates a greater logistical burden. For this reason, I felt it was better to stick with eight per battalion – the same number of howitzers we have in a standard artillery battery. This is plenty of firepower and gives you a mortar section of two vehicles to support each rifle company plus a spare section for surge fire missions.

      I do not like the idea of having two rifle companies instead of three; (although I would be very happy to have four rifle companies in an enlarged mechanised battalion). Overall, I prefer three manoeuvre companies per battalion. This gives you two-up, plus on-in-reserve. You always need a reserve company to consolidate a position once it is taken or to reinforce an attack in the event that the first wave suffers high casualties. Two-up, one-in-reserve creates an implicit triangular structure so that when halting a battalion has natural all-round defence. If you reduce to two companies, you lose your reserve. Also, you make the enlarged company more difficult for the Company Commander to lead and control.

      Usually, three infantry battalions within a brigade are supported by a cavalry regiment (the US Stryker Brigade model). This can be equipped with either MBTs or MGSs with one squadron attached to each battalion and one troop attached to each rifle company. This effectively gives you four platoon groups per company.

      The other popular brigade structure is to have two infantry battalions plus two cavalry regiments. This allows you to create four Battle Groups. of these, two have 2x infantry companies plus 1 x cavalry squadron while the other two have 2 x cavalry squadrons plus 1x infantry company. I am less keen on this approach, because it reduces infantry mass. Ultimately, you want to maximise boots on the ground since it is dismounted infantry’s job to physically seize and hold territory. Cavalry’s primary job is to provide direct fire support (in the attack) and to neutralise other AFVs (in both attack and defence). I think this can be achieved very well by having a single MBT or MGS regiment.

      So, typically, I see strike units manoeuvring in company-size packets with the following vehicles:
      Company commander’s group 2 x Boxer C2, 1 x Boxer Logistic (Ammo resupply), 1 x Ambulance, 2 x Repair & Recovery
      Air Defence detachment with 2 x Boxer SHORAD
      Mortar Section with 2 x Boxer NEMO
      1st Platoon with 4 x Boxer IFV
      2nd Platoon with 4 x Boxer IFV
      3rd Platoon with 4 x Boxer IFV
      Cavalry Troop with 4 x Boxer MGS
      Company Echelon located at an FOB or following-on behind at a discreet distance.

      The big change with contemporary warfare is that the traditional demarcation between your own lines and enemy lines has disappeared. The enemy can be anywhere. Therefore, you need a much leaner, tighter Echelon. The primary job of the supporting trucks and JLTVs is to ferry forward supplies from the main Battalion logistical resupply point.

      The other really important point to make is that any future conflict, certainly within a European context, is likely to play-out in urban areas. So effectiveness will be about manoeuvring to positions that defend key approaches to towns, villages and other built-up areas. So you’re going to want your infantry to dismount and dig-in, but to be able to re-mount their vehicles quickly and exfiltrate to a new position should the current one become untenable. Some defence analysts believe that manoeuvre warfare will be evolve into the static defence of built up areas – siege warfare. But, I think cutting supply lines and counter attack tactics of highly mobile forces will play an important role. In any event, ground combat will be high tempo and extremely fluid. Ultimately, access to real-time information via robust tactical C4i will be a deciding factor.

      This is a very basic overview of how the proposed organisation might work in practice. Above all, the objective is to create a highly flexible structure that allows different tactics to be used.

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      1. Four rifle Company’s in am Armoured Infantry (WSCP, Ares, whatever…..) or Strike (Boxer) makes sense IF each section vehicle is an IFV with 30×113 or 40mm CTA – AND – either an ATGM or a pair of LMM…

        And

        If the 120mm mortars are organized like the Polish army, in a separate unit. In our case that would probably be Royal Artillery, but it doesn’t matter (apart from a training and career structure point of view) because you add them to the all arms battle group (infantry, mortars, SHORAD, combat engineers). The dismount infantry are in essence “panzer Grenadier” in this context, operating from and in concert with their vehicles and vehicle borne weapons systems.

        As to the urban nature of operations, as you might suspect we have differing opinions on the structure. For the “Mechanised Infantry” on MRV-P (Bushamster?) I would prefer something akin to the Commando 21 organization of 2 Close Combat Companies, and 2 Stand Off Combat Companies. More ATGM, more medium MG’s and more mortars, in either 2 large battle groups (which are great manoeuvre units in a situation like Mali), or mixing up the close combat platoons with the MG, mortar amd ATGM platoons into four smaller battle groups spread around the urban terrain of the Sulwaki gap….. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dear Nick,

        Clearly “four legs good, two legs bad” 🙂

        But Watling and Bronk’s company group had 36+ MIVs and SVs. They could afford 6 such company groups in a brigade, but probably no more. Definitely not 12. And having 6 companies grouped into 2 battalions limits the reach of their brigade, as the operational area of each battalion must be constrained by the reach of its support weapons.

        Your proposal, however, seems to be leaner. Hence, much more realistic. I like that. Though I would think that if these brigades are intended to operate somewhere between Black and Baltic Seas, you would want to have homogeneous company groups, i.e., enough support at battalion level to form 3 such company groups permanently. That’s a vast space and there is a good chance it will be a fragmented and very dynamic battlefield. The luxury to decide on your own which of the companies is in-reserve might not exist. So why borrow the extra recon vehicles from the cavalry battalion, if they will be constantly needed? It will grow your battalion a little, but still within acceptable levels. I am also assuming that engineering vehicles, just like SHORAD, are located in a separate unit. So overall 100+ MIVs in a battalion group. Not that different from our plans, which are slowly but surely converging towards 96-102 AMVs in a battalion. But with much weaker support structure than what you are proposing here.

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  17. In US BCTs, the cavalry squadron (i.e. regiment) is always a light cav unit designed for recon/screening/security roles, so there are actually 3 manoeuvre units in the BCT – for Inf, Armd and Stryker BCTs. In the Armd BCT, the tanks are deployed as integral companies within the 3 combined arms battalions (CAB) – each CAB has 2 Inf and 2 Tank coys. This is the major drawback of the British Army’s fascination with single arm units – if you think only in terms of Inf Bns and Armd Regts, you always have to choose between 2 + 1 or 1 + 2. Why not just have 3 units with equal numbers of Inf and Armd sub-units? Likewise, the support units do not all need to have their own self-contained major units. A BCT has 7 units with OF-4 (Lt-Col) commanders, whereas the Strike Bde has 10 OF-4s, some of whom will be commanding less than 300 soldiers. That creates duplication of resources and manpower bloat – the Strike Bde will be around 5,500 – 6,000, compared to an Armored BCT at 4,700.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. The US System of 3x infantry Battalions and 1x Cavalry Squadron (Regiment) per Stryker Brigade works very well. Similarly, the 2x armoured infantry battalions plus 2x tank regiments per US Armoured Brigade Combat Teams is also very good. The UK will adopt the US ABCT structure for its single Armoured Infantry Brigade and for its two Strike Brigades (each Strike Brigade will have 2x Ajax regiments and 2x Boxer battalions). Given that any European deployment is likely to feature urban operations that are infantry intensive, I would prefer the Stryker Brigade approach with 3x infantry battalions plus 1x Cavalry regiment.

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      1. @UK Land Power

        I’ve just been looking at BAR177 Winter 19/ Spring 20 on Conceptual Force Land 2035. I just wondered how your Strike brigades and units org would fit in with that concept?

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      2. Yeah, but the ABCT packs a lot more punch for less manpower. The ABCT has something like 87 MBT and 120 IFV, with a total brigade strength of 4,700. The AIB (under Army 2020 Refine, with the recce regt removed) has about 116 Warrior and 56 CR2, with something over 5,200 total. Add the armd recce back in, you get another 60 odd CVR(T)/Ajax, but also another 500 personnel, so about 5,700 total – a thousand more than the ABCT, but still with less firepower. I’d far rather have 6×14 coys of M1A2 than 3×18 sqns of CR2. Also, the 3 CABs of the ABCT have identical organisation, whereas the AIB ends up with one BG being short of a fire support company (unless the Cmd/Recce sqn of the type 56 regt ends up with 14xAjax instead of 8xCVR(T)).

        The Strike Bde formation (2x Ajax, 2xBoxer) makes even less sense to me. Does one of the Ajax regts take on the recce/security role, or are there 4 BGs with a mix of Ajax and Boxer in each? What function would a mixed Ajax/Boxer BG have? There’s not enough infantry mass to be useful as a purely inf group, but not enough firepower to be a breakthrough unit. Some sort of vaguely long-distance heavy/force reconnaissance thingy seems to be the doctrine. The US Army gets a lot wrong, but the BCT concept is pretty damn good. Start with the doctrine, design the force structure needed to implement the doctrine, then design/procure the equipment to enable the doctrine, and then – and only then – generate the force structure to implement the doctrine. Army 2020 Refine is doing the whole process in reverse.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. J.T. The authors of CF(L)35 are in a different world from me. In my world, Newtons 3rd law states force equals mass times acceleration. In the CF(L)35 world, force equals mass times velocity squared. They try to justify reduced mass by dancing around.

        Their proposal is for battle groups reduced from 1250 personnel to 500, so not Nicholas’s battalions of 800. The levels of command are reduced, it looks like a BG will have 4 platoons and company level is gone. Apparently CATT has been used a lot to develop the concept, but future technology has been assumed, so this is not what can be ordered now.

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      1. Also of relevance is the specific ‘Strike Theme’ in British Army Review 178 Summer 2020 file:///home/chronos/u-dd4be2c36521bb2812dd37b88a181dc76f2a1a86/MyFiles/Downloads/BAR_178_Summer_2020.pdf page 32 ‘Strike Brigade: The Army’s battle cruiser for the 21st century?’ and page 38 ‘Be different to be better’.

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  18. The main problem for the British Army is that it does not know what it will be asked to do or where. In the sharpest contrast, Israel knows who it will fight and where. That makes its equipment and organisation planning much easier. Given the uncertainty over what kind of deployment might be ordered, would it not make sense to separate organisational structure from deployment command. The organisational structure would be responsible for pay, rations, housing, training, equipment maintenance. Each command ( eg heavy armour, medium armour, artillery, heavy and light infantry) would contribute the necessary sub units to the deployment command. In effect we would operate as adhoc battle groups. To some extent, this has always happened. But adopting this and practising it in peacetime would offer maximum flexibility.
    For an army unlikely to grow beyond current manpower levels, the debate about the number and type of divisions seems a bit irrelevant.

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    1. Peter, the separate organisational structure and deployment command that you suggest are pretty much there. It’s complicated and I’m no expert.

      The Joint Personnel Administration handles pay, including deductions for rations and housing, for all 3 services. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation is responsible for the Defence estate. Within the army, the main split is between the Field Army and Home Command. Home Command includes the recruitment and initial training division.

      As you say, forming ad hoc battle groups has always happened. Without knowing exactly where or what the next fight will be, it is reasonable for the deployment command (the Field Army) to have Brigades and Divisions to command and support these battle groups. I do agree with you that a top down aspiration to have 3 divisions or whatever, is irrelevant. We must use what we have and can practically build.

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  19. @Jed (January 8, 2021 at 1:15 am)

    You, Sir, seem to like our Polish wheeled battalion structure (4 companies + a separate support company with 120mm mortars). I am curious if you do not find it too large and too difficult to use? 4 separate homogeneous company groups with 14xIFV and ultimately 4x120mm (right now it is 2x120mm) are individually not considered strong enough in comparison to a Russian mechanized company with a tank platoon. There have been several attempts to simulate this at the academic level and they have been rather unfavorable for our structure. As a result, there are now proposals to further augment the battalion with another company: up to 16xMGS (our military experts prefer 120mm). This however would grow the battalion size to levels unseen anywhere else in the world.

    PS. The “urban terrain” in the Suwałki Gap not very urban. But a lot of small hills, woods, and water.

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    1. Hi Wojtek

      Apologies,for,the very delayed reply. I think I am advocating for something like the Polish structure but married to the French GTIA/SGTIA “all arms battle group” structure. So the brigade becomes HQ and enabler for permanent AABG’s rather than the ad hoc structures we have lived with for decades. Cav, Inf, Arty, Sigs, Engineers and Logistics who identify with their BG and their brigade as much as they do with their regiment. They would train together in peace time, go through the force generation cycle, exercising and deploying together. It is a model that I think fits better with our expeditionary focus (which is why it works well for the French) and with our stated desire to “forward deploy”. Only in times of major crises would we pull multiple SGTIA style all arms battle groups together under the Brigade HQ, and put two or three brigades under the deplorable Div HQ with specialist enablers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This seems sensible to me.
        I wonder what the ideal size of a brigade is? Is it a question of the size of Battalions or the number of them?
        Given the large number of vehicles and associated automatic weapons and mortars is the current or proposed mix with troops correct for these Strike brigades?

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      2. There is no doubt in my mind that a more permanent association of multiple units into combined arms battle groups is needed. Certainly for front-line countries like Poland. The idea that we will be able to pull together (and last minute for that) multiple units form garrisons 100 miles apart is not very convincing.

        And I think that our planners are already imagining our battalions as such permanent battle groups. There have been proposals that suggest adding a wheeled tank company, an engineering company, integrated SHORAD, antitank, etc. Even dedicated mine laying capability. All that on top of our 4 AMV companies and an indirect fires company. I have no knowledge about French structures, but from what I could read, this seems to be converging in the same direction.

        All this seems very reasonable, but there are a few things that concern me. (1) Our proposals seem to be a reaction to a very weak evaluation of the AMV-based battalion’s chances in a fight with a Russian btg. (2) Russians are not done with their experiments and they are scaling up to regimental divisions. There are so many variants out there that I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the intended structure is. But even the weakest possible regiment has 3 battalions with 3 companies each. We’re assuming this is to better enable the creation of btg’s. But what if they start creating rtg’s instead? (3) Last but not least is the issue of the classical structure: division-brigade-battalion. With these very strong battle groups, do we really need the brigade level? Or would we all do better with smaller divisions, but perhaps more of them? Just to be clear: I’m not advocating for reducing the overhead, just for distributing it differently.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “garrisons 100 miles apart is not very convincing”

        Strike Brigade infantry battalions will be in Catterick Garrison and the cavalry regiments will be round Salisbury Plain, 260 miles away. This is not very convincing.

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  20. Nicholas, I have a small concern about the assault pioneer platoon. It is shown with 19 personnel and 4 infantry carriers. The vehicle crews total 8 leaving assault pioneer teams carried as 3 x 3 + 1 x 2. This does not look like good use of expensive vehicles. Perhaps at some time the platoon personnel were reduced but the vehicle allocation has not been reduced to match.

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    1. Paul, Interesting view. So, I see the Assault Pioneer platoon as having Boxers with dozer blades attached to the front of their vehicles and maybe a small bucket excavator too. They would also have power tools and other obstacle-clearing devices carried in the back. Their job is to clear a path for company groups, to dig trenches, to repair infrastructures, and conduct basic demolitions. So a driver and commander plus 2-3 dismounted pioneers per vehicle ought to be enough for simple tasks. Often, a single vehicle will be enough to open a route or clear a blockage. The Pioneer platoon may operate with REME vehicles if heavy lifting is involved. Whatever they do in support of Mechanised battalions, they probably need a platform with the same level of protection and mobility as their comrades. In this sense, the pioneer platoon is an engineer resource. Whatever the role, I am not wedded to it having Boxers. You could give them JLTV, but they would not be able to much. A Boxer with a dozer blade might be very useful in an urban situation. If you have a better solution, I’d certainly be willing to consider it.

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    2. Dozer blade and maybe a small excavator. So a Pearson Engineering Excavator Manipulator Arm would do the job, several jobs, and yes that would be a good capability to have on the drive module. The infantry carrier mission module can carry 8 infantry, so 2 or 3 pioneers still does not look good to me. The engineer module carries 6, I think, plus stores.

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      1. The Artec web site has the armoured engineer variant carrying driver, commander, gunner, seating for six dismounts, and stowage space for munitions. Two of those seats look to be especially cramped and I wouldn’t mind losing them. This variant was supposedly the starting point for the British specialist variant with the stowage being alternatively used for mortar or ATGW. I have not seen any detail of the specialist variant. For an assault pioneeer platoon, I would go with 3 vehicles each with 2 + 4. That gives 1 less vehicle and 1 less person but 1 more pioneer than the 4 vehicle, 19 personnel proposal. This is only a small adjustment.

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      2. Engineer variant of the Fuchs with a dozer blade

        My biggest gripe with the Boxer is that there are no variants that can swim, unlike the Fuchs.

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  21. Boxer is certainly a big, sexy vehicle but it’s also a very expensive one, and while there are obvious benefits to utilising a single platform within the core of the brigade we might buy greater capability with some cheaper options. There are a number of proposed variants which could, perhaps, be mounted by the HX range of trucks. Radar, ECM, Land Ceptor, GLMRS, and SPGs for example. There are also bridging modules that go on the back of an 8×8 or 10×10. Not everything is going to venture close to harm’s way to warrant Boxer’s level of protection… Although serving soldiers may not share such a view! Can’t say I blame them!

    I have a particular problem with the Boxer SPG…has anyone seen a video of it running cross country? I have only seen pictures of it parked up! It looks suspiciously top heavy and I wouldn’t want to be driving that over any extreme terrain…but I could be wrong! Archer perhaps?

    On the subject of Nemo vs Assault gun type fire support vehicle, it wasn’t that long ago (OK it was) that the BA used to field the Abbott SPG, which was 105mm, maybe that concept is worth revisiting and updating?

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    1. The concept of a fully armoured SPG is not dead, but has moved on from 105 mm. Take a look at the 155 mm Konstrukta Defence Zuzana 2. This 32.4 t, down from the 38.5 t of Boxer. Zuza is 8×8 and has sights for direct fire. With Bonus it can attack tanks at 35 km.

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  22. I found the detailed diagram of the Mechanised Infantry Battalion very clear. Just what is needed to ‘sell’ the Strike Brigade concept to laymen such as politicians, civil servants and taxpayers such as me. I have a few minor queries. Where are the Snipers? What are the 4×4 vehicles shown in the HQ Company HQ and elsewhere? I assume that with so many Boxers fitted with Remote Weapon Stations there is no need for Machinegun Platoons, is this so? As the Reconnaissance Vehicles are shown as part of the Support Company I assume that the Cavalry Regiment consists of Mobile Gun Systems (MGS), is this so? Could the MGS be part of the Support Company too? I look forward to your completing the task of defining the rest of the ‘Fantasy Fleets’ for the rest of the Regiments and Companies of the Strike Brigade. As these Brigades are intended to operate dispersed should the VSHORAD units be Brigade assets not Divisional assets? A very interesting read, I now know a lot more about how the Army operates.

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    1. @Barnacle Bill,
      To answer your questions:
      – The Sniper Platoon is absolutely retained, but does not have its own organic transport. It might deploy in the Company 2IC’s vehicle, with the Reconnaissance Platoon, or from the pool of JLTVs held by HQ company.
      – I anticipate the Army acquiring a significant number of 4×4 JLTVs for command, liaison and other roles within Strike Brigades.
      – With Boxer mounting a 12.7 mm HMG or 30z113 mm chain gun, you don’t need a separate machine gun platoon, so rifle companies revert to having three rifle platoons.
      – In an ideal world, I would equip all Boxer section vehicles plus the reconnaissance platoon with a 30×173 mm remote turret. This would provide a total of 50 Boxer IFVs per battalion. I would have three infantry battalions per brigade plus one cavalry regiment to provide reconnaissance, direct fire support and flank protection with 56 x 105 mm mobile gun systems per regiment.
      – The proposed battalion structure gives you an infantry platoon with 36 soldiers in total, of which 28 dismount. Assuming each brigade has three infantry battalions that’s a total mass of 756 dismounts per brigade – that’s a very decent infantry mass.
      – If a remote turret like the Kongsberg RT60 was mounted on a Boxer IFV, this would have a twin ATGM launcher, so you’d be able to launch 100 missiles per battalion from under armour. Such a capability would be transformational. It would also mean that you no longer needed an anti-tank platoon.
      – Instead of an organic anti-tank platoon, I would add an air defence platoon with a mix of Starstreak HVM and 30 mm cannons, e.g. Rheinmetall SkyRanger. If we adopted something like the MOOG RiWP VSHORAD solution, we could potential mount a mix of LR ATGM and SAM, so extra flexibility.
      – The MGS regiment would have an integral an overwatch squadron (three troops with four launchers each). I would equip these with with a loitering missile like ground-launched Brimstone or an equivalent NLOS ATGM. This would more than restore the capability we lost when CVR(T) Striker / Swingfire was retired.
      – Completing the structure there are eight turreted 120 mm mortars per infantry battalion, plus a regiment of 24 x 155 mm Boxer RCHs per brigade. At divisional level, each brigade would be supported by G/ MLRS regiment, STA regiment, RPAS regiment, Apache attack helicopter regiment, and air defence regiment with LandCeptor CAMM. In sum, this gives you a credible and potent force that is enviably equipped for peer-to-peer warfare.
      – What I describe is not a million miles away from the Army’s aspiration, which much of the funding needed to achieve this already in place.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. If all infantry Boxers are equipped with a 30mm cannon (+ ATGM), which make it an IFV and not a “taxi”, is a crew of 2 ie. driver / gunner sufficient and don’t you need to add a vehicle commander like on Bradley M2 ? It was my understanding that several studies have shown the cognitive load is then to much for just 2 crew ?

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    1. @Malagava,

      We are moving to a world where all IFVs (wheeled or tracked) have remote turrets with the crew sitting below them. This configuration allows the vehicle commander and vehicle gunner, sitting side-by-side, to swap or share roles as the tactical situation demands. Often they will have duplicate controls, so hand-off is extremely quick and easy. This means that the commander can choose to dismount with the squad / section or remain in the vehicle. Note: Boxer section vehicles are expected to have a crew of three plus seven dismounts.

      When a vehicle is crewed by only two soldiers, the latest generation of sensors and situational awareness aids allow the gunner to command the vehicle without a problem. Being personally very familiar with these systems, it is as easy to operate a 30 mm cannon as it a RWS with just a 12.7 mm HMG.

      Increasingly, weapon sights and sensors are being augmented by AI. So a target image will be interpreted by the on-board computer often before a human operator identifies it, e.g. a thermal shape at 10 kms may be identified as a T-72 by the AI before the gunner recognises it himself. The FCS can be programmed to lay the gun on-target automatically, allowing for much faster engagement times.
      The US Army is proposing that its Bradley replacement has a crew of 2 plus a squad of 6 or 8. This reflects the advances in sensor design made over the last decade.

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    2. There are always complaints. Our (Polish) motorized infantry went back and forth with their squad structures. When the squad commander was also the vehicle commander, the vehicle crews complained to be undermanned when he dismounted. On the other hand, when they added the dedicated vehicle commander, the squad commander complained about not being fully on top of things when on board. Perhaps modern technology (ML+VR) will solve this issue?

      Like

  24. After reading this article and the previous one on learning from our allies I think we should look to the Russians and their Brigade and Battalion Tactical group set ups.

    They have been doing Strike more coherantly on operations and their Brigades have capabilities organic to them that we still hold at divisional level. They understand that confrontation will be short and sharp and that he who can react to changes faster after the initial contact will prevail over an adversary that cannot and who’s capability to stay in the fight has been eroded enough (logistically and politicaly) to prevent continuation.

    Their doctrine of maneuver defence, which is different to our mobile defence philosophy is suited to our Strike philosophy when defending against a stronger apponent. Which is why their fires and EW capability is much more capable than ours at brigade level (they train with and have EW capability at battle group level). They also see artillery as a maneuver arm of the formartion in of itself and will use it to protect flanks and take ground etc.

    The British Army is too infantry centric and needs to to learn to let go of that bias in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my own amateur way this makes a lot of sense.

      I wonder what the right size is for a British brigade? Should it be smaller and be adjusted with ad hoc units as required – or the brigade be bigger with significant groupings permanently attached, a small ‘division’.
      Should there be something called a ‘Division’? Should not the grouping of Brigades be put together according to how they need to be tasked?

      In my small mind I think the Brigade should be larger than smaller, units that develop their own ethos – with historic connections(?).

      Like

      1. The size of the Bde would depend on the role. An armoured brigade would be slightly larger than a strike bde due to role and logs etc.

        Adjusting bde’s with ad hoc units has been the norm for decades examples being the force make up of Telic and Herrick as the campaigns progressed and situations and needs changed. This is why looking to the French as if they have discovered some secret sauce with their version of battle groups is irrelevant, the British army has been operating with tailored bde’s and battle groups for a lot longer than our ops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        The Div is still required for the deep battle etc against a neer peer/peer opponent and is the probably the smallest formation required coupled with command expertise at the operational level.

        personally I think we should look at stepping down some of our div level capabilities to bde level and try to make the bde’s as independant as possible with battle groups within these bde’s with capabilities previously at bde level such as reinforced coy sized all arms battlegroups with artillery, AD, EW and assault bridging etc at that level.

        Brigades already have historic connections such as the desert rats and 16AAB etc and they can develop their own ethos.

        Like

    1. The RSG looks as it is very similar in thinking to Strike which in turn seems to be an evolution to our FRES concept from earlier.

      A quickly deployed independant bde that supports div maneuver while also having the ability to degrade an attacking opponent until heavier units arrive.

      It would require the UK to invest heavily in fires and supporting capabilities to get the full use of the bde.

      When it come to artillery we are not investing enough in numbers and types in my opinion. One regiment of 155mm per strike brigade is to few (The Russians have 2 regiments per bde plus an MLRS regt) and I don’t think the goat fetish is the answer when it does not really outrange a peer adversary and has medium mobilty when we want to fight across a 100km frontage. I think a truck mounted system makes sense if we throw in with the US Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ECRA) programme.

      Things like Ceaser make sense for light Bde’s but I don’t think they fit with Strike or armoured Bde’s.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Interesting read once again, even if what was said did fly over my head sometimes!
    I’m quite new to army structures so please forgive me if you pull out your hair when you hear these questions:

    i) Do you argue for two identical deployable strike divisions, which would consist of 2 strike brigades and an armoured infantry brigade (consisting of 2 tank regiments and 2 ajax(?) regiments)?
    ii) What would the structure/role of the remaining 30,000 personnel be?
    iii) Would the army lose tanks and IFVs in this process, if so how many?
    iv) What are the rapid reaction brigades shown on your diagram? Would they also have strike brigades or are they something completely different?
    v) Is it possible to estimate the total cost to fit and equip the strike division(s) in full?
    vi) What would the total equipment per division be (total artillery pieces, total tanks, total ICV, etc)?

    Sorry for all the very long questions, I also apologize if some of the questions are stupid or have been answered!

    Like

    1. Not quite. I would propose a Strike Division based on Boxer + MBTs and Light Role (rapid reaction) Division based on MRVP. There would be a third non-deployable Light Role Division. Each would have 9 infantry battalions, plus 3 cavalry regiments. I estimate that the Army could achieve with 30 infantry battalions instead of the 33 it currently has. The remaining troops would be support units including an Artillery Brigade, an Aviation Brigade, a Signals Brigade, an Engineer Brigade, a Logistics Brigade, a REME brigade, a Medical Services brigade, and Special Forces Brigade, plus miscellaneous Admin units. Each unit has approximately 100 Boxer or MRVP, plus 60-100 trucks and land rovers. Around 1,000 vehicle per brigade. For two divisions you need around 7,000-8,000 vehicles of all types.

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      1. Thank you for the clarification. At this point would you scrap ajax or does it still hold a place within the army – even considering its cost?

        Like

      2. “Light Role (rapid reaction) Division based on MRVP.”
        I wonder how such a light rapid reaction force would fare against the Russians in a Baltic scenario. My hunch: not too great.
        I wonder whether UK (and German) forces would not be better served if they had something a bit stronger at hand – something that can roll off a A400M fully locked and loaded, without needing to to take off and then reinstall a mission module due to the 32 ton limit. Centauro II would be an option, at 30 tons, except that it introduces a whole new logistical chain..

        Could a Centauro II turret and a Boxer hull be kept under 32 tons?

        Else … whatever happened to the 6×6 Boxer prototype one can see in some documentaries on the Boxer program? A turreted Boxer 6×6 with some CRV style 30mm and some bigger guns (50mm, 76mm) would make quite a lot of sense for heavy airborne units in my book ,,,

        Or one could just buy the French Jaguar. Though something that can swim or snorkel would be preferable, now that I think about it, given all those rivers in Eastern Europe.

        Like

  26. I don’t know that I agree with the comment “the diesel engine driveline module of existing versions could easily be swapped for a hybrid driveline”. If you look at the work QinetiQ are doing with hybrid-electric drives, it’s not just a case of dropping out the diesel drivetrain and plugging in an electric one. The vehicle needs to be designed from the ground up as a hybrid/electric. For starters, with an 8×8 AFV, you’d want in-hub motors, rather than a central crankshaft. That frees up a lot of space to create a shaped hull (V or W). The ICE motor(s) that generate power to recharge the batteries don’t have to be centre-line either, because they are not directly connected to the drivetrain. Even the batteries themselves could potentially be distributed in novel ways – increasing under-hull blast protection, or even as externally mounted add-ons to enable rapid replacement and effectively acting as appliqué armour. Such a beast would look very different from the current Boxer.

    Like

  27. Sorry for all the stupid questions but army this is my first real exposure to the army structure.

    Please may someone explain the difference between an infantry battalion and a cavalry regiment?
    Also how wise would it be to put AA capabilities at brigade level rather than divisional? Perhaps even split up helicopter and UAVs regiments to implement them at a brigade level for even quicker battlefield support and analysis?

    Anyhow, I’ve asked enough questions by now!

    Like

    1. Chris, I’ll have a go at the difference between cavalry and infantry for you. Forgive me if this is basic, but it is relevant to the article. Historically, cavalry ride horses and infantry walk. Today, the cavalry have replaced their horses with motor vehicles and infantry also use motor vehicles. The cavalry fight with guns mounted on their vehicles, the infantry get out of their vehicles and walk, run, crawl, and crouch to fight.

      The infantry also have guns mounted on some vehicles (infantry fighting vehicle IFV is a term) and some infantry stay on the vehicles using those guns. The cavalry can use variants of the same vehicle, for example the US Bradley IFV and CFV (cavalry fighting vehicle). The US define cavalry not as fighting from vehicles, but the reconnaissance role – finding the enemy. This follows from horses moving faster and further than soldiers on foot. It is useful for reconnaissance to sometimes get out of the vehicle for a close look. Modern cavalry and infantry are a mixed bunch and there is much discussion, this article is an example, of how to mix them.

      A final word on regiments and battalions. A cavalry unit in the British Army is called a Regiment. The equivalent infantry unit, with commanding officer the same rank, is a Battalion. The HQ of one of these units may command a mix of cavalry and infantry and is then called a battle group.

      Like

  28. I personally have thought virtually exactly what you have wrote, fully wheeled mainly boxer strike brigades with those modules and Ajax being moved to the heavy armoured brigades and replacing warrior and cvr!

    Clearly this would reduce vehicle types and thus costs in spare and training! Like you say this could be done gradually over time, adding to the abilities of the systems thus keeping costs down!

    I think you hit some key areas in the scout/ifv gun and going for a more cost effective option, using existing proven systems as in 30mm cannon and say spike atm, also with the AA gun and 120mm motor systems and spike nlos these would provide the firepower that I think the British army lacks!

    The only thing I would do differently would be to buy the bae archer system fitted to man 8×8 trucks same as the himars system, with man trucks supporting, this keeping costs low using truck platforms that we already employ and meaning they all have the same mobility (good or bad) also these would be on the same platforms as camms and our logistics platforms! And these could be brought in quicker due to costs!

    Like

  29. I believe it may be possible for the UK to have 4 Corps (10 divisions) if we reorganise and fund it properly

    It seems to me the UK wants to be able to field an armoured Division and a Strike Division at any given time, if this is the case then we need 3 strike divisions and 3 Armoured Divisions in order to have 1 operational (1 Operational, 1 Working Up, 1 Low readiness/ R&R/ Basic skills training)

    How can we possibly do this with 80k personnel is something I have been grappling with for more than a year now, but think I may have finally cracked it, although the following won’t be for everyone.

    Taking a lead from the US Marines MEU set up and look to create a reinforced regiment of 600 infantry, 600 combat support and 600 logistics (critical) and 600 Air Support (all US Brigades/Divisions have embedded air). A reinforced regiment therefore equals 2400 personnel and there are 4 such regiments in a Division plus a fires regiment and a command regiment this brings the full division upto 14.4k personnel including 3.6k air, with a further 264 specialised infantry creating a total divisional strength of 14,664 personnel (11,064 army only).

    All work from a universal platoon size of 24 people and a company size of 120 personnel. 24 was chosen as I have gone for 6 dismounts as per Warrior capacity. the logistics element provides all the drivers and gunners required for the boxers or armoured vehicles with vehicle commanders coming from the command element of each company. Commanders are expected to become communications and ISTAR experts as part of their training moving forward

    using this models the UK could deliver

    3 Strike Divisions totalling 43,992 personnel (10.8k Air)
    3 Heavy Armour Divisions totalling 43,992 personnel (10.8k Air)
    3 Reserve Divisions totalling 33,192 personnel (no Air)
    1 Commando Division totally 14,664 personnel (3.6k Air)

    This give us the ability to deploy 1 Strike Division, 1 Armoured Division (NATO) and 1 Commando Brigade at any given time, whilst actually reducing the overall footprint of the Army by moving the Marines into the UK Land Force ORBAT and sending the current unused headcount of the Army back to the navy.

    7 permanent divisions of 11,064 personnel equals 77,488 leaving 5k for SFG and other duties etc and whilst these divisions are the largest on the planet it is the kit that will set them apart.

    The Strike divisions will have upgraded boxers with CTA cannon, AMOS mortars and all the required configurations noted in articles on this site. All are backed up by a load of air assets.

    The downside of the above model is that to make up for a shortfall in people (although we retain roughly the same volume of dismounts as we have today) is we have to invest in lots of good equipment and up arm all branches.

    Cost of this is circa £3bn pa for the land force component and £4bn pafor the air component over a 25 year cycle. Good news is we have the building blocks already so can organise now but this will not work properly until we have the ground and ground air elements integrated, clearly this means the RAF need to realign to service a requirement for circa 25k personnel to support this structure. clearly on a rotation that sees circa 10.8k operational at any given point in time.

    Sorry for the length – I have the workings if anyone wants to see, input refine.

    Like

    1. This is really a very interesting idea, to build smaller divisions without the brigade level, but with strong regiments – essentially large permanent btgs. It is going to create interesting mismatches for Russians, and it still will be ready for many other tasks, including “policing” roles. I do not know much about the British structures or needs, but it definitely does make sense on a lot of levels for frontline countries, like Poland. And this is despite the fact that USMC is changing right now and moving away from these structures.

      But if such a regiment/division were sent to the Baltics, Romania, or Poland, I do not see how you will be able to effectively utilize the permanent Air Support attached to these btgs. Or within reach of any other peer adversary. In fact I’m worried the helicopters/titlrotors would not survive a day in that environment in that specific role.

      On the other hand, again thinking about Eastern Europe, there’s no mention of V/SHORAD, which should be crucial for the survival of such a battle group.

      Like

      1. The USMC have 7 MEU’s and they are fully loaded and have dedicated air support, in addition to this it seems the latest thinking is that large corps lose efficiency. given we don’t have the people and actually want to reduce the army but have the capability we have to go fully mechanised (no more light infantry per se).

        Add in the fact we still want to deliver Heavy Armour as well as Strike and it forces us into either spending more money on people or be innovative in how we deploy.

        Each Division has the following components

        600 Command
        600 77 Brigade
        600 AGC
        600 Air Command
        600 Specialist Fires / AAD
        264 specialised Infantry Group
        2400 infantry
        3000 Combat Support
        3000 Air Combat support
        3000 Logistics

        The full range of assets are organic (precision fires, AAD etc), the exact mix can be decided by the real experts. but each regiment would have everything it needs to create a bubble to operate in.

        Taking a cue from the US each Division will have the following air assets, under full protection of an organic air defence system (Land Ceptor maybe).

        32no. Scheibel 100 Camcopter
        32no. Apache AH64
        32no. Merlin
        16no. Chinook
        8no. Osprey
        32no.RQ-21 Blackjack
        32no.Typhoon/ Tempest
        16no.F35B
        8no.C-130 /A400m
        2no. Voyager
        1no. C7 Galaxy
        Note: Reserve have no assigned air assets

        Whilst the above will cost a significant amount of money and is a big uptick, what it does do is standardise us with our US counterparts in terms of capability. We currently have quite a lot of it already, it just needs aligned

        The benefits of this approach are we can ensure we have 1 Strike and 1 Armoured Division available at all times, as well as 2 Commando Regiments (2 on 2 off model for Commando force). It makes the divisional commanders responsible for the performance of their force and it aligns with our closest ally (the USMC).

        Cost wise its £7bn in equipment spend each year indefinitely, but a lot of this is already in place or can be reallocated. It is from my analysis the only model that we can afford that meets the actual requirements of our government, which is big on intent, small on funds (relatively speaking of course).

        The above can be tweaked and asset choices made, the key here is do we agree that reinforced regiments are the solution to maintain the number of feet on the ground – if so we need new technologies that bridge the lethality gap and that requires innovation and funding.

        Like

  30. @Pacman27 February 2, 2021 at 9:56 am

    My main concern with the integrated air support at the regimental level (which includes, as I understand from the above, up to 8 Typhoons, 8 Apaches, 8 Merlins, 4 F35s, etc) is that in the land warfare it is not so clear that it will work as intended. If you are looking at USMC, you need to remember that they are coming to war with their own “airfields” in the form of an amphibious task force. For a MEU this is a total of circa 5K people – most of whom stay on board. This is not something that you will have available on land. Furthermore, to keep this element as an integrated part of the regiment, you would have to tie your battle group to an existing infrastructure. But most importantly, in a peer to peer conflict your regiment, in fact the whole division, will be forced to take part in a dynamical campaign on what probably will be a dispersed and quickly changing battlefield. Bringing the air support this close to the enemy is unnecessarily endangering this incredibly expensive element. Plus of course there’s the issue of the operational cost and ineffectiveness of such small groups.

    Naturally, all of the above only applies to a potential European conflict. If you are thinking about using it in the Falklands of Caribbean, supported by your aircraft carriers, then I absolutely agree that it would be a different story and it should work nicely.

    Like

    1. Hi Wojtek

      Most of the air assets would be held at the divisional level, but there is clearly an option to break it down

      At the regimental level I do think the commanders should have authority over assets such as tactical UAV Blackjack in the USMC model and the Apaches which should work alongside the mechanised assets. The beauty of my design which is very similar to Nicolas’ 2025 design is I would base it on a platoon size of 24, have 4 platoons + HQ and separate the transport from the infantry so they can train separately where needed and together on working up

      Ultimately my aim is for smaller, more lethal divisions that can self sustain and have everything they need so they do not have to borrow.

      Every combat platform must have ISTAR capability and be as lethal as possible, and across the whole uk force this just isn’t happening.. which then means we put our service personnel in harms way unnecessarily. This must stop

      Lastly and I do think this is an important point that is often overlooked. The military offers a career and moral compass for some people who are in need of it, often from deprived backgrounds, the opportunities open to all and the pipeline of talent the military produces for our country is being grossly underestimated and needs to be adressed

      Like

  31. “The Italian Army has recently acquired the Centauro 2 which mounts a 120 mm gun. If such a weapon could be mounted on Boxer, it would be worth considering above a 105 mm gun, as this can neutralise a wider range of armoured vehicles including MBTs.”

    Not only that, it will be common ammunition with Challenger rounds

    Like

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