Matching Brainpower with Firepower – The British Army’s new Ranger Regiment 

By Major (Ret’d) Andrew Fox 

The creation of the UK’s new Ranger Regiment was billed as an exciting expansion of the British Army’s capabilities, but many viewed it as a cynical “smoke and mirrors” exercise designed to draw attention away from the fact that Army headcount is being cut further. In this article, former Parachute Regiment major, Andrew Fox, dissects the Ranger concept and considers what else it needs to be a worthwhile addition to the Army’s golf bag of specialist skills.   

Contents

01.  Introduction – The British Army’s changing emphasis
02.  The Ranger Regiment Concept
03.  Does the concept add value to the British Army’s offer?
04.  Expanding the Ranger Regiment’s offer

A Ranger Regiment signaller establishes communications. [Crown Copyright: Corporal Alex Morris]

01.  Introduction – The British Army’s changing emphasis

On 25 November 2021, the British Army announced its Future Soldier strategy. The challenge facing those responsible for developing the plan was to ensure that a shrinking army can still be an effective war fighting partner within the NATO Alliance. The resulting structure represents a fundamental shift in the Army’s posture, moving away from the 2015 SDSR armoured division as the Army’s core output, to a focus on cyber, technology and partnering by 2030. This includes “persistent engagement,” where the Army is spread more thinly, but more permanently around the world so that it can reach trouble hotspots more quickly. The idea behind this is to “thicken resilience” by identifying and countering threats at an early stage. It includes training and mentoring partner forces, but also crucially accompanying them on operations so they can deliver effects in support of their own, and more importantly, Britain’s strategic goals.

On an initial reading the Future Soldier guide contains a number of contradictions. It mentions a Warfighting Division explicitly, but also refers to Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) with resources traditionally assigned to a divisional HQ pushed down to a brigade level. This is a controversial development. The US Army converted to BCTs in the early 2000s and swiftly moved back to a divisional structure. One US Officer described the experience as follows:

“During Iraqi Freedom, we could not keep the US divisions organized as single formations. They became modular. We broke responsibility and authority within every Division; there was no intent, no task and purpose. Everything, every structure fell apart. It was horrific.” [1]

The American experience showed that divisional HQs were critical for operational coordination of the deep, close and rear battles, since BCT HQs were too understaffed to undertake such complex coordination in a modern operational context. This experience should serve as a salutary warning to the British Army’s new approach.

The UK’s Future Soldier strategy also places an emphasis on a “shift from the close battle to deep battle” with long range precision fires, aviation assets, electronic warfare and capacity building. With BCTs likely to be deployed singly within multinational divisions or corps, it will be challenging for British commanders to synchronise divisional effects, or “the complete orchestra of war,” with a BCT structure of just two armoured brigades plus a Deep Strike Reconnaissance BCT. This seems like a tacit admission that the British Army no longer intends to deliver effect at the divisional level. Instead, the BCT is seen as the prime UK contribution to forces commanded at the divisional level by a coalition, with only fires held at the British divisional level. It is worth noting that with the Ajax procurement debacle, and the removal of the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle, British armoured forces will have no tracked infantry or reconnaissance platform, and therefore no coherent armoured fighting ability. Any desire to create a credible and deployable armoured force must see alternatives to these vehicles types delivered as a priority, especially if the continued Estonian deployment is to be seen as any kind of credible operation.

02.  The Ranger Regiment Concept

The formation of a Ranger Regiment was the headline “good news” story for the British Army that came from the March 2021 Defence Command Paper. These units will take-on the mentoring role from UK Special Forces (UKSF) as part of the Army Special Operations Brigade designed to train, advise and accompany allies in order to build up local and regional capacity. This is a similar concept to one of the many roles of the US Army Special Forces groups – the “Green Berets”. 

The Ranger Regiment cap badge is a Peregrine Falcon, which was chosen because it is a bird of prey found globally and one that remains faithful to its partner.

The nomenclature is unhelpful and confusing. The US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment is part of Special Operations Command, which also includes 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta, the American equivalent of 22 SAS. The 75th Ranger Regiment focuses on direct action, including clandestine insertion, reconnaissance, airfield seizure, and similar tasks – not mentoring. The equivalent UK unit is the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), based in St. Athan, which provides specialist infantry and fire support, as well as counter-terrorism support, to the SAS and SBS. 

The US Green Berets’ role is far broader than just the mentoring remit of the UK Ranger Regiment. It includes unconventional warfare, sabotage, special reconnaissance and counter-insurgency, among other tasks. Green Berets and the 75th Rangers are sometimes referred to as “Tier Two” Special Operations Forces (SOF), with Delta being “Tier One”. These terms are not especially helpful; a unit is either SOF or it is not, and Tier Two units frequently deploy on missions alongside Tier One. Think Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia, where Delta and 75th Rangers deployed together; or Iraq, where UK SAS/ SBS and SFSG units deployed on mixed operations (Task Force Black and Task Force Maroon). 

UK Ranger Regiment battalions are not part of UKSF, despite the terms “Special Operations” and “Ranger” being firmly within the SOF sphere in American parlance. Ranger Regiment battalions will be part of an Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB), whereas UKSF come under UK Strategic Command control. It is also important to state that British Rangers will primarily be positioned as a conventional capability for building capacity and accompanying foreign forces, rather than undertaking SOF roles like those of the 75th Rangers and the Green Berets’ Operational Detachment Alphas (ODAs). The UK Ranger Regiment does not have an equivalent unit in US Army Special Forces, despite their proposed specialised uniforms, weapons and “Special Operations” moniker. 

Their equivalent counterparts are the US Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs): conventional units who mentor and accompany foreign forces. This is further complicated by the creation of a British SFAB, currently 11th Brigade, who will train but not accompany international partners, and the fact that SFSG conducted mentored strike operations with Afghan Special Forces during Operation Herrick. It is clear, though, why this “Special” obfuscation is needed. The Rangers will be taking on tasks that were previously the remit of Special Forces under “Support and Influence” doctrine. It is important in terms of prestige and credibility that the Rangers are not perceived as a significant downgrade to those they are mentoring.

03.  Does the concept add value to the British Army’s offer?

The pressing question is whether or not this concept is the correct strategic direction for the British Army. During his questioning by the House of Commons Liaison Committee in November 2021, the Prime Minister said: 

“We have to recognise that the old concepts of fighting big tank battles on the European landmass… are over, and there are other, better things we should be investing in… in the FCAS – the future combat air system… and in cyber. This is how warfare in the future is going to be fought. We should be investing in our advanced early warning systems; that is where we need to be.” [2]

This gives an insight into the thinking that underpins the Integrated Review: armour is outdated; technology and cyber are the future. It is a classic misreading of the context of modern operations, especially considering the 2021 escalation in Ukraine, which at the time of writing sees significant armour massing at the Russo-Donbass border. Whilst contemporary warfare has seen great strides in technology, such as the use of drones and loitering munitions during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, new battlefield technologies have enhanced traditional capabilities rather than replacing them in the way proposed by the British Army’s Future Soldier strategy. 

There is no new paradigm for “warfare in the future.” The Azerbaijan-Armenia and Ukraine-Russia Donbass conflicts both resulted in drones destroying tanks, but against inadequate Short Range Air Defence systems. This enhancement to warfare has yet to be tested by or against a top-tier air defence system. In addition, both conflicts saw the seizing and holding of ground by armour and infantry as the decisive action in each situation. Cyber, equally, is an enhancement of battlefield capabilities, not a new way of conducting conflict. Cyber attacks are used to supplement and support conventional action; they do not replace it. Attacks on the ‘will of the people’ are not new. Caesar sent propaganda reports home from Gaul to win popular support. Clausewitz wrote about it in his Trinity. And, the strategic bombing of Germany during World War 2 was designed to attack the morale of the German people. Cyber and online influencing tactics are simply a contemporary approach to information warfare, winning the battle for people’s minds, which is as old as warfare itself.

The Prime Minister’s statement begs the question: what kind of operation does he think the RAF’s Future Combat Air System will support? Operation Ellamy in Libya decisively put to bed the idea that military campaigns can succeed using air power and fires alone. After decapitating the Gaddafi regime, the lack of any ground troops to stabilise the country saw it descend into anarchy, leading to a mass destabilisation across the region and creating a humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. A further incoherence of British Army’s strategy is Operation Cabrit, the battlegroup level roulement deployment to Estonia. If armoured battles on the European landmass are a thing of the past, what value is there in parking a token British unit in Estonia to counter a foreign armoured threat that the rest of the Integrated Review seems to disregard entirely?

It is understandable that the British Army’s catastrophic failures of procurement and on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (debated extensively elsewhere) have damaged the British Army’s reputation in Whitehall. Even relatively low casualties in those campaigns have led to a reticence on the part of politicians to deploy land forces. It is therefore reasonable that the Future Soldier strategy seeks to devise increased utility for the British Army, despite a limited political appetite to use ground troops for combat operations. 

Here we see the influence of the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, a former Director Special Forces, who famously came under fire on the ground in Iraq whilst visiting deployed UKSF troops. British operations in Iraq and Syria involved strike action by SF teams, while mass was provided by a mentored Iraqi Army supported by air and fires from Western and Iranian forces. This is the model around which the Future Soldier strategy and Ranger concept are based. Ultimately, the Ranger Regiment model allows the British Army to outsource the ability to seize and hold ground. British Rangers and supporting units provide mentoring and fire support, whilst indigenous forces conduct the meat and potatoes of the fighting action. Whilst the Future Soldier vision as a whole is expensive, requiring £8.6 billion[3] of investment in new equipment, it will be far less costly in British lives and headlines.

04.  Expanding the Ranger Regiment’s offer

A criticism of the Ranger Regiment is that it is little more than another Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) when we already have one. The only real distinction is that Ranger Regiment battalions will be accompanying partners on operations, and this remains a significant elephant in the room. SFSG mentoring operations in Afghanistan, and those of the US Green Berets, were done only with significant Western fire support, ISR assets and ‘on call’ casualty evacuation to state-of-the-art medical facilities. Green Beret strike missions accompanying ANA Commando units were only done with an AC-130 Spectre gunship providing top cover: this was a go/ no-go criterion. Deploying small numbers of Western troops alongside domestic forces is a seriously risky business. The Green Berets suffered four fatalities in Niger when accompanying local forces and running into an ambush without the right support. Whether or not UK politicians or PJHQ will have the risk appetite for such combat missions is yet to be seen, and it raises the question whether or not these missions are really worth risking the death of British soldiers. A further issue is the maintenance of morale. On a 24-month operational readiness rotation, spending six months on tour in the same place every two years could become a significant factor that drains the motivation of these small units.

Adding additional tasks to their remit could help to flesh out the concept so that British Rangers become a more direct equivalent of the US Green Berets. Beyond its training, mentoring and accompanying role, there is a tacit suggestion that in time the Ranger Regiment will take-on additional tasks in a context where militaries worldwide are engaging in actions below the threshold of outright warfare. This is nothing new, but modern technology has given this kind of activity a whole new dimension. Such activities may include cyber attacks, EW warfare, and acts designed to destabilise governments. What distinguishes these activities from direct military action is that they seek to achieve long-term political goals rather than immediate results. Israel’s use of the Stuxnet virus to disable computer-controlled centrifuges used by Iran to enrich uranium for its nuclear weapons programme is a good example. Other initiatives included the assassinations of top nuclear scientists, which were not able to be directly attributed to Israel. With the finger of suspicion pointing only at Israel, such acts have the potential to ratchet-up tension between opposing states. While Israel and Iran are not officially at war, actions without plausible deniability risk unintended consequences. 

With Russia actively conducting this kind of aggressive activity in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, some kind of proportionate response may become appropriate. Given the clandestine nature of such activities, it is unlikely that any detailed information about British military activity in this sphere would ever be made public, but it sits firmly within the scope of deniable Special Forces roles, especially with the increased capacity given to the SAS/ SBS from having handed over mentoring tasks to the Rangers.

The language used to introduce the Ranger Regiment suggests that there is an aspiration for its component battalions to move beyond simple mentoring tasks. It is possible that wider Green Beret roles of unconventional warfare, direct military action, special reconnaissance and counterinsurgency could be added to the Ranger Regiment’s list of responsibilities as the concept matures. Whatever the scope, a wider set of tasks would give the Ranger Regiment increased utility that would enable the Army to expand its Special Operations offering. 

For this to happen, the Ranger Regiment would need to significantly upgrade its own selection process and weed out soldiers from the existing infantry battalions used to form it, who may fall short of the increasingly high standards expected of it. Some of the Rangers’ antecedent battalions struggled with significant discipline and retention issues, and these factors will need swift resolution as the Rangers seek to establish their credibility. Selection will be less about fitness and combat ability, even though these will be important, and more about intelligence, aptitude and specialist skills, the ability to speak different languages, and Information Operations, including tactical PSYOPS. 

This is very much a future aspiration, in the meantime however, the British Army is left with a focus on enabling capabilities such as cyber and deep fires, but an unfortunate, unprecedented and vastly reduced capacity to conduct conventional high-end operations. For all its benefits, the Ranger Regiment is no substitute for conventional mass. The British Army still needs to be able to field a credible armoured or mechanised division with sufficient firepower and resilience to dominate an area of operations, to seize and hold contested ground, and to be fully able to degrade an enemy’s capacity to conduct offensive operations. This is what will best allow the British Army to take its place beside other such divisions within the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) and other NATO formations. 

This lack of capability is the gaping hole in the British Army’s Future Soldier concept. Without reasonable mass, it cannot be a credible or dependable coalition partner. The unexpected speed and severity with which contemporary conflicts unfold means we go to war with the army we have, not the army we would ideally like. Given the time and resources needed to generate, train and deploy armoured formations, we cannot wait for a crisis to occur before committing additional resources. This may not happen until a political appetite to deploy British boots on the ground is rediscovered. Until then, light and special forces will have to hold the line. Thinly deployed around the world, they will be entirely reliant on local forces to step-up when the use of force becomes necessary. As good as Ranger Regiment battalions may be in time, there is a hard limit to what they will be able to achieve. 


[1] “Command: The 21st Century General”, Anthony King, p.30. 

[2] House of Commons Liaison Committee transcript, Q148.

[3] Ministry of Defence announcement, 25 November 2021:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/british-army-unveils-most-radical-transformation-in-decades

21 comments

  1. Excellent article, right on the money. It seems to me that the brass have simply grabbed some US Army names and applied them to the existing British Army structure, as if a new lick of paint could convert a rust bucket into a Ferrari. The BCTs are not even remotely the same concept as the US Army BCT; the Deep Strike Recce name has been lifted directly from the McGregor transformation work without bearing any resemblance to the proposed force; and the Ranger Regiment seems to be more of the same – if we just call these blokes the Ranger Regiment, it will magically transform them into super-duper Extra Special Forces.
    I found it very bizarre reading the Integrated Review with all the talk of AI and other technology as if it is already doing the most complex tasks they envision it doing. Reality is, it’s probably decades before AI gets to the point where it could feasibly replace actual humans doing anything other than very basic jobs. Digging latrine pits? Sure. Figuring out where to provide base of fire for a flank attack? No chance. Not now, not in 10 years, probably not in 20 years. All this talk of a 500-strong battlegroup controlling 1,000 robots is pie-in-the-sky. At the moment, any so-called autonomous device realistically needs at least 1, if not 2-3 human operators in the loop. However much Elon Musk goes on about AI being able to take over human society any day now, it’s really not that flash.

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  2. The Army Ranger concept has been a vision for some time. The formation of Specialised Infantry allowed the selected units to “weed out” (as you put it) those not up to a higher standard and have continued to do so for almost 4 years. This created a void where people with the necessary KSE were required to come in. It’s learning to walk before you can run, you will know that it takes time to develop specific demands, particularly on the Ranger Assessment Cadre. It is developing at a pace that fits current requirements with the most recent course having 50-60% unsuccessful candidates whether that be through VW or deemed unsuitable. There is no doubt that the course will become a lot more demanding in every aspect and the quality of candidates will improve. The key factor at the coal face, is that the soldiers and officers involved with this new concept are doing what is asked of them and more. Do some digging into the roles and responsibilities of these soldiers and it may paint a broader picture of what they bring to the party. A bit of public support for these soldiers and officers shouldn’t be too difficult, regardless of what your views are at the strategic level. They are buying into it, training hard and already out the door setting conditions for future operations. As an ex – paratrooper, you will know better than me, the airborne capability has not always been there. It was once a new concept that needed time to develop through prioritised training before becoming what it is today. A very important factor that never gets given or appreciated nowadays – Time.
    In time, the soldiers and officers of the new Ranger Regiments will live up to expectations and produce the goods because that’s what we do in the Army, regardless of rank, cap badge or role. The bottom line is that this decision has been made so we need to accept it, support it and apply total professionalism to ensure it meets the Higher Comds intent.

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    1. William – a well worded response, and no one who would come here to read doubts the earnest efforts of British soldiers. However, discussing whether or not the whole concept is a good idea, well thought out and well implemented is NOT the same as not offering them support. A “bit of public support” is not going to help these men and women when deployed at the sharp end. Our contention is they may well not produce the goods at the required time, because they might not be adequately setup, resourced, organized, equipped or trained to do so, and now amount of true British grits is going to make up for that. Yes, the bottom line is the decision has been made, no that does not mean we need to wholeheartedly or blindly accept it. It is what it is, and continued discussion around what it means is healthy. Finally “do some digging into the roles and responsibilities of these soldiers” – what is the point of teasing us with this? If its unclass info then please, do tell, or even better post links. If it is not unclass then we cannot go digging can we…….

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      1. I probably used the wrong words when mentioning public support. Showing some empathy towards the soldiers and officers might be a better word to use, as it is them who have to put up with the nonsense on social media etc. My point is this; slate the idea as everything is up for debate, but at least back our people in some way.

        When have we ever been adequately resourced, organised, equipped or trained? Look at Op Telic and the early Op Herrick days when units were deployed with insufficient PPE and cutting around Basra in soft skin vehicles.

        The job ultimately gets done whether resources, kit, equipment or weaponry is readily available or not and that comes down to the people filling the uniform. The roles and responsibilities are not for me to comment further on I’m afraid, but Operating at reach with minimal resources etc means a broad range of KSE is required. This has been developing since 2018.

        I’m sure there will be plenty of people around the units you may know, who might be in a better place than me to go into the finer details. If not, then I’m sure the nitty gritty detail will be out and about shortly. Give it time.

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  3. I’m sure there is an argument here somewhere – but I can’t find it. I can find glaring gaps in the the author’s knowledge – but I suppose that it only to be expected.

    It is brave of Major (Retired) Fox (ex parachute regiment) to put this out there – but maybe not sensible until it has been significantly developed.

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    1. The argument is perhaps subtle, not black and white, not either/or, but still clear.
      “For all its benefits, the Ranger Regiment is no substitute for conventional mass.”
      “As good as Ranger Regiment battalions may be in time, there is a hard limit to what they will be able to achieve.”

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  4. I believe that what we have labelled the grey zone is a real thing – continuous sub-threshold competition. I also believe that as the fifth or sixth richest country in the world, with the fifth largest spend on defence, we an do a lot better.

    So does the Rangers concept make sense? Sort of. However the cynic in see’s another opportunity to make hay from cuts, as in we will have four infantry units well under the established head count for a battalion, what can we do with them? Turn them into Ranger Groups ! If the aim of the Special Operations Brigade is enduring forward presence partnership, why are these units not part of the Security Assistance Force brigade? Why the Special Operations label? Just because it looks good? As the Major notes, this wording suggests aspirations to do more than mentor allies.

    From a logistics viewpoint, how are these small units ever going to cope with the tasking while managing training, and retention? If the Rangers are as has been stated, four units of 250 personnel each, then perhaps they could be organized into four company groups similar to the Future Commando Force idea of a “Vanguard Company” to be forward deployed with a Littoral Strike Group ? This has been described as about 120 Marines with Army supports taking it to about 150. If so each Ranger “Battalion” could only generate 2, which does not seem likely. How about a smaller company, as the concept seems to be relying on host nation support for many things, so lets say each Battalion generated 4 x 60 Ranger companies, with a small HQ and support function. 4 sub-units is good for rotation, with a cycle of rest and recuperation/training, advanced training/exercises, high readiness standby, deployed. If each part of the cycle is 6 months, you are going to be deployed in Africa or wherever for a six month period in every two year cycle – 18 months in UK or shorter periods away on training and exercises, followed by a six month deployment. This means we could have 4 x 60 person teams deployed around the world on front line mentoring and assistance to allies who are in a shooting war with extremists etc.

    Is the juice worth the squeeze???

    For a major contingency Op you could pull in all 4 “high readiness” groups to provide a single Company Plus unit of 240 for a grey zone intervention somewhere alongside a RM Vanguard Company and maybe the high readiness Company of Para’s from 16 AA BCT. With supports, that is approaching a battalion size unit of “special operations” – highly trained specialists, but NOT Special Forces. Hmm…. maybe that does work.

    In conclusion, does the creation of the Rangers in any way make up for the horrendous deficiencies in combat power of the British Army – oh hell no! That in itself though, does not mean this is not an interesting concept, and that they won’t be a useful unit. As ever our lack of US levels of transparency with respect to doctrine, and policy will leave us all guessing for a while….

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  5. Interesting enough article.
    It could have been more impactful if it had started at what the government wants the mod and armed forces to do (i.e. the integrated review) and then traced down through doctrine to what extent the Special Operations Brigade is part of the answer.

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      1. Just because one doesn’t agree with something doesn’t mean it’s not rational. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Future Soldier isn’t a test for its rationality. For me one test of rationality for Future Soldier is whether its detail can be traced logically to fulfilling (in whole or in part) the Defence Command Paper (DCP) and likewise the DCP be traced to fulfilling the aims of the Integrated Review (IR). If Future Soldier is consistent with the DCP and the DCP with the IR, then it’s rational; and vice versa. Now it might be that you don’t agree with the IR, in which case you may well not agree with the DCP or Future Soldier, but again that doesn’t necessarily mean they are irrational. Otherwise said, rationality is an objective criterion rather than a subjective assessment of something’s merit.

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  6. I’m sorry, Major Fox, but I have only recently had the opportunity of reading your article.

    I found it to be a thoughtful, lucid piece of writing and one which goes to the heart of the argument and reaches the right conclusion when, in your conclusion, you say: “For all its benefits, the Ranger Regiment is no substitute for conventional mass. The British Army still needs to be able to field a credible armoured or mechanised division with sufficient firepower and resilience to dominate an area of operations, to seize and hold contested ground, and to be fully able to degrade an enemy’s capacity to conduct offensive operations.”

    Paul Sergeant seems to agree with me, as does jedpc. I particularly like jed’s comment in the in the answer to his own question:. “In conclusion, does the creation of the Rangers in any way make up for the horrendous deficiencies in combat power of the British Army – oh hell no! That in itself though, does not mean this is not an interesting concept, and that they won’t be a useful unit”

    One other point did intrigue me especially. You say that the Future Soldier guide mentions :Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) with resources traditionally assigned to a divisional HQ pushed down to a brigade level. You describe this as a “a controversial development” because “The US Army converted to BCTs in the early 2000s and swiftly moved back to a divisional structure” and you mention One US Officer describing the experience as follows:
    “During Iraqi Freedom, we could not keep the US divisions organized as single formations. They became modular. We broke responsibility and authority within every Division; there was no intent, no task and purpose. Everything, every structure fell apart. It was horrific.”

    I fail to see how limited and responsible transfer of assets and resources from Divisional level to Brigade level should result in the break up of formations and structures in the former. In fact, I think t was the case that often in recent decades for various operations, UK Brigades were reinforced with kit such as MLRS or Rapier and no major damage seemed to have resulted. Or have I got that wrong? Is it no really to do with kit but more of a case of how BCT HQs can become too understaffed to undertake complex operational coordination in a modern operational context?

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  7. My comments below are simply observations and my opinions developed over years of service and therefore come with a degree of cynicism, not directed at anyone who has commented on this excellent article or the author of it but rather the decision makers in their bunker several floors beneath Whitehall.

    To qualify myself, I served as a TA soldier in 10 Para (whilst at University), then a commissioned officer in the Royal Green Jackets (and subsequently The Rifles) and finally a contractor in the PSC world for collectively 17 years.

    I served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq (2 tours incl invasion), Afghanistan and then Iraq again as a contractor.

    My battalion, 2 RGJ became 4 Rifles became a Spec Ops battalion which is now or has now become one of 4 battalions creating the new Ranger Regiment.

    I am in a no way up to speed on current UK military’s doctrine or future intent. I do however speak regularly with those still serving at all ranks within the Rifles and some on Staff. They often tell me that as ever, there is a huge disconnect between the reality on the ground and those in the ‘Ivory Towers or bunkers!’ of PJHQ and MOD in Whitehall.

    I still find it ironic that we compare ourselves to the US military whilst at the same time happily criticising US military forces, from their command capabilities all the way down to their low level infantry skills!

    The reality in my limited and humble opinion is that it is futile to compare ourselves to the US military. They are resourced on all comparable measures to levels the British military can only dream about. The net result being we will always come up lacking and therefore despondent.

    At a political level they have very different policies to ours so their military structure should in theory be aligned to those policies.

    My hope is there has been a realisation in those ivory towers that as a nation and at a military level we need to work with what we have and create an army that will be effective with the resources that are made available to us from Whitehall? It’s unlikely this will happen.

    In addition given the current fiscal debacle we find ourselves in, the military could be looking to re-introduce the Long Bow let alone anything close to replacing Warrior.

    It is important to understand that the UK Ranger Regiment has not been called that in a bid to mirror US forces of the same name but as ever it is a nod to our military history and our use of Ranger forces in the wars we fought against(!!) the Americans 200 years ago. The Rifles can trace its history back to these forces.

    So it may be rather than debating whether our Rangers will be the same as or comparable to US Rangers, it is better to understand where the UK Rangers name is derived from. That may negate the whole comparison discussion and allow people to focus on what the UK Rangers role will be and its possible tasks.

    The author does this effectively and with an excellent assessment and analysis of the chances of this being achieved. If I have understood correctly, I am in agreement with the author that we always seem to be ill prepared for the event/crisis that sees UK Armed Forces to be deployed.

    As an example we moved an entire armoured division from Germany (at great cost and disruption) to the UK in the belief that the Soviet threat was a thing of the past. Putin must have been watching this with glee. We are now having to move armoured units back to mainland Europe (at great cost and disruption).

    We never learn.

    Think Afghanistan and our fourth attempt there.

    To my mind if we are to ever stop reinventing the wheel (and usually far too late), there has to be a complete overhaul not of the armed forces first but of how and who makes our strategic decisions which then directly affect our combat structures, manning, procurement (always, always a financial and project management fiasco) all the way down to our serving soldiers morale (so critical but so often undervalued).

    As a nation we need to recognise that we are not a super power (our brand new carrier couldn’t get past the Needles in the Solent without developing a fault that required a tow back to Portsmouth), that we carry far less influence than we like to believe and in many areas of the world are not well liked at all. And now courtesy of the absolute disaster created by our incumbent politicians we are a laughing stock around the world.

    We need to make some difficult decisions regarding our foreign policy. Accept the fact that we have isolated ourselves from our European allies and to some extent the US.

    We should possibly be looking at countries such as Norway, Finland and those that have followed a course that is consistent, not contradictory. Those that have made the decision to focus inwards whilst ensuring their military is properly manned, extremely well equipped and is geared for a truly defensive capability. Which would mean no requirement for the Ranger Regiment but a requirement for force that is not trying to conduct military interventions on a shoe string planned on the back of a fag packet.

    This would be more in line with the isolationist policy of Brexit which has distanced us (at best) from our allies.

    If we can achieve this we will then stand a much increased chance of becoming the armed forces that those serving in and the nation wants.

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