Saturday, August 13, 2016

British Heavy Armour for the future: Combined Arms Regiment

In detail: the Combined Arms Regiment

In this post I provide a graphic which helps in visualizing the Combined Arms Regiment I’ve been proposing as a solution to the British Army’s current heavy brigade headache. How do you square three brigades into two, and how do you deal with the insufficient number of Warrior vehicles to be upgraded under the Capability Sustainment Programme, while also delivering a workable, credible force structure?

My reply is: with the Combined Arms Regiment. This mirrors, in some ways, what the US Army has been doing for years in its Heavy Brigade Combat Teams, which were composed of two such regiments (then grown to three in exchange for a reduction in the number of brigades).
Israel also combines infantry and tanks within the same armoured regiments, albeit in a different way. Italy used to, in better days for its army.
The British Army does it regularly… but only on deployment and during training. The Combined Arms Regiment is, in the end, a formalization of the “2+2” square battlegroup that the British Army knows all too well. 2 tank squadrons supporting 2 armoured infantry companies.

The graphic uses vehicle profile drawings from Credits for their realization to users Darth Panda, Glorfindel and Sgtsammac. Click on the link to see in full size at

I feel confident in saying that it is time to make this structure permanent. The one good thing of Army 2020 is that armoured infantry and tank units are now all based in the same place, on Salisbury Plain, which virtually removes any remaining logistic / infrastructure reason against such an approach.
The two Heavy Brigades in Army 2025 would restructure each on 3 such permanent battlegroups, and rotate them into readiness, one by one, making the force generation cycle quite straightforward and greatly reducing the need to pull pieces from this regiment, that battalion and that other company over there, which is the current norm.

With the CAR, the British Army:

-          Maintains the same number of MBTs it had in Army 2020, replacing 3 “Type 56” regiments with 6 binary “battalions” (a handy trick to avoid capbadge issues!) of 28 tanks each. The number of frontline tanks is unchanged, at 168.
-          Has more tanks per brigade, 84 versus 56.
-          Has an even balance of tank squadrons and armoured infantry companies. One problem of the Army 2020 armoured brigade is lack of tanks: only 3 squadrons to support as many as 9 companies of infantry (6 armoured, 3 mechanized).

The CAR also “avoids” an otherwise unavoidable cut from 6 armoured infantry battalions to 4: with 245 “turreted” Warriors expected to be upgraded, there simply isn’t enough of them for six battalions. Make the count by yourself: 6x3 companies, and 14 Warrior per company, would require 252 vehicles. And that’s without counting any in the Fire Support Companies, and without any in reserve and in the training fleet. Simply unworkable.
The CARs reduce the number of infantry companies on Warrior to 12, for a total of 168 vehicles. More are used within the six Fire Support Infantry companies, leaving an uncomfortably small margin for the training fleet and for attrition, but at least fitting within the 245 figure. A much needed injection of realism.

The CARs also require 135 men less than the Army 2020 structure (6 infantry battalions of 729 and 3 tank regiments of 587 versus 6 battlegroups of 1000 each).

The graphic shows the distribution of manpower and vehicles. One important piece of the puzzle is the Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle, the replacement for the ancient FV432 family of vehicles. The ABSV programme hasn’t been launched yet, but remains on the army list for the next future.
In my CAR assumptions, I’ve inserted the hope for a firepower boost in the form of 120mm mortars and, finally, a vehicle-mounted anti-tank missile capability (complementing, not replacing, the dismounted Javelin teams carried in the back).

ABSV, also known as "turretless Warrior", is a programme that is attempting to take off from well over 10 years. It is fundamental to get it on the move, because FV432s aren't getting any younger. 
ABSV: it was around when Alvis was still kicking... 

The CAR makes up for the relative weakness in infantry numbers by fielding an exceptionally large and capable Fire Support Company, shaped to attach mortar and ATGW sections not only to the infantry companies, but also to the tank squadrons. Mortars, after all, can be extremely useful in setting up smoke curtains and suppressing enemy ATGW firing positions, thus helping and protecting the tank’s ability to manoeuvre.

One relatively unique feature of the proposal is the reconnaissance element. Armoured Infantry and tank formations have so far enjoyed the support of recce troops equipped with 8 Scimitar vehicles, and it was assumed that these would be replaced with an equal number of Ajax. However, the British Army is now looking at forming 4 regiments on Ajax, but all destined to the two Strike Brigades (an approach I do not personally support, but so it is).
Even a more reasonable scenario based on an Ajax regiment in each Heavy and each Strike brigade would still require forming a fourth regiment, out of the same number of vehicles to be purchased. So, the vehicles have to come from somewhere.
My CAR proposal thus does recce with Warriors carrying dismounts, and with the support of the sniper pairs. This collaboration is, again, nothing really new. The sniper pair’s use of quad bikes for independent battlefield mobility is also something that already happens.
The Assault Pioneers, 4 sections mounted each in a Warrior (3 crew + 6 dismounts following the upgrade), stand ready to offer their support.

The REME Light Aid Detachment is expanded to account for the big fleet of vehicles, including tanks. Its structure is a hybrid formation built from the REME elements found in the current armoured infantry battalions and tank regiments.

The HQ Coy is also considerably larger, to account for a bigger echelon with the greater number of trucks needed to support the battlegroup. The HQ Coy is composed of HQ element, Signal Platoon, Quartermaster platoon, Motor Transport platoon, catering and other supporting elements.  

Supported by a capable artillery battery from the brigade’s Fires regiment; a logistic group and an armoured engineer squadron, a CAR is a ready-made battlegroup.
In a future post I will explore the difficult topic represented by the fourth battlegroup, the cavalry one, tasked with reconnaissance and screening. The Army’s need to put some flesh on the bones of the mythological “strike brigades” has given birth to the questionable idea of moving Ajax into those, leaving a big question mark floating on the future scouting element within the armoured brigades.

What the Strike Brigade really needs, but isn’t getting, is the cancelled FRES SV Direct Fire variant, also known as “Medium Armour”. The army had plans for procuring this medium tank variant, armed probably with a 120mm smoothbore gun, but the plan was cancelled years ago as part of the infinite wave of cuts.
Now, Ajax is being asked to play the part of “medium armour” within the Strike Brigades, but armed only with a 40mm gun, and at the cost of leaving the armoured brigades short of recce support. A failure from one end to the other. 
This also signals a further move towards recce by force rather than by stealth, and it would as a consequence require additional firepower to enable the cavalry to manoeuvre, scout ahead and act as an effective screen even in presence of enemy armour. 
The US Army cavalry squadron within armoured brigade combat teams is swapping out all 4x4 in favor of more Bradleys and is also being given a tank company (although, for now at least, this is robbed from one of the combined arms regiments rather than being additional). 
The italian reconnaissance cavalry is also an interesting example. It is wheeled, not tracked, but nonetheless includes a tank-destroyer squadron to be equipped with 8x8 Centauro 2 vehicles armed with a 120mm smoothbore. 
If the British Army wants to be able to manoeuvre against a capable enemy, a regiment of sole Ajax with 40mm will not do: the heavy brigade reconnaissance regiments should have a Challenger 2 presence; while the Strike Brigades should include the Medium Armour variant of Ajax. (or, better still, use a wheeled tank destroyer and recce vehicles, to better match the rest of the brigade that is to be mounted on 8x8). 

Meanwhile, the bids are in for the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme, an enterprise which now faces a couple of years of Assessment Phase, hopefully with two rival industry teams selected for the demonstration programme as “soon” as this October.
The widest possible range of budget figures have been quoted for this programme, going anywhere from 250 to 1200 million pounds. Hard to say what kind of room for manoeuvre Army HQ might have in funding the obsolescence removal from Challenger 2. After years of false starts, the consensus is (or maybe was…?) that the gun and powerpack would not be replaced, despite being the two biggest weaknesses of the tank. But there was a most impressive and interesting development when Rheinmetall filed its bid and boldly promised that their “innovative solution” will enable the switch from the rifled L30 to the smoothbore L55.

A new turret bustle? The image from Rheinmetall does not provide a definitive answer, but suggests so. 

To understand the Challenger 2’s gun problem it is important to underline that the heart of the matter is not so much the fact that it has a rifled barrel, but the fact that it uses two-piece ammunition. This unique feature means that the current ammunition storage spaces are far too short to take the long one-piece shells used by everyone else in NATO; and it also means that the Challenger 2 crews can store the explosive rounds and the launch charges beneath the turret ring, where they are generally safer. In exchange for this, the Challenger 2 does not have the extensively protected and blast-venting ammunition storage compartments found, for example, on the M1 Abrams.
Switching the gun is very easy, and has been trialed and validated already years ago: the problem is that the ammunition storage needs to be completely re-thought, and vast internal modifications become necessary.
Rheinmetall does not elaborate, for now, on how their proposal work. Extensive rebuilding of the turret seems inevitable, and the one CGI image they have published might provide clues to it: the Challenger 2 in the picture seems to have a new turret bustle, which also houses a new independent thermal sensor for the commander (compare the position in the picture with that of the current system to see the difference). Rheinmetall might be suggesting, effectively, a complete reconstruction of the rear of the turret.
There is no telling how much it could cost, and whether the army could face that cost, but I think the Army will be very interested in hearing what Rheinmetall has to say on the matter.

The Challenger 2’s gun is fundamentally handicapped by its use of two-piece ammunition, which makes it pretty much impossible to adopt new, longer armor-piercing darts, putting a hard roof to lethality that is already assessed as problematic and will only get worse over time. In addition, while in the past the HESH round for the L30 added a flexibility that smoothbore tanks did not match, now the situation is fundamentally reversed. There is now a whole variety of ammunition available for smoothbore guns, including novel tri-mode HE shells with airburst and anti-structure capability, and the Challenger 2 is locked out, lost in its own little sea of aging shells with their own exquisitely unique logistic tail. An oddity in NATO, with all what descends from it.

On the engine front, the current powerpack is not powerful enough, especially with how much heavier the Challenger 2 add-on armour kit have become, pushing combat weight as far upwards as to 75 tons. It is also not commendable in terms of reliability.

An army slide about CR2 LEP from last year. The Army has wanted to replace the gun for many years now, but eventually lost hope in front of the ammunition storage problem. Can Rheinmetall's proposal change this, and can the MOD buy?

It is my opinion that if these critical weaknesses can’t be solved, the whole LEP expenditure might become questionable at best. Alternative approaches would have to be considered, with the LEP cancelled and all the money moved across towards the Ajax family, to restore the Medium Armour variant.

FRES SV variants that will never (?) be: ambulance, medium bridgelayer, and Medium Armour / Direct Fire

Being lighter, the new tank would never be able to match the formidable survivability of the Challenger 2 and would inexorably have less passive protection, but it could at least be rolled into service with a smoothbore gun, up-to-date electronics and a powerful powerpack. And if a suitable number of them was procured over time, both Heavy and Strike brigades could have their hitting power secured.


  1. Shouldn't you be analyzing this in the context of the capabilities of the likeliest peer opponent: modern frontline Russian armored units?

    1. The conclusions would include doing away with Challenger 2 if the gun problem isn't solved; resurrecting the AS90 long barrel upgrade to give it (finally) decent reach instead of being outranged by everything else; and generally the need to expand the numbers on pretty much anything. Unfortunately, it wouldn't make any difference as there is never going to be money for that.

    2. Jeremy
      What would (in your opinion) be the ideal organization model for the British military and what is UK land forces expected to do? Britain is an island after all, and need not fear Russian armour rushing the Fulda.

  2. Is it just me or is the graphic missing ? (Viewing on iPhone)

    1. Yes, the graphic is missing at the moment. I'm waiting to put the link up as i've used vehicle profile drawings and i'm waiting on the ok from the author of those.

  3. Hi Gabriele,
    As always a great post, full of good ideas on how to make the most out of what the army has rather than some fantasy army.
    However, the army being is its own worst enemy (I have to admit I am tainted to). The infantry like the rest of the army, but in my view the worst offender, lacks the will for change and adapting to the new situation. I can’t see the RAC merging with the infantry, when the infantry itself finds it hard (or impossible it seems) to sort itself out into proper fully manned deployable fighting battalions. I know I keep pointing this out, but the infantry can deploy more men on public duties than it can on a sustainable operation.
    On a wider subject, post the big speech about increase spending, strike brigades etc. I feel that the general situation among all three services is one of cost cutting, not extra spending.
    Everything and anything that can be put under the NATO 2% spending umbrella is being done so in my view. (I heard an idea of replacing MOD armed police with soldiers).
    As has been pointed out already, the strike brigade idea is in fact a cut. The original armoured division was to have 3 brigades each of 1 Ajax regiment, 1 Challenger regiment, 2 warrior battalions and 1 mastiff battalion. A total of 6 RAC regiments and 9 infantry battalions. The new division is to have, (as I understand it), 4 RAC regiments, (2 challenger, 2 Ajax,) and 5 or 6 infantry battalions, (4 warrior, maybe 2 Mastiff or what they can buy). In my view a huge reduction in operational units.
    In my humble and cynical opinion, we should be prepared for more corners to be cut.
    (The cynical ex pongo)

    1. Well, if they prefer cuts to a closer relationship with the infantry / cavalry depending on the point of view, then they are beyond saving, and they'll continue to suffer what comes their way.

    2. I believe all three services, but the Army in particular, reached that point a long time ago (ie beyond saving). Obviously for decades we have seen extremely damaging inter-service rivalry, with little or no concern for the overall national interest. However things have become so tight, money-wise since the end of the Cold War, but particularly in the last 20 years, that this has now become most prevalent in the individual forces. The Army has the most, and the most egregious, examples, however the Navy has it with Surface Combatants versus everything else as an example and in the RAF, fast jets versus everything else, and in particular "boring" support aircraft and ISTAR (not to mention UAVs and Helos!)
      These problems appear to be institutional and a fundamental part of our forces and I would suggest that the only thing that will change them would be either a huge operational disaster which laid bare all the failings and couldn't be hidden or an external political effort over a decade to transform the leadership and structures of the forces and the MOD.

  4. Gaby

    Agree with Phil that yours is a sensible, rational post, “full of good ideas on how to make the most out of what the army has rather than some fantasy army.”

    Although he is probably right, I don’t like the implications of what he says about the Strike Brigades being a cut. “The original armoured division was to have 3 brigades each of 1 Ajax regiment, 1 Challenger regiment, 2 warrior battalions and 1 mastiff battalion. A total of 6 RAC regiments and 9 infantry battalions. The new division is to have, (as I understand it), 4 RAC regiments, (2 challenger, 2 Ajax,) and 5 or 6 infantry battalions, (4 warrior, maybe 2 Mastiff or what they can buy). In my view a huge reduction in operational units.” Sounds to me like the loss of 5 regiments/battalions i.e. a third of the strength! Which is where your suggestion comes in!

    “Supported by a capable artillery battery from the brigade’s Fires regiment; a logistic group and an armoured engineer squadron, a CAR is a ready-made battlegroup.”

    I was wondering what you thought the make-up and equipment of, for instance, the Artillery battery and the Armoured Engineer Squadron might be. I have been reading about “Ex Tractable”, the annual exercise to prove the readiness of 3rd (UK) Division. There the constitution of the Armoured Engineer Squadron would seem to include 3 TITAN bridgelayers, 2 TROJAN engineer vehicles, 3 TERRIERS, 4 FD Section s and 2 TBTs. There would be 9 front-end equipments and nine bridges. Would that be about right for the kind of battlegroup you propose? What kind of Artillery, though? Just improved AS90s or GMLRS and Exactor too?

    It certainly seems from a bit of very rough measurement I have done, that there is some kind of turret “bustle” included in Rheinmetall’s proposal. It would certainly be very good news if they felt they could solve the ammunition storage problem. Perhaps more of that later.

    1. I think i will write more on the Armoured Brigade for 2025 and i would like to cover Engineer and Artillery in future posts. But, in general, each armoured engineer squadron would have 4 Trojan and 4 Titan; 4 sections of engineers in APCs and a support troop with 4 Terrier and a number of wheeled vehicles, with tank bridge transporters with spare bridge sets in the echelon.

      The Artillery battery would have 6 AS90 (8 would be better, but manpower...) and a Troop of GMLRS and Exactor in support.

  5. Gaby

    Many thanks for your reply and hope to read more about the Armoured Brigade 2025 in future posts.

    @Anonymous 8.29pm

    Agree with nearly all you say.

    "These problems appear to be institutional and a fundamental part of our forces and I would suggest that the only thing that will change them would be either a huge operational disaster which laid bare all the failings and couldn't be hidden or an external political effort over a decade to transform the leadership and structures of the forces and the MOD."

    Hope it is not the former but the latter. However, fear the former might happen. Of course it is partly political. Vastly reduced funding does not help!

  6. Gaby

    I forgot to mention one aspect of your proposal that I am not particularly happy about. You say:

    “ …the British Army is now looking at forming 4 regiments on Ajax, but all destined to the two Strike Brigades (an approach I do not personally support, but so it is).”

    I know that some AJAX were destined for the Strike Brigades, a decision which, when it was first announced, seemed to me to be a mistake ((I thought that Mr. Cameron had confused FRES UV with FRES SV!). However, I did not realize that all four AJAX regiments were destined for the Strike Brigades. That is surely a serious error, mixing what is essentially a heavy tracked armoured reconnaissance vehicle with light 8 x 8 wheeled vehicles. Surely, if the Army needs recce vehicles in the Strike Brigades, let them form them on the new 8 x 8s.

    However, I know that you also do not support such a move, so I’ll get on to the real point of my note, which is to say that I do not think your decision: “My CAR proposal thus does recce with Warriors carrying dismounts” is necessarily the right one. Warrior is surely not a particularly suitable vehicle for recce (although GKN wanted to develop a shorter recce version of the vehicle a couple of decades ago.) It is surely too heavy and not agile enough for the reconnaissance role. You might counter by saying that it is in the same weight bracket as the AJAX family but at least that family was designed from the outset as a Cavalry vehicle to replace the CVR(T) family.

    Is it too late for the Army to decide to place only one AJAX regiment in each of the Strike Brigades, allowing a large number to be available for the recce role in the Heavy Armoured Brigades?

    1. I hate it, but that's what general Carter said: 2 Ajax regiments and 2 infantry regiments in each Strike Brigade.

      Is it too late to do differently? Who knows. In theory, no. In practice, they probably know they don't have anything else to fill these mythological brigades with, otherwise.

      As for Warrior in the CAR, i think it wouldn't be too terribly bad because the Recce element within the CAR would be a "close" recce thing, and being a lot more mobile than the formation it supports wouldn't probably make too terribly much difference.

      In addition, in my proposal the Armoured Brigade has a regiment with Ajax doing longer range scouting. The recce platoons were thus the only source of vehicles for making it possible, since saying "additional purchases" would be nice but not credible, these days...

    2. Gaby

      Many thanks for the reply. I hadn't read General Carter's comments.

      The use of Warrior in the proposed recce role now makes much more sense. Thanks.

    3. Gaby,

      As you have said in your previous post on the subject, the "Strike" brigades are a disaster waiting to happen - both sucking capability and money from the Heavy Brigades, while at the same time appearing to be an ugly amalgam themselves which is too light to tackle any force with a modicum of MBT support but too heavy / reliant on tracks to be self deployable over large distances. All in all a typical British Army bodge which makes you seriously question General Carter's mental abilities.

    4. MikeW and Gabriele,
      Sorry Mike didn’t have time to reply before Gabriele updated you.
      Yes, as I understand it the new fighting division as General Carter call’s it is;
      2 x Armoured brigades, each I challenger regiment and 2 warrior battalions.
      1 x Strike brigade, 2 Ajax regiments, maybe 2 Mastiff Battalions.
      A 2nd strike brigade will share the vehicles with the 1st as they alternate.
      The strike brigades are in fact a cut and just an extra large recce force,
      With there biggest weapon a 40mm cannon and in my view a complete waste of time.
      As, to your question, what can be done to get out of this mess.
      How about this for an idea;
      A. Instead of 2 strike brigades sharing vehicles and I assume command and support,
      How about we just have one.
      B. Instead of having 2 recce regiments and one maybe two infantry battalions with mastiff or whatever they can buy, (maybe), just have one battalion but using the 3rd recce regiments vehicles, but amending the Ajax order to have less turret versions and more personnel carriers for this unit. Thus making the whole brigade tracked.
      C. Making the 2nd Strike brigade a really light one, using Foxhounds and Jackal’s. You would have no support and maybe the brigade command would have to be a very light one with no signals. Maybe just a brigadier and a few staff in a couple of Foxhounds?
      D. Invent a really sexy name to call these brigades, idea’s to General Carter MOD.
      Fast Armoured Brigade? FAB and for the Foxhound; Rapid Air Deployable, RAD.
      E. One of the left over RAC regiments could then become the CRBN unit.
      I don’t think we will ever see the purchase of any replacement for the Mastiff and it seems such a waste of money to have bought all those Foxhounds for nothing.
      Just to add MikeW, General Know Clue and Plan (KCRAP) Carter also said that we are to keep the Challengers and Warriors in the store in Western Germany until at least 2023.
      Divisional troops in the UK, vehicles in Germany, the operational area in Poland, and 2 out of 10 for that bit.
      I have given him one point for the fact that we have vehicles and one for the fact that we have divisional troops.
      Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

  7. Hi Phil

    Thanks for the reply.

    Rather dismayed to learn that: “A 2nd strike brigade will share the vehicles with the 1st as they alternate.” Good grief! The British Army must be in a parlous state with regard to equipment. Why on earth should they have to share kit? I thought the plan was to procure 300 or more wheeled 8 x 8s and that these would have variants covering a wide variety of roles: APC, command, recce, ambulance, repair and recovery etc. etc. 300 should be more than enough for two brigades, with the support coming from already existing in-service wheeled vehicles. I feel certain that the acquisition of the 8 x 8s is in the pipeline because in an article in “Desider” magazine a few months ago, one of he leading procurement officers at the DE&S said in an article that the next task he was looking forward to was the procurement of “the new wheeled vehicle”. Can’t be anything else, can it?

    I has also thought of just having one Strike Brigade but the purpose of these Brigades is, as Anonymous quite correctly says, “to be self deployable over large distances.” Now, we might very well find ourselves in a position where two Mali-like contingencies needing the deployment of such Brigades arise more or less concurrently. What do we do then? Or the relief of the first Strike Brigade by a second similar Brigade might be necessary. What could be done I suppose, would be to make the second Strike Bde more of an all-arms, multi-role Brigade along the lines of the Brigade plan presented under SDSR 2010, one which would include some Challengers some Warriors, some heavy Artillery, etc. Because Anonymous also correctly identifies the fact that our planned Strike brigades might be “too light to tackle any force with a modicum of MBT support” and that kind of multi-role formation would help with that problem.

    Rather like your suggestions for sexy names for the Brigades. However, it is no use having appealing names if the substance is not there.

    Can’t go along with the idea, if true, of having “Divisional troops in the UK, vehicles in Germany, the operational area in Poland”, even given the fact that troops can be moved quickly nowadays. What would they do on Salisbury Plain? Sit and twiddle their thumbs until it was their turn to go to Germany or what? Seems a bit barking to me. However, strange decisions are made when resources are short!

  8. MikeW.
    The armies new strike brigades, are in fact only strike brigades in name.
    Being mostly tracked, I think an Ajax in 40 tonnes?
    and they are about a 100 in the brigade, they will have to be moved by sea.
    They cannot self deploy.
    As to the infantry element in these brigades,
    Carter said 1 maybe 2 battalions, which in my mind means one.
    The brigade has only a 40mm cannon and javelins as its anti armour weapon, so coming up against couple of MBTs and its going to be in trouble.
    Its all a real mess, taking the recce regiments from the armoured brigades to form this brigade is a mistake.
    We can't have two operational strike brigades, as there is no support units or HQ for a 2nd brigade and not enough vehicles to equip it. We have only ordered enough Ajax for 3 regiments.
    Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

    1. Oh and yes, its true, most of the warriors and challengers are to be stored in Germany to AT LEAST 2023.
      Phil, still very cynical.

  9. Gaby

    I don’t know that this is necessarily the place to post this information but we are dealing with armoured equipment in this thread and this concerns missiles to be fitted to armour.

    Janes has just reported that Thales is about to qualify the LMM missile for British Army service. In British Army service it will be integrated on platforms such as the Stormer vehicle and the LML Lightweight Multiple Launcher. It will also be available for the shoulder –launched variant used by dismounted infantry. These of course at the moment are all equipped with the Starstreak HVM in the VSHORAD role, a missile that would, I imagine, be retained in service.

    What is also interesting is that Thales are also delivering a “surface-to-surface/surface-to-air guided missile capability for the Thales RAPIDRanger high-mobility multi-role weapon system, which it has proposed to equip the Army's Ajax and Warrior tracked platforms”.

    We have been discussing the AJAX and Warrior vehicles on here. Do you think that these developments look hopeful for a relatively cheap solution to increasing those vehicles’ firepower?

    1. The RapidRanger could be Thales's proposal for the Ares Overwatch variant and for the ABSV ATGW variant, that the army wants (but might or might not be able to buy). It is very interesting a tidbit of information, but for now we are stuck to hoping and waiting for more info.

  10. @Phil

    “Being mostly tracked, I think an Ajax in 40 tonnes?
    and they are about a 100 in the brigade, they will have to be moved by sea.”

    Agree absolutely and that will be relatively slow movement, which will be of little use for formations which are supposed to be able to self-deploy rapidly over long distances.

    “The brigade has only a 40mm cannon and javelins as its anti armour weapon, so coming up against couple of MBTs and its going to be in trouble.
    Its all a real mess, taking the recce regiments from the armoured brigades to form this brigade is a mistake.”

    Again I agree. My suggestion regarding the “beefing-up” of the second Strike Brigade was in response to Anonymous’ equally valid point that the Strike Brigades “are an ugly amalgam themselves which is too light to tackle any force with a modicum of MBT support but too heavy / reliant on tracks to be self deployable over large distances.”

    However, if we are going to have Strike Brigades, and it looks as if we are, then let’s provide them with some real fire power and introduce variants which have direct fire, anti-armour missiles, even heavy mortars etc. on the new wheeled 8 x 8 chassis and do the job properly.

  11. Continuing on all of the points raised above, this is a real mess, although this is only continuing a long tradition of disaster when it comes to British Army structures and procurements, and that of armoured vehicles in general. The last two vehicles designed and procured for the Army were the Chal 2 and the Warrior, both more than 20 years ago! Chal 2 has been a success unto itself, but its gun and hence internal design have proved to be an evolutionary dead end, hence questions must be raised. Warrior has proved to be an average IFV. Since then we have had more than 20 years of attempting to buy various variations of FRES, hundreds of millions of £s spent for no outcome and the only vehicle starting to emerge being a 40 ton "light" recon vehicle, an evolution of the ASCOD which itself is 20 years old as a design and from only slightly later era than Warrior itself. No MBT replacement in sight, no 8*8 APC in sight, not enough upgraded IFVs.
    Throughout all of this I have not heard of a single Army general taking responsibility or offering apologies, never mind resigning over this debacle. Yes I know money is constantly cut and I know the MOD procurement process is rubbish, but ultimately the Army is the customer and they need to take responsibility. Carter is the latest iteration of this coming up with foolish new organisational structures to paper over systemic failure of long term planning and budgeting, combining with the frankly life threatening and unprofessional "bodge / make do and mend" attitude which appears to prevail in the Army. When the Strike Brigade concept collapses under its own contradictions (which it will, damaging the two Armour formations on the way down I fear) he shouldn't be given the chance to resign - he should be dismissed from his post.

    1. Mike has had trouble getting Blogger to work and visualize his latest comment, so i'm posting it myself:


      Yes, I’m afraid I got somewhat misled by the use of the word “qualify” in the announcement about Thales. Presumably it simply means that the weapon system has met the requirements to enter Britsh Army service and not, as I had assumed, that there had been some agreement to buy it. The language is misleading: e.g. “LMM will be integrated on platforms currently equipped with the Thales Starstreak High Velocity Missile (HVM)” rather than “would be integrated . . .”

      Anyway, as you say, we shall have to wait for more information.


      A searing indictment of the failure of Army/MOD procurement policies over a long period. I agree with almost everything you say, although I doubt whether General Nick Carter is personally responsible for all those decisions.

      However, the condemnation is justified in so many ways. You say: “Since then we have had more than 20 years of attempting to buy various variations of FRES, hundreds of millions of £s spent for no outcome and the only vehicle starting to emerge being a 40 ton "light" recon vehicle” and that really is beyond belief! Utterly appalling and inexcusable.

      “coming up with foolish new organisational structures to paper over systemic failure of long term planning and budgeting, combining with the frankly life threatening and unprofessional "bodge / make do and mend" attitude which appears to prevail in the Army.” also rings true but the criticism also applies to the MOD and to the Government.

      I recently sat through nearly the whole of the Commons Defence Committee’s interviewing of senior Army officers and more of the discussion seemed to be about social aspects of the Army (e.g. gender equality) than searching debate on hard matters such as structures and equipment (Mind you, that was partly the fault of the MP members of the Committee who did not seem at all clued up on such subjects). No doubt some of the social issues were important, I’m not denying that, but it was the sheer imbalance of the discussion that really got to me. They did not seem to be particularly concerned about whether we are creating an Army that can actually win wars!

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  13. Those Strike Brigades are to week for high intensity warfare against a pair nation and they look to heavy for quick expeditionary deployments to MENA.

    How many Brigades are you suggesting, and how many CARs (or Battalion
    Battlegroups) would you place in eatch Brigade? I'm assuming there would be three CARs in eatch Brigade.

    The Combined Arms Regiments looks like a good and practical concept. I am thou, a little fussy on how they should be organised at Brigade and Division level.

    1. 2 armoured brigades, each composed of 3 CARs plus a Reconnaissance Cavalry Regiment. All supported by one artillery regiment, one engineer regiment, one medical regiment and a brigade logistic regiment, with extra supports and attachments to come from Force Troops Command and the Logistic Brigade at Division level.

  14. Reading into your CAR, all you are symply doing is renaming battlegroups we currently have? As an example 12AI Bde currently can generate at least 3 BG under the KRH, Royal Welsh and 1 Yorks with 1 Scots Guards providing the PM element. 19RA providing the guns, 26 Engineers providing bridges, EOD etc, 4Bn REME with ES and 4 Med Regt with medical. Am I missing the idea?

    1. I'm trying to solve a few problems that, otherwise, will be solved by worse cuts:

      3 tank regiments are either too few or too many for 2 heavy brigades. The CARs keep all tanks. Cutting to 2 regiments will not. And cutting to 2 is far more likely that a growth to 4...

      The current battlegroups lack armour. There are not enough tank squadrons and tanks in general in the armoured brigades as they are now. The CAR structure solves that issue.

      There are not enough Warrior vehicles for six infantry battalions unless more go through CSP, and you can imagine how likely is that.
      The CAR is a soft cut. The alternative is 2 paper battalions or a cut from 6 to 4 armoured infantry battalions, with just 2 in each brigade.

      The current Heavy Protected MObility battalions will become MIV-mounted battalions within the Strike Brigades, so their relevance to the armoured brigades is time limited.

      The supports (artillery, engineer, medical...) will indeed continue to support the CARs much like now. What the CARs do is giving you already formed cores for the battlegroups, and all of them with a even split of tanks and infantry.

      Having 1 tank regiment and 2 infantry battalions (the most likely outcome of Army 2020 Refine, which is really a cut masked as good news) will not do that.

    2. I totally agree with your numbers. Although nothing has been mention reference cutting another armoured regiment, we (I'm in a heavy Cav Regt)are assuming 3 will become 2 due to the future structure. With the whole fleet management bollocks already implimented we are already a paper army. Saving money my arse! (Please forgive my French) I have seen us being depleted over the last 18 years and it is a touchy subject to me.

    3. In concept, Whole Fleet Management is a good idea. But it seems to have been applied in facepalm-worthy way.

      And yeah, i can imagine you are worried about that. With the premises this "Joint Force 2025" is based upon, it is hard not to think that. I'm anxiously waiting for general Carter to report what his plan is all about. But hearing he is thinking about 4 regiments of Ajax, playing medium armour, all in the Strike Brigades, sure has done nothing to improve my opinion of him and his ideas.

    4. This Carter can’t be worse than general Dannatt, can he? With FRES and the mismanagement of the Middle Eastern wars, Dannatt is hard to top.

      The 2010 defence review was a list of excuses to cut, is there any reason to expect Joint Force 2025 to be different? I guess with the (in Julian Lindley-Frenchs words) strategically illiterate David Cameron out of office, things can only improve.

      Ajax seems like a poor choice. Britain should go with Leopard II and CV90s (they complement each other well) or maybe lock into the Italian concept of an al wheeled fleet of vehicles.

    5. Gabriele and MikeW (sorry to hear you can’t post again).
      In my humble opinion, Carter should resign.
      Yes, he can only play the hand he is dealt.
      But that’s his job, and he is doing it really badly.
      I have never seen the army so poorly organized as it is.
      In fact, it’s really hard to call it a modern army.
      Nothing in my view makes any sense.
      Let’s not forget it was Carter who came up with the 3 armoured brigade plan,
      Before his review it was multi role brigades.
      Fallon should also resign because he must know what a mess the army is in, if he doesn’t why not?
      What amazes me most is no one, apart from us seems to care.
      If Carter had cut the number of horses,
      And small shed guarding tourist attractions there would be outrage.
      But he is cutting the number of MBTs, deployable battalions and
      Reducing the army to a mess not seen since Dunkirk.
      He is risking the security of the nation and the lives of the soldiers he commands.
      Yet we hear nothing from the former top brass, nothing in the press
      and all the select committee care about is the welfare of the soldiers.
      We all hope that there is a grand plan and it will all work out in the end.
      I really wish I was wrong but I am very sorry to say there’s not one.
      I feel very sorry for any serving member of the army; it must be a terrible time.
      Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

  15. Phil

    Many thanks for the reply.

    Yes, it’s all very sad, isn’t it? As an American President once said, “I share your pain”. More than that, I sometimes become incadescent with anger at what successive governments have done to our Armed forces, but in particular to our Army.

    No, I don’t blame it all on the Army top brass. As you say, “he (Carter) can only play the hand he is given.”). I blame more the year on year salami slicing and sometimes huger cuts, the cumulative effect of which has been to reduce our land forces to what Burticus calls “a paper army”. The first duty of any government is “Defence of the Realm” and that is something which is simply not being safeguarded at the moment.

    I don’t, by the way, agree with the correspondent who blames Gerneral Dannatt for what has happened. Even when the Army was a hundred thousand in size, he was asking the Government for another few thousand personnel to create the basis of a new Brigade. He didn’t get them of course, instead a cut of 20,000!

    It is, however, the inexplicable tendency of the current military hierarchy to engage in what Col. Tim Collins has called “the crazy social experiments with our Armed Forces” that seems barmy to me. In an article in the “Telegraph” a short time ago, he wrote about how “the profligate recruiting campaign to create a military that reflect our society must be terminated right now.” There he was writing about political correctness and allowing women onto the front-line but there are plenty of other examples. In the Commons Defence Committee meeting with Army leaders that I mentioned earlier the whole emphasis seemed to be on social rights and equality rather than on creating an Army to win battles and make our country safer. Collins describes it as “quite simply a sacred political agenda . . . in order to fall in line with the irresistible forces of political correctness.”

    You say, Phil, that you “feel very sorry for any serving member of the Army; it must be a terrible time.” I think that is true and there have been in-house reports of a drop in morale among members of HM Armed Forces.

    I suppose the engagement of another 6,000 to 7,000 Regulars and the satisfactory introduction into service of the planned equipment programme: Challenger LEP, Ajax family, Warrior CSP, ABSV, MIV, MRV(P), CAMM etc. etc, if it happened, would solve a lot of the problems but most of it, of course, will not happen unless there is a serious change in Governmental approach.

    1. Mike W
      General Richard Dannatt is the general who assumed Basra could be pacified by a mere battalion battlegroup of 1.500 peacekeepers post invasion. He was so concerned by his FRES “pet project” that he ignored the growing IED threat in Iraq and Afghanistan (later).

      In my opinion the biggest problem for the British Armed Forces isn’t necessarily manpower, with the exception of the Royal Navy. The biggest problem is the poor handling of defence development and procurement projects. The result of this mishandling is an Army whose entire vehicle fleet is soon to be obsolete. the funding to replace the Challenger II MBT and Warrior IFV simply aren’t there, it was pissed away with the rest of the FRES program.

      On the social issues I have no comment, I simply don’t see it as that big a deal. Assuming standards aren’t lowered?

      It is my opinion that the British Army should procure CV90s and Challenger II (or III?).

    2. MikeW,
      I think we are talking about 2 different subjects here.
      Defence cuts and the management of the army.
      I can’t really blame Carter for the cuts to defence,
      And I don’t really think defence spending will be anymore than 2% again.
      However Carter is responsible for the current army structure.
      He was the one who changed it from multi role brigades to
      3 armoured brigades.
      He is the one that is now going to form these strike brigades,
      Which in my humble opinion is a complete waste of vehicles,
      And brigades support units of which we only have enough of to
      Have 4 brigades (plus 3 CDO).
      As to Dannett, I did hear that it was he that vetoed the Blackhawk’s offer,
      Because they would go to the RAF rather than the army.
      As to BASRA, I talked with a guy who served there,
      He said they were under siege and on reduced rations.
      At the end it was a defeat.
      Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

  16. Sørings

    Nice to hear from you.

    “General Richard Dannatt is the general who assumed Basra could be pacified by a mere battalion battlegroup of 1.500 peacekeepers post invasion.”

    Well if that is true, it was a grievous error. 1,500 was a grossly inadequate figure to stabilize such a large and volatile city (Population: 1.5 million?). I have often talked about it with friends and said just how insufficient a battalion battlegroup was but I did not realize that Dannatt was personally responsible. From talking to soldiers who knew him, I gathered that he was a highly respected general but that might not be everyone’s view.

    As far as ignoring the growing IED threat is concerned, wasn’t that in a way unexpected for everyone used to fighting a more unconventional high-end battle? The fault lay in not getting the new equipment (the more heavily protected MRAPs, detection and clearance vehicles etc.) into service quickly enough. I don’t know where to ascribe the blame in that case or how to apportion it. Was it the fact that the Army did not make the decisions quickly enough about the kind of vehicles needed; the fact that such vehicles were mostly only in the development stage; the fault of the procurement people or perhaps even the Government dragging their feet over funding, despite the fact that Tony Blair said, “They must have what they need!”? Actually I would tend to eliminate the last of these. I just don’t know.

    Agree with you absolutely about the appalling procurement mess over FRES. Incomprehensible and inexcusable. Agree with you too about the block obsolescence of our armoured fleet.

    Why on earth CV90, though? Surely that is a fairly old vehicle design now? We should of course join the French and Germans in developing the new MBT.

    1. MikeW
      Thanks for a thoughtful response.
      From what I’ve gathered, Dannatt is one of those you either hate or admire. Some see no wrong, while others call him the worst general in man’s memory (which I find too extreme)

      The UK Army were late to begin development of MRAPs. I believe they were among the last coalition partners to deploy MRAP vehicles in theatre, they were certainly behind both the Americans and the Scandinavians.
      The primary reasons for the slow development MRAPs was the FRES program and it’s out of control budget. Dannatt was the big believer in FRES over everything else (armour, artillery, etc.) including EMRAPs.

      You make a good point about Tony Blair. The 1998 SDR state clearly that defence spending at 2,5 percent of GDP would suffice to maintain the force structure in “this time of unprecedented peace and security”. That budget didn’t rise despite the initiation of war.
      I think Blair have been blamed enough (thou he deserves it). If someone can explain how FRES was a worthy project, then maybe I’ll change my mind. But as I see it, the Euro-American doctrine post-cold war was a time of mistakes and misreading of the future. I believe the future of war is armoured and mechanized, not light infantry playing special forces. FRES was there for obsolete from the beginning.

      Challenger II was a world-leading battle dominating warhorse in its day. But evolutionary, it’s a dead end. The strength of Leopard II and CV90 is that they were designed to be constantly updated and modernized. Norway just bought 100ish CV90s with the latest gismos. Despite being older than Warrior, it’s still relevant, and it’s relatively cheap.

  17. Sørings and Phil

    I am addressing this reply to both of you as you seem to have similar ideas about Strike Brigades and 8 x 8 wheeled vehicles.

    Sørings, for instance, says: “I believe the future of war is armoured and mechanized, not light infantry playing special forces. FRES was there for obsolete from the beginning”, while Phil
    states: “He (Carter) is the one that is now going to form these strike brigades,which in my humble opinion is a complete waste of vehicles,”

    Now, I have not made up my mind completely over whether we should have Strike Brigades or not, although I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that Phil’s suggestion of having just one of them (although he seems to have changed his mind somewhat since) might have something to be said for it. That would mean that two of the AJAX regiments and possibly two of the “mechanised” regiments would not be sucked out of the Heavy Brigades, which would result in the latter at least having some decent reconnaissance and retaining more infantry.

    There is, however, I’m quite convinced, quite a powerful school of thought within the British Army that believes that there is a need for the Strike Brigade concept, consisting of wheeled 8 x 8s, the advantage of which would be that they would be able to self-deploy rapidly, sometimes over long distances to fight a Mali-type campaign, but able to operate across the spectrum of operations. Do we really need two of them, though, to the serious depletion of our heavier armoured formations? The problem with the latter is that heavy armoured formations can hardly be described as fast reaction forces. They would probably have to be deployed by sea some of the time and it would be a long, slow old process. That would leave us with 16 AA Bde as our only true rapid reaction force. And they are relatively lightly armed. It’s a real dilemma.

    Perhaps I’ll wait until Gaby writes some more on the subject of the Brigade structure for 2025 before I comment again. I am still more than a little confused.

    1. MikeW.
      What Carter is calling is not a strike brigade.
      He is simply robbing the two armoured brigades of there recce regiments.
      There can never be two strike brigades, there is only enough support and command for 4 army brigades (at the moment 3 armoured and 16 AA).
      The 2nd strike brigade is a paper formation, with no support and command, and vehicle share with the 1st.
      Carter is not only creating a botched up "strike brigade" but doing so at the expense of the 2 armoured brigades, thus leaving us with 3 worse of brigades.
      A strike brigade would be an good idea, but we simply don't have the vehicles or the brains to create and organize what we do have into sensible deployable formations.
      Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

    2. MikeW
      I don’t like the Strike brigade concept at all. Mostly because I haven’t a clue what it is. It’s supposed to be easily deployed, but are made up of 40 ton tracked vehicles. Those can’t be airlifted efficiently so rely on sea transport. Tracks aren’t great for long distance independent campaigning.
      On the question of 8x8 vehicles, there of road capabilities are starting to resemble that of tracks. I don’t find it implausible that future medium IFVs will be all wheeled. I’ll be watching the Italian experiment with an open mind.

  18. Phil

    Thanks for the reply. I see exactly what you mean now. I was puzzled at first by your statement that we only had enough support units to "have 4 brigades."

    I thought, well, that's exactly what we shall have, namely two heavy armoured brigades and two Strike brigades, completely forgetting about 16 AA Bde, which of course you have included. Stupid on my part, or what?

    Take your point about how Strike Brigades would be a good idea if we had the kit and the ability to organize our resources into "sensible, deployable formations." Thanks for all the interesting points you have raised.


  19. Here is a question for all of the contributors here and I know it will potentially elicit frustration / comment around not comparing apples with apples, but if you look at the French, German and Italian Armies, they all have structures which allow deployment of 7 - 8 apparently fully deployable Brigades, all of which have 4-5 maneuvor battalions (ie Armour, Infantry and Cavalry). Each of those Brigades are the equal to, or normal in excess of the mechanisation of their British equivalents (ie only limited foot infantry, versus the plethora found in the British Army). Final their tanks, IFVs and APCs all tend to be at least 10 - 15 years younger than their British equivalents and are all constantly under update.
    All of the above on defence budgets either equal to, or smaller than, their British equivalent (and in the French case supporting a more rounded defence industry, up to and including Ballistic Missiles and observation satellites.
    Do the participants here not think there is something really rather odd here. Does the British Army not have something to learn from its closest equivalents in Europe (indeed does it even acknowledge that they are equivalents / superior to?)

    1. Anonymous, good observation.

      The French avoided the Iraq war that sucked the lifeblood out of the British Army. So they are in somewhat better position as they didn’t have to shift modernization investments into operational costs. You can’t ignore the fact that the British Army (while occupying an unbalanced large chunk of the defence budged) got it’s back broken in the middle Eastern wars. That’s billions of pounds that was supposed to fund the modernization of three services.
      The Italians are quite interesting as they’re going for an all wheeled formation, which is significantly cheaper than tracks. All in all, the Italians plan on operating nine brigades. If they can make it work there is definitely learning potential a plenty.
      Finally, the British establishment seems to be schizophrenic on what they expect from the Armed Forces and national strategy. The British don’t know what the Armed Forces should do and therefor can’t plan and design appropriate organizations and weapons for the future.

  20. @Anonymous

    “Final their tanks, IFVs and APCs all tend to be at least 10 - 15 years younger than their British equivalents and are all constantly under update.”

    I think, Anonymous, that our armoured vehicle fleet would be a lot more up-to-date if decisions taken by the Army were actually implemented. Just to give you one example. A few years ago, a competition for the next wheeled armoured vehicle for the British Army took place. It was given some ludicrously pretentious title by the MOD (the “Trials of Truth” or some such drivel and involved a three-way competition between the Boxer, the Piranha and a French vehicle). The British Army decided on the winner and the vehicle they wanted was the Piranha. Did it go into production? No, it did not! And my suspicion is that the funding for the programme was suddenly cut to save money. Why would the Army have wanted a vehicle they had chosen not to enter service? It simply does not make sense. We might have had quite a few hundred modern wheeled vehicles in service by this time.


    Sorry, did not have time to answer this:

    “On the question of 8x8 vehicles, there of road capabilities are starting to resemble that of tracks.”

    True, tyre technology has improved dramatically. Moreover, wheeled 8 x s and 6 x 6s now have much better protection: e.g. the latest Strykers have double hulls and V-shaped hulls. Are they yet a match for tracked vehicles on really rough terrain, though?

    Glad to know that you will be watching the Italian experiment with an open mind.

    1. @MikeW. Fully aware of the Trials Of Truth and also the rumours surrounding them that Piranha was always fated to win because the Army wanted it because the Americans had it and that to pick Boxer (which performed better by all accounts) would be extremely embarrassing given the UK pull out from that project only a couple of years before.
      Ask yourself this though - you talk about lack of money, which is probably the reason why it was scrapped, but why, only a few years later when funding did become available did the Army suddenly decide that what was really important was not an 8*8 IFV, nor an updated MBT, nor even an updated IFV (although this was later signed off in limited numbers), but a 40-ton tracked "scout" developed at considerable expense and purchase in limited numbers, to support a rapidly shrinking armoured force, the UK being the only country in the world to have such a thing (ie a specific heavy tracked scout) - all others being derivatives of their core tracked IFV (eg Bradley) or a wheeled vehicle (as in France, Germany and Italy).
      Also bear in mind that the above decision to purchase an entirely new tracked IFV was taken when the UK still had some 350 MBTs and 750 Warriors, all of which could have been upgraded and would have been more than enough to fill out 2-3 armoured Brigades and still leaving money to spend on 1-2 Brigades of an off the shelf 8*8 (although of course that would never do, since off the shelf products are never good enough - except for all the ones that are....)
      None of the above was caused by lack of money, it was caused by a failure of imagination/foresight on the part of the Army as well as a failure of long term planning (and sticking to it) and an unwillingness to cut one's cloth correctly to a changing fiscal situation. All of those problems are those of the Army alone and as I have stressed many times before, it is the Army that needs to take responsibility for them and to learn from them, both of which it appears incapable of doing.

    2. That's the point, i'm afraid. Army 2025 risks to be, on an even greater scale, the same self-inflicted disaster, because Carter now wants those 8x8 so much that is ready to mess up the fundamental role assumptions for Ajax and to cut back on heavy, tracked armour. The incoming disaster is by no means unavoidable: if there is no money to create proper strike brigades, don't do it. Focus on one thing at once, and fix what you have. Don't throw it all away to pursue unaffordable dreams based on unending admiration of the one-off french adventure in Mali.

    3. And said 8*8 would have also had substantial utility to actually provide a real integral armour squadron / cavalry element to both 16 AA and 3 Commando, something that Ajax is singularly unsuited to.

    4. Bah, that is debatable. The MIV is not going to be that much lighter than Ajax, and might very well NOT have a turret and a gun, (which never was planned by FRES UV either), so they would be even worse.

      In a world where money was no tragedy, 16AA would have the M8 Buford. Or the new Lightweight Protected Firepower vehicle the US Army is now trying to push along, if it'll deliver and its air-droppability will be a requirement.

    5. Agreed - although I note that both the French and Italian airborne brigades have such vehicles in their Orbat. One suspects as follow-on units to any air assault and with limited airtransportability

    6. Yes, but then Ajax is perfectly fine.

    7. Thanks Gabby. You are quite correct, I hadn't thought of it like that, with the caveat that I would make the assumption that a 120mm direct fire version of Ajax will never be developed, whereas I would expect the 8*8 off the shelf purchase to include many of those (a la Stryker or Centauro 2), which would perhaps be better than a 40mm Ajax in supporting those two brigades. Anyway the point is moot because the Army won't make that jump.
      I also wanted to thank you for such a great topic and series of posts.

  21. Few questions bug me:
    1. How come Italians can have very good force structure with nice numbers on land forces and the Navy (at least on paper) with twofold smaller budget (Spanish and Poles to some degree too even with smaller resources), and nuclear world powers UK and France struggle to make something useful out of their armies that looks unimaginative and uninspiring? – Answers like prolonged wars in ME or so, doesn’t quite cut it. Army budget was for the Army, operations were financed by government.
    2. If the future is in two type force structure, one for high intense OPs and the other for control/patrol Ops (no matter calling them reaction/adaptable as Brits or intervention/stabilisation as Germans) why some nations insist on wheeled armies that cant be adequetly supported? To me its stuborne but very typical euro-neighbourly envy game. Even worse , adaptive/stabilisation forces are unlucky on clear mission (equipement isn’t No 1 problem at all).
    So, here is my shot at structure that could work for an Army like British, French, German, Italian, Spanish ... It’s the Army with two divisions, so it is 60-70k strong:
    1. First there will be reaction/intervention forces in a division that is better mission described as manuever forces with artistic name cavalry division (explains very nicely purpose – rest between moves). It doesn’t metter is it wheeled or tracked. Wheeles can do marathons, but so can tracks on tank transporters. Honestly wheeles are not that much cheaper that anyone could buy tham 2-3 times more than tracked vehicles. Divison will have recon regiment and 3 cavalry regiments , with 3 batallions each (1st reset/recup, 2nd training, 3rd operational). This means division can field two brigades that take turns in readiness (no need for extra commanders and man support in third brigade as men for it are in reset or recuperation).
    Equipement is at freevill. French will go with VBCI, Brits with ASCOD, ITlainas with Freccia… point is: IT SIMPLY DOESN’T MATTER as long it can manuever on potencial front.
    2. Second is adaptable/stabilisation forces or IMHO better mission described as light division forces (describes very well the purpose and capabilities: light on man, light on equipement, light on support AND light on capabilities). Also as infantry-centric it hints: move between rests. There are no fancy names and usless infantry brigades (mountain, airbone, airassault, marine, amphib, commando…) – simple LIGHT Division. ORanised in: 1 recon regiment, 1 commando regiment and 2-4 infantry regiments with 3-5 batalions each. Support at divisional level only to be capable provideing self-sufficent battle-groups (and only 1 brigade). BG are easy to support, supply, move, write-off in worst case but more than enough for ME tribal wars, home and abroad COIN, holding Russians at bridges/towns/swamps/mountain passes and even for amphib/air/para/high mountain/arctic assaults if properly manned and trained. Point is: no cannon fedder infantry brigades but cheap and versatile to operate battle groups.

    All this structuring/restructuring looks like army proffesionals got lost and as in my contry people say - cant see the whole forest of just one tree (and vice-versa).

  22. @Anonymous

    “Also bear in mind that the above decision to purchase an entirely new tracked IFV was taken when the UK still had some 350 MBTs and 750 Warriors, all of which could have been upgraded and would have been more than enough to fill out 2-3 armoured Brigades and still leaving money to spend on 1-2 Brigades of an off the shelf 8*8”

    Difficult to refute that argument but there is the very important point that the British armoured fleet needed updating, not merely in terms of upgrades, as you have suggested, but in also in term of new vehicles. It needed and still needs new blood, otherwise obsolescence sets in and you get the block obsolescence we are faced with today.

    Therefore I saw nothing wrong with a reconnaissance version coming out of FRES SV. The problem is that they have gone for a vehicle which is far too heavy for that role and not much younger in n terms of design than Warrior. Something like the original Tracer vehicle or BAE’s CV21 would have been ideal.

  23. Hi Gabbi,
    Change of subject, this is to do with the Navy, with Bulwark going into extended readiness , this year or next?, might it be sold, seeing as Albion which is only finishing sea trials next year as i understand will be in service for 6 or maybe even 7 years. . You would be talking about 2023 or even 2024 before Bulwark comes back into service. Anyway many thanks, again a great blog

    1. No. Unless there is another disaster, Bulwark will be parked into port on life support until Albion hits refit time, and then they'll be swapped again.

  24. Hi Gaby

    As I think I have said before, I am not a member of Twitter but do sometimes follow your tweets.

    Is the fact that 5 Rifles were firing the 60mm Mortar in support of a section level night attack good news, do you think? i.e. Is it a sign that the weapon will be retained, perhaps alongside the Minimi LMG. They have now had ample time to test the effectiveness of these weapons.

    Another point altogether. Will you be dealing in any detail with the news from DVD 2016 this week? I like to keep abreast of the latest news on kit, even though very little of it ever seems to enter service! Thanks.

    1. 5 Rifles is not the only "line" battalion which is still working with the platoon mortar, and that is reassuring: while we cannot be certain that the risks are a thing of the past, for now the cut seems not to have happened.

      As for DVD, i would love to cover plenty of details. But i won't be there, so the only thing i can do is listen as carefully as i can to all the news that might filter out, and make sense of them. If there are significant developments, i'll write about it.

  25. Hi Gabriele, do I have this correct;
    2 Armored brigades, each with 3 CAR's, each with 2 tank squadrons (14 x C2) and 2 Infantry squadrons (14 x Warrior)?

    1. Yes, that is the heart of my proposal. Each CAR would also have a Manoeuver Support Company with Mortars, ATGW, Recce, Pioneers.

    2. Thanks, seems to be a thoroughly reasonable structure, realistic on numbers, simple force generation cycles, and capable Fire Support Company embedded at regiment level.

      Fewer men is of course and advantage, and could well be crucial to give the strike brigades the resources they need to be successful, which looks unlikely at the moment.

  26. What is CSS requirement for this force? Trucks and logistics tend to be ignored unfortunately as they aren’t sexy. Just ask Think Defence about people’s underappreciation for containers.

    1. That's why i've given it an extra-large HQ company, to include a larger echelon for immediate logistic support. The rest would still fall on the brigade logistic regiment / group, and it wouldn't really be far away from the current requirements of 2+2 battlegroups. Making them permanent should actually make it easier to organize the logistical companies around their specific needs.

  27. I’m curious, did you make the graphic design yourself? I recognize the profiles from Ship bucket, but how did you create that neat organizational chart? What software did you use?

    You see, I’d be interested in making a similar attempt myself and your layout is far superior to pen and paper.

    1. Yes, i made the graphic by myself, using the ShipBucket profiles of the authors listed below the drawing. As for how i did it, i might disappoint you, because i simply pulled lines using the old Paint for XP. I'm primitive like that. Copy paste and straight Paint line tool, that's all.


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