Details of radical modernisation plans to develop a more deployable, agile and flexible Army were announced by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon today.
The Future Army Structure (FAS) will ensure we have:
--an Army for the challenges of today and tomorrow - it is essential that the Army changes to meet the demands of current and future operations, is fit for the challenges of the 21st Century and remains amongst the best in the world.
--an Army structured for warfighting - the changes will provide the most powerful organisation and capability possible from the available resources.
--a more effective Army overall - FAS enables the Army to re-invest around 3000 people into high demand roles such as engineers, logisticians and intelligence operators - the key enablers that allow the Army to deliver a robust expeditionary warfighting capability.
--improved stability - the whole Army will be on a system of individual postings. It will improve the career development and effectiveness of our soldiers and their ability to balance their professional commitments against those they have to their families.
--more battalions, available to use, not less - by ending the arms plot, the out-of-date system of moving regiments around the country, or the world, approximately every two years and the improved security situation in Northern Ireland.
Changes to the infantry
Following the consultation into the future of the infantry announced in July, there will the reduction of four battalions from 40 to 36, one each from:
-- the Scottish Division (the Royal Scots and The Kings Own Scottish Borderers will merge. The resulting new battalion and the other four will become part of a new large, single-cap badge regiment, to be called the Royal Regiment of Scotland);
-- the area west of the Pennines (The King's Own Royal Border Regiment, the King's Regiment and the Queen's Lancashire Regiment will amalgamate to form two new battalions within the new King's Lancashire and Border Regiment); and
-- the Prince of Wales's Division in the South of England (by merging components of the Royal Gloucester, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment with, in the case of the Glosters, the Devon and Dorsetshire Regiment (which will then transfer to the Light Infantry) and, in the case of the remainder, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment)
-- the Parachute Regiment.
The highly trained manpower released from the Parachute Regiment will form the core of a new, joint dedicated tri-Service "Ranger" unit which will be developed over the coming years. This will be structured, trained and equipped to provide direct support for Special Forces.
The infantry will also be restructured into large multi-battalion regiments. This reflects the decision to phase out the Arms Plot and in future, battalions will be fixed by role and largely by location:
-- The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales will combine as the Welsh Regiment. They will be known respectively as 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) and 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales).
-- The Staffordshire Regiment, Cheshire Regiment and Worcester and Sherwood Foresters will combine as the Mercian Regiment, and be known as 1st battalion the Mercian Regiment (Cheshires), 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters) and 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) respectively.
-- The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, The Prince of Wales' Own Regiment and The Green Howards will come together to form The Yorkshire Regiment and be known as 1st battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own), 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) and Third Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's).
-- The Guards Regiment and Royal Irish will continue to be organised on their current basis.
-- The Parachute Regiment, Gurkhas, Royal Anglians, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, Royal Green Jackets and Light Infantry will continue as multi-battalion regiments.
Changes to the Army's future structure
FAS changes involve a shift from the current mix of light and heavy forces to a more graduated and balanced structure of light, medium and heavy forces. They will provide the most capable organisation possible from within the available resources.
As part of the rebalancing 19 Mechanised Brigade will begin to re-role to form the new 'light brigade' in January 2005. It will be ready to be deployed, if required, in 2006 when it will serve as the contingent NATO response force.
4 Armoured Brigade will begin to convert to a Mechanised Brigade in 2006. Other brigades will adopt their new structures around the same time - taking forward our commitment to create a more balanced force structure of light, medium and heavy forces.
The manpower freed up by the reduction in battalions will be re-invested into key enabling capabilities, such as communications, engineers, logisticians, intelligence experts, that allow the Army to deliver a robust expeditionary warfighting capability.
The FAS has enabled plans to be put in place to create new capabilities including:
-- an additional commando engineer regiment;
-- a new port and maritime unit;
-- an additional strategic communications unit;
-- a new logistic support regiment for each deployable brigade; and
-- a number of new sub-units including surveillance and target acquisition, bomb disposal and vehicle maintenance capabilities.
The plans will further integrate the TA and Reserves with the Regular Army - increasing the sense of identity, improving overall readiness and meeting the concerns of TA personnel and their employers.
-- The TA will remain the same size as it is today.
-- The future TA structure will ensure a more relevant, capable and usable TA.
-- The Infantry TA will reduce from 15 to 14 battalions and will integrate into the new infantry structure restoring a true sense of identity at TA battalion level. They will complement the new regular infantry structure, drawing them closer together to improve operational and training affiliations, greater integration and readiness.
Mr Hoon said,
"These plans will make the Army more robust and resilient, able to deploy, support and sustain the enduring expeditionary operations that are essential for a more complex and uncertain world.
"The move to larger, multi-battalion regiments that these changes bring about is the only sustainable way in which to structure the infantry for the long term.
"We must consider these changes to the infantry in the wider context of the need to rebalance the Army, and the opportunity it affords to reallocate manpower to those areas that we need to develop.
"The Army has always evolved to meet current and future challenges. I am convinced - and so is the Army - that this transformation is the right course. The future Army structure will deliver an Army fit for the challenges of the future."
Mr Hoon also announced a reduction in the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS) by around 280 posts. This will result in the reduction of six Army bands and reduce the size of a seventh.
Bands will continue to be identified primarily with regiments and corps and, given the importance of military music to the maintenance of esprit de corps and regimental spirit, will continue to be organised on the basis of their primary role - the provision of Army music.
Work is in hand to ensure that individuals affected by all the changes are provided with the chance to retrain and re-role to take on new tasks. However the reductions in infantry and bandsmen will require a limited redundancy programme.
The Army will continue around its current size. At around 102,000 strong it will continue to require over 11,000 new recruits every year, and offer a wide range of high quality employment and training opportunities.
General Sir Michael Jackson, Chief of General Staff, said:
"The planned Future Structure is good news for the Army. It is about setting the Army on the right track to meet the challenges of the future.
"While the Army cherishes tradition, it cannot base future capability on tradition alone. It has a proud history of embracing necessary change. Now is one such time. That is why the British Army is, and will remain amongst the best in the world.
"We have not stopped recruiting. In fact there has never been a more exciting time to join. We will still need to recruit around 12,400 personnel this year and next year around 13,800."
1. Radical modernisation plans for the UK's Armed Forces were announced by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on 21 July 2004 (MoD press release ref. 110/2004).
2. Today's announcements form a further step in transforming the Armed Forces which began with the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. They will ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped and trained to continue to perform with success in the future those tasks which they have so admirably undertaken in recent years.
3. The Spending Review announced in July resulted in a £3.7 billion increase to the defence budget over the next three years. This represents the longest period of sustained real growth in defence spending for over 20 years. We plan to use these additional resources to drive forward the modernisation of our Armed Forces to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
4. Following the announcement in July, a consultation period of 2 months was initiated to allow the infantry divisions to plan how they wished to adapt to the new structure and to express their views on constructing FIS. These views were collated and put together by the Director of Infantry, and then presented to ECAB as recommendations. ECAB then presented its advice to the Defence Secretary.
5. The changing nature of the threat facing the UK was a key driver in the evolution in Defence. The threat from terrorism, for example, was considerably raised, whilst the need to defend against submarine or air attack was vastly reduced and the security situation in Northern Ireland was approaching normalisation.
6. Reductions in Army bands:
-- The Scottish Division, Queen's Division, King's Division and Prince of Wales' Division will each have one Army Band instead of their current two.
-- The number of Royal Armoured Corps bands will reduce from 4 to 2.
-- Additionally, the Light Division band will be brought into line with the rest of the line infantry, so that the band will have 35 posts, rather than 49.
-- There will be a reduction by one further band, dependent on progress towards peace in Northern Ireland. We would then have to assess how the requirement for musical support to the forces stationed in the Province could be met.
-- Further work is being set in hand to examine options for finding the remaining posts and we will report on this in due course. It is for the Infantry and the Armoured Corps to work out respectively, in conjunction with the Corps of Army Musicians which Bands will be affected.
7. In order to sustain the Army's strength and ensure the optimum level of manning against the revised structures, around 12, 500 personnel (just under 11,600 soldiers and just over 900 officers) will need to be recruited this year to balance those who either leave voluntarily or at the end of their service. Next year, we will need to recruit around 13,800 army personnel (around 12,900 soldiers and 900 officers).
8. In future, the means of providing variety of experience and posting for individuals to sustain the operational flexibility for which our infantry units are rightly famed will be provided through individual posting. The only means of doing that within the framework of the regimental structure is by having regiments of more than one battalion.
9. Nearly half the infantry is already organised in this way and operates extremely effectively. Multi-battalion regiments will allow individuals to move between battalions while at the same time maintaining the sense of regimental identity that is so critical to the Army's ethos and fighting effectiveness.
10. The TA will remain broadly the same size as today but with a structure that is more capable and relevant to future operations. There will be some internal changes to meet new requirements and best support the regular army on operations. The TA will reflect the changes in the Regular Army's structure and will provide TA manpower for new specialist areas (e.g. Intelligence, Engineers, Military Provost Staff and Attack Helicopter support teams).
11. Tens of billions of pounds worth of new hardware will be procured to help the military to continue to perform so outstandingly. Incoming systems include: Skynet 5, Cormorant and Falcon communications systems, the Watchkeeper unmanned aircraft, the Astute class submarine, the Type 45 Destroyer, the FRES family of armoured vehicles, and the large CVF aircraft carriers.