Headquarters Infantry (HQ Infantry / Infantry)
Operational control of Infantry battalions in the British Army is exercised by the brigades and divisions of which they form a part. The Infantry Regiment is not a field formation, but represents original historical groupings based on speciality and geography. Headquarters Infantry exists to give direction and professional advice on Close Combat and Infantry matters in order to support the delivery of current and future Defence capability. It is responsible for the recruiting, manning and training policy of the Infantry. In addition it determines the organisation of the Infantry and contributes to the development of equipment and capability. As of 2012, the Headquarters was located in the market town of Warminster, Wiltshire, on the site of the Land Warfare Centre.
Headquarters Infantry provides direction and professional advice to support the Infantry's operational capability in the following functional areas: Infantry manning and recruiting; the Divisions and Regiments of Infantry; the Infantry in the Territorial Army; infantry operations and deployment and plans; Infantry establishments (broadly similar to US Army Tables of Order and Equipment); infantry training, to include training policy, training development analysis, personal development, courses, and publications; Infantry force development; Infantry equipment and ammunition management; and Infantry communication and information systems. In addition, Headquarters Infantry also has responsibility for the Infantry Trials and Development Unit (ITDU), based in Warminster; Headquarters The Small Arms School Corps (SASC), including the Small Arms Collection, both of which are also based in Warminster; and The Army Rifle Association (ARA), based in Bisley.In July 2012, the British Army released a plan for its Army 2020 initiative. Under the plan, the infantry would experience numerous changes. 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,) would be reduced to form a Public Duties Incremental Company on completion of its current tasks and not before August 2013. 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers would be removed from the British Army Order of Battle entirely and its personnel absorbed into the rest of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers upon completion of scheduled operational commitments in the autumn of 2014. The 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howard's) would be removed from the order of battle entirely and absorbed into the rest of The Yorkshire Regiment on completion of their Cyprus tour and not before the autumn of 2013. The 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffordshire) would be removed from the order of battle entirely and absorbed into the rest of The Mercian Regiment on completion of their deployment as part of the Operation Herrick 19 rotation in Afghanistan and not before October 2014. 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) would be removed from the order of battle entirely and absorbed into the rest of The Royal Welsh not before autumn 2013. The 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment would join the Prince of Wales’ Division.
The complete Army 2020 plan as of July 2012 would see the Infantry drawn down across almost all Regiments. The Rifles would be reduced to five battalions. The Royal Regiment of Scotland reduced to 4 battalions and a Public Duty Incremental Company. The Parachute Regiment would be reduced to 3 battalions. The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, Royal Anglican Regiment, Yorkshire Regiment, Mercian Regiment, and the Royal Gurkha Rifles would all be reduced to 2 battalions. The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Royal Welsh Regiment, and Royal Irish Regiment would all be reduced to a single battalion. No changes were to be made to the 5 single battalion guards regiments, which would include 3 Public Duty Incremental Companies.
There were a number of criteria applied. These were: maintaining a regimental system which is largely regionally aligned; demographic sustainability of regiments according to projected regional supply of recruits in the 2020 timeframe; proportionality of outcome, with no cap badge deletions and no regiment losing more than one battalion in a re-organisation; balancing the whole infantry structure to maintain variety of roles and parity of opportunity of experience for officers and soldiers; taking account of previous decisions on mergers and deletions; historical manning performance; and ensuring a solution that the Army would see as fair and equitable.
Drawing on demographic data from the Office of National Statistics for the age cohort across the UK from which infantry recruits are drawn (15-29 age group), and taking account of historical trends in terms of the percentage of that cohort likely to join the Army, an assessment was made of which regiments were likely to be the least sustainable in the future if they retained their current structure. This work also included a comparison of each regiment’s historical outflow so the likely recruiting requirement could be determined.
This analysis showed that those regiments likely to be the least sustainable in future were the Royal Regiment of Scotland (predicted to be 1.75 battalions short), The Yorkshire Regiment (predicted to be 0.8 battalions short), The Mercian Regiment (predicted to be 0.56 battalions short) and the Royal Welsh Regiment (predicted to be 0.55 battalions short). It was therefore decided to remove one battalion from each of these regiments.
After the removal of these four battalions, and taking account of the criterion that there should be no cap badge deletions and no regiment losing more than one battalion, the method for predicting future sustainability became less statistically discerning. Therefore to determine the fifth battalion to be withdrawn required the application of criteria that went wider than future demographics.
Having discounted those regiments that were already losing a battalion, and those which were single battalion regiments, the choice came down to a battalion from one of the following: The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment; The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment; The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF); The Royal Anglian Regiment; and The Rifles. The Parachute Regiment having been excluded on the grounds of its specific role. Taking account of the need to maintain equity of opportunity across the Infantry Divisions, the Army decided that it should be the Queen’s Division (comprised of Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, The Royal Anglian Regiment and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers) that lost a battalion; this was because it had six battalions in comparison to other Divisions that would be left with only four or five. From within the Queen’s Division, and taking account of historical manning performance, the RRF, with average historical undermanning of 13.3% since the previous reorganisation of the infantry in 2007, and being a regiment with two battalions, was therefore determined as the next appropriate regiment from which to withdraw a battalion.
The units withdrawn were therefore those which were judged to be the least sustainable in the 2020 timeframe and/or with the poorest historical recruiting performance. Some of those units were well manned at the time the decision was made. This is not surprising as recruits are allocated to regiments where there is a need i.e. those which are undermanned or which are due to deploy in the near future. In the case of the RRF, their manning improved as a result of Divisional manning priorities - the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment and the Royal Anglian Regiment’s battalions were already fully manned.
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