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2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army

The Army refined its force structure to deliver the capabilities set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2015 and modernise the Army’s ability to fight at the divisional level. The SDSR 2015 significantly increased the readiness levels required of the Army, underpinned by investment in new capability and a war-fighting division as part of Joint Force 2025. It introduced the innovative Strike brigades, based on the new AJAX vehicle family and the development of Specialised Infantry battalions, reconfigured to provide an increased contribution to countering terrorism and building stability overseas.

The refinements to the Army which would take place during the life of this Parliament were aligned with the “Better Defence Estate” strategy announced in early November 2015. The government would continue to sustain a regular Army of 82,000, a whole force of 112,000 regular and reserve troops and the Army’s footprint in the devolved nations. All existing regimental cap badges would be retained. Large parts of the Army would be unaffected but it would involve some units changing their role, equipment or location.

A modernised division would be centered on the 3rd (UK) Division, organised with four brigades of two Armoured infantry and two Strike, rather than three Armoured infantry as previously. A significant uplift in capability, it would hold one of each at high readiness, rather than the previous single armoured infantry brigade. From this, in times of crisis, the Army would be able to deploy a credible division of three brigades. To develop and transition to this new posture, in 2017 the Army would launch a Strike Experimentation Group in Warminster. This would ensure that the first new Strike Brigade would be formed by the end of the decade.

In 2017 the Army would also create the first two new Specialised Infantry battalions to pioneer this new capability. A new Group headquarters for the units would be established, initially based in York alongside the 1st (UK) Division of which the Group would be part, before moving to Aldershot by 2020. To reinforce this capability the Army planned to create two further Specialised Infantry battalions by 2019. They would conduct defence engagement and capacity building, providing training, assistance, advice and mentoring to partner countries.

As part of the continued investment in the Army Reserve the Army would build on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 plan. We would optimise reserve structures, embed the successful pairing of regular and reserve units and increase the number of reserve combat units supporting the division. As a result two new reserve infantry battalions would be created from 2017. A new reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) regiment would also be created.

The first Strike Brigade would operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and would be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units would be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.

In 2017 the Army would also create the first two new Specialised Infantry battalions to pioneer this new capability. These units would be The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and 4th Battalion The Rifles, the former relocating to Aldershot from Belfast by 2019. A new Group headquarters for the units would be established, initially based in York alongside the 1st (UK) Division of which the Group would be part, before moving to Aldershot by 2020. To reinforce this capability the Army planned to create two further Specialised Infantry battalions by 2019. These units would be the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment both joining the group in Aldershot by 2020.

The introduction of the Specialised Infantry capability would mean some reorganisation of the infantry divisional structure, within which infantry regiments are administered, from seven to six divisions.

The Scottish and The Prince of Wales’s Administrative Divisions of Infantry would merge, incorporating The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Welsh Regiment and The Royal Irish Regiment. This administrative division would be called The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division. The Mercian Regiment from the Prince of Wales’s Division would join with the King’s Division.

Army administrative divisions of infantry are the groupings within which the Army manages its infantry soldiers and officers to give them the necessary broad spread of relevant career experience from across a number of different units and activities. They have no operational role. There would be no changes to the names or regimental construct of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Mercian Regiment, The Royal Welsh Regiment, or The Royal Irish Regiment as a result of these administrative changes.

The changes announced would require adjustments in some supporting and enabling elements of the Army. HQ 102 Logistic Brigade, 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment, Headquarters 64 Works Group Royal Engineers, 2 Medical Regiment, Headquarters 4th Regiment Royal Military Police, 33 Field Hospital and 104,105 and 106 Battalions of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers reserve would be rationalised, with all manpower in those units being redeployed to other areas of the Army in its refined structure.

As part of the continued investment in the Army Reserve the Army would build on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 plan. The Army would optimise reserve structures to better support the modernised division, embed the successful pairing of regular and reserve units and increase the number of reserve combat units supporting the division. As a result, two new reserve infantry battalions would be created from 2017. These are 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 8th Battalion The Rifles. A new reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) regiment would also be created.



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Page last modified: 16-12-2016 19:20:52 ZULU