Army 2020 was the name given to the restructuring of the British Army in the early and mid-2010s, in light of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010. The plan, as its name suggested, was intended to be completed by 2020, though most of its reorganisations were completed by the middle of the decade. It was succeeded by Army 2020 Refine, a series of new changes and refinements of Army 2020's restructuring, conducted in light of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015.

Background Edit

The British government gave an indication of its proposals for the future structure of the Army in early 2008, in a press report stating that it was considering restructuring the Army into a force of three deployable divisional headquarters and eight "homogenous or identical" brigades, each with a spread of heavy, medium and light capabilities. This report indicated that the existing 16 Air Assault Brigade would be retained as a high-readiness rapid reaction force.[1]

Subsequently, it was reported that the former Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, wanted to see the Army structured so as to extend the interval between operational tours from two years to two-and-a-half years.[2]

In 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review was published. As part of the plans, the British Army would be reduced by 23 regular units, and by 2020 would number 117,000 soldiers, of whom 82,000 would be regulars and 30,000 would be reservists.[3] The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 increased the planned number of reservists from 30,000 to 35,000.

Originally envisaged structure Edit

The originally envisaged future structure was announced on 19 July 2011 in a briefing paper entitled Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions.[4] This structure had five identical multi-role brigades, each of around 6,500 personnel.[5] However, in June 2012 a significantly different structure known as "Army 2020" was announced.[6]

The divisional headquarters of 2nd, 4th, and 5th Divisions were disbanded in 2012 and replaced by a single formation known as Support Command, based at Aldershot.[4]

The five multi-role brigades envisaged in 2011 would have comprised:[7]

  • One armoured regiment of Challenger 2 tanks
  • One armoured reconnaissance regiment
  • One armoured infantry battalion of Warrior armoured fighting vehicles
  • One mechanised infantry battalion of FV432 armoured personnel carriers
  • Two light role infantry battalions

Combat Support and Logistics would have been retained at divisional level. It was envisaged that 19th Light Brigade, then part of 3rd Mechanised Division, would be disbanded.[8]

Structure Edit

Reaction Force Edit

The 16 Air Assault Brigade, comprising two battalions of the Parachute Regiment and two Army Air Corps regiments of attack helicopters. This would deliver a very high readiness Lead Air Assault Task Force, with the rest of the brigade ready to move at longer notice.

The 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division, renamed the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division, comprising three armoured infantry brigades: 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade and 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.[9] These three brigades would rotate, with one being the lead brigade, a second undergoing training and the third involved in other tasks. The lead brigade would deliver a Lead Battlegroup at very high readiness, with the rest of the brigade at longer notice.

The complete air assault brigade and a full mechanised brigade would be available for deployment within three months. All three brigade's HQs are to be based in the Salisbury Plain Training Area.[10]

Adaptable Force Edit

The 1st Armoured Division, renamed as the 1st (United Kingdom) Division, along with Support Command. Comprises seven infantry brigades (4th, 7th, 11th, 38th, 42nd, 51st and 160th) of various sizes, each made up of paired regular and Territorial Army forces, drawn from an Adaptable Force pool of units.[10] These infantry brigades were planned to be suited to domestic operations or overseas commitments (such as the Falkland Islands, Brunei and Cyprus) or, with sufficient notice, as a brigade level contribution to enduring stabilisation operations.

Force Troops Command Edit

The boxes above provides the general structure of the British Army once Army 2020 is completed. It excludes units under Regional Command, Recruiting and Training Command, or units under other commands such as the air defence regiments.

The term "Regional Point of Command," encompassing organisations such as Headquarters North East, also appears to have been introduced under the reorganisations.

Changes to units Edit

Royal Armoured Corps Edit

Four of the Royal Armoured Corps' Regiments were merged into two regiments:[14]

Royal Artillery Edit

39 Regiment Royal Artillery was disbanded, with its Multiple Launch Rocket Systems being transferred to the rest of the Royal Artillery and Territorial Army.

In accordance with the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the number of AS-90 self-propelled guns was reduced by 35%.[15] The number of active Challenger 2 tanks was cut by around forty per cent, and by 2014 had been reduced to 227.[16]

12th and 16th Royal Artillery would continue to be placed under a joint Army-RAF unit, the Joint Ground Based Air Defence Headquarters.[17][18][19]

Infantry Edit

Four of the British Army's 36 regular infantry battalions were disbanded or merged with sister units in their regiments:

A fifth battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, was reduced to a single company to carry out public duties in Scotland.

However, through the 2020 reforms, 3 new battalions of infantry (1 regular, 2 reserve) were created including:[20][21]

Joint Helicopter Command/Army Air Corps Edit

The Joint Helicopter Command remained an integral part of the land force. The Army Air Corps was reduced by one regular regiment. 1 and 9 Regt AAC merged, operating the new Wildcat helicopter.[22] One Regiment would remain at high readiness annually, with one Apache Squadron committed towards the Lead Armoured Battlegroup. 653 AAC to be an Operational Training Squadron from 2015, leaving the Apache Regiments with four active squadrons altogether. The government pledged to upgrade 50 AgustaWestland Apache to AH-64E standard; however, an 11 May 2017 U.S. government contract list stated only 38 would be re-manufactured.[23][24][25][26]

Army Reserve Edit

The Territorial Army was renamed the Army Reserve, and expanded from 19,000 to 30,000 personnel.[27] Its military equipment was to be upgraded to meet the standards of the regular army[3] and its units were realigned.[28] The 2015 review increased the intended strength of the Reserves to 35,000.[29]

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Edit

The regular component of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers structure was reduced by one battalion to seven regular battalions.

Royal Military Police Edit

As part of the drawdown from Germany, the Royal Military Police lost one regiment, 4 Regiment RMP, with all provost companies re-subordinating. The three remaining regiments were re-organised.[22]

Other Edit

British Forces Royal Logistic Corps in Germany were announced to be withdrawn back to the UK by 2015:

  • 8 Regiment RLC disbanded (formerly at BFG Munster and late York Barracks) on 31 March 2012.
  • 24 Regiment RLC (part of 104th Logistic Support Brigade) disbanded in Bielefeld, Germany in August 2013.
  • 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC (part of 104th Logistic Support Brigade) at Bicester disbanded in 2013/14.

Basing Edit

An initial basing plan located infantry brigades throughout the United Kingdom, with the three reaction force brigades situated in the Salisbury Plain Training Area.[30] On 5 March 2013, a future basing plan of units in the UK was released.[10] All Germany-based units were relocated to the UK, with the Salisbury Plain area holding the largest concentration of troops.

References Edit

  1. ^ "British Army proposes to revamp brigade structure". Jane's Defence Weekly: 4. 9 July 2008.
  2. ^ Harding, Thomas (20 January 2009). "General Sir Richard Dannatt announces major Army changes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b "News & Events". Archived from the original on 22 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b Taylor, Claire (15 November 2011). "Briefing Paper SN06038 Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions" (PDF). House of Commons Library.
  5. ^ Harding, Thomas (19 October 2010). "Defence review: Army to face less pain than RAF and Navy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  6. ^ General Sir Peter Wall on Future Army 2020 on YouTube
  7. ^ "Britain lowers its military sights". International Institute for Strategic Studies. 19 October 2010. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  8. ^ Liam FoxSecretary of State for Defence (18 July 2011). "Defence Transformation". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 643–645.
  9. ^ Kirkup, James (5 March 2013). "Famed Desert Rats to lose their tanks under Army cuts". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Regular army basing plan" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  11. ^ "TRANSFORMING THE BRITISH ARMY An Update" (PDF). p. 9.
  12. ^ "TRANSFORMING THE BRITISH ARMY An Update" (PDF). p. 13.
  13. ^ "TRANSFORMING THE BRITISH ARMY An Update" (PDF). pp. 15–16.
  14. ^ Beale, Jonathan (5 July 2012). "Army to lose 17 units amid job cuts". BBC News. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  15. ^ Heyman, Charles (2011). The Armed Forces of the European Union, 2012-2013. Casemate Publishers. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-84415-519-4.
  16. ^ Akinyemi, Aaron (29 March 2014). "British Army has just 227 tanks left after spending cuts". International Business Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Regular Army Basing Matrix By Formation And Unit" (PDF). Army Families Federation. 2015. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  18. ^[dead link]
  19. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06: House of Commons Defence Committee Written Questions". 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  20. ^ "British Armed Forces Review". 21 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Royal Gurkha Rifles". Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Transforming the British Army Annex D" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2013.
  23. ^ "654 Squadron's Last Parade Before Disbandment". Forces TV. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  24. ^ "3 Regiment Army Air Corps" (PDF). The Eagle. Wattisham Flying Station (Autumn 2014): 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  25. ^ "MOD orders new fleet of cutting-edge Apache helicopters for Army". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  26. ^ "CONTRACTS-ARMY". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  27. ^ Watt, Nicholas (30 June 2013). "Reservists to fill frontline army gaps". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes" (PDF). South East Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association. 3 July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  29. ^ HM Government (November 2015). "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015" (PDF). p. 33. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Army 2020 brochure Figure 6" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2013.

External links Edit