Army 2020 announcement confirms Army to be reduced by 23 units
The Army is to be reduced by 23 Regular units since the Strategic Defence and Security Review as part of Army 2020. The changes are due to be implemented by 2015, with the overall mandate to reach the capacity of 82,000 for the Regular Army and 30,000 for the Reserves by 2018.
The announcement came today in the House of Commons by Secretary of State for Defence the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP after months of work by the Army to create a modern force for the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
The changes to the Order of Battle (ORBAT) will include:
Household Cavalry and Royal Armoured Corps
• The Queens Royal Lancers will amalgamate with 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's) upon completion of scheduled operational commitments and not before October 2014.
• The 1st Royal Tank Regiment and the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment will merge upon completion of scheduled operational commitments and not before April 2014.
Royal Regiment of Artillery
• 39 Regiment Royal Artillery and 40 Regiment Royal Artillery will both be removed from the ORBAT by October 2015.
Corps of Royal Engineers
• 24 Commando Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2013.
• 25 Engineer Regiment and 28 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2015.
• 38 Engineer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT.
• 67 Works Group will also be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2015.
Royal Corps of Signals
• 7th Signal Regiment (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) is to be removed from the ORBAT.
• 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,) will be reduced to form a Public Duties Incremental Company on completion of current task and not before August 2013.
• 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers will be removed from the ORBAT and 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) will be removed from the ORBAT 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) will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Mercian Regiment on completion of Op HERRICK 19 and not before October 2014.
• 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales) will be removed from the ORBAT and absorbed into the rest of The Royal Welsh not before autumn 2013.
• 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment will join the Prince of Wales’ Division.
Army Air Corps
• 1 Regiment Army Air Corps will merge with 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, bringing the Wildcat force under a single HQ based at Yeovilton not before October 2015.
Royal Logistic Corps (RLC)
• 1 Logistic Support Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before April 2015.
• 2 Logistic Support Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2014.
• 23 Pioneer Regiment will be removed from the ORBAT not before October 2015.
• 8 Regiment, 19 Combat Service Support Battalion and 24 Regiment RLC will be removed from the ORBAT.
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer
• 101 Force Support Battalion will be removed from the Regular Army ORBAT not before autumn 2015, and will transfer to the Reserve.
Royal Military Police unit
• 5 Regiment Royal Military Police is to be removed from the ORBAT as part of the drawdown from Germany. The three remaining Regiments will be re-organised.
• All SIB capabilities will be reorganised under one headquarters, while the Military Provost Service will be increased, and a specialist Support Operations group will be created.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles are to remain with two Battalions to sustain their capability and meet their unique operational requirement in Brunei.
The current Regular and Reserve structure for the Army Medical Services will remain largely unchanged with three Regular and ten Reserve field hospitals.
The Intelligence Corps will retain three Regular military intelligence battalions.
Sustaining cap badges
Addressing questions about specific unit reductions, Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen, said the units to be lost from the Royal Armoured Corps were selected on the basis of armoured corps principles and to sustain as many cap badges as possible.
"We will still have three heavy armoured regiments equipped with an upgrade of Challenger 2, which will satisfy our requirements for the future. This is based on analysis that sees tanks being used less in a mass armoured role but still playing a very important role in terms of supporting the infantry."
The five Infantry Battalions were selected based on a number of factors including their ability to recruit over the last ten years, and the demographic projections about the population in their recruitment areas over the next ten years.
The six RLC units to be disbanded were selected based on future projections for logistic requirements, and were also those that provided a role that could be fulfilled by the Army Reserves and contractors.
"The RLC will still remain a critical part of the Army and one of considerable size. But we needed to find places where we can employ Reserves and contractors to alleviate some of the high costs of military manpower, and the RLC is an area where that works well," he said.
Fair distribution of resources
On the subject of the Reserves, CGS confirmed there were very few adjustments being made but until the laydown of the Regular Army is confirmed there would be no further announcements on how the Reserves would be recast to partner and complement Regular units in their areas.
"I appreciate that it is a difficult day for those people who have heard that the Regiments they have fought in are going to be amalgamated or disbanded, but in the round it is a good day for the Army as it gives us the clarity and springboard to shape the Army to confront the challenges of the future.
"This is fair to the country as it delivers the very best capabilities that we can with the resources that we have been given. It rebalances the Army to the demands of the future with a fair distribution of resources and manpower across all of the cap badges. And it is fair at the soldier level where we shall be doing our utmost to make sure that everybody gets the best chance of being re-employed in the Army.
CGS was keen to stress to soldiers serving with the units to be disbanded or merged that they were no more or less likely to be selected for redundancy that others with similar skills and service record.
"Your prospects of redundancy are no greater by dint of being in a Regiment that has been selected to be removed from the order of battle," he said.
When units are withdrawn, their personnel will be reassigned to other units - where possible, within the same regiment or corps.
Although the majority of the changes are due to be made between 2014 and 2016, there may be some unit reductions before 2014, dependent on force levels in Afghanistan.
Optimistic for the future
"Overall I am optimistic that this will work well and has used the best of the resources that have been afforded to us by the country.
"Army 2020 is an ambitious vision for unprecedented times. It will demand resilience, flexibility and genuine adaptability from talented and committed officers and soldiers. In return it will provide challenge and opportunity in abundance. Soldiering in this Army will continue to be an exacting and rewarding vocation," CGS concluded.