A year after his landmark speech to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference, the head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, opened this year’s conference with an assessment of progress made on mobilising our forces.
Land Warfare Conference 2023 aims to bring together the land forces community from across Britain’s partners and allies worldwide to address the conceptual challenges of the future. This year’s two-day conference in London will focus on the lessons learned from Ukraine, the future demands facing alliance members through NATO, the requirements for a future force, and how the military can recruit the right talent and build an appropriate relationship with the defence industry to deliver it. The conference will explore how armies must mobilise not just to win the fight today, but to secure tomorrow.
I had every confidence that our Army would rise to the challenge and it is General Sir Patrick Sanders,
Chief of the General Staff
Last year, Gen Sanders - Chief of the General Staff (CGS) - gave a stark assessment of the dangers faced by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and put the audience on notice of his intention to mobilise the British Army and take a new approach in order to counter this threat to peace in Europe.
This year in front of senior soldiers, academics, think tanks and defence correspondents, he said: “I had every confidence that our Army would rise to the challenge and it is.”
Using mobilisation as a strong theme again this year, CGS talked of:
Mobilising minds by studying Ukraine’s emerging lessons, changing how we fight, planning how to fight differently and win.
Mobilising equipment when leading by example in committing British vehicles and weapons including the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank and the AS90 155mm self-propelled gun which are spearheading Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Mobilising training in that we have trained over 17,000 Ukrainians on UK soil, and intelligence indicates that the Russians know when they are fighting soldiers trained here. This, he said, was a testament to our instructors’ professionalism and Ukrainian tenacity, adding that our efforts are saving the lives of Ukraine’s citizen soldiers, something to be extremely proud of.
Ukrainian bravery and sacrifice is buying us time. Time to modernise. Time to train ourselves. Time to ensure that we are prepared GENERAL SIR PATRICK SANDERS,
CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF
He told the conference: “Ukrainian bravery and sacrifice is buying us time. Time to modernise. Time to train ourselves. Time to ensure that we are prepared.”
He said the Army was now mobilising with industry to ensure rapid procurement by committing more than £100million on Long Range Precision Fires, and with almost £200million to be spent on new Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
The Army has mobilised its productivity with 9,000 soldiers currently protecting our nation’s interests overseas, nearly 6,000 of them in Europe. CGS said today’s Army is the most productive that it has been for decades despite having reduced in size by 21% over that period.
But despite much progress, he warned there is “still some way to go.”
Gen Sanders said much of our equipment is out-dated and unfit for purpose. Platforms such as the armoured reconnaissance vehicle CVR(T) are decades old, but change is coming with more than £35billion being spent on new equipment over the next 10 years and 35 out of our 38 existing platforms going out of service and being replaced by new capabilities; making the British Army one of the most modern, connected, and lethal armies in the world.
Last year I said that I was prepared to look at the structures of our Army if I judged that it would make us better prepared to fight in Europe. That time is now General Sir Patrick Sanders,
Chief of the General Staff
Having exercised unflinching scrutiny, he also outlined the work the Army needed to improve procurement, reduce bureaucracy and ensure the Reserve force have the ability to reinforce Regular structures.
“Last year I said that I was prepared to look at the structures of our Army if I judged that it would make us better prepared to fight in Europe. That time is now,” he told RUSI.
There will be an uplift of the 1st Division into a credible Land Component Command Headquarters, one capable of integrating effects across all domains, and contributing to a sovereign Global Response Force (GRF). This will include resubordinating 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team under that Division.
The optimisation of the 3rd Division to warfight under an enhanced Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. These formations will be at the very heart of the nation’s commitment to European deterrence, maximising the opportunity that the new NATO Force Model presents us, he said.
And by the end of this year, Joint Helicopter Command will have evolved into a Joint Aviation Command. This new organisation will pioneer uncrewed aviation into the 2030s, reflecting the emergence of Human-Machine Teaming technology and the rapid proliferation of Uncrewed Aerial Systems.
Finally, unlocking the true potential of Land Special Operations in enabling the joint force and supporting our NATO allies, 77 Brigade together with the Army Special Operations Brigade and our Cyber and Electro Magnetic Activities Effects Group (CEMA) have the potential to be a world class special operations capability creating opportunities or constraints in crisis or conflict.
There isn’t a moment to lose - we must now take the same spirit of mobilisation and turn it towards transformation; the next steps in the reforms that started with Future Soldier General Sir Patrick Sanders,
Chief of the General Staff
With £2billion being spent on refurbishing accommodation, access to wraparound childcare and through Programme CASTLE and the Talent Management System, Regular, Reservist or Civil Servants will have greater ownership over their careers to ensure that the right person is in the right role.
CGS said: “…there isn’t a moment to lose - we must now take the same spirit of mobilisation and turn it towards transformation; the next steps in the reforms that started with Future Soldier."
“Finally, I am determined that we maintain our commitment to our soldiers and Civil Servants. When, like so many of our international partners, we are faced with a highly competitive market for talent, we must do our utmost to recruit our nation’s best.”
In closing, he said: “Let us ensure that when our Army is next asked to fight on behalf of the people of this country, it is as best prepared as it can be. For this is the Army that our soldiers and our nation deserves.”
To read CGS’s speech in full, click on this link