Chief of the General Staff (CGS), General Sir Patrick Sanders, said today the Army is undertaking “the largest and most ambitious programme of modernisation of our time”.
In a keynote speech on the opening day of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London, CGS set out his plan for the renewal of the British Army in line with its Future Soldier programme and informed by the lessons of Ukraine.
General Sanders hailed “A renewal guided by a new Land Operating Concept and underpinned by a closer relationship with allies, partners and industry.
“Renewal to make sure we can fight the war we must. A renewal founded in hard-won lessons of the past, orientated to the future to ensure that we emerge more lethal, agile, expeditionary and resilient, all underpinned by our digital framework.”
Ukraine lessons and drones
General Sir Patrick Sanders said:
“At DSEI in 2021, my predecessor suggested that rather than thinking of ourselves as the post-war generation, we should contemplate what it might feel like to be the 21st century pre-war generation. As events show, we are now that pre-war generation. And it comes with a responsibility that we cannot shirk.
At DSEI in 2021, my predecessor suggested that rather than thinking of ourselves as the post-war generation, we should contemplate what it might feel like to be the 21st century pre-war generation. As events show, we are now that pre-war generation. And it comes with a responsibility that we cannot shirk." General Sir Patrick Sanders,
Chief of the General Staff (CGS)
“Since the invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s Russia is increasingly isolated, and the world is tired of his disinformation narrative. The war has showcased Ukrainian defiance, NATO unity, and provided the most potent accelerant to the changes already evident in 2021."
“We recognised this moment and mobilised with a clear purpose; to protect the nation by being ready to fight and win wars on land.
“We are responding to the operating environment that we see in Ukraine. For example, I am struck by the fact that in the evolving Ukraine drone campaign, 40% of losses are attributed to pilot error."
“When the electro-magnetic spectrum is so heavily contested, automation fails, and the skill of the pilot predominates. We need ‘war fighters’ – whether they are cyber specialist, drone pilots or infantry soldiers – to be stronger, faster, more intelligent and more resilient.”
CGS said that by the end of this year, the Army “will form a new UAS Group within a reorientated Joint Aviation Command, which will provide a focal point for industry, around which we intend to develop the next generation of UAS platforms in ever closer partnership.”
Future Soldier and training
General Sanders detailed some of the key upcoming changes to the structure of the British Army following its Future Soldier transformation, such as:
- 1st (UK) Division taking 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team under its command and becoming a land component command of a joint and multi-domain sovereign Global Response Force (GRF) by 2024, as “an agile tool of foreign policy able to deliver rapid global effects and be first to the fight. This is a return to fielding a second battle-winning division HQ.”
- 3rd (UK) Division being enhanced to warfight under the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) – the UK’s NATO Corps – while the Army’s Special Operations Forces will be offered to NATO for the first time.
CGS also told the DSEI audience about the founding of a Soldier Academy:
“Marking the most significant step in professionalising military leadership since the Royal Military College was founded in 1801, we’re implementing the British Army Soldier Academy this year and the British Army NCO Academy next year to maximise the potential of every soldier and equip our NCOs with the skills they need to meet the demands of the modern battlefield."
“We are investing in our people and perhaps your future employees because it is not armies that win wars – nations do – and it is our combined strength that provides the UK’s deterrence.”
Data and the digital age
General Sanders said:
“Data is our second most valuable asset behind our people. The Army’s approach to data will define our ability to adopt Artificial Intelligence at pace and scale for whole force benefit, in a human-centric, trusted and responsible manner."
“The Army AI centre is already-in-being, and there are over 25 projects underway across the Army with more starting each week.”
CGS said that the Army will be doubling its Cyber and Electronic Warfare Signals Intelligence (EWSI) workforce, feeding hundreds into the National Cyber Force:
“We already deliver Europe’s largest global cyber exercise (Ex Cyber Marvel) and, with an investment of £1.3billion into a full range of world-leading mounted EW, SIGINT, Cyber and ECM capability, we are accelerating the Army towards data centricity and digital transformation.”
Land Operating Concept and equipment
CGS spoke about the Land Operating Concept (LOPC) which predicts changes to the likely character of conflict and defines how the Army will respond.
General Sanders said that the LOPC is “the most robustly evidenced and inclusive piece of conceptual thinking that the Army has produced in over three decades. This places the British Army at the intellectual edge of land warfare, able to lead in NATO and support our sister services across all domains.”
Ajax is proving to be one of the most advanced family of AFVs in the world. It is in the hands of our soldiers now, trials are progressing well and they tell me that they are blown away by its capabilities. CGS
CGS also said:
“Together, we will seize the opportunity presented by the Defence Equipment plan which gives the Army £41billion over ten years."
“Our job is to responsibly commit this money and demonstrate a return on that investment, to generate credible warfighting capability, and contribute to an increasingly vibrant industrial base, skills, and exports. We have a tested and robust plan; and we are ready to implement it.”
“Ajax is proving to be one of the most advanced family of AFVs in the world. It is in the hands of our soldiers now, trials are progressing well and they tell me that they are blown away by its capabilities."
"It’s been described to me as an AH64E on tracks, boasting a truly revolutionary ISTAR suite capable of fusing optical, thermal and acoustic feeds into a single display. Its stabilised 40mm cannon provides exceptional lethality. And it won’t stand still – spiral development will see frequent upgrades."
“Boxer is poised to set the new standard for armoured vehicles worldwide as we add 350 vehicles to our fleet over the next five years. Its agility, protection and adaptability provide formidable capability and make it a world-class solution for international partners seeking cutting-edge armoured vehicles.”
Featuring over 1,500 defence and security exhibitors, DSEI 2023 brings together governments, the armed forces and industry representatives from all over the world.
Over 40,000 people from around 100 countries are expected to attend this week.
As the largest defence and trade show globally, held every two years, the theme for DSEI 2023 is achieving an integrated force.
Defence, through key events like DSEI, is a driver of national prosperity. The UK is the second largest defence exporter in the world, selling equipment worth £14billion last year and supporting more than 260,000 British jobs.