As set out in the refreshed Integrated Review of Defence and Security and the Defence Command Paper, the United Kingdom faces multiple security challenges, with the invasion of Ukraine destabilising the global landscape.
Against this backdrop, the Army has a fundamental purpose – to protect the nation by being ready to fight and win wars on land. It will deliver this by evolving to become more lethal, more agile, more expeditionary and more resilient.
The Army Expo demonstrates:
- The purpose of the Army and our current commitments at home and abroad
- The importance of our people and the wider value of the Army to the UK
- Ukraine: the Army’s contribution and the implementation of lessons learned from the conflict
- How the Army is mobilising, including changes to how we will fight
- How the Army is modernising and strengthening our partnerships with industry
- Our vision and aiming mark for the future – a Land Operating Concept to inform our equipment programmes and operational processes
In an increasingly unstable world following the invasion of Ukraine, the Army must ensure that it is ready to deliver against its purpose: to protect the nation by being ready to fight and win wars on land. The Army is continuously ensuring that it is combat credible, and ready for the fight.
The Army is training and operating across the globe with 9,000 troops routinely deployed. These deployments test our people in demanding environments, working with allies and partners to practice our warfighting tactics, and demonstrate our ability to project military power.
Key to all of this is the UK’s leading role in NATO. The alliance has been strengthened as a result of Russian aggression in Europe. The NATO Summit in Vilnius in July 23 has announced changes to the NATO structure, and how it will operate in the future.
Whilst the Army’s focus is preparing for conflict overseas, the training our troops undergo ensures we are just as ready to answer the nation’s call at home. We routinely adapt our capabilities to undertake a range of wider activities which benefit the UK, such as building temporary hospitals during the pandemic. The Army’s scale, resources, and expertise ensure that we are able to assist the civilian authorities during times of crisis.
The Army’s greatest strength is its people. It is one of the largest public sector employers in the UK with over 100,000 regular and reserve personnel, civil servants and contractors.
Our people represent every section of society, and we prepare them for the challenges and opportunities they will face throughout their careers inside or outside of the Army.
As an engine for social mobility, the Army is particularly proud of its record in delivering apprenticeships, recently named the top provider in the UK for an unprecedented third year running.
This, and other training delivered by the Army makes our people more employable and it is estimated to provide an economic value to the nation of more than £550 million per annum.
The Russian invasion into Ukraine impacted our national defence priorities. As part of the wider UK and Defence contribution, the Army has led Operation Interflex, training 19,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the UK.
We have also granted Ukraine vital equipment to help their fight, and more than half a million pieces of equipment have been sent in 2023 alone. This has included Challenger 2 main battle tanks, artillery, anti-tank weapon systems and much more.
The war has also challenged us to think about how we prepare our people for combat and whether our approach remains fit for purpose on the 21st Century battlefield. These lessons have shown where prioritised investment is required to deliver the equipment we need to fight and win, including: electronic warfare and signals intelligence, air defence, long-range fires, uncrewed aircraft systems, and logistics.
The Army is mobilising, learning from the war in Ukraine to develop the Field Army’s ‘How We Fight in 2026’ vision. Optimising how we fight today using current resources and incorporating cutting-edge technology will allow the Army to meet the challenges of peer-on-peer conflict.
‘How We Fight 2026’ is about doing things differently, with what we have now. The concept will be delivered through a series of training exercises and experiments – already underway. Some of the central elements include:
Fighting the Deep Battle differently
Ukraine has shown that striking the enemy far behind their frontline can be decisive. We are testing how to do this better… taking advantage of advances in big data, linking our existing information systems and adding our long-range weapons to that network. This will help us to make decisions more quickly than the enemy. We will force them to operate at a place and time of our choosing… striking them in their rear areas.
Delivering Command and Control differently
Our deployed headquarters will be leaner. Making them smaller will make them more agile and increase their survivability… harder to find on the battlefield and easier to reposition more quickly. To support this reduced footprint, we will deliver as much data storage, analysis and processing power as possible from a supporting headquarters based back in the UK.
We are embarking on a ‘decade of delivery’ with at least 11 new vehicle platforms and nine major upgrades scheduled. The war in Ukraine underscores the importance of delivering this modernisation at pace.
We cannot wait for perfection and are taking swift decisions to bring equipment into service quickly. This was demonstrated by the recent purchase of the interim Archer artillery system, procured faster than other programmes had achieved, through our Rapid Acquisition Team which will see 14 guns in service with the British Army next year.
Our modernisation efforts are guided by our Land Industrial Strategy; helping us to contribute significantly to UK prosperity and growth. Our strategy recognises the social value within Defence’s investment, and the Land Industrial Base directly supports at least 10,000 jobs across the UK.
Across our modernisation programmes, especially BOXER, CHALLENGER 3, and WATCHKEEPER – an uncrewed aircraft system - we are seeking to support our defence industry by realising the export potential of UK Land equipment.
If the Army is to deliver a force ready to face the threats of the future, it requires a long-term vision. To do this it must understand the challenges it will encounter whilst being agile enough to react to crises when they occur.
The Army’s new Land Operating Concept is the starting point for this vision - the Army’s battle-winning hypothesis for how it will protect the Nation into the 2030s and beyond by being ready to fight and win wars on the land. It underpins our combat credibility, acts as the foundation for Army doctrine and enables us to prioritise long-term investment and capability development.
The work underpinning the concept has identified the continuities of war, and the likely changes to the character of conflict over the next decade. It defines how the future Army will fight, balanced against competing demands across the globe – prioritising in collaboration with Defence, allies and partners.
Just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, behind a metal fence and in front of thousands of summer tourists, the famous Wellington Barracks has been transformed from a location more used to seeing ceremonial drill, to an open air theatre telling the story of the British Army today, tomorrow and the future.
The Defence Command Paper Refresh published today (18 July), takes learnings from the war in Ukraine – and wider threats to our security – and sets out a plan to deliver a credible warfighting force that will keep us on track to act as a global heavyweight both now and in the future.
The Army’s next generation all-terrain armoured vehicle will begin to be put through its paces this month in a series of special trials.
A £20 million contract has been awarded, securing the hardware for the next phase of tests on a cutting-edge new rocket and missile protection system for Britain’s Challenger 3 tanks.