by Philip Ingram MBE
I was fortunate to be invited to a very closed briefing and discussion with the British Army’s Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Ivan Jones, on Tuesday with only one other defence commentator Lincoln Jopp.
We had a good 90+ minute of two on one time discussing the rebalancing detailed in the press release below, including the reformations of the Army’s 6th Division. The real challenges in delivering an Army capability to meet current threats, most of which are well below the threshold of war fighting or where you would see traditional military capabilities intervening.
It is not the final answer as to what is needed as that requires not just an Army approach but a whole defence approach and with the new Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, being a veteran and the longest serving Security Minister proper to his current appointment, we have a minister who understands.
General Ivan was clear that this was a journey for the Army, starting with small adaptive steps enabling a better cycle of rebalancing for the future as threats evolve and develop. He was also clear that his remit was and could only be focused on the Army only.
The rebalancing, within current assets is a very necessary start emphasising the importance of capabilities that were closely held before in an organisation, not formation, called Force Troops. Grouping them into a formation with an identity and history puts them on the same footing as other elements and that is the first win in a psychological and information battle to recognise their value.
It also recognises the vital importance of maintaining a Division focused on high intensity armoured warfighting, 3rd Division, which I emphasised was the Army’s strategic capability as it kept the UK able to fight at the highest intensity with an Armoured Divisional formation alongside the Americans. No other NATO nation can do this.
With the 1st Division providing much of the capabilities needed to meet all of the tasks that develop on a regular basis around the globe, emphasising the Army’s contribution to the UKs P5 responsibilities and global reach, 6th Division can support those daily operations whilst contributing to the countering of more asymmetric attacks happening on a daily basis.
This restructuring is not the answer to everything and nor will or can it meet all current threats, but it is the first step in a journey and that first step gives a series of capabilities a Divisional command and control structure akin to the other capability providing divisions, and for the new division with psychological warfare in its structure, that rebranding is important in influencing future Army force development.
The Press Release from an earlier press update is here:
Army restructures to confront evolving threats The Army has outlined its plans to rebalance the Field Army to ensure that it can compete with and defeat adversaries both above and below the threshold of conventional conflict. Lt Gen Ivan Jones, Commander Field Army (CFA), has described plans for rebalancing his command which will see changes to the structure of the Field Army’s primary formations. Lt Gen Ivan Jones, Commander Field Army said: “The character of warfare continues to change as the boundaries between conventional and unconventional warfare become increasingly blurred.
The Army must remain adaptable and evolve as a fighting force. The three complementary British Army Divisions harness the wide range of British Army capabilities, providing choice to the Government in defence of the UK’s interests. Whilst retaining its operational focus, the intention is to rebalance the Army’s formations in order to meet the challenges of constant competition and maintain its high-end warfighting capability. Lt Gen Jones added: “The Field Army must build on the strong foundation of the 3rd Division’s world class warfighting force. 1st Division provides specialist soldiers and equipment to develop other nations’ armies, deal with disaster and humanitarian crises worldwide and enable our warfighting division. 6th Division focuses on Cyber, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence, Information Operations and unconventional warfare through niche capabilities such as the Specialised Infantry Battalions. “The speed of change is moving at a remarkable rate and it will only get faster and more complex.” This change will be integrated within broader Defence, national and alliance efforts and enable the Field Army to operate and fight more effectively above and below the threshold of conflict.
The Field Army rebalancing is part of the Army’s response to the emerging Defence thinking and will create a Field Army of integrated, interdependent and complementary formations from 1 Aug 2019. 1st (United Kingdom) Division (1 (UK) Div) with its blend of lighter infantry, logistics, engineers and medics will provide more strategic choice and a range of capabilities, conducting capacity building, stabilisation operations, disaster relief and UK resilience operations. It will include: 4th (Infantry) Brigade, 7th (Infantry) Brigade, 11th (Infantry) Brigade, 51st (Infantry) Brigade, 8th Engineer Brigade, 102nd Logistic Brigade, 104th Logistic Brigade, 2nd Medical Brigade; 3rd (United Kingdom) Division (3 (UK) Div) will remain as the Army’s primary armoured warfighting force comprising: 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade, 1st Artillery Brigade, 101st Logistic Brigade, 25th Engineer Group, 7th Air Defence Group; 6th (United Kingdom) Division. The re-designation of Force Troops Command (FTC) to 6th (United Kingdom) Division (6 (UK) Div) will provide the Army’s asymmetric edge , orchestrating Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence, Information Operations, Electronic Warfare, Cyber and unconventional warfare. 6 (UK) Div will include: 1st Signal Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, 77th Brigade and the Specialist Infantry Group.
There will be no changes to personnel numbers, resourcing, cap badges or locations. 1st August marks the rebirth of a Division which served throughout the First World War and during the Second War. More recently, 6 (UK) Div was formed between 2008-2011 and deployed to Afghanistan as Headquarters Regional Command (South).
Analysis was provided by Philip Ingram MBE a former Colonel in the British Army and an Intelligence and planning expert. If you would like any further comment from Philip, please contact him by clicking HERE