British Army's Budget Gutted Once Again


Verified Military
Sep 7, 2006

Units including the Parachute Regiment, the SAS and the Household Cavalry are understood to be among those unaffected as the Government dramatically reduces the size of the Army.
However, it comes at a price, as the axe will fall on support units, leading to concerns that it will leave the Services “unbalanced”. When the Army was deployed to Helmand in 2006 only a third of the 3,150 troops were infantry — the rest were combat support troops and engineers.
Among those facing steep reductions in numbers are the Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Artillery.
Military planners say the reductions were forced on them because of David Cameron’s promise that “no infantry cap badges should be lost” when the Army is cut from 100,000 troops to 82,000 by 2020.
Defence sources say the ruling was imposed because the Government did not want to be subjected to the same “rearguard’ action that befell the Labour government in 2004 when it attempted to axe famous regiments, including the Black Watch and the Green Howards.
As part of the restructuring — known as Future Force 2020 — the number of infantry battalions will reduce from 36 to 25. The “untouchables” are understood to include the entire Household Division, which is composed of the five Foot Guard battalions — the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards — as well as the Household Cavalry, composed of the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards.
The Parachute Regiment, which supplies more than 50 per cent of the troops to the SAS and the majority of soldiers for the Special Forces Support Group, will remain as a three-battalion regiment.
The Royal Irish Regiment, the last single battalion regiment in the Army, will also escape the axe.
Among the less “glamorous” units, the Royal Logistic Corps is facing a cut of 25 per cent down to 12,000 soldiers, although its bomb disposal arm, which has grown in recent years to deal with the improvised explosive device threat in Afghanistan, will remain untouched.
The Corps of Royal Engineers will be reduced by 30 per cent to 5,500 troops, with a similar cut to fall on the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The 15 Royal Artillery regiments will be reduced by a third to 5,000 troops, with almost its entire fleet of AS90 self-propelled guns being mothballed or held at “readiness” by territorial units.
The five tank and five reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps are also facing a similar reduction, with many of the tanks being passed to Territorial Army units and held at “readiness” so they can be brought into action when needed.
The Army Air Corps will see some of its older helicopters, such as the Lynx, being axed, but its fleet of Apache Helicopter Gunships, which counts Prince Harry among its pilots, will not face any reductions.
The infantry units at greatest risk of cuts are those of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which will lose one or possibly two of its five battalions.
The regiment has struggled to recruit for many years. Both the Yorkshire Regiment and the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, which recently had members killed in Afghanistan, and The Rifles, are also thought to be vulnerable.
There is also a growing view within the Army that the Gurkhas should be axed before “any British regiments go to the wall” .
All infantry regiments will discover their fate in the coming weeks. After 2020, the regular Army’s 82,000 soldiers will be supported by 30,000 territorial troops.
It will be composed of five multi-role brigades together with 16 Air Assault Brigade, the Army’s high-readiness rapid-response unit.
Under the new structure commanders will move away from “enduring operations” such as Iraq or Afghanistan, and instead focus on short-term “contingency operations” such as in Libya, where Special Forces supported rebels.
The Army will remain committed to “homeland resilience”, such as supplying assistance to the Government during strikes or times of national crisis, such as the foot and mouth epidemic.
A special cadre will also be created to provide what has been called “upstream engagement” — where military trainers deploy to foreign countries in an attempt to prevent future conflicts.
But months of redundancies being announced, and what has been described as an “unrelenting” assault on the organisation’s terms of service, have resulted in a “catastrophic” collapse in morale among the “institutional Army” — those troops not on operations.
The Army will announce another 3,000 redundancies in June but sources said 70 per cent of the number required had been filled by volunteers.
One senior officer said: “The future is more uncertain and complex than it has ever been and to deal with this we are creating the smallest Army the country has seen for more than 100 years — added to that, defence is broke. That is not the basis of a good strategy. It is a dangerous way to do business.”
Maj Gen James Everard, the Assistant Chief of the General Staff, said: “The Army needs to adapt to the operational challenges of the future. Enhanced capabilities in a range of priority areas will be achieved through reductions in, for example, heavy armour and artillery.
“Some regular force tasks will be assumed by a much enhanced Army reserve. All of these issues are currently the subject of a review.”

Down to just 25 regular (active duty) battalions. wow, they are a mere shell of their former selves.
I read recently that the British Army once had 500 Challenger tanks, that number is now 50!

Smallest British Army in 100 years, 82,000 men.
A real shame.
As a total outsider a few items jumped out at me. Some of the cuts make sense and I wish our Army would do the same (target the fobbits), however:

- Cut the artillery by a third? You don't "grow" competent artillery overnight.
- Transferring/ shifting more roles and significance to the TA. This is kind of the model the US Army had prior to WWII. The move suggests that the UK believes it will have the time to activate the TA and bring them up to speed. Our NG was an abomination on 9/11 because of funding shortfalls, so how much emphasis (money) will be given to this new "caretaker" role of the TA?
- "Upstream engagement" FID is the flavor du jour I guess. It will be interesting to see how that is implemented, especially selection and training.
- It is nice to se that UKSF won't be targeted.
Cutting the active Army and using TA is the same thing I see happening here in the USA. It's cheaper to call up a reserve unit than pay/house etc... them 24/7 until they are needed, sure, but the loss of experience/competency/continuity make this a terrible idea IMO.
They are doing the same here, it seems like all our fearless leaders are talking to each other. The only reason why we have a competent Reserve Force now is because we've been at war for over a decade.
I honestly believe that the majority of support roles in the military should be contracted out or if we're to keep those positions in uniform they should belong in the RC. Day-to-day support of the active components should be civilians with a small percentage of their uniformed peers existing to provide contractual oversight and forward support in time of war.
Damn. I didn't realize the British Army was that small. :ehh:

I honestly believe that the majority of support roles in the military should be contracted out or if we're to keep those positions in uniform they should belong in the RC. Day-to-day support of the active components should be civilians with a small percentage of their uniformed peers existing to provide contractual oversight and forward support in time of war.

I agree, up until the point that we get in another real war. Contract logistics is great in Iraq & Afghanistan, but when it's time to roll across the 38th, the support needs to be from soldiers, not contractors.
Ive been dealing with First Army a lot for the last month +, they are for the most part reserve Soldiers undertaking their 2 week annual training, they are also for the most part bloody useless. Most training they've given is bullshit, alot of them are not subject matter experts at all, just reading the paper in front of them and unable to answer pertinent questions asked by people just weeks away from going to war. The training restrictions are fucking pathetic (if a medic gives an IV, even if for practice, the person getting the IV must go to a real hospital as a real patient :rolleyes: )
How many IVs have we given? 0

Needless to say, I'm not a fan.
I was under the impression that the Sultan of Brunei kicked in for the half of the Gurkhar Brigade that he utilises.

There are still Gurkha units in the UK itself, maybe they are referring to them.
The Gurkha Brigade has a couple of Infantry battalions, one in Brunei, the other in the UK and they rotate ever few years, they also have their own Signals, Engineers and Logistics Regiments, a training Company at the Infantry training Centre at Catterick, a couple of demonstration companies at Sandhurst and the Infantry Battle School at Brecon, their own training team, a language school and a band.
If there is a cut, I'd imagine it would be at the Engineer and Logistic Regiment level.
I honestly believe that the majority of support roles in the military should be contracted out or if we're to keep those positions in uniform they should belong in the RC. Day-to-day support of the active components should be civilians with a small percentage of their uniformed peers existing to provide contractual oversight and forward support in time of war.

I agree, up until the point that we get in another real war. Contract logistics is great in Iraq & Afghanistan, but when it's time to roll across the 38th, the support needs to be from soldiers, not contractors.

Free, I also disagree to an extent. Contractors can rapidly fill a specific need, and once the purpose has been exhausted, dismissed. In the same vein, they bring more subject matter experts to a specific project with hopefully fresh eyes to ensure the solution they help create is a long lasting and forward thinking one. Long term direct support within the military for peace-time requirements? Not a good idea.

Not all contractors *care* and if your civilian Shmedlap Technical Advisor decides they don't feel like deploying, they can just up and quit. Then your unit(s) they supported, are fucked and have to fumble to make up the difference.

There are tons of positions currently filled by long term GS employees (who get paid more and cost more than soldiers) and contractors, that can/should be filled for cheaper by servicemembers.

There's servicemembers who have been forced out of the military due to medical reasons who are completely capable of filling those positions with minimal schooling or OJT. Why should CIF be staffed with civilians when we've got guys who can't fight but sure as hell know the TA-50 to make sure you get the right shit the first time? Administrative jobs behind a desk? Railhead work for deploying units for training or otherwise?

The cost to the military and government in general would be negligible. After all, you're already going to be paying them disability and medical benefits (albeit out of the VA wallet, not DOD) at pretty much the same facilities that they'd be using anyway, they're still going to be using the px/commisary and post features if they choose to live nearby...

Hell, freeze their pay grade at that point. Just using me as an example... you could either pay E-5 pay of a whopping what, 2800 a month, and get work out of me, or pay 1700 a month and have nothing to show for it other than a lighter wallet.

I know I would have, and I know other guys that have been medded out for various reasons, been perfectly happy working at CIF or any other function on post. Ammo depot, range control, post loaner weapons depot, etc etc etc. Fuck, gate guard. Meanwhile, it's a location that individuals can also be able to do the rehab/etc if it's long-term shit they need, with an opportunity to re-eval and either reclass back to a uniform, or return to duty into the tradoc rotation for the goon jobs and push the able-bodied chickens who haven't deployed in a 10 year war out of those hidey holes. Side benefit of that, the chicken shits who haven't deployed will probably not re-enlist nor retire if they're that damn scared of it.. or refuse to deploy and resign on the spot.

No big loss there, tbh.

I'd like to discuss this at depth. Perhaps since you're a contractor and well versed on that side, Free, you could start it off and we could see where it goes?
I also agree contracting is not the answer. You pay a premium cost for contracting. No money is saved. Domestically contracting should be a short term answer. It is cheaper and more efficient long term to put someone in uniform or make them a GS. The other problem with contracting is you get what you pay for and nothing more. Over seas is another issue.

As a nation we don't even know how many people are actually working for the government these days because nobody can say with any accuracy how many contract people are actually working for the government long term. Government employment has shrunk drastically but they have been merely replaced them with a higher cost permanent "contract" employee. We focus on the number of people and ignore the actual costs of getting the job done and in today's environment it is easier to pay twice as much for a contractor to do the same job then it is to add another person to the government payroll.

What we should be doing is treating this as a contract to hire employment option. Evaluate the talent and keeping the good talent and shipping the none performs back out of the system.
You all make good points and just to be clear up front, my arguments aren't based on me being a contractor, rather they are based on me spending an incredible amount of time out here.

I won't argue that contractors/ civilians are "the" solution, but here's kind of what I envision:

The majority of your garrison support is done by those not in uniform and RP makes a great argument for how to fill some of those roles. I can't speak to the civilian/ GS side of the house, but contractors can be fired "easily" in the grand scheme of things, so a failure to perform can be addressed by the contracting officer/ customer. I totally agree about the deployment issues, but again, I would use two different "types"/ "tiers"/ "contracts" based on peacetime and wartime missions. Your stateside folks don't deploy and if done properly they don't need to. The military SHOULD retain the capability to operate without contractors for 6 months to a year. Once the need for follow on contracting is determined then you hire a different group to support those downrange elements.

The real impetus for my argument is watching the military, specifically the Army and the Air Force, attempt to run bases like Bagram and Kandahar. The rotational nature of the deployments has created a "transient" or "tourist" mentality. They don't care about long-term solutions because for many they aren't coming back. I have witnessed time and time again some variation of "I can't finish this during my rotation so I'll pass it on to the next guy" and it has delayed some projects by 2 years. I've also witnessed the inability of the military to manage bases of this size, particularly with the infrastructure. Maybe it is because they are placing officers and NCOs in roles they've never done before, maybe it is because they don't care...I just don't know the cause, but the inefficiency of these bases and the waste of money is tremendous.

One other factor is how units are deploying and the footprint they create. The Army will bring the entire unit even if it only needs a third of those soldiers. The rest are used (poorly) as day labor or their NCOs forget about them or they just follow one NCO from place to place without learning anything (I see this a lot in Signal/ Comm), but we have too many fobbits in uniform. Maybe other contracts have too many contractors but on mine for example we have 14 contractors doing the work of roughly double the same number of airmen. I'm not implying that those airmen are lazy or technically incompetent, far from it, but I've seen when this job was performed by airmen and now by contractors and those numbers hold true. The AF would deploy more airmen to do the same job as half that number of contractors. There were similar plans, ultimately changed when the workload changed, to replace 65 airmen with 35 contractors on another contract.

As to cost, I've had several anti-contractor officers admit that the numbers they've seen indicate that it is cheaper in the long run to have contractors over servicemembers. I have not seen the studies or reports, but I found it interesting that openly hostile officers would concede that point.

I'm not entirely advocating all contractors all the time, but when it comes to force shaping I think we can do better. I also don't know if the solution is contractors vs. GS employees, but properly handled I imagine that it is easier to fire an underperforming contractor than a government employee. The key is in the contract and how it is written. A poorly written contract will leave holes and gray areas easily exploited by the lazy. Write contracts properly AND provide the proper QA on the contractors and performance isssues would not occur. I have personally witnessed our QA Evaluators give us "firewall 5's" because they liked us (fail) and one case when a personal dispute led to us nearly failing a QA inspection. Those issues have ended now that we keep our distance from the QA's.

I just don't think that the huge footprint and vast numbers of CSS troops is the answer and any visitor to Bagram or Kandahar would be stunned to see how many extraneous service members we've deployed.
RE whole units vs "company plus" or whatever.... Without going into huge detail, you understand minimum forces, alert companies, etc... so as such and expanding on that, the vast majority of support do not work on that same level nor truly understand it... and that's part of the problem. That, and then the split command "issue" because more than likely the 'company plus' as an example is not only going to be operationally underneath "authority X" but also probably have to deal with double reporting back to their normal command, a nutroll as to who the fuck is actually supporting THEM, combined focus of a forward deployed element that the commander in the rear who ACTUALLY owns them has to worry about supporting plus conducting whatever stateside business that unit normally does, bla bla bla.

Is it workable with a good command and NCO base? Fuck yeah it is. Really easy for SOF to do, since although everyone bitches about the various higher SOF commands.... I'll admit, I ate/slept/shit better on "smaller unit" shit than I did when it was Batt or even Regiment level stuff... example being afghanistan invasion vs iraq...
Lets start a new thread on contracting, this one is derailed enough.