Thursday, September 30, 2010

European Power Projection and the UK

Military Power Projection is the one item lacking in Europe that prevents the EU from being a super power. While the EU accounts for some 25% of military spending and has over 2 million uniformed personnel it lacks any independent ability to project power outside of its boarders. Without power projection EU foreign policy will never match the unions economic weight. This lack of ability represents a golden opportunity for the UK to further enhance its own foreign military and diplomatic standing.

EU power projection and the USA

Rightly or wrongly the USA has continually criticised the European members of NATO for spending too little on defence. While the USA spends 4% of its GDP on defence the European average is closer to 1.5%. The USA's criticism is that European Nations spend too much on cold war style standing army's and heavy armour and too little on expeditionary capability.

In many ways the USA is correct. However the USA has actively discouraged any for of independent EU military force projection. Officially the USA's position is that the European members of NATO should spend  more on forces able to operate under NATO. America contends that a separate force structure or platforms is wasteful especially given the small budget in the first place for this. Unofficially the US seeks to undermine an independent European capability because it undermines the USA's position in the world as the only super power.

NATO is an American institution. Almost all of NATO's C4ISTAR assets as well as strategic lift and logistics are controlled by the USA. If the EU is unable to operate without the US then EU foreign policy has to be subjugated to American approval.

With the rise of China and a US defence budget that is soon to be squeezed substantially the US is keen to maintain Europe in this position. Delegates are now debating a new NATO power projection strategy. This will see members contribute to what are essentially US lead operations.

The USA is looking down the road. It realises that with Europe on side and NATO accounting for 75% of world military spending as well as nearly 60% of world GDP that China will never be able to compete on equal terms. Indeed Russian and China combined spend only 15% of what NATO spends on defence. No mater how fast China grows it will never come close to matching this.

While the USA and the NATO alliance is vital for insuring world stability we should not feel that we have to subjugate our own foreign and military policy to it. The USA is not always right. At times it is to slow to react such as Bosnia and Rwanda and at other times it is too quick to act such as Iraq and Vietnam. Having a second military force in the west will help to improve world stability not undermine it. NATO should remain an alliance based on defence and mutual security not expeditionary warfare.


If the EU is to have its own power projection capability it needs the United Kingdom. The UK has the largest defence budget in Europe. Other than France its the only country with substantial power projection capability. The UK is the only country in Europe with the C4 ISTAR (Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Targeting and Reconnaissance) assets to actually launch an independent military force. The UK is also the only country in Europe with strategic air and sea lift capability as well as the ability to land a brigade from the sea.

In short if Europe wants to act with out the USA then the one country that can help is the UK. We should take advantage of this by enhancing our own capability to allow European nations to project power through our own force structure. This would allow us to control Europe's ability to act. This would give us effective control of European foreign policy in the way the Germans dictates economic policy. Foreign policy with out the military means to back it up is simply words. He who controls the guns controls the policies.

If we control the military and foreign policy of the worlds largest economic power then we ourselves become far more important in world affairs. Our relationship with the USA will be enhanced. Allies are only allies if they can both bring something to the party. If the US needs us to use European military power then  we become very important to the USA.

Some European nations particularly France are unlikely to like this. However most of the rest are probably well prepared to accept it. Most Europeans care little for foreign intervention. The UK has been the one nation in Europe prepared to fight be it in Kuwait, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone or Iraq.

In order to fulfill this role there are a number of areas where we need to improve our capability. However as I said before Europe spends $200 billion + per year on defence. Most of what we need is already in place.

What capability do we need?

As a starting point we should look at the forces the US deployed in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. While this size of force is probably beyond Europe's means it should give a reference to our ambitions for power projection.

In Operation Iraq Freedom the US deployed the following formations.


3rd Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
101st Airborne Division
1st Marine Expeditionary Force

4 Divisions made up by roughly 15 brigades containing around 250,000 soldiers. This is likley beyond Europe's capability however it should be possible to deploy a smaller force of 180,000 men in three divisions around 10 Brigades.

This force should be able to deploy for up to 6 months. Europe will also need to be able to sustain a force of roughly 90,000 men around 4 brigades for and indefinite period for peace keeping and stabilisation roles.


The US deployed 700 strike aircraft against Iraq 2003. However with even more advances in weaponry this number would not be required in future. A force of 200 strike aircraft should be a sufficient amount for Europe to carry out a large scale expedition.


The US deployed 4 Carriers with battle groups to the region. While this is more than Europe could hope to muster it will be essential to be able to deploy atleast 2 large deck carriers in support of any operation.

What would we need to put in place?


Europe currently has on order

700+ Euro fighter Typhoons
100+ Rafale's
300+ F35 Light II's

as well as numerous F16's tornado's and other legacy platforms.

That's 1100 strike aircraft. It should be possible for European air forces to deploy 200 modern strike aircraft into a region with little difficulty.

Where Europe is lacking is in Intelligence aircraft and command facilities.

The UK can provide most of these assets. With the New Rivet Joint Planes as well as AWACS and ASTOR we can provide most of the Intelligence, Command and Control Europe needs. Where we are short is on long range strategic UAV like Global Hawk. It may be prudent to acquire a capability such as this with the New Taranis UCAV. A long range stealthy platform could easily double in the intelligence role as well as strike.

The other area that Europe is lacking in in stealthy strike aircraft and UCAV's that could kick in the door during early operations. Being able to deploy two carriers to the region with 70 F35 C would allow the UK to dominate Air operations in a European Coalition. In addition a number of Taranis UCAV's deployed from world wide bases such as Diego Garcia and Cyprus would allow us to hit deep strategic targets and air defence sights making way for other Europeans Air Forces flying Rafale and Typhoon.

Strategic Life is another area where Europe is lacking. In total the EU only has 7 strategic lift aircraft. These are all operated by the RAF. Currently the UK along with the rest of Europe plans to buy a substantial number of A400M's. If the UK reduced its purchase of these aircraft and increased its C17's it would be able to help in ferrying coalition force's to theatre.

It may be wise for Europe to purchase a number of Transport and Tanker Aircraft it's self. European NATO members share AWACS a squadron. A similar arrangement could be made using perhaps 20 C17's and 20 A330's. The A330's could double as tankers in the way that the new UK strategic tanker will. With the UK fielding 13 tankers and 14 C17's and a central EU force of 20 C17's and 20 Tankers we would have sufficient logistics to deploy and sustain forces.


It is essential to deploy two large deck carriers for the operation. With 2 on order for the UK and one in existence with the French Navy we almost have this capability. If the UK increased its carrier fleet to three then we could always be assured of two.

In order to facilitate the ability to always have 2 carriers the UK and France should coordinate deep re-fit's of these vessels so that two are never laid up at the same time.

In addition heavy sea lift capability would also be required. Increasing the Number of Point Class RORO to 12 would allow us to deploy a much larger force. We could also see the EU purchase 12 of its own. These could be operated as passenger ferries unless needed in time of War.


If we improve the ability of our Army to deploy forces. Especially giving the TA a heavy armour expeditionary capability then we can look to deploy two TA armoured brigades and two regular army infantry brigades to a theatre. Both of these should be deployed under two divisional HQ's. Our European coalition members can then attach forces up to a brigade in strength to our Divisional HQ's A deployment might look like this

1st Armoured Division

7th Armourd brigade (TA)
1 Mechanised Infantry Brigade (Regular Army)
1 French Armoured Brigade
1 Spanish Infantry Brigade

3rd Mechanised Infantry Division
4th Armoured Brigade (TA)
3rd Mechanised Infantry Division (Regular Amry)
1 German Infantry Brigade
1 Dutch infantry battalions
1 Polish Infantry battalion
1 Italian Infantry battalion

In addition to a Marine Divisional HQ these formations would deploy under a British Corps HQ


We should expand our Marines to include a second Brigade and divisional HQ. These two brigades could be reinforced by other European members forces in the same way as the army however it would likley be at the brigade rather than divisional level.


Germany, France and Italy all have reconnaissance satellites. If the UK could add 5 photo reconnaissance satellites to this then Europe would have a powerful space based intelligence capability. One are that would be lacking is a SIGINT. The UK would be unable to share its Echelon satellite data with the rest of Europe. Again it would make sense for the EU as a whole to invest in perhaps 3 or 4 satellites for this purpose. The data should be made avalable to any EU force. Even if that is a single member.


The UK's Skynet system already has sufficient capacity for a coalition force to operate anywhere in the world.

Increasing our own military expeditionary capability and getting Europe to purchase joint strategic assets would allow Europe through the UK to deploy a substantial war fighting force any where in the world.


Much of the capability we need is already in place. One of the most important things to do would be to practice and demonstrate our capability. An annual exercise deploying a marine brigade and a 5 yearly deployment of a the full Corps would demonstrate our ability to act. It would also help us to smooth out any bumps in command and control.

Coalition of the willing

Europe has 27 members. They will not always agree on military intervention. However if the UK forms the backbone of operations it won't matter. If the Germans don't want to send troops then an Italian brigade could be sent instead or more battalion sized forces from smaller EU nations could be added.

Peace Keeping

After any operation there will be need for some form of stabilisation force. If the regular army can deploy and sustain a brigade sized force and the British Peace Keeping corps could also deploy a light brigade then we could maintain a divisional HQ in the theatre. This could be supplemented by various EU partners. In the example above Germany may not want to send forces for an attack but may be willing to deploy forces after an attack for peace keeping. Again if we form the backbone fo both operations then we can maintain control.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SSTL do it again. Why can't we have our own satellites?

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited the satellite geniuses from Guilford are preparing to launch a fleet of three satellites tasked with high resolution imagery of the earth. The satellites will be able to image objects at a 1 meter resolution.

The most surprising aspect of the program is the price. The entire constellation will cost just £100 million including launch costs.

SSTL were the key partner in building and operating the TOPSAT satellite for the Ministry of Defence. No doubt the new constellation borrows heavily for the technology developed for TOPSAT. The question I have is that if a small British company can finance, build and launch a constellation of spy satellites then why can't an organisation with the worlds third largest defence budget.

Frankly its embarrassing. Military operations are now completely reliant on satellite reconnaissance and we don't have a single recon satellite.

At Least the SSTL imagery is commercially available so we might be able to buy what we need rather than having to constantly beg the US for theirs.

Just to put it in to context £100 million represents less than 1days worth of MOD spending or 2 hours of UK government spending.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Arsenal Ships for the Royal Navy

Arsenal Ships are one of the strange oversights of naval procurement. The relatively low cost and high capability of such a platform would suggest every major navy in the world would have dozens. However to my knowledge no navy has every fielded an arsenal ship and none has any immediate plans to do so.

What is an Arsenal Ship?

The term Arsenal Ship was coined by the US Navy in its procurement plans at the beginning of the last decade. The idea was simple. A low observable vessel almost like a stealth container ship. With a small crew of around 80 and vertical launchers for up to 500 cruise missiles.

Despite its massive firepower the most impressive feature of the arsenal ship was its cost. Initial estimates for the vessels were around $80 million not including missiles.

However with the US Navy eager to gain support for its new $3 billion Zumwalt class death stars the project was cancelled. The project would appear to have been killed off by the navy brass who did not want a new radical, capable and very cheap platform that did not require allot of sailors or commanders. If an arsenal ship for $80 million can launch 500 cruise missiles would you invest $2 billion in a Burke destroyer that can fire a maximum amount on 90 (if carrying no AA missiles) or a carrier costing $25 billion + with its aircraft.

In the end the US Navy did decided to convert 4 of its Ohio class submarines into SSGN each carrying 154 Tomahawks. However this conversion cost $ 2 billion and an Ohio Class boat itself costs around $7 billion a piece. Hardly a cost effective solution compared with an arsenal ship.

Submarines and Cruise Missiles

Submarines are the Royal Navy's only platforms capable of launching land attack missiles. Much has been made of these platforms in recent years. RN SSN's have been the first platforms to launch weapons in every conflict we have fought since Kosovo in 1999.

However a submarine is an expensive platform to launch missiles from. The cost of the New Astute class is over £ 1 billion per boat. The argument is that SSN's or SSGN's can sneak quietly up to an enemy coast and launch a deadly barrage of these missiles before disappearing again.

However this premise is false. Launching a cruise missile is an exceptionally noisy business. It takes an Ohio Class SSGN 8 minutes to launch its full complement of weapons. Those 8 minutes are a life time in anti submarine warfare terms close in to a defended coast.

Instead missiles are launched well our too sea away from enemy defences. Tomahawks have a range of a thousand miles and are themselves stealthy weapons. The New storm shadow missile actually incorporates Low Observable Technology as well as terrain following low level flight. If the missiles are launched well away from the enemy coast then the submarine justification does not hold up. Surface ships are a much cheaper option and equally capable platforms.

Arsenal Ships for the Royal Navy

As so many people point out all the time the Royal Navy is not the US Navy. We don't have 11 super carriers, 1000+ strike planes, SSGN's or $12 billion to spend on death stars and rail guns. In short a low cost Arsenal ship would be ideal for the Royal Navy.

With only 6 Destroyers none of which are able to launch cruise missiles and in future probably only 6 SSN's we are in desperate need of something to up gun the navy's land attack capability. The New Queen Elizabeth class carrier's will go some way to achieving this however with only 2 being built we will not always have one in the right place or time.

Costs’ of the Project

If we assume the vessel will be little more than a cargo ship with some low observable features then we can probably look at a vessel cost of £100 million. The vessel should be armed with a mixture of VLS 41 strike launchers and A70 Sylvia Launchers. This will allow us to incorporate both Tomahawk Block 4 and Naval SCALP or Storm shadow. We will also be able to incorporate any future US or European weapons such as Loitering munitions. Total missile load would likely cost £500 million. That would give us a cost of £600 million around half the cost of a Type 45 or Astute SSN. One vessel would have the cruise missile fire power of 5 US Carrier Battle Groups.

Two vessels could be built. The Vessels would deploy with the Royal Navy's Amphibious Taskforce. This would give us additional strike capacity away from the carriers.

Other Advantages

In the initial US study the ship was designed to incorporate large buoyancy tanks like a submarine to submerge itself and lie very low in the water. A ship like this becomes immensely difficult to sink. This was seen during the tanker Wars of the 1980’s as well as recently by a Japanese tanker hit by a suicide bomber near the Straits of Hombres. With a small crew and relatively cheap cost as well as a high survivability it would also make sense to incorporate one or two 155 mm guns on the ship for shore bombardment. The Germans have shown it is possible to strip the Gun from a land based platform such as the AS90 Braveheart and incorporate it into a ship turret. This was done on a German Frigate with limited room. Incorporating it into a 15-20,000 tonne vessel would be very simple and cheap. Obviously with limited self defence options the ship would not go in alone close to shore however almost every operation we participate in we have basic control of the costal environment. A ship such as this could operate with ease in this position.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Royal Navy That Could Be, The Fantasy Fleet

Much has been made of the demise of the UK since the collapse of the banking sector in 2008. The main argument that has been put forward is that the country can no longer afford to have the military and diplomatic might it has enjoyed in the past. In a world of growing mega powers we can't expect to stay in the top 5 so we should not even try.

Many advocate scaling UK forces back to little more than a Japanese style self defence force with no ability to project power other than a small band of special forces working alongside the USA in a larger coalition.

Getting Facts Right, Where we Really Stand

The United Kingdom only spends 2.2% of its GDP on defence. Even given this we had the worlds second largest defence budget up to 2008 and Even now we have the 3rd largest defence budget. With the likes of Russia in Rapid decline and Brazil and India a long way behind if we can maintain current spending we will maintain this position for quite some time. With a rising population the UK will become the largest economy in Europe by around 2050. In short maintaining the current budget will keep us in the top 5 for the rest of the 21st Century.

The point being is that our perceived decline is none existence. UK defence spending does not take place in a vacuum. Other countries have the exact same problem as we do. When our economy suffers and we cut spending so does every one else. Any decline in the UK military is a result of choice rather than necessity. Compared to the 7% of GDP the 2.2% spent of defence is very small.

If the will existed in the UK to increase our military strength and MOD spending then we could easily afford to cut out a leading position in world affairs and enhance our military and diplomatic standing. The United Kingdoms foreign aid budget is 0.5% of GDP and likley to increase to 0.7% at some point. The only purpose of this budget is to give the UK more influence with developing countries. We send aid money to countries that have space programs such as India we waste millions on dictators and despots all in the name of apparently improving people in the third worlds living standards allowing them to create demand for British goods.

This is nonsense off course. The vast majority of this money does not go to the poor. The apparent allies who we are buying off are flaky at best. As soon as he Chinese come along with a better offer we will likley loose any support we ever had with them. Turning this money over to defence and spending 3% of GDP on the military could massively enhance our standing and win us new allies well at the same time enhancing the defence industry in the UK and creating thousands of new high tech jobs.

Where should the money go?

In my opinion the lions share of this extra money should go to the Royal Navy. Not because we are an island but because the Navy can boost our diplomatic standing more than any other service.

The RAF is the worlds 5th largest air force. Doubling its budget would leave it still as the 5th largest air force in the world. Other than strategic bombers the RAF already has every capability that any other rival in the world has. Simply adding more planes in will give us no additional capability that we don't already have.

The British Army is perhaps the best in the world. However it is small. Its not even in the top 10 in the world. Doubling the armys budget would still not put it in the top 10 in the world. Okay we might be able to deploy a Corps instead of a division on coalition operations but it wood hardly increase our standing in the world.

The Royal Navy is today the worlds second largest in terms of tonnage of the fleet. This position is under threat as both China and India are building allot of new vessels. Doubling the RN's budget would allow it to field a range of capabilities on par with the US Navy. Not in terms of sheer size and numbers but in terms of deployed capability. The very nature of the Royal Navy is one of power projection on a world wide basis. Its the service that can enhance our place in the world in a way that the other two could never do.

What could we get?

The present Royal Navy Budget is £7.5 billion. Shifting the International Aid budget to the Royal Navy Would increase this figure to around £ 15 billion.

How should we spend the money?

The majority of the budget increase should go on power projection capability as well as world wide policing and disaster relief. All these activities enhance our world standing as apposed to EEZ patrol hydro graphic work and Anti Submarine Warfare in the North Atlantic all of which we already do well. With this larger budget I would advocate the following fleet

Aircraft Carriers

3* Queen Elizabeth Class with 36 * F35 C
3* Juan Carlos LHD with Helicopters and 6*F35B

Amphibious Forces

3* Albion Class LPD
6* Bay Class  LSD
6* Point Class RoRo
3* Arsenal Ship (deploying up to 500 cruise missle's)


21* Type 45 destroyers (up gunned with better ASW and larger VLS able to accommodate cruise missile)
10* C2 Medium Vessel Frigate

Minor War Vessels

64 * Venator C3's able to carry out a number of minor war tasks MCM, EEZ patrol

Submarine Force

7* Astute SSN
7* Astute SSGN (fitted with 4 flex tubes for trident or tomahawk)
4 * Vanguard SSBN
4* SSK (ocean going but able to operate in the littorals)


3 * Fast Fleet Tankers
3* Small Fleet Tankers
6* Support Tankers
8* Logistics resupply vessels
1* Aviation Training/Medical Ship
1* Maintenance ship

Royal Marines

The Royal Marines could be expanded to encompass 3 additional battalions allowing a second brigade to be formed. This would see the Marines able to deploy up to a Division from the sea.


The Navy would form around two main task forces

Carrier Strike Group

1* Queen Elizabeth CV
1* Fast Fleet Tanker
1* Logistic Ship
4* Type 45 Destroyers
1* Astute SSGN

Amphibious Ready Group

1* Juan Carlos LHD
1* Arsenal Ship
1* Albion LPD
2* Bay Class LSD
1* Logistics Ship
1* Small fleet Tanker
2* Type 45 Destroyer
2* C3 Minor War Vessel
1* Astute SSGN

Having 3 CSG's and 3 ARG's would allow the Navy to routinely deploy one of each to an Indian Ocean fleet based at Diego Garcia. In addition to this the Indian Ocean Fleet would have 3 SSK's and 18 C3's. The fourth SSK would be back in the UK on deep refit.

The British Indian Ocean Fleet would regularly consist of

1 CV
1 Arsenal Ship
2 LSD's
6 Destroyers
2 SSN's
3 SSK's
20 C3 Minor War Vessels

Able to deploy 42 F35's as well as helicopters, AWACS etc.

Staying at the top table

A fleet like this would make the Royal Navy and by extension the United Kingdom impossible to ignore in world affairs and would guarantee our place in the great powers well into the next centuary.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anti Ballistic Missile System for the UK

One area that has been neglected completely in British defence is Anti Ballistic Missile Defence's. With the rise of rouge states possessing ICBM's capable of carrying WMD warheads this policy seems increasingly naive and dangerous.

Going back to the 80's under Thatcher the British Government has used one of two arguments in justifying its case. Principally the British Government states that it believes in deterrents and the Mutually Assured Destruction they provide. The British Governments official position seems to be that any form of ABM system will undermine this.

The second view is that its better to rely on the US to provide this type of system. The British Government has been happy to allow US Radar installations to be based on British soil to feed into the US ABM system. The MOD seems to see ABM defences as too expensive and of too little ability to make any difference other than giving false assurance to the public. Given that the USA has spent $120 billion on ABM systems since the 1980's and achieved very little in terms of capability it is not hard to see why the MOD has this view.

However there have been major strides in the filed of ABM defences in the last few years. Also the Nuclear threat we face has shifted significantly. While a star wars style system designed to deal with hundreds or even thousands of Soviet war heads is likley beyond technology for 50 or 100 years the ability to intercept one or two very bulky ICBMs launched from Iran or North Korea is feasible.

Over the next decade this type of threat posed by the likes of Iran will likley become Europe's greatest security concern. Burning our head in the sand or relying purely on the USA to defend us is the wrong approach.

How to Defend Ourselves?

While the US has spent a massive amount of money on ABM it has really only built one system that is effective. The SM3 missile launched from AEGIS equipped destroyers and cruisers has generated a 90% success rate against ballistic missiles. The best and most cost effective way for the UK to achieve ABM capabilities would be to replicate this system.

The SAMSON radar of the type 45 destroyer can track a ballistic missile in space. The Aster 30 missile is theoretically capable of intercepting a ballistic missile however it is not specifically designed for this and the Aster 30 lacks the altitude and range to be truly effective as an ABM missile.

The US Navy's SM3 missile was derived from the SM2. Additional software a bigger engine and a terminal intercept vehicle were all added to turn a surface to air missile into an ABM system. Total cost of this program was just under $ 1 billion dollars. Each missile costs around $10 million.

To achieve a cost effective easy to deploy missile system we could either purchase SM3 to fire from our ships or develop an ASTER 45. Given the importance that ABM will have in the future I believe a Aster 45 would be the way to go. We could likley share costs amongst the French and Italians.

Shipped Based Solution?

The US has now begun deploying SM3 armed vessels around North Korea. The US intends to begin deploying these vessels in the Black Sea from 2011. However the US is having major problems maintaining enough of these vessels. A ship based solution offers a number of advantages over a land based system.

Firstly the Russians have expressed major concerns and even threatened to attack land based sights for ABM systems in Poland. However they seem to be accepting of sea based systems.

Secondly the great advantage of a ship is that it can be moved. Iran may not always be our principal threat. New missile threat could develop rapidly and being able to move a vessel into the region is much easier than trying to construct a base in someone else's country. Any host nation would likley be worried that it itself would become a target. Also the warhead has to fall some where and may fall on the hosts territory.

A vessel will likley be able to get in closer to a potential threat. This will allow boost phase interception which is much easier and will also result in the missile falling back on the enemies territory.

ABM as a Deterrent

The threat of massive retaliation is probably of little deterrent to the likes of Iran or North Korea. Caring little for their own people the rulers of these countries will not be preterbed by our traditional MAD style strategy. However if you can only build 5-10 missiles and you have to fire them through a shiled with a 90% intercept success rate you would be very put off. If you lost all of your missiles you would loose your ability to threaten the west.

Much better to never use them and keep them as bargaining chips.

Theatre Defence

With China building and marketing an Anti Ship Ballistic Missile the navy will need the ability to defend task forces from this type of threat. Also any forces deploying in land would also likley face ballistic missile threats. A destroyer could also provide this.

Cost of the System

This is very speculative. Using SM3 as an example we could fund Aster 45 for around £600 million. Assuming Italy and France pick up part of the tab we would likley have to expend £200 million. To deploy the system we would need atleast 3 additional Type 45's. Each additional ship in this class would cost £500-600 million. They would need to be upgraded with a Sylva A70 launcher. The other 6 ships of the class would need the same upgraded launcher. A total cost of £ 2 billion for missile and ship seems likley.

Alternatively we could install VLS 41 Strike Launchers and use SM3 missile. This would be a much cheaper system. However it would leave us lacking in technology that is likley to be crucial in 21st Century Conflicts.

Given that we are prepared to spend £20-25 billion renewing trident a cost of just 10% of that to neutralise ICBM threats seems only prudent.


The vessels would be stationed one at a time in the Black Sea. They would work via NATO patrols with US Ships to provide maximum chance of intercept of any missle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Build Your Own Royal Navy

I have seen a number of fantasy fleet build your own navy post's on US blogs for the US Navy. However I have seen little in the way of this for the Royal Navy. I would like anyone reading to post your own Fantasy Fleet based on the following parameters.

Ship Building Budget of $5 billion per year.

All Ships must be completed in a 20 year cycle so you have a total budget of S100 billion.

You don't have to include aircraft in the cost's but please feel free to choose corresponding helicopter and fast jet fleets that you would want in your fleet.

You don't have to account for any trident replacement in the budget.

You will find a list of warship costs below. This list is borrowed from New Wars. As these ships are from around the world your fleet should be priced in USD. Please feel free to use ships not on the list but include prices.


Astute SSN (UK)-$2,410 million
Barracuda SSN (France)-$1.35 billion
Dolphin SSK (German/Israeli)-$635 million
Gotland SSK (Sweden)-$365 million
Improved Kilo SSK (Russia)-$350 million
Le Terrible SSBN (France)-$3.8 billion
Ohio SSBN Replacement-$7 billion (est.)
Scorpene SSK (Spain)-$825 million
Type 209 SSK (German/Portugal)-$550 million
Type 212 SSK (Germany)-$525 million
Type 214 SSK (Germany)-$500 million
Virginia SSN-$2.4 billion



Cavour CVH (Italy)-$2 billion
Charles de Gaulle (France)-$3.7 billion
CVN-78 Gerald R Ford-$13.5 billion
Queen Elizabeth (UK)-$3.7 billion
George HW Bush-$6.26 billion
Hyuga DDH (Japan)-$1.06 billion
Vikrant (India)-$762 million



DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-$1.8 billion
Daring Type 45 (UK)-$976 million
DDG 1000 Zumwalt-$6 billion



Absalon (Denmark)-$269 million
Bertholf National Security Cutter-$641 million
F100 Bazan (Spain)-$600 million
F105 Cristobal Colon (Spain)-$954 million
De Zeven Provincien (Netherlands)-$532 million
FREMM (Franco/Italian)-$745 million
LCS Freedom-$637 million
Holland (Netherlands)-$169 million
LCS Independence-$704 million
Iver Huitfeldt (Denmark)-$332 millon
Nansen (Norway)-$557 million
Sachsen Type 124 (Germany)-$1.06 billion
Valour MEKO A200 (South Africa)-$327 million
F-22P Zulfiquar (China/Pakistan)-$200 million



Baynunah (UAE)-$137 million
Braunschweig K-130 (Germany)-$309 million
Clyde (Britain)-$47,000,000
Falaj 2 (UAE)-$136 million
Khareef (Oman)-$262 million
Kedah (Malaysia)-$300 million
Knud Rasmussen (Denmark)-$50 million
BAM Maritime Action Ship (Spain)-$116 million
MILGEM corvettes (Turkey)-$250 million
Otago (New Zealand)-$62.6 million
Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago)-$76 million
River (Britain)-$31,400,000
Sarah Baartman/ Damen 8313 OPV (South Africa)-$20 million
Sentinel-$47 million
Sigma (Indonesian/Moroccan)-$222 million
Visby (Sweden)-$184 million



Ambassador MK III (Egypt/USA)-$325 million
Cyclone patrol craft-$31 million
Hamina (Finland)-$101 million
Rotoiti (New Zealand)-$25 million
Skjold (Norway)-$133.5 million
M80 Stiletto-$6 million



America LHA-$3.05 billion
Bay LSD (Britain)-$228 million
Canberra LHD (Australia)-$1.3 billion
General Frank S. Besson LSV-$32 million
KRI Dr. Soeharso LPD (Indonesia)-$50 million
Endurance LST (Singapore)-$142 million
Johan de Witt LPD (Netherlands)-$370 million
Juan Carlos (Spain)-$490 million
Kunlan Shan LPD (China)-$300 million
Makin Island LHD-$2.2 billion
San Antonio LHD-$1.76 billion
Mistral (France)-$529.8 million



Type 702 Berlin AOR (Germany)-$445 million
MRV Canterbury (New Zealand)-$124 million
Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV)-$160 million
Lewis and Clark (T-AKE)-$538 million
USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25)-$199 million
Patino AOR (Spain)-$288 million
Sea Fighter FSF 1-$200 million
Wave Knight Auxiliary Oiler(Britain)–$172 million


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Royal Navy Future Frigates

A recent report from the Royal United Services Institute RUSI has urged the UK Government not to be sea blind and support the Royal Navy with a large number of frigates.

RUSI recommend purchasing around 6 type 26 frigates C1 to join with the 6 type 45 destroyers forming the UK's high end response. They also recommend purchasing 10-12 ocean going frigates. In particular they sight the Danish Absalon as choice for this vessel.

Every forum I read online sites the Absalon class as a shinning example of what a modern friagte should be. However I am not sure if this is the case. Is it a piece of naval procurement genius or a car ferry with a medium gun?

Absalon Class Flex Support Ship

The Absalon is designed as a flexible combat and support ship. It is able to carry multi mission modules with extra armament for the ship or supporting sensors for mine hunting, ASW etc or troop support and disaster relief. The ship has a flex deck nicknamed the bath tub which can employ upto 5 of these modules. On the face of it the Absalon has some impressive specifications.

Displacement: 6,600 tons full load

Length: 137.6 m (451 ft 5 in)

Beam: 19.5 m (64 ft 0 in)

Draft: 6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)

Propulsion: 2 x MTU 8000 M70 diesel engines

two shafts

22,300 brake horsepower (1.66×1010 mW)

Speed: Less than 24 kn (44 km/h)

Range: 9,000 nmi (17,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)

Boats and landing

craft carried: 2 x RHIBs, 2 x SB90E LCP

Complement: 100, plus aircrew and transients (accommodation for up to 300 in total)

Sensors and

processing systems: Thales SMART-S Mk2 3D volume search radar

Terma Scanter 2100 surface search radar

Atlas ASO 94 sonar

4 × Saab CEROS 200 fire control radars

ES-3701 Tactical Radar Electronic Support Measures (ESM)

Electronic warfare

and decoys: 4 × 12-barrelled Terma DL-12T 130 mm decoy launchers

2 × 6-barrelled Terma DL-6T 130 mm decoy launchers

Armament: 1 × 5 inch (127 mm)/54 Mark 45 mod 4 gun

2 × Oerlikon Millennium 35 mm Naval Revolver Gun Systems CIWS

6 × 12.7 mm Heavy machine guns

MU90 Impact ASW torpedoes

VLS with up to 36 RIM-162 ESSM/RIM-7 Sea Sparrow (Mk 56/Mk 48 VLS)

3 x 2 × Stinger Point-defence SAM

8-16 × Harpoon Block II SSM

Aircraft carried: 2 × EH-101 helicopters

Aviation facilities: Aft helicopter deck and hangars

While the Absalon has an impressive array of weapons and facilities perhaps its most impressive feature is its cost. Each ship is reported to have cost just EUR 200 million (£120 million)

Given that the UK has already budgeted the similar sized Type 26 at £500 million per ship a price that is likely to rise this is a very impressive accomplishment for the Danes.


Their is very little criticism of the Absalon. However I will attempt to point out some of the flaws of the design in relation to the UK's need to acquire a medium sized frigate. While the ships large size makes it ideal for disaster relief missions or supporting troops a shore, it surely makes it more of a target. A bigger ship will always have a bigger radar signature. For a carrier or LPD this is not such an issue as you would expect to be surrounded by smaller escorts with proper missile defence systems. However when the vessel itself is suppose to be an escort it seems some what dangerous.

The ship also has a relatively week ASW suite. The main purpose of Frigates is to provide ASW escorts. The Absalon would be of little use in this role. While the ship has a fairly large gun at 127mm for shore bombardment you have to ask that if this vessel was your main task force command ship would you ant it close enough to shore to use this capability.

It is also designed to perform mine hunting duties however would you want to hunt mines on a 6600 tonne all metal ship close into shore and at the same time probably have all your troops and vehicles on board.

Every one hales the Absalon as a great example of cost control and flexibility. In comparison to a frigate the £120 million cost of the Absalon looks cheap. Especially when the similar sized type 26 is already cost ed at more than £500 million. However the Absalon has non of the sonar or quieting mesaures we would expect to see on a high end frigate. Indeed the Absalon is not really a frigate. Its more like a heavily armed LPD. When comparing costs of the Absalon with logistic ships it begins to look expensive. The 6600 tonne Absalon cost £120 million. The 18500 tonne Albion class LPD's come in at a cost of just £300 million each. but provide three times the ship and 5 times the capability of the Absalon in terms of payload.

The Absalon's slow speed also makes it unsuitable for many of the jobs we would expect a frigate to perform. Would you want to try and hunt a submarine that might be travelling at 30+ knots if you could manage less than 24 knots?

Much criticism has been lumped on the navy for choosing too few high end platforms to carry out a number of low end sea control tasks. It is embarrassing watching a $2 billion Burke chasing a small fishing boat armed with AK47's. This criticism is entirely justified however is a 6600 tonne armed car ferry any better for this mission.

What the Absalon does show us is that it is possible to get allot of ship for a much cheaper price than we have come to expect. The question we should be asking is that if the Danes can build just two ships in a class and get a 6600 tonne monster for just £120 million, why cant we get a 3000 tonne global corvette C3 type for £60-£70 million? Allowing us to build them in large numbers.

The Special Relationship in the 21st centuary

One of the main debates in British foreign policy at present is the UK's relationship with the US. The so called special relationship between the two countries has come under much pressure over the last few years. Firstly from the Bush administrations two wars and secondly from the Obama Administrations cold shoulder. The question for the UK is should it continue to pursue close relations with the US at any cost as it has done since 1940 or should it step back from the US and pursue other partnerships.

Special Relationship what do we get?

There are two main areas where the special relationship comes into play. The main area the two countries cooperate on is intelligence. In particular signals intelligence. The UK and the US are the two main partners in the ECHELON system. Canada, Australia and New Zealand also participate in this global listening system. In addition the UK is believed to have paid for construction of one of the NSA's SIGNET satellites and is allowed access to it at any time.

Human intelligence is also another area where we cooperate. The CIA and MI6 have a very long standing relationship. In addition the USA often provides satellite imagery to the UK when required however this type of data has often been slow to be distributed to the MOD.

The second main area of cooperation has been technology. Many advanced technologies produced by one of the two are given to the other. Examples of this over the past 50 years and jet engines, Radar and CHOGOM armour given by the Brits and Nuclear submarine reactors and SLBM's given by the Americans.

In addition to this UK allows the US to operate bases in Ascension Island, Diego Garcia and the United Kingdom itself.

Both countries also cooperate closely on Nuclear weapons. The UK pays part of the costs for Trident and they are believed to cooperate closely on Nuclear weapons design as well as ongoing maintenance and testing.

Indeed there are probably no two nations on earth who cooperate with each other so closely than the UK and the USA. However much of this close cooperation was based on the cold war rivalry with the Soviet Union.

During the cold war the UK relied on the US to guarantee its security from the USSR. The USA relied on the UK to keep sea lanes open from the US to Europe as well as providing air bases to strike at the Russians. With the diminished threat from Russia this is no longer the case.

In recent years cooperation has revolved around the global war on terror. No other country has matched even a tenth of the blood and treasure the UK has expended on Americas wars post 911.

While America can handle operations of any magnitude on its own it does have a relatively small Army. Certainly nowhere near large enough to sustain occupation forces in two countries for a decade or more. Indeed the UK is the only other country in the world capable of deploying and sustain a sufficiently sized and high tech force in the field. Typically in any operation since the 1991 Gulf War the UK has deployed around 15% of the total force. Not an insignificant amount considering what the rest of the world has put in.

Strains in the Relationship

In recent years a number of strains have appeared in the relationship between the two. The US has complained about intelligence being leaked in the UK on numerous occasions. The US has sought to withhold vital technology transfer agreements in relation to the F35. There were also major operational disagreements between the two in Iraq which eventually saw the UK pulling out most of its forces in the south.

While these types of strains can undoubtedly be over looked as short term tensions between two close friends recent events are beginning to put the validity of the relationship into question. Indeed the Obama administration seems to be hell bent on ending the close ties amongst the two countries. Just at the time when the UK has 10,000 personnel in Afghanistan fighting in a war for America.

Obama avoided Gordon Brown at the UN summit to the point that Brown was forced to jump him in the kitchens just to have a word. Hilary Clinton called for the UK to begin negotiations over the Falklands and the White house even referred to the islands as the Malvinas. Obama played up on anti British sentiment when he began to call BP British Petroleum a name the company has not used since 1998.

The main question the UK now has to answer is are these recent events merely the incompetent bumbling of an increasingly unpopular administration or does it represent a major shift in US policy away from the traditional Anglo Saxon cross Atlantic ties towards the new emerging powers of the third world.

Factors to Consider

There are a number of factors to consider when examining the future of the special relationship.

1. The demographics of the US have fundamentally shifted over the last few years. Away from the Anglo Saxon WASP toward the Latino community.

2. The UK has significantly cut its defence budget and now has less to offer the US in return.

3. US strategic policy is moved away from Europe and now focuses on the Asia Pacific region.

With these factors in mind the future prospects for the special relationship look dim. Once current operations in Afghanistan are wrapped up we will probably see a dramatic cooling in relations between the two countries.

Should we be worried?

The short answer to this question is no. American has always pursued its own best interest's even when these were counter to the UK's. This is only natural and we should not recent the US for this. A cooling of this special relationship can allow the UK to begin rebuilding its own foreign policy and pursuing its own interests.

While the US is still a fantastically important country to be allied with we do not need to subjugate ourselves to it. The UK and US will always be natural allies. We share tow much in common to be anything else. However with the rise of the mega powers of the 21st century we must be free to pursue other relationships with the likes of Russia, India and Brazil. Close ties with the US can often prevent this as the US seeks to limit our ability to share technology or intelligence.

Also in a world where security threats are dominated by Islamic Terrorist our close relationship with the US can actually reduce our overall security. Its allot easier for Tehran to fire a missile at London than it is as Washington. France has not had any suicide attacks from Muslims angry about the Iraq war.


As the UK is basically the only other country in the world with a significant ability to employ force's at a great distance as well as one of the only other nations with advanced weapons techoigy we now have a great opportunity to enhance our standing in the world.

What should we do?

Firstly we must enhance our military capability. If we increase defence spending from 2.2% of GDP to 3% we could significantly enhance our capabilities. We can also turn the lion share of our military budget away from European defence to power projection.

Britain represents the lynch pin of NATO. The UK now represents the main bridge between an increasingly belligerent EU keen to pursue its own military program and an increasingly apathetic USA who sees the Europeans as not contributing enough to the Alliance.

Leaving NATO would be a mistake. It is still the world’s greatest military force; however NATO should remain an alliance for European defence rather than a force for power projection and peace keeping. Instead we should focus on enhancing our own independent strategic capability and focus on helping the rest of Europe do the same.

With the largest defence budget in Europe we could get our EU partners to build their own power projection abilities around ours. By doing this we can have the biggest single influence on European foreign policy.

To do this we must enhance our Navy in particular. With a larger Navy built around Aircraft carriers and large scale amphibious forces we can give Europe the ability to intervene militarily across the world. Something it can’t do at present. In addition we must re build the British Army on light more deployable forces becoming almost a marine corps for Europe.

We must also enhance our C4ISTAR ability allowing Europe to deploy without US assistance. A major part of this will be in space based systems especially reconnaissance satellites. Operating a joint European capability may be the best way to do this.

If we enhance our own capability and the ability of Europe to deploy forces through us we can only improve our relationship with the US. Indeed in the future the US will need Europe to give it strategic weight to counter China. Making our selves the centre of this relationship will force the USA to pay more attention to us. If we have more to offer we can ask for more.

We should also look to pursue military equipment programs on our own. Indeed without the UK most European military projects would never happen. IF European allies have the choice to buy from Britain, France or the USA we will probably find ourselves to be the main benefiter. This will bring a large boom in the UK defence industry giving us a major boost in terms of jobs and making our own programs cheaper and more capable.

Having independent equipment will also allow us to better engage with the rising powers of the third world. At present much of our equipment sales can be blocked by the US worried about transfer of their own technology. If we make our own weapons systems this would cease to be a problem.

Rest of the World

There are a number of nations that we should seek to engage within the 21st century. It is far better to engage with them now from a position of strength than in the future from a weaker position. Indeed this is no different to the way the UK handled the USA in the late 19th century. turning an enemy into an ally.

The most important relationship to develop should be India. While the UK and India a fairly warm diplomatic relationship it does not go nearly far enough. The main area where we need to improve is military cooperation.

Basing a permanent Royal Navy fleet in the Indian Ocean would allow us to train and deploy together. Furthermore we should give them access to our advanced weapons technology allowing India to become a much needed counter to China.

The UK maintains the 5 powers defence agreement in the Asia pacific region. This includes Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. We should seek to enhance this arrangement and Bring India into the fold.

In recent years the US has sought to enhance its presence in the region in particularly North East Asia and the pacific to counter the rising ambitions of China. Britain along with India could look to match this in the south and Indian Ocean.

We could also lobby for India to gain a place on the Security Council. Indeed it is ridiculous that India is not already on the Security Council. If the UK uses its diplomatic ties with France and the USA as well as the pressure that India itself could bring on Russia and China this should be achievable.

If we seek to reform the security council now on our own terms if will be better than holding on to our present position for as long as possible only to be subjugated at some point in the future when our position as one of the 5 is untenable.

We could also look to do something similar for Brazil as a way of engaging with a country which will undoubtedly be an essential ally in the future for us.

Our relations with Russia should be handled principally through the EU. Quite simply it is in everyone’s interests that Russia comes into the fold of European nations. Eventually the Russians will realise this. With a large border with China and a rapidly diminishing population the Russians will come looking for Friends. Europe would be the natural country to provide this and we should do everything to facilitate.

China is a different story. There always needs to be a bad guy in the world and in future this is likely to be China. China is large enough and ambitious enough to be an independent power of the first rate. We will never be able to build close ties with them. However we will not necessarily need to have belligerent relations with them. Allie India, Europe and Russia as well as the USA will be enough to check Chinese ambitions in the 21st century. Long enough until China finds democracy as begins to see things in the same way as everyone else.


A cooling of the special relationship is nothing for us to fear. Indeed it may give us the opportunity to enhance our own diplomatic and military standing in the world. Allowing us to deal with the rising powers of the third world on our own terms. Enhancing our diplomatic and military standing can only enhance our relations in future with the USA giving us more to offer a country that will always be our natural ally

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Future British Army

The shape and future direction of the British Army is one of the main focuses of the current SDSR. While parts of the army are more over stretched than every fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other parts especially the armoured brigades have seen little action since 2003.

Much of the criticism of the army is aimed at so called Cold War Relics such has heavy armour and artillery. The main formation that is likely to be chopped in the SDSR is the British Forces Germany. This unit currently consists of the 1st Armoured Division made up by the 7th and 20th Armoured brigades. The formation has around 56,000 personnel based in Germany including RAF and civilians. The prime focus for the unit is Britain's  commitment to NATO under article 5. It is estimated that BFG contributes £1.5 billion to the German economy each year.

Further criticism has also been levied at the Army over its attachment to its historic regiments and battalions. Many have argued that this historic system is out of date in the modern age.

In the wars that we have fought in the past decade 2 formations have been used on every occasion. Especially in the initial phase of kicking in the door. These formations are 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade. Indeed both of these formations have proven invaluable both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many feel that the Army should now move away from its World War 2 style heavy and armoured brigades and move its formations into lighter more easily deploy-able formations.

The SDSR is tasked with looking at what is the right structure for the British Army in the post cold war world where conflicts are likely to be far away from home and fought against asymmetric threats.

Expeditionary Warfare

Before World War 1 and 2 the British Army was always considered to be an expeditionary force. With a strong Navy the UK had little need of the type of large conscript army that France or Germany required. It is my view that the British Army should return to its roots. Shed much of its heavy fixed forces and form lighter rapidly deploy-able brigades and Divisions.

European Defence

With the demise of the cold war Europe now faces a zero chance of a land invasion. Russia now only has a population of 140 million people verses Europe with a population of over 400 million. The EU spends EUR 200 billion a year on defence. It has 1.5 million active personnel with a total force including reserves of 6 million men. In total accounting for around 25% of world military spending. That's more than the rest of the world excluding the United States.

With no conventional threat to Europe from outside and no threat to the UK from inside Europe we can afford to look at re-basing our armed forces for expeditionary warfare. We can rely on the Europeans for heavy land forces and in turn give Europe the type of expeditionary warfare force it so desperately needs.
This will give the UK the leading role in European foreign and military affairs. It will also allow us to maintain and enhance our 2nd in command relationship with the USA.

How to achieve this?

In order to achieve this goal we first need to look at what type of large forces are required. RUSI has studied the UK's future land force requirements. They have come up with two doctrines concerning UK force projection.

The first is the Global Guardian. Under this doctrine we would maintain the ability to conduct a lagre scale operation deploying a Division Sized Force to a theatre. Examples of this would be Desert Storm 1991 or Iraqi Freedom 2003.

The second is Strategic Raiding. Under this doctrine we maintain the ability to rapidly deploy a brigade sized force from the sea if necessary. Not unlike the Falklands campaign.

Sustaining Forces

The other key fact to consider is our ability to sustain forces. While the British Army has had little problem surging forces for door kicking operations like Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, it has found it very difficult to sustain a brigade in Afghanistan. Much of the reason for this difficulty is the unsuitability of major parts of the British Army. Heavy mechanised brigades have not been rotated through putting more pressure on the light infantry units such as the Commando's of 16AAB.

In order to maintain a Brigade sized force with out over stretching these units the Army needs six fully deploy-able Brigades. That would see each Brigade rotated once every three years into a long running war. Further more it would allow us to stand up a brigade for rapid reaction as well.

Maintaining Ability

We also need to maintain our ability to perform other types of operation. As part of a coalition force we need the ability to send atleast a Division Sized Force. The US military is based on Divisions. If we can only deploy a brigade it means our commanders and politicians will have little say in how operations are fought. In addition to these requirements there is also the need for small detachments of peace keepers to be deployed in battle group size formations to numerous hot spots around the world and low intensity conflicts.

Learning from Others

Looking around the world we can see very few examples of what type of force is necessary. Most Europeans as well as the Russians and Chinese have only large non deployable conscript forces. Even the US Army is still a large heavy force which is difficult to deploy.

The best example for the British Army to follow is probably the US Marine Corps. While it specialises in assault from the sea the US Marine Corps has over the past two decades become a second land Army. With lighter more deploy able forces they have generally been the first force to be deployed in every conflict since the Second World War. They have also performed well in the COIN operations of the last decade. While a light force they were sent in on a head long charge against the main body of the Iraq Amry in 1991 and the First Marine Expeditionary Force was one of the main units that was sent into Iraq in 2003. In short they have been able to make a large contribution to every war fought since World War II. It is also likely to be a preeminent force in the types of war we will face in the future.

While Marine Divisions are primarily infantry forces they do also have a battalion of tanks attached to them as well as their own artillery. The Marines deploy around a Marine Expeditionary Force. This constitutes 1 Infantry Division supported by a Marine Air Wing and Marine Logistics Group. In total the Marines have three active Divisions and can deploy a single Expeditionary Force.

Force for the British Amry

While the British Amry has to perform a wider role than the US Marine Cops we can see that in every operation fought Since World War II the Marines structure and ability would be just what we required. Light, deployable but capable of hitting hard when needed. For the future British Army I would recommend a very similar structure. 

Firstly I would return the Royal Marine Commandos to the British Amry. The Commando Brigade would be split into three Battalions. Each would be spread across one of three Amphibious Infantry Brigades. The Royal Marines would revert back to being a smaller ship board force tasked with Navy security and interdiction as is was before WWII.

Secondly the British Forces in Germany would be disbanded. Three armoured battalions would be spread across three Mechanised Infantry Brigades.

The British Amry would have 3 Amphibious Brigades and 3 Mechanised Infantry Brigades. These Brigades would be spread across 3 Division's so each Division would have 2 Infantry Regiments, 1 Armour Battalion and 1 Amphibious Battalion as well as artillery and support battalions.

The RAF should be stripped of its helicopters and these given to 6 aviation regiments of the British Army. Each Regiment would have Apaches, EH101, Lynx and Chinook helicopters. Each Brigade would have an aviation attachment formed principally by one of these regiments. In addition 6 logistics groups would provide each Brigade with its own logistic support. 

This force would allow us to deploy a Division sized force rapidly as well as sustaining an actively deployed Brigade in the aftermath.

The Territorial Army

The UK presently has around 56,000 par time soldiers in the Territorial Amry. These forces along with active reservists are designed primarily to give the UK additional man power in times of crisis. Essentially the force's main aim is as a strategic reserve against the invasion of UK or mainland Europe. However with zero chance of the UK or Europe being invaded the service looks less relevant today than ever.

I would recommend disbanding the TA and instead replacing it with a new reserve force. Better paid part time soldiers who would be based around a single heavy armoured division. This force would be available for 6 month deployments as wee seen in 1991 and 2003. It would be used along with an Expeditionary Force from the British Amry for door kicking operations. This would allow the British Amry to employ 2 divisions as part of the global Guardian requirement under a Three Star General giving us an enhanced command capability  in coalition operations. This type of operation would likely happen once a decade. Being part of this type of once a decade conventional deployment would be very attractive for members of the current TA as well as ex regular army personnel. These type of people would likely be very unwilling to be part of a dirty difficult type of COIN operation such has the current Afghanistan operation. While a part time force there is no reason why these troops can't be every bit as capable and professional as the current Army. The reduction in size would allow us to pay these troops better as well as improve the quality of their equipment. Indeed the US deploys its reserve forces both Air, Sea and Ground in a similar way. Largely relying on ex service personnel as well as so called weekend warriors simply looking for extra money or to be part of the military while pursuing a career in civilian life.

Peace Keeping

In addition to the current deployment the British Army has a number of peace keeping commitments. These commitments are often small however they add additional stress to already over worked infantry battalions. It could also be said that using a highly trained and paid professional soldier to perform low level policing missions is a waste of resources.

Rising instability in the world means that we are likely to perform more of these manpower intensive operations. Quite simply the British Amry with its focus on high tech war will be unable to cope with an increase in these type of operations. 

In order to give the Army the ability to cope with this I would recommend establishing a new International Assistance Force. This force would come under the command of the British Army however it would be separate in its structure. The Force would have lightly armed policing battalions able to be deployed and sustained in a force of up to a light brigade. The force would recruit from across the world giving it a true multi national presence. Importantly as a none combat force recruited primarily from the third world we could cut salaries in half of the regular army but still have a wide pull too recruit from. To prevent accusations of being mercenaries this force should only be deployed under United Nations sanctioned missions. Four small Brigades constituting 28,000 men should be a sufficiently large force to allow upto four battalion's to be deployed at any one time and sustained indefinitely. The force would be primarily a police force and would rely on the regular army for certain specialisations such as Engineers and Aviation as well as the RN and RAF for deployment.

The force would be based abroad closer to potential areas of operation such as Kenya or Sierra Leone as well as Asia. It would help us boost the economy of allied nations as well as increase our diplomatic influence. Basing troops abroad would allow the soldiers to maintain a high standard of living on a reduced salary.


By shedding off many of the cold war missions the army still performs we could reduce its size whilst increasing its capability. Disbanding the TA as a Strategic reserve force in favour of a deploy-able armoured division could allow us to maintain an armoured capability and increase our ability to deploy a force in the kind of once a decade large scale operations we might face. The money saved could be used to fund an international peace keeping force better able to operate in long running low intensity operations.