British ArmyEdit

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British Army
Active 1707 - present
Country United Kingdom
Allegiance Queen Elizabeth II
Type Army
Size Active; 113,970 Regular[1] and 33,130 Territorial Army[2]Reserve; 134,190 Regular Reserve [2]
Part of Ministry of Defence
Patron Monarch
Chief of the General Staff Gen. Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen
Aircraft flown
Attack Apache AH1
Patrol Lynx
Reconnaissance Gazelle AH1, Islander AL1
Trainer Eurocopter Squirrel AS350BB, Slingsby T-67 Firefly
Transport Bell 212HP, Lynx, Agusta A109A, Islander AL1

The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England and Scotland and was administered by the War Office from London. It has been managed by the Ministry of Defence since 1963.

As of April 2010 the British Army employs 113,970 regular soldiers (which includes 3,840 Gurkhas)[1] and 33,130 Territorials. In addition there are 134,190 Regular Reserves of the British Army. The British Army is the second largest army in the European Union and the fourth largest in NATO. The full-time element of the British Army has also been referred to as the Regular Army since the creation of the reservist Territorial Force in 1908. The British Army is deployed in many of the world's war zones as part of both Expeditionary Forces and in United Nations Peacekeeping forces. The British Army is currently deployed in Kosovo, Cyprus, Germany, Afghanistan and many other places.

All members of the Army swear (or affirm) allegiance to the monarch as commander-in-chief. However the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires Parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a standing army in peacetime. Parliament therefore annually approves the continued existence of the Army.

In contrast to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force, the British Army does not include Royal in its title. Many of the Army's constituent Regiments and Corps have been granted the "Royal" prefix and have members of the Royal Family occupying senior positions within some regiments.

The professional head of the British Army is the Chief of the General Staff, currently General Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen.


[hide]*1 History

[edit] HistoryEdit

Main article: History of the British Army[2][3]The Duke of Marlborough was one of the first generals in the British Army, fighting campaigns in the War of the Spanish Succession.The British Army came into being with the merger of the Scottish Army and the English Army, following the unification of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, as the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated existing English and Scottish regiments, and was controlled from London.[3]

From about 1763, Great Britain and its successor the United Kingdom has been one of the leading military and economic powers of the world.

[edit] Early British EmpireEdit

The British Empire expanded in this time to include colonies, protectorates, and Dominions throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Although the Royal Navy is widely regarded as having been vital for the rise of the British Empire, and British dominance of the world, the British Army played an important role in the colonisation of India and other regions.[4] Typical tasks included garrisoning the colonies, capturing strategically important territories, and participating in actions to pacify colonial borders, provide support to allied governments, suppress Britain's rivals, and protect against foreign powers and hostile natives. [4][5]The death of General Wolfe during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham; the campaigns of the French and Indian War resulted in British control of modern Canada.British troops also helped capture strategically important territories, allowing their empire to expand throughout the globe. The army also involved itself in numerous wars meant to pacify the borders, or to prop-up friendly governments, and thereby keep other, competitive, empires away from the British Empire's borders. Among these actions were the Seven Years' War,[5] the American Revolutionary War,[6] the Napoleonic Wars,[7] the First and Second Opium Wars,[8] the Boxer Rebellion,[9] the New Zealand land wars,[10] the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857,[11] the First and Second Boer Wars,[12] the Fenian raids,[13] the Irish War of Independence,[8] its serial interventions into Afghanistan (which were meant to maintain a friendly buffer state between British India and the Russian Empire),[14] and the Crimean War (to keep the Russian Empire at a safe distance by coming to Turkey's aid).[15]

As had its predecessor, the English Army, the British Army fought Spain, France, and the Netherlands for supremacy in North America and the West Indies. With native and provincial assistance, the Army conquered New France in the Seven Years' War[5] and subsequently suppressed a Native American uprising in Pontiac's War.[16] The British Army suffered defeat in the American War of Independence, losing the Thirteen Colonies but holding on to Canada.[17] See also: British Army during the Napoleonic Wars[6][7]The Duke of Wellington's triumph over Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of WaterlooThe British army was heavily involved in the Napoleonic Wars in which the army served in multiple campaigns across Europe (including continuous deployment in the Peninsular War), the Caribbean, North Africa and later in North America. The war between the British and the First French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte stretched around the world and at its peak, in 1813, the regular army contained over 250,000 men. A British Army under the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleons last campaign at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.[18]

The English had been involved, both politically and militarily, in Ireland since being given the Lordship of Ireland by the pope in 1171. English republican dictator, Oliver Cromwell's campaign was characterised by its uncompromising treatment of the Irish towns (most notably Drogheda) that had supported the Royalists during the English Civil War. The English Army (and subsequently the British Army)stayed in Ireland primarily to suppress numerous Irish revolts and campaigns for independence. It was faced with the prospect of battling Anglo-Irish and Ulster Scots peoples in Ireland, who alongside their other Irish groups had raised their own volunteer army and threatened to emulate the American colonists if their conditions were not met. The British Army found itself fighting Irish rebels, both Protestant and Catholic, primarily in Ulster and Leinster (Wolfe Tone's United Irishmen) in the 1798 rebellion.[19] [8][9]The Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879 saw a small British force repel an overwhelming attack by Zulu forces; eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded for the defence.In addition to battling the armies of other European Empires' (and of its former colonies, the United States, in the American War of 1812),[20] in the battle for global supremacy, the British Army fought the Chinese in the First and Second Opium Wars,[8] and the Boxer Rebellion,[9] Māori tribes in the first of the New Zealand Wars,[10] Nawab Shiraj-ud-Daula's forces and British East India Company mutineers in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857,[12] the Boers in the First and Second Boer Wars,[12] Irish Fenians in Canada during the Fenian raids[13] and Irish separatists in the Anglo-Irish War.[8]

Following William and Mary's accession to the throne, England involved itself in the War of the Grand Alliance primarily to prevent a French invasion restoring Mary's father, James II.[21] Following the 1707 union of England and Scotland, and the 1801 creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, British foreign policy, on the continent, was to contain expansion by its competitor powers such as France and Spain. The territorial ambitions of the French led to the War of the Spanish Succession[22] and the Napoleonic Wars.[7] Russian activity led to the Crimean War.[15]

The vastly increasing demands of imperial expansion, and the inadequacies and inefficiencies of the underfunded, post-Napoleonic Wars British Army, and of the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteer Force, led to the Cardwell and Childers Reforms of the late 19th century, which gave the British Army its modern shape, and redefined its regimental system.[23] The Haldane Reforms of 1907, formally created the Territorial Force as the Army's volunteer reserve component.[24]

[edit] World WarsEdit

Main articles: British Army during World War II and British Army during World War I[10][11]The Second Battle of El Alamein reversed German ambitions in North Africa, and is often cited as one of the turning points of the Second World War.[12][13]British Mark I tank during the First World War. Note the guidance wheels behind the main body which were later scrapped as they were unnecessary. Armoured vehicles of this time still required much infantry and artillery support and still do to a lesser extent today. Photo by Ernest Brooks.Great Britain's dominance of the world had been challenged by numerous other powers, notably Germany. The UK was allied with France (by the Entente Cordiale) and Russia, and when the First World War broke out in 1914, the British Army sent the British Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium to prevent Germany from occupying these countries.[25] The War would be the most devastating in British military history, with near 800,000 men killed and over 2 million wounded. In the early part of the war, the professional force of the BEF was decimated and, by turns, a volunteer (and then conscripted) force replaced it. Major battles included the Battle of the Somme.[26] Advances in technology saw advent of the tank,[27] with the creation of the Royal Tank Regiment, and advances in aircraft design, with the creation of the Royal Flying Corps, which were to be decisive in future battles.[28] Trench warfare dominated strategy on the Western Front, and the use of chemical and poison gases added to the devastation.[29]

The Second World War broke out in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland.[30] British assurances to the Polish led the British Empire to declare war on Germany. Again an Expeditionary Force was sent to France,[30] only to be hastily evacuated as the German forces swept through the Low Countries and across France in 1940.[31] Only the Dunkirk evacuation saved the entire Expeditionary Force from capture.[31] Later, however, the British would have spectacular success defeating the Italians and Germans at the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa,[32] and in the D-Day invasion of Normandy with the help of American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces.[33] Contrary to popular belief, over half of the Allied soldiers on D-day were British.[citation needed] In the Far East, the British army battled the Japanese in Burma.[34] The Second World War saw the British army develop its Special Air Service, Commando units and the Parachute Regiment.[35] During the war the British army was one of the major fighting forces on the allied side.

[edit] Postcolonial eraEdit

[14][15]Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment guard Argentine prisoners of war during the Falklands War.After the end of the Second World War, the British Army was significantly reduced in size, although National Service continued until 1960.[36] This period also saw the process of Decolonisation commence with the end of the British Raj, and the independence of other colonies in Africa and Asia. Accordingly the army's strength was further reduced, in recognition of Britain's reduced role in world affairs, outlined in the 1957 Defence White Paper.[37] This was despite major actions in Korea in 1950[36] and Suez in 1956.[38] A large force of British troops also remained in Germany, facing the threat of Soviet invasion.[39] The British Army of the Rhine was the Germany garrison formation, with the main fighting force being I (BR) Corps. The Cold War saw significant technological advances in warfare and the Army saw more technologically advanced weapons systems come into service.[40]

Despite the decline of the British Empire, the Army was still deployed around the world, fighting colonial wars in Aden,[41] Cyprus,[41] Kenya[41] and Malaya.[42] In 1982 the British Army, alongside the Royal Marines, helped to recapture the Falkland Islands during the war against Argentina.[43]

In the three decades following 1969, the Army was heavily deployed in Northern Ireland, to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary (later the Police Service of Northern Ireland) in their conflict with republican paramilitary groups, called Operation Banner.[44] The locally-recruited Ulster Defence Regiment was formed, later becoming the Royal Irish Regiment in 1992. Over 700 soldiers were killed during the Troubles. Following the IRA ceasefires between 1994 and 1996 and since 1997, demilitarisation has taken place as part of the peace process, reducing the military presence from 30,000 to 5,000 troops.[45] On 25 June 2007, the Second Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment vacated the Army complex at Bessbrook Mill in Armagh. This is part of the 'normalisation' programme in Northern Ireland in response to the IRA's declared end to its activities.[46]

[edit] Recent and current conflictsEdit

[edit] Gulf WarEdit

Main article: Gulf WarMain article: Operation GranbyThe ending of the Cold War saw a significant cut in manpower, as outlined in the Options for Change review.[47] Despite this, the Army has been deployed in an increasingly global role, and contributed 50,000 troops to the coalition force that fought Iraq in the Gulf War.[48] British forces were put in control of Kuwait after it was liberated. 47 British Military personnel died during the Gulf War.[49]

[edit] Balkans conflictsEdit

Main article: Yugoslav warsThe British Army was deployed to Yugoslavia in 1992; initially this force formed part of the United Nations Protection Force.[50] In 1995 command was transferred to IFOR and then to SFOR.[51] Currently troops are under the command of EUFOR. Over 10,000 troops were sent. In 1999 British forces under the command of SFOR were sent to Kosovo during the conflict there. Command was subsequently transferred to KFOR.[52] Between early 1993 and June 2010, 72 British military personnel died on operations in the former Yugoslavian countries of Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.[53]

[edit] AfghanistanEdit

Main article: War in Afghanistan (2001–present)Main article: Operation Herrick[16][17]British soldiers in Afghanistan.In 2001 the United Kingdom, as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom with the United States, invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.[54] The 3rd Division Signal Regiment were deployed in Kabul, to assist in the liberation of the troubled capital. The Royal Marines' 3 Commando Brigade (part of the Royal Navy but including a number of Army units), also swept the mountains.[55] The British Army is today concentrating on fighting Taliban forces and bringing security to Helmand province. Approximately 9,000 British troops (including marines, airmen and sailors) are currently in Afghanistan, making it the second largest force after the US. Around 500 extra British troops were deployed in 2009, bringing the British Army deployment total up to 9,500 (excluding Special Forces).[56] Between 2001 and December 2010 a total of 346 British military personnel have died on operations mainly in Afghanstan.[57]

[edit] Iraq WarEdit

Main articles: Iraq War and Operation Telic[18][19]British soldiers in IraqIn 2003, the United Kingdom was a major contributor to the United States-led invasion of Iraq. There was major disagreement amongst the domestic populace but the House of Commons voted for the conflict, sending a force that would reach 46,000 army personnel to the region.[58] The British Army controlled the southern regions of Iraq and maintained a peace-keeping presence in the city of Basra until their withdrawal on April 30, 2009. 179 British Military personnel have died on operations in Iraq.[59] All of the remaining British troops were fully withdrawn from Iraq after the Iraqi government refused to extend their mandate.[60]

[edit] Northern IrelandEdit

Main article: Operation BannerAlthough having permanent garrisons there, the British Army was initially deployed in a peacekeeping role - codenamed "Operation Banner" - in Northern Ireland in the wake of Unionist attacks on Nationalist communities in Derry[61] and Belfast[62] and to prevent further Loyalist attacks on Catholic communities, under Operation Banner between 1969 and 2007 in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and its successor, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).[63] There has been a steady reduction in the number of troops deployed in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.[64] In 2005, after the Provisional Irish Republican Army announced an end to its armed conflict in Northern Ireland, the British Army dismantled posts and withdrew many troops, and restored troop levels to that of a peace-time garrison.[65]

Operation Banner ended at midnight on 31 July 2007, bringing to an end some thirty-eight years of continuous deployment, making it the longest in the British Army's history.[66] An internal British Army document released in 2007 stated that the British Army had failed to defeat the IRA but had made it impossible for them to win through the use of violence. Operation Helvetic replaced Operation Banner in 2007 maintaining fewer servicemen in a much more benign environment.[66][67] From 1971 to 1997 a total of 763 British Military personnel were killed during the troubles.[68] The British Armed Forces killed over 300 people, mostly civilians.[69] A total of 303 RUC officers where killed in the same time period. In March 2009, two soldiers and a Police Officer were killed in separate dissident republican attacks in Northern Ireland.[70]

[edit] Current deploymentsEdit

[edit] High intensity operationsEdit

Country Dates Deployment Details
Afghanistan 2001– About 10,000 troops British troops have been based in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion there in 2001. Currently, under Operation Herrick, the Army maintains troops in Camp Souter, Kabul and a brigade on 6-monthly rotation in the southern province of Helmand, mostly based in Camp Bastion and forward operating bases. In late 2009, the resident brigade is 11 Brigade. This brigade has previously served tours in Afghanistan. In 2009, the then Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth announced British troop numbers in Afghanistan to increase by 500 to a new high of more than 9,500 by late 2009.[71]

[edit] Low intensity operationsEdit

Country Dates Deployment Details
Cyprus 1960– Two resident infantry battalions, Royal Engineers, 16 Flight Army Air Corps and Joint Service Signals Unit at Ayios Nikolaos as a part of British Forces Cyprus The UK retains two Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus after the island's independence. The bases serve as forward bases for deployments in the Middle East. British forces are also deployed separately with UN peacekeeping forces on the island. Principal facilities are Alexander Barracks at Dhekelia and Salamanca Barracks at Episkopi.[72]
Falkland Islands 1982– An infantry company group and an Engineer Squadron Previously a platoon-sized Royal Marines Naval Party acted as the military presence. After the 1982 war between Argentina and the UK, the garrison was enlarged and bolstered with an RAF base at Mount Pleasant on East Falkland.[73]
Gibraltar 1704–1991 One infantry battalion, Joint Provost and Security Unit as a part of British Forces Gibraltar British Army garrison is provided by an indigenous regiment, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, which has been on the Army regular establishment since the last British battalion left in 1991.[74]
Northern Ireland 1920- About 3,200 troops[75] Since 2007 part of Operation Helvetic which replace Operation Banner.[76]
Sierra Leone 1999 Only a few The British Army were deployed to Sierra Leone, a former British colony on Operation Palliser in 1999 to aid the government in quelling violent uprisings by militiamen, under United Nations resolutions. Troops remain in the region to provide military support and training to the Sierra Leonean government.[77][78]
Pakistan 2009–2012 24 instructors 24 instructors from the British Army along with 6 American Army personnel will be training Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps over a period of 3 years[79]

[edit] Permanent overseas postingsEdit

Country Dates Deployment Details
Belize 1940s– British Army Training and Support Unit Belize and 25 Flight Army Air Corps British troops have been based in Belize from around late 1940s until 1994. Belize's neighbour, Guatemala claimed the territory and there were numerous border disputes. At the request of the Belizean government, British troops remained in Belize after independence in 1981 to provide a defence force.[80]
Brunei 1962– One battalion from the Royal Gurkha Rifles, British Garrison, Training Team Brunei (TTB) and 7 Flight Army Air Corps A Gurkha battalion has been maintained in Brunei since the Brunei Revolt in 1962 at the request of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III. The Training Team Brunei (TTB) is the Army's jungle warfare school, while the small number of garrison troops support the battalion. 7 Flight Army Air Corps provides helicopter support to both the Gurkha battalion and the TTB.[81]
Canada 1972– British Army Training Unit Suffield and 29 (BATUS) Flight Army Air Corps A training centre in the Alberta prairie which is provided for the use of British Army and Canadian Forces under agreement with the government of Canada. British forces conduct regular, major armoured training exercises here every year, with helicopter support provided by 29 (BATUS) Flight AAC.[82]
Germany 1945–2020 1st (UK) Armoured Division as part of British Forces Germany British forces remained in Germany after the end of the Second World War. Forces declined considerably after the end of the Cold War, although in October 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron announced large cuts in defence with all UK troops currently in Germany to leave by 2020.[83]
Kenya 2010- British Army Training Unit Kenya The Army has a training centre in Kenya, under agreement with the Kenyan government. It provides training facilities for three infantry battalions per year[84]

[edit] Formation and structureEdit

British Army Arms and Services
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Army Air Corps
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

Main article: Structure of the British ArmyThe structure of the British Army is complex, due to the different origins of its various constituent parts. It is broadly split into the Regular Army (full-time soldiers and units) and the Territorial Army (part-time soldiers and units).

In terms of its military structure, it has two parallel organisations, one administrative and one operational.



[edit] Structure of unitsEdit

The standard operational units are structured as follows, although various units have their own structure, conventions, names and sizes.

Type of Unit Division Brigade Battalion / Regiment Company / Squadron Platoon / Troop Section Fire Team
Contains 2-3 Brigades 3-5 Battalions 5 Companies 3 Platoons 3 Sections 2 Fire Teams 4 Individuals
Personnel 10,000 5,000 550-750 100 30 8-10 4
Commanded by Maj-Gen Brig Lt Col Maj Capt, Lt or 2nd Lt Cpl LCpl

Corps are made up of two or more divisions, but are now unlikely to be deployed as a purely national formation due to the size of the British Army; e.g., the ARRC.

In place of a Battalion, a task-specific Battlegroup may be formed. A battlegroup is grown around the core of either an armoured regiment or infantry battalion, and has other units added or removed from it as necessary for its purpose. It results in a mixed formation of armour, infantry, artillery, engineers and support units, typically consisting of between 600 and 700 soldiers under the command of a Lieutenant Colonel.

A number of elements of the British Army use alternative terms for battalion, company and platoon. These include the Royal Armoured Corps, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, and the Royal Corps of Signals who use regiment (battalion), squadron (company) and troop (platoon). The Royal Artillery are unique in using the term regiment in place of both corps and battalion, they also replace company with battery and platoon with troop.

[edit] DivisionsEdit

The British Army currently has 6 divisions with two (1st Armoured Division and 3rd Infantry Division) being at continual operational readiness for deployment.[89]

Name Headquarters Subunits
[21] 1st Armoured Division Herford, Germany 3 Armoured or Mechanised Brigades.
[22] 2nd Infantry Division Craigiehall, near Edinburgh Four regional brigades.
[23] 3rd Infantry Division Bulford, Salisbury Two mechanized brigades, one light brigade and one infantry brigade.
[24] 4th Infantry Division Aldershot Three regional brigades.
[25] 5th Infantry Division Shrewsbury Three regional brigades, one air assault brigade and Colchester Garrison.
[26] 6th Infantry Division York Deployable divisional HQ. Created to support the UK's rotational command of HQ Regional Command South.

[edit] Aviation componentsEdit

The British Army operates alongside the Royal Air Force as part of a Joint Force, but the army also has its own Army Air Corps. Military helicopters of all three services are commanded by Joint Helicopter Command, a joint 2 star headquarters operating under HQ Land Forces.[90]

[edit] Special forcesEdit

[27][28]The SAS Cap Badge.Main article: United Kingdom Special ForcesThe British Army contributes two of the three special forces formations within the United Kingdom Special Forces Command; the Special Air Service Regiment and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.[91] The most famous formation is the Special Air Service Regiment. Formed in 1941, the SAS is considered the role model for many other special forces units in the world.[92] The SAS comprises one regular Regiment and two Territorial Army Regiments.[93]

The regular Regiment, 22 SAS, has its headquarters and depot located in Hereford and consists of five squadrons: A, B, D, G and Reserve with a training wing.[94] The two reserve SAS Regiments; 21 SAS and 23 SAS have a more limited role, to provide depth to the UKSF group through the provision of Individual and collective augmentation to the regular component of UKSF and standalone elements up to task group (Regimental) level focused on support and influence (S&I) operations to assist conflict stabilisation.[95]

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) which was formed in 2005, from existing assets, undertakes close reconnaissance and special surveillance tasks.[91] Formed around 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, with attached Royal Marines and RAF Regiment assets, the Special Forces Support Group are under the Operational Control of Director Special Forces to provide operational manoeuvre support to the elements of United Kingdom Special Forces.[96]

[edit] Overseas Territories military unitsEdit

Numerous military units were raised historically in British territories, including self-governing and Crown colonies, and protectorates. Few of these have appeared on the Army List, and their relationship to the British Army has been ambiguous. Whereas Dominions, such as Canada and Australia, raised their own armies, the defence of Crown possessions (like the Channel Islands), and colonies (now called Overseas Territories) was, and is, the responsibility of the UK (due to their status as territories of Britain, not British protectorates). All military forces of overseas territories are, therefore, under the direct command of the UK Government, via the local Governor and Commander-In-Chief.

  • [29]Two Bermuda Regiment Warrant Officers.
  • [30]Bermuda Regiment PNCO Cadre Promotion Parade in No. 3 (Summer) Dress.
  • [31]Royal Gibraltar Regiment on parade on the occasion of the Queen's birthday parade on June 2007.

[edit] Royal Navy and RAF ground unitsEdit

The other armed services have their own infantry units which are not part of the British Army. The Royal Marines are amphibious light infantry forming part of the Naval Service, and the Royal Air Force has the RAF Regiment used for airfield defence, force protection duties and Forward Air Control.[97]

[edit] EquipmentEdit

[32][33]Challenger II main battle tank.[34][35]Warrior IFV.[36][37]AgustaWestland Apache attack helicopter[38][39]L85A1 Rifle (now replaced by the L85A2).Main article: Modern equipment of the British ArmyInfantry The basic infantry weapon of the British Army is the L85A2 assault rifle, sometimes equipped with an L17A2 underbarrel grenade launcher and with several variants such as the L86A2, the Light Support Weapon (LSW) and the L22A2 carbine variant, issued to tank crews. Support fire is provided by the FN Minimi light machine gun and the L7 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG); indirect fire by 51 and 81 mm mortars. Sniper rifles used include the L118A1 7.62 mm, the L115A3 and the AW50F, all produced by Accuracy International. Some units use the L82A1 .50 calibre Barrett sniper rifle. More recently the L128A1 (Benelli M4) 'combat shotgun' has been adopted, and is intended for close quarters combat in Afghanistan.[98][99]

Armour The British Army's main battle tank is Challenger 2.[100] Other armoured vehicles include Supacat "Jackal" MWMIK and the Iveco "Panther" CLV.[101] The Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle is the primary armoured personnel carrier, although many variants of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (tracked) are used, as well as the Saxon APC and FV430 series now being re-engined and uparmoured and returned to front line service as Bulldog.[102] The British Army commonly uses the Land Rover Wolf and Land Rover Defender.[103]

Artillery The Army uses three main artillery systems: the Multi Launch Rocket System (MLRS), AS-90 and L118. The MLRS was first used operationally in Operation Granby and has a range of 70 km (43 mi).[104] The AS-90 is a 155 mm self-propelled gun.[105] The L118 Light Gun is a 105 mm towed gun used primarily in support of 16 Air Assault Brigade, 19 Light Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines).[106] The Rapier FSC Missile System is the Army's primary battlefield air defence system, widely deployed since the Falklands War[107] and the Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) is a surface-to-air weapon, launched either by a single soldier or from a vehicle-mounted launcher.[108]

Army Aviation The Army Air Corps (AAC) provide direct aviation support for the Army, although the RAF also assist in this role. The primary attack helicopter is the Westland WAH-64 Apache, a license-built, modified version of the AH-64 Apache that will replace the Westland Lynx AH7 in the anti-tank role.[109] The Bell 212 is used as a specialist utility and transport helicopter, with a crew of two and a transport capacity of twelve troops.[110] The Westland Gazelle helicopter is a light helicopter, primarily used for battlefield reconnaissance and control of artillery and aircraft.[111] The Eurocopter AS 365N Dauphin is used for Special Operations Aviation[112] and the Britten-Norman Islander is a light aircraft used for airborne reconnaissance and command.[113]

[edit] RecruitmentEdit

The Army mainly recruits within the United Kingdom; it normally has a recruitment target of around 12,000 soldiers per year.[114]

Low unemployment in Britain has resulted in the Army having difficulty in meeting its target. In the early years of the 21st century there has been a marked increase in the number of recruits from other (mostly Commonwealth) countries. In 2006 overseas recruitment, mostly in Commonwealth countries, generated more than 6,000 soldiers from 54 nations; together with the 3,000 Gurkhas, 10% of the British Army is a foreign national.[115]

The Ministry of Defence now caps the number of recruits from Commonwealth countries, although this will not affect the Gurkhas. If the trend continues 10% of the army will be from Commonwealth countries before 2012. The cap is in place as some fear the army's British character is being diluted, and employing too many could make the army seen as employing mercenaries.[116]

The minimum recruitment age is 16 years (after the end of GCSEs), although soldiers may not serve on operations below 18 years; the maximum recruitment age was raised in January 2007 from 26 to 33 years. The normal term of engagement is 22 years, and, once enlisted, soldiers are not normally permitted to leave until they have served at least 4 years.[117]

There has been a strong and continuing tradition of recruiting from Ireland including what is now the Republic of Ireland.[118][119][120][121] Over 200,000 Irish soldiers fought in the First World War.[122][123] More than 60,000 Irishmen from what was then the Irish Free State[124] (now the Republic of Ireland) and 38,000 from Northern Ireland served in the Second World War,[125] all volunteered.

[edit] Oath of allegianceEdit

[40][41]Troops of the Grenadier Guards on guard at Buckingham Palace. Various army regiments supply troops to guard the Royal residences.All soldiers must take an oath of allegiance upon joining the Army, a process known as attestation. Those who believe in God, and wish to swear by Him, use the following words: I (your name), swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me.[126]Others replace the words "swear by Almighty God" with "solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm".[127]

[edit] Training establishmentsEdit

[42][43]The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is the home of British Army officer training*Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) is the officer training establishment. All officers, regular and reserve, attend RMAS at some point in their training.

[edit] Flags and ensignsEdit

[44][45]Flag Ratio: 3:5. The official flag of the Army.[46][47]The non-ceremonial flag of the British Army. Sometimes the word Army in gold letters appears below the badge.[48][49]Ensign for general use by the Royal Logistic Corps[50][51]Ensign flown by the Royal Logistic Corps from vessels commanded by commissioned officers[52][53]Ensign of the Corps of Royal Engineers[54][55]An Army landing craft of the Royal Logistic CorpsThe British Army does not have its own specific ensign for the whole Army, unlike the Royal Navy, which uses the White Ensign, and the RAF, which uses the Royal Air Force Ensign. Instead, the Army has different flags and ensigns, some for the entire army and many for the different regiments and corps. The official flag of the Army as a whole is the Union Flag, flown in a ratio of 3:5. A non-ceremonial flag also exists, which is used at recruiting events, military events and exhibitions. It also flies from the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall.[128]

Whilst at war, the Union Flag is always used, and this flag represents the Army on the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London (the UK's memorial to its war dead).[129]

The British Army has throughout its history operated ships, ports and a myriad of boats. Boats, Landing Craft and Ports are still operated by the Army and ensigns exists for vessels commanded by the Army. The Royal Logistic Corps operates a large fleet of vessels from its base at Marchwood near Southampton.[130]

The Royal Engineers has had fleets since the introduction of diving in 1838 and was granted an ensign following the foundation of the Royal Engineers Submarine Mining Service in 1871, where it operated sea mine laying ships, before transfer of the trade to the Royal Navy. The Corps maintains a Blue Ensign defaced by the crest of the Board of Ordnance from where the Corps developed, which it flys from its fleet and shore establishments that routinely operate boats.[131]

Each Foot Guards and line regiment (excluding The Rifles and Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR)) also has its own flags, known as Colours—normally a Regimental Colour and a Queen's Colour. The design of different Regimental Colours. vary but typically the colour has the Regiment's badge in the centre. The RGR carry the Queen's Truncheon in place of Colours.[132]

[edit] Ranks, specialisms and insigniaEdit

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
[56] United Kingdom


No Equivalent
Field Marshal1 General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer Cadet
Abbreviation FM Gen Lt Gen Maj Gen Brig Col Lt Col Maj Capt Lt 2nd Lt
  • 1Now an honorary or wartime rank only.
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
[57] British Army


[58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] No


[64] [65] No



Warrant Officer Class One (WO 1)

Warrant Officer Class One

(WO 1)

Warrant Officer Class Two

(WO 2)

Warrant Officer Class Two

(WO 2)

Staff Sergeant/

Colour Sergeant

Sergeant Corporal/





Regimental Equivalent

Every regiment and corps has its own distinctive insignia, such as cap badge, beret, tactical recognition flash and stable belt.

Throughout the army there are many official specialisms. They do not affect rank, but they do affect pay bands.

Musician Survey Technician
Farrier Biomedical Scientist
Driver Tank Transporter Registered General Nurse
Radar Operator Telecom Op (Special)
Meteorologist Aircraft Technician
Military Engineer Bomb Disposal Special Air Service Soldier
Telecom Op (Linguist) Ammunition Technician
Operator Special Intelligence
Construction Materials Technician
Driver Specialist
Armoured Engineer
Royal Armoured Corps Crewman
Army Diver

[edit] Tommy Atkins and other nicknamesEdit

Further information: List of nicknames of British Army regimentsA long established nickname for a British soldier has been Tommy Atkins or Tommy for short. The origins are obscure but most probably derive from a specimen army form circulated by the Adjutant-General Sir Harry Calvert to all units in 1815 where the blanks had been filled in with the particulars of a Private Thomas Atkins, No 6 Company, 23rd Regiment of Foot. German soldiers in both World Wars would usually refer to their British opponents as Tommys. Present- day British soldiers are often referred to as Toms or just Tom. The British Army magazine Soldier has a regular cartoon strip, Tom, featuring the everyday life of a British soldier. Outside of the services, soldiers are generally known as squaddies by the British popular press, and the general public.[133]

Another nickname which applies only to soldiers in Scottish regiments is Jocks, derived from the fact that in Scotland the common Christian name John is often changed to Jock in the vernacular. Welsh soldiers are occasionally referred to as Taffy or just Taff. This may only apply to those from the Taff-Ely Valley in South Wales, where a large portion of men, left unemployed from the decline of the coal industry in the area, enlisted during WW I and WW II. Alternatively, it is derived from the supposed Welsh pronunciation of Dafydd[134] - the vernacular form of Dave or Davey, the patron Saint of Wales being Saint David.[135] Irish soldiers are referred to as Paddys or Micks.

Junior officers in the army are sometimes known as Ruperts by the Other ranks. This nickname is believed to be derived from the children's comic book character Rupert Bear who epitomizes traditional public school values.[136]

[edit] See alsoEdit

[edit] References and notesEdit

  1. ^ a b Ministry of Defence Publications
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Defence Publications
  3. ^ The Union of the Parliaments 1707 Learning and Teaching Scotland, accessed 2 September 2010
  4. ^ Mallinson, p. 104
  5. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 106
  6. ^ Mallinson, p. 129
  7. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 165
  8. ^ a b c d Mallinson, p. 102
  9. ^ a b Bates Gill (2010). Rising Star: China's New Security Diplomacy. Brookings Institution Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780815704539. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  10. ^ a b New Zealand Army: Timeline
  11. ^ Mallinson, p. 210
  12. ^ a b c Mallinson, p. 257
  13. ^ a b The Fenian Raids
  14. ^ Mallinson, p. 203
  15. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 195
  16. ^ Pontiac’s War Baltimore County Public Schools
  17. ^ Mallinson, p. 110
  18. ^ Mallinson, p. 177
  19. ^ The 1798 Irish Rebellion BBC
  20. ^ Guide to the War of 1812
  21. ^ Miller, p. 144
  22. ^ Mallinson, p. 50
  23. ^ London Gazette: no. 24992, p. 3300, 1 July 1881. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
  24. ^ Cassidy, p. 79
  25. ^ Ensor, pp. 525–526
  26. ^ Mallinson, p. 310
  27. ^ Mark I tank
  28. ^ British Military Aviation in 1914
  29. ^ Weapons of War: Poison Gas
  30. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 335
  31. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 342
  32. ^ Taylor (1976), p. 157
  33. ^ D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
  34. ^ Taylor (1976), p. 210
  35. ^ Mallinson, p. 371
  36. ^ a b Mallinson, p. 384
  37. ^ Merged regiments and new brigading - many famous units to lose separate identity, The Times, 25 July 1957
  38. ^ Mallinson, p. 407
  39. ^ Mallinson, p. 440
  40. ^ Mallinson, p. 442
  41. ^ a b c Mallinson, p. 401
  42. ^ Mallinson, p. 402
  43. ^ Falklands Surrender Document
  44. ^ Mallinson, p. 411
  45. ^ Army ending its operation in NI BBC News, 31 July 2007
  46. ^ Troops pull out of Bessbrook Operation Banner News, 25 June 2007
  47. ^ Defence (Options for Change) Hansard, 25 July 1990
  48. ^ 50,000 troops in Gulf illness scare The Guardian, 11 June 2004
  49. ^ Supreme sacrifice: British soldier killed in Iraq was unemployed TA man
  50. ^ Mallinson, p. 446
  51. ^ Mallinson, p. 447
  52. ^ Mallinson, p. 448
  53. ^ Operations in the Balkans: British Fatalities Defence factsheet
  54. ^ Mallinson, p. 452
  55. ^ Operations in Afghanistan: Chronology of Events, September 2001 - December 2002 Defence factsheet
  56. ^ UK sends 500 more to Afghanistan BBC News, 15 October 2009
  57. ^ Operations in Afghanistan: British Fatalities Defence factsheet
  58. ^ Operations in Iraq: Facts and figures Defence factsheet
  59. ^ Operations in Iraq: British Fatalities Defence factsheet
  60. ^ "British Troops Leave Iraq As Mandate Ends". 2009-07-31. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  61. ^ Bloomfield, K Stormont in Crisis (Belfast 1994) p 114
  62. ^ PRONI: Cabinet conclusions file CAB/4/1460
  63. ^ McKernan, Michael (2005). Northern Ireland in 1897-2004 Yearbook 2005. Stationery Office. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-9546284-2-0.
  64. ^ Army dismantles NI post BBC News, 31 July 2000
  65. ^ Army To Dismantle Tower Block Post Skyscrapernews, 2 August 2005
  66. ^ a b "Operation Banner: An analysis of military operations in Northern Ireland" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 2006. Archived from the original on February 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  67. ^ "Army paper says IRA not defeated". BBC News. 2007-07-06. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  68. ^ Remembrance Day: Where they fell BBC News, 13 November 2010
  69. ^ Tabulations (Tables) of Basic Variables
  70. ^ Policeman shot dead in N Ireland BBC News, 10 March 2009
  71. ^ "Afghanistan - Timeline". BBC News. 2010-02-24. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  72. ^ Somme Barracks (Cyprus) Hansard, 26 March 2001
  73. ^ Falklands Forces Have A Vital Role To Play Falkland Islands News Network, 3 May 2006
  74. ^ Royal Gibraltar Regiment trains in the UK Defence News, 13 May 2010
  75. ^ Heyman, p. 101
  76. ^ Operation Banner
  77. ^ British troops withdraw from Sierra Leone Daily Mail, 2002
  78. ^ The International Military Assistance Training Team (IMATT (SL)) in Sierra Leone
  79. ^ "World | Britain building FC training camp in Pakistan: report". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  80. ^ Belize Ministry of Defence
  81. ^ Brunei Ministry of Defence
  82. ^ Canada Ministry of Defence]
  83. ^ Defence review: Cameron unveils armed forces cuts, BBC News Retrieved 19/10/2010.
  84. ^ The British Peace Support Team (BPST) in Kenya Ministry of Defence
  85. ^ Heyman, p.105
  86. ^ HQ Land Forces on the move Drumbeat, June 2008
  87. ^ Heyman, p. 92
  88. ^ Heyman, p. 93
  89. ^ Heyman, pp. 92-93
  90. ^ Joint Helicopter Command Strategic Defence Review
  91. ^ a b "Special Reconnaissance Regiment". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26-March-2010.
  92. ^ Harding, Thomas (2008-07-28). "Kenyan troops accused of torture 'were trained by SAS'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  93. ^ "UK Defence Statistics 2009". Defence Analytical Services Agency. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  94. ^ Fremont-Barnes, p. 62
  95. ^ "Special Air Service (Reserve) - (SAS(R))". MoD. Retrieved 2008-06-06. "The role of SAS (R) is to provide depth to the UKSF group through the provision of: Individual and collective augmentation to the regular component of UKSF. Standalone elements up to task group (Regimental) level focused on Support and Influence (S&I) operations to assist conflict stabilisation"
  96. ^ "Special Forces Support Group". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26-March-2010.
  97. ^ RAF Regiment
  98. ^ "Combat Shotgun - British Army Website". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  99. ^ "British Army’s new combat shotgun". The Firearm Blog. 2009-04-10. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  100. ^ Challenger 2 BA Systems
  101. ^ Multi-role Light Vehicle
  102. ^ FV 432
  103. ^ Land Rover Defender
  104. ^ GMLRS British Army
  105. ^ AS-90
  106. ^ 105 mm Light Gun BAe Systems
  107. ^ Rapier missile
  108. ^ Starstreak II sighted Janes
  109. ^ Apache
  110. ^ Bell Huey
  111. ^ Gazelle British Army
  112. ^ Tim Ripley (10 December 2008). "UK Army Air Corps received Dauphins". Janes Defence Weekly, Vol. 45, Issue 50: 10.
  113. ^ Islander
  114. ^ Army recruitment increases by 9% BBC News, 18 August 2006
  115. ^ Britain's child army New Statesman, 5 February 2007
  116. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (2008-04-05). "Commonwealth recruitment caps & current commonwealth troop levels.". London: Guardian Newspaper. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  117. ^ "Recruitment Age for Army Raised". BBC News. 2007-01-06. Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  118. ^ "Irish recruits sign up for British Army in cross-border revolution". The Times. September 10, 2008. "Army recruitment in Northern Ireland has just revealed that 16 per cent of all those enlisting since April were from south of the border. That figure is up from 10.5 per cent last year - which was in itself more than double for 2006."
  119. ^ "Irish swell ranks of UK military". BBC. 27 November 2008. "Between 2005 and 2006, just 3% of recruits entering the military through its recruitment centres in Northern Ireland came from the Republic. The figure so far this year is 14%, and officers believe it will rise further." {
  120. ^ "British army sees more Irish recruits". Belfast Telegraph. 6 December 2010. "There has been a seven-fold increase in Irish recruits to the British armed forces since the recession began. Figures obtained by Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes revealed 10 people with addresses in the Republic of Ireland joined the British military between 2007 and 2008. From 2009 to 2010 this number rose to 85."
  121. ^ Redcoat: The British soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket. HarperCollins.. 2002. pp. 48,55–57,59–65,177–8. ISBN 0-00-653152.
  122. ^ "Ireland and the First World War: the Historical Context.". School of History and Anthropology.
  123. ^ "Remembering Irish soldiers in World War I". History Times. "Eager to place themselves in the best possible light after the war was over – six months at the most was a common reckoning – Irish Unionist and Nationalist politicians called on their followers to do their duty for their respective causes and enlist. Estimates suggest that up to 200,000 Irishmen of all persuasions eventually fought in the British army between 1914 and 1918. Perhaps as many as 49,000 died"
  124. ^ "Ian's death brought people together". "Ian Malone's decision also had a long historical precedent. Almost 150,000 Irish soldiers fought in the First World War; 49,000 died. More than 60,000 Irishmen - more than from loyal Ulster - also saw action in the Second World War; like their compatriots in the Great War, all were volunteers. As one of 400 or more men from the republic then serving in the British Army, some of them stationed in Northern Ireland, Ian Malone was part of a familiar Irish story of economic emigration - he was seeking work abroad when there was little at home. And never having left the country, he was no doubt seeking travel and adventure, too."
  125. ^ The Oxford companion to Irish history, Sean J. Connolly, pg 505
  126. ^ "British Army Oath of Allegiance". Retrieved 2010-11-29.
  127. ^ Values and Standards of the British Army
  128. ^ "British Army (non-ceremonial)". Archived from the original on 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  129. ^ Whitehall Cenotaph
  130. ^ 17 Port & Maritime Regiment RLC
  131. ^ Royal Engineers ensign
  132. ^ The Queen's Truncheon
  133. ^ Songs for squaddies: the war musical Lads in Their Hundreds The Guardian, 19 May 2010
  134. ^ The Concise Oxford Dictionary ISBN 978-0-19-861131-8
  135. ^ Collins English Dictionary ISBN 0-00-716334-7
  136. ^ Beevor, Anthony, Inside the British Army, ISBN 0-00-71134658

[edit] SourcesEdit

  • Cassidy, Robert M (2006). Counterinsurgency and the global war on terror: military culture and irregular war. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275989909.
  • Ensor, (Sir) Robert (1936). England: 1870–1914. (The Oxford History of England, Volume XIV) (Revised, 1980 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-821705-6.
  • Fremont-Barnes, Gregory (2009). Who Dares Wins — The SAS and the Iranian Embassy Siege 1980. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1846033950.
  • Heyman, Charles (2009). The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom 2010-2011. Pen & Sword. ISBN 9781848840843.
  • Mallinson, Allan (2009). The Making of the British Army. Bantam Press. ISBN 9780593051085.
  • Miller, John (2000). James II. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300087284.
  • Taylor, AJP (1976). The Second World War an illustrated history. Penguin books. ISBN 0140041354.

[edit] External linksEdit

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