The total size of the full-time UK Armed Forces is just under 159,000.

According to a briefing paper, most personnel were within the Army (56%) with the remainder being equally split between the Royal Navy/Royal Marines (RN/RM) and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Trained strength

Personnel targets are based on the full-time trained strength of the Royal Navy/Royal Marines and the RAF and the full-time trade-trained strength of the Army.

The most recent targets were set by the Defence in a Competitive Age command paper. As at 1 July 2021 the Army was 7% above its targeted size whilst the Royal Navy/Royal Marines and the RAF were -2% and -6% below their targeted size respectively.

Inflow and Outflow

Between 2000 and 2021, inflow of personnel to the UK Regular Forces has only been higher than outflow for six years. In the 12 months to 31 March 2021 there was a positive net flow of personnel for the second year running – intake was 16,250 while outflow was 12,299.

Diversity

On 1 April 2021 there were 16,470 women in the UK Regular Forces who accounted for 11% of the total trained and untrained strength.

On 1 April 2021 around 9.2% of personnel (13,690) identified as belonging to a non-White ethnic group. The Army had the highest proportion (13.4%), followed by the Royal Navy/Marines (4.8%) and RAF (3.3%).

Reserves

Between October 2013 and July 2021, the overall strength of trained personnel in the Tri Service Future Reserves 2020 increased by 41% (from 22,900 to 32,300). However, only the RAF Reserve has achieved its targeted size.

Location of personnel

On 1 April 2021, most personnel in the UK Regular Forces were stationed in the United Kingdom (around 96%). Of the 5,900 personnel stationed overseas around two thirds were in Europe (65%) whilst 16% were stationed in North America and 6% in North Africa and the Middle East.

The total size of the full-time UK Armed Forces (trained and untrained) on 1 July 2021 was just under 159,000. Most personnel were within the Army (56%) with the remainder being equally split between the Royal Navy/Royal Marines (RN/RM) and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

“How big are the British armed forces”

Too small!!!!

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago

About half the size they should be!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

In some areas, easily, or more.

The army does not need to be double in personnel. 100,000 should have been the minimum.

SDSR98 set the RN as minimum 32 escorts.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

But as I said to another commentator:
Probably better to have 72,000 with proper accommodation being retained for careers, and with decent training opportunities, than a 100,000man garrison army.

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Yup, agree

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

You are right, IF they are equipped correctly.
Hammond wanted a max of 50,000!

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Well… 100,000 without equipment is not much more use than 72,000 without equipment.

David
David
1 month ago

Yeah but he was an absolute twat. He would have reduced us to a self defence force if he could have gotten away with it.

Python15
Python15
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Totally agree there!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  David

He was! Spreadsheet Phil. Preferred him to Fallon or Gareth Ainsworth mind.

P.Paybe.
P.Paybe.
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Yes like so many others in UK politics the idea of defence of the nation is mentally an morally beyond them.off shore tax havens for the moraly bankrupt and terminally greedy is all that counts.Yes more people and far better use of resources especially money would seem vital

julian1
julian1
1 month ago

that figure of 50,000 was the max number of rows allowed in Excel at the time. Lol

Bill Masen
Bill Masen
9 days ago
Reply to  julian1

BAOR was fiftyfive thousand with the best of everything just to protect the inner German border, We could not protect the UK home islands now.

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

72,000 is fine if they were armed to the teeth!

If we had more tanks, more artillery, more helicopters – especially another 25 or so Apaches, then yeah, a small force with massive firepower would be fine.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

The thing is if the Army was 100,000 strong it still wouldn’t be armed to the teeth and now you’d have a force with a higher turnover, and with less training.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I would broadly agree Dern, 72,000 well equipped, paid properly and looked after, with good accomodation and career prospects. We’ve (in reality) dispensed with the capability to deploy a full division, except in an emergency, and in future will likely only deploy in reinforced Brigade strength, 3,500 ‘ish’, depending on support assets required. 72,000 with the RM Corps is enough to meet a slimmed down mission set, based on rapid reaction, in and out operations. With a well trained and equipped Reserve to back them up when needed for emergencies too… I don’t agree with Army dropping below 100,000 regulars,… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Obviously I’d rather see the Army have 100,000 regulars, that goes without saying, but I don’t really see the point if those 100,000 are less capable than 72,000. The ability to deploy a division atm is more to do with stockpiles of spares and the state of the vehicle fleet more than manpower, so an increase back up to 100,000 (and the cost that would come with it) would honestly only make the situation worse, not better. So, honestly in future, if the Army can get it’s warehouses (see what I did there) in order, then there’s no reason we… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

With 148 total Chally 3 on order and two Armoured Brigades in total, we are clearly telling the world that we have no intention (or the equipment) to deploy any more than a reinforced Brigade, with 50 or 60 Chally 3 at its core.

The future will be reinforced Brigade strength (at best) actions, underpinned with Carrier Strike AAC and limited RAF support.

A focus on short term operations. I personally don’t have a particular problem with the light ethos, as long as we pick our fights and cut our cloth to fit our budget.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

An armoured regiment has 56 Challengers, at 148 that’s enough for two brigades with spare for training and maintenance, and since they’ll be rebuilt from the ground up they’ll, at least to start with, have better availability.

Bearing in mind that both Op Granby and Op Telic only deployed with 2 and 1 Armoured brigade respectively, only having about 100 Challengers in total.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Evening Dern, With 2 Brigades and 148 in total, I’m going to make the following operationally available assessment. The Chally3 is going to be a very high tech beast, requiring regular systems, software updates etc, so I wouldn’t go expecting sky high availability for a start… With only 2 Brigades and a limited number of assets, we will be fortunate to have 50 Chally3 per Brigade. One will be at readiness to deploy and one in training and at a lower readiness state, at any one time. Unless we were in a situation of dire national peril, we will never… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

We will only lose MBTs if other nations lose them, especially threat nations. Only little Belgium has abandoned MBTs – for purely budgetary reasons.

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

You do know that in the second Gulf War we fielded a single armoured brigade right?
It was 1x Armoured Brigade, 16AA and 3Cmdo IIRC.

I disagree with your assessment, 2/3rds deployable shouldn’t be unrealistic, which means, with the current force structure 2 heavy brigades should e achievable.

John Clark
John Clark
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Morning Dern, I admire your viewpoint, I really do, it has a youthful hopefulness to it and that’s refreshing. Availability is currently so low, we would have to be on General War footing to deploy 100 tanks. Are you sure you’re thinking of the right army😉 Moving forward, with a total of 72,000, we should be able to assemble a force of 10,000 in a heavy ‘ish’ Brigade, with 50/60 MBT’s at its core. If things deteriorated with Russia and a show of force was needed, the above formation would be about what we could deploy to Poland, short of… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by John Clark
Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

John, I’ve served for a decade in the British Army, in a variety of roles including armoured formations, I can assure you I know what army I’m thinking off and I base my views on what I’ve seen in the Army, not on headlines meant to stir up emotions in the public.

John Clark
John Clark
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Morning Dern, “not on headlines meant to stir up emotions in the public”. I was so shocked by that statement, that I dropped my Vodka on my Stalin Tone PC while sat at my desk in the Kremlin…. I’m off to the Siberian Salt mines now the gigs up. I have tried very hard to subvert the plucky British spirit with my cynical musings of whats ‘actually achievable’ in the real world, against day dreaming youthful optimism. I salute you Dern, my MSB career is in tatters now, I don’t stand a chance of making the ‘never ever’ payments on… Read more »

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Bear with me while I loose sleep over that 🙂

John Clark
John Clark
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Ah excellent, so millennials do have a sense of human after all,or a grasp of sarcasm at least 😂 😉

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Dern, we are procuring 138 CR3s, not 148. Your two brigades clearly each only have one armoured regiment – total of 112. You would probably want to deploy with 20 more for an Attrition Reserve. Total 132. So you have just 6 tanks for the other locations – BATUS fleet, UK Training Fleet, Ashchurch, Germany vehicle depots. That’s a quart in a pint pot. We could not deploy 132 tanks out of 138. Plus the full number of CR3s is not going to be available until FOC in 2030. Op GRANBY involved 221 CR1s – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_1 Op TELIC involved 120… Read more »

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

“As planned, the Army will invest around £1.3bn in our armoured capability by upgrading 148 of our main battle tanks to ensure the Challenger III will become one of the most protected and most lethal in Europe” Some of the standard guff but that’s where I’m getting the 148 number from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974661/CP411_-Defence_Command_Plan.pdf Yes, 120 represents a shade more than 2 Armoured Regiments (56 CR per regiment), but we’ve not orbated an Armoured Brigade for more than 1 CR regiment per brigade for a long time. Op Granby was larger, but it’s worth bearing in mind that it still was only… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Sorry Dern, you are right about the 148 figure – in a senior moment I mixed up my CR3 numbers with my F-35B numbers! Inexplicable.

Op Granby (Gulf War 1) certainly was larger with 221 CR1s deployed than Gulf War 2 with 120 CR2s deployed.

If you consider that our effort on GW1 was underwhelming as we did not (or could not?) deploy 3 bdes, that was from a base of a regular army of 120,000.

Do you really think we would deploy 120 tanks out of a fleet of 138? I don’t.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

A full warfighting divison (of a HQ, three (non-light) brigades, with Div Tps and a National Support Element) would top out at about 25,000-30,000 troops. No way can you find that manpower from an army of 72,000, unless you cut virtually all other commitments and call up thousands of Reserve Army soldiers.

The issues regarding state of vehicles and spares have never been insoluble.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Perhaps Dern means stretched to the limit in a War emergency?

We would have to call up the Army Reserve and call up people on the reserve list….

I don’t see any other way to make Derns Division happen.

No kit however, one man gets the rifle, the next gets the ammunition perhaps…..

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I refer to putting 3rd UK division out the door, that is achievable. 2x Heavy Brigades, + 1x Medium brigade.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

We could not get a force that size out of the door in 2003 for Op TELIC, when the base was stronger. We had to put 2 light bdes (3 Cdo Bde, 16 AA Bde) into the Orbat (in addition to 7 Armd Bde).

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not insoluble, but require funding to get the numbers back up. It’s been a while since I’ve been in 3 Div, but back when I was there it was common practice to rotate vehicles between the brigades, because although the manning was there, the vehicles to deploy where not. So when my unit went onto high readiness we received the vehicles from the previous unit, and when we came off, we sent them on to the next (without replacement). The fleet is old and clapped out, with most vehicles being older than the SNCO’s, which again means more maint, which… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Depends as to whether 72,000 is sufficient to meet the nation’s needs. It is smaller than Spain’s army and they do not have global roles and responsibilities.

It will be difficult to impossible to field a strong warfighting division with an army this small, unless you pull in thousands of Reserve Army troops as well. I wonder how much credibility we have with the Americans – we could not do ‘Gulf War 1’ again.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I think that’s the point Graham, they don’t intend to deploy in Divisional strength again…

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
29 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

The army has the aspiration to be able to deploy in divisional strength from 2025.

RobW
RobW
1 month ago

32? Blimey. That seems a long way off if ever I’m afraid. I’d be happy with 24, when hopefully T32 happens.

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

Yes, agree with you. If the Royal Navy manages to reach the 24 Destroyer/Frigate total, l think that would suffice. I guess normally out of that total of 24 you would have perhaps 15 or 16 active, if not a little bit more. Including deployed /training and so on..

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

Hi RobW, Yeh, exactly. How our expectations have changed. I remember thinking the RN was too small when the minimum was set at 50 escorts! 24 is OK for current tasking, but the armed forces are an insurance policy. God forbid we ever have to fight another Battle of the Atlantic! I don’t think NATO, let alone the RN could keep the North Atlantic Sea Lanes open against even a small force of well handled SSN’s. With Climate Change shrinking the polar ice China could one day threaten us in our own backyard. Growing the fleet to 24 escorts, even… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR. To be fair though, the 50 number was in the late 80s at the end of the cold war. Also, the older type 21s & Leander cost nothing like modern assets – Type 26/45.

So it’s a tough (but important) goal to get to 24 ships, given today’s environment of 50% defence spend of what it used to be.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
29 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Hi Klonkie, I wouldn’t argue with anything you are saying. What I am highlighting is that the threat will rise as time goes on and if the UK and NATO does not respond we will loose the next war. If we want peace, prepare for war. It is expensive but a damn site cheaper than fighting and loosing a war. The Third Battle of the Atlantic is the battle that we should be planning for. Given the current political set up and a 20 to 25 year rolling planning and analysis cycle the possible threat to consider is a combined… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
29 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

excellent post CR. I can but only completely agree. it is interesting you referenced preparedness to 1935/6. I was thinking along similar lines. Historical lesson never seems to have the respect they deserve.

The elephant in the room(or panda in the room) is indeed China. Western political leaders should understand the driver for Chinese expansion is their exhausting internal resources. Spot on re your comment-it is about water (or rather the lack of it)!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

It’s unimaginable now isn’t it, sadly.

Agree. I’d be ecstatic with 24.

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago

With 24 vessels our escort fleet would actually be larger than that of the Russian Navy’s by one ship (counting only frigates and destroyers) so I’d be very happy with that.

Jonny
Jonny
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Well their ships aren’t really in the best condition or modern either. I’d rather have the rn than the Russian navy even with current numbers

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonny

That’s very true.

The only real advantage they’d have is in antiship missiles, which is where we need to catch up.

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago

My fear is what happens when Labour gets in again. Blair had a field day in 2004 cutting RAF/RN numbers.

I’d like to see some form of bi partisan agreement to protect force numbers in the future. In Australia, they do a reasonable job in that respect. Defence investment is largely ring fenced

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Agreed. There should be party wide agreement ring fencing defence.

There won’t be, sadly.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

32 in 1998 would have seemed plausible. Given the complexity and shear cost of high end surface combatants today, 32 seems like a pipe dream. Even the US navy today is smaller than what it was in 1998. Now in my opinion, that’s no excuse for having far fewer that we could and should have – 19 simply isn’t enough for what the RN is tasked with performing. Change the tasking or provide more hulls – simple as that. Hopefully the 24 escort number will be realised and the Type 31 and 32s are not just under-armed tin cans there… Read more »

B.M Griffiths
B.M Griffiths
1 month ago

Danielle Mandellli: 100,000 is totally inadequate for a nation of 70-million people. In fact, even if we stated 100,000 Infantry, even that would be inadequate to meet potential threats. It takes a long time to train a soldier and TIME is the one thing that we don’t have. 300,000 Regular soldiers and 200,000 Reserves would be far more suitable.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
29 days ago
Reply to  B.M Griffiths

The Army wasn’t that size through much of the Cold War, with around 160,000 regulars in the 80s. While we all want larger more capable and effective forces I also like to be realistic. Where is the money and political will coming from to equip and maintain such a force? Dern reminded me of the issues involved of equipping even 100,000 in this very thread. Also, what of the RN and RAF? As an island nation I myself prefer a RN and RAF first strategy. How many escorts and Jets do they also need at the same time as the… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago
Reply to  B.M Griffiths

A 70,000 army will probably have about 17-18,000 infantry.

I am afraid your wish of a 500,000 army (Reg and Reserve) is very wishful thinking – we didn’t have those numbers at the height of the Cold War.

I think we need an an army of 160,000 (120,000 regulars and 40,000 Army Reserve), but that is also wishful thinking.

We currently have 33 Regular Battalions and 16 Reserve Battalions but that is before the downsize to 72,000 regs.

Bill Masen
Bill Masen
9 days ago

John Notts defence review circa 1990 stated we needed 21 modern Destroyers / Large Figates just to protect UK domestic waters. I dont think the UK has shrunk in size since then 🙂

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

You would be back to cold war – 1980 ‘s level of personnel. When it used to be over 300,000 reg’s. I’m afraid those day’s are long gone.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  John Stevens

I guess you are talking about regs from all 3 services?

Last edited 1 month ago by Graham Moore
Scott
Scott
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Agreed, needs to be around 250k. But need that increase in the Navy and RAF, rather than Army.

Andy Poulton
Andy Poulton
28 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Although money is part of the problem, recruitment is the other. The reason why Army numbers were reduced recently was simply because there was insufficient numbers to meet the target and so the target was changed to reflect actual numbers

David Johnson
David Johnson
1 month ago

It was over 300,000 when i joined in 1989

Blue Fuzz
Blue Fuzz
1 month ago

The claimed figure of 159k full-time personnel can’t be correct. Even if the Army was at the pre-Integrated Review establishment of 82k (which it isn’t), the RAF and RN would have to be at 39k each to reach the 159k total – they haven’t been anywhere near that for years.

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  Blue Fuzz

I think that figure must include the regular new recruits going through their different levels of training. So not Just trained/fully trade trained personnel. Every 3 months l have a look at the quarterly armed forces personnel statistics (MOD) website. Always worth a look.

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  John Stevens

*l think the total figure including reserves and other personnel may be around 198,000.

John Stevens
John Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Oops.. My bad. I see it say’s above – including untrained. Anyway, always worth looking at the personnel statistics. Help to explain.

Blue Fuzz
Blue Fuzz
1 month ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Good point. Might include MPGS and other FTRS personnel too?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Blue Fuzz

I think it’s more like 140k.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago

I do wonder why diversity is an issue in the public services, or any job for that matter. Surely it’s best to completely ignore someones’ gender/race etc. and just hire the best individual for the job?

As long as you have equal opporunity, and don’t discriminate against anyone, the outcome shouldn’t matter.

I might be wrong, but I think certain public services have targets to meet based on race/gender, which seems to be a big step backwards to me.

Phylyp
Phylyp
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

It’s a bit of both, I’d say. It always helps to analyze diversity to see how good the outreach of recruitment/retention efforts are. Is “group X” under-represented because they’re not interested (which might be fine, or is a hint to tailor recruitment messages towards them), why does “group Y” leave the service at a higher than normal rate, etc. Now, group X could be a group based on age (e. g. Gen Z), gender, or ethnicity/colour, or other factors (including non-controversial factors like left-handedness). Unfortunately, human nature is such that you put a number in front of people, and they… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

I don’t mind if it broadens the appeal of the armed forces to certain groups where it may be less popular. Can help get recruitment numbers up.

With Crapita at the recruitment helm, the army needs all the help it can get attracting people.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

Hi Jack, You ask a very telling question. We don’t and probably never will have proper equality, although we can and should get much closer than we currently are. I have some experience with discrimination as I’m a disabled person. After I was made redundent from my defence company job I found it impossible to find another full time job. After banking my head against the brickwall for several years I’m now trying to set up a business instead. I have financial backing and people wanting to work with me, just need to find the first project opportunit now… I… Read more »

NF
NF
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Very enlightening addition, thank you

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I found it hard to believe that a new building like the Glasgow hydro does not have disabled access built into it. I was sure it was built to standards but do not know the ins and outs of the story.
As is said you never know how hard it can be for some people until you are in there position.
I’m always hopeful things will always get better.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
29 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Hi Monkey spanker, Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me. Standards are not regulations and the regulations are quite week and they are not enforced as well as they should be. Construction is an able bodied industry and frankly clueless for the main part. As for things getting better. I’m nearly 60 and in my lifetime for all practical purposese nothing and I mean nothing has changed. A few (parked on) drop kirbs, and poorly (and sometime inaccessible!!!) disabled toilets change do not make. Any building with steps basically says ‘Disabled Not Welcome’. Walk down your local high street or around even… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack

I am sure that Capita recruits any suitable applicant, regardless of gender/race – and it is only retrospectively that the numbers are worked out and published.

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Crapita are lucky to recruit anyone, certainly with their previous record of slowness, unrealistic interpretations of medical history and general crapiness!

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
1 month ago

You can fit the whole British army in Wembley stadium!!!, with their equipment parked in the car park outside.

The RN/RM and the RAF will into Twickenham.

Its a good job we are a sporting nation but that is about the limits of the good news as the UKs armed forces are in dire straits at the moment despite the political rhetoric about investment.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Oh, great, this tired analogy again.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Boring isn’t it, normally utilised by people who have never served and unaware of actual capability and ability. Cheers mate.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Mate, your back. Good.

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago

Cheers mate!

Klonkie
Klonkie
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Agreed, but there are some looming capability gaps within the TA reserves. They don’t appear to have any artillery support asset. I can’t find any reference to any current artillery reserve batteries? Am I missing something here?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Klonkie, It hasnt been called the TA since 2012 (Army Reserve now).

Many, many gunner units – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_Army_Reserve_Units_(2021)#Royal_Regiment_of_Artillery

Klonkie
Klonkie
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Thanks Graham . I’m giving away my age by referencing TA! I should clarify my point relates to the number of guns available to the corresponding number of active/reserve light brigades.

Being ex Air Force , I’m no expert on matters artillery but the number of 105 light guns available seems , well… light?

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Mate we have gaps in many parts certainly CS and CSS, but Reserves Arty has light gun and AD and GMLRS. Not many, not well supported but they are there. Cheers.

Klonkie
Klonkie
29 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

much obliged Airborne – I completely overlooked the GMLRS!- good point.

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

But your still right Klonkie as the reserves are certainly very light on pretty much everything, to include the Light Guns lol. However we have to be realistic and for the last 10 years the Regular Army has been pretty much a cluster so little hope for the reserves and their prospects mate! Sad but unfortunately true.

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Usually also with comments like “oh I serve my country in a different way.”

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

👍😆!

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
29 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Yet anouther who hides behind a nick name “Airborne” How many jumps ? I do believe that the little click that likes to slag off any one who dose not agree with them or their points of view, so cannot possible be right, seem to think they are the sole providers of “Real Gen” and the rest of us mere mortals are just cannon fodder to be treated with utter contempt if we have the nerve to voice an opinion. The UK armed forces are at there lowest ebb in living memory and so we must all try to convince… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago

WTF are you rattling on about! Calm your pants, remove gigantic chip from shoulder and learn to interact in a more grown up way! Blimey is it still school holidays?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago

Hey, leave Airborne alone. His comments are pure gold. He does not dispute that the army has many problems.

Airborne
Airborne
28 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hey thanks Graham, very nice of you to say so 🍻

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Back on your high horse again are we,
We get told on a daily basis by the powers that be that “We get more with less” but I don’t see any one looking down there nose at these remarks
You get “Less with Less” and the more people understand that the quicker it will be before the government stops lying to the general public.

So I will apologise for the worn out analogy when the government starts telling the truth about the state of our armed forces. (soon the be down graded to a self defence force)

Dern
Dern
29 days ago

Awww, you said a dumb thing and got called on it and now playing hurt feelings. So sad.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Well who ever you are (I do not hide behind a nick name) you seem to take a grate pleasure in talking down to people I just wonder if you do the same when the person is in front of you. Are you a back room clerk working for an obscure department in the Civil Service working out your frustrations as no one will listen to you at work, as that is what you come across as. May be you are a real nice person but to hid behind a nick name slagging people off on an open forum makes… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
29 days ago

SAR- Whilst I disagree with the nature of your commentary in your first post, you have a right as a tax payer to voice your opinion.

The realty is that this forum has knowledgeable and experienced people contributing valuable insights. If you ask a question as opposed to making an empty statement , you are likely to get meaningful answer . Just my 2p worth!

Airborne
Airborne
29 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Cheers Klonkie, I just replied to Derns comment about the oft used but silly Wembley Stadium analogy in regard to military numbers we all see being used by commentators and I’m getting my nuts tugged by an angry SAR! Bloody hell no wonder I don’t bother with Facebook if that’s the level of grumpiness you get on social media….🤮👍!

Klonkie
Klonkie
29 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

I can but only agree with you Airborne. Wembley stadium analogy – nuts!

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
28 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

I don’t bother with Facebook for the same reason, but I feel passionate enough about the state of the UKs armed forces to put my head above the parapet under my real name so I can be counted. I may not be up to date with all the latest Gen but what I do know is that you can not do More with Less as we are constantly being told by our so call political elite.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago

Stephen, we all agree with you.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
28 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hello Graham, Just getting a bit fed up with the little click who seem to take grate pleasure in trying to belittle people who refuse to accept or question the proper gander put out by the government. I accept being patriotic is now seem as being a dinosaur but maybe if the old dinosaurs like me start nipping at the heals of the decision makers then maybe we can have a small influence and help the guys on the front line get some proper kit so that they then can do their job correctly.

Airborne
Airborne
28 days ago

Real name or not for an avatar, my head has been over that parapet for fucking real, on many many occasions and I am fully aware of the real and ongoing issues within my previous 29 years served organisation. I will comment both serious and light hearted, as I see fit but do me a favour, cut out the keyboard fucking Rambo shit and the abusive nappy mouth. Grow up, don’t get excited about putting your real name on here, as some of us are still not able to do so, for any amount of previous or current reasoning, even… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
27 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Well Mr Angry what can I say, apart from take the mirror away when you are in front of the key board as you seem to be talking about yourself!!!

Airborne
Airborne
27 days ago

See, there you go again! Bloody hell how old are you? Stop waffling chuff, grow up and maybe re-evaluate your initial, yes initial, post to me. You replied to a random post which I was replying to another poster. You got angry, you got patronising then you got sad. FFS good luck to the mob you may have served on as they must have been a bit chip shop.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
26 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

There is that PTSD creeping in again!!

Airborne
Airborne
26 days ago

PTSD is a real issue for many of the lads and you see fit to use it to score points and a term of piss take! Total chip shop special you are, sad sad sad! And yet again you totally ignore the fact you replied to a generic post that wasn’t to you, you sent me a rather abusive rant, and when you get a reply you don’t seem to like challenging you, you revert to troll behaviour. As previously stated, very sad.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
26 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

I do not try to score points at all I simply put my ideas over the net,

I do however feel for you as I recognise the symptoms of PTSD as I myself have suffered from it in the past. It took me about 10 years to get over it. That is why I mentioned it and if you took it the wrong way then indeed I do apologise but I would recommend that you talk to someone about it as it will eat you up from the inside.

Airborne
Airborne
26 days ago

Thanks for the concern but no issues my end in regard to PTSD, so please can we get back to defence matters and no more 👜 stuff 👍 cheers!

Airborne
Airborne
26 days ago

And if you read my history of comments Steve you will see you and I are more often than not singing off the same song sheet when it comes to the concern for the current state of most of our military! It is dire in some areas but reasonably healthy in others and we all need to be supporting and championing the modern, forward thinking ideas and plan, but also raising hell about the rest. Cheers and keep posting!

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
28 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Fair comment, I just wish some of the people with the knowledge would use it more constructively and help publish the real state of the UK’s armed forces instead of spending most of their time trying to belittle people who are not in their little click.

Klonkie
Klonkie
28 days ago

Mate, we can agree on your concern on the sate of the military being far from acceptable. I’m no expert, but it does seem the army has the thin edge of the funding edge. So I share your frustration. I recall the narrative in the early 1990s of “the peace dividend” requiring about half the defence funding of the 1980’s. So say 2 to 2.3% of GDP. Logically that suggests force levels circa half cold war size. Problem off course is the cost of modern assets spiraled (large type 26 frigates, type 45 destroyers, F35 etc) . So have force… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
27 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

You are right, but until we start spending at least 2.5% to 3% of GDP on defence then we are not going to make any inroads into the problems we have at the moment and I do believe that the politicians from all sides of the house would rather donate their left tactical to science than put more money into the forces. The army has suffered more under the present government.

klonkie
klonkie
27 days ago

no argument on that Sir!

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

159,000 total Regular British military personnel … what a joke!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Makes us only the 5th or 6th biggest military in Europe. Embarrassing for Global Britain.

Steve R
Steve R
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not really.

In terms of personnel, yes only the 5th or 6th. In terms of capability we’re either first or second.

The Royal Navy is the most powerful navy in Europe. No other European nation fields two large aircraft carriers.

We also have one of the largest air forces in Europe.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I can see why you don’t mention the army – its capability is so hollowed out these days.

Last edited 28 days ago by Graham Moore
Puffing Billy
Puffing Billy
1 month ago

People tend to forget that work, especially 3rd and 4th line, that was done within the 3 services years ago is now contracted out to private industry. The MOD thus saves on housing, pensions etc etc etc.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

So, not really a Boza fan then Gemma???

You are absolutely correct about the lack of depth of equipment in our armed forces, but, all colours of government have contributed to this decline over several decades if not more. The real fight is fixing it, as tortuous, difficult and time consuming as it might be.

Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Agreed, the question though is how do you build political will for increased spending without striking fear into people’s heart – a poor electioneering tactic I’d guess.

I think we have to think about how we can use the armed forces and their unique skills sets to support other aspects of public life. Then you sell the other wins associated with this, better family life, less churn, better experience, more military sales (jobs in the regions) etc. etc.

Paul C
1 month ago

No fan of the Tories but Labour also made deep cuts, particularly to the RN. To their credit they did order the carriers and invested in the amphibious capability but destroyer/frigate, SSN and minor war vessel numbers were all heavily pruned back and several critical projects (e.g. MARS support ships) kicked into the long grass. SDR 1998 promised 32 destroyers and frigates for example, by 2009 the RN was down to 23. Both main parties are guilty of short-termism, inadequate investment and not fulfilling their promises on defence.

Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago

I think we need to start a bit of systems thinking as it applies to the armed forces. We need to factor in other dimensions that benefit, or suffer, by operating a larger armed force and how we could use their resources in different ways. For instance, if we increase the number of people and equipment generally and maintained similar number of tours we’d improve morale and reduce wear on equipment. But we could then free people up to support other activities and allow us to sell on older equipment to ensure we have a continuous development cycle and build… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

The problem is that politicians don’t think that way. They tend to only think about until the next election. Defence isn’t a great vote-winner, either, so isn’t a great priority for many MPs. Even though Boris and Rishi increased the defence budget by £4 billion a year it’s still resulted in cuts to numbers and assets, as most of it simply went to fill a black hole. Only way to really increase the size and equipment depth of the armed forces is with even further funding, which won’t come any time soon. Had it been an extra £6 billion a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Shall I list the Labour cuts 97-2010 Gemma?

Lets leave the party blame game out of it.

Example, RN escorts fell from 35 to 23 under Labour – 12
23 to 19, now 17 under Tories. – 6.

Fast Jets, I count 23 Fast jet squadrons in the FAA and RAF down to 12 in 2010.
Currently 8.

SSN. 15 to 8.

WHO made the deeper cuts?

coll
coll
1 month ago

Diversity bahaha

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

While it does give a nice ego boost, I honestly wouldn’t put too much stock in it. Makes a nice headline, but without knowing the details in how the exercise was run and what the plans where, it’s just an ego boost.

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

Surely the question is how small our armed forces are now, especially the army which in current plans will be reduced to hitherto unprecedented cuts even by MOD standards. Not even comparable in size to our major European ‘allies’. Embarrassing and totally unnecessary and unwarranted.

Stephen McCreadie
Stephen McCreadie
1 month ago

Boston dynamics want the business

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

I was reading the following article last night and does make me think that maybe cutting the numbers is the right thing to do currently. https://uklandpower.com/2021/11/01/state-of-the-union-summary-of-british-defence-priorities/ The budget is limited and with us living in peace time, that isn’t going to increase significantly anytime soon. Assuming a war doesn’t start unexpectedly, over the next decade or two, then rebuilding the equipment and creating a unified strategy makes sense, after the gear is resolved, the numbers can be slowly built up again. The other thought that i was having was the conclusion is partially wrong, they talk about us not being… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

The issue with not being a land warfare leader is that it sidelines you after the war is over, and sidelines you when you want your priorities represented in the planning stages. If you want to leave the land side to allies, then you need to be very aware that you will be at best labelled perfidious albion and at worst people will repeat the old myth that Britain will fight to the last Indian, American, Australian, etc, and understand that you do not get much of a say in how the war is directed. Also worth the remembering that… Read more »

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Recent history has told taught us that being on the side lines afterwards might be a positive. Allow us to exit when the job is done rather than getting messed up with the mess that really always follows a war, including if you think about the aftermath of ww1/ww2, they didn’t exactly benefit the UK.

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Steve

WW2 is a perfect example of being on the side-lines afterwards. The US and USSR practically ignored the UK’s wishes following the war. The UK still had the second largest navy in the world, but that doesn’t really count for much if you’ve not put the army in the field when you want to shape the peace to your advantage. WW1 we came out much better (though again, I can point to the underfunded army as being an issue: Yes Britain could blockade Germany and turn the war into an attritional nightmare for Germany, but a large conventional army could’ve… Read more »

Steve
Steve
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Also thinking about it, in the modern world you can’t really go into a country and then expect to asset strip it after like happened historically. Now a days the expectations would be for rebuilding the country after, which would come at huge cost, so avoiding some of that has to be a positive to the UK economy.

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Depends, Rebuilding Germany was if anything a net benefit to the Americans (in general rebuilding the country instead of leaving it an impoverished pariah state that will be forced to try to stir up trouble again is a good thing).

How hard it is to rebuild a country is pretty much a direct correlation to how badly you stuff up pacifying it in the first place.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago
Reply to  Dern

British Army was 2.9m by the end of WW2 and was certainly in the field.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

The Options for Change defence review (mid 1990) reduced the army from 160,000 to 120,000 regulars, deemed to be the right size for a post Cold War army. Further multiple reductions have been solely to save money and have not been based on diminishing threats. An army of 72,000 regulars (smaller than Spain’s army) is hard pressed to field a strong war-fighting division – Gen Dannatt believed it to be impossible – one or possibly two BCTs would be the most we could deploy, except in the case of an existential war. If we cannot deploy a strong division we… Read more »

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I don’t think you’ll see the US considering France a reliable partner any time in the future.
Pulling out of NATO, refusing to follow them into Iraq, they don’t have a good track record, and when they’re withdrawing ambassadors over a lost defence deal, they seem set to continue it (and really France has a strong, not anti-US, but “We are our own country and don’t do whatever the US wants” vibe, which aggravates Washington. They prefer a ally who answers “jump” with “how high” which, I’m sad to say, the UK very much is).

Steve
Steve
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

You have to remember the US doesn’t need anyone else to go to war with them. They have the assets to do it alone. The reason they like international partners is to help justify the action and say it’s an international effort. We need to stop focusing on being lapdog of US and setting up for all types of conflicts as leading member and really stop with the rubbish about hitting above our weight, and instead focus on specific capability and excel on it. Rapid deployable seems to be that currently and it probably suits our strengths and priorities (island… Read more »

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Steve

If we are worrying that France would supplant us as the US’s go too ally, then you need to consider what France acts like, and the US does need allies, as much as they spend they don’t have the ability to project enough power everywhere they want to at the same time. One of the reasons they want more European Defence Spending (while at the same time not wanting it, it’s complicated) is because they’re worried about having to deploy significant forces to Europe and the Far East at the same time. Rapid Deployable is a fiction for all but… Read more »

Steve
Steve
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Massive logistic chain rapidly slow deployment in the longer term though and come at a cost we can’t really afford.

Agree the tanks provide a big deterrence but I suspect a boxer with a proper gun would probably similar deterrence. Clearly they need a proper gun, but with the retirement of the warriors, you have to assume they will get them eventually

Dern
Dern
29 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Kind of the British Army can’t maintain a longer term armoured deployment of any scale anyway, it never has. Even at the theoretical height of the Cold-War Army, Op Granby was effectively a one shot of every armoured vehicle the BAOR could scrape together. But once your in theatre then it’s no longer strategic mobility, but operational mobility, and then yes, tanks are not as mobile as medium weight armour, of course not. It’s that old iron triangle again. Really the limiting factor is it’s harder to maintain Tanks at high readiness constantly, but it’s not impossible, and it just… Read more »

Steve
Steve
29 days ago
Reply to  Dern

My thought is that we have a very limited budget that can’t cover the capability we have. As such as costs keep going up for new tech gear, capability will just keep getting sliced. So either we keep doing wide spread cuts, cutting each capability a little and gradually reducing everything uniformally, and resulting in none of the assets being in big enough numbers to be used in any war and meaning the armed forces are totally undeployable, or we accept we can’t do everything and abandon certain capability, whilst channeling that money into others. It just won’t be popular,… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Steve
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Dern, you surely exaggerate a bit. BAOR in 1990/91 was 3 divisions in Germany under a Corps HQ. We deployed one Div (-) to Op Granby so not all A Vehicles went to the desert. A lot of A Vehs which did not deploy were however pillaged for spares. In terms of operational mobility tanks are not as mobile as medium weight armour, it is true – but if you need a tank to do the job, you send a tank, even if it takes a bit longer than a ‘medium’ but don’t forget that you can operationally move heavy… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
28 days ago
Reply to  Steve

We invented the tank in 1916. It has only ever deployed operationally overseas in an expeditionary sense. We manage to deploy tanks (and other AFVs) with the big logistic tail. Its not impossible. We clearly stand the cost of so doing.

We have used tanks more in a hot war, than the Navy has used their ships and submarines in anger (1982 was too far ago to count as a recent conflict). Tanks are not just deterrents, they actually get used.

Steve R
Steve R
29 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

This would depend on the type of war.

Against the likes of China it’s boats in the water, rather than boots on the ground, that will matter, and in that the Royal Navy still has the edge on the French Marine Nationale. In such a case we would be a greater asset in a coalition.

Ste Ships
Ste Ships
29 days ago

When I served in the 90’s the Army alone was 120k

Silentme
Silentme
29 days ago

Back in 1999 just after the second round of volunteering for early retirement. In the Signals we were already 6000 staff down… politicians should never dable in defence as an easy target.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Silentme

Politicians have cut defence numbers usually once or twice a decade since the end of the Korean War. They won’t change the habit of a lifetime unless World War 3 looms.

Taff
Taff
29 days ago

Did you know the army has more horses than tanks,the British is still its lowest since the 1700’s.We could never take part in a full scale operation like Op Granby 1990,every army used look at us in awe.Not anymore I’m afraid.The Navy is as small as it was before the Spanish armada episode. Its a joke…..God help us if we ever came under threat of invasion…..

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
25 days ago
Reply to  Taff

Hi Taff, the army has always had more horses than tanks, more Generals than attack helos etc etc. But the main point is that the army is really small as you say; it has a mere ‘aspiration’ to be able to deploy a warfighting div by 2025, but that was stated a while back and before the cut to 72,500 was mooted. I think we could only deploy one or two BCTs at best on a major operation, unless we called up much of the Reserve Army. The heavy metal vehicles and arty are all ancient, Ajax is a joke,… Read more »

Bill Masen
Bill Masen
9 days ago

The BAOR used to be 55,000 on its own, Then we had the UKLF and the TAVR, these days theres simply not enough to even defend the Home counties. I’m glad I’m getting old because in the next major war we fight we will get hammered.