Future of the British Army (Army 2020 Refine)

Army 2020 Refine, formerly known as Future Army Structure (Next Steps) or FAS (Next Steps), is the name given to an ongoing restructuring of the British Army, and in particular its fighting brigades.


The British Government gave an indication of its proposals for the future structure of the Army in early 2008, in a press report stating that it was considering restructuring the Army into a force of three deployable divisional headquarters and eight 'homogenous or identical' brigades, each with a spread of heavy, medium and light capabilities. This report indicated that the existing 16 Air Assault Brigade would be retained as a high-readiness rapid reaction force.[1]

Subsequently, it was reported that the former Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, wanted to see the Army structured so as to extend the interval between operational tours from two to two-and-a-half years.[2]

In 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review was published. As part of the plans, the British Army will be reduced by 23 regular units, and by 2020 will number 117,000 soldiers, of whom 82,000 would be regulars and 30,000 will be reservists.[3] The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 increased the planned number of reservists from 30,000 to 35,000.

On 7 June 2012, the Secretary of State for Defence set out some key considerations for the future of the British Army.[4] Refinements to the plans following the 2015 Review became known as "Army 2020 Refine".[5] Further changes were announced in a written statement in December 2016,[6] and detailed in a Freedom of Information response in March 2017.[7]

Originally envisaged structure

The originally envisaged future structure was announced on 19 July 2011 in a briefing paper entitled Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions.[8] This structure had five identical multi-role brigades, each of around 6,500 personnel.[9] However, in June 2012 a significantly different structure known as Army 2020 was announced.[10]

The divisional headquarters of 2nd, 4th and 5th Divisions were disbanded in 2012 and replaced by a single formation known as Support Command, based at Aldershot.[8]

The five multi-role brigades envisaged in 2011 would have comprised:[11]

Combat Support and Logistics would have been retained at divisional level. It was envisaged that 19th Light Brigade, which is currently part of 3rd Mechanised Division, would be disbanded.[12]

Army 2020 Refine

According to the British Army, the post-SDSR 2015 Army 2020 plan is called "Army 2020 Refine".[5] The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 announced that the structure of the Reaction and Adaptable Forces would further change, in an evolution of the previous Army 2020 plan. The main changes of Army 2020 Refine are:

  • Creation of two new "Strike brigades", to be formed by converting an Armoured Infantry brigade and an Infantry brigade. These will be formed by 2025, comprising 5,000 personnel each, equipped with Ajax vehicles.
  • The UK's 3rd division will, by 2025, comprise two armoured infantry brigades, a strike brigade, and a strike experimentation group.[13]
  • Creation of a Specialised Infantry Group, to be formed by converting four infantry battalions and creation of a new battalion and training cell.
  • Two innovative brigades will be established, comprising a mix of regulars and specialist capabilities from the reserves, that are able to contribute to strategic communications, tackle hybrid warfare and deliver better battlefield intelligence.[14]

Strike brigades & Armoured Infantry brigades

The armoured infantry brigades will be reduced from three to two. In a Defence Committee hearing, Chief of the General Staff Sir Nicholas Carter stated that "each of these [Strike] brigades will have two AJAX regiments and probably two Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) battalions as well." There will be around 50 to 60 Ajax vehicles per Strike Brigade.[15]

A December 2016 written statement[6] stated that the first Strike Brigade to form would consist of:

Other units such as 1 Regiment RLC, 1 Close Support Battalion REME, 3 Medical Regiment and 21 Engineer Regiment will provide close support to this Strike Brigade.[16] 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and 4th Regiment Royal Artillery are assigned to the Strike Brigades.

Specialised Infantry Group

A total of five Specialised Infantry battalions, around 300 personnel strong, are being formed from:[17][18]

Other changes

Several units will be closed, with all manpower in those units being redeployed to other areas of the Army in its refined structure. These are:

35 Engineer Regiment was however retained and reformed as an explosive ordnance and search regiment.[19]

32nd Regiment Royal Artillery was also initially planned to be placed under suspended animation.[20] This was reverted in October 2019.[21]

The Scottish and Prince of Wales' Divisions of Infantry will merge, incorporating The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Welsh Regiment and The Royal Irish Regiment. This administrative division will be called the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division. The Mercian Regiment from the Prince of Wales’ Division will join with the King's Division.

Foxhound-equipped units will no longer be assigned those vehicles but will only have them available before deployment or operations.[22]

Field Army restructuring 2019

The Field Army was restructured in July/August 2019 in order to meet the threats of the future. The following list the new structure of the Field Army.[23][24][25]

1st (United Kingdom) Division

3rd (United Kingdom) Division

6th (United Kingdom) Division (formerly Force Troops Command)

The full future British Army structure under Army 2020 Refine can be found here.

Original Army 2020 structure

At the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in June 2012, the army's Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall set out a significantly different army structure from that foreseen in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The new structure was confirmed by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, on 5 July 2012. The Army Command will comprise the reaction force, the adaptable force, and force troops:[26][27][28]

The Reaction Force

The 16 Air Assault Brigade, comprising two battalions of the Parachute Regiment and two Army Air Corps regiments of attack helicopters. This will deliver a very high readiness Lead Air Assault Task Force, with the rest of the brigade ready to move at longer notice.

The 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division, renamed the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division, comprising three armoured infantry brigades: 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade and 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.[29] These three brigades will rotate, with one being the lead brigade, a second undergoing training and the third involved in other tasks. The lead brigade will deliver a Lead Battlegroup at very high readiness, with the rest of the brigade at longer notice. Each armoured infantry brigade will be made up of:

The complete air assault brigade and a full mechanised brigade will be available for deployment within three months. All three brigade's HQs are to be based in the Salisbury Plain Training Area.[30]

The Adaptable Force

The 1st Armoured Division, renamed as the 1st (United Kingdom) Division, along with Support Command. Comprises seven infantry brigades (4th, 7th, 11th, 38th, 42nd, 51st and 160th) of various sizes, each made up of paired regular and Territorial Army forces, drawn from an Adaptable Force pool of units.[30] These infantry brigades will be suited to domestic operations or overseas commitments (such as the Falkland Islands, Brunei and Cyprus) or, with sufficient notice, as a brigade level contribution to enduring stabilisation operations. This force pool will comprise:

  • Three light cavalry, paired with three yeomanry regiments, each comprising:
    • 3 sabre squadrons, each with 16 Jackal vehicles;
  • Six light protected mobility infantry battalions equipped with Foxhound vehicles, each comprising:
    • 3 rifle companies
    • 1 support company.
  • Several light role infantry battalions, each comprising:
    • 3 rifle companies
    • 1 support company.
  • 102 Logistic Support Brigade.

Force Troops Command

This will comprise:

The table above provides the general structure of the British Army once Army 2020 is completed. It excludes regiments like the Corps of Music or units under other commands such as the air defence regiments.

There are three Foot Guards incremental companies stationed in London, and one Line Infantry incremental company stationed in Edinburgh.[33]

Royal Armoured Corps

Four of the Royal Armoured Corps' Regiments will merge into two regiments:[34]

Royal Artillery

39 Regiment Royal Artillery will disband, with its Multiple Launch Rocket Systems being transferred to the rest of the Royal Artillery and Territorial Army.

In accordance with the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the number of AS-90 self-propelled guns will be reduced by 35%.[35] The number of active Challenger 2 tanks was cut by around forty per cent, and by 2014 had been reduced to 227.[36]

12th and 16th Royal Artillery will continue to be placed under a joint Army-RAF unit, Joint Ground-Based Air Defence Command.[33][37][38]


Four of the British Army's 36 regular infantry battalions will be disbanded or merged with sister units in their regiments:

A fifth battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, will be reduced to a single company to carry out public duties in Scotland.

However, through the 2020 reforms, 3 new battalions of infantry (1 regular, 2 reserve) have been created including:[39][40]

Joint Helicopter Command/Army Air Corps

The Joint Helicopter Command will remain an integral part of the land force. The Army Air Corps will be reduced by one regular regiment. 1 and 9 Regt AAC will merge with the new Wildcat helicopter not before Oct 2015.[41] One Regiment will be at high readiness annually, with one Apache Squadron committed towards the Lead Armoured Battlegroup. 653 AAC will be an Operational Training Squadron from 2015, leaving the Apache Regiments with four active squadrons altogether. The government pledged to upgrade 50 AgustaWestland Apache to AH-64E standard, however, an 11 May 2017 US government contract list states that only 38 will be re-manufactured.[42][43][44][45]

Army Reserve

The Territorial Army will be renamed the Army Reserve, and will be expanded from 19,000 to 30,000 personnel.[46] Its military equipment will be upgraded to meet the standards of the regular army[3] and its units will be realigned.[47] The 2015 review increased the intended strength of the Reserves to 35,000.[48]

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The regular component of the REME structure will reduce by one battalion to seven regular battalions. 101 Force Support Battalion will be disbanded not before autumn 2015.

Royal Military Police

As part of the drawdown from Germany, the Royal Military Police will lose one regiment, 4 Regiment RMP. The three remaining regiments will be re-organised.[41]


British Forces Royal Logistic Corps in Germany will be withdrawn back to the UK by 2015:

  • 8 Regiment RLC disbanded (formerly at BFG Munster and late York Barracks) on 31 March 2012.
  • 24 Regiment RLC (part of 104th Logistic Support Brigade) will disband in Bielefeld, Germany in August 2013.
  • 23 Pioneer Regiment RLC (part of 104th Logistic Support Brigade) at Bicester disbands in 2013/14.

Note: There is no mention of where 12 Close Logistics Regiment will be in the Army 2020 documents. Newspapers say it will be disbanded.[49]

Formation structure

Regular units only, table does not include Force Troops Command Units or Logistics Brigades

3rd (United Kingdom) Division
BrigadeArmoured CavalryArmouredArmoured InfantryHeavy Protected Mobility
Strike Brigade HCR RDG 1 YORKS
Strike Experimentation Group RL KRH 1 SG
12th Armoured Infantry BrigadeRTR1 R WELSH
20th Armoured Infantry BrigadeQRH5 RIFLES
1st (United Kingdom) Division (rotation until 1 September 2016)
BrigadeLight CavalryLight Protected Mobility InfantryLight Role Infantry
Specialized Infantry Group 1 SCOTS
4th Infantry BrigadeLD2 YORKS [50]
7th Infantry BrigadeQDG2 R ANGLIAN
11th Infantry Brigade1 WG
1 RGR[50]
38th Irish Infantry Brigade1 R ANGLIAN
Headquarters North West2 LANCS
51st Infantry BrigadeSCOTS DG3 SCOTS2 SCOTS[33]
160th Infantry Brigade1 RIFLES[33]
16th Air Assault Brigade
InfantryAir CorpsSupport troops


7 (Para) RHA
23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault)
216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron
13 Air Assault Support Regiment
16 Close Support Medical Regiment
7 Air Assault Battalion REME.[33]
Other commands
FormationLight Protected MobilityLight Role
British Forces Cyprus1 LANCS
1 PWRR[50]
British Forces Brunei2 RGR[33]
London District1 CLDM GDS
1 IG
2 SG1

1: The colours and traditions of the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland are each perpetuated by a reinforced infantry company serving as a permanent public duties unit


An initial basing plan located infantry brigades throughout the United Kingdom, with the three reaction force brigades situated in the Salisbury Plain Training Area.[51] On 5 March 2013, a future basing plan of units in the UK was released.[30] As noted above, all Germany-based units will be relocated to the UK, with the Salisbury Plain area holding the largest concentration of troops.

See also


  1. "British Army proposes to revamp brigade structure". Jane's Defence Weekly: 4. 9 July 2008.
  2. Harding, Thomas (20 January 2009). "General Sir Richard Dannatt announces major Army changes". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  3. Army 2020 announcement confirms Army to be reduced by 23 units Archived May 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Defence Secretary on Army 2020". Ministry of Defence. 7 June 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  5. "Army Information Sub-Strategy (2015 – 2018)" (PDF). British Army. November 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army: Written statement - HCWS367". Hansard. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  7. Army Secretariat (10 March 2017). "Response to FOI2017/02130 - Request for information related to Army 2020 Refine" (PDF). publishing.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  8. Taylor, Claire (15 November 2011). "Briefing Paper SN06038 Defence Basing Review: Headline Decisions" (PDF). House of Commons Library.
  9. Harding, Thomas (19 October 2010). "Defence review: Army to face less pain than RAF and Navy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  10. General Sir Peter Wall on Future Army 2020 on YouTube
  11. "Britain lowers its military sights". International Institute for Strategic Studies. 19 October 2010.
  12. Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence (18 July 2011). "Defence Transformation". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 643–645.
  13. "Daily Hansard". HM Government. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  14. "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015" (PDF). HM Government. November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  15. "Oral evidence - SDSR 2015 and the Army - 14 Jun 2016". Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  16. "Soldier Jan 2017".
  17. "Oral evidence: SDSR 2015 and the Army, HC 108". Hansard. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  18. "Specialised Infantry Group". British Army. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  19. UK Ministry of Defence (31 January 2017). "Further supplementary evidence submitted by the Ministry of Defence". parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  20. "Strategic Defence and Security Review - Army:Written statement - HCWS367". www. parliament.uk. UK Hansard. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  21. "32 Regiment Royal Artillery - Wessex Gunners". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2019-10-08.
  22. "UK reorganises Foxhound units". IHS Janes. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  23. "Army restructures to confront evolving threats". British Army. Upavon. 1 August 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  24. Burgess, Sally (1 August 2019). "British Army to train cyber spies to combat hackers and digital propaganda". Sky News. London. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  25. Nicholls, Dominic (1 August 2019). "British Army to engage in social media warfare as new cyber division unveiled". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  26. Chuter, Andrew (7 June 2012). "Top Officials Offer Glimpse of a Restructured British Army". Defense News. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  27. Defence Cuts: How The Army Will Be Overhauled Archived June 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  28. "British Army looks to reactive and adaptive division". Jane's Defence Weekly. 49 (26): 5. 27 June 2012.
  29. Kirkup, James (5 March 2013). "Famed Desert Rats to lose their tanks under Army cuts". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  30. "Regular army basing plan" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  31. British Army Journal 2014 (PDF) (2014 Yearbook ed.). Newsdesk Media. 2014. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-906490-95-9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 August 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  32. "Freedom of Information" (PDF). British Army Journal. 2014. p. 140. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  33. "Regular Army Basing Matrix By Formation And Unit" (PDF). Army Families Federation. 2015. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  34. Beale, Jonathan (5 July 2012). "Army to lose 17 units amid job cuts". BBC News. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  35. Heyman, Charles (2011). The Armed Forces of the European Union, 2012-2013. Casemate Publishers. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-84415-519-4.
  36. Akinyemi, Aaron (29 March 2014). "British Army has just 227 tanks left after spending cuts". International Business Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  37. http://www.1846southall.com/The%20Royal%20Air%20Force.pdf
  38. "Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06: House of Commons Defence Committee Written Questions". publications.parliament.uk. 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  39. britisharmedforcesreview.files.wordpress.com (PDF) https://britisharmedforcesreview.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/army-2020-refine-orbat.pdf. Retrieved 2018-12-22. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. "Royal Gurkha Rifles". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  41. Transforming the British Army Annex D Archived June 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  42. "654 Squadron's Last Parade Before Disbandment". Forces TV. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  43. "3 Regiment Army Air Corps" (PDF). The Eagle. Wattisham Flying Station (Autumn 2014): 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  44. "MOD orders new fleet of cutting-edge Apache helicopters for Army". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  45. "CONTRACTS-ARMY". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  46. Watt, Nicholas (30 June 2013). "Reservists to fill frontline army gaps". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  47. "Summary of Army 2020 Reserve Structure and Basing Changes" (PDF). South East Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association. 3 July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  48. HM Government (November 2015). "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015" (PDF). p. 33. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  49. McGregor, Sam (5 March 2013). "Abingdon regiment to be disbanded". The Herald Series. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  50. "Archived copy". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2013-07-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  51. Army 2020 brochure Figure 6 Archived April 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.