Future Army 2020 - Defence Committee Contents


2  The Army 2020 plan

SDSR to Army 2020

7. The 2010 SDSR set out the Government's plans for Future Force 2020 which envisaged major changes to the structure and composition of each of the Services, including reductions in personnel and equipment. The Army component of Future Force 2020 would comprise:

    light, specialist forces for short-duration interventions; sufficient multi-role forces to provide flexibility for larger or more complex intervention operations or to undertake enduring stabilisation operations; a contribution to our standing commitments including defending the South Atlantic Overseas Territories and UK tasks such as bomb disposal; and the ability to command UK and coalition forces at up to theatre level.[9]

8. The Army would be structured around five Multi-Role Brigades (MRB) plus 16 Air Assault Brigade and the Army component of 3 Commando Brigade: one MRB to be kept at high-readiness, available for an intervention operation, and four in support to provide the ability to sustain an enduring operation.[10] Each brigade would include reconnaissance forces, tanks and armoured infantry.[11] The SDSR also announced a reduction of 7,000 Army personnel to leave a Regular Force strength of 94,000 by 2015.[12] However the SDSR also acknowledged that further work was required.[13] The MoD was committed to further development of its plans, most notably through an internal three-month exercise in 2011 which was intended to ensure that the Department matched its assumptions with its spending settlement.[14] The SDSR set out plans for a basing review, including the return of UK Armed Forces from Germany by 2020,[15] and a six-month study into the future role and structure of UK Reserve Forces by an Independent Commission (the Future Reserves 2020: Independent Commission to review the United Kingdom's Reserve Forces).[16] The Commission was led by the then Vice Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, who was supported by Julian Brazier MP and Lieutenant General (retired) Sir Graeme Lamb. In a statement in the House of Commons on 18 July 2011, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, then Secretary of State for Defence, announced the outcome of the MoD's three-month review which included further reductions in Regular Army personnel. He told the House of Commons:

    By 2020, if the Territorial Army develops in the way we intend, we envisage a total force of around 120,000, with a Regular to Reserve ratio of around 70:30. This will be more in line with comparable countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.[17]

9. The MoD later clarified that the vision of an integrated Army would comprise "a trained strength of 82,000 Regulars and at least 30,000 Reserves, with a training margin of 8,000[18] Reserves".[19] This equated to a further reduction in the Regular Army of 12,000 personnel. The Army expects to reach these targets by 2018.[20] At the same time as the July 2011 announcements, the Government-commissioned independent review of the Reserves was published, concluding that "the wider picture is one of relative neglect and decline".[21] It argued for better integration of the Reserves into a 'Whole Force Concept' and made the case for an increase in the trained Army Reserve to 30,000 with an additional 8,000 personnel in training to sustain this number.[22] The Commission's report also noted that the overall size of the Reserve component had been steadily reducing citing the example of the Territorial Army which it said had a strength of "76,000 in 1990, yet some estimates put its trained and active strength as low as 14,000 today".[23] The report also noted that the percentage of reservists in the overall Force structure was low compared with international comparisons such as those of the US, Canada and Australia. Each of these had an Army with a 40-50% Reserve component compared to 20% in the UK Territorial Army.[24]

10. On 5 July 2012, the Secretary of State for Defence, made a statement to the House confirming plans for the Army to be based on the numbers of Regular and Reservist personnel set out in July 2011.[25] He also published the proposed force structure for the Army,[26] and announced that a consultation would be held in Autumn 2012 on the future of the Reserve Forces and their role in the UK Armed Forces.[27] During the course of our inquiry the Government has made further announcements. On 5 March 2013, the MoD announced the outcome of its Regular Army basing review.[28] This included further details of the arrangements for the withdrawal of UK Armed Forces from Germany. The MoD published a White Paper in July 2013 setting out plans for the Reserve Forces and measures to encourage recruitment to them.[29] In addition to the White Paper, the Army also published Transforming Army 2020: an update which included more details of the Reserve element of Army 2020.[30] At the same time, the Government also published the basing plan for Reserve Forces.[31]

REDUNDANCY SCHEME

11. Since the 2010 SDSR, an Armed Forces redundancy scheme has been taking place. So far there have been three tranches: tranches 1 and 2 were across all Services but tranche 3 applied only to the Army. Around 3,800 Army personnel were made redundant in tranches 1 and 2, and approximately 4,500 personnel are being made redundant in tranche 3.[32] A fourth tranche was announce on 23 January 2014 where it is envisaged 1,422 Army personnel will be made redundant.[33] Applicants for redundancy would serve up to six months notice and non-applicants facing compulsory redundancy, 12 months.[34] The July 2013 Army 2020 update stated that the majority of Army personnel selected for redundancy had been applicants.[35]

Strategic rationale of Army 2020

12. The MoD told us that "the strategic rationale for Army 2020 was derived from the SDSR and the associated National Security Strategy which laid out what the Army would be required to deliver in terms of types, frequency and concurrency of tasking" and that "the funding envelope was set by the Ministry of Defence as a result of the so-called three-month exercise".[36] The result announced in July 2011 was that the future Army would consist of around 82,000 Regular personnel and around 30,000 trained Reservists—an integrated Army of around 112,000. In this context, General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, instigated a study in July 2011, led by Lieutenant General Nick Carter, "into the future structure and role of the Army in the context of the strategic imperatives for the Army to change".[37] The MoD told us that these included:

·  an end to the assumption that the Army would be permanently engaged on an enduring stabilisation operation (i.e. Afghanistan);

·  a move from the Army's current structure and capabilities optimised for Afghanistan to a more adaptable posture to meet likely future threats;

·  an Army equally able to react to an enduring stabilisation operation and engaging with partner nations overseas to develop military capability to address causes of instability;

·  changing the nature of the Reserves to ensure routine use as part of an integrated Army;

·  an almost completely UK-based Army to engage civil society in a new manner; and

·  ensuring cost and efficiency remain a driver in the force design and optimisation of capability.[38]

ROLE OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

13. Given the significance and radical nature of the Army 2020 plans, we note with concern the February 2013 Report of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy which said:

    [...] major strategic policy changes appear to have been made by individual Government Departments without discussion at the NSC. Most notably, the big decisions made by the Ministry of Defence last year—the policy shifts set out in Future Reserves 2020 and Army 2020, in particular—do not appear to have been steered by the NSC; nor have we seen any evidence that the NSC has considered the implications of those decisions for wider security strategy.[39]

14. In its response to the JCNSS's concerns, the Government said:

    The NSC guided, discussed and endorsed the 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) and SDSR. In so doing, the NSC set the UK's overarching strategy and directed individual government departments to implement their respective elements within an agreed resource envelope. The Future Reserves and Army 2020 initiatives were developed in accordance with this direction, in order to transform and deliver effective Armed Forces able to meet the UK's future security and defence needs.

    Departments have a range of mechanisms available for consulting across government, including the NSC. In adjusting the Regular-Reserve balance and in determining the future scale and range of tasks for the Reserve Forces, the Government was broadly guided by an Independent Commission. The Future Reserves 2020 consultative Green Paper, published in November 2012, recognised the Commission's findings and also considered the wider implications of this initiative. The Green Paper was endorsed by the NSC. Army 2020 did not change the strategic direction agreed by the NSC in the SDSR.[40]

15. We are surprised that such a radical change to the Army's structure, reflecting a reduction of 12,000 personnel from that announced in SDSR 2010, was not discussed at the National Security Council (NSC). Even if the overall strategic vision had not changed, as the Government claims, the military ways and means of that strategy were considerably altered under Army 2020. We are firmly of the view that the NSC should have considered the Army 2020 plan. We recommend that the NSC should be involved in the evolution and development of Future Force 2020 in the run-up to the next SDSR in 2015.

Army 2020 structure

16. The July 2012 Army 2020 publication stated that to meet the increasingly uncertain future security challenges, beyond the current operation in Afghanistan, identified in the SDSR required a "generational change in its vision, structure, composition and capability to ensure that it can meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond".[41] The MoD told us that the Army 2020 study redefined the core purposes of the Army and determined that it should be capable of providing:

·  Contingent capability for deterrence and defence;

·  Defence engagement and overseas capacity building; and

·  UK engagement and the military contribution to homeland resilience.[42]

17. The components of the Army 2020 structure would be:

·  A Reaction Force (RF): that will be a higher readiness force undertaking short notice contingency tasks and providing the Army's conventional deterrence for Defence.[43] It will be trained and equipped to undertake the full spectrum of intervention tasks and will provide the initial basis for any future enduring operation.

·  An Adaptable Force (AF) comprising a pool of Regular and Reserve forces that will consist of 7 infantry brigades and a logistics brigade. This will be used for a wide range of tasks, including providing headquarters and units for enduring operations, acting as the primary source of capability for Defence Engagement at home and overseas,[44] as well as meeting standing tasks in the UK and abroad (e.g. Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Brunei and Public Duties).

·  Force Troops[45] will brigade Combat Support, Combat Service Support and Command Support in 'functional' formations, under a 2* [Major General] HQ, to maximise efficiency and sustainability.[46]

Figure 1: The Army 2020 Structure

Source: British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, p 4

Under Army 2020, General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, also envisaged an increased number of, and role for, contractors[47] (Sponsored Reserves).[48]

18. Although Army 2020 moved away from the five Multi-Role Brigade model announced in the SDSR, General Wall told us that the Army 2020 structure could "still deliver the five-MRB [Multi-Role Brigade] model from a mixture of the reaction and adaptable force".[49] He added:

    If you took MRBs, being Multi-Role Brigades, as they were known in the early days of SDSR, each of the three armoured infantry brigades in the reaction force can provide a Multi-Role Brigade. They might do that by using their existing equipment or by drawing on special equipment, such as that which comes back from Afghanistan. In the adaptable force, you have three lightish brigades—smaller in size and lighter in style—that can be given notice and formed into the fourth and fifth Multi-Role Brigades, which allows you to have the harmony cycle that we were talking about earlier. Now, that is dependent on getting the right equipment and capability mix, but it is how you would meet that requirement. We should recognise in this conversation that, although we are charged with providing the capability of an enduring brigade over time, it is thought to be a less likely thing for us to be engaging with in the future than perhaps it was in the last decade. But, given the training resource and the warning, that is what we can do.[50]

19. As well as setting out the proposed new structure for the Army, the plan announced there would be 17 fewer major units in the Army with a reduction of 23 units from the Order of Battle[51] in total by disbanding and merging several units. It also included an illustrative geographical basing blueprint for the Army which would see the Reaction Force centred on the Salisbury Plain training Area and the Adaptable Force Brigades, and those Force Troop brigades headquarters with regional responsibilities, being centred close to principal population centres across the UK.[52] A final basing laydown would be determined by an ongoing review.

20. During his statement on Army 2020, the Secretary of State for Defence told the House that it was intended to publish a consultation paper in Autumn 2012 setting out proposals to change the relationship between Defence, employers and Reservists to ensure that the full integration of Reserves could be achieved.[53] In addition he announced the establishment of an independent scrutiny team (now known as the Future Reserves 2020 External Scrutiny Group) to assess progress in reforming the Reserves, led by retired Lieutenant General Robin Brims, Chairman of the Council of Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations, which would make its first report in the summer of 2013.[54]

Army 2020 plans

21. The Army 2020 announcements caused some controversy, not just in respect of the decisions on specific units and regiments, but also on the wider strategic questions such as:

·  what the drivers behind the plans were;

·  how they had been developed and tested;

·  how the changes to the Army's size and structure would ensure that it could undertake the roles envisaged for it; and

·  what the revised role envisaged for Reservists was.

We sought to explore these areas with our witnesses during our inquiry.

22. Some commentators stated that the plans for Army 2020 were the most radical changes to the Army since conscription ended in 1962.[55] The Army 2020 document itself described the Army 2020 construct as representing "a fundamental and imaginative break from the way in which the British Army is currently structured" and the "change [was] as significant as any seen over the last fifty years".[56] General Wall, Chief of the General Staff did not dispute that the plans were radical. He told us:

    I think it is radical, yes. The circumstances in which the plan was hatched were certainly novel by the standards of recent decades, and it called for an opportunity for a significant rethink, which we were afforded the time to do by the Department, for which I am very grateful. So I think it is radical.[57]

TESTING AND EXPERIMENTATION OF ARMY 2020

23. In its written evidence the MoD set out how the Army 2020 plans had been developed:

    In undertaking the Army 2020 study, academics and historians were consulted, and comparisons were made with the US, Australia and Canada. Recent operational experience was also considered, as well as the work of those areas of the MoD who look at how those lessons might apply in the future where they are likely to be relevant for future operations.[58]

24. Major General Kevin Abraham, Director General Army Reform, outlined to us various activities that the Army and MoD used to test plans such as Army 2020. These included the MoD's strategic force development programme which "tests and runs evaluations against a range of scenarios and situations in different parts of the world, and draws conclusions from that".[59] Alongside the MoD's programme, the Army's Agile Warrior programme, which aims to provide an evidence base, drawn from lessons, research and experiments, upon which to base decisions on the future development of land forces, "had looked at a number of different sets of circumstances and tactical scenarios, different forms of threat, adversary, enemy and so on".[60] Major General Abraham said that "our conclusion was, essentially, absolutely that of the SDSR, which, as you well know, sets an adaptable posture as our strategic framework for defence and security".[61] He confirmed that this was an ongoing process:

    Both the Ministry of Defence's and the Army's own force development processes are continuous. We do not seek to make major adjustments every six months or every year, but we continually review what we are postulating in the design of a force against what we learn or derive both from that sort of activity and of course lessons from operations, and lessons from operations that other nations have taken part in but perhaps we have not.[62]

Major General Cullen, Assistant Chief of the General Staff, added:

    Indeed, even with our own plan, and accepting that the parameters within which it was designed have not necessarily changed today, we are constantly testing and evaluating. The design that we have made will inevitably with that process need to be fine-tuned and adjusted. So that is a very real and live process that is ongoing.[63]

25. However, this confidence in the testing of the Army 2020 plans was not shared by Air Vice-Marshal (retired) Paul Luker, Secretary, Future Reserves 2020 External Scrutiny Group,[64] who said that the plans had not been "fully and properly tested, other than on paper".[65] He told us that although the Future Reserves 2020 Independent Commission's proposition looked entirely achievable on paper "there are elements within it that still need to be tested more thoroughly than they currently are".[66] He was concerned that implementation of the plan, although at an early stage, was happening quickly and although the Future Reserves 2020 Independent Commission had advocated a phased implementation "those phases have been blurred into a single entity".[67] Air Vice-Marshal Luker highlighted recruiting as an area which showed that there were "elements [...] that are not fully tested and urgently need addressing".[68]

26. We have received no definitive evidence of an active experimentation programme in the development and implementation of Army 2020. Furthermore we note with concern that the Chief of the General Staff's update on the implementation of Army 2020, published in July 2013, provided no detail on experimentation. The MoD should set out in more detail, with specific examples, how the plans for Army 2020 were, and are, being tested and challenged.

Army 2020: financial drivers

27. In our 2011 Report on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the National Security Strategy (NSS), we noted "that reduction of the budget deficit [was] the Government's strategic priority" and that not to reduce the deficit "would have implications for maintaining the nation's security".[69] Although we did not discuss in that Report the measures used to reduce the deficit we had concerns about the effect on the defence budget.

28. General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, was candid in his description of the driving force behind the Army 2020 plan:

    I remember the genesis very clearly. It was a financially driven plan. We had to design a new structure that included the run-down of the 102,000 Regular Army to 82,000, which is pretty well advanced now, to follow a funding line that was driven by the austerity with which everybody is very familiar [...] It triggered the complete redesign of the Army.[70]

29. Given General Wall's acknowledgement that the plan was financially driven, we asked him who made the decisions on the size of the Army contained in Army 2020. He replied:

    I was told the size of the Regular Army by the Permanent Secretary. The size of the Reserve came out of the findings of the Houghton [Independent Reserves] commission.[71]

30. General Wall stated that he had not been "thrilled to bits" and that he "thought it was going to be a bit of a challenge to galvanise the Army into getting on with the job of shrinking and rebuilding".[72] He also confirmed to us that he did not make any representations to the then Secretary of State for Defence to ask him to review the decision.[73] General Wall outlined to us the process the Army followed to implement this decision:

    We were allowed to take a reasonably long-term, systematic view of how to interpret the National Security Strategy and pull together the two components—the Regular and the Reserve—into what we decided should be an integrated structure. We did that in the context of the three distinct roles for the Army that came out of the National Security Strategy: a contingent capability to deliver conventional deterrence and defence; the defence engagement proposition with upstream capacity building and building bilateral relationships with regional partners; and UK resilience operations in the homeland.

    What I am really saying is that after a bit of a shock, we were afforded the time to do a really thorough and systematic job, taking account of a lot of campaign lessons from Afghanistan, and experimentation and modelling, and with DSTL support to ensure that what we were doing was consistent with defence planning assumptions. What we put to the Secretary of State the following June, for announcement in July, was the product of a year's work. It was not, as tended to be the case in the previous couple of years, a series of three or four-month exercises conducted in haste.[74]

31. The Secretary of State for Defence accepted that Army 2020 was designed to fit a financial envelope:

    We have available to us a fixed envelope of resources, and making the decision to proceed with the draw-down of Regular force numbers to the target of about 82,000 and to build the Reserve over a period of five years allows us to take the dividend from the reduced size of the Regular force and invest in the recruitment, training and equipment provision of the Reserve forces.[75]

32. We note that the Secretary of State for Defence accepts that Army 2020 was designed to fit a financial envelope. We are concerned that this consideration took primacy over the country's abilities to respond to the threats, risks and uncertainties contained in the National Security Strategy. We were also concerned to hear that it was the Ministry of Defence's Permanent Secretary who told the Chief of the General Staff the future size of the Army under the Army 2020 plan. We call on the MoD to explain the apparent lack of consultation and involvement of the Chief of the General Staff in the decision-making process that has affected his Service so fundamentally.

"Fighting Power"

33. In our 2014 Report, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, to which the Government's response is awaited, we noted that what had been missing from the debate so far on Army 2020 was discussion of the impact of the plans on the Army's level of "fighting power".[76] The MoD defines fighting power as "the Armed Forces' ability to fight" comprising a conceptual component (the thought process), a moral component (the ability to get people to fight) and a physical component (the means to fight)".[77] Our Report concluded that:

    The concept of fighting power provides a useful framework for analysis of the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces. The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) pledged that it would not entail a "strategic shrinkage" for the UK. We ask the Ministry of Defence to provide us with an assessment of the fighting power of the armed forces both prior to the SDSR 2010 and now, and to outline in the Defence and Security Review 2015, the impact of any changes on that fighting power.[78]

34. In its response to this Report, we recommend that the MoD provide us with an assessment of how the Army 2020 plans will affect the "Fighting Power" of the Army providing comparable assessments of both current fighting power and projected fighting power following the completion of the Army 2020 plans.

"Critical mass" of the Army

35. Our 2011 Report on the SDSR and the NSS recommended that the MoD should develop further the concept of a "critical mass" (that is the minimum threshold of operational effectiveness) for the Armed Forces and establish a clearer measurable statement of what constitutes "critical mass" to allow verification and monitoring by Parliament.[79] In its response to our Report the Government stated that it did not agree "that developing the concept of "critical mass" for our Armed Forces would be valuable". However the Government did concede that:

    as the Regular Armed Forces and the Department grow smaller in the next few years, we will need to understand better the full base [all those factors that contribute to military capability, for example Regulars and Reservists, MoD civilians, contractors] on which military capability depends, both within and outside Defence.[80]

36. Although the MoD had not accepted the value of developing a concept of "critical mass" for the Armed Forces, during our inquiry we explored whether Army 2020 represented the "critical mass" of the Army or was simply the most that could be afforded. We asked General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, whether the UK could still deal with the security challenges that it faced or whether the Army had been reduced too much for it to be able to do so:

    That is a difficult question to answer because we do not know what sort of risks are going to present themselves and we don't know what stance the Government will take, but it has been made very clear in the strategic space that we really value our partnerships. We see ourselves doing very few operations independently. We would be working as part of a coalition. It has been stated clearly that that is very likely to be with close allies that we have been working with for the past few decades, but we also sit firmly with emphasis in the NATO envelope and so on.

    There is also a clear acceptance that there are ways in which we can mitigate threats by other forms of investment, such as international development and upstream capacity building in the military space. They are funded separately, but play in the same dimension of trying to nip threats in the bud, stop potential failing states going that way and so on. If you look across the whole waterfront of upstream activity, the forces we can bring to bear and the way in which we can produce quite a resilient force for a protracted period, given notice, I think that we ought to be capable of dealing with these issues, as long as they are in the sort of envelope that has been envisaged from the SDSR.[81]

37. Professor Theo Farrell, Head of the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, thought it was clear that in most future scenarios the UK was likely to encounter, deployment of military force alone would not be the solution.[82] In his view Army 2020 was a clever design in that although the plan had a focus on defence engagement activities, such as peacekeeping and capacity building, it also maintained the capability to intervene to defend UK interests or deployed UK Armed Forces.[83] He added:

    That seems entirely logical. Otherwise, the only other solution is: deploy forces for defence engagement, such as peacekeeping, and if the situation goes pear-shaped, you have to pull them out as fast as you can, because you cannot defend them—or you have to call on the Americans or somebody else to do it.[84]

38. However, Brigadier (retired) Ben Barry told us that "the Government decided to do less by having less and spending less".[85] He cited events since the SDSR, such as the war in Libya, the Arab upheavals and the conflict in Syria, as demonstrating that "the risk that a very turbulent and rapidly changing world could pose to UK national security has gone up since 2010, rather than gone down".[86] He concluded that:

    Although the Strategic Defence [and] Security Review is very opaque about the DPA [Defence Planning Assumptions] in terms of readiness, my understanding is that readiness has been reduced, so we have fewer forces able to react very quickly, whereas world events suggest to me that we actually need forces that can react more quickly than before the SDSR, rather than less.[87]

39. Major General David Cullen told us that the Chief of the General Staff thought that the Army was at "critical mass for the circumstances and the tasks that have been set and proposed [for the Army] as of today". However, he added that if those circumstances or parameters changed, or the risks altered "then that critical mass can go up and down, dependent on the requirement".[88]

40. General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the new Chief of the Defence Staff, said in his December 2013 speech at the Royal United Services Institute:

    Indeed, the one bit of Defence's future funding that has political commitment to real growth is the equipment programme. But the dawning reality is that, even if we maintain the non-equipment budget in real terms, rising manpower costs raise the prospect of further manpower and activity cuts. Unattended our current course leads to a strategically incoherent force structure: exquisite equipment, but insufficient resources to man that equipment or train on it. [...] We are not there yet; but across Defence I would identify the Royal Navy as being perilously close to its critical mass in man-power terms.[89]

41. We agree with the Chief of the General Staff's assessment that the security threats that the UK will face in future are uncertain. We remain to be convinced that the Army 2020 plan represents a fully thought-through and tested concept which will allow the Army to counter emerging and uncertain threats and develop a contingent capability to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The MoD needs to justify how the conclusion was reached that the Army 2020 plan of 82,000 Regulars and 30,000 Reserves represented the best way of countering these threats. We ask the MoD to clarify if the proposals were fully considered by the Defence Board before the decision was made.

42. We repeat our previous recommendation that the Government should further develop a concept of "critical mass" for the Armed Forces. We note that this is a concept not only used by the Army General Staff, but also one that the new Chief of the Defence Staff used in a recent speech. The development of a concept of "critical mass" for the Armed Forces, coupled with an assessment of the Army 2020 plan against the MoD's "Fighting Power" doctrine, would enable a much better informed understanding of whether Army 2020 will enable the Army to fulfil its obligations and how it will contribute to Future Force 2020.

Defence Planning Assumptions

43. The 2010 SDSR set out Defence Planning Assumptions (DPAs) for the Armed Forces: to be able to conduct "an enduring stabilisation operation" of "up to 6,500 personnel", "one non-enduring complex intervention" of "up to 2,000 personnel", and "one non-enduring simple intervention" of "up to 1,000 personnel" at the same time.[90]

44. We were concerned to establish whether Army 2020 enabled the Army to meet the current Defence Planning Assumptions. While Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Commander Land Forces, confirmed to us that the Army was confident that under Army 2020 it would be able to meet these assumptions, he did acknowledge that the Army was in a period of flux. He told us:

    We are finishing very demanding operations in Afghanistan, and my focus and my first priority is correctly to resource those operations while they are still ongoing. We are going through a huge programme of change, which involves bringing a fifth of the Army back from Germany, reducing the size of the Army by a fifth, reorganising formations into new constructs and rebasing, so clearly our ability to respond to contingencies during all of that is to some degree compromised. However, we are confident that we will get back onto a contingency footing against the requirements laid on us by Defence.[91]

45. Major General Cullen added that this highlighted "the challenges that were placed on [the Army] post the SDSR, where [...] the Army solution to the enduring operation part of the defence planning assumptions was the ability to put five MRB [Multi-Role Brigade]-type brigades into the field that could roll on a six and 24-month cycle to maintain that operation". He told us following the SDSR and the MoD internal three-month review, the Army was not able to match that in resource terms. This was one of the drivers for the Army 2020 plan in "seeking to be more adaptable and agile in meeting [the enduring operation part of the defence planning assumptions]." He thought the Army 2020 construct of the reaction force provided the first three of those [MRB] capabilities while the adaptable force gave the range of capabilities that the Army would need to work to and adjust at readiness, at notice, to fill the fourth and fifth roles.[92]

46. In our Report, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, we concluded that the imminent end of operations in Afghanistan provided an opportunity for the Government to think more strategically about the UK's place in the world in shaping the 2015 National Security Strategy and the 2015 Defence and Security Review.[93] The articulation of the UK's place in the world should also inform development of the Defence Planning Assumptions in the 2015 SDSR and identification of the appropriate level of resources to meet these assumptions.

47. Given the large scale changes that the Army is undertaking, we were concerned about the possible impact of any alteration to the defence planning assumptions by the 2015 SDSR. Lieutenant General Bradshaw confirmed that if the assumptions were revised upwards "the Army 2020 plan would not meet those new assumptions, and we would require an extension of capability to meet those new assumptions".[94] Major General Cullen pointed out that "of course, the opposite is true. If you change those assumptions downwards, you would revisit assumptions made across defence in the defence review equally".[95]

48. We note the acknowledgement by senior Army officers that the continuing operation in Afghanistan and the current high level of change in the Army will compromise its ability to respond to unexpected events to some degree. We also note that one of the drivers for the Army 2020 plan was the recognition that the Army could not match in resource-terms the five Multi-Role Brigade enduring operation envisaged in the Defence Planning Assumptions. In an ever changing world, with uncertain and ever changing threats, and continuing uncertainty about the resources available, we are concerned that the Defence Planning Assumptions are adequate to ensure the UK's national security. In its response to our Report, the MoD should explain what account was taken of the possibility of changes to the Defence Planning Assumptions during the development of Army 2020 and how it has ensured that there is sufficient flexibility in the plan and resources available to meet any such changes. The MoD must ensure that this is taken into account as part of the work on the 2015 SDSR and that contingency plans are in place to deal urgently with this eventuality.

Expeditionary warfare

49. An essential requirement for the UK's military force has been the ability to undertake expeditionary operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Secretary of State for Defence recently acknowledged that there was currently no public appetite for expeditionary operations such as that in Afghanistan, but noted that events can change public opinion in an instant.[96] The Army 2020 plan envisages the maintenance of this expeditionary capability:

    The change in emphasis to a more adaptable and flexible Army, capable of undertaking a broader range of military tasks has required a significant change to the current structure of the Army which has most recently been optimized for enduring operations in Afghanistan. The need to maintain an Army which is structured and trained for an enduring operation is shifting to that of one held at graduated readiness for use in extremis on contingent operations,[97] but persistently engaged at home with UK society [for example homeland resilience] and especially overseas, to deliver the full spectrum of upstream (conflict prevention) and downstream (post-conflict) engagement.[98]

50. In the July 2013 Army 2020 update, Lieutenant General Jacko Page, Commander Force Development and Training said:

    Training for more contingent operations will require a different mindset and approach. The uncertainty of contingency will require us to re-master the skills of self-generated and delivered training. We will train as we intend to fight, as a fully integrated force prepared to operate in austere and challenging environments. The result will be a tough expeditionary Army, prepared for complexity, acting lawfully, and comfortable taking risk to exploit opportunities.[99]

51. The MoD acknowledged in the SDSR that the UK is likely to undertake expeditionary operations, with few exceptions, in collaboration with allies.[100] This was illustrated by the Government's plans to develop the UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, established under the 2010 UK-France Defence Co-operation Treaty, which is planned as an early entry force capable of facing multiple threats up to the highest intensity, and available for bilateral, NATO, European Union, United Nations or other operations.[101] A 5-year exercise framework has been put in place to achieve full operating capability in 2016. Alongside this, the former Chief of the Defence Staff also announced the concept of a UK Joint Expeditionary Force,[102] which would be a tri-Service force of undefined size which would be tailored as necessary for its mission with appropriate Headquarters support. The UK's Allies might, and are being actively encouraged, to contribute to the Joint Expeditionary Force.

52. Despite the current lack of public appetite, we consider it to be a question of when, not if, UK Armed Forces will have to undertake an expeditionary operation in the future. In this context, it is essential that the Army maintains its ability to undertake such operations at short notice. Any loss of such capability would have serious implications for the UK's national security. Given that, on most occasions, these operations will be carried out in cooperation with the UK's Allies, in its response to this Report we call on the Government to set out the current status of the UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. We also call on the MoD to provide us with an update on progress on the development of the new UK Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), including how it will train and operate and the extent to which appropriate multi-national partners have proved willing to participate in JEF planning and activity.

Joint working with the other Services

53. The debate on Army 2020 has focused mostly on the role of Reservists, the reduction in Regular personnel and the loss of units and regiments. However, an important element to be considered is how Army 2020 would affect joint working with the other Services. Lieutenant General Bradshaw told us that the plans had elements that would make both joint activity and work with coalition partners easier. He added:

    Firstly, the divisional headquarters will have an improved plug-in point for air representation, so we expect air-land integration to work more effectively. [...] I would say also that, as an Army, we are on a path towards not only more joint activity—actually we are already there: Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade has thoroughly got us into that space—but more integrated activity with other Government Departments and Ministries. That is the requirement where we need to make more ground. Clearly, it is a cross-governmental activity.[103]

54. The smaller Army envisaged under Army 2020 needs to be innovative in the ways it works with the other Services. We call on the MoD to set out in its response to our Report how Army 2020 will improve this joint working and how it has tested, or intends to test, the proposals. We also note Lieutenant General Bradshaw's evidence regarding the Army's greater integrated activity with other Government Departments and call on the Government to set out details of this in its response to our Report.


9   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p 24; The theatre level is sometimes referred to as the operational level. The operational level of warfare is the level at which campaigns are planned, conducted and sustained, to accomplish strategic objectives and synchronise action, within theatres or areas of operation. (Ministry of Defence, Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01 Fourth Edition, British Defence Doctrine, November 2011, para 218) Back

10   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, pp 24-25 Back

11   Ibid, p 24  Back

12   Ibid, p 32 Back

13   Ibid, p 32 Back

14   Defence Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, The Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy, HC 761, paras 182-183 Back

15   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, pp 32-33 Back

16   Ibid, p 27 Back

17   HC Deb, 18 July 2011, col 644 Back

18   The 8,000 would be additional personnel in training to sustain the overall number of 30,000 trained Reservists. Back

19   HC Deb, 19 January 2012, col 939W Back

20   The MoD expects to reach its target for 30,000 trained Reservists by 2018, see British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, p 9. The reduction in Regular Army personnel to 82,000 is expected to be completed by mid-2015 with the restructuring of the Regular component by 2016, Q 67, Q 125 and Q 271 Back

21   The Independent Commission to Review the United Kingdom's Reserve Forces, Future Reserves 2020, July 2011, p 4 Back

22   Ibid, p 29 Back

23   Ibid, p 12  Back

24   Ibid, p 21 Back

25   HC Deb, 5 July 2012, cols 1085-1088 Back

26   British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, pp 4-6 Back

27   Ministry of Defence, Future Reserves 2020: Delivering the Nation's Security Together: a Consultation Paper, Cm 8475, November 2012 Back

28   HC Deb, 5 March 2013, cols 845-848 Back

29   Ministry of Defence, Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued, Cm 8655 July 2013 Back

30   British Army, Transforming the British Army: an update, July 2013 Back

31   HC Deb, 3 July 2013, cols 922-925, HC Deb, 3 July 2013, cols 49-53WS and HC Deb, 4 July 2013 cols 61-62WS Back

32   Ev w5 [Note: references to Ev wXX are references to the written evidence received by the Committee which is published on the Committee's website] Back

33   HC Deb, 23 January 2014, cols 461-463 Back

34   Ministry of Defence Announcement, Royal Navy and Army release redundancy scheme details, 4 November 2011 Back

35   British Army, Transforming the British Army: an update, July 2013, p 18 Back

36   Ev w3 Back

37   Ev w3 Back

38   Ev w3 Back

39   Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Second Report of Session 2012-13, The work of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy in 2012, HL 115, HC 984, para 11 Back

40   Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, First Special Report of Session 2013-14, The work of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy in 2012: Government response to the Committee's Second Report of Session 2012-13, HL 58, HC 179, pp 2-3  Back

41   British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, p 2 Back

42   Ev w3 Back

43   The Reaction Force will be designed to deploy rapidly to respond to events anywhere in the world and is designed to deter adversaries from acting against UK interests. Back

44   Overseas defence engagement is the use of defence assets and activities short of combat operations building to achieve influence. In the UK it is the Armed Forces' contribution to homeland resilience, for example supporting civilian emergency organisations in times of crisis. Back

45   Force Troop Brigades would provide a broad range of Regular and Reserve capabilities. These would include engineer, artillery and medical support from a centralised pool as well as a coordination and control function for key tasks such as overseas capacity building. Back

46   Ev w3 Back

47   Q 321 Back

48   Members of a civilian workforce who are required to join the volunteer or ex-Regular Reserves as a condition of a contract, which their civilian employer has entered into with the MoD to provide a capability under normal conditions as well as on operations. (Ministry of Defence, Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued, Cm 8655 July 2013, p 66) Back

49   Q 34 Back

50   Q 34 Back

51   The Order of Battle refers to the structure of units within the Army. Back

52   British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, pp 10-11  Back

53   HC Deb, 5 July 2012 col 1092 and HC Deb, 5 July 2012, cols 65-67WS  Back

54   HC Deb 5 July 2013 col 1086 Back

55   For example, see article by Brigadier (retired) Ben Barry, Army 2020: fighting for the future: The most radical army shakeup since the end of national service has the potential to transform our capability, The Guardian, 5 July 2012. Witnesses to our inquiry also thought the plan was radical; for example see Q 199 and Q 223. Back

56   British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, p 4 Back

57   Q 1 Back

58   Ev w4 Back

59   Q 103 Back

60   Q 103 Back

61   Q 103 Back

62   Q 104 Back

63   Q 104 Back

64   Air Vice-Marshal Luker is also Chief Executive of the Council of Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations. Back

65   Q 227 Back

66   Q 227 Back

67   Q 227 Back

68   Q 227 Back

69   Defence Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, The Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy, HC 761, para 54 Back

70   Q 271 Back

71   Q 282 Back

72   Q 289 Back

73   Q 291 Back

74   Q 290 Back

75   Q 270 Back

76   Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, HC 197, para 31 Back

77   Ministry of Defence, Joint Doctrine Publication 0-01 British Defence Doctrine, 4th Edition, November 2011 Back

78   Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, HC 197, para 33 Back

79   Our Report added that this should include not just the roles and structures of Regular and Reserve Forces but should be expanded to encompass enablers such as DSTL, industry, academia, the scientific and research community and the development of the defence knowledge base especially amongst the military and civil servants (Defence Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, The Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy, HC 761, para 173). Back

80   Defence Committee, Ninth Special Report of Session 2010-12, The Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy: Government Response to the Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, HC 1639, pp 23-24 Back

81   Q 8 Back

82   Q 213 Back

83   Q 214 Back

84   Q 214 Back

85   Q 213 Back

86   Q 213 Back

87   Q 213 Back

88   Q 105 Back

89   2013 Annual Chief of the Defence Staff Lecture at the Royal United Services Institute. Available at: http://www.rusi.org/events/past/ref:E5284A3D06EFFD/  Back

90   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p 19 Back

91   Q 119 Back

92   Q 119 Back

93   Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, HC 197, para 32 Back

94   Q 120 Back

95   Q 120 Back

96   Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, HC 197, Qq 156-160  Back

97   The Reserves White Paper defines Contingent Operations as potential military operations in which members of the Armed Forces are, or may become, involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an opposing force (Ministry of Defence, Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued, Cm 8655 July 2013, page 79). Back

98   British Army, Modernising to face an unpredictable future: Transforming the British Army, July 2012, p 3 Back

99   British Army, Transforming the British Army: an update, July 2013, p 16 Back

100   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p. 17 (principles), p 20 (dependency) and p 59 (alliances and partnerships) Back

101   Prime Minister's Office Announcement, UK-France declaration on security and defence, 17 February 2012 Back

102   2012 Annual Chief of the Defence Staff Lecture at the Royal United Services Institute. Available at: http://www.rusi.org/events/past/ref:E5097A2CAA2229/  Back

103   Q 98 Back


 
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