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Is the British army regimental system dead?

This is a discussion on Is the British army regimental system dead? within the Army & Security Forces forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Under stength regimental units which has served Britain well in two world wars are now lacking cohesiveness against todays irregular ...


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Old August 4th, 2009   #1
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Is the British army regimental system dead?

Under stength regimental units which has served Britain well in two world wars are now lacking cohesiveness against todays irregular forces. We can see the effects with the contradictions in statement from senior RAF personel as to whether the UK has enough rotary wing aircraft (now public domain recent tv and press release). The concept of patrol cordon and search in Helmund owes more to Northern Ireland than the needs of the grander terain of Afganistan. Statements as to whether the British soldier is fit enough for theatre (now public domain. tv and press) brings other issues to the fore.
Know your enemy. The case in question Afganistan where you might be against a 6ft4inch Boluchi wearing loose fitting clothing Honshu tread tyre sandles rock hopping with 200rnds 7.6 long ball plus a drogunuv and a fag of local tobbaco out of the side of his mouth and the total belief that God is with him and if the truth were known I tend to agree with the concept of an early introduction with God. Should we be looking at developing Para/commando forces with the facillity of local purchase order to suit theatre. A fitness and training program which sees 18months to two years before battle ready.
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Old August 4th, 2009   #2
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Under stength regimental units which has served Britain well in two world wars are now lacking cohesiveness against todays irregular forces. We can see the effects with the contradictions in statement from senior RAF personel as to whether the UK has enough rotary wing aircraft (now public domain recent tv and press release). The concept of patrol cordon and search in Helmund owes more to Northern Ireland than the needs of the grander terain of Afganistan. Statements as to whether the British soldier is fit enough for theatre (now public domain. tv and press) brings other issues to the fore.
Know your enemy. The case in question Afganistan where you might be against a 6ft4inch Boluchi wearing loose fitting clothing Honshu tread tyre sandles rock hopping with 200rnds 7.6 long ball plus a drogunuv and a fag of local tobbaco out of the side of his mouth and the total belief that God is with him and if the truth were known I tend to agree with the concept of an early introduction with God. Should we be looking at developing Para/commando forces with the facillity of local purchase order to suit theatre. A fitness and training program which sees 18months to two years before battle ready.
The regimental system forms the backbone of the British Army and is essential to its continued Esprit De Corp. The issue is pre-theatre training, making sure it's relevant and applicable to in-theatre operations. The UK has just invested 14 million in an Afghanistan specific training area manned by Afghans (see below link). Recent exaggerated reports of 'being too fat to fight' relates to a minority, the recent troops deployed on Panthers Claw didn't appear to have a problem, nor the Marines or Paras before them most of the complaints made by the head PTI referred to REMF's.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Training and Adventure | First infantry troops train in replica Afghan village

The British and Americans are currently conducting a high-level joint review, looking out how they can fight combined operations in an asymmetrical environment based on lessons learnt in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such lessons are already being initiated at the micro level - the recent announcement of the introduction of new helmets and body armour where as a result of complaints that they restricted mobility and the sighting of weapons in the prone position.

The UK plans to expand the SF further, and it wouldn't surprise me if both the SAS & SBS raise one new Squadron each, the SFSG continues to expand, and may even increase to two battalions, one maritime focused on supporting SB, the other focused on supporting the Regiment.

The UK has already moved to a larger Regimental structure, The Rifles for example now consists of seven battalions, this allows for better rotation of forces in and out of theatre and the cross posting of experienced personnel to teach new comers. 2 & 3 Para will rotate personnel through the SFSG, ensuring the entire regiments standards continue to rise, this also allows them to interact with the attached RM Company and RAF Contingent. The RAF in turn are raising another Sqn of 'Rock Apes' to provide additional airfield protection / SAR support in hostile environments. They are jokingly referred to as the 'Short Range Desert Group' by their peers in the Paras and Marines.
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Old August 8th, 2009   #3
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Don't most of the battalions still retain their individual regimental identity as well? To an extent anyway, with everything bar a regimental HQ still existing (museums, regimental clubs etc?)
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Old August 8th, 2009   #4
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I do not believe that the regimental system is dead. In the regimental centers in India, one sees the soldiers of various regiments posted. The soldier must feel as intensely for his fellow soldier, as he does for the constitution of India. The regimental system is there, so that there is a sense of belonging, from a narrow sense of belonging to a fellow soldier of the regiment, to the broader sense of belonging to the nation, and the world community of soldiers. The regiments of the British Army are the pride of Great Britain. Indeed, It was England who introduced the regimental system in India.
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Old August 9th, 2009   #5
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I do not believe that the regimental system is dead. In the regimental centers in India, one sees the soldiers of various regiments posted. The soldier must feel as intensely for his fellow soldier, as he does for the constitution of India. The regimental system is there, so that there is a sense of belonging, from a narrow sense of belonging to a fellow soldier of the regiment, to the broader sense of belonging to the nation, and the world community of soldiers. The regiments of the British Army are the pride of Great Britain. Indeed, It was England who introduced the regimental system in India.
A couple of heads have appeared above the parapet, welldone.
25 years ago i would have supported your arguement and did, but over the years the waste of underpaid human endevour has altered my perspective.
The prime movers and shakers in the UK forces are the Paras, the maureens (not a mistake) the SAS of which are well over subscribed to (go in any bar) and two admitted cooks, one of which i had to remove for his own safety and well being. UK forces have two enemies one the MOD and the lesser is engaged in theatre. The regiment is an anesthetic for old buffers and beating retreat annual hols, rupert also takes great delight in asserting the continued string to regiment. The afforemention regiments except the paras which 3 battalions exist with one reserve the 4th previously 12/13 which was a yorkshire regiment. The RM commandoes were constructed from various army units and still is in specialist areas. The SAS has one regular reg and two reserve unitsV which they can inject enthusiastic scuicide merchants when required. All of which anyperson can voluteer for if u have the courage and resolution to see it through. The point being to this diatribe is Elan is the word not history. Special forces are the perceived solution. Our American friends have nearly made it with the SEALS but its to elitist in time training selection losing good potential, this could be aimed at the SAS as well.
A small operation put together in Iraq recently proved the need of the well trained air sea and land soldier whereby troops were inserted by parachute followed by a noisy rotary wing entrance the malcontents existed their location straight into the bag. Damn good op well done u lot. This application is pro active but the system needs expanding to be all arms without prejudice. The regimental system limits activity and cant get out of the box. As one chap said there's museums
To finish I do not accept the concept of acceptable injury or fatallity, they might be sustainable but certainly not acceptable. The Afgan millitary solution does exist, but the the UK millitary needs to sort out its issues, without political interference from MOD toadies and number 10. Greater part of these jakes have never seen a NAFFI bun thrown in anger yet they thrust a distorted almost mallicious operational view on the soldier. The senior people that could do something are to busy ironing their knighthoods to open the windows and let a bit of air in. Meanwhile the flies conquor the fly paper in Afganistan and one remark about another forty years ops will suck in every malcontent in the middle east. God help us all if your on the ground u have my thoughts and best wishes. See U in Helmund. please pass on
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Old August 9th, 2009   #6
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In my opinion, the Indian Army does not need special forces. The whole army has got to be as good as any special forces. The Poona Horse is a division for tank operations. The Maratha Light Infantry are regular infantry. The Gurkha's fight in high altitude, as do the J & K rifles, so they are excellent in low altitude warfare, too. What is very important is that they are not occupied otherwise, but in training.
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Old August 9th, 2009   #7
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There are great regiments in the Indian Army who have not been mentioned by me, such as the Dogra Regiment, The Sikh Regiment, and all the other regiments of the Indian Army.
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Old August 9th, 2009   #8
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p.l.rue,
It probably doesnt help that the Commanders of the three services spend their time sledging each other to try steal their portion of the budget rather then joining forces against the Mod.

A.Mookerjee,
Can you please edit stuff into your original post rather then making a new one for no reason?
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Old August 10th, 2009   #9
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Don't most of the battalions still retain their individual regimental identity as well? To an extent anyway, with everything bar a regimental HQ still existing (museums, regimental clubs etc?)
Right on man
Yes regiments don't totally disappear,as stated museums etc. Old units The Yorkshire Yeomanry became the 10th Bat parachute reg and later the 12/13bat tavr it later became the 4th Para which is a volunteer reserve for the regulars. The SAS has its origions in the Artist Rifles 22 based in the marches 21V and 23V based in the north and south of uk respectively.
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Old August 10th, 2009   #10
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[QUOTE=riksavage;178916]The regimental system forms the backbone of the British Army and is essential to its continued Esprit De Corp. The issue is pre-theatre training, making sure it's relevant and applicable to in-theatre operations. The UK has just invested 14 million in an Afghanistan specific training area manned by Afghans (see below link). Recent exaggerated reports of 'being too fat to fight' relates to a minority, the recent troops deployed on Panthers Claw didn't appear to have a problem, nor the Marines or Paras before them most of the complaints made by the head PTI referred to REMF's.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Training and Adventure | First infantry troops train in replica Afghan village

The British and Americans are currently conducting a high-level joint review, looking out how they can fight combined operations in an asymmetrical environment based on lessons learnt in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such lessons are already being initiated at the micro level - the recent announcement of the introduction of new helmets and body armour where as a result of complaints that they restricted mobility and the sighting of weapons in the prone position.

The UK plans to expand the SF further, and it wouldn't surprise me if both the SAS & SBS raise one new Squadron each, the SFSG continues to expand, and may even increase to two battalions, one maritime focused on supporting SB, the other focused on supporting the Regiment.

The UK has already moved to a larger Regimental structure, The Rifles for example now consists of seven battalions, this allows for better rotation of forces in and out of theatre and the cross posting of experienced personnel to teach new comers. 2 & 3 Para will rotate personnel through the SFSG, ensuring the entire regiments standards continue to rise, this also allows them to interact with the attached RM Company and RAF Contingent. The RAF in turn are raising another Sqn of 'Rock Apes' to provide additional airfield protection / SAR support in hostile environments. They are jokingly referred to as the 'Short Range Desert Group' by their peers in the Paras and Marines.[/QUOTE
Above noted but this is just moving the furniture about, what I'm putting forward is whole sale change to training and command structure. The way the millitary is financed and increasing pay roughly 3.5 times which on ballance would equate with private organisations doing the same job in the middle east. Recent ops in Iraq which started with a parachute insertion and a snatch worked out on a fag packet showed what was possible with the inclusiveness concerned. Somebody will get a bollocking no doubt due to short circuiting.
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Old August 10th, 2009   #11
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The Paras, RMs, HCav, RAF Reg, etc are the exception, not the rule.

The all have an extremely strong estprit de corps, which the line infantry would struggle to generate to the same level (and I mean that with the greatest respect to the line inf). Our soldiers take great pride in their local regiments, and it's a system that's been working for a very long time. That hasn't changed, what has stopped working is recruitment stragies (in many cases), and a slap-dash approach by a government that does not understand military attitudes and culture. If the government accepts that troop levels must increase, then the situation will be more stable.

Is the regimental system dead?

No. It's as strong as ever.
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Old August 12th, 2009   #12
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The Paras, RMs, HCav, RAF Reg, etc are the exception, not the rule.

The all have an extremely strong estprit de corps, which the line infantry would struggle to generate to the same level (and I mean that with the greatest respect to the line inf). Our soldiers take great pride in their local regiments, and it's a system that's been working for a very long time. That hasn't changed, what has stopped working is recruitment stragies (in many cases), and a slap-dash approach by a government that does not understand military attitudes and culture. If the government accepts that troop levels must increase, then the situation will be more stable.

Is the regimental system dead?

No. It's as strong as ever.
Totally agree, the regimental systems primary purpose was and still is to link local communities to a particular unit, hence most counties in the UK have affiliated regiments & battalions. This built in continuity and community spirit (replacement of losses from the same community with a common accent / background) and support (families left behind when soldiers were campaigning located together for mutual aid/support).

Since the end of the cold war and the cancellation of the arms plot system (regiments re-rolled from Germany back to the UK on mass every few years), we are seeing the formation of super garrisons being made-up of 3-4 battalions, often from the same regiment. This builds in the ability to transfer resources between battalions, without changing cap-badges, critical to maintaining esprit de corps. If you are a member of the Rifles for example, the last thing you want is to be transferred to a country regiment with totally different customs, battle honours and dress uniforms etc. This enhanced system allows for better advanced planning when sending troops on operational tours, younger guys keen to prove themselves can be posted to a battalion in the same regiment scheduled for active service, leaving the old sweats who have already completed multiple tours to remain at the depot to pass-on their hard-won skills to the new recruits.
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