Forces: December 15, 2003


Britain is planning to reorganize its armed forces for the war on terror, while also trying to fix a lot of problems encountered during the Afghanistan and Iraq operations. The reorganization will cut the strength of the army by several infantry battalions, and convert one of the three armored brigades to a "light brigade" (using armored cars and other light armored vehicles.) This will put 114 Challenger 2 tanks (a third of the total) into storage. A number of older destroyers and frigates will be retired early, and perhaps a nuclear sub as well. The Royal Air Force is retiring 40 Jaguar and 92 Tornado aircraft and cutting back on procurement of Eurofighter warplanes (from 232 to 140). More emphasis will be placed on the American F-35s (on order) and smart bombs (being delivered). Much money is going into new communications equipment (including battlefield Internet), as well as gear that proved highly successful in Iraq (bullet proof body armor and UAVs.) SAS and SBS commandos will get more support troops and specialized helicopters. Britain has also discovered that they do not have the infrastructure (ships and transport aircraft) to rapidly move to far off battlefields. The shortcomings were particularly stark when compared to the equipment used by the United States. With that in mind, Britain has increasingly crafted military contingency plans in cooperation with the United States, using American ships and air transports as needed. But even with that, there were things Britain has to handle itself, like tracking military cargo, that need improvement. Thousands of items shipped to Iraq simply disappeared. There was a lot of theft in Kuwait and Iraq, but the missing items were not even noted until months later. So money must be invested in better tracking systems, and putting more security on the gear while it is in transit. More training for peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations will be conducted, although the British army has a lot of experience in this area because of three decades of unrest in Northern Ireland. 


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