The restructuring comes as the size of the regular army is expected to increase from 82,000 to 73,000 over the next four years, with a focus on expeditionary units that can be deployed in conflict zones as well as on installation. of bases abroad.
The new strategy will be bolstered by an investment of £ 41.3bn over the next decade in equipment, £ 8.6bn more than previously promised.
Part of the policy will be the creation of a Special Operations Brigade for Overseas Missions, unveiled eight months ago, as “Global Britain” seeks a broader military footprint with new and traditional allies in China. outside of Europe.
A Ranger regiment will form the core of the new force that will engage in combat, as well as training, with the aim of signing a series of defense agreements and being deployed to international hubs in Oman, in Kenya, Poland and the Baltic States. .
The Defense Secretary asserted that the military would be “lighter but more productive,” adding that “it will also be an army designed for genuine combat credibility as an expeditionary combat force that will be both deployable and deadly. when it is called upon to fight and to win ”. .
Ben Wallace, Secretary of Defense, said: “[It will] means we have fewer soldiers. But it also means we’ll have honest armed forces saying what they’re doing on the tin side rather than a lot of people and equipment that have been 20 years obsolete, which we have had for too long.
Responding to criticisms of the reforms, including from former commanders, Mr. Wallace was in a combative mood. “Some of the former senior officers who threw bricks and mortars were delivering armies that were hollow,” he said. “I think we are now more reliable partners and more Allied ready than we have ever been. And I think that’s something that brings value to the UK as an offering to our allies around the world. “
Designating about 500 soldiers whose jobs had been suspended, he said: “I think it is quite telling that the army with 500 more men did not just resurrect an infantry battalion, which it would have. could do with 500. They chose to put these people in a range of capabilities such as cyber and other enablers, because that’s what’s really needed.
However, in addition to light and rapidly deployable forces like Rangers, troops and armor will be deployed as tension mounts in the New Cold War with Russia. Tanks and infantry fighting vehicles will be stationed in Germany, at the NATO Forward Standby Base in Sennelager, as well as in Estonia, where the UK currently rotates a battle group of a thousand men.
The Labor Party accused the plans of leaving the fighting forces “too small, too stretched, too ill-equipped”. Shadow Secretary of Defense John Healey said the civilian workforce in the Department of Defense has increased by 2,200 over the past six years, while the number of full-time soldiers has been reduced by 5,000 over the past six years. from the same period.