On Monday 22 March, the SofS for Defence briefed Parliament on the Defence Command Paper: ‘Defence in a competitive age’. The paper is the Defence extraction of the the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR): ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’. It lays out how Defence will adapt to implement the findings of the IR including the additional £24Bn investment for Defence announced in December 2020. You may wish to read the paper in slower time, particularly the emphasis it places on the UK’s aspiration to be best in the world at looking after its veterans.
I don’t intend to summarise the paper but I do want to give you the key facts as they relate to QRH. The paper reaffirms the threat to the UK from Russia and that NATO remains the cornerstone of UK Defence and Security Policy. This top-level decision lends itself to the retention of warfighting capability in 3 (UK) Division, including a commitment to invest £1.3Bn into 148 x Challenger 3. Looking in more detail, the Armoured Infantry Brigades that form the heavy end of the Army’s warfighting capability will evolve to become Heavy Brigade Combat Teams. This is more than a change in name. It has implications for the armoured infantry who will no longer be equipped with the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The decision has been taken to build the Heavy Brigade Combat Teams around Challenger 3, Ajax and Boxer.
There will be no cap badges deletions or redundancies but the Army will reduce to 72,500 full-time, trade-trained strength by 2025. There is no indication that the Army intends to re-role the Regiment from MBT. You may ask whether the decision to reduce the number of Challenger 2 from 227 to 148 Challenger 3 is a threat to the Regiment. The answer is that 148 is the number of Challenger 3 required for 2 MBT regiments (227 was the number required for 3 regiments as was decided in the 2010 Strategic Defence Review).
These are the facts as they relate directly to QRH. There will no doubt be a lot of good and bad analysis of the Defence Command Paper and what it means. The combat arms are going through another period of change as the nation adapts to new threats to national security but the commitment to invest in MBT is a good outcome for the Regiment.