British Army

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The non-ceremonial flag of the British Army
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The British Army is the land armed forces branch of the British Armed Forces, including over 100,000 regular personnel and 40,000 Territorial Army members.

When the UK was created by unifing the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the British Army was created out of existing regiments from the two countries, and was originally administered by the War Office in London. Since 1963 it has been managed by the Ministry of Defence, alongside the Naval Service and Royal Air Force.


The British Army has a complex structure, inherited from its history as independently-created units.

The British Army is divided into two top-level 'Commands', responsible for providing forces at operational readiness, for employment by the Permanent Joint Headquarters.

  • The Adjutant-Generals organisation is responsible for most of the recruitment and personal and professional training of personnel
  • Land Command is responsible for resources, planning and ensuring the formations are ready for deployment.

The command structure is hierarchical with divisions and brigades controlling groupings of units from an administrative perspective. All units within the service are either Regular (full-time) or Territorial Army (part-time), or a combination with sub-units of each type.

The operational units are structured as followed, although each is different and the numbers of subordinate units and troops vary.

Type of Unit Division Brigade Battalion / Regiment Company / Squadron Platoon / Troop Section
Contains 2-3 Brigades 3-5 Battalions 5 Companies 3 Platoons Some Sections Individuals
Soldiers 10,000 5,000 700 100 30 8
Commanded by Major-General Brigadier Lieutenant Colonel Major Second Lieutenant, Lieutenant or Captain Corporal

In place of a Battalion, a task-specific Battlegroup may be formed. A battlegroup is grown around the core of either an armoured regiment or infantry battalion, and has other units added or removed from it as necessary for its purpose. It results in a mixed formation of armour, infantry, artillery, engineers and support units, typically consisting of between 600 and 700 soldiers under the command of a Lieutenant Colonel.


A division is a formation of three or four brigades, around twenty thousand personnel, commanded by a Major General.

The British Army has two deployable divisions, capable of fully deploying immediately to operations:

The remaining divisional headquarters, London District and HQ Northern Ireland, act as regional commands in the UK. They train formations and units under their command for operations in the UK and overseas. This task leads to them being described as Regenerative Divisions. These divisions would only be required to generate field formations in the event of a general war.

Several infantry regiments are organised into five administrative divisions based on the type of infantry unit or traditional recruiting areas:


A brigade contains three or four battalion-sized units, around 5000 personnel and is commanded by a one star officer, Brigadier. The brigade will contain a wide range of military disciplines allowing the conduct of a spectrum of military tasks.

The brigade would be required to deploy up to three separate battlegroups, the primary tactical formation employed in British doctrine. The battlegroup is a mixed formation around the core of one unit, an armoured regiment or infantry battalion, with sub-units providing artillery, engineers, logistics, aviation, etc., as required.



Until English Civil War in 1642, there were neither England still in Scotland a standing army. In the event of war turned the Nobility the monarch a certain number of Soldiers ready. In addition, Mercenary recruited. During the Civil War, this practice proved from the viewpoint of the central government, however, as concerns that it Oliver Cromwell many soldiers managed to win the parliamentary army . To this - to eliminate dangerous for any central government - weak, the Parliament at the instigation of Cromwell introduced during the Civil War to the first time a standing army, the New Model Army. retained after the restoration of the monarchy Charles II this principle in and signed on 26 January 1661 the official charter of the British Army.

British EmpireEdit

From the late 18th Century to the beginning of the 20th Century Britain was the dominant world power with unlimited supremacy. Although always Royal Navy as a crucial instrument in the expansion of the British Empire above, is also played the British Army a decisive role. For the defense of Colonies against other nations and insurgents, the army was essential. But also in acquiring new colonies, the ground forces played an important role because Britain wanted to control the territories until well into the interior, and thus operates beyond the range of the Royal Navy had to be .

In contrast to the armies in France and Germany was the British army at this time no mass army, and there existed no Compulsory military service. The UK Regiments were used in a rotation system in the home or in the colonies.

Campaigns of the British Army at that time:

British Indian ArmyEdit

After the defeat of the Sepoy Rebellion was 1858 British East India trading company, dissolved. The territories of the company were placed under the crown and the Indian Army was the army of the British Government of India. The Indian Army included at this time, both British and Indian units. At the beginning of the 20th Century by the Commander in Chief Lord Kitchener comprehensive reforms. The Army of India existed from 1903 to 1947 :

  • local troops with British soldiers, officers (Indian Army)
  • British troops were ordered for a given period (20 years ) to India (British Army in India)

Operations in EuropeEdit

While the British Empire steadily increased, they had to fight in Europe but also in their own country with significant crises. In consequence of the Glorious Revolution 1688, there were struggles for the throne of England, with only the Battle of Culloden ended . This was also the last battle that was ever fought on British soil .

In continental Europe, Britain tried to withdraw from the dispute between the three great powers France, Spain and Austria keep out . However, it was 1701 and to War of Spanish Succession In which Britain was against France in order to prevent its further expansion. Even in the Napoleonic wars came the British Army a decisive role in the victory over Napoleon to . Ultimately led to the victory of the British and Prussian Army in the Battle of Waterloo under the command of Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher the end of the Napoleonic Empire. Furthermore, the British Army was also on Crimean War involved against Russia.

The First World WarEdit

British Poster of the WWI in 1914
Cypher3Added by Cypher3
Even before the start of the World War I had Germany the supremacy of Britain called into question. Since Britain had concluded alliances with France and Russia, it came in 1914 to the first military confrontation between the two countries. At the beginning of the war the army had to be adapted to the conditions of the new mass armies led war. It was therefore of War Horatio Herbert Kitchener a program for the development of a mass army (Kitchener's Army) launched. After the outbreak of the war led John French the British Expeditionary Force to France, whose use Battle of the Marne co-decided . Because of its feeble and indecisive leadership, he was blamed for the British failure and the level of losses and in September 1915 by his deputy and commander of the 1st Army Douglas Haig replaced. In the course of the war killed more than 900,000 soldiers of the British Empire and injured about two million. But in the Battle of the Somme the British Army lost approximately 419 000 soldiers. The First World War was the costliest war in the history of the British Army. For the first time were technical innovations such as Aircraft and Tank used, which should shape the face of later wars.

The Second World WarEdit

The use of the British Army in World War II began with a bitter defeat. In May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force in the German Wehrmacht Dunkirk encircled. In the largest bailout of the British forces were within a week 220 000 British and 120,000 French soldiers evacuated to Britain. Later in the war finally turned the tide with the Battle of El Alamein and Invasion of Normandy and the subsequent invasion of Germany and Italy. In the Pacific defeated the British Army, the Japanese troops in Burma and China. During the Second World War began, the British set up special units with paramilitary action. These committed acts of sabotage and acted in small groups behind enemy lines. This marked the birth of the Special Air Service.


With the collapse of the British Empire after the Second World War the British Army has been drastically reduced, reducing the global operations. The largest contingents were now in Germany to the threat of Soviet Union set aside. At times up to 80,000 British soldiers were deployed for this purpose in Germany. In the time of Cold War led technology systems to a hitherto unknown effectiveness of the British Army. Thus the British Army was, for example, with the Challenger 1 one of the most powerful Battle Tank of the world.

The British Army was also remain active throughout the world . Inserts in Korean War and Suez Crisis and in Oman and Malaysia were among the last conflict in the style of a colonial power. 1982 Falklands War were only 5000 Royal Marines about 20,000 soldiers of the British Army in the recapture of the Falkland Islands involved. Especially strong was the British Army since the 1960s in Northern Ireland represented. The struggle against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and to limit the growing civil war conditions here were the main tasks of the British Army.

Since 1990Edit

After the end of the Cold War, the British Army is reduced by almost 100,000 soldiers. It quickly developed into a specialist,
British Troops in Helmand, Afghanistan
Cypher3Added by Cypher3
global -scale response force. In the wars against the Iraq in 1991 and 2003 Britain each provided the second largest contingent after the USA. Operations on the Balkans are now as much a range of tasks such as crisis intervention of the British Army and the Fight against terrorism. To handle these tasks effectively, has already taken place in the early 1990s a major restructuring of the British armed forces. The cooperation between the three partial forces has been intensified and coordinated by the joint command centers. This disappeared in part, the boundaries between the branches of the armed forces and the flexibility was increased. With the exception of the USA has no other nation more soldiers stationed abroad and lead global operations by more than the United Kingdom.

On 31 July 2007 was the Operation Banner, The use of the army in Northern Ireland, ended. With a duration of 38 years, it was the longest-running operation in the history of the army of the United Kingdom.

See alsoEdit

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