Structure of the British Army

Structure of the British Army

The structure of the British Army is broadly similar to that of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, being divided into two Commands as top-level budget holders: Land Command and the Adjutant-General. These are 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 whilst the staff of Commander-in-Chief Land is responsible for commitment planning and ensuring that the operational formations are resourced and have undergone appropriate collective training. Headquarters Northern Ireland additionally has devolved responsibility for all activities in the Province.

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

Naming conventions of units differ for traditional British historical reasons, creating a significant opportunity for confusion; an infantry battalion is equivalent to a cavalry regiment. An infantry regiment is an administrative and ceremonial organisation only and may include several battalions. For operational tasks a battle group will be formed around a combat unit, supported by units or sub-units from other areas. Such an example would be a squadron of tanks attached to an armoured infantry battle group, together with a reconnaissance troop, artillery battery and engineering support.


Land Command

Land Command Headquarters is at Wilton, Wiltshire and has two main subdivisions, Field Army and Regional Forces. Commander Field Army commands 1st (Armoured) Division, 3rd (Mechanised) Division, Theatre Troops, and Director General Training Support. Commander Regional Forces commands 2nd Division, 4th Division, 5th Division and London District, the administrative organisation of garrisons in mainland UK and United Kingdom Support Command (Germany).

Commander-in-Chief, Land Command (CINCLAND) is the Standing Joint Commander (UK) (SJC(UK)), responsible for overall command of Military Aid to Civil Power within mainland United Kingdom. [Operations in the UK: The Defence Contribution to Resilience (Interim Joint Doctrine Publication 2)]


A corps is a formation of two or more divisions, potentially fifty thousand personnel or more.

Whilst the British Army has the capability there is no standing UK Corps organisation, forces being allocated through a number of multi-partite arrangements to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and European commitments, providing much of the headquarters capability and framework for the multinational Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.

The word corps is more formally used for administrative groupings by common function, such as the Royal Armoured Corps and Army Air Corps, with various Combat Support Arms and Services being referred to in the wider sense as a Corps, such as the Royal Corps of Signals.


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 deploying the headquarters and subordinate formations immediately to operations.
*1st (UK) Armoured Division
*3rd (UK) Division

UK Defence Secretary Des Browne, during July 2007, announced the creation of another "two star" headquarters, to be known as HQ 6th Division. This unit will be a deployable headquarters unit to support deployed forces in Afghanistan. It is to be provisionally created until 2011. [ [ House of Commons Hansard Ministerial Statements for 26 July 2007 (pt 0002) ] ]

The remaining divisional headquarters and London District act as regional commands in the UK, training subordinate 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.

*2nd Division - (Scotland and the North of England)
*4th Division - (East Midlands and South East England)
*5th Division - (Wales, West Midlands and South West England)
*London District

London District is responsible for the maintenance of capability for the defence of the capital and the provision of ceremonial units and garrisons for the Crown Estate in London, such as the Tower of London.

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

*Guards Division
*King's Division
*Prince of Wales' Division
*Queen's Division
*Scottish Division


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.

# Armoured Regiment
# Armoured Infantry Battalion
# Artillery Regiment
# Army Air Corps Detachment
# Provost Unit
# Royal Logistic Corps Squadron
# Engineer Squadron
# Javelin Air Defence Battery
# Long-Range Anti-Tank Guided Weapons Troop
# Mechanised Infantry Battalion

Combat formations

*1 Mechanised Brigade
*4 Mechanised Brigade
*7 Armoured Brigade
*11 Light Brigade
*12 Mechanised Brigade
*16 Air Assault Brigade
*19 Light Brigade
*20 Armoured Brigade
*52 Infantry Brigade

Administrative formations

*United Kingdom Special Forces

Order of Precedence

The British Army parades according to the order of precedence, from right to left, with the unit at the extreme right being highest on the order.

The Household Cavalry has the highest precedence, unless the Royal Horse Artillery parades with its guns.

Arms and services

Combat Arms

The Combat Arms are the "teeth" of the British Army, infantry, armoured and aviation units which engage in close action.

Royal Armoured Corps

Regiments of line cavalry and the Royal Tank Regiment together form the Royal Armoured Corps which has units equipped with either main battle tanks or with light armour for formation reconnaissance. An additional reconnaissance regiment is provided by the Household Cavalry Regiment, of the Household Cavalry, which is not considered to be part of the RAC.

Corps of Royal Engineers

The Royal Engineers is a corps of 15 regiments in the regular army providing military engineering (civil engineering, assault engineering and demolition) capabilities to the field army and facilities management expertise within garrisons.

Regiments are associated with Brigade level formations with a number of independent squadrons and support groups associated with specific tasks:

The Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME) comprises two recruit training regiments:
*1 RSME Regiment - Construction Engineer School
*3 RSME Regiment - Combat Engineer School

The remainder are field regiments attached to various deployable formations:
*21 Engineer Regiment - 4th Mechanised Brigade
*22 Engineer Regiment - 1st Mechanised Brigade
*23 Engineer Regiment - 16th Air Assault Brigade
*24 Engineer Regiment - 3rd Commando Brigade (This regiment is to form in 2007)
**To subsume 59 Independent Commando Squadron
*25 Engineer Regiment - HQ Northern Ireland
*26 Engineer Regiment - 12th Mechanised Brigade
*28 Engineer Regiment - 1st (UK) Armoured Division
*32 Engineer Regiment - 7th Armoured Brigade
*33 Engineer Regiment - Explosive Ordnance Disposal
*35 Engineer Regiment - 20th Armoured Brigade
*36 Engineer Regiment - 3rd (UK) Division
*38 Engineer Regiment - 19th Light Brigade
*42 Engineer Regiment - Geographic services

*62 Cyprus Squadron - 62 Squadron provides the engineering support for British Forces in Cyprus.

*12 (Air Support) Engineer Group, support to airborne forces:
**39 Engineer Regiment - engineering support to the RAF
**529 Specialist Team Royal Engineers
**Works Group, RE (Airfields) - infrastructure support to the RAF
*170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group (formerly Military Works Force); responsible for permanent and temporary infrastructure development, including water, fuel, communications and utilities:
**62 Works Group, RE - Water Infrastructure
**63 Works Group, RE - Utilities Infrastructure
**64 Works Group, RE - Fuel Infrastructure
**HQ 170 Engineer Group, RE

Two squadrons of 36 Engineer Regiment are cap badged as Queen's Gurkha Engineers and are manned predominantly by Gurkhas.

Royal Corps of Signals

The Royal Signals is a corps of 10 Regiments and 13 independent squadrons which provides communications and information systems support to formations of Brigade level and above. Below the Brigade level support is provided by "Battalion Signallers" drawn from the parent unit. Within the deployable brigades the Signal Regiment also provides support to the HQ function including logistics, life support and force protection capabilities.

**1 (UK) Armoured Division HQ and Signal Regiment
**2 Signal Regiment - 11 Signal Brigade
**3 (UK) Division HQ and Signal Regiment
**7 Signal Regiment - 1 Signal Brigade (Allied Rapid Reaction Corps)
**10 Signal Regiment - 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade
**11 Signal Regiment - Royal School of Signals (Training)
**14 Signal Regiment - 11 Signal Brigade (Electronic Warfare)
**15 Signal Regiment - HQ Northern Ireland
**16 Signal Regiment - 1 Signal Brigade
**18 Signal Regiment - UK Special Forces
**21 Signal Regiment - Joint Helicopter Command
**22 Signal Regiment (Forming 2007)
**30 Signal Regiment - 11 Signal Brigade
**200 Signal Squadron - 20 Armoured Brigade
**204 Signal Squadron - 4 Mechanised Brigade
**207 Signal Squadron - 7 Armoured Brigade
**209 Signal Squadron - 19 Light Brigade
**213 Signal Squadron - 39 Infantry Brigade (NI)
**215 Signal Squadron - 1 Mechanised Brigade
**216 Signal Squadron - 16 Air Assault Brigade
**218 Signal Squadron - 8 Infantry Brigade (NI)
**228 Signal Squadron - 12 Mechanised Brigade
**261 Signal Squadron - 101 Logistic Brigade
**262 Signal Squadron - 102 Logistic Brigade
**628 (UK) Signal Troop - Allied Forces North (AFNORTH)
**Cyprus Communications Unit

Two squadrons are cap badged as the Queen's Gurkha Signals and are manned predominantly by Gurkhas.

Intelligence Corps

The Intelligence Corps provides intelligence support including collection, interpretation and counter-intelligence capabilities with three battalions and a joint service group:

*1 Military Intelligence Battalion
*2 Military Intelligence Battalion
*4 Military Intelligence Battalion
*15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group

Joint CBRN Regiment

The Joint CBRN Regiment provides detection and defence against nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons. A joint unit it includes Army and RAF assets:
*1st Royal Tank Regiment - 2 Squadrons
*No 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

Combat Service Support Arms

The Combat Service Support Arms provide sustainment and support for the Combat and Combat Support Arms. Whilst CSS personnel are not intended to close with end engage opposition forces the fluidity of the modern battlefield means that these personnel are likely to be engaged in close combat at times, particularly when associated with Battle Groups.

Royal Logistic Corps

The Royal Logistic Corps is the largest single corps in the British Army; responsible for a range of supply, sustainment and movement tasks. Within the corps there are 21 regiments and 6 independent sub-units:

*1 Logistic Support Regiment
*2 Logistic Support Regiment
*3 Logistic Support Regiment
*4 Logistic Support Regiment
*5 Training Regiment
*6 Supply Regiment
*7 Transport Regiment
*8 Transport Regiment
*9 Supply Regiment
*10 Transport Regiment, Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment
*11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment
*12 Logistic Support Regiment
*13 Air Assault Support Regiment
*17 Port and Maritime Regiment
*19 Combat Service Support Battalion19 CSS Battalion is an integrated combat service support unit combing both RLC and REME elements.]
*21 Logistic Support Regiment
*23 Pioneer Regiment
*24 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment
*25 Training Support Regiment
*27 Transport Regiment
*29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment
*ARRC Support Battalion

*20 Logistic Support Squadron, London District
*44 Support Squadron (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst)
*89 Postal and Courier Unit (SHAPE)
*105 Logistic Support Squadron (BATUS)
*132 Aviation Supply Squadron (16 Air Assault Brigade)
*Cyprus Service Support Unit (British Forces Cyprus)

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers is a corps which provides maintenance support to equipment. Most units will have either a Light Aid Detachment (LAD) or Workshop (Wksp) attached. Seven battalions provide support to formations of brigade level and above:

*1st Battalion, REME - 4 Mechanised Brigade
*2nd Battalion, REME - 7 Armoured Brigade
*3rd Battalion, REME - 20 Armoured Brigade
*4th Battalion, REME - 12 Mechanised Brigade
*19 Combat Service Support Battalion - 19 Light Brigade
*6th Battalion, REME - 1 Mechanised Brigade
*7th Battalion, REME - 16 Air Assault Brigade

Medical services

The Army Medical Services provide primary and secondary care for the armed forces in fixed locations and whilst deployed on operations. Personnel are attached to a parent unit, one of five field regiments or the defence medical services. The AMS comprises four different Corps providing the range of medical and veterinary care, with the Royal Army Medical Corps also providing the administrative framework for the regiments.
*Royal Army Medical Corps
**1 Close Support Medical Regiment - 1st Armoured Division
**3 Close Support Medical Regiment - 3rd Mechanized Division
**4 General Support Medical Regiment - 101 Logistic Brigade
**5 General Support Medical Regiment - 102 Logistic Brigade
**16 Close Support Medical Regiment - 16 Air Assault Brigade
*Royal Army Dental Corps
*Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
*Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Administrative and disciplinary services

The Adjutant General's Corps provides administrative, police and disciplinary and educational support to the army. The AGC is an amalgamation with three of the constituent units retaining their previous cap badge. Personnel from the AGC administrative and educational specialisations serve in attached posts to establishments or units of other arms. The police and disciplinary activities retain their own cap badges and act as discrete bodies. The Corps as a whole is divided into four separate branches:
*Staff and Personnel Branch: The SPS branch is the largest part of the AGC and has responsibility for providing most administrative functions, including finance, IT support, human resources. The SPS branch was formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Army Pay Corps with elements of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Women's Royal Army Corps.
*Education and Training Services Branch: The ETS branch provides for the educational needs of all serving personnel. These cover both professional development within the army, and wider personal development. The ETS branch was formed through the renaming of the Royal Army Educational Corps.
*Army Legal Services Branch: The ALS branch provides legal advice to the army and to individuals requiring representation at Courts Martial. It is one of the smallest individual units, numbering 120 professionally qualified lawyers. All of its members are officers. The ALS branch retains the cap badge and traditions of the Army Legal Corps.
*Provost Branch: The Provost branch consists of three separate elements:
**Military Provost Staff: The MPS is the element of the provost branch responsible for administering military prisons. The MPS is one of the few elements in the army that does not recruit directly; instead, its members are volunteers from other branches of the army. The MPS retains the cap badge and traditions of the Military Provost Staff Corps.
**Royal Military Police: The RMP provides the army's policing services, both in peacetime and in wartime. Units of the RMP are trained to deploy with the Field Army in the event of mobilisation. The RMP provides two regular regiments and supplements TA regiments with one Provost company each. A further provost company is trained in the air assault mission and is permanently attached to 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Corps also provides a number of specialist capabilities such as the Special Investigation Branch, Close Protection Teams and special escort capabilities.
***1 Regiment, Royal Military Police
***3 Regiment, Royal Military Police
***160 Provost Company - 4 RMP
***101 Provost Company - 5 RMP
***114 Provost Company - 5 RMP
***156 Provost Company - Air assault
**Military Provost Guard Service: The MPGS is a unit dedicated to the guarding of military installations, allowing the army to replace civilian guards with trained soldiers. The MPGS has responsibilities at installations belonging to all three services.

Other services

*Army Physical Training Corps
*Corps of Army Music
*Royal Army Chaplains' Department
*Small Arms School Corps


Training in the British Army differs for soldiers and officers but in general takes place in at least two phases:

Phase one training is basic military training for all new recruits. Here candidates learn the basic standards of military performance including operation in the field, weapon handling, personal administration, drill etc.

*Prospective officers attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where they undergo basic training in soldiering, defence policy and the structure of government, administration, command and leadership. The Commissioning Course for new entry officers lasts 44 weeks. Some specialist branches, Medical and Legal, undergo a short course which provides basic military training.
*Infantry soldiers undergo a 24 week course at the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick Garrison which combines phase one and phase two training. Infantry officers undergo Phase two training at ITC on completion of the Commissioning Course
*Soldiers in other specialisations undergo the 20 week Army Development Course at one of four Army Training Regiments; Bassingbourne, Lichfield, Pirbright or Winchester, or the Army Foundation College, Harrogate.

Phase two training is specific to the trade which the soldier or officer will follow and is conducted in a branch specialised school. Phase two training enables the individual to join an operational unit prepared to contribute to operational effectiveness. These schools are under the direction of the parent corps or arm of the service, as illustrated above, with the Infantry Training Centre being formed of four training battalions.

Units of the Territorial Army

Armour (TA)

The four armoured regiments of the Territorial Army operate in two roles - provision of crew replacements for armoured and NBC regiments, and formation reconnaissance:
*Queen's Own Yeomanry
*Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry
*Royal Wessex Yeomanry
*Royal Yeomanry

Infantry (TA)

The 1999 reorganisation of the Territorial Army saw a number of new, multi-cap badge battalions take the place of the old territorial battalions of regular regiments. However, starting in 2006, these regiments will be replaced by a number of single cap-badged battalions attached to the new large infantry regiments:
*51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
*52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
*3rd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)
*The London Regiment
*4th Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border)
*5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
*3rd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment
*4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot)
*4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment
*3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh
*2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd, 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment)
*4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
*6th Battalion, The Rifles
*7th Battalion, The Rifles
*21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artist's)
*23rd Special Air Service Regiment

A further infantry unit, not officially on the British Army list but still technically a British unit, is The Bermuda Regiment. This is a territorial infantry battalion which is responsible for the internal security of Bermuda.

Royal Artillery (TA)

*Royal Irish Rangers
*4th Bn, Parachute Regiment
*21st and 23rd SAS Regiment

Future Restructuring

It has been reported in the press [Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 July 2008, page 4, "British Army proposes to revamp brigade structure"] that the British Army is considering restructuring into a force of three deployable Divisional headquarters and eight 'homogenous, or identical' Brigades, each with a spread of heavy, medium and light capabilities. The existing 16 Air Assault Brigade would be retained as high-readiness rapid reaction force.


ee also

Other corps of the British Armed Forces

*Royal Air Force Regiment
*Royal Marines

British Army restructuring

*"Options for Change" (1992)
*"Strategic Defence Review" (1997)
*"Delivering Security in a Changing World" (2004)

The British Army

*List of Regiments of Foot
*List of British Army Regiments (1881)
*List of British Army Regiments (1962)
*List of British Army Regiments (1994)
*Planned List of British Army Regiments (2008)


*Cap badge
*Colours and Guidons

External links and sources

* [ British Monarchy and the British Army]
* [ Official Army Website]
*A Guide to Appointments and Invitations for Defence Staffs within High Commissions and Embassies in London, UK Ministry of Defence, June 2005 edition
*Operations in the UK: The Defence Contribution to Resilience (Interim Joint Doctrine Publication 2)
* [ Regiments.Org]

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