UK to Have New Elite Ranger Regiment For 'High Threat' Missions as Part of ‘Radical’ Army Overhaul
The UK Defence Secretary had confirmed in March this year that the size of the army would be reduced to 72,500 by 2025, telling Parliament that its increased deployability and technological advantages would mean that greater effect can be delivered by fewer people with increased funding to “modernise the forces for threats of the 2020s and beyond.”
The British Defence Secretary has announced the formation of a new elite Ranger regiment as part of the army’s most “radical” overhaul in over 20 years, reports Sky News.
Ben Wallace has also saved 500 troops from a planned cut in army numbers announced earlier in March. The UK force will still be culled by 9,000 posts to 73,000, with an emphasis on capability rather than mass. The UK military forces will now be relying more on robots and computers and data, with servicemen and women expected to hone specialist skills.
According to a senior defence source cited by the outlet, Ben Wallace had underscored earlier that "the size of the army was based not on a figure picked out of the air but on ambition and threat". In spring, Wallace had announced planned reductions of army numbers to 72,500 soldiers by 2025 as part of a move towards increased focus on drones and cyber warfare.
The decisions came as part of a broader government review of defence, security and foreign policy. "Increased deployability and technological advantage" meant greater effect could be delivered by fewer people, the UK Defence Secretary had stated in March.
The planned shift was to be from "mass mobilisation to information age speed", with the government increasing defence spending by £24 billion ($32 billion) over the next four years. The currently announced reduction to 73,000 soldiers is to be achieved without a redundancy programme, through structural changes.
Elite Fighting Force
One new element of the planned overhaul will be a 1,200-strong Special Operations Brigade – a Ranger Regiment - supported by dozens of additional expert troops, and comprising four battalions, according to the Daily Mail.
One is to focus on emerging conflicts in Eastern Europe, two will be sent to Africa and the fourth will deploy to the Middle East. These battalions are to complement the expertise of the Special Air Service (SAS) unit of the British Army, and take on "high threat" missions overseas, typically in partnership with local troops or militias in the regions.
© Photo : US Army/Sgt. 1st Class Jared N. Gehmann A Green Beret relays the coordinate of an enemy position during Exercise Lightning Forge on Oahu Island, October 18, 2021
A Green Beret relays the coordinate of an enemy position during Exercise Lightning Forge on Oahu Island, October 18, 2021
The Ranger Regiment is said to model itself on the Green Beret special forces in the United States, which complements the Delta Force and Navy Seals. Britain's Rangers, due to be commissioned from 1 December, will be recognised by a new Peregrine Falcon cap badge, said to have been chosen because it is the bird of prey "operating in all environments including deserts, mountains and cities, and notably loyal to its partner", according to the army.
They will also wear grey-coloured berets and carry state-of-the-art weapons. The battalions will be equipped with drones, including the six-inch Black Hornet, and the Multiple Launch Rocket System. All members of the “rank heavy” regiment are expected to be more experienced and mature, fluent in foreign languages.
The elite force will recruit intelligence experts, explosive ordnance disposal specialists and troops trained in gathering evidence from crime scenes, said the publication. The Rangers' first missions, subject to Parliamentary oversight, are expected to begin in early 2022.
The Rangers' commander Brigadier Gus Fair was cited as saying:
“We are a force capable of operating with our partners, not just assisting and enabling them. We will be working and fighting on the most extreme edge of the frontline.The emphasis is on partnering and bringing in military assets and experts which may not be otherwise available to that partner country. The motto of the Rangers will be 'By All Means' which is appropriate as we will be highly versatile and diverse.”