The Info List - British Armed Forces

The British Armed Forces,[nb 3] also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces or the Armed Forces of the Crown, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote Britain's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.[7] Since the formation of a Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
in 1707 (later succeeded by the United Kingdom),[8] the armed forces have seen action in a number of major wars involving the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the First World War, and the Second World War. Repeatedly emerging victorious from conflicts has allowed Britain to establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers.[9] Today, the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
consist of: the Royal Navy, a blue-water navy with a fleet of 77 commissioned ships; the Royal Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the British Army, the UK's principal land warfare branch; and the Royal Air Force, a technologically sophisticated air force with a diverse operational fleet consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. The British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
include standing forces, Regular Reserve, Volunteer Reserves and Sponsored Reserves. The Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
is the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance.[1] The UK Parliament approves the continued existence of the armed forces by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years, as required by the Bill of Rights 1689. The armed forces are managed by the Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Secretary of State for Defence. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is one of five recognised nuclear powers, is a permanent member on the United Nations
United Nations
Security Council, is a founding and leading member of the NATO
military alliance, and is party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained at Ascension Island, Bahrain, Belize, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Kenya, Montserrat, Nepal, Qatar, Singapore
and the United States.[10]


1 History

1.1 Empire and World Wars 1.2 The Cold War
Cold War
and War on Terror

2 Today

2.1 Command organisation 2.2 Personnel 2.3 Defence expenditure 2.4 Nuclear weapons 2.5 Overseas military installations 2.6 Expeditionary forces

3 The Armed Forces

3.1 Royal Navy

3.1.1 Royal Marines

3.2 British Army 3.3 Royal Air Force

4 Ministry of Defence 5 Recruitment

5.1 Role of women

6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

History[edit] Main articles: History of the Royal Navy, History of the British Army, and History of the Royal Air Force Empire and World Wars[edit] With the Acts of Union 1707, the armed forces of England
and Scotland were merged into the armed forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain.[8]

A modern reproduction of an 1805 poster commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar.

During the later half of the seventeenth century, and in particular, throughout the eighteenth century, British foreign policy sought to contain the expansion of rival European powers through military, diplomatic and commercial means – especially of its chief competitors; Spain, the Netherlands
and France. This saw Britain engage in a number of intense conflicts over colonial possessions and world trade, including a long string of Anglo-Spanish and Anglo-Dutch wars, as well as a series of "world wars" with France, such as; the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
(1756–1763), the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) and the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
(1803–1815). During the Napoleonic wars, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
victory at Trafalgar (1805) under the command of Horatio Nelson (aboard HMS Victory) marked the culmination of British maritime supremacy, and left the Navy in a position of uncontested hegemony at sea.[11] By 1815 and the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain had risen to become the world's dominant great power and the British Empire
British Empire
subsequently presided over a period of relative peace, known as Pax Britannica.[9] With Britain's old rivals no-longer a threat, the nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new rival, the Russian Empire, and a strategic competition in what became known as The Great Game
The Great Game
for supremacy in Central Asia.[12] Britain feared that Russian expansionism in the region would eventually threaten the Empire in India.[12] In response, Britain undertook a number of pre-emptive actions against perceived Russian ambitions, including the First Anglo-Afghan War
First Anglo-Afghan War
(1839–1842), the Second Anglo-Afghan War
Second Anglo-Afghan War
(1878–1880)[13] and the British expedition to Tibet (1903–1904). During this period, Britain also sought to maintain the balance of power in Europe, particularly against Russian expansionism,[14] who at the expense of the waning Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
had ambitions to "carve up the European part of Turkey".[15] This ultimately led to British involvement in the Crimean War (1854–1856) against the Russian Empire.[15]

Soldiers from the Royal Irish Rifles
Royal Irish Rifles
in the Battle of the Somme's trenches 1916.

The beginning of the twentieth century served to reduce tensions between Britain and the Russian Empire, partly due to the emergence of a unified German Empire. The era brought about an Anglo-German naval arms race which encouraged significant advancements in maritime technology (e.g. Dreadnoughts, torpedoes and submarines), and in 1906, Britain had determined that its only likely naval enemy was Germany.[16] The accumulated tensions in European relations finally broke out into the hostilities of the First World War (1914–1918), in what is recognised today, as the most devastating war in British military history, with nearly 800,000 men killed and over 2 million wounded.[17] Allied victory resulted in the defeat of the Central Powers, the end of the German Empire, the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
and the establishment of the League of Nations. Although Germany
had been defeated during the First World War, by 1933 fascism had given rise to Nazi Germany, which under the leadership of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
re-militarised in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Once again tensions accumulated in European relations, and following Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Second World War began (1939–1945).[18] The conflict was the most widespread in British history, with British Empire
British Empire
and Commonwealth troops fighting in campaigns from Europe and North Africa, to the Middle East and the Far East. Approximately 390,000 British Empire
British Empire
and Commonwealth troops lost their lives.[19] Allied victory resulted in the defeat of the Axis powers
Axis powers
and the establishment of the United Nations
United Nations
(replacing the League of nations). The Cold War
Cold War
and War on Terror[edit] Main article: Structure of the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
in 1989

The Vulcan Bomber
Vulcan Bomber
was the mainstay of Britain's airborne nuclear capability for much of the Cold War.

Post–Second World War economic and political decline, as well as changing attitudes in British society and government, were reflected by the armed forces' contracting global role,[20][21] and later epitomised by its political defeat during the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
(1956).[22] Reflecting Britain's new role in the world and the escalation of the Cold War
Cold War
(1947–1991), the country became a founding member of the NATO
military alliance in 1949. Defence Reviews, such as those in 1957 and 1966, announced significant reductions in conventional forces,[23] the pursuement of a doctrine based on nuclear deterrence,[24][25] and a permanent military withdrawal East of Suez.[26][27] By the mid-1970s, the armed forces had reconfigured to focus on the responsibilities allocated to them by NATO.[21][28][29] The British Army of the Rhine and RAF Germany
consequently represented the largest and most important overseas commitments that the armed forces had during this period,[30] while the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
developed an anti-submarine warfare specialisation, with a particular focus on countering Soviet submarines in the Eastern Atlantic and North Sea.[28] While NATO
obligations took increased prominence, Britain nonetheless found itself engaged in a number of low-intensity conflicts, including a spate of insurgencies against colonial occupation.[31] However the Dhofar Rebellion
Dhofar Rebellion
(1962–1976) and The Troubles
The Troubles
(1969–1998) emerged as the primary operational concerns of the armed forces.[31] Perhaps the most important conflict during the Cold War, at least in the context of British defence policy, was the Falklands War
Falklands War
(1982).[32] Since the end of the Cold War, an increasingly international role for the armed forces has been pursued, with re-structuring to deliver a greater focus on expeditionary warfare and power projection.[33] This entailed the armed forces often constituting a major component in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions under the auspices of the United Nations, NATO, and other multinational operations,[34] including: peacekeeping responsibilities in the Balkans
and Cyprus, the 2000 intervention in Sierra Leone and participation in the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya (2011). Post-September 11, the armed forces have been heavily committed to the War on Terror (2001–present), with lengthy campaigns in Afghanistan (2001–Present) and Iraq (2003–2009), and more recently as part of the Military
intervention against ISIL (2014–present). Britain's military intervention against Islamic State was expanded following a parliamentary vote to launch a bombing campaign over Syria; an extension of the bombing campaign requested by the Iraqi government against the same group. In addition to the aerial campaign, the British Army
British Army
has trained and supplied allies on the ground and the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
(British special forces) has carried out various missions on the ground in both Syria
and Iraq. Figures released by the Ministry of Defence on 31 March 2016 show that 7,185 British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
personnel have lost their lives in medal earning theatres since the end of the Second World War.[35] Today[edit] Command organisation[edit]

The Ministry of Defence building at Whitehall, Westminster, London

As Sovereign and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
is Head of the Armed Forces[36] and their Commander-in-Chief.[1] Long-standing constitutional convention, however, has vested de facto executive authority, by the exercise of Royal Prerogative powers, in the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence, and the Prime Minister (acting with the support of the Cabinet) makes the key decisions on the use of the armed forces. The Queen, however, remains the ultimate authority of the military, with officers and personnel swearing allegiance to the monarch. It has been claimed that this includes the power to prevent unconstitutional use of the armed forces, including its nuclear weapons.[37] The Ministry of Defence[nb 4] is the Government department and highest level of military headquarters charged with formulating and executing defence policy for the armed forces; it currently employs 56,860 civilian staff as of 1 October 2015.[38] The department is controlled by the Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
and contains three deputy appointments: Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Minister for Defence Procurement, and Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Responsibility for the management of the forces is delegated to a number of committees: the Defence Council, Chiefs of Staff Committee, Defence Management Board and three single-service boards. The Defence Council, composed of senior representatives of the services and the Ministry of Defence, provides the "formal legal basis for the conduct of defence". The three constituent single-service committees ( Admiralty
Board, Army Board
Army Board
and Air Force Board) are chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the armed forces and is an appointment that can be held by an Admiral, Air Chief Marshal or General. Before the practice was discontinued in the 1990s, those who were appointed to the position of CDS had been elevated to the most senior rank in their respective service (a 5-star rank).[39] The CDS, along with the Permanent Under Secretary, are the principal advisers to the departmental minister. The three services have their own respective professional chiefs: the First Sea Lord, the Chief of the General
Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff. Personnel[edit]

Welsh Guards
Welsh Guards
Trooping the Colour.

The British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
are a professional force with a strength of 153,470 UK Regulars and Gurkhas, 35,200 Volunteer Reserves and 8,160 "Other Personnel"[nb 5] as of 1 May 2016[update].[2] This gives a total strength of 196,840 "UK Service Personnel".[2][nb 6] As a percentage breakdown of UK Service Personnel, 78.0% are UK Regulars and Gurkhas, 17.9% are Volunteer Reserves and 4.1% are composed of Other Personnel.[2] In addition, all ex-Regular personnel retain a "statutory liability for service" and are liable to be recalled (under Section 52 of the Reserve Forces Act (RFA) 1996) for duty during wartime, which is known as the Regular Reserve. MoD publications since April 2013 no longer report the entire strength of the Regular Reserve, instead they only give a figure for Regular Reserves who serve under a fixed-term reserve contract. These contracts are similar in nature to those of the Volunteer Reserve.[40] As of 1 April 2015[update], Regular Reserves serving under a fixed-term contract numbered 44,600 personnel.[3] As of 1 April 2016[update], there were a total of 16,040 Regular service personnel stationed outside of the United Kingdom, 5,540 of those were located in Germany. 140,450 Regular service personnel were stationed in the United Kingdom, the majority located in the South East and South West of England
with 38,860 and 36,340 Regular service personnel, respectively.[41] Defence expenditure[edit] According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies
International Institute for Strategic Studies
and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United Kingdom has the fifth-largest defence budget in the world.[42] For comparisons sake, this sees Britain spending more in absolute terms than France, Germany, India
or Japan, a similar amount to that of Russia, but less than China, Saudi Arabia or the United States.[42] In September 2011, according to Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, current "planned levels of defence spending should be enough for the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
to maintain its position as one of the world's top military powers, as well as being one of NATO-Europe's top military powers. Its edge – not least its qualitative edge – in relation to rising Asian powers seems set to erode, but will remain significant well into the 2020’s, and possibly beyond."[43] The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015
Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015
committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence and announced a £178 billion investment over ten years in new equipment and capabilities.[44][45] Nuclear weapons[edit]

A Trident II SLBM being launched from a Vanguard-class submarine

Main article: Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is one of five recognised nuclear weapon states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains an independent nuclear deterrent, currently consisting of four Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines, UGM-133 Trident II
UGM-133 Trident II
submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and 160 operational thermonuclear warheads. This is known as Trident in both public and political discourse (with nomenclature taken after the UGM-133 Trident II
UGM-133 Trident II
ballistic missile). Trident is operated by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Service, charged with delivering a 'Continuous At-Sea Deterrent' (CASD) capability, whereby one of the Vanguard-class strategic submarines is always on patrol.[46] According to the British Government, since the introduction of Polaris (Tridents predecessor) in the 1960s, from April 1969 "the Royal Navy’s ballistic missile boats have not missed a single day on patrol",[46] giving what the Defence Council described in 1980 as a deterrent "effectively invulnerable to pre-emptive attack".[47] As of 2015, it has been British Government policy for the Vanguard-class strategic submarines to carry no more than 40 nuclear warheads, delivered by eight UGM-133 Trident II
UGM-133 Trident II
ballistic missiles.[48] In contrast with the other recognised nuclear weapon states, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
operates only a submarine-based delivery system, having decommissioned its tactical WE.177
free-fall bombs in 1998. The House of Commons voted on 18 July 2016 in favour of replacing the Vanguard-class submarines with a new generation of Dreadnought-class submarines.[49] The programme will also contribute to extending the life of the UGM-133 Trident II
UGM-133 Trident II
ballistic missiles and modernise the infrastructure associated with the CASD.[50] Former weapons of mass destruction possessed by the United Kingdom include both biological and chemical weapons. These were renounced in 1956 and subsequently destroyed. Overseas military installations[edit] Main article: Overseas military bases of the United Kingdom

  Overseas military installations of the United Kingdom, and locally raised units of British Overseas Territories.    Military
interventions since 2000: Palliser (Sierra Leone); Herrick (Afghanistan); Enduring Freedom (Horn of Africa); Telic (Iraq); Ellamy (Libya); and Shader (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

The British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
maintain a number of overseas garrisons and military facilities which enable the country to conduct operations worldwide. All of Britain's permanent military installations are located on British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
(BOTs) or former colonies which retain close diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, and located in areas of strategic importance.[10] The most significant of these are the "Permanent Joint Operating Bases" (PJOBs), located on the four overseas territories of Cyprus
(British Forces Cyprus), Gibraltar
(British Forces Gibraltar), the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
(British Forces South Atlantic Islands) and Diego Garcia (British Forces British Indian Ocean Territories).[51] While not a PJOB, Ascension Island (another BOT) is home to the airbase RAF Ascension Island, notable for use as a staging post during the 1982 Falklands War, the territory is also the site of a joint UK-US signals intelligence facility.[10] Qatar
is home to RAF Al Udeid, a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
outpost at Al Udeid Air Base which serves as the operational headquarters for No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group and its operations across the Middle East.[52] A large Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Naval Support Facility (NSF) is located in Bahrain, established in 2016 it marks the British return East of Suez.[53] In support of the Five Power Defence Arrangements
Five Power Defence Arrangements
(FPDA), the United Kingdom retains a naval repair and logistics support facility at Sembawang
wharf, Singapore.[10][54] Other overseas military installations include; British Forces Brunei,[55] British Forces Germany,[56] the British Army
British Army
Training Unit Kenya,[57] British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada,[58] British Army
British Army
Training and Support Unit Belize, and British Gurkhas Nepal.[59] Some British Overseas Territories
British Overseas Territories
also maintain locally raised units and regiments; The Royal Bermuda
Regiment, the Falkland Islands Defence Force, the Royal Gibraltar
Regiment and the Royal Montserrat Defence Force. Though their primary mission is "home defence", individuals have volunteered for operational duties. The Royal Gibraltar
Regiment mobilised section-sized units for attachment to British regiments deployed during the Iraq War.[60][61] The Isle of Man, a Crown dependency
Crown dependency
hosts a multi-capability recruiting and training unit of the British Army
British Army
Reserve.[62] Expeditionary forces[edit] The British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
place significant importance in the ability to conduct expeditionary warfare.[33] While the armed forces are expeditionary in nature, it maintains a core of "high readiness" forces trained and equipped to deploy at very short notice, these include; the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime)
Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime)
(Royal Navy), 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines), 16 Air Assault Brigade
16 Air Assault Brigade
(British Army) and No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (Royal Air Force). Oftentimes, these will act in conjunction with a larger tri-service effort, such as the UK Joint Rapid Reaction Force, or along with like-minded allies under the UK Joint Expeditionary Force. Similarly, under the auspices of NATO, such expeditionary forces are designed to meet Britain's obligations to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
and other NATO
operations. In 2010, the governments of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and France
signed the Lancaster House Treaties which committed both governments to the creation of a Franco-British Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.[63] It is envisaged as a deployable joint force, for use in a wide range of crisis scenarios, up to and including high intensity combat operations. As a joint force it involves all three armed Services: a land component composed of formations at national brigade level, maritime and air components with their associated Headquarters, together with logistics and support functions.[64] The Armed Forces[edit] Royal Navy[edit]

HMS Queen Elizabeth, a Queen Elizabeth-class supercarrier on sea trials in June 2017.

Main article: Royal Navy The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
is a technologically sophisticated naval force,[65] and as of April 2015 consists of 77 commissioned ships. Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Fleet Commander
Fleet Commander
of the Naval Service.[66] Personnel matters are the responsibility of the Second Sea Lord/ Commander-in-Chief
Naval Home Command, an appointment usually held by a vice-admiral.[67] The Surface Fleet consists of amphibious warfare ships, destroyers, frigates, patrol vessels, mine-countermeasure vessels, and other miscellaneous vessels. The Surface Fleet has been structured around a single fleet since the abolition of the Eastern and Western fleets in 1971.[68] The recently built Type 45 destroyers are technologically advanced air-defence destroyers. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
is building two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, embarking an air-group including the advanced fifth-generation multi-role fighter, the F-35B.[69] A submarine service has existed within the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
for more than 100 years. The Submarine
Service's four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered submarines carry Lockheed Martin's Trident II ballistic missiles, forming the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent. Seven Astute-class nuclear-powered attack submarines have been ordered, with three completed and four under construction. The Astute class are the most advanced and largest fleet submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, and will maintain Britain's nuclear-powered submarine fleet capabilities for decades to come. Royal Marines[edit] Main article: Royal Marines The Royal Marines
Royal Marines
are the Royal Navy's amphibious troops. Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade (3 Commando) and various independent units, the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
specialise in amphibious, arctic, and mountain warfare.[70] Contained within 3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade
are three attached army units; 383 Commando Petroleum Troop RLC, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, a field artillery regiment based in Plymouth, and 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers.[71] The Commando Logistic Regiment consists of personnel from the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.[72] British Army[edit]

The Challenger 2
Challenger 2
main battle tank

Main article: British Army The British Army
British Army
is made up of the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. The army has a single command structure based at Andover and known as "Army Headquarters".[73][74] Deployable combat formations consist of two divisions (1st Armoured and 3rd Mechanised) and eight brigades.[75][76] Within the United Kingdom, operational and non-deployable units are administered by two divisions, Force Troops Command, and London
District. The Army has 50 battalions (36 regular and 14 reserve) of regular and reserve infantry, organised into 17 regiments.[77] The majority of infantry regiments contains multiple regular and reserve battalions. Modern infantry have diverse capabilities and this is reflected in the varied roles assigned to them. There are four operational roles that infantry battalions can fulfil: air assault, armoured infantry, mechanised infantry, and light role infantry. Regiments and battalions e.g.: the Parachute Regiment, exist within every corps of the Army, functioning as administrative or tactical formations. Armoured regiments are equivalent to an infantry battalion. There are 14 armoured regiments within the army, ten regular and four yeomanry (armoured reserve), of which four are designated as "Armoured", three as "Armoured Cavalry", and six as "Light Cavalry". Army 2020 Refine has seen developments which will further modify the Royal Armoured Corps. with two existing regiments forming the core of two new STRIKE Brigades. These two regiments, along with the Armoured Cavalry will be equipped with the "Ajax" armoured fighting vehicle, a new £3.5 billion procurement programme. The Ajax will be employed in the task organisation and roles of both Armoured Cavalry and Medium Armour. With a slight exception of the Household Cavalry, which maintains quasi-autonomy within the Household Division, armoured regiments and their yeomanry counterparts collectively form the Royal Armoured Corps. Arms and support units are also formed into similar collectives organised around specific purposes, such as the Corps of Royal Engineers, Army Air Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps.[78] Royal Air Force[edit]

The Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
multirole combat aircraft

Main article: Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
has a large operational fleet that fulfils various roles, consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.[79] Frontline aircraft are controlled by Air Command, which is organised into three groups defined by function: 1 Group (Air Combat), 2 Group (Air Support)[80] and 22 Group (training aircraft and ground facilities).[80] In addition 83 Expeditionary Air Group directs formations in the Middle East and the 38 Group combines the expeditionary combat support and combat service support units of the RAF. Deployable formations consist of Expeditionary Air Wings and squadrons—the basic unit of the Air Force.[81][82] Independent flights are deployed to facilities in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands, Iraq, and the United States.[83] The Royal Air Forces operates multi-role and single-role fighters, reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, tankers, transports, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and various types of training aircraft.[84] Ground units are also maintained by the Royal Air Force, most prominently the RAF Police
RAF Police
and the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Regiment (RAF Regt). The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Regiment essentially functions as the ground defence force of the RAF, optimised for the specialist role of fighting on and around forward airfields, which are densely packed with operationally vital aircraft, equipment, infrastructure and personnel .[85] The Regiment contains nine regular squadrons, supported by five squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Regiment. In addition, it provides the UK's specialist Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability. It also provides half of the UK's Forward Air Controllers and the RAF's contribution to the Special Forces Support Group. By March 2008, the three remaining Ground Based Air Defence squadrons (equipped with Rapier Field Standard C) had disbanded or re-roled and their responsibilities transferred to the British Army's Royal Artillery.[86] Ministry of Defence[edit]

RFA Argus (left), the fleet's aviation training and hospital ship

Main article: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom) The Ministry of Defence maintains a number civilian agencies in support of the British Armed Forces. Although they are civilian, they play a vital role in supporting Armed Forces operations, and in certain circumstances are under military discipline:

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
(RFA) operates 12 ships which primarily serve to replenish Royal Navy
Royal Navy
warships at sea, and also augment the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship dock
Bay-class landing ship dock
vessels. It is manned by 1,850 civilian personnel and is funded and run by the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence Police
Ministry of Defence Police
(MDP) has an established strength of 2,700 police officers which provide armed security, counter terrorism, uniformed policing and investigative services to Ministry of Defence property, personnel, and installations throughout the United Kingdom. The Defence Equipment and Support
Defence Equipment and Support
(DE&S) is the merged procurement and support organisation within the UK Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). It came into being on 2 April 2007, bringing together the MoD's Defence Procurement Agency
Defence Procurement Agency
and the Defence Logistics Organisation under the leadership of General
Sir Kevin O'Donoghue as the first Chief of Defence Materiel. As of 2012[update] it has a civilian and military workforce of approx. 20,000 personnel. DE&S is overseen by the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. The UK Hydrographic Office
UK Hydrographic Office
(UKHO) is an organisation within the UK government responsible for providing navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil and defence requirements. The UKHO is located in Taunton, Somerset
on Admiralty
Way and has a workforce of approximately 1,000 staff.

Recruitment[edit] Further information: Recruitment in the British Army

One of the most recognisable recruiting posters of the British Army; from World War I
World War I
featuring Kitchener.

All three services of the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
recruit primarily from within the United Kingdom, although citizens from the Commonwealth of Nations and the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
are equally eligible to join.[87] The minimum recruitment age is 16 years (although personnel may not serve on armed operations below 18 years, and if under 18 must also have parental consent to join); the maximum recruitment age depends whether the application is for a regular or reserve role; there are further variations in age limit for different corps/regiments. The normal term of engagement is 22 years; however, the minimum service required before resignation is 4 years, plus, in the case of the Army, any service person below the age of 18.[88] At present, the yearly intake into the armed forces is 11,880 (per the 12 months to 31 March 2014).[89] Excluding the Brigade of Gurkhas
Brigade of Gurkhas
and the Royal Irish Regiment, as of 1 April 2014 there are approximately 11,200 Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) persons serving as Regulars across the three service branches; of those, 6,610 were recruited from outside the United Kingdom. In total, Black and Minority Ethnic persons represent 7.1% of all service personnel, an increase from 6.6% in 2010.[89] Since the year 2000, sexual orientation has not been a factor considered in recruitment, and homosexuals can serve openly in the armed forces. All branches of the forces have actively recruited at Gay Pride
Gay Pride
events.[90][91] The forces keep no formal figures concerning the number of gay and lesbian serving soldiers, saying that the sexual orientation of personnel is considered irrelevant and not monitored.[92] Role of women[edit] Women
have been integrated into the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
since the early 1990s, including flying fast jets and commanding warships or artillery batteries. However, they remain excluded from primarily close combat units in the Army ( Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Armoured Corps
and Infantry), Royal Marines, and Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Regiment.[93] As of 1 April 2014, there are approximately 15,840 women serving in the armed forces, representing 9.9% of all service personnel.[89] The first female military pilot was Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Julie Ann Gibson while Flight Lieutenant Jo Salter was the first fast-jet pilot, the former flying a Tornado GR1 on missions patrolling the then Northern Iraqi No-Fly Zone.[94] Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Juliette Fleming and Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader
Nikki Thomas recently were the first Tornado GR4 crew.[95] While enforcing the Libyan No-Fly Zone, Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Helen Seymour was identified as the first female Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
pilot.[96] In August 2011, it was announced that a female Lieutenant Commander, Sarah West, was to command the frigate HMS Portland.[97] In July 2016, it was announced that women would be allowed to serve in close combat, starting with the Royal Armoured Corps.[98] In July 2017, the Secretary of Defence announced that women will be allowed to enlist in the RAF Regiment from September 2017, a year ahead of schedule.[99] As of 2019, women will be able to serve as a soldier in the British Army's Infantry.[100] See also[edit]

Royal Navy
Royal Navy
portal British Army
British Army
portal Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force

Armed Forces Day (United Kingdom) Banknotes of the British Armed Forces Defence Review – The process by which government of the United Kingdom decides upon its overall defence policy. Military
Covenant – The mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. Network-enabled capability – British military concept of achieving enhanced military effect through the better use of information systems. Similar to the US concept of network-centric warfare. Sponsored Reserves Uniforms of the British Armed Forces


^ Figure is current as of 1 May 2016. It includes 150,620 Regular and 2,850 Gurkhas, but excludes personnel of the Military
Provost Guard Service, Regular Reserves called up for duty and the Sponsored Reserves.[2] ^ Figure is current as of 1 April 2015. It includes 35,200 Volunteer Reserve personnel,[2] 44,600 Regular Reserve and 2,050 Sponsored Reserves. Does not include 6,590 personnel of the University Service Units.[3] ^ Also referred to as the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom. ^ The current structure of defence management in Britain was set in place in 1964 when the modern day Ministry of Defence (MoD) was created (an earlier form had existed since 1940). The MoD assumed the roles of the Admiralty, the War Office
War Office
and the Air Ministry. ^ Other Personnel includes personnel of the Military
Provost Guard Service, Regular Reserves called up for duty and the Sponsored Reserves.[2] ^ UK Service Personnel is a term used by the Ministry of Defence, and comprises UK Regulars, the Brigade of Gurkhas, the Volunteer Reserve and Other Personnel (I.e the Military
Provost Guard Service, Regular Reserves called up for duty and the Sponsored Reserves).[2]


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Acts of Union 1707
parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010; Uniting the kingdom? nationalarchives.gov.uk, accessed 31 December 2010; Making the Act of Union 1707 scottish.parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010 ^ a b Johnston, Douglas M.; Reisman, W. Michael (2008). The Historical Foundations of World Order. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 9047423933. , pp. 508-10. ^ a b c d "The Status and Location of the Military
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Relationship'?: Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Anglo-American Relations' at the Summit', 1964–68, p77 ^ a b Focus on Europe, raf.mod.uk ^ Johnman & Gorst (1997), The Suez Crisis, p166 ^ Lider (1985), British Military
Thought After World War II, p525 ^ Lee (1996), Aspects of British Political History 1914–1995, 273 ^ Pierre (1972), Nuclear Politics: the British experience with an independent strategic force: 1939–1970, p100 ^ Hack (2000), Defence and Decolonisation in South-East Asia: Britain, Malaya, Singapore, 1941–1968, p285 ^ Chandler & Beckett (2003), p345 ^ a b Vanguard to Trident 1945–2000 Archived 10 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine., royal-navy.mod.uk ^ Kennedy (2004), British Naval Strategy East of Suez, 1900–2000: Influence and Actions, p193 ^ Chandler & Beckett (2003), p421 ^ a b Chandler & Beckett (2003), pp350–351 ^ Gibran, Daniel K. (1998). The Falklands War : Britain versus the past in the South Atlantic. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 161. ISBN 078640406X.  ^ a b Hyde-Price, Adrian (Professor) (9 January 2007). European Security in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenge of Multipolarity. Routledge. p. Chapter - Britain, France
and the multipolar challenge. ISBN 1134164408. Retrieved 26 June 2016.  Professor of International Politics, Adrian Hyde-Price, highlights that in the post- Cold War
Cold War
era both Britain and France
have re-focused their attention "towards expeditionary warfare and power projection. Power projection
Power projection
has always been an element of British and French military thinking given their residual over seas interests, but it has now moved centre stage." ^ Frantzen (2005), Nato And Peace Support Operations, 1991–1999: Policies And Doctrines, p104 ^ UK Armed Forces Deaths: Operational deaths post World War II
World War II
3 September 1945 to 17 February 2016, Ministry of Defence, gov.uk, Published 31 March 2016 ^ Forces Queen and Armed Forces, royal.uk. ^ "Whose hand is on the button?". BBC. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2009.  ^ MOD civilian personnel quarterly report: 2015, gov.uk, 1 October 2015 ^ Hansard
(1998), House of Commons Written Answers, publications.parliament.uk ^ gov.uk MoD – reserves and cadet strengths, table 4 page 13. See note 2. April 2014. ^ gov.uk MoD – Quarterly Location Statistics, 1 April 2016 ^ a b "International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Military Balance 2016". Routledge. 9 February 2016. ISBN 9781857438352. Retrieved 19 June 2016.  ^ RUSI Briefing Paper, Is the UK Defence Budget Crisis Really Over?. Malcolm Chalmers. Published September 2011, P. 18 ^ "UK announces rapid strike forces, more warships in new defence plan". Reuters. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.  ^ "PM pledges £178 billion investment in defence kit". Ministry of Defence. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.  ^ a b Royal Navy
Royal Navy
– Continuous at sea deterrent, royalnavy.mod.uk, Accessed 6 December 2014 ^ "The Future United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Strategic Deterrent Force" (PDF). The Defence Council. July 1980. Retrieved 17 May 2012.  ^ House of Commons Hansard
- Written Statements - Nuclear Deterrent, publications.parliament.uk, 20 January 2015 ^ BBC News Online. 19 July 2016 http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36830923.  Missing or empty title= (help) ^ "The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-05.  ^ Permanent Joint Operating Bases (PJOBs), www.gov.uk, 12 December 2012 ^ "UK and Qatar
sign pact to combat jihadis and cyber warfare". Financial Times. 2 November 2014. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.  ^ "Royal Navy's new Bahrain
base seriously enhances Britain's ability to defend the Gulf". The Telegraph. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.  ^ Navy News (Magazine). United Kingdom: Royal Navy. June 2011. p. 11 Eastern Outpost. Retrieved 22 June 2016.  ("The White Ensign is still flying above the operations of Naval Party 1022 (NP1022), based at Sembawang
Wharves in Singapore.") ^ "The British Army
British Army
in Brunei". www.army.mod.uk/. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 20 June 2016.  ^ "The British Army
British Army
in Germany". www.army.mod.uk/. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 20 June 2016.  ^ "The British Army
British Army
in Africa". www.army.mod.uk/. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 20 June 2016.  ^ "The British Army
British Army
in Canada". www.army.mod.uk/. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 20 June 2016.  ^ "British Gurkhas Nepal". www.army.mod.uk/. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 23 June 2016.  ^ The Royal Gibraltar
Regiment Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., 1rg.gi ^ More soldiers from Royal Gibraltar
Regiment in overseas duties in regiment's history, www.panorama.gi ^ " British Army
British Army
opens first reserve unit opens on Isle of Man
Isle of Man
since 1968". www.bbc.com/. BBC. Retrieved 24 October 2016.  ^ Wintour, Patrick (2 November 2010). "Britain and France
sign landmark 50-year defence deal". The Guardian. London.  ^ "Tuesday 2 November 2010 UK– France
Summit 2010 Declaration on Defence and Security Co-operation". Number10.gov.uk.  ^ "Royal Navy". royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2014.  ^ Fleet Command and Organisation, armedforces.co.uk ^ [2] Archived 14 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Hampshire (1975), The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Since 1945: its transition to the nuclear age, p248 ^ "MoD confirms £3.8bn carrier order". BBC News. 25 July 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2010.  ^ BBC News (2002), UK's mountain warfare elite, news.bbc.co.uk ^ The Commando Role for 1 RIFLER, army.mod.uk Archived 14 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Commando Logistic Regiment, royalnavy.mod.uk Archived 14 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Army Command reorganization Archived 12 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Defence Marketing Intelligence, 10 November 2011 ^ Higher Command Archived 5 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Divisions and Brigades, army.mod.uk Archived 20 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Number of Regiments, Infantry battalions & Major Headquarters, in the Regular & Territorial Army at 1 April each year, dasa.mod.uk Archived 13 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ The Mercian Regiment
Mercian Regiment
was formed in August 2007, to become the final regiment created as a result of the infantry amalgamations under FAS ^ Arms and Services, army.mod.uk Archived 17 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Nick Harvey,  Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
(31 January 2012). " Military
Aircraft". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons.  ^ a b RAF – Structure, raf.mod.uk ^ Transforming the Royal Air Force, raf.mod.uk ^ Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Squadrons, raf.mod.uk Archived 19 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Aircraft Order of Battle, scramble.nl Archived 30 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Royal Air Force
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– Equipment, raf.mod.uk ^ The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Regiment, raf.mod.uk Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. ^ RAF Regiment, armedforces.co.uk ^ Evans (2005), How British Army
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Gay Pride
Gay Pride
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