Sunday, February 12, 2017

A different refining process


This post explores in more detail my alternative proposal for Army 2020 Refine, which has already been the focus of several other posts. Here I will explain, and visualize with a table, the extent of the adjustments required to ensure that the Army has two workable divisions, with six workable brigades.
The comfort given by this alternative structure is a degree of repeatability. The army maintains the ability to support a brigade-sized deployment abroad enduringly. The army has two deployable divisions and does not reduce itself to a one-shot only 3rd Division, a six month “make it or break it”. Overall, it looks to me like a more rational and intelligent use of the scarce resources available.

It would be challenging, for many reasons, to accomplish this restructuring. The main concern is how bad recruitment figures are at the moment, particularly in key areas such as REME and Signals. The numbers, even with the removal of 3 infantry battalions, remain tight and cruel masters and careful management of resources would be required to assign the invaluable margin to this or that area.

As I’m not expecting any real budget increase, this restructuring is achieved by cancelling the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle, delaying the programme to a date to be determined. The current shape of Army 2020 Refine makes it clear that the army does not have enough resources to tackle MIV in a complete and proper way. Its introduction comes at the cost of a tremendous mutilation to the rest of the army, and I simply do not think it is worth it.
Manpower is recovered by removing 3 Light Role Infantry battalions; moving to Combined Arms Regiments in Heavy Armour and proceeding with 4 Specialized Infantry Battalions.
Extra manpower could be obtained by not rebuilding some of the Light Role battalions to a 3-companies structure, but this should be a measure of last resort. Cutting other battalions will be challenging unless supplementary tasks (2 battalions in Cyprus, 2 on Public Duty, 1 in Brunei, 1 in support of Special Forces) are downsized.

The complexity of the changes involved are significant, but Army 2020 Refine as described currently is not easy either, and the original Army 2020 wasn’t, either. What I’m advocating for is, for how I see it, a desperate call to the army and to government towards honesty and coherence. They cannot keep cutting while “saving capbadges” and pretend that they can contain the damage. They cannot. It is no use having 31 infantry battalions if there are supports to deploy 10 at best, two in each Army 2020 Refine armoured and strike brigade plus 2 in 16 Air Assault.
Preserving capbadges but cutting the means to deploy them meaningfully as complete battlegroups is simply idiotic, and it is time for realism to win the day, or attempting to fix the disaster later will result in a truly painful process.



Note to the document: the above tables should make it easier to visualize the proposed changes and their impact. 

The image on Pintrest shows the resulting Army 2020 Refine as a whole, with the two divisions drawing supports from Force Troops Command. 


Infantry

The reorganization will continue to include 4 Specialized Infantry Battalions, as planned in Army 2020 Refine. The concept is challenging for a variety of reasons, but the attractive of it is in moving the “enduring tasks” away from the other battalions, which can then focus on their primary combat roles. The SIBs also help in freeing up a lot of manpower which is desperately needed elsewhere.
The challenges of the concept come from the very aim of the Specialized Infantry Group: train, advise and assist allied forces abroad, maintaining an enduring presence in key areas of the world, such as the Middle and Far East, East Europe and Africa.

The concept of the Specialized Infantry Group sees each SIB aligned with an administrative Infantry Division, which feeds qualified personnel into the small but very busy battalion. The enduring presence in all sectors is to be achieved by assigning each region to a battalion, which will then rotate its companies in and out of the area, enduringly. With the battalions numbering some 270 to 300 men, all trades, the balance of deployed and dwell time will be tricky to manage, and the composition, strength and number of the companies will require accurate study.

Another huge question mark is on the Assist objective, and on the comparison, repeatedly used, that draws a parallel between SIBs and American Green Berets. The extent of the Assist objective will be absolutely central in determining what these battalions are going to be: will they become Special Operations Forces, a “second tier” element to the Special Forces proper? Will they step directly into the fight alongside those they have trained, and will they provide key direction  and support? It seems to be the intention, and it should be, to give proper meaning to this force. But this in turn introduces all sorts of questions about the status of these battalions and their recruitment need. If they become battalions about which the government might want, in some occasions, to use the “we do not comment on special operations” line, this will have obvious consequences in terms of pay, terms of service, etcetera.

It is also clear to me that if these battalions are going to “assist” in any meaningful way they shall be able to carry out complex tasks, one of which would be to reconnoiter and mark targets for air attacks. The Specialized Infantry Group should really be a Specialized Brigade, aligned with the UKSFSG, and to do its job properly would need to include extra Fire Support Teams / “stay behind” observation teams from the Artillery and, ideally, it would need a “cavalry” with its squadrons equipped with protected mobility and firepower vehicles to provide lift, force protection and firepower. But to achieve this, time and investment will be required, so I’m forced to leave this out.

More immediately, the Army 2020 Refine which I propose would disband 3 Light Role battalions. The Army has too many, more than it can adequately support with Combat Support and Combat Service Support formations. With no extra money and manpower on the way, the army needs to be honest with itself and sacrifice capbadges if need be, and recollect invaluable manpower by cutting some infantry battalions rather than by messing up and reducing supports even further. Reducing supports causes less political and media flak than disbanding a historic infantry battalion, but it is far more devastating to army capability, because it means being less and less able to properly deploy and support the infantry battalions that remain. Army 2020 Refine as currently planned is a brutal blow to army capability, reducing all supports from 5 to 4, further reducing the meaning of the Adaptable Force.
Removing three infantry battalions will recoup some 1680 posts. 1160 more posts come from the downsizing of 4 battalions into SIBs.

The Armoured Infantry battalions of Army 2020 Refine fall to a total of 4, from 6. This is kind of unavoidable because the Warrior CSP programme is planned to deliver enough vehicles for, you guess it, 4 battalions. Unless more money can be provided and more vehicles upgraded, there is no way around this single, massive roadblock.
Since more armoured infantry would also require more tanks in support, and so more money, we are not likely to go anywhere trying to maintain six battalions. My proposal is to follow the American (and, to a lesser degree, the Israeli) model and go for Combined Arms Regiments. In  fact, permanent, square 2+2 battlegroups that the Army knows well and appreciates.
6 such combines arms regiments would contain a total of six “small battalions” of infantry and six “small battalions” of tanks. 2 Tank Squadrons, with 14 tanks each, and an ISTAR Squadron with Ajax and Warrior-mounted scouts would form the “tank battalion”, while 2 armoured infantry companies plus a Support Weapons Company would form the infantry element.
All six capbadges currently connected to the Armoured Infantry stay in the role, but lose a company each. The loss of 6 companies, or two battalions, fixes the Warrior problem.
The new tank organization erases the cut to MBT numbers that the current Army 2020 Refine implies. 168 tanks are spread in squadrons of 14 across the 6 regiments, for a total of 168, the exact same total of the earlier Army 2020 with 3 regiments of 56 tanks each.

One challenge connected with the smaller battalions is career management for the soldiers within them. The infantry elements should not have too many issues as the battalions would all continue to be part of their respective infantry capbadges. The loss of companies is bad, but far from unprecedented: Army 2020 effectively robbed all Light Role infantry battalions of one company.
Tank “battalions” might benefit from being coupled together into regiments, since the “battalions” would not have a real independent HQ element of their own. For example, the Royal Tank Regiment could return to having a separate 1st and 2nd, as was pre-2010. The “Royal Hussars” could have a Queen’s and a King’s battalion. I have thought long and hard of the identities to choose for the last couple of battalions, but eventually I’ve decided to leave the issue unsettled for now. The romantic in me has tried to give life to a “Union Regiment” which would somehow tie together cavalry elements from across the UK. I’ve thought about splitting the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards into Royal Scots Greys and Carabiniers, but I’m hesitant to move them back to the heavy role and away from Leuchars or, at least, Scotland.

The Combined Arms Regiments have been described in detail here, although I would now recommend forming a separate “cavalry” company for reconnaissance / ISTAR. The manpower total would still be equal or slightly inferior to the 6135 men necessary for the original Army 2020 structure (3 tank regiments with 587 men each and 6 infantry battalions of 729).

Finally, on the infantry front, the plan requires an extra Mechanized Infantry battalion on Mastiff. Being 709 strong, such a battalion requires the expansion of one of the existing formations, and the use of some 150 posts.
The number of Foxhound-mounted battalions drops from 6 to 4, in order to move to 3-companies battalions (currently, the six light protected mobility battalions have only 2 rifle companies each). One Light Mechanized Battalion on Foxhound is assigned to each Mechanized and Light Brigade, plus one to 16 Air Assault.
All Light Role infantry battalions will rebuild the missing rifle company as well (Army 2020 Refine already includes this, uplifting the battalions from 560 or 580 for the Foxhound-mounted ones to 630). The cost in manpower is around 800 posts.

In order to fund all the changes and uplifts in other key areas, the main victim, money-wise, is the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle programme, which is delayed to a later date, to be defined. Although Mastiff has very real mobility problems, particularly over wet and soft terrain, the MIV programme as currently envisaged, in my opinion, costs too much and solves too little. The Army is mutilating itself in order to scrape together four battalions mounted on 8x8 vehicles which will almost certainly be mere APCs, very lightly armed. Their greater mobility would help, but the current Strike Brigade concept is full of contradictions and generally looks like a solution in search of a problem. It does not respond to any real need, especially because, in its current envisaged structure, even assuming it could move as much and as rapidly as general Carter claims, they would lack the firepower to be decisive once they get there.
As a consequence, instead of making one of the many 8x8 producers happy and rich, I’d want to focus on other areas first.



Armour

Army 2020 Refine is supposedly shaped by the “realization” that state on state warfare is not dead. However, while Germany, US and France rebuild their heavy armour components, the british army slashes its own and makes it even smaller. As so often happens, action is not coherent with narrative.
My Army 2020 Refine proposal removes the cut to MBT numbers. Indeed, I’d recommend adding a tank squadron within the reconnaissance cavalry regiments in the two heavy brigades. This would partially solve the lack of firepower of the fully-Ajax based regiment, which can hardly be a “recce by stealth” formation yet lacks the decisive punch to do recce by force. It would also contribute to more closely aligning the british heavy brigades with the US Army ABCTs, which are putting a tank company of 14 Abrams back into their own reconnaissance squadron, although, at least for now, by moving said company out of one of the three Combined Arms Battalions. This could change when the 2017 budget is approved and the manpower boost confirmed. The two british heavy brigades would be “super ABCTs”, more readily understood by the US Army alongside which they are most likely to operate.

An absolute priority for the british army must be solving the obsolescence of Challenger 2, so the cancellation of MIV should see some of the savings repurposed towards a more ambitious upgrade programme for the MBT, with the aim of replacing the powerpack and the rifled gun. Once the smoothbore gun is retrofitted, adoption of the latest advanced multi-purpose rounds and long-rod armor piercing rounds should immediately follow to give the MBT the necessary anti-armour punch and a true multi-role capability against structures and infantry in the open and behind cover.

Adding a tank company within two of the cavalry regiments would require an extra 28 frontline tanks on top of 168 for the Combined Arms Regiment. 196 active tanks still fit within the original Army 2020 fleet of 227, but re-activating some extra tanks would never hurt.

The Mechanized Infantry Brigades will get a Cavalry regiment on Ajax each. This requires the expansion of a Light Cavalry regiment (404 strong) to an Armoured Cavalry formation (528), with the use of some 124 posts. Heavy mortars should also be added to provide long-range, indirect firepower to the recce formations, so a number of extra posts would be required.


Artillery


Artillery regiments will return to a formal alignment with the respective brigades. 1st Artillery Brigade will be replaced by two smaller Artillery Group HQs attached each to a Division. These groups will have much the same functions as the resurrected Div Arty commands in US Army divisions, ensuring both coherence in training, force structure and methods and a greater connection with the division’s commander and the maneuver forces. They will also oversee, on deployment, the regiment tasked with air defence and whatever extra Fires resource is available from the Reserve and/or allies. 

N Bty, 3 Royal Horse Artillery converted from Tac Group to Precision Fires, with GMLRS and Exactor. Army 2020 Refine goes back and cancels the decentralization of Army 2020 in favor of rebuilding a single "Division Fires" regiment. It does so, however, by repurposing a brigade Fires regiment, and this is something i want to avoid. 

L Bty (1 RHA), 129 Bty (4 RA), 38 Bty (19 RA) and 19 Bty (26 RA), currently all Tac Group batteries, would be re-invested as Brigade STA batteries with mini-UAVs (Desert Hawk III and, later on, its replacement) and Fire Support Teams. Centralized within 32 Regiment Royal Artillery for ease of training, logistics and career, the brigade SRA batteries would be aligned each to a different brigade and particularly close to the reconnaissance cavalry. 
At the end of the restructuring, 32 Regiment should have one 'UAV and Tac' battery for each brigade, including 3rd Commando Brigade. 47 Royal Artillery should form 4 Watchkeeper batteries for brigade and division level tasking. 

L118 Batteries within 4 Royal Artillery regiment would be uplifted from 4 to 6 guns each; and V Bty would be rebuilt within 7 RHA, with six guns plus Fire Support Teams. 26 Royal Artillery regiment would transition from AS90 to a new, lighter self propelled 155mm artillery system, possibly wheeled. My recommendation is to go for a system which can also replace the increasingly aging and short-ranged AS90. The DONAR system looks to me like the best candidate. On Ajax hull, it could replace AS90 and support the Mechanized Brigades, but for the latter, if it was financially feasible, a wheeled base could be even better.

Other artillery priorities would be programmes that the Royal Artillery has been unsuccessfully pursuing for years: a Course Correcting Fuze for 155mm shells, to improve general accuracy of the heavy artillery; a long range guided 155mm shell, for precision engagement; and the new Long Range Precision Fires missile for GMLRS.
Purchasing a stock of Alternative Warhead rockets for the GMLRS would also finally restore anti-area capability to the system following the demise of sub-munitions.

Air Defence has been highlighted, correctly, as a major British Army weakness. Unfortunately, solving this issue would require resources that simply won’t be there. The latest RAF strategy document includes mention of the service acquiring an “anti-ballistic capability”, but of course no details are provided. The british army only option is to work together with the RAF towards the acquisition of a long-range air defence system with anti-ballistic capability, to provide a more realistic umbrella over deployed forces and, at the very least, some protection to deployed HQs and other key targets from the Iskander threat.

From within its resources, the Army  should in the meanwhile re-organized 12 and 16 regiment to turn each formation into a Divisional Air Defence regiment with a battery for each brigade. Each battery should have a vShorad element with HVM / LMM and a Local Area element with Rapier and then Land Ceptor.


The number of batteries is unchanged, but T bty becomes a support battery to enable 12 Regiment to serve as a Divisional air defence asset, and a Commando battery is formed to support 3rd Commando Brigade. All batteries need expansion to have a HVM / LMM element and a Land Ceptor element.


Engineers
Royal Engineers won’t lose 35 Engr Regt under my proposal, but will instead form new regular and reserve squadrons to better support the brigades. 21 and 32 regiments need an extra squadron each; and 23 Parachute regiment needs to recreate the lost 12 Sqn plus a new HQ element. Heavy equipment (Titan and Trojan) is concentrated in two heavy regiments. Two “medium regiments” (21 and 32) are equipped, and two light regiments complete the Close Support group.


Signals

One of the greatest weaknesses in Army 2020 is the lack of Royal Signal resources to support formations. It is not a secret, yet little to nothing has been done about it. Army 2020 cut a signal regiment, and then Peter Wall complained about signals shortage in front of the Defence Committee. Very smart. But, of course, infantry capbadges had to be preserved and five battalions were the most they were allowed to cut, as we know, so the pain had to hit elsewhere.
During 2016, reality emerged once more, as it has the bad habit of doing, and the Army has realized that it really cannot rotate “multi-role signal regiments” in and out of role to do the work of 6 or 7 regiments with 5. It just doesn’t work, and so regiments are aligning with one brigade. Or, in the case of 3 Signal, with 3rd Division.
The uplift required is significant: 216 Signal Sqn, within 16 Air Assault brigade, must be supplemented with other squadrons to form a new brigade signal regiment, if the formation is to be able to deploy as a large maneuver formation and not just support a battlegroup at readiness. I’ve suggested 210 and 215 as squadron identities as those have had parachute and air assault roles in the past.
A further two regiments need to formed, while 1 Signal becomes a Divisional signal regiment, in support of 1st Division. Much of the manpower margin created by reductions to the infantry would be absorbed by these measures.


Logistic and equipment support

Logistic regiments also need reinforcement. My proposal eliminates a small regiment (7 RLC, in the Adaptable Force) in favor of reinforcing what is left, building up capable brigade support formations backed by Theatre Support regiments at Division level.
REME expansion is also required: lack of maintainers has been causing “indirect cuts” within artillery and even infantry: the struggle to realize Light Mechanized Infantry is also due to lack of REME resources to support Foxhound.



Combat Aviation Brigades

Despite the efforts of Joint Helicopter Command, the integration between aviation and land forces is still cause of concerns, as evidenced in the Operation Herrick lessons learned report. To try and improve the alignment of precious helicopter resources with the readiness cycle of the land forces, my proposal is to form two deployable Combat Aviation Brigades. Their structure would formalize readiness mechanisms that, in large part, already exist. 

Under the first Army 2020, the two Attack Helicopter regiments alternate yearly into readiness, and align one squadron with the Air Assault Task Force and one with the Amphibious Task Force.
The Attack regiments are also tasked with generating a deployable Aviation HQ element, and another is generated by the RAF’s Support Helicopter Force.
Under Army 2020 Refine, the attack helicopter regiments are entering the age of "continuous readiness"Gone is the training year, and the demands increase a lot as 4 Regiment is assigned permanently to support of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando, with 664 Sqn specializing in Land Air Assault and 656 Sqn in Maritime operations.3 Regiment, on the other hand, will align with 3rd UK Division. Details are still to come, but it seems reasonable to assume that its two frontline Apache squadrons will be required to align to the Armoured and Strike Brigade that will hold Readiness every year.

The Aviation HQ, in my proposal, would be enhanced and removed from the regiments, to be concentrated at brigade level with the formation of the two CABs.
Each CAB would have:

-          One deployable aviation HQ
-          One Signal Sqn (the existing 244 and another)
-          One Reconnaissance, Command Support and Light Utility regiment with two WILDCAT Sqns
-          One Attack Regiment with two APACHE Sqns
-          One Support Regiment with one CHINOOK and one PUMA Sqns
-          One Aviation Support Battalion, composed of elements from the current Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (LZ management, underslung loads); logistic element from 132 RLC Sqn, Fuel element from the Tactical Supply Wing and Aviation Support Coy REME.
-          One RAF Regiment Field Sqn for force protection and for MERT defence
-          Two Watchkeeper batteries from 47 Royal Artillery 
  

Joint Helicopter Command would maintain direct control of the Joint Special Forces Support Wing (including one CHINOOK Sqn) as well as of the training units, including 673 Sqn (APACHE OCU), 653 Sqn (APACHE Conversion to Role), 652 (WILDCAT OCU) and 28 Sqn (Puma and Chinook OCU). The two deployable brigades would be aligned each to an Army Division. The elements needed for the CABs are mostly already existent, although adjustements would be required. 




Thursday, December 15, 2016

Army 2020 Refine: even worse than expected - UPDATES


16 February 2017 UPDATE: the composition of the STRIKE Brigades artillery regiments (3 RHA and 4 RA) will be: 

HQ Bty
2x Gun Bty
3x Tac Gp Bty

3 RHA is ending the 3 gun batteries "experiment" (an attempt to avoid shrinking to just two gun batteries by having 3 batteries on 4 guns rather than 2 on 6 guns as for initial Army 2020 thinking) and is pulling the guns out of J (Sidi Rezegh) Bty.
The regiment expects to grow by some 110 posts.


1 February 2017 UPDATE: the Attack Helicopter Force 

While the Army Air Corps waits to learn the fate of its bases, which is being decided in a separate and specific review of infrastructure and could still result in closures (Middle Wallop, close to Salisbury Plain but with less machines than ever because of the smaller fleets under UK Military Flying Training System Rotary Wing; or Wattisham, less geographically fortunate but full of stuff that would require quite a few quids to relocate...?), the Attack Helicopter Force is being asked to modify its Readiness mechanism to deliver even more with, if not less, the same. 

Up to the end of 2016, 3 and 4 Regiment have been alternating yearly in High Readiness. During the year at High Readiness, each regiment aligned one Apache squadron with the Lead Air Assault task force and one with the Lead Commando Battlegroup.

From 2017, the mechanism is changing towards one of "permanent readiness". Gone is the training year, and the demands increase a lot as 4 Regiment is assigned permanently to support of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando, with 664 Sqn specializing in Land Air Assault and 656 Sqn in Maritime operations.

3 Regiment, on the other hand, will align with 3rd UK Division. Details are still to come, but it seems reasonable to assume that its two frontline Apache squadrons will be required to align to the Armoured and Strike Brigade that will hold Readiness every year.



31 January 2017 UPDATE: some confirmations. 

SOLDIER magazine of February provides another partial update on Army 2020 Refine, which contains confirmation to some of my assumptions. Among these, the role of 3 RIFLES, 21 Engineer Regiment and 3 Medical Regiment. 
Some unit moves are detailed, although not with dates. All should happen within 5 years, apparently. The new readiness mechanism, with one armoured and one Strike brigade at readiness at once every year, should become operational around 2023.
Some moves were already known and planned, some others are new.

Household Cavalry Regiment will move to Bulford from Windsor

Scots Guards to Catterick from Aldershot 

1st RLC from Bicester to Catterick 

3 Medical Regiment from Preston to Catterick (this is the image of the Army's incoherent planning: from Catterick to Preston and back again) 

21 Engineer Regiment, from Ripon to Catterick 

Royal Dragoon Guards, from Catterick to Warminster

1st YORKS, from Warminster to Catterick 

Royal Lancers, from Catterick to Warminster

4th Royal Artillery, from Topcliffe to Newcastle 

2 Close Support REME, from Leuchars to Catterick 



16 January 2017 UPDATE: The Army finally speaks. 

The armoured brigades of Army 2020 Refine will be 20th and 12th Brigades. 

The Strike Brigades will be 1st Brigade, converted from the armoured role, and a "new" brigade. 
This year will see the Scots Guards and the Household Cavalry move into a "Strike Experimentation Group. In 2019 they will be joined by King's Royal Hussars and 4 SCOTS, and at that point the Group will become a brigade, picking a badge. To me, 4th Infantry Brigade, being based in Catterick, continues to look best positioned candidate, but it seems the deal is not quite sealed. 

The Specialised Infantry Group will form during January and will take command of 4 RIFLES and 1 SCOTS in April, to achieve an IOC hopefully by the autumn. The Specialised Infantry Battalions are expected to take a permanent regional focus, and probably, for obvious reasons, the first two will probably be Middle East and Europe. 

Nothing on the surviving Armoured and Infantry brigades. Note that Strike Brigades are peculiarly described as something that will "enable maneuver at Division level", which reinforces my feeling that these weird things are supposed to be kind of like the Division's reconnaissance element. 






The first announcement about Army 2020 Refine is out, and the news it brings are even worse than expected. General Carter apparently wants to shed Challenger 2 tanks quickly, before his successor can perhaps think again about it: the King's Royal Hussars will be put inside the first Strike Brigade, which can only mean losing Challenger 2 to get Ajax instead. Rushing the cut through is the only explanation for converting one of just 3 tank regiments before converting the cavalry formations that were due to get Ajax in the first place.
The Royal Lancers were planned to be the first regiment to get Ajax, and this statement throws that very much in doubt. Why should the few and precious Challenger 2s go out of the window before Scimitar does, considering that it is the latter that badly needs replacement and is supposed to be entirely gone by 2026? 

There is no telling yet whether or not the armoured brigades will get their own cavalry regiment, and how Ajax will now be distributed and employed. Horribly, the Chief of Staff now openly calls it a "medium tank" in its video to the troops.
A MOD-supplied written evidence paper draws a line between "cavalry" (reconnaissance) Ajax regiment and "Medium Armour" regiment, with each Strike Brigade to have one of each.
What the actual differences will be isn't easy to guess. Unless the Army is in the budgetary position to resurrect the Medium Armour variant of the vehicle, which was to be armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, the key piece in either formation will be the same Ajax in Scout configuration. Same protection, same firepower. Same thing. The difference could thus be mostly about numbers, sub-variants distribution (the very few Joint Fires and Ground Based Surveillance vehicles would go to the recce cavalry, one would guess) and the number of Ares APCs and, consequently, of dismounts.
Of course, if the Army had the money to procure an actual "medium tank" or direct fire vehicle for the Strike Brigade it would probably purchase a wheeled one based on the MIV hull, so i don't expect Ajax Medium Armour to return. That means Scouts will become "medium tanks" by virtue of empty words. This is a lie that will break the army's back with this ill informed reform and that will one day cost lives if some politician unaware of what a tank is ever believes to the statement.





The other Ajax regiment will be the Household Cavalry (no change, it was already going to be an Ajax regiment), with the infantry represented by the Scot Guards and 4 Scots. Both battalions were already planned as Mechanized infantry as part of Army 2020.
The Household will move out of Windsor, heading probably for Salisbury Plain, and the Welsh Guards will move in to replace them. 

No clue to the identity of the brigade, but it seems pretty much certain that it'll be either one of the currently armoured brigades or 4 Brigade by virtue of its base already being Catterick.
20th Brigade is expected to remain in the Armoured role, leaving one between 1st and 12th. 

Whether the RLC regiment(s) assigned to the Strike Brigades will be suitably restructured to give a bit of credibility to the talk of these brigades moving rapidly back and forth across as many as 2000 km on land to dominate "vast battlespaces" is an open question. The French have created combat companies within each logistic regiment so that they can self-escort and fight through, and this appears to be one of many key requisites for the Strike Brigade concept to make any kind of sense. We'll see if anything is done about it.
The direct mention of RLC units is interesting in itself, however: is the Army backtracking on its earlier decision to pull the supporting regiments out of the manoeuvre brigades? Is it true only for the Strike Brigades due to a "french-like" approach for them? We do not yet know, since nothing else is said about the shape of the Strike Brigade and even less about the future of the remaining Armoured brigades.



Strike BrigadeThe first Strike Brigade will operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and will be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units will be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.


UPDATE 23 December 2016: 

Collating together the various news and an ORBAT table for the second Strike Brigade which the MOD passed along to Jane's, the intended structure for the two Strike Brigades is as follows in the tables:



CORRECTION: The 1st Brigade will eventually convert from Armour to Strike. 
The other Strike Brigade (which might actually be the first to form, though) will "pick a badge" in 2019, evolving from what will start this year as "Strike Experimentation Group". 

20th and 12th brigades will stay in the Armoured infantry role.

I also don't yet know the identity of the medical regiment that will be aligned with the first Strike Brigade, although 3rd Regiment looks to me to be relatively well positioned for the role. 
There is no official confirmation of 21 Engineer Regiment being assigned to the first Strike Brigade either, but being already based in the right place it seems an obvious pick. 


UPDATE: the reserve tank regiment, Royal Wessex Yeomanry, a 3rd Division asset, is getting a modest uplift in manpower, in no way substitutive for the loss of a regular tank regiment. 



Message from the Commanding Officer of the RWxY.

On Friday, the detail of Army 2020 Refine was announced. For our Regiment, it is excellent news that sees you and RWxY rewarded for all of your individual and collective efforts. You have demonstrated that the Reservist can train on and operate the CR2 platform with a success that has attracted CGS' attention. From 2017, the RWxY will continue to deliver the Armd Reinforcement Regt, but will also take on an additional Armd Replacement role. Y (RWY) Sqn is now a fully established sub unit on our orbat with the benefits of Perm Staff that that brings. Each Sqn will also grow in size by an additional tank crew per Troop. This will strengthen each of our Sqns by another 20 Officers and Soldiers. This is exactly what we asked for and have worked hard for.


UPDATE: 1st and 20th Brigade appear set for continuing in the armour role, which would make 12th and 4th brigades the most likely Strike Brigade identities.


UPDATE: with 3rd Rifles expected to move from Edinburgh to Catterick in 2021, we can assume it will be a mechanized infantry battalion within the second strike brigade, although there is no clear confirmation yet. 

For sure, 1st YORKS is due for transition from Warrior to MIV in 2020. Remarkably (but unsurprisingly), the commanding officer himsef knows little of what is to come:


I have received orders yesterday confirming that 1 YORKS will redesignate to the Mech Inf role in 2020. The Bn is expected to relocate from WARMINSTER to CATTERICK in 2020.
At this time, we understand little about the detail of this change and I would encourage you not to speculate. I have been told that our establishment will grow, with bigger rifle platoons and a larger REME Light Aid Detachment. There is more work to come to confirm our mix of vehicles, which barracks we will occupy in Catterick and the finer details of the move.


The Fusiliers will retain the Armoured Infantry role on Warrior and will see their reserve battalion strenghtened: 



First Fusiliers will remain in Tidworth in the Armoured Infantry role. Part of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade it will remain on the tip of the spear for the UK Reactive Force. Fifth Fusiliers will grow to incorporate MG Pl in Bury, A Company in Sheldon and C Company in Balham. This is a significant win and will see us once more with a Regimental C2 node in each of our recruiting areas. The Fifth Battalion will also become officially 'paired' with First Fusiliers, presenting further opportunities for training and operations.


UPDATE: Within 1st UK Division, the 1st Royal Irish will lose Foxhound and re-convert to Light Role, rebuilding the 3 platoons lost with the Army 2020 downsizing. It will also move to a new home which has yet to be chosen.

Basing: Barracks will close in 2022 and 1 R IRISH will move to a new location. There has been no decision yet as to where this will be.

Role and establishment: 1 R IRISH will convert to Light Role Infantry. The battalion will also increase in size, growing by 3 rifle platoons and some positions within the Quartermaster’s department. The regular/reserve partnership with 2 R IRISH will remain and 2 R IRISH will also grow by 3 platoons.

Infantry division affiliation: Both 1 and 2 R IRISH will remain under operational command of 1 (UK) Division. The administrative infantry division - which coordinates career management and appointments - will change. The Regiment will become part of a new infantry division, with the Royal Welsh & the Royal Regiment of Scotland. This new division will bring Regular and Reserve posting opportunities for our soldiers within the Armoured, Mechanised, Light Role and new Specialised Infantry career fields.



UPDATE: the Mercian regiment enjoys stability and will keep its two regular and one reserve battalions. It is also confirmed in the current roles, (1st battalion is Armoured Infantry and 2nd is Light Role). 

Two battalions will be downsized and transformed into Defence Engagement / "Specialized Infantry" battalions during 2017:


The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland    (Light Role) 4th Battalion The Rifles   (Mechanized Infantry / Heavy Protected Mobility infantry) 


4 Rifles is a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Army 2020, so a unit of 700 men. It'll be savagely slimmed down to 300 with excess manpower progressively redirected elsewhere.
Come 2019, they are due to be joined by


2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Light Role)2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (Light Role) 


UPDATE 16 January 2017: The Duke of Lancaster's regiment future has emerged thanks to a House of Commons Written Answer which also provides useful information that probably applies to all battalions in similar roles: 

1st Battalion will stay as a Light Role formation and will rebuild the missing Rifle Platoons lost under the earlier version of Army 2020. Its regular liability is exected to go from 560 to 630 men as a consequence of the restructuring. All Light Role infantry battalions should be rebuilt in similar fashion. 

2nd Battalion will become a Specialised Infantry formation, as announced, and will drop from 560 to as few as 270 regulars. 

4th Battalion, in the Reserve, is expected to grow from 400 to around 500 men. 

The regimental headquarters is based in Fulwood Barracks, Preston, which is planned for disposal under the Better Defence Estate Strategy in 2022. A future location for the regimental headquarters will be determined following a process of detailed assessment and planning.



UPDATE 16 January 2017: It is not yet possible to confirm this news, but it seems that Army 2020 Refine intends to reconvert all Light Mechanized Battalions into Light Role infantry battalions. Foxhound-mounted battalions would cease to exist as a permanent ORBAT feature very soon after appearing. 
The future of the Protected Mobility fleet (Mastiff, Ridgback and Foxhound, chiefly) remains uncertain at this stage. 


Specialised Infantry Battalions
In 2017 the Army will also create the first two new Specialised Infantry battalions to pioneer this new capability. These units will be The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and 4th Battalion The Rifles, the former relocating to Aldershot from Belfast by 2019. A new Group headquarters for the units will be established, initially based in York alongside the 1st (UK) Division of which the Group will be part, before moving to Aldershot by 2020. To reinforce this capability the Army plans to create two further Specialised Infantry battalions by 2019. These units will be the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment both joining the group in Aldershot by 2020.

Let's recall Carter's words about the Specialised Infantry Battalions: 


General Sir Nicholas Carter: Putting that smartly to one side, what it actually means goes back to when I talked about specialised infantry battalions in answer to the very first question. These creatures, which will only be about 300 strong, allow me—because they will be built from battalions that are 550 strong—to be able to reinvest over time the 250 saving which you make into the other infantry battalions around them to make them more resilient.

General Carter oral evidence to the Defence Committee




"Adjustements" are to follow within supporting units and it is here that the pain spikes up, as the Army seems to be rushing towards the loss of the capability to work to a "1 in 5" rule as it has so far. The pain hits all trades but the Signals, with regiments "rationalized" to feed what remains: 

32 Royal Artillery  (currently one of the 2 UAV regiments, alongside 47 RA) 

35 Royal Engineer  (currently an armoured engineer regiment) 
2 Medical  (Adaptable Force) 
33 Field Hospital (one of only 3 regular field hospitals) 
HQ 4 Regiment Royal Military Police
HQ 64 Works Group Royal Engineer 

102 Logistic Brigade HQ will also be "rationalized" as had already been reported. 


21 and 32 Engineer Regiments, based in Catterick, are in the intended "Strike Brigades" home, so they can expect a manpower, equipment and structure uplift as they feed on the remains of 35 Engineer Regiment. A number of Titan and Trojan will no doubt be lost as a consequence.


UPDATE: 35 Regiment will become the new EOD unit to be formed in the reserve.

In the artillery, the loss of 32 Regiment is curious, given that it currently operates Tactical Batteries equipped with the Desert Hawk III mini-drone. The UAV mission is not going away, i assume (you never know, in these days no decision is too insane, apparently...) so either 47 regiment will be enlarged to take on the totality of the UAV role or something else is brewing. Probably one of the other regiments will replace 32 RA in the role, i'm guessing. The selection of 32nd RA for disbandment is probably mostly tied to the fact that it will be easier to convert one of the gun regiments already in place for the Strike role. 

UPDATE: 32 Regiment won't be cut before 2021. Until then, business largely as usual although the Force Generation cycle will change in 2019 to follow the army-wide change to a 2-brigades-at-readiness stance. 

UPDATE: a letter from 1st Artillery Brigade HQ has been published that provides some more information about the future of the Artillery. 
The Precision Fires Batteries that have been built within the heavy artillery regiments after 2010 and which are equipped with regular-crewed GMLRS and EXACTOR will be removed from the regiments and concentrated into Larkhill, under 26 Royal Artillery which becomes a Division Fires Regiment, with 101 Royal Artillery keeping the reserve GMLRS role. 

26 Royal Artillery will take under command H Bty and 176 Bty, while its AS90s and Tac Group will be redistributed. The change of role comes in 2019. Equipment will be GMLRS and EXACTOR. 

"Subject to further planning" 101 Regiment's future will be as follows: "Regimental liability will be reduced to better reflect a modern expeditionary division. The Regimental structure of 4x Sub Units and an RHQ will remain the same.

3 Royal Horse Artillery and 4 Royal Artillery will become the Strike regiments and a "new medium weight wheeled gun" will be put into service before 2025". STRIKE 155, the artillery programme for the Strike Brigades, maybe has a budget after all. 
If i have to guess what will be picked, i say CAESAR or M777. If the Royal Artillery is extremely lucky, it will be able to purchase the proposed 8x8 CAESAR, which unlike the variant already in service in the Armee de Terre is a true self-propelled gun, automated and with no requirement for the crew to leave the armoured citadel. The BAE-Bofors Archer would be better, but cost and political considerations probably mean CAESAR is the favorite. It has also already been trialed by british gunners in several occasions. 
Both regiments to be based in Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but 4 Royal Artillery will not move there before 2026. 


Base CAESAR
The CAESAR 8x8 with autoloader and increased protection and mobility, in a photo from Eurosatory by Army Recognition

UPDATE: Jane's says it has been given a briefing about the new Army structure and is reporting that 3 RHA and 4 RA will lose their guns for good and that 155 STRIKE is not happening.  
I have no reason to doubt of Jane's word, yet the report clashes with what the COs of both regiments have been saying in the last few days and also with the 1st Artillery Brigade's letter to the troops. 
The COs messages: 


4th Royal Artillery

Army HQ has confirmed that 4 Regt RA will convert to become a STRIKE close support artillery regiment. This means that over the next 10 years or so our Light Guns will be replaced by a new medium weight gun and our tac gps will be mounted in a combination of brand new wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles. This is great news and an exciting time for the Regiment! The Army has also confirmed that we will arms plot to Albemarle Barracks in Newcastle, but NOT BEFORE 2026. Full details will be briefed to the Regiment in the New Year. This announcement brings stability in the short term and some fantastic opportunities in the longer term.


3rd Royal Horse Artillery 

The Army 2020 Refine announcements will hit the press in the next couple of days. We have time scheduled in the New Year to brief in detail, but I wanted you to know the headlines for Our Regiment now:
- 3 RHA will stay in Albemarle Barracks. 4 Regt RA will join us here in around 10 years time.
- We will become a Strike Regiment, affiliated to a Strike Brigade. I'll brief you in more detail on this but essentially we retain the same capabilities but grow a little.
- PF will move South in 2019. We will fully support our Gunner brethren in the interim and in the move.
- Training programmes will change slightly to enable us to more efficiently support affiliated Brigades.
That's all you need to know for now, it's all good and the Mighty Third goes from strength to strength. More to follow, and have a great Christmas and New Year!

Note that, whatever happens to 3 RHA and 4 RA, the regiments will indeed not be organic to the Strike Brigades: they are part of 1st Artillery Brigade and only "aligned" to the Strike Brigades. The same is true of 1st RHA and 19 RA in the Heavy role. 
Also note that Jane's talks of a reduction from 6 L118 regiment to 4. This is again puzzling: the british army has 4 regular and 2 reserve L118 regiments, so it would in theory go down to 4 if the guns are removed from 3 RHA and 4 RA. But since 104 RA is being converted to L118, we get back to 5. 
Somewhere, there are misunderstandings at play here. 

If Jane's is right, the Royal Artillery officers and units have been fed with horribly inaccurate information in these days. 
What i think can be said with confidence at this point is that the Army 2020 Refine "announcement" is a monstrosity, a crime and a complete failure. The CDS posted a useless two minutes video on Twitter and provided no information at all; the secretary of state provided a statement completely devoid of detail and officers have been left in the dark. In the last few days there have been COs writing that they literally don't know what is going to happen to their units and that they were looking into the announcement. 
This is amateurish at best, and criminal at worst. This is not how you deliver such important news to thousands of families and to the country. 



UPDATE 22 December 2016: 3 RHA reaffirms that it and 4 RA will field guns and that STRIKE 155 is funded.

Just to make you aware, there is an article circulating that suggests that ourselves and 4 Regt RA will not be equipped with guns under the A2020R structure.
The journalist has got his facts wrong and the Chain of Command may consider a rebuttal or correction to the story. Rest assured, A2020R structures see us still equipped with guns as part of our larger Joint Fires Orbat, and the Gunners have a funded medium-weight gun capability to replace Light Gun.



103 Royal Artillery will stay as a Close Support gun regiment, paired with 4 Royal Artillery. 
105 will continue to support 3 Royal Horse Artillery.  

104 Royal Artillery, currently the reserve ISR / mini-UAV regiment will convert to the Light Gun. Again, this is the biggest surprise in the plan for me. I did not expect the ISR component to suffer, and now the question is how the capability will maintained in the future. Apparently, nobody yet knows what (if anything) comes after Desert Hawk III in 2021, and there is a need for "resilience" in the Close Support role right now. 

It has now been confirmed that as part of the Army’s reorganisation, 104 Regiment RA will be re-designated as a Reserve Close Support (CS) artillery regiment and will re-role to light gun. This will take place from 2017 (date tbc) and will see the Regiment re-subordinate to 1 Artillery Brigade and provide support to an Armoured Infantry Brigade. The construct of the Regiment will remain unchanged with a HQ Battery and 4 equipment batteries and there are no associated basing implications (less those already announced concerning the Royal Citadel and 289 Tp). In due course we will be paired with a yet to be confirmed Regular CS Regiment.


Many of you will no doubt be asking what has brought about this change. Simply put, it is because the wider restructure of the Army, and the rationale underpinning aspects of that change, requires a Reserve component structured to meet the demands of a modernised expeditionary division. For us as a Regiment, at a time when the delivery of future MUAS capability was still to be determined and the need to enhance resilience in CS artillery was apparent, redesignation was the most sensible course of action. As we look forward, it is also opportune to reflect and you should all be immensely proud of what has been achieved both on operations and in training as a MUAS regiment. Make no mistake, you have proven the provision of MUAS capability was well within your gift. 

UPDATE: My personal attempt to divine the new role of 104 Regiment leads me to guess that it might provide reserve support to 29 Commando and 7 RHA. Both regiments are known to need such support: 7 RHA has recently formed a reserve gun troop within the Honourable Artillery Company and 29 Commando was looking at the possibility of forming its own Reserve troop. 
Of course, if 3 RHA and 4 RA truly do lose their guns, the role of the reserve Close Support regiments will get even more demanding and vast.

1 Royal Horse Artillery and 19 Royal Artillery will stay in the armoured role and will keep AS90. 3 batteries each, apparently re-absorbing the Tac Group battery within the gun batteries and the wider artillery brigade. 1 RHA will lose H Bty to 26 RA and L Bty (Tac Gp Bty) to 3 RHA, but not before 2019. 

Exactly how it all will work out is all to be seen, but a cut to the number of AS90 is assured as one armoured brigade vanishes. Hopefully GMLRS will escape undamaged by virtue of 26 Royal Artillery becoming a Div Fires regiment.




The letter provides hints of what happens to the Royal Artillery


UPDATE: regarding the Royal Signals, there is no certainty yet that there won't be cut backs, but there should not be. The 5 multi-role signal regiments are barely enough to assign one to 3rd Division HQ and one each to the major brigades, so i wouldn't expect cuts. General Carter also went on record saying that they would "think long and hard" about how to improve manpower figures for the key signal brigades, so he is at least aware that this area is particularly problematic. 

Announcements on the future of the Royal Signals might have to wait until sometime in early 2017 when the "Information Manoeuvre Command" is expected to stand up to manage all things Signal, ISR, Cyber. 



Support
The changes announced will require adjustments in some supporting and enabling elements of the Army. HQ 102 Logistic Brigade, 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment, Headquarters 64 Works Group Royal Engineers, 2 Medical Regiment, Headquarters 4th Regiment Royal Military Police, 33 Field Hospital and 104,105 and 106 Battalions of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers reserve will be rationalised, with all manpower in those units being redeployed to other areas of the Army in its refined structure.


Only the reserve gets somewhat good news. 3 REME battalions (104, 105 and 106) will be rationalised, but two new infantry and one EOD regiments will be formed beginning next year. 


UPDATE: 105 REME battalion will change name and will be restructured into a new "101 Theatre Support Battalion", tasked with supporting 5 TSB REME, a regular unit supporting 3rd UK Division.  


105 Battalion REME will change its name to 101 Theatre Support Battalion in 2019 (the name 105 will cease to be used, as will 104 and 106). It’s new role will be to support 5 Theatre Support Battalion REME in the regeneration of theatre-level equipment during a time of war.It will consist of Bn HQ and four sub-unit locations (names not yet known) as follows:

HQ 101 Bn REME will be in KEYNSHAM
Sub unit 1: BRIDGEND & GLOUCESTER Sub-unit 2: SWINDON & BRISTOLSub-unit 3: LIVERPOOL & BELFASTSub-unit 4: TELFORD & WEST BROMWICH

UPDATE: apparently, the Strike Brigades will, for whatever reason, be supported by a "super" CSS regiment formed by merging one RLC and one REME battalions.
One such regiment will be formed by 2 REME and 27 RLC, according to reports by The Courier. 2 REME will apparently become part of a regiment in combination with 27 RLC in 2021, but it'll be 2030 before the REME element leaves Leuchars to join the rest of the unit in Catterick.

The other CSS regiment should at this point be born out of 1 RLC and 1 REME. The ministerial statements name both units as parts of the 1st Strike Brigade but fails to mention the merging.

The merge of RLC and REME does not seem to extend to the rest of the Army. Support to the armoured brigades seem set to stay "in traditional format".
7 RLC and 6 RLC will transit into 101 Logistic Brigade, presumably to become Force Support elements for 3rd UK Division:

The Army 2020 Refine (A2020R) results are out. The key points are:- 7 Regt will continue to exist under A2020R.- It will remain in Cottesmore until 2029, when it is due to move to Topcliffe (near Dishforth).- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019.- The detailed structure and role are still being worked on but will likely require only a small adjustment.

- 6 Regt will continue to exist in the future.- The Regt will come under command of 101 Log Bde in 2019 (102 Log Bde will disband).- The Regt will remain in Dishforth until 2030 when it will move to Topcliffe along with 7 Regt RLC.


I've seen suggestions that 9 RLC will move to 104 Logistic Brigade instead, but i have no way to confirm this as of now.


Army Reserves. As part of our continued investment in the Army Reserve we will build on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 plan. We will optimise reserve structures to better support the modernised division, embed the successful pairing of regular and reserve units and increase the number of reserve combat units supporting the division. As a result, two new reserve infantry battalions will be created from 2017. These are 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 8th Battalion The Rifles. A new reserve Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) regiment will also be created.



4th PWRR is expected to be formed around one company taken from the LONDONS and two newly formed companies: 

4 PWRR
Battalion Headquarters and Headquarter Company will set up in Crawley on the site of 103 Bn REME. 
A Coy, 3 PWRR in Farnham will re-subordinate from 3 PWRR 
B (Queen's) Coy in Edgeware will re-subordinate from the London Regiment 
A new Company will then be created in either Southampton or Portsmouth. 
A replacement company for 3 PWRR will be formed, again location still to be decided. More detail to follow as it becomes known.

The London Regiment will take back a company from 7 Rifles and create a new one to make up for the losses, It will also be more formally aligned with the Guards battalions: 



B and C Companies will transfer next year to, respectively, a new 4th Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and 5th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. In partial replacement, we will welcome back F Company 7th Battalion The Rifles in 2017 as an integral part of the Regiment. We have also been tasked to generate a new company next year, in a new location, which raises exciting possibilities.The reformed London Regiment will retain its historic name but will become known colloquially as the ‘Guards Reserve Battalion’ and will become a single-capbadge Regiment, grouped within the Foot Guards Division of Infantry.

8 RIFLES will include existing RIFLES reserve elements in the North East, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Birmingham. 



A number of batteries, squadrons and companies across the army are going to re-subordinate over the next few years and at the moment it is not possible to track all moves from outside. 

Changes are coming in the Administrative infantry divisions as well, with regiments being grouped differently: 




Renaming of administrative structures The introduction of the Specialised Infantry capability will mean some reorganisation of the infantry divisional structure, within which infantry regiments are administered, from seven to six divisions. The Scottish and The Prince of Wales’s Administrative Divisions of Infantry will merge, incorporating The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Welsh Regiment and The Royal Irish Regiment. This administrative division will be called The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division. The Mercian Regiment from the Prince of Wales’s Division will join with the King’s Division. Army administrative divisions of infantry are the groupings within which the Army manages its infantry soldiers and officers to give them the necessary broad spread of relevant career experience from across a number of different units and activities. They have no operational role. There will be no changes to the names or regimental construct of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Mercian Regiment, The Royal Welsh Regiment, or The Royal Irish Regiment as a result of these administrative changes. 

A lot of things continue to be shrouded in mystery and we've not heard the last of the bad news for sure. The prominent thing that emerges so far is CUTS. Regiments, tanks, heavy artillery. All cut back. 
And this is just the beginning. A bad one.


UPDATE 27 December: Army 2020 Refine's big day is January 17, when CDS is planned to finally unveil the new "Land Operations" doctrine. Not clear how public that will be, but hopefully some information will be released.
Briefings for the army personnel seem scheduled to begin from 4 january.