British Army: 2300AD
The infantrymen of the British Army have a long and proud history behind them, and still remain the leading arm of the British military machine. And although their tactics and equipment are (often literally) light years beyond those used by their forebears they remain acutely aware of the traditions they carry with them. They have been heavily involved in the recent round of fighting in the Kafer War, and have further reinforced the steadfast reputation of the British Infantrymen.
The British infantry operates, trains and fights in battalion formations of around 700 personnel. Each battalion belongs to a regiment, which may have a number of other regular or Territorial battalions. Regiments are historical and purely administrative formations that each have a unique history, recruitment area and personality. Most regiments can trace their unbroken history back over 600 years, even the youngest is over 250 years old. As a consequence of the nostalgia of the last 50 years many units have revived ancient names and allegiances some of which have very little relevance today.
Each battalion is organised and equipped for one of a variety of roles, armoured, light, general service etc. And the battalions change roles once every five years or so. As a result most experienced soldiers have a range of skills and tactical knowledge, which means that they can flexibly switch from one role to another with relative ease. This change of roles and postings also keeps soldiers interested and prolongs engagement periods.
Infantry soldiers join specific regiments when they sign up. As a result the vast majority of soldiers spend there entire military careers within one regiment, and usually within one battalion. This means that soldiers retain an intense loyalty to their regiments and their comrades (many of whom will have been born and raised in the same areas). British Army regiments are often described as families, and this is often the case. Resentments and problems within the regiment are rarely spoken about outside of the regiment, and rivalries between regiments are commonplace. Every soldier believes his own regiment superior to all the others.
Outsiders often believe that the regimental system is outmoded and its reliance on tradition as a weakness. However it should not be over looked that the individual battalions are entirely pragmatically organised and equipped. The regimental tradition plays on the fact that most soldiers fight for their friends and not rather ill-defined concepts like 'Queen and Country'. The community spirit of a good infantry battalion will enable them to continue fighting long after other units have given in. This has been proved time and again, most recently on Beta Canum-4 and Crater.
The British Army currently has 100 regular infantry battalions, recruited mainly from Earth. This does not include battalions raised off-planet or self-defence forces raised in territories on Earth such as the Falklands Islands Defence Force and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. It also doesn't include regiments raised in the colonies, that are now in some instances the centrepiece of there own Armies.
The infantry regiments are organised into administrative divisions. These Divisions are not fighting formations but provide depots for centralised training of recruits to the units within the Division. As well as the divisions there are several units who's training is undertaken separately.
The Scottish, Queen's, King's, Prince of Wales' and Irish Divisions are made up of 'County Regiments' which mainly recruit from specific counties within the UK, giving them a distinct regional character. Also regional accents can confuse exchange personnel, especially Americans, who can often be seen looking very confused after talking to enlisted personnel.
The Guards Division
The Guards Division is the senior infantry unit in the British Army, and contains the sovereign's Household Foot Guards regiments. Although no longer the sovereign's bodyguards the Guards maintain close links with the Royal Family and are the most traditional units in the British Army. Guardsmen serve in a variety of roles but maintain a strong ceremonial tradition normally guarding the Royal residences resplendent in their age old red tunics and bearskins. To many foreigners the mention of the British Army brings the oft seen image of the Guards on parade to mind. Whilst the Guards are most famous for their ceremonial duties outside of the Palace, but equally pride themselves on their battlefield discipline. The rest of the army is somewhat scornful about the Guards love of drill.
The Guards, as the Army's senior regiments, set the standards for the rest of the army in terms of discipline and turnout. Guards officers and NCO's often receive plum appointments within the army, and the Guards are well represented in the General Officer ranks. Each of the regiments are recruited from different parts of the UK, (Grenadiers from southern England, Coldstreamers from the north,) but are mostly officered by men educated in the Public Schools of the country.
The Scottish Division
The Highland Regiments of the British Army expanded greatly in the aftermath of WWIII as they were reliable for even the most odious of tasks and were well recruited (mainly from metropolitan Glasgow and not the Glens). An echo of Wellington's comment about their predecessors 'I don't know what they do to the enemy, but by God they frighten me!'. Now somewhat calmer, they are still widely used in the off-world colonies. The regiments of the Scottish Division have held fiercely on to their unique traditions through the years. And rather than increase the number of battalions in the regiments it was usual to 'de-amalgamate' the regiments and recreate the original regiments. In this way many old units have come back into existence.
The Queen's Division
The Queen's Division is primarily drawn from the south and east Midlands of England, although the Royal Fusiliers have a large proportion of soldiers drawn from Newcastle and Northumbria. The Royal Greys are a unit that was previously a British formation fighting as part of the Royal Netherlands Army and returned to British service in the late 2100's.
The King's Division
The Regiments of the King's Division are recruited from the north of England. Traditionally these are some of the best recruited regiments in the Army.
The Prince of Wales's Division
The Prince of Wales's Division is formed from regiments drawn from Wales and the west and midlands of England.
The Irish Division
The unification of Ireland under the auspices of the British Commonwealth led to a unique problem in creating a defence force of which part (Ulsters) was still officially a part of the British Army. The solution was that most of the Irish regiments would be stationed in Ireland and the rest would serve as integral parts of the British Army. The infantry was incorporated into a new Irish Division with the British Armies existing Irish Regiments (except the Irish Guards). This compromise satisfied Ulster, whilst also giving the Irish a very well trained defence force.
New Infantry units were formed mixing the traditions of the IDF with the old Irish regiments disbanded in the 1920's. A regiment was created in each of the Southern Irish provinces and with one for Dublin. In Northern Ireland three regiments were retained from the Twilight War forces, whilst the RIR was expanded and would continue to recruit from throughout Ireland. Several Irish units are now deployed to the French Arm or in the process of training for deployment.
The Light Division
The Light Division contains units who were created during the Napoleonic Wars (or converted to the light infantry role) and were the first to really master modern tactics, being able to fight either in-line or as skirmishers. To this day these regiments pride themselves on producing 'thinking soldiers' who are effective at most forms of combat. Light Division battalions are more frequently deployed to the colonies than other line infantry units. Two LI and three RGJ battalions have been involved in the fighting on Beta Canum-4. These units recruit from throughout the UK, although most Riflemen come from southern England.
The Brigade of Gurkhas
The Gurkhas are soldiers recruited from the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal who have served continuously with the British since 1815. They are ferocious fighters with excellent discipline who serve with special distinction as Mountain and Jungle light infantrymen. Currently they serve in Hong Kong and off-world, where they have fought the Kafers on Joi and Beta Canum. Most of the battalions trace their histories back to the Army of British India, but some were raised for service in Wellon.
The RGL is a recently recruited all-arms formation, drawn mostly from ex-Hanoverian Army soldiers and other foreigners. Originally formed to provide an integral OPFOR unit for the British Army's training area in Canada it has recently been expanded greatly to provide a full combat brigade. The RGL has seen action against the Kafers, and has an excellent reputation.
The Parachute Regiment
The Parachute Regiment are currently the British Army's leading colonial troubleshooters. The Paras are tough and aggressive fighters who rarely take a step backwards. Although lightly equipped and often suffering far higher casualties than other regiments, the Paras vie with the Gurkhas as Britain's most feared fighters. They also see combat far more often than other units as they are more frequently deployed to trouble spots. Four battalions are deployed on Earth in the Air Assault role, whilst the remaining three are deployed on the French Arm and have seen heavy fighting on Kimanjano, Beta Canum-4 and Crater.
The Special Air Service
The SAS are Britains shadowy and secretive elite special forces. Whilst not really infantry soldiers the Ministry of Defence often lists them as such. 22 SAS serves on Earth whilst 24 SAS is deployed off-world.
Each Battalion has a basic structure of three rifle companies (normally A, B and C), a fire support company (Support Company) and HQ Company. Rifle companies contain three platoons of infantry and a HQ element and are around 100 strong. Support Company contains a number of platoons dedicated to different weapons systems, normally Mortars, Anti-Tank, Anti-Air, and can be over to 150 strong. HQ Company contains signal and command elements to control and administer the battalion, and also contains a combat engineering (Assault Pioneer Platoon) and reconnaissance (Recce Platoon and Drone Section) elements.
Also present will be REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) troops to maintain equipment and vehicles. Depending on the tactical situation other troops from the Brigade may be attached to the battalion (such as Royal Engineers or Royal Artillery Forward Observers.) So a typical battalion will have a strength of around 650-700 troops depending on its role.
The British Army infantry is organised into a number of different types of battalions. Each of the battalions rotates through the roles once every four years or so. This is to stop the battalions from becoming stale and loosing personnel through boredom. These roles are:
Infantry Battalion Armoured
These are battalions mounted in armoured vehicles and trained extensively in manoeuvre warfare. They are the back bone of the Armoured Brigades and work closely alongside armoured regiments. They are currently equipped mainly with the modern Templer IFV, although the earlier Rifleman is still used in some units.
Infantry Battalion Assault
These battalions provide the infantry complement for the 1st and 2nd Armoured Divisions. They are organised similarly to Armoured Infantry Battalions but are equipped with Picton tracked IFV. They specialise in urban combat and break-in operations. Recently a decision has been made to equip these units with a combat walker platoon.
Infantry Battalion Air Assault
Air assault battalions are airmobile formations transported by tilt-wing aircraft and supported by x-wing gunships or now in the Raven assault craft. The Air Assault units are designed to act as strategic reserves in support of Armoured Brigades, ready to take advantage of an offensive opening or to shore up the defences as needed.
Although lightly equipped these battalions have larger Support Companies with many Anti-Armour and some Anti-Aircraft missiles. There has been some speculation recently about equipping these units with Aerodyne transports to increase tactical and strategic mobility.
Infantry Battalion Security
These Battalions are deployed in places where internal security has broken down and military aid to the civilian authorities is required. In recent times these units have seen action in Belfast and New Albion. They are specially trained in crowd control and counter-insurgency operations. Their Support Companies are usually re-rolled to foot infantry and have few heavy weapons.
Infantry Battalion General Service
GS units are garrison troops who are often deployed to show the flag in far off places. The GS battalions have only a few support weapons as they are not expected to see heavy combat. Nevertheless they are capable of putting up good resistance to any hostile actions.
Infantry Battalion Light
Light battalions are light combat units that can nevertheless be committed to almost any combat situation. They are trained to infiltrate enemy positions and use any form of transport necessary to achieve their aims. They are especially useful in the off-world colonies as they do not require the substantial logistic support of armoured units. The light role is the most sought after amongst the infantry as it is seen as real soldiering.
Light battalions have an additional Company (normally D Company) dedicated to reconnaissance. Which includes a Recce Platoon (long range recce), Patrols Platoon (close recce) and Drone Section (using remote drones for battlefield surveillance). They also have a reinforced Support Company containing a Machine Gun Platoon and a Combat Walker Platoon (24 Bowman).
Infantry Battalion Hostile Environment
Although the Hostile Environment Role is one specialised in by the Royal Marines 6 Commando Brigade over-stretch of the Marines has led to the Army having to provide some troops trained in zero-G, and vacuum operations. Currently the KORBR have one battalion deployed in this role on Crater. The HE battalion has no Support Company but deploys two combat walker platoons instead.
Infantry Battalion Close Recce
This is a fairly recent tasking in the British Army, and these battalions are attached to Divisional and Corps Recce Groups. They are trained to supplement Medium Recce units by providing small units of troops for OP, close recce and surveillance duties.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch and Bryn Monnery