British Armed Forces

British Armed Forces

Overview
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, and the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

.

The Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the British Armed Forces is the British monarch, HM Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance.
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Encyclopedia
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, and the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

.

The Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the British Armed Forces is the British monarch, HM Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance. Under British constitutional law, the armed forces are subordinate to the crown but can only be maintained in peace time by parliament's continuing consent. As a result, parliament still approves the continued existence of the standing armed forces
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 on an annual basis. Consistent with longstanding constitutional convention, however, the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 holds de facto authority over the armed forces. The armed forces are managed by the Defence Council
Defence Council of the United Kingdom
The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories and with control over the British armed forces, and is part of the Ministry of Defence.-Functions:...

 of the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

. Under the 1689 Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

 no standing army may be maintained during a time of peace without the consent of parliament.

The British Armed Forces are charged with protecting the United Kingdom and its overseas territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

, promoting Britain's wider security interests, and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They are active and regular participants in NATO and other coalition operations. Britain is also party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements
Five Power Defence Arrangements
The Five Power Defence Arrangements are a series of defence relationships established by a series of bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore signed in 1971, whereby the five states will consult each other in the event of external aggression...

. Recent operations have included wars in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 and Iraq, the 2000 intervention in Sierra Leone
Operation Palliser
Operation Palliser was a British Armed forces operation in Sierra Leone in 2000 under the command of Brigadier David Richards.Initially, its scope was limited to evacuation of non-combatants only....

, ongoing peacekeeping responsibilities in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, and participation in the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained at Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean at 7 degrees, 26 minutes south latitude. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory [BIOT] and is positioned at 72°23' east longitude....

, the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 and the Sovereign Base Areas
Sovereign Base Areas
The Sovereign Base Areas are military bases located on territory in which the United Kingdom is sovereign, but which are separated from the ordinary British territory....

 (Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

).

History


The military history of the United Kingdom
Military history of the United Kingdom
The military history of the United Kingdom covers the period from the creation of the united Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, with the political union of England and Scotland, to the present day....

 has been greatly influential in world history after 1707 with the merging of the armed forces of England and Scotland to become the armed forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Important conflicts in which the British took part later on in history include the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 and the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 of the 18th century/early 19th century, the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 of the mid 19th Century, and the First and Second World Wars of the 20th century. The British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, which reached its apogee in the 1920s, was the largest empire in history; almost a third of the world's population were subjects of the British Crown and it controlled a quarter of the world's total land area (and arguably all its seas).

The current structure of defence management in Britain was set in place in 1964 when the modern day Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 (MoD) was created (an earlier form had existed since 1940). The MoD assumed the roles of the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

, the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

 and the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...

.

Cold War


Post–World War II economic and political decline, as well as changing attitudes in British society and government, were reflected by the Armed Forces' contracting global role. Britain's protracted decline was dramatically epitomised by its political defeat during the Suez War of 1956. The 1957 Defence White Paper
1957 Defence White Paper
The 1957 White Paper on Defence was a British white paper setting forth the perceived future of the British military. It had profound effects on all aspects of the defence industry but probably the most affected was the British aircraft industry...

 decided to abolish conscription and reduce the size of the Armed Forces from 690,000 to 375,000 by 1962. Seeking an inexpensive alternative to maintaining a large conventional military, the government pursued a doctrine of nuclear deterrence. This initially consisted of free-fall bombs operated by the RAF, but these were eventually superseded by the submarine-launched Polaris ballistic missile. While assurances had been made to the United States that Britain would maintain a presence "East of Suez
East of Suez
The phrase East of Suez is used in British military and political discussions in reference to imperial interests beyond the European theatre ....

", a process of gradual withdrawal from its eastern commitments was undertaken in the 1960s, primarily for economic reasons. By the mid-1970s, Britain had withdrawn permanently deployed forces from Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, Malaysia, Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

, Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, Sharjah, and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. Agreements with Malta (expired 1979) and South Africa (terminated 1975) also ended.

With a permanent presence east of Suez effectively reduced to Hong Kong
British Forces Overseas Hong Kong
British Forces Overseas Hong Kong consisted of the elements of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Much of the British military left Hong Kong prior to the handover in 1997. The present article focuses mainly on the British garrison in Hong Kong in the post Second World War era...

 (up to 1997) and Brunei
Military Forces based in Brunei
The Royal Brunei Armed Forces is the military of the nation of Brunei. In addition to the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Brunei also hosts bases for the British Army and the Singapore Armed Forces.-Royal Brunei Armed Forces:...

, the Armed Forces reconfigured to focus on the responsibilities allocated to the services during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Substantial forces thus became committed to NATO in Europe and elsewhere; by 1985, 72,929 personnel were stationed in Continental Europe. The British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

 and RAF Germany consequently represented the largest and most important overseas commitments that the British Armed Forces had during this period. The Royal Navy's fleet developed an anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 specialisation, with a particular focus on countering Soviet submarines in the Eastern Atlantic and North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. In the process of this transition and due to economic constraints, four conventional aircraft carriers and two "commando" carriers were decommissioned between 1967 and 1984. With the cancellation of the CVA-01
CVA-01
The CVA-01 aircraft carrier was to be a class of at least two fleet carriers that would have replaced the Royal Navy's existing aircraft carriers, most of which had been designed prior to or during World War II....

 project, three Invincible-class
Invincible class aircraft carrier
The Invincible class is a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the British Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed, , and . The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked...

 STOVL
STOVL
STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

 aircraft carriers, originally designed as "Through-Deck Cruisers", became their ultimate replacements.

While this focus on NATO obligations increased in prominence during the 1970s, low-intensity conflicts in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and Oman emerged as the primary operational concerns of the British Armed Forces. These conflicts had followed a spate of insurgencies against British colonial occupation in Aden, Cyprus, Kenya, and Malaysia. An undeclared war with Indonesia had also occurred in Borneo during the 1960s, and recurring civil unrest in the declining number of British colonies often required military assistance.

Recent history



Three major reviews of the British Armed Forces have been conducted since the end of the Cold War
Cold War (1985-1991)
The Cold War period of 1985–1991 began with the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Soviet-Slovakia Union. Gorbachev was a revolutionary leader for the USSR, as he was the first to promote liberalization of the political landscape and capitalist elements into the economy ; prior to this,...

. The Conservative government
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 produced the Options for Change
Options for Change
Options for Change was a restructuring of the British Armed Forces in 1990, aimed at cutting defence spending following the end of the Cold War....

 review in the 1990s, seeking to benefit from a perceived post–Cold War "peace dividend
Peace dividend
The peace dividend is a political slogan popularized by US President George H.W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1990s, purporting to describe the economic benefit of a decrease in defense spending. It is used primarily in discussions relating to the guns versus butter...

". All three services experienced considerable reductions in manpower, equipment, and infrastructure. Though the Soviet Union had disintegrated, a presence in Germany was retained, albeit in the reduced form of British Forces Germany
British Forces Germany
British Forces Germany , is the name for British Armed Forces service personnel and civilians based in Germany. It was first established following the Second World War as the British Army of the Rhine ....

. Experiences during the First Gulf War prompted renewed efforts to enhance joint operational cohesion and efficiency among the services by establishing a Permanent Joint Headquarters
Permanent Joint Headquarters
The Permanent Joint Headquarters is the British tri-service headquarters from where all overseas military operations are planned and controlled. It is situated at Northwood Headquarters in Northwood, London....

 in 1996.

An increasingly international role for the British Armed Forces has been pursued since the Cold War's end. This has entailed the Armed Forces often constituting a major component in peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 missions under the auspices of the United Nations or NATO, and other multinational operations. Consistent under-manning and the reduced size of the Armed Forces has, however, highlighted the problem of "overstretch" in recent years. This has reportedly contributed to personnel retention difficulties and challenged the military's ability to sustain its overseas commitments.

The Strategic Defence Review
Strategic Defence Review
The Strategic Defence Review was a British policy document produced by the Labour Government that came to power in 1997. Then Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, set out the initial defence policy of the new government, with a series of key decisions designed to enhance the United...

 (SDR)—described as "foreign-policy-led"—was published in 1998. Expeditionary warfare and tri-service integration were central to the review, which sought to improve efficiency and reduce expenditure by consolidating resources. Most of the Armed Forces' helicopters were collected under a single command
Joint Helicopter Command
Joint Helicopter Command is a tri-service organisation uniting military helicopters of the British Armed Forces for command and coordination purposes...

 and a Joint Force Harrier
Joint Force Harrier
Joint Strike Wing, previously known as Joint Force Harrier, was the British military formation which controlled the STOVL Harrier aircraft of the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm...

 was established in 2000, containing the Navy and RAF's fleet of Harrier Jump Jet
Harrier Jump Jet
The Harrier, informally referred to as the Jump Jet, is a family of British-designed military jet aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing operations...

s. A Joint Rapid Reaction Force was formed in 1999, with significant tri-service resources at its disposal.

The first major post-11 September restructuring was announced in the 2004 Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities
Delivering Security in a Changing World
The 2003 Defence White Paper, titled Delivering Security in a Changing World, set out the future structure of the British military, and was preceded by the 1998 Strategic Defence Review and the 2002 SDR New Chapter, which responded to the immediate challenges to security in the aftermath of the...

 review, continuing a vision of "mobility" and "expeditionary warfare" articulated in the SDR. Future equipment projects reflecting this direction featured in the review, including the procurement of two large aircraft carriers and a series of medium-sized vehicles
Future Rapid Effect System
The Future Rapid Effect System is the British MOD programme to deliver a fleet of more than 4,000 armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army...

 for the Army. Reductions in manpower, equipment, and infrastructure were also announced. The decision to reduce the Army's regular infantry to 36 battalions (from 40) and amalgamate the remaining single-battalion regiments was controversial, especially in Scotland and among former soldiers. Envisaging a rebalanced composition of more rapidly deployable light and medium forces, the review announced that a regiment of Challenger 2 main battle tank
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

s and a regiment of AS-90
AS-90
The AS-90 is a lightly armoured self-propelled artillery piece used by the British Army. It was first delivered in 1993...

 self-propelled artillery would be converted to lighter roles.

In November 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron signed a 50-year treaty with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that would have the two countries cooperate intensively in military matters.

Today



The British Armed Forces are a purely professional force and as of mid 2011 have a strength of 191,730 active duty personnel (full-time soldiers), 37,600 volunteer reserves (part-time soldiers) and 174,800 regular reserves (reserve soldiers). The British Armed Forces constitute the second largest military in the EU
Military of the European Union
The military of the European Union today comprises the several national armed forces of the Union's 27 member states, as the policy area of defence has remained primarily the domain of nation states...

 in terms of professional personnel.

Britain has the third largest declared defence budget in the world, after the US and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 at $56.6 Billion in 2010. It is one of only five recognised
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 nuclear powers, with no more than 180 active Nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s and is deemed to have the second highest power projection
Power projection
Power projection is a term used in military and political science to refer to the capacity of a state to conduct expeditionary warfare, i.e. to intimidate other nations and implement policy by means of force, or the threat thereof, in an area distant from its own territory.This ability is a...

 capability in the world, behind the United States.

Apart from the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 is the only navy currently building supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

s. The Queen Elizabeth class will embark a tailored air-group of up to 40 - 50 aircraft including the F-35C, which is considered to be the worlds most advanced 5th gen carrier based multi-role fighter. Britain, despite recent cuts in defence, is still to continue to build seven Astute class nuclear powered attack submarines. The Astute class are the most advanced submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, utilising the Tomahawk cruise missile combined with being highly stealthy and nuclear powered gives the Royal Navy a unique striking capability that only very few nations across the globe enjoy. Britian is also replacing its current destroyers with the new Type 45s, believed to be the most powerful and technologically advanced air-defence destroyer in the world.

Command organisation



As head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Longstanding constitutional convention, however, has vested de facto executive authority in the office of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 and the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

. The Queen remains the "ultimate authority" of the military and retains the power to prevent its unconstitutional use.

The Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 is the Government department and highest level of military headquarters charged with formulating and executing defence policy for the Armed Forces; it currently employs over 80,000 civilians in 2011. This number will be reduced to just over 55,000 by 2015 (a reduction of 25,000 as per the October 2010 SDSR). The department is controlled by the Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Defence, popularly known as the Defence Secretary, is the senior Government of the United Kingdom minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position...

 and contains three deputy appointments: Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces is a middle-ranking ministerial position, subordinate only to the Secretary of State for Defence, at the Ministry of Defence in Her Majesty's Government....

, 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
Defence Council of the United Kingdom
The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories and with control over the British armed forces, and is part of the Ministry of Defence.-Functions:...

, Chiefs of Staff Committee
Chiefs of Staff Committee
The Chiefs of Staff Committee is composed of the most senior military personnel in the British Armed Forces.-History:The Chiefs of Staff Committee was initially established as a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1923. It remained as such until the abolition of the CID upon the...

, 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
The Army Board is the senior single-service management committee of the British Army:-Army Board members:*Civilian** The Secretary of State for Defence** Minister for the Armed Forces** Minister for Defence Equipment and Support...

, and Air Force Board
Air Force Board
The Air Force Board of the Defence Council is responsible for the management of the Royal Air Force.Prior to the creation of the current UK Ministry of Defence in 1964, the administration of the RAF and its personnel was undertaken by the Air Force Council, part of the Air Ministry...

) are chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence.

The Chief of the Defence Staff
Chief of the Defence Staff (United Kingdom)
The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the British Armed Forces, a senior official within the Ministry of Defence, and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister...

 is the professional head of the Armed Forces and is an appointment that can be held by an Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

, Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal
Air chief marshal is a senior 4-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

, or General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

. 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). 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
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

, the Chief of the General Staff
Chief of the General Staff (United Kingdom)
Chief of the General Staff has been the title of the professional head of the British Army since 1964. The CGS is a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Board...

 and the Chief of the Air Staff.

Naval Service


The Naval Service consists of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (including the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 and Submarine Service) and the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

. In addition, the Naval Service is supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the British Ministry of Defence. The RFA enables ships of the United Kingdom Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world. Its primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally by replenishment...

 (a civilian-manned fleet, owned by the Mod) and the now privatised Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
The Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service was a British Government agency which ran a variety of non-combat support vessels for the Royal Navy.-Organisation:...

.

Royal Navy


Referred to as the "Senior Service" by virtue of it being the oldest service within the British Armed Forces, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 is a highly technologically sophisticated naval force, consisting of 79 commissioned ships and 184 aircraft.

The Navy has been structured around a single fleet since the abolition of the Eastern and Western fleets in 1971. Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet
Commander-in-Chief Fleet
Commander-in-Chief Fleet is the admiral responsible for the operation, resourcing and training of the ships, submarines and aircraft, and personnel, of the British Royal Navy...

, who also has authority over the Royal Marines and the civilian Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Personnel matters are the responsibility of the Second Sea Lord
Second Sea Lord
The Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command , commonly just known as the Second Sea Lord , is one of the most senior admirals of the British Royal Navy , and is responsible for personnel and naval shore establishments.-History:In 1805, for the first time, specific functions were...

/Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, an appointment usually held by a vice-admiral.
The United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent is carried aboard the navy's Vanguard-class
Vanguard class submarine
The Vanguard class are the Royal Navy's current nuclear ballistic missile submarines , each armed with up to 16 Trident II Submarine-launched ballistic missiles...

 of four nuclear ballistic-missile submarines. The surface fleet consists of carriers
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s, amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

s, patrol ships
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

, mine-countermeasures
Minesweeper (ship)
A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to counter the threat posed by naval mines. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.-History:...

, and miscellaneous vessels.

A submarine service
Royal Navy Submarine Service
The Royal Navy Submarine Service is the submarine element of the Royal Navy. It is sometimes known as the "Silent Service", on account of a submarine being required to operate quietly in order to remain undetected by enemy sonar...

 has existed within the Royal Navy for more than 100 years. The service possessed a combined fleet of diesel-electric and nuclear-powered submarines until the early 1990s. Following the Options for Change defence review, the Upholder class diesel-electric submarines were withdrawn and the attack submarine flotilla is now exclusively nuclear-powered.

Royal Marines



The infantry component of the Naval Service is the Corps of Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

. Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade (3 Commando
3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade is a commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main manoeuvre formation of the Royal Marines. Its personnel are predominantly Royal Marines, supported by units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, The Rifles, and the Fleet Air Arm, together with other Commando...

) and various independent units, the Royal Marines specialise in amphibious
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

, arctic
Arctic warfare
Arctic warfare or winter warfare is a term used to describe armed conflict that takes place in an exceptionally cold weather, usually in snowy and icy terrain, sometimes on ice-covered bodies of water...

, and mountain warfare
Mountain warfare
Mountain warfare refers to warfare in the mountains or similarly rough terrain. This type of warfare is also called Alpine warfare, named after the Alps mountains...

.

Contained within 3 Commando Brigade are three attached army units; 1st Battalion, The Rifles
The Rifles
The Rifles is the largest regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five regular and two territorial battalions, plus a number of companies in other TA battalions, Each battalion of the Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light...

, an infantry battalion based at Beachley Barracks near Chepstow
Chepstow
Chepstow is a town in Monmouthshire, Wales, adjoining the border with Gloucestershire, England. It is located on the River Wye, close to its confluence with the River Severn, and close to the western end of the Severn Bridge on the M48 motorway...

 (from April 2008), 29 Commando Regiment
29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery
29 Commando Regiment is the Commando-trained unit of the British Army's Royal Artillery. The regiment is under the operational control of 3 Commando Brigade providing artillery support and gunnery observation.- History :...

 Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

, an artillery regiment based in Plymouth, and 24 Commando Regiment
24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers
24 Commando Engineer Regiment is a unit of the British Army's Royal Engineers which supports 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. It was formed in April 2008...

 Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

. The Commando Logistic Regiment
Commando Logistic Regiment
The role of the Commando Logistic Regiment , Royal Marines is to provide second line Combat Service Support to Headquarters 3 Commando Brigade and Royal Marines Commandos in peace, war and operations other than war....

 consists of personnel from the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.

British Army




The British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 is made up of the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. The army consists of three TLBs (Top Level Budget): HQ Land Forces, HQ Adjutant-General, and HQ Northern Ireland
HQ Northern Ireland
HQ Northern Ireland was the command formation responsible for the administration of all British Armed Forces stationed in and around Northern Ireland...

. Deployable combat formations consist of two divisions (1st Armoured and 3rd Mechanised) and eight brigades. Within the United Kingdom, operational and non-deployable units are administered by three regionally-defined "regenerative" divisions (2nd, 4th, and 5th) and London District
London District (British Army)
London District is the name given by the British Army to the area of operations encompassing the Greater London area. Established in 1870 as Home District, it was re-formed in 1905 as London District to be an independent district within the larger command structure of the army, and has remained so...

.

The core element of the Army is the 50 battalions (36 regular and 14 territorial) of regular and territorial infantry
British Army Infantry
The British Army's Infantry, part of the Structure of the British Army, comprises 51 battalions of Infantry, from 19 Regiments. Of these 37 battalions are part of the 'Regular' army and the remaining 14 a part of the 'Territorial' force...

, organised into 17 regiments. The majority of infantry regiments contains multiple regular and territorial 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
Air assault
Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces...

, armoured infantry, mechanised infantry, and light role infantry
Light infantry
Traditionally light infantry were soldiers whose job was to provide a skirmishing screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Light infantry was distinct from medium, heavy or line infantry. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight...

.
Regiments and battalions exist within every corps of the Army, functioning as administrative or tactical formations. Armoured regiments are equivalent to an infantry battalion. There are 11 armoured regiments within the regular army, of which five are designated as "Armoured
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

" and five as "Formation Reconnaissance
Formation reconnaissance regiment
The Formation Reconnaissance Regiment is one of two organisations currently provided by cavalry regiments of the British Army. Until recently, it was known as the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment....

". The 1st Royal Tank Regiment
1st Royal Tank Regiment
The 1st Royal Tank Regiment is an armoured regiment of the British Army. It is part of the Royal Tank Regiment, itself part of the Royal Armoured Corps. It was originally formed as 1st Battalion, Royal Tank Corps in 1934....

 uniquely forms a component of the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Regiment
Joint CBRN Regiment
The Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment is a specialist expeditionary unit of the British armed forces. It is currently a joint unit consisting of:*1st Royal Tank Regiment*No. 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment...

.

With the exception of the Household Cavalry
Household Cavalry
The term Household Cavalry is used across the Commonwealth to describe the cavalry of the Household Divisions, a country’s most elite or historically senior military groupings or those military groupings that provide functions associated directly with the Head of state.Canada's Governor General's...

, armoured regiments and their Territorial counterparts are grouped under the Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Armoured Corps
The Royal Armoured Corps is currently a collection of ten regular regiments, mostly converted from old horse cavalry regiments, and four Yeomanry regiments of the Territorial Army...

. 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
Royal Army Medical Corps
The Royal Army Medical Corps is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all British Army personnel and their families in war and in peace...

.

Royal Air Force



The RAF is one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated air forces in the world. Consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, the RAF has a large operational fleet that fulfils various roles. As of mid 2011, the RAF operates around 998 aircraft.

Frontline aircraft are controlled by Air Command
RAF Air Command
Air Command is the only Command currently active in the Royal Air Force. It was formed by the merger of Royal Air Force Strike and Personnel and Training Commands on 1 April 2007, and has its headquarters at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire....

, which is organised into three groups
Group (air force)
A group is a military aviation unit, a component of military organization and a military formation. Usage of the terms group and wing differ from one country to another, as well as different branches of a defence force, in some cases...

 defined by function: 1 Group
No. 1 Group RAF
Number 1 Group of the Royal Air Force is one of the two operations groups in Air Command.The group is today referred to as the Air Combat Group, as it controls the RAF's combat fast-jet aircraft and has airfields in the UK plus RAF Unit Goose Bay in Canada, which is used extensively as an...

 (Air Combat), 2 Group
No. 2 Group RAF
Number 2 Group is a Group of the Royal Air Force which was first activated in 1918, served from 1918–20, from 1936 through the Second World War to 1947, from 1948 to 1958, from 1993 to 1996, was reactivated in 2000, and is today part of Air Command....

 (Air Support) and 22 Group (training aircraft and ground facilities). In addition 83 Expeditionary Air Group
No. 83 Group RAF
No. 83 Group was a group within the Royal Air Force's 2nd Tactical Air Force during the Second World War and the post-war era. In 2006, the group was re-established as No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group.-History:...

 directs formations in the Middle East. Deployable formations consist of Expeditionary Air Wings
Wing (air force unit)
Wing is a term used by different military aviation forces for a unit of command. The terms wing, group or Staffel are used for different-sized units from one country or service to another....

 and squadrons
Squadron (aviation)
A squadron in air force, army aviation or naval aviation is mainly a unit comprising a number of military aircraft, usually of the same type, typically with 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes divided into three or four flights, depending on aircraft type and air force...

—the basic unit of the Air Force. Independent flights
Flight (military unit)
A flight is a military unit in an air force, naval air service, or army air corps. It usually comprises three to six aircraft, with their aircrews and ground staff; or, in the case of a non-flying ground flight, no aircraft and a roughly equivalent number of support personnel. In most usages,...

 are deployed to facilities in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands, Iraq, and the United States.

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. Ground units are also maintained by the Royal Air Force, most prominently the RAF Police and the Royal Air Force Regiment (RAF Regt). The Royal Air Force Regiment essentially functions as the "ground fighting force" of the RAF. Roled principally as ground defence for RAF facilities, the regiment contains nine regular squadrons, supported by five squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
The Royal Auxiliary Air Force , originally the Auxiliary Air Force , is the voluntary active duty reserve element of the Royal Air Force, providing a primary reinforcement capability for the regular service...

 Regiment. By March 2008, the three remaining "Air Defence" squadrons had disbanded or re-roled and their responsibilities transferred to the British Army's Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

.

Civilian Agencies of the MoD


The British Armed Forces are supported by civilian agencies owned by the MoD. Although they are civilian, they play a vital role in supporting Armed Forces operations, and in certain circumstances are under military discipline.

Naval Auxiliaries


The MoD owns two civilian naval agencies which are not part of the military Naval Service.
  • Royal Fleet Auxiliary
    Royal Fleet Auxiliary
    The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the British Ministry of Defence. The RFA enables ships of the United Kingdom Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world. Its primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally by replenishment...

  • Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
    Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
    The Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service was a British Government agency which ran a variety of non-combat support vessels for the Royal Navy.-Organisation:...

     in 2008 this had been contracted-out to Serco-Denholm.

Recruitment


The Armed Forces mainly recruits within the United Kingdom, and normally has an annual recruitment target of around 24,000. The minimum recruitment age is 16 years (although personnel may not serve on armed operations below 18 years); the maximum recruitment age is 32 years. 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 below the age of 18. Low unemployment in Britain has resulted in the Army having difficulty in meeting its target, and in the early years of the 21st century there has been a marked increase in the number of recruits from other (predominantly Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

) countries.

Citizens of Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 countries, the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, and dual-nationals are eligible to join the British Armed Forces. In 2005, the proportion of foreign nationals in the Armed Forces rose from a 2004 figure of 7.5 to almost 10 percent. While the Army has been the destination for the majority of recruits, large contingents exist in the Navy and Air Force. Excluding the Brigade of Gurkhas
Brigade of Gurkhas
The Brigade of Gurkhas is the collective term for units of the current British Army that are composed of Nepalese soldiers. The brigade, which is 3,640 strong, draws its heritage from Gurkha units that originally served in the British Indian Army prior to Indian independence, and prior to that of...

 and the Royal Irish Regiment, 7,155 personnel were recorded as being of foreign nationality in 2005.

The largest tri-service national groups recorded in 2005 were Fijian (2,040), Jamaican (1,030), South African (710), Zimbabwean (590), Ghanaian (590), and Irish (335). Smaller contingents were drawn from countries such as Australia (110) and Canada (105), and island nations with relatively small populations. A Grenadian, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry
Johnson Beharry
Lance Corporal Johnson Gideon Beharry VC of the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, is a British Army soldier who, on 18 March 2005, was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, for twice saving members of...

, was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 in 2005 for actions in Iraq.

Specific initiatives to develop female and ethnic minority representation in the Armed Forces has yielded percentage increases of 3.4 and 4.5 since 1997. In 1997, there were 14,830 (5.7%) women and 2.184 (1.0%) personnel who identified as an ethnic minority. This had increased to 17,870 (9.1%) and 10,180 (5.5%) in 2006. A higher percentage of personnel have attained higher-rank since 2000. Notably included among these officers are Rear-Admiral Amjad Hussain
Amjad Hussain
Rear-Admiral Amjad Mazhar Hussain, CB is the Director and Controller of the Royal Navy.Born in Pakistan, Hussain and his mother moved to the United Kingdom in 1962 when he was three years old, to join his father who was working as a railway signalman...

, Air Commodore David Case
David Case
Air Commodore David Case is the highest ranking black officer in the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom, and as of 2000, at the age of 47, he became the highest ranking black officer ever to serve in Britain's armed forces. He was born in Guyana, and immigrated to Britain at the age of 5...

, Commodore Carolyn Stait
Carolyn Stait
Commodore Carolyn J Stait CBE is a retired officer of the Royal Navy, and was from 2004 to 2007 the first woman to command a Naval Base in Britain...

, and Squadron Leader Nicky Smith.

Women have been fully integrated into the British Armed Forces since the early 1990s; however, they remain excluded from primarily combat units in the Army, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force Regiment, and the submarine service. The first female military pilot was Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

 Julie Ann Gibson while Flight Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant
Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

s Jo Salter
Jo Salter
Joanna Mary Salter was Britain's first female fast jet pilot flying the Panavia Tornado ground attack aircraft with 617 Squadron, she later became an inspirational speaker.-Royal Air Force:...

 and Kirsty Moore were the first fast-jet pilots, the former flying a Tornado GR1 on missions patrolling the then Northern Iraqi No-Fly Zone. Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming and Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these...

 Nikki Thomas recently were the first Tornado GR4 crew. While In the enforciment of the Libyan No-Fly Zone, Flight Lieutenant Helen Seymour was identified as the first female Eurofighter Typhoon pilot As of August 2011, a female Lieutenant Commander, Sarah West, will command HMS Portland
HMS Portland
Eight ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Portland, either after Portland Harbour in Dorset or after holders of the title of the Duke of Portland:...

.
Since 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
LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity...

 events. 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.

Current operations


There were over 30,000 members of the British Armed Forces deployed abroad in January 2007, serving in various capacities. Peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief tasks have increased in recent years, many under the auspices of the United Nations and NATO. The Armed Forces most recently contributed to the international humanitarian and reconstruction efforts that occurred in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

 and 2005 earthquake in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

Within the United Kingdom, there were approximately 140,000 personnel stationed in England, 13,200 in Scotland, 7,000 in Northern Ireland, and 6,200 in Wales. The conflict in Northern Ireland
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 has required the Armed Forces to provide "Military aid to the civil power
Military Aid to the Civil Power
Military aid to the civil power is assistance by the armed forces to the civil authorities of the state with the provision of specialist equipment or trained personnel...

" since 1969, with a presence that peaked at over 20,000 regular personnel in 1972. Sectarian and paramilitary violence has subsided since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. and the IRA declared an end to its campaign in 2005. Operational support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the police force that serves Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland....

, known as Operation Banner
Operation Banner
Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces' operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007. It was initially deployed at the request of the Unionist government of Northern Ireland to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary . After the 1998 Belfast Agreement,...

, officially ended on 1 August 2007, resulting in the reduction of the military presence to the size of a peacetime garrison.

Personnel are based in a number of overseas territories, though internal security for the majority is provided solely by small police forces. Garrisons and facilities exist in Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America, which is roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa...

, Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean at 7 degrees, 26 minutes south latitude. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory [BIOT] and is positioned at 72°23' east longitude....

, the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

, Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. These deployments accounted for over 5,000 personnel in 2006. Locally-raised units are maintained in Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 (The Bermuda Regiment), the Falkland Islands (Falkland Islands Defence Force
Falkland Islands Defence Force
The Falkland Islands Defence Force is the locally maintained volunteer defence unit in the Falkland Islands. The FIDF works alongside the military units supplied by the United Kingdom to ensure the security of the islands.-History:...

), and Gibraltar (Royal Gibraltar Regiment
Royal Gibraltar Regiment
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is the home defence unit for the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It was formed in 1958 from the Gibraltar Defence Force as an infantry unit, with an integrated artillery troop.-Formation:...

). Though their primary mission is "home defence", individuals have volunteered for operational duties. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment has recently mobilised section-sized units for attachment to regiments deployed to Iraq.

Recent Defence Reviews

  • Options for Change
    Options for Change
    Options for Change was a restructuring of the British Armed Forces in 1990, aimed at cutting defence spending following the end of the Cold War....

     (1993)
  • Strategic Defence Review
    Strategic Defence Review
    The Strategic Defence Review was a British policy document produced by the Labour Government that came to power in 1997. Then Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, set out the initial defence policy of the new government, with a series of key decisions designed to enhance the United...

     (1998)
  • Delivering Security in a Changing World
    Delivering Security in a Changing World
    The 2003 Defence White Paper, titled Delivering Security in a Changing World, set out the future structure of the British military, and was preceded by the 1998 Strategic Defence Review and the 2002 SDR New Chapter, which responded to the immediate challenges to security in the aftermath of the...

      (2003)
  • http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/milex_15

See also



  • Banknotes of the British Armed Forces
    Banknotes of the British Armed Forces
    The British Armed Forces issued their own banknotes between 1946 and 1972. Since 2003, they have issued their own small change tokens called pogs.-1st issue:This series of notes was issued in 1946 and has no indication of what series it is...

  • European Security and Defence Policy
    European Security and Defence Policy
    The Common Security and Defence Policy , formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy , is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and is the domain of EU policy covering defence and military aspects...

  • Military of Scotland
    Military of Scotland
    Historically, Scotland has a long military tradition that predates the Act of Union with England. Its armed forces now form part of those of the United Kingdom and are known as the British Armed Forces.-Royal Scots Navy:...

  • Military of the Falkland Islands
    Military of the Falkland Islands
    The Falkland Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and, as such, rely on the UK for guarantee of their security. The other UK territories in the South Atlantic, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, fall under the protection of the British forces on the Falklands ,...

  • Franco-British Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty and Downing Street Declaration

External links