Armed Forces - a5a01 - British Army - The Role of The Infantry - A Summary



"To seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize or hold ground, to repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain."

The British Infantry is based on the well tried and tested Regimental System, which has repeatedly proved to be  successful on operations over the years. It is based on Regiments, most of which have one or more regular Battalion and all have associated TA Battalions. The esprit de corps of the Regimental system is maintained in the names and titles of British Infantry Regiments handed down through history, with a tradition of courage in battle.

The repeated changing size of the British Army, dictated by history and politics, is reflected in the fact that many of the most illustrious Regiments still have a number of Regular and Territorial Reserve Battalions. For manning purposes, in a number of cases Infantry Regiments are grouped within administrative ‘Divisions'. These ’Divisions’ are no longer field formations but represent original historical groupings based on recruiting geography.

The 'Division' of Infantry is an organisation that is responsible for all aspects of military administration, from recruiting, manning and promotions for individuals in the Regiments under its wing, to the longer term planning required to ensure continuity and cohesion. Divisions of Infantry have no operational command over their regiments, and should not be confused with the remaining operational divisions, such as 1st (United Kingdom) Division and 3 (United Kingdom) Division.

There are currently 31 Regular Infantry Battalions and the majority of these battalions are now situated in permanent locations. This figure excludes 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, a public duties company sized unit, and 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment a major unit forming the core of the Special Forces Support Group.

During early 2016 we believe that the infantry are located as follows:

United Kingdom 26 battalions (2 Resident in Northern Ireland)
Germany 2 battalions (in the process of returning to the UK)
Cyprus 2 battalions
Falkland Islands 1 company group on detachment
Brunei 1 battalion (Gurkha)

Infantry Structure in 2016

In 2016 the Administrative 'Divisions of Infantry' are structured as follows:

The Guards Division 5 Regular Battalions
The Scottish Division 5 Regular Battalions (1)
The Queen's Division 5 Regular Battalions
The King's Division 4 Regular Battalions
The Prince of Wales Division 4 Regular Battalions

Not administered by 'Divisions' of Infantry but operating under their own similar administrative arrangements are the following:

The Rifles 5 Regular Battalions
The Parachute Regiment 3 Regular Battalions (2)
The Brigade of Gurkhas 2 Regular Battalions

(1) The 5th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (public duties – ceremonial) is included in this total.
(2) 1st Bn The Parachute Regiment forms the core element of the Special Forces Support Group and are not counted in the infantry battalion total.

Reserve Battalions are under the administrative command of the following:

The Guards Division 1 Reserve Battalion
The Scottish Division 2 Reserve Battalions
The Queen's Division 3 Reserve Battalions
The King's Division 2 Reserve Battalions
The Prince of Wales Division 2 Reserve Battalions
The Rifles 2 Reserve Battalions
The Parachute Regiment 1 Reserve Battalion
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment 1 Composite Battalion

In total the British Army has 31 regular battalions available for service and this total combined with the 14 Reserve battalions (excluding The Royal Gibraltar Regiment) could give a mobilisation strength of 45 infantry battalions.

Outside the above listed regiments are three companies of guardsmen each of 90 men, who provide a supplement the Household Division Regiments while on public duties in London. This allows Regiments of the Foot Guards to continue to carry out normal training on roulement from guard duties.

The 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (a company sized unit with about 110 personnel) carries out public duties in Edinburgh.

Gibraltar also has its own single battalion of The Royal Gibraltar Regiment comprising one regular and two volunteer companies.