The Royal Corps of Signals (R Signals) is
the combat arm that provides the communications throughout the command
system of the Army. Individual battlegroups are responsible for their
own internal communications, but in general terms, all communications
from Brigade level and above are the responsibility of the Royal
Information is the lifeblood of any military formation in battle and it
is the responsibility of the Royal Signals to ensure the speedy and
accurate passage of information that enables commanders to make informed
and timely decisions, and to ensure that those decisions are passed to
the fighting troops in contact with the enemy.
The rapid, accurate and secure employment of command, control and
communications systems maximises the effect of the military force
available and consequently the Royal Signals act as an extremely
significant 'Force Multiplier'. The Corps motto is Certa Cito’ which roughly translates to mean ‘Swift and Sure'.
Functions of military communications
Military communications roles undertaken by the Royal Signals may be
divided into three separate functions:
Strategic communications: Communications between the political
leadership, military high command, and military administrative and field
commands at the divisional level. In terms of capability as opposed to
function, modern communications systems increasingly blur the distinction
between strategic and tactical systems as a consequence of technological
Tactical communications: Communications between field formations
from corps to division through brigade down to battalion level.
Electronic Warfare: The security of own forces and friendly forces
communications, and the penetration, compromise and degradation of hostile
Roles of military communications
Communications have enabling capabilities that support all military
operations in war and peace. These roles may be summarised under the
Command and Control
Communications enable commanders at all levels to exercise command and
control over their own forces. Communications enable commanders to receive
information, convey orders and move men and materiel, and select and
position their attacking and defensive forces to maximum effect in order
to take advantage of their own strengths and enemy weaknesses.
The capacity to deliver firepower, troops and supplies to any part of the
battlefield is crucial to success. From the earliest days of messengers,
flags, bugles and hand signals, this has been vital to successful command.
Modern electronic communications systems have vastly added to this
capacity, increasing the distances over which Command and Control can be
exercised - from line of sight or hearing to any geographical area where
forces are deployed.
Computerised Command Information
Communications enables commanders to receive information from the field and
rear to build up a picture of the state and disposition of their own
forces as well as enemy forces. Commanders have always sought to have the
fullest possible information on the dispositions and states of both their
own and enemy, forces - but were typically limited by restraints of time,
space and information carrying capacity.
Computer hardware and software – allied to the geographical spread,
bandwidths and data-carrying capacity of modern military networks - have
removed many of these constraints. Computer processing power enables
information received from all sources to be sorted into meaningful
patterns of use to commanders.
Such sources include:
Voice and data reports
from troops in the field
from ground reconnaissance units
surveillance satellites, aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial
systems on ground, air and sea platforms
In modern war, to capture
the full scope of computer information systems, this
communications effect is typically described as Command, Control,
Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Secure communications deny the enemy knowledge of own and friendly force
activities, capabilities and intelligence (Communications Security.
Communications enable the penetration, compromise and destruction of enemy
communication systems (Electronic Warfare).
ROYAL SIGNALS MISSIONS
Royal Signals units have the following principal missions:
Communications Engineering: Communications units design, build and
dismantle the tactical communications networks at division and brigade
Communications Operations: Communications units operate the
tactical communications networks at division and brigade levels, and
also battalion and battalion group level in the case of a detached
formation. In conventional divisional and brigade level operations,
battalions will typically be responsible for their own communications.
Communications Management: Communications units are responsible
for the management of the whole communications nexus at division and
These missions will need to be performed in all phases of battle:
Offensive: In the offensive: setting up command posts, setting up
area communications networks and setting up wire networks to connect
battalions to brigades and elsewhere as far as possible. Can set up air
portable communications systems shortly after a foothold is secured on
an air base.
Advance: In the advance: continuing to keep forward and area
communications running and providing logistics and maintenance needs for
company and brigade forces as appropriate. Running wire forwards as far
as possible with the advance, Setting up alternate Brigade HQs.
Relocating and maintaining relay and retransmission points and ensuring
communications to rear and flanks remain open.
Defensive: In the defence: re-enforcing command posts and relay
points. Increasing the complexity and robustness of wire networks.
Providing alternate and redundant communications for all users.
Withdrawal: In the withdrawal: Preventing communications assets
falling into enemy hands, setting up alternate command posts on the line
of withdrawal, running wire networks backwards to rear. Keeping nodes
open and supplying logistics and maintenance support as required.
Non-Combat missions: Communications perform non-combat roles
during peacetime, including national peacetime contingencies and
multilateral peace support operations in foreign countries.
As of early 2009 the R Signals had a strength of 8,600 personnel. The
Corps has 12 Regular Army regiments (including one training
regiment), and 11 Territorial Army regiments, each generally consisting
of between three and up to six Squadrons with between 600 and 1,000
Royal Signals personnel are found wherever the Army is deployed including
every UK and NATO headquarters in the world. The Headquarters of the Corps
is at the Royal School of Signals (RSS) located at Blandford in Dorset.
Royal Signals units based in the United Kingdom provide command and
control communications for forces that have operational roles both in
the UK itself, including Northern Ireland, and overseas including
mainland Western Europe and further afield wherever the Army finds
There are a number of Royal Signals units permanently based in Germany,
Holland and Belgium from where they provide the necessary command and
control communications and Electronic Warfare (EW) support for both the
British Army and other NATO forces based in Europe. Royal Signals
personnel are also based in Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Belize and
All Royal Signals
officers undergo officer training at RMA Sandhurst (44 weeks) before
taking the Royal Signals Troop Commanders Course at the Royal School of
Signals at Blandford Camp. Royal Signals officers are expected to have,
or to obtain university degree-level engineering qualifications.
Recruit training for other ranks involves two phases:
Every Royal Signals
soldier, whether from the Army Training Regiment Lichfield, or the Army
Apprentices College Arborfield, carries out trade training at the Royal
School of Signals at Blandford Camp. The length of the course depends on
the trade chosen, varying from seven weeks up to 50.
All trades will carry out a common module of Basic Signalling Skills and
a computer literacy module before specialising. Special Operators attend
an introductory course of two weeks at the Royal School of Signals
before completing their training at the Defence Special Signal School in
11 Signal Regiment is responsible for the special to arm training for
both officers and other ranks. The Royal School of Signals at Blandford
Camp conducts approximately 144 different types of courses and numbering
over 700 courses run per year.
There are in excess of 5,250 students completing courses throughout the
year with about 1,000 students on courses at any one time. These figures
equate to approximately some 470,000 Man Training Days a year.