Future Soldier: What is the British Army being promised as part of modernisation plans?

The British Army has unveiled 'Future Soldier', the most radical transformation programme for the service in more than 20 years.

Future Soldier is said to demonstrate how the Army is modernising to address future threats from across the globe – following on from the Integrated Review earlier this year.

The Army's plan to modernise will be bolstered by an additional investment of £8.6bn in equipment over the next 10 years.

But what will the Army be getting?

New Ranger Regiment

One of the biggest changes is the creation of the new Ranger Regiment – standing up from 1 December this year.

The Ranger Regiment is said to "embody the Army's new expeditionary posture" and will form part of the newly established Army Special Operations Brigade.

This will see the regiment routinely deployed alongside partner forces around the world.

Watch: Could Ranger Regiment's first mission be in east Africa?

Future warfighting

Future Soldier will also look to deliver a fully modernised warfighting division by 2030 – ensuring the Army is a central contributor to NATO warfighting.

New equipment, such as the troubled AJAX programme, Boxer, Challenger 3, AH-64E Apache, long-range precision fires and uncrewed aerial systems, will be introduced to the Army.

At the same time, much of the fighting force will operate under new self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams.

To make sure the Army adapts at a pace to challenge future threats, a new Experimentation and Trials Group will also be established next year to trial new technology and integrate new systems into how troops operate.

The UK will aim for deployments to be longer than several weeks, in places like Oman and Kenya, so personnel can learn more about an area as a result, as well as increased readiness and deterrence in response to adversaries.

The new-look Army service will be "designed for genuine warfighting credibility as an expeditionary fighting force" with six "distinct" elements:

  • More personnel deployed for longer, via a "new network of regional hubs" around the world, in locations such as Oman, Kenya, Germany and Belize.
  • Capability to field a division throughout the decade as part of NATO warfighting contribution.
  • Upgraded tanks, digital network armoured vehicles, long-range strike, cyber and electro-magnetic capability.
  • A new trials and experimentation group established in 2022 to "stay at the cutting edge" of technology.
  • Greater integration of Regulars, Reservists and civil servants for a "more productive" force.
  • Increased proportion of the Army based in each of the devolved nations.

Among the announcements are also plans for two battalions of the Mercian Regiment to merge and create a new Boxer-mounted battalion.

Watch: One of the British Army's new hub locations is Germany.

British Army personnel 

As part of Future Soldier, the Army will also look to restructure units over the next four years.

The Regular Army will stand at 73,000-strong by 2025, an increase of 500 personnel on what was outlined as the target number in the Integrated Review.

This, combined with an Army Reserve of 30,000, will see the British Army force stand at 100,000.

The proportion of the Army based in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be sustained or increased by 2025.

This will be reinforced by about £3.35bn from the Defence Estate Optimisation budget and a further £1.2bn of Army investment in remaining sites.

Scotland will become home to more units, with a larger proportion of the Army's workforce today, while Glencorse Barracks in Edinburgh will be retained and Kinloss and Leuchars will continue to grow. 

In Wales, the number of troops is set to increase with the return of the 'Welsh cavalry', The Queen's Dragoon Guards, and a new Reserve company of The Royal Welsh established in North Wales.  

In Northern Ireland, the same number of Army units will remain but it will host a greater proportion of the Army's workforce.

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