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UK defence secretary wants co-ordinated army plans ready by autumn

Co-ordinated plans for the re-organisation of the British Army should be ready by the autumn, according to UK defence secretary Ben Wallace.

Senior army officers have been working on how to implement the changes to its brigade structure as set out in the 22 March Defence Command Paper.An initial package of proposals on the allocation of units to their new brigades, as well as details of how the service would shrink its personnel strength to 72,500, was due to be released in July.

Wallace told Janes during a visit to BAE Systems' Warton site on 29 July that he had instructed the army to delay that initial announcement until it had also finalised its unit basing plan. “Soldiers need to know where they will be based,” he said. “The unit plan and basing plan needs to be done together. I want a more co-ordinated plan.”

This will also coincide with the publication of the Ministry of Defence's Land Industrial Strategy, which should bring clarity to the British Army's equipment procurement plans.

Wallace said the new plans would be ready in “the autumn” but declined to give a specific date. Defence sources have indicated that first details of the Land Industrial Strategy would be released at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2021 event in London in September.

He said the Defence Command Paper and subsequent work had turned around the British Army, describing it as “not a problem child anymore”. A series of equipment programme delays had meant the British Army was “15 years behind its competitors” in terms of deep strike and armour systems, said Wallace. “The army leadership was told to make decisions”.

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