Army History

The British Army

The history of British Army spreads across over three and a half centuries. The string of wars that it participated in beginning from early European Wars, colonial wars in the 19th century and world wars. The dominance of United Kingdom from the 17th century till 1914 was all because of the strength of British Royal Navy. History has witnessed its contribution to the expansion and retention of British Empire. British Army was involved in many global conflicts like Napoleonic war, Crimean war and the World Wars. It was the first on earth to develop and install the usage of tank in wars.


British Army got its form after merging of English Army and Scottish Army after the Acts of Union in the year 1707 and the establishment of Kingdom of Britain. This new British army had the existing Scottish and English army men and was under the power in London.


After the world war, British Armed Forces experienced a big decline which was evident from the setback it received during Suez War in 1956. In 1957, British Army reduced in size from 690000 to 375000 by the year 1962. In 1960s, British army withdrew from its holdings in the areas East of Suez for reasons related to economy. The bombs of free fall were replaced by Polaris ballistic missiles which had to be launched by submarines. By the middle of the 1970s, Britain withdrew their permanent forces from Malaysia, Mauritius, Sharjah, Oman, Aden, and Bahrain, and Singapore. The arrangements with Malta got dismissed in 1979 and South African agreements also ended in 1975. The presence of British army was thus reduced to only Brunei and Hong Kong.

The British Army Picture The Armed Forces now focused on the duties allotted to them during the services during Cold War. The forces abided with the commitments of NATO in Europe. By 1985, about 72929 army men were installed in the Continent. British Army of Rhine turned out to be largest and the most significant overseas commitments that British Forces made during that period. The Royal Navy's convoy developed anti-submarine warfare special army to face the Soviet submarines in eastern part of Atlantic and the North Sea. Due to various economic troubles two commando carriers were dismissed between the years 1967 and 1984.

Recent Times

In 1996, the efforts to improvise and create a joint operational cohesion were done by services by establishing permanent Joint Headquarters. Continuous reduction in size of army has lead to the issue of overstretch in recent times. This has also lead to the problems concerning retention of personnel and also the military was confronted with the troubles of maintaining overseas commitments. The Strategic Defence Review that is known as foreign policy led was published in the year 1998. The review was mainly about integration of tri-service and expeditionary warfare. The review aimed at improving of efficiency and reducing expenditure by accumulating resources. A Joint Rapid Reaction Force was founded in 1999 with tri-service resource as the push behind. A Joint Force Harrier formed in 2000 collected most of Armed Forces' helicopters under one single command. In 2004, another major restructuring was declared. It was named 'Delivering Security in a Changing World- Future Capabilities. The vision of this review was acquiring future arms and also two large aircrafts along with a series of medium sized vehicles for British Army. The army's general infantry had it reduced to thirty-six battalions and the single battalion regiments were to be merged. To achieve more balance a regiment of AS-90 self propelled artillery as well as a regiment of the Challenger II MBT or main battle tanks were to be given lighter duties. A treaty of 50 years was signed between Prime Minister Cameron and President Nicholas Sarkozy of France in November, 2010 which stated that the 2 countries would come together on military matters.

British Army - Today

Britain Army runs on the fourth largest budget of defence in the world. In September of 2011, The Royal United Services Institute revealed that the current planned defence expenditure is sufficient for UK to keep its position as among world's greatest military powers and also NATO-Europe's major military powers. Their power will remain crucial well beyond 2020s.

The civil agencies that support British Army are - Ministry of Defence Police, Defence Equipment and Support, and UK Hydrographic Office. The important conflicts or operations conducted by British Army recently are Balkans Conflicts, Iraq war, Gulf War, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan war. British Army at present has 2 operational divisions and they are- 1st Armoured Division with headquarters in Herford Germany and 3rd Infantry Division with headquarters at Bulford, Salisbury. The structure of standard British Army is here: Division, Brigade, Battalion, Company, Platoon and Section and Fire Team the last in the scale.

Find out more on the Official British Army Website.