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The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the
military services
military services
responsible for the defence of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, its
overseas territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally ...

overseas territories
and the
Crown dependencies #REDIRECT Crown Dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in t ...

Crown dependencies
. They also promote the UK's wider interests, support international
peacekeeping Peacekeeping comprises activities intended to create conditions that favour lasting peace. Research generally finds that peacekeeping reduces civilian and battlefield deaths, as well as reduces the risk of renewed warfare. Within the United N ...
efforts and provide
humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help until the long-term help by the government and other institutions replaces it. Among the people in need are the homeless Home ...
. Since the formation of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
in 1707 (later succeeded by the United Kingdom), the armed forces have seen action in a number of major wars involving the world's great powers, including the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
, the American Revolutionary War, the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
, the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
, the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

First World War
, and the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Repeatedly emerging victorious from conflicts has allowed Britain to establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers. Today, the British Armed Forces consist of: the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
, a
blue-water navy A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating globally, essentially across the deep waters of open oceans. While definitions of what actually constitutes such a force vary, there is a requirement for the ability to exercise sea cont ...
with a fleet of 79 commissioned ships, together with the
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an air ...
, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
, the UK's principal
land warfare Ground warfare or land warfare is the process of military operations eventuating in combat that takes place predominantly on the battlespace land surface of the Earth, planet. Land warfare is categorized by the use of large numbers of combat per ...
branch; and the
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
, a technologically sophisticated air force with a diverse operational fleet consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. The British Armed Forces include standing forces, Regular Reserve, Volunteer Reserves and
Sponsored ReservesThe Sponsored Reserves are a category of reserve forces in the British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its Bri ...
. The
Head of the Armed Forces A head is the part of an organism which usually includes the ears, brain, forehead, cheeks, chin, eyes, nose, and mouth, each of which aid in various sensory functions such as visual perception, sight, hearing, olfaction, smell, and taste, respe ...
is the
British monarch The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established ...
, currently
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Queen Elizabeth II
, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance. Long-standing constitutional convention, however, has vested ''de facto'' executive authority, by the exercise of
Royal Prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
, in the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
and the
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
. The Prime Minister (acting with the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
) makes the key decisions on the use of the armed forces. The
UK Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
approves the continued existence of the British Army by passing an
Armed Forces ActArmed Forces Act (with its variations) is a stock short titleIn certain jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and other Westminster-influenced jurisdictions (such as Canada or Australia), as well as the United States and the Philippines, primar ...
at least once every five years, as required by the
Bill of Rights 1689 The Bill of Rights 1689, also known as the Bill of Rights 1688, is a landmark Act in the constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a , namely, the , the ...
. The Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines among with all other forces do not require this act. The armed forces are managed by the Defence Council of the
Ministry of DefenceMinistry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defence, a type of government department responsible for matters of defence Current ministries * Ministry of Defense (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Defence (Albania) * Ministry ...
, headed by the
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
. The United Kingdom is one of five recognised nuclear powers, is a permanent member on the
United Nations Security Council The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed ...

United Nations Security Council
, is a founding and leading member of the
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
military alliance, and is party to the
Five Power Defence Arrangements The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), also called the Durian Pact, are a series of defence relationships and mutual cooperation established by a series of multi-lateral agreements between Australia Australia, officially the Commonw ...
. Overseas garrisons and training facilities are maintained at
Ascension Island Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island, 7°56′ south of the Equator in the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean. It is about from the coast of Africa and from the coast of Brazil. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territ ...
,
Bahrain Bahrain ( ; ar, البحرين, al-Baḥrayn, , locally ), officially the Kingdom of Bahrain ( ar, مملكة البحرين, links=no '), is a country in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Persian Gulf. The Island country, island nation c ...

Bahrain
,
Belize Belize () is a Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primari ...

Belize
,
Bermuda ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen "God Save the Queen", alternatively "God Save the King" (dependent on the gender of the reigning monarch), is the or in most s, their territories, and the British . The author of the tune is unknown, ...

Bermuda
,
British Indian Ocean Territory The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is a British overseas territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen territories all with a constitutional and histori ...

British Indian Ocean Territory
,
Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coa ...

Brunei
,
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
, the
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece ...

Falkland Islands
,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
,
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
,
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
,
Montserrat Montserrat ( ) is a British Overseas Territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical lin ...

Montserrat
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
,
Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and shares it ...

Qatar
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bor ...

Singapore
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
.


History


Empire and World Wars

With the
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legisl ...
, the armed forces of England and Scotland were merged into the armed forces of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
.Acts of Union 1707
parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010

nationalarchives.gov.uk, accessed 31 December 2010
Making the Act of Union 1707
scottish.parliament.uk, accessed 31 December 2010
During the later half of the seventeenth century, and in particular, throughout the eighteenth century, British foreign policy sought to contain the expansion of rival European powers through military, diplomatic and commercial means – especially of its chief competitors;
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
, the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
. This saw Britain engage in a number of intense conflicts over colonial possessions and world trade, including a long string of Anglo-Spanish and Anglo-Dutch wars, as well as a series of "world wars" with France, such as; the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
(1756–1763), the
French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution française) were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted French First Republic, France against Gr ...
(1792–1802) and the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
(1803–1815). During the Napoleonic wars, the Royal Navy victory at (1805) under the command of
Horatio Nelson Vice-admiral (Royal Navy), Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805), also known simply as Admiral Nelson, was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. His inspirational ...
(aboard ) marked the culmination of British maritime supremacy, and left the Navy in a position of uncontested hegemony at sea. By 1815 and the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain had risen to become the world's dominant great power and the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
subsequently presided over a period of relative peace, known as
Pax Britannica ''Pax Britannica'' (Latin for "British Peace", modelled after ''Pax Romana 400px, AR Antoninianus of Gordian III, struck Antioch">Gordian_III.html" ;"title="Antoninianus of Gordian III">Antoninianus of Gordian III, struck Antioch 243– ...
., pp. 508–10. With Britain's old rivals no-longer a threat, the nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new rival, the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
, and a strategic competition in what became known as
The Great Game The Great Game was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, ...
for supremacy in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
. Britain feared that Russian expansionism in the region would eventually threaten the
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

Empire
in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
. In response, Britain undertook a number of pre-emptive actions against perceived Russian ambitions, including the
First Anglo-Afghan War The First Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ اول افغان و انگلیس), also known by the British as the Disaster in Afghanistan, was fought between the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, c ...
(1839–1842), the
Second Anglo-Afghan War The Second Anglo-Afghan War (Dari (, , ) or Dari Persian (, ) is the political term used for the dialect of Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym Farsi (, ', ), is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Irania ...
(1878–1880) and the British expedition to Tibet (1903–1904). During this period, Britain also sought to maintain the balance of power in Europe, particularly against Russian expansionism, who at the expense of the waning
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
had ambitions to "carve up the European part of Turkey". This ultimately led to British involvement in the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
(1854–1856) against the Russian Empire. The beginning of the twentieth century served to reduce tensions between Britain and the Russian Empire, partly due to the emergence of a unified
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
. The era brought about an
Anglo-German naval arms race The arms race between Great Britain and German Empire, Germany that occurred from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the advent of World War I in 1914 was one of the intertwined causes of World War I, causes of that conflict. While base ...
which encouraged significant advancements in maritime technology (e.g.
Dreadnought The dreadnought (also spelled dreadnaught) was the predominant type of battleship A battleship is a large armored warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually th ...
s,
torpedo A modern torpedo is an underwater ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the eff ...

torpedo
es and
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability. It is also sometimes used historically or colloquially to refer to remotely operated ...

submarine
s), and in 1906, Britain had determined that its only likely naval enemy was Germany. The accumulated tensions in European relations finally broke out into the hostilities of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

First World War
(1914–1918), in what is recognised today, as the most devastating war in British military history, with nearly 800,000 men killed and over 2 million wounded.
Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alli ...
victory resulted in the defeat of the
Central Powers The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought World ...
, the end of the German Empire, the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
and the establishment of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: Société des Nations ), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member state ...
. Although Germany had been defeated during the First World War, by 1933
fascism Fascism () is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and the economy that rose to prominence in early 20th-century Europ ...

fascism
had given rise to
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
, which under the leadership of
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
re-militarised in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Once again tensions accumulated in European relations, and following Germany's
invasion of Poland The invasion of Poland (1 September – 6 October 1939), also known as the September campaign ( pl, Kampania wrześniowa), 1939 defensive war ( pl, Wojna obronna 1939 roku) and Poland campaign (german: Überfall auf Polen, Polenfeldzug), was an ...
in September 1939, the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
began (1939–1945). The conflict was the most widespread in British history, with British Empire and
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
troops fighting in campaigns from Europe and North Africa, to the Middle East and the
Far East The Far East is a term to refer to the geographical regions that includes East and Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nati ...

Far East
. Approximately 390,000 British Empire and Commonwealth troops lost their lives.
Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alli ...
victory resulted in the defeat of the Axis powers and the establishment of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
(replacing the League of nations).


The Cold War

Post–Second World War economic and political decline, as well as changing attitudes in British society and government, were reflected by the armed forces' contracting global role,Focus on Europe
, raf.mod.uk
and later epitomised by its political defeat during the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
(1956). Reflecting Britain's new role in the world and the escalation of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
(1947–1991), the country became a founding member of the
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
military alliance in 1949. Defence Reviews, such as those in
1957 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the day mar ...
and
1966 In February, Luna 9 Luna 9 (Луна-9), internal designation Ye-6 No.13, was an of the 's . On 3 February 1966, the Luna 9 spacecraft became the first spacecraft to achieve a survivable landing on a . Spacecraft The lander had a mass ...
, announced significant reductions in conventional forces, the pursuement of a doctrine based on
nuclear deterrence Deterrence theory refers to scholarship and practice on how threats or limited force by one party can convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action. The topic gained increased prominence as a military strategy Strateg ...
, and a permanent military withdrawal East of Suez. By the mid-1970s, the armed forces had reconfigured to focus on the responsibilities allocated to them by NATO.Vanguard to Trident 1945–2000
, royal-navy.mod.uk
Kennedy (2004), ''British Naval Strategy East of Suez, 1900–2000: Influence and Actions'', p193 The
British Army of the Rhine There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). Both were originally occupation forces in Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , a ...
and
RAF Germany The former Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) was a Command (military formation), command of the Royal Air Force and part of British Forces Germany. It consisted of units located in Germany, initially as part of the occupation following the Second W ...
consequently represented the largest and most important overseas commitments that the armed forces had during this period, while the Royal Navy developed an
anti-submarine warfare Anti-submarine warfare (ASW, or in older form A/S) is a branch of underwater warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, submarines, or other platforms, to find, track, and deter, damage, and/or destroy enemy submarines. Such operations are ...
specialisation, with a particular focus on countering
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
submarines in the Eastern Atlantic and
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. While NATO obligations took increased prominence, Britain nonetheless found itself engaged in a number of low-intensity conflicts, including a spate of insurgencies against colonial occupation.Chandler & Beckett (2003), pp350–351 However the
Dhofar Rebellion The Dhofar Rebellion, also known as the Dhofar War or the Omani Civil War, was waged from 1963 to 1976 in the province of Dhofar against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. The war began with the formation of the Dhofar Liberation Front, a group w ...
(1962–1976) and
The Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
(1969–1998) emerged as the primary operational concerns of the armed forces. Perhaps the most important conflict during the Cold War, at least in the context of British defence policy, was the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
(1982). Since the end of the Cold War, an increasingly international role for the armed forces has been pursued, with re-structuring to deliver a greater focus on
expeditionary warfare Expeditionary warfare is a military invasion of a foreign territory, especially away from established bases. Expeditionary forces were in part the antecedent of the modern concept of rapid deployment forces. Traditionally, expeditionary forces we ...
and
power projection Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and ma ...
. This entailed the armed forces often constituting a major component in
peacekeeping Peacekeeping comprises activities intended to create conditions that favour lasting peace. Research generally finds that peacekeeping reduces civilian and battlefield deaths, as well as reduces the risk of renewed warfare. Within the United N ...
and humanitarian missions under the auspices of the United Nations, NATO, and other multinational operations, including: peacekeeping responsibilities in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
, the 2000 intervention in Sierra Leone and participation in the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya (2011). Post-
September 11 Between the years AD 1900 and 2099, September 11 of the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a minor modification of the Julian ca ...
, the armed forces have been heavily committed to the
War on Terror#REDIRECT War on terror The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism and U.S. War on Terror, is an international military campaign launched by the Federal government of the United States, United States government after the Septe ...
(2001–present), with lengthy campaigns in
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...
(2001–present) and
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...
(2003–2009), and more recently as part of the
Military intervention against ISIL In response to rapid territorial gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the first half of 2014, and its universally condemned Killing of captives by ISIL, executions, reported Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant#Hu ...
(2014–present). Britain's military intervention against
Islamic State , caption = , active = {{Collapsible list , title = 1999–present , 1 = 1999: Established under the name of Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad , 2 = October 2004: Joined al-Qaeda , 3 = 13 October 2006: Declaration of an Islamic ...
was expanded following a parliamentary vote to launch a bombing campaign over
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
; an extension of the bombing campaign requested by the Iraqi government against the same group. In addition to the aerial campaign, the British Army has trained and supplied allies on the ground and the
Special Air Service The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intende ...
, the
Special Boat Service The Special Boat Service (SBS) is the special forces unit of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early m ...
, and the
Special Reconnaissance Regiment The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) is a special reconnaissance unit of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprise ...
(British special forces) has carried out various missions on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. Figures released by the Ministry of Defence on 31 March 2016 show that 7,185 British Armed Forces personnel have lost their lives in medal earning theatres since the end of the Second World War.UK Armed Forces Deaths: Operational deaths post World War II 3 September 1945 to 17 February 2016
, Ministry of Defence, gov.uk, Published 31 March 2016


Today


Command organisation

As
Sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...

Sovereign
and
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
,
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...
is Head of the Armed Forces and their
Commander-in-Chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
. Long-standing constitutional convention, however, has vested ''de facto'' executive authority, by the exercise of Royal Prerogative powers, in the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
and the
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
, and the Prime Minister (acting with the support of the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
) makes the key decisions on the use of the armed forces. The Queen, however, remains the ultimate authority of the military, with officers and personnel swearing
allegiance An allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed, or freely committed, by the people, subjects or citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to it ...
to the monarch. It has been claimed that this includes the power to prevent unconstitutional use of the armed forces, including its nuclear weapons. The
Ministry of DefenceMinistry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defence, a type of government department responsible for matters of defence Current ministries * Ministry of Defense (Afghanistan) * Ministry of Defence (Albania) * Ministry ...
is the Government department and highest level of military headquarters charged with formulating and executing defence policy for the armed forces; it currently employs 56,860 civilian staff as of 1 October 2015. The department is controlled by the
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
and contains three deputy appointments:
Minister of State for the Armed Forces The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, formerly of ''Minister of State'' rank, is a junior ministerial position at the Ministry of DefenceMinistry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defence, a ...
, Minister for Defence Procurement, and Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Responsibility for the management of the forces is delegated to a number of committees: the Defence Council,
Chiefs of Staff Committee The Chiefs of Staff Committee (CSC) is composed of the most senior military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed c ...
, Defence Management Board and three single-service boards. The Defence Council, composed of senior representatives of the services and the Ministry of Defence, provides the "formal legal basis for the conduct of defence". The three constituent single-service committees (
Admiralty Board Admiralty usually refers to: *Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral *Admiralty law Admiralty can also refer to: Buildings *Admiralty, Trafalgar Square, a pub in Lond ...
,
Army Board The Army Board is the top single-service management committee of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regu ...
and
Air Force Board The Air Force Board of the Defence Council is responsible for the management of the Royal Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = , colours_label = , march = ...
) are chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the armed forces and is an appointment that can be held by an
Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...

Admiral
, Air Chief Marshal or
General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...

General
. Before the practice was discontinued in the 1990s, those who were appointed to the position of CDS had been elevated to the most senior rank in their respective service (a
5-star rankImage:US-O11 insignia.svg, 150px, The insignia used by the United States of America generals and admirals of OF-10 rank. A five-star rank is the highest military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star general insignia ...
). The CDS, along with the Permanent Under Secretary, are the principal advisers to the departmental minister. The three services have their own respective professional chiefs: the
First Sea Lord The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, Eng ...
, the
Chief of the General StaffThe Chief of the General Staff (CGS) is a post in many armed forces (Military, militaries), the head of the Staff (military), military staff. List * Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (United States) * Chief of the General Staff (Abkhazia) * C ...
and the
Chief of the Air StaffChief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Force Chief of Staff or Chief of Air Force, is the appointment held by the most senior officer in several nations' air forces. This appointment may refer to: * Chief of Air Force (Australia) * Chief of Air Staff (Ba ...
.


Personnel

The British Armed Forces are a professional force with a strength of 150,070 UK Regulars and
Gurkhas The Gurkhas or Gorkhas (), with endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Eur ...
, 37,040 Volunteer Reserves and 7,940 "Other Personnel" .
UK Armed Forces: Quarterly Service Personnel Statistics. 1 October 2020. MoD. Published 17 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020. See table 1, page 4.
This gives a total strength of 195,050 "UK Service Personnel". As a percentage breakdown of UK Service Personnel, 76.9% are UK Regulars and Gurkhas, 19.0% are Volunteer Reserves and 4.1% are composed of Other Personnel. In addition, all ex-Regular personnel retain a "statutory liability for service" and are liable to be recalled (under Section 52 of the Reserve Forces Act (RFA) 1996) for duty during wartime, which is known as the Regular Reserve. MoD publications since April 2013 no longer report the entire strength of the Regular Reserve, instead they only give a figure for Regular Reserves who serve under a fixed-term reserve contract. These contracts are similar in nature to those of the Volunteer Reserve.gov.uk MoD – reserves and cadet strengths
, table 4 page 13. See note 2. April 2014.
, Regular Reserves serving under a fixed-term contract numbered 44,600 personnel.gov.uk MoD – reserves and cadet strengths
, table 1a-page 10. 12 July 1690.
The distribution of personnel between the services and categories of service on 1 October 2020 was as follows: , there were a total of 9,330 Regular service personnel stationed outside of the United Kingdom, 3,820 of those were located in Germany. 138,040 Regular service personnel were stationed in the United Kingdom, the majority located in the South East and South West of England with 37,520 and 36,790 Regular service personnel, respectively.


Defence expenditure

According to the
International Institute for Strategic Studies The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a British research institute (or think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment f ...
and the
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an international institute An institute is an organisation An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a co ...
, the United Kingdom has the fourth- or eighth-largest defence budget in the world. For comparisons sake, this sees Britain spending more in absolute terms than France, Germany, India or Japan, a similar amount to that of Russia, but less than China, Saudi Arabia or the United States. In September 2011, according to Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the
Royal United Services Institute The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), sometimes still referred to by its pre-2004 name, the Royal United Service Institution, is a British defence and security think tank A think tank, or policy institute ...
, current "planned levels of defence spending should be enough for the United Kingdom to maintain its position as one of the world's top military powers, as well as being one of NATO-Europe's top military powers. Its edge – not least its qualitative edge – in relation to rising Asian powers seems set to erode, but will remain significant well into the 2020s, and possibly beyond." The
Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 was published by the British government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the ...
committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence and announced a £178 billion investment over ten years in new equipment and capabilities.


Nuclear weapons

The United Kingdom is one of five recognised nuclear weapon states under the
Non-Proliferation Treaty The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usu ...
and maintains an independent
nuclear deterrent Nuclear strategy involves the development of doctrine Doctrine (from la, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teach ...
, currently consisting of four
ballistic missile submarine upright=1.35, Soviet Project 667BD (Delta II class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. The United S ...
s,
UGM-133 Trident II The UGM-133A Trident II, or Trident D5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), built by Lockheed Martin Space in Sunnyvale, California, and deployed with the US Navy, American and Royal Navy, British navies. It was first deployed in Ma ...
submarine-launched ballistic missile A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief period ...
s, and 160 operational thermonuclear warheads. This is known as
Trident A trident is a three-tine (structural), pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and historically as a polearm. The trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune (mythology), Neptune, the God of the Sea in classical mythology. The trident ma ...
in both public and political discourse (with nomenclature taken after the UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missile). Trident is operated by the
Royal Navy Submarine Service The Royal Navy Submarine Service is one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval ...
, charged with delivering a 'Continuous At-Sea Deterrent' (CASD) capability, whereby one of the ''Vanguard''-class strategic submarines is always on patrol.Royal Navy – Continuous at sea deterrent
, royalnavy.mod.uk, Accessed 6 December 2014
According to the British Government, since the introduction of
Polaris Polaris ( ), designated α Ursae Minoris ( Latinized to Alpha Ursae Minoris, abbreviated Alpha UMi, α UMi), commonly the North Star or Pole Star, is the brightest star of the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the nort ...
(Tridents predecessor) in the 1960s, from April 1969 "the Royal Navy’s ballistic missile boats have not missed a single day on patrol", giving what the Defence Council described in 1980 as a deterrent "effectively invulnerable to pre-emptive attack". As of 2015, it has been British Government policy for the ''Vanguard''-class strategic submarines to carry no more than 40 nuclear warheads, delivered by eight UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missiles. In contrast with the other recognised nuclear weapon states, the United Kingdom operates only a submarine-based delivery system, having decommissioned its tactical
WE.177 The WE.177, originally styled as WE 177, and sometimes simply as WE177, was a series of tactical and strategic Strategy (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...
free-fall bombs in 1998. The
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...

House of Commons
voted on 18 July 2016 in favour of replacing the ''Vanguard''-class submarines with a new generation of s. The programme will also contribute to extending the life of the UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missiles and modernise the infrastructure associated with the CASD. Former weapons of mass destruction possessed by the United Kingdom include both biological and
chemical weapons A chemical weapon (CW) is a specialized munition that uses chemicals formulated to inflict death or harm on humans. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), "the term chemical weapon may also be applied ...
. These were renounced in 1956 and subsequently destroyed.


Overseas military installations

The British Armed Forces maintain a number of overseas garrisons and military facilities which enable the country to conduct operations worldwide. All of Britain's permanent military installations are located on
British Overseas Territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the B ...

British Overseas Territories
(BOTs) or which retain close diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, and located in areas of strategic importance. The most significant of these are the "Permanent Joint Operating Bases" (PJOBs), located on the four overseas territories of Cyprus (
British Forces Cyprus British Forces Cyprus (BFC) is the name given to the British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its British Ove ...
), Gibraltar (
British Forces Gibraltar British Forces Gibraltar is the British Armed Forces stationed in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is used primarily as a training area, thanks to its good climate and rocky terrain, and as a stopover for aircraft and ships ' ...
), the Falkland Islands ( British Forces South Atlantic Islands) and Diego Garcia (
British Forces British Indian Ocean TerritoriesBritish Forces British Indian Ocean Territories (BFBIOT) is the name for the British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military services responsible for the defence of the United Ki ...
). While not a PJOB, Ascension Island (another BOT) is home to the airbase RAF Ascension Island, notable for use as a staging post during the 1982
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
, the territory is also the site of a joint UK-US
signals intelligence Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is list of intelligence gathering disciplines, intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether communications between people (communications intelligence—abbreviated to COMINT) or from electronic sign ...
facility. Qatar is home to RAF Al Udeid, a Royal Air Force outpost at
Al Udeid Air Base Al Udeid Air Base ( ar, قاعدة العديد الجوية) is one of two military bases southwest of Doha Doha ( ar, الدوحة, ' or ''ad-Dōḥa'', ) is the capital and most populous city of Qatar Qatar (, , or ; ar, قطر ' ...

Al Udeid Air Base
which serves as the operational headquarters for No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group and its operations across the Middle East. A large Royal Navy Naval Support Facility (NSF) is located in Bahrain, established in 2016 it marks the British return East of Suez. In support of the
Five Power Defence Arrangements The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), also called the Durian Pact, are a series of defence relationships and mutual cooperation established by a series of multi-lateral agreements between Australia Australia, officially the Commonw ...
(FPDA), the United Kingdom retains a naval repair and logistics support facility at Sembawang, Sembawang wharf, Singapore. ("''The White Ensign is still flying above the operations of Naval Party 1022 (NP1022), based at Sembawang Wharves in Singapore.''") Other overseas military installations include; British Forces Brunei, British Forces Germany, the British Army Training Unit Kenya, British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada, British Army Training and Support Unit Belize, and British Gurkhas Nepal. Some British Overseas Territories also maintain locally raised units and regiments; The Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Falkland Islands Defence Force, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and the Royal Montserrat Defence Force. Though their primary mission is "home defence", individuals have volunteered for operational duties. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment mobilised section-sized units for attachment to British regiments deployed during the Iraq War. The Isle of Man, a Crown dependency hosts a multi-capability recruiting and training unit of the Army Reserve (United Kingdom), British Army Reserve. Since 1969 Britain has had a military satellite communications system, Skynet (satellite), Skynet, initially in large part to support East of Suez bases and deployments. Since 2015 Skynet has offered near global coverage.


Expeditionary forces

The British Armed Forces place significant importance in the ability to conduct
expeditionary warfare Expeditionary warfare is a military invasion of a foreign territory, especially away from established bases. Expeditionary forces were in part the antecedent of the modern concept of rapid deployment forces. Traditionally, expeditionary forces we ...
. Professor of International Politics, Adrian Hyde-Price, highlights that in the post-
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
era both Britain and France have re-focused their attention ''"towards
expeditionary warfare Expeditionary warfare is a military invasion of a foreign territory, especially away from established bases. Expeditionary forces were in part the antecedent of the modern concept of rapid deployment forces. Traditionally, expeditionary forces we ...
and
power projection Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and ma ...
. Power projection has always been an element of British and French military thinking given their residual over seas interests, but it has now moved centre stage."''
While the armed forces are expeditionary in nature, it maintains a core of "high readiness" forces trained and equipped to deploy at very short notice, these include; the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) (Royal Navy), 3 Commando Brigade (Royal Marines), and 16 Air Assault Brigade (British Army). Frequently, these forces will act as part of a larger tri-service effort, under the direction of Permanent Joint Headquarters, or along with like-minded allies under the UK Joint Expeditionary Force. Similarly, under the auspices of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
, such expeditionary forces are designed to meet Britain's obligations to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and other NATO operations. In 2010, the governments of the United Kingdom and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
signed the The Lancaster House Treaties (2010), Lancaster House Treaties which committed both governments to the creation of a Franco-British Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. It is envisaged as a deployable joint force, for use in a wide range of crisis scenarios, up to and including high intensity combat operations. As a joint force it involves all three armed Services: a land component composed of formations at national brigade level, maritime and air components with their associated Headquarters, together with logistics and support functions.


The Armed Forces


Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is a technologically sophisticated naval force, and as of January 2021 consists of List of active Royal Navy ships, 79 commissioned ships with an additional 13 support vessels of various types operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Fleet Commander of the Her Majesty's Naval Service, Naval Service. Personnel matters are the responsibility of the Second Sea Lord/Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, an appointment usually held by a vice-admiral. The Surface Fleet consists of aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships, destroyers, frigates, Patrol boat, patrol vessels, Minesweeper, mine-countermeasure vessels, and other miscellaneous vessels. The Surface Fleet has been structured around a single fleet since the abolition of the Eastern Fleet, Eastern and Western Fleet (United Kingdom), Western fleets in 1971. The recently built Type 45 destroyers are technologically advanced air-defence destroyers. The Royal Navy has commissioned two s, embarking an air-group including the advanced fifth-generation multi-role fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, F-35B. A submarine service has existed within the Royal Navy for more than 100 years. The Royal Navy Submarine Service, Submarine Service's four nuclear-powered submarines carry Lockheed Martin's UGM-133 Trident II, Trident II ballistic missiles, forming the Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom, United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent. Seven nuclear-powered attack submarines have been ordered, with four completed and three under construction. The ''Astute'' class are the most advanced and largest fleet submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, and will maintain Britain's nuclear-powered submarine fleet capabilities for decades to come.


Royal Marines

The Royal Marines are the Royal Navy's amphibious troops. Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade (3 Commando Brigade, 3 Commando) and various independent units, the Royal Marines specialise in amphibious warfare, amphibious, arctic warfare, arctic, and mountain warfare. Contained within 3 Commando Brigade are three attached army units; 383 Commando Petroleum Troop RLC, 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, a field artillery regiment based in Plymouth, and 24 Commando Regiment (United Kingdom), 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers. The Commando Logistic Regiment consists of personnel from the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.


British Army

The British Army is made up of the Regular Army and the Army Reserve (United Kingdom), Army Reserve. The army has a single command structure based at Andover, Hampshire, Andover and known as "Army Headquarters".Army Command reorganization
Defence Marketing Intelligence, 10 November 2011
Deployable combat formations consist of two divisions (1st Armoured Division (United Kingdom), 1st Armoured and 3rd Infantry Division (United Kingdom), 3rd Mechanised) and eight brigades. Within the United Kingdom, operational and non-deployable units are administered by two divisions, Force Troops Command, and London District (British Army), London District. The Army has 50 battalions (36 regular and 14 reserve) of British Army Infantry, regular and reserve infantry, organised into 17 regiments. The majority of infantry regiments contains multiple regular and reserve battalions. Modern infantry have diverse capabilities and this is reflected in the varied roles assigned to them. There are four operational roles that infantry battalions can fulfil: air assault, armoured infantry, mechanised infantry, and light infantry, light role infantry. Regiments and battalions e.g.: the The Parachute Regiment (United Kingdom), Parachute Regiment, exist within every corps of the Army, functioning as administrative or tactical formations. Armoured regiments are equivalent to an infantry battalion. There are 14 armoured regiments within the army, ten regular and four yeomanry (armoured reserve), of which four are designated as "Challenger 2, Armoured", three as "Formation Recconnaisance, Armoured Cavalry", and six as "Light Cavalry". Future of the British Army (Army 2020 Refine), Army 2020 Refine has seen developments which will further modify the Royal Armoured Corps. with two existing regiments forming the core of two new STRIKE Brigades. These two regiments, along with the Armoured Cavalry will be equipped with the "Ajax (Scout SV), Ajax" armoured fighting vehicle, a new £3.5 billion procurement programme. The Ajax will be employed in the task organisation and roles of both Armoured Cavalry and Medium Armour. With a slight exception of the Household Cavalry, which maintains quasi-autonomy within the Household Division, armoured regiments and their yeomanry counterparts collectively form the Royal Armoured Corps. Arms and support units are also formed into similar collectives organised around specific purposes, such as the Corps of Royal Engineers, British Army Air Corps, Army Air Corps and Royal Army Medical Corps.


Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force has a large operational fleet that fulfils various roles, consisting of both List of active United Kingdom military aircraft, fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. Frontline aircraft are controlled by RAF Air Command, Air Command, which is organised into five Group (air force), groups defined by function: No. 1 Group RAF, 1 Group (Air Combat), No. 2 Group RAF, 2 Group (Air Support), No. 11 Group RAF, 11 Group (Air and Space operations), No. 22 Group, 22 Group (training aircraft and ground facilities) and No. 38 Group RAF, 38 Group (Royal Air Force's Engineering, Logistics, Communications and Medical Operations units). In addition No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group (United Kingdom), 83 Expeditionary Air Group directs formations in the Middle East and the No. 38 Group RAF, 38 Group combines the expeditionary Combat Support, combat support and Combat Service Support, combat service support units of the RAF. Deployable formations consist of Expeditionary Air Wing (air force unit), Wings and Squadron (aviation), squadrons—the basic unit of the Air Force. Independent Flight (military unit), flights are deployed to facilities in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands, Iraq, and the United States. The Royal Air Forces operates multi-role and single-role fighters, reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, tankers, transports, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and various types of training aircraft. Ground units are also maintained by the Royal Air Force, most prominently the RAF Police and the Royal Air Force Regiment (RAF Regt). The Royal Air Force Regiment essentially functions as the ground defence force of the RAF, optimised for the specialist role of fighting on and around forward airfields, which are densely packed with operationally vital aircraft, equipment, infrastructure and personnel . The Regiment contains nine regular squadrons, supported by five squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment. In addition, it provides the UK's specialist Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability. It also provides half of the UK's Forward Air Controllers and the RAF's contribution to the Special Forces Support Group. By March 2008, the three remaining Ground Based Air Defence squadrons (equipped with Rapier Field Standard C) had disbanded or re-roled and their responsibilities transferred to the British Army's Royal Artillery.


Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence maintains a number civilian agencies in support of the British Armed Forces. Although they are civilian, they play a vital role in supporting Armed Forces operations, and in certain circumstances are under military discipline: *The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) operates 13 ships which primarily serve to replenish Royal Navy warships at sea, and also augment the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three vessels. It is manned by 1,850 civilian personnel and is funded and run by the Ministry of Defence. *The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) has an established strength of 2,700 police officers which provide armed security, counter terrorism, uniformed policing and investigative services to Ministry of Defence property, personnel, and installations throughout the United Kingdom. *The Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) is the merged procurement and support organisation within the UK Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). It came into being on 2 April 2007, bringing together the MoD's Defence Procurement Agency and the Defence Logistics Organisation under the leadership of General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue as the first Chief of Defence Materiel. it has a civilian and military workforce of approx. 20,000 personnel. DE&S is overseen by the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. *The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is an organisation within the UK government responsible for providing navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil and defence requirements. The UKHO is located in Taunton, Somerset, on Admiralty Way and has a workforce of approximately 1,000 staff.


Recruitment

All three services of the British Armed Forces recruit primarily from within the United Kingdom, although citizens from the Commonwealth of Nations and the Republic of Ireland are equally eligible to join.Evans (2005)
How British Army is fast becoming foreign legion
, timesonline.co.uk
The minimum recruitment age is 16 years (although personnel may not serve on armed operations below 18 years, and if under 18 must also have parental consent to join); the maximum recruitment age depends whether the application is for a regular or reserve role; there are further variations in age limit for different corps/regiments. The normal term of engagement is 22 years; however, the minimum service required before resignation is 4 years, plus, in the case of the Army, any service person below the age of 18. At present, the yearly intake into the armed forces is 11,880 (per the 12 months to 31 March 2014).UK Armed Forces Quarterly Personnel Report
, gov.uk, 1 April 2014
Excluding the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Royal Irish Regiment (1992), Royal Irish Regiment, as of 1 April 2014 there are approximately 11,200 Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) persons serving as Regulars across the three service branches; of those, 6,610 were recruited from outside the United Kingdom. In total, Black and Minority Ethnic persons represent 7.1% of all service personnel, an increase from 6.6% in 2010. Since the year 2000, Sexual orientation and the military of the United Kingdom, sexual orientation has not been a factor considered in recruitment, and homosexuals can serve openly in the armed forces. All branches of the forces have actively recruited at Gay Pride events. The forces keep no formal figures concerning the number of gay and lesbian serving soldiers, saying that the sexual orientation of personnel is considered irrelevant and not monitored.


Role of women

Women have been part of the armed forces, on and off, for centuries, more fully integrated since the early 1990s, including flying fast jets and commanding warships or artillery batteries. As of 1 April 2014, there were approximately 15,840 women serving in the armed forces, representing 9.9% of all service personnel. The first female military pilot was Flight Lieutenant Julie Ann Gibson while Flight Lieutenant Jo Salter was the first fast-jet pilot, the former flying a Tornado GR1 on missions patrolling the then Iraqi no-fly zones, Northern Iraqi No-Fly Zone. Flight Lieutenant Juliette Fleming and Squadron Leader Nikki Thomas recently were the first Tornado GR4 crew. While enforcing the Libyan No-Fly Zone, Flight Lieutenant Helen Seymour was identified as the first female Eurofighter Typhoon pilot. In August 2011, it was announced that a female lieutenant commander, Sarah West, was to command the frigate . In July 2016, it was announced that women would be allowed to serve in close combat, starting with the Royal Armoured Corps. In July 2017, the Secretary of Defence announced that women would be allowed to enlist in the RAF Regiment from September 2017, a year ahead of schedule. In 2018, women were allowed to apply for all roles in the British military, including the United Kingdom Special Forces, special forces. , the List of senior female officers of the British Armed Forces, most senior serving woman is the Three-star rank, three-star Air Marshal Sue Gray (RAF officer), Sue Gray.


See also

* Armed Forces Day (United Kingdom) * Atholl Highlanders – The only legal private army in Europe under the command of the Duke of Atholl in Scotland * Banknotes of the British Armed Forces * Community Cadet Forces * Military Covenant – The mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. * Network-enabled capability – British military concept of achieving enhanced military effect through the better use of information systems. Similar to the US concept of network-centric warfare. * The Championships, Wimbledon#Services stewards * Uniforms of the British Armed Forces


Notes


References


External links


British Ministry of Defence
(gov.uk)
Defence Academy of the United Kingdom
(.da.mod.uk)
Royal Navy official website
(royalnavy.mod.uk)
Royal Marines official webpage
(royalnavy.mod.uk)
British Army official website
(army.mod.uk)
Royal Air Force official website
(raf.mod.uk) {{Authority control British Armed Forces, Military of the United Kingdom, British Armed Forces deployments, British Armed Forces deployments