Formation and structure[edit]

The structure of the British Army is complex, due to the different origins of its various constituent parts. It is broadly split into the Regular Army (full-time Officers/soldiers and units) and the Army Reserve (Spare-time Officers/soldiers and units).

In terms of its military structure, it has two parallel organisations, one administrative and one operational.



Structure of units[edit]

The standard operational units are structured as follows, although various units have their own structure, conventions, names and sizes:[145]

Type of Unit Division Brigade Battalion / Regiment Company /Squadron Platoon /Troop Section Fire Team
Contains 2–3 Brigades 3–5 Battalions 5–7 Companies 3 Platoons 3 Sections 2 Fire Teams 4 Individuals
Personnel 10,000 5,000 550–750 100 30 8–10 4
Commanded by Maj-Gen Brig Lt Col Maj Capt, Lt or2nd Lt Cpl LCpl

Corps are made up of two or more divisions, but now are rarely deployed as a purely national formation due to the size of the British Army.[145]

In place of a Battalion, a task-specific Battlegroup may be formed. A battlegroup is grown around the core of either an armoured regiment or infantry battalion, and has other units added or removed from it as necessary for its purpose. It results in a mixed formation of armour, infantry, artillery, engineers and support units, typically consisting of between 600 and 700 soldiers under the command of a Lieutenant Colonel.[145]

A number of elements of the British Army use alternative terms for battalion, company and platoon. These include the Royal Armoured Corps, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, and the Royal Corps of Signals who use regiment (battalion), squadron (company) and troop (platoon). The Royal Artillery are unique in using the term regiment in place of both corps and battalion, they also replace company with battery and platoon with troop.[145]


The British Army currently has two operational divisions.[146]

Name Headquarters Subunits
1ukdiv.svg 1st (United Kingdom) Division Herford, Germany In the future, seven infantry brigades and one logistics brigade.
British 3rd Infantry Division2.svg 3rd (United Kingdom) Division Bulford,Salisbury Two, in the future, three armoured infantry brigades and one logistics brigade.

Brigades which are not under 1st (UK) Division at any one time report directly into Regional Command.[147]

Rapid Reaction Force[edit]

16 Air Assault Brigade forms the bulk of the Army's rapid reaction force.

Combat support[edit]

Force Troops Command, or FTC, forms the basis of the Army's Combat support, containing units ranging from artillery to military police.[148]

Aviation components[edit]

The British Army operates alongside the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm as part of Joint Helicopter Command, but the army also has its own Army Air Corps. Military helicopters of all three services are commanded by Joint Helicopter Command, a joint 2 star headquarters operating under HQ Land Forces.[149]

Special forces[edit]

SAS winged dagger/flaming sword cap badge with "Who Dares Wins" motto
The SAS Cap Badge.

The British Army contributes two of the three special forces formations within the United Kingdom Special Forces directorate: 22 Special Air Service Regiment and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.[150]

The Special Air Service overall comprises one regular regiment and two Army Reserveregiments.[151] The regular regiment, 22 SAS, has its headquarters and depot located inHereford and consists of five squadrons: A, B, D, G and Reserve with a training wing.[152] The two reserve regiments, 21 SAS and 23 SAS (collectively, the Special Air Service (Reserve) (SAS(R))) are no longer part of the UK's special forces and now form part of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[153]

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), formed in 2005 from existing assets, undertakes close reconnaissance and special surveillance tasks.[150] The Special Forces Support Groupwas formed around 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, with attached Royal Marines andRAF Regiment assets, the unit is also open to any member of the HM Armed Forces. The Special Forces Support Group are under the Operational Control of Director Special Forces to provide operational manoeuvre support to the elements of United Kingdom Special Forces.[154]


Military organization
Nigerien soldiers during Gulf War.jpg
Typical Units Typical numbers TypicalCommander
fireteam 3 or 4 corporal
squad/section 8 or more sergeant
platoon 15–30 lieutenant
company 80–150 captain/
battalion 300–800 lieutenant colonel
regiment/brigade 2,000–4,000 colonel/
brigadier general
division 10,000–15,000 major general
corps 20,000–40,000 lieutenant general
field army over 80,000 general
army group several
field armies
field marshal



10 Jan 2016