The British Army consists of the General Staff, the Field Army and the Regional Forces, as well as joint elements that work with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
The Army carries out tasks given to it by the elected Government of the United Kingdom (UK).
Its main task is to help defend the interests of the UK, which consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This may involve service overseas as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation force. Soldiers may also be deployed on United Nations (UN) operations and used to help in other emergencies.
The regimental system
The increasing demands of imperial expansion together with inefficiencies highlighted during the Napoleonic Wars led to the Cardwell and Childers Reforms of the late 19th century. These gave the British Army its modern shape, and defined its regimental system. The Haldane Reforms of 1907, formally created the Territorial Force which still exists as the Army’s volunteer component.
The command structure is hierarchical with divisions and brigades responsible for organising groupings of smaller units. Major Units are regiment or battalion-sized with minor units being smaller, either company sized sub-units or platoons. All units within the service are either Regular (full-time) or Territorial Army (part-time), or a combination with sub-units of each type.
Unit names are different for historical reasons. An infantry regiment is an administrative and ceremonial organisation only and may include several battalions. An infantry battalion is equivalent to a cavalry regiment. For operational tasks a battle group will be formed around a combat unit, supported by units or sub-units from other areas. Such an example would be a squadron of tanks attached to an armoured infantry battle group, together with a reconnaissance troop, artillery battery and engineering support.
Were you in the army, which regiment?