25 November 2014
ROYAL TANK REGIMENT STRATEGY
There is now only one Royal Tank Regiment. Our situation has significantly changed. The Regimental Council has therefore determined that a new Strategy is required to steer the Regiment, and its members. This Strategy consists of a diagnosis, a guiding principle, and a coherent set of actions. It is intended to endure, and is to be read by every officer, warrant officer and senior non-commissioned officer in the Regiment. From it will be developed a Regimental Programme.
We have a strong ethos. Mounted close combat is our primary function. With this comes seizing opportunities, and a focus on the exploitation and husbandry of equipment. Ever since we arose from the major innovation that was the tank we have embraced change, as demonstrated in a multitude of roles in numerous operations. We seek to be at the forefront of whatever we do, prizing adaptability even above history. This thirst for professionalism and excellence in all endeavours - not just on the field of battle - attracts talented people. Based on the team that is a vehicle crew, earned and mutual respect is at the core of a close bond between officers and other ranks.
We value our identity, but the Regiment does not exist for its own sake. It is our ethos, rather than our brand, that defines us and deserves to be maintained in the interests of the Army and the Nation. The high cost of manpower and equipment, negative public attitudes towards military deployments, and our reduction to a single unit, means that ethos is at greater risk of being extinguished than it has ever been. We therefore need to raise our game to protect and promote it. This entails seizing opportunity and mitigating threats.
Opportunities abound, including:
- The next decade should see both our combat platforms, CVR(T) and Challenger 2, replaced or upgraded. Provided it materialises, and is appropriately supported by doctrine and training, this dynamic should transform the capability and employability of the Royal Armoured Corps.
- The additional CBRN role should strengthen recruiting and retention by allowing us to offer variety. It also gives us greater mass, and therefore momentum.
- Appropriately exploited, the Army's desire to enhance the role of the Reserve should present us with a source of reinforcement, new skills, and a deeper connection with the community.
- Legacies and sound management have made Regimental funds buoyant. They will need to support a smaller serving population, so they should go further than has hitherto been possible. The objects of these trusts, which are, broadly, to maintain, foster and improve the welfare, education and esprit de corps of the Regiment, present significant opportunities. Amongst other things, our ability to employ these resources should make us more competitive in the search for future leaders.
- The Regiment knows where its home will be for the foreseeable future. This should allow us to put down deep roots, in an area that is the geographic centre of the future Army. Whilst we deeply regret the loss of the second regiment, the silver lining is that we will be able to concentrate resources.
But there are also threats, including:
- Whilst it is difficult to envisage the UK seeking to remain a credible international partner with fewer than three armoured regiments, the place of armour in the future is not assured. There remains scope for folk to forget the past, or draw the wrong conclusions from it, especially when the premium to be paid for the insurance we offer is at the expensive end of the range.
- The CBRN Squadron is not yet established on a firm footing. Methods of employment are not firmly rooted in well-rehearsed doctrine, and the Army Command Group has not yet given us the role in perpetuity. There is no funded plan to upgrade or replace Fuchs, or even to raise its Theatre Entry Standard. The current programming assumption is that it will be replaced by an unmanned aerial vehicle. The Squadron's chain of command is, of necessity, different from the rest of the Regiment, and sponsorship of its capability development is not yet robust.
- Our Regimental ecosystem is too diffuse. The only element of it that is in robust health is the Tank Museum, and even that we do not sufficiently exploit. We have weak affiliations with cadets and officer training regiments/university officer training corps. Widely separated recruiting areas hinder concentration of effort; a problem compounded by a recruiting system for soldiers that currently offers no certain dividend for investment in attracting recruits. We do not have a strong connection with the Reserve, and lack identified local communities with which routinely to engage. The Association does not attract our veterans in meaningful numbers. Our connections with affiliated Regiments abroad are largely in name only. And RHQ, which exists to nurture our ecosystem, is under pressure to reduce its manning. The result is we do not offer a cradle to grave service and have no firm base or constituency upon which to rely when times get tough. All this will not get better by itself. Without management action, in the competitive environment in which we live, it will likely get worse.
- Whilst we may be an excellent advert for social mobility, in the absence of women and ethnic minorities, we lack diversity. This will threaten us as demography reduces the size of the pool from which we currently recruit. Being all of one image also adversely affects our potential for different ways of thinking. I am personally in favour of women being allowed to join the Royal Armoured Corps and believe we need to seek ways to make us a more attractive home for potential recruits from ethnic minorities.
- Our governance structures outside the serving Regiment lack any independent input. This is sub-optimal from an assurance perspective. It also means we could miss, or misperceive, weak signals, and/or fail to pick up on opportunities.
- A great deal now rests on a single Commanding Officer. Done right this is a strength. Doing it right entails the Regimental Council strongly supporting him.
We will build the capacity of the institution that is the Royal Tank Regiment, better to embrace the future.
We will build institutional capacity by developing a Regimental Programme that will:
- develop and strength the Regimental ecosystem
- increase our diversity
- compete for, and develop leaders
- enhance our governance
- allow us to play a leading role in the Scout SV and the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programmes, and in the upgrading or replacement of Fuchs,
- support the Commanding Officer
The Royal Tank Regiment is forward-thinking, adaptable, welcoming, well-led and manned, and highly professional. Our main role is mounted close combat. Thus was our history and it will also be our future: our intent is to seize opportunities, provide multiple capabilities, encourage diversity, develop our people, foster life-long comradeship, and stand for excellence.
Colonel Commandant 1 August 2014
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