Military concepts are largely aspirational; they describe how a military wants to fight in the future and should, therefore, set the goals to be realised through procurement and training. The translation from concept to extant force rarely follows a smooth linear progression.
This is certainly the case with the British Army’s Strike Concept. The idea for a rapidly deployable, mobile force was inspired by France’s 2013 intervention in Mali. However, Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the subsequent NATO summit, led the UK government to commit to a major procurement programme for Ajax armoured vehicles before its role in the force had been fully worked out. The subsequent 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review then announced the creation of Strike Brigades as a core part of Army 2020 Refine.
Rather than make subsequent announcements, the British Army has been undertaking a detailed process of experimentation to inform how these brigades will be structured, and how they will fight. The lack of public detail about the brigades following their announcement has led to some confusion in the public discourse surrounding Strike. The Army will soon need to commit to procurement decisions, however, to transition Strike from concept to force. In a fiscally constrained environment those decisions involve difficult trade-offs.
RUSI has conducted an independent assessment of the missions that a Strike brigade may plausibly be expected to undertake, the capability and training requirements for the force to fulfil its missions, and the systems and platforms available that meet these requirements. The paper hopes to provide an independent evidence base to inform policymakers examining the Army’s procurement plans to deliver the Strike Brigade. This paper is not a study of the merits of the Strike Concept as a purely theoretical force. Nor is this study a comparison of Strike with other potential formations. It is a narrow study of the non-discretionary requirements to make the Strike Brigade a viable force in fulfilling a set of identified missions.