The UK’s Land Warfare Centre can finally claim to be a legitimate warfare centre in the broad sense. Gareth Davies describes the new look.
There has been a Land Warfare Centre (LWC) in Warminster, UK since 2002 and in the almost two decades since it has been through a number of reorganisations. While each of these kept the LWC relevant, especially with regard to preparing the force for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of the changes turned it into a genuine land warfare centre. That has changed. As a result of a number of reviews, including post-Army 2020 refinements and the recent Training Governance Review, the LWC now can very much be regarded as the definitive centre for land warfare.
The LWC is now responsible for Trade and Collective Training, Operational Lessons, Land Tactical Doctrine, and Experimentation. It has been designed to be Commander Field Army’s (CFA) agent for change. It will help CFA deliver trained force elements at readiness – not very different to what it was doing last year. But by bringing what was Director Land Warfare’s organisation in alongside the training elements, LWC is now able to be the organisation that allows CFA to drive adaptation of the fielded force, and to inform with more accuracy the development of future capability by Army HQ.
What does the structure look like? At the top it is pretty lean, yet it is able to direct and support an organisation that has almost 11,000 people, spread across four continents. As well as the normal support functions that one would expect in a two-star HQ, LWC is now the home of Warfare Development, the Training Requirements Authority, and Training Delivery Authority. The latter two functions were originally the responsibility of the Heads of Capability in Army HQ and the Army Training and Recruiting Division respectively. In terms of training delivery, LWC commands the Armour Centre (ARMCEN), the Royal School of Artillery (RSA), the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME), the Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration (DCLPA), the Army Aviation Centre (AACen), and the Collective Training Group (CTG).
LWC has a number of major work strands, described here in no specific order of priority. On the more pure-training Defence Line of Development (DLOD) side of things, there are the ever-present requirements to keep both trade training and collective training relevant. For the former there is the challenge of becoming more responsive to changes in the requirement, reducing the requirements on the generated force, and of course being cost effective. Change in this specific area will be driven by the outcome of the Trade Training Transformation Plan. Alongside this major change programme there has been some change to the training terminology in use; out goes Phase 2 and Phase 3 training and in their place comes Initial Trade Training (ITT) and Subsequent Trade Training (STT).
The British Army signed up to the concept of collective training being the surrogate for warfare a couple of years ago, but it hasn’t quite got the collective training environment that will fully enable this. To drive change in this area, Army HQ initiated the Collective Training Transformation Programme in October 2017.
Finally, there is the Force Optimisation Campaign Plan that will both prioritise and synchronise activity to optimise the current force. This activity includes experimentation, structural change, doctrine, training, and capability integration.
Within the collective training world one of the main changes is the move to always train in complex terrain, physical and human. Much of the current collective training does just that, but not all, and that is going to change. Collective training will remain challenging, combined arms focussed, and joint, multi-national and interagency where appropriate. Collective training will be constructed in a way that allows people to fail during training, to learn from those mistakes before retraining and improving.
Within many of the change programmes, data and accurate analysis will play an important role in shaping both training and career structures (which are not owned by the LWC but clearly, they are very closely followed, as the career structure informs the training requirement). Within the recruiting world it may be that analysis of an individual’s skills and character will help steer that individual to the trade that best suits them. This would clearly have benefits for ITT.
Other hoped-for benefits will come from a single training pipeline. This will help LWC look at the whole of an individual’s training and that should have three outcomes:
- First, because there will be evidence from trade training and collective training / force preparation, it will enable the Army to better develop its people over time.
- Second, the LWC will be able to look at the entirety of training, and the total of that training. This will enable the optimisation of training in order to get the very most from it and it will inform training related balance of investment decisions.
- And third, it should enable the Field Army to understand experimentation opportunities. Taking both experimentation and training data will allow for a wider range of lessons to be drawn.
The motto of the Land Warfare Centre is Prepare for War. As a result of the changes, the LWC is much better placed to enable the Field Army to do just that – and to win.
Originally published in Issue 1, 2019 of MS&T Magazine.