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Managing the Military on the Move: Visit to the 2nd Division Headquarters on 8 April 2003

The presentation commenced with an overview given by Lt. Col. Gavin Collinson, MBE, RLC who outlined the UK's military structure. There are 3 regional Divisions, the 2nd, based in Edinburgh, 4th based at Shrewsbury and the 5th based at Aldershot. In addition there is the London District with its headquarters at Wilton.

Lt. Col. Collinson detailed the regional command structure and looked at some of the commitments such as the recent foot and mouth epidemic, cover in case of a fire strike and contingency planning. He also outlined the role of the Royal Logistics Corps in facilities management, supply and catering.

Turning to military operations, Lt. Col. Collinson explained the various steps involved. Step 1 is to define the mission and what to achieve. Step 2 is to examine the problem. This involves analysing the mission, consider the various factors such as the distance to be covered, the destination, the duration and the demand. Options are then developed, decisions made by the commanders and the plan produced. Step 3 is to develop the force employment team who will look at what forces are needed and determine the order of arrival. Step 4 is the movement of the force, with the various stages that involves and step 5 is to sustain the force. Finally, step 6 is the recovery of the force. Lt. Col. Collinson finished his part of the presentation by briefly looking at policy direction and contract management. He explained that the use of civilian contractors reduces costs and gives value for money.

Major Debs Scanlon, RLC, then looked at transport provision, including transport movements, routing, scheduling and control. This work is undertaken by a team of both military and civilian staff. Transport needs covers everything from moving troops and equipment for training to moving forces to ports for overseas deployment. Major Scanlon explained that there is no crown exemption and that all drivers conform to UK drivers' hours regulations. Troops are now transported using buses, contracted from bus operators or hired, rather than in the back of 4 tonne trucks as used to be the case. Looking at the vehicles, Major Scanlon explained that military vehicles are required to operate over rough terrain and have greater ground clearance and a higher centre of gravity than civilian vehicles. This means that they do not move as fast , particularly round corners.

Turning to other movements, Major Scanlon explained how personnel are transported around the world and how heavy equipment is moved. Some heavy equipment is moved by civilian contractors, for example, tanks and the army has PFI partners with whom it works. For major exercises, the movement of personnel and equipment is determined by the order of arrival and the objectives that are to be met. These points will dictate the unit movements and the appropriate movement instructions.

The final part of the presentation was given by Major Jonathan Lilley, RLC who looked at the supply aspects of keeping soldiers effective. He said that there were two requirements, these being the basic requirements, i.e. food clothing and water and functional requirements, i.e. ammunition, equipment and fuel. The aim is to provide what a soldier needs when he needs it. In order to achieve this it is necessary to undertake detailed planning based on the mission analysis and the combat estimate. He explained how civilian industry works with the military to provide what is needed when it is needed.

The army is endeavouring to reduce stockpiles of equipment and Major Lilley explained that it was necessary to hold stocks of certain items due to the lead times in procurement. He then looked at the phases involved in moving a major force to undertake operations and explained the difference between the "pull" and "push2 principles. Also explained were "reverse flow" logistics when equipment comes back for repair. There then followed a question and answer session when many varied questions were answered before the party adjourned for a hot buffet kindly provided by out hosts.

The Scottish Region would like to thank Lt. Col. Gavin Collinson, MBE, RLC; Major Debs Scanlon, RLC, and Major Jonathan Lilley, RLC for their comprehensive presentation and hospitality.

Report by John Fender.


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