Last Updated: 01 March, 2015
The Royal Regiment of Artillery along with the Royal Corps of Engineers, the Royal Corps of Signals and the Army Air Corps form the British Army’s Combat Support Forces. The Royal Regiment of Artillery is commonly known as the Royal Artillery.
In 2012, the Combat Support Capability Directorate (CSCD) brought together the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers in one central authority.
The Royal Artillery comprises both Regular (full-time) and Reserve (part-time) units and was originally formed in 1716 in Woolwich, in South-East London, which remained the Regimental home for almost 300 years.
The home of the Royal Artillery is now in Larkhill, on the southern edge of Salisbury Plain. The Royal Artillery is unique in the British Army because of the emphasis they have always placed on their sub-units: the batteries. Batteries can deploy independently, move around between regiments and even perform different roles to one another within a single regiment.
Queen Elizabeth II is the Royal Artillery’s Captain General. This means that the Royal Artillery answers directly to the reigning sovereign, and does this through the Master Gunner, St James’s Park who is Her Majesty’s chief advisor on artillery matters.
The Royal Artillery provides the battlefield fire support and air defence for the British Army in the field. The various regiments are equipped for conventional fire-support using field guns, for area and point air defence using air defence missiles and for specialised artillery locating tasks.
Although all recruits are initially trained as Gunner Crewmen, the Royal Artillery has a number of trades that personnel can join such as:
- Gunner AS90: Using the 155mm Tracked Armoured Field Howitzer (AS90).
- Gunner TUAS: launch, control and recover pilot-less air vehicles.
- Gunner Light Gun: Using the 105mm Light Gun. The versatile Light Gun is delivered by helicopter, landing craft, parachuted or towed on to the battlefield.
- Gunner HVM: Using the High Velocity Missile System Man portable or tracked HVM close air defence systems which are deployed alongside the Infantry and tanks.
- Gunner RADAR Operator: Mamba, Cobra and LCMR are mobile weapon locating radar which detects rockets and mortar/artillery rounds in flight.
- Gunner Rapier: Using the Rapier Medium Range Air Defence System. The Rapier guided Air Defence system can engage two targets simultaneously.
- Gunner MLRS: Using the Multi Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
- Gunner Observation Post: As part of a Fire Support Team. Part of a tight knit six man team, working on the front line embedded in an infantry or armoured manoeuvre unit.
- Mounted Gunner: Learn to ride and drive in a Gun Team of 6 galloping horses with the King’s Troop RHA and fire Royal Salutes in Hyde Park.
- Gunner ACS: Operate and maintain the latest high tech computer and radio equipment to ensure that voice and data messages are passed across the battlefield.
- Gunner Logistics: Artillery Logisticians store, account for and re-supply Artillery units in battle with fuel, ammunition, food and water.
- Gunner Sound Ranger: Working as part of a small team using state of the art acoustic and computer equipment to locate the enemy, missiles, mortars and guns.
- 7 Para RHA: The Parachute Gunners (105mm Light Gun) are based in Colchester and support 16 Air Assault Brigade.
- HVM (Para): 12 Battery RA (12 Regt RA) provide Close Air Defence for 16 Air Assault Brigade.
- 29 Commando Regiment: The Commando Gunners (105mm Light Gun and Naval Gunfire Support) are part of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines – the UK’s Amphibious and Arctic & Mountain Warfare experts.
- Special Observer: Volunteers for 4/73 Bty RA (5 Regt RA) will need to pass a 20-week Special Observer Patrols Course following Phase 2 Training. Further information can be found DIN: 2006 DIN002-211, a useful reference document for potential direct entry recruits.
2.0 Training Hierarchy
The Royal School of Artillery forms part of the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD), commanded by the Director General Army Recruiting and Training (DG ART), a Major General, who in turn reports to the Commander Force Development and Training (FDT), a Lieutenant General.
During the 2013/2014 training year the ARTD was re-subordinated back to the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC), also under the command of a Lieutenant General (OF-8), and at the same time absorbed the Collective Training Group (CTG).
Figure 1: Royal Artillery training landscape
3.0 Royal School of Artillery
The Royal School of Artillery (RSA) is part of the Artillery Centre and is a small Headquarters under a commandant, a RANK. The RSA is the principal training establishment for artillery warfare in the British Army. Established in 1915, it is located at Larkhill in Wiltshire, on the south edge of Salisbury Plain in the United Kingdom. The School is the primary training facility for Royal Artillery recruits with three instructional branches, and is also home to the Gunnery Training Team. Administration and firing support is provided by 14 Regiment, which also contains the initial special-to-arm training battery – 24 Battery.
Training at Larkhill covers the complete spectrum of artillery equipment and includes both technical and tactical training. Larkhill is also responsible for several courses for all three Services. The Staff of the School is made up of instructors from the Royal Artillery, other Arms and Corps of the British Army and several overseas artillery instructors, for example Australian, Canadian and American.
The three instructional branches are:
- Strike Integrate Branch;
- Find-Protect Branch; and
- Artillery Command Systems Branch.
3.1 Strike Integrate Branch
The Strike Integrate Branch is a world leader in the delivery of carefully focused training in surveillance and target acquisition, the targeting process and the tactical handling of field artillery.
3.2 Find-Protect Branch
The Find-Protect Branch delivers the essential training requirements to the Royal Artillery, training for the following: Manoeuvre, Guns and ammunition, Field, Surface to Air and their respective Gunnery Careers elements.
3.3 Artillery Command Systems
The Artillery Command Systems (ACS) Branch is an integral part of the RSA. The ACS Branch provides both officers and soldiers of the Royal Artillery with the skills that they need to exploit the benefits of the communication and information systems that are available on the contemporary battlefield. ACS Branch is sub-divided into a number of discrete functional areas: Air Defence; Close Support; Command Section; and General Support.
3.4 Gunnery Training Team
The Gunnery Training Team (GTT) is an Artillery training consultancy based in Larkhill Garrison, Wiltshire, England. The motto of GTT is Semper Constans (Always Constant), giving evidence to the role of GTT within the gunner community of maintaining the high standards of training.
4.0 14 Regiment, Royal Artillery
14 Regiment provides administration and firing support to the RSA and consists of three Batteries, each with separate training roles:
- 1st Battery (The Blazers) support ‘Find and Protect’ training;
- 24 (Irish) Battery provides Phase 2 training; and
- 34 (Seringapatam) Battery support ‘Strike and Integrate’ training.
4.1 1st Battery (The Blazers)
The role of 1st Battery is to provide support training delivered mainly to The Royal Artillery in the form of equipment and manpower. The Battery is therefore unique, in that it is equipped with the full range of weapons systems and target acquisition equipment that the Royal Artillery has in service today. The manpower within the Battery is drawn from across the Royal Artillery and soldiers normally serve a two/three-year assignment within the Battery.
1st Battery is controlled from a Battery Headquarters (responsible for the administration of Weapons Troop). There are three sections within Weapons Troop, consisting of:
- General Support Section, which itself consists of four detachments, including MLRS, Sound Ranging.
- Field Section, which consists of three detachments, made up of AS90, Light Gun and MAMBA Radar.
- Air Defence, which is also arranged into detachments including HVM Stormer, FSB2 RAPIER, Javelin and ADCIS.
Although 1st Battery strength is similar to most troops, it has far more equipment than most Batteries. Current equipment strengths include:
- 7 x AS90
- 6 x Light Gun
- 5 x MLRS
- 1 x AFV 432 Bty Comd Post
- 1 x AFV 432 Sound Ranging CP
- 4 x FSB2 RAPIER
- 2 x ADCIS Bedford
- 6 x HVM Stormer
4.2 24 (Irish) Battery
The role of 24 (Irish) Battery is to continue the training of soldiers following their successful completion of Phase One training. Phase 2 training prepares RA soldiers for the role of a Gunner within a regular Royal Artillery Regiment. The aim of 24 (Irish) Battery is to provide the Field Army with soldiers who are qualified, confident, fit, motivated and ready in all respects to join their Regiment. In 2012/13 the Battery passed out 544 soldiers and in the 2013/14 training year the forecast is for 547 soldiers.
Therefore, the role of 24 (Irish) Battery is to supply the Field Army with professionally trained individuals through its Trade Training in the following areas:
- Gunnery (Strike – Surface to Surface);
- Air Defence (Strike – Surface to Air);
- Communications/Signals (Gunner Command Systems); and
- Driving (Car and Light Goods Vehicles).
The Battery is currently formed with the command element made up of the Battery Commander, the Battery Captain and the Battery Sergeant Major. Under the Battery HQ element there are two main areas. Firstly the ‘Trade Troop’, managed by a Captain, Troop Commander, responsible for all Trade training, including driver training, for Phase 2 soldiers. Secondly there is the ‘Intake Troop’, also run by a Captain Troop Commander who manages all other aspects of Phase 2 training at The Royal School of Artillery.
4.3 34 (Seringapatam) Battery
Presently, 334 (Seringapatam) Battery operates as the lone firing Battery within 14 Regiment. Personnel for the Battery are drawn from across the Royal Artillery. This includes Close Support, General Support, STA, Air Defence, Parachute and Commando units, which gives the sub-unit a unique perspective and is the largest Battery in the Royal Artillery. Equipment currently used by the Battery includes:
- 4 x AS90
- 12 x Light Gun
- 4 x FV514 Warrior Observation Post Vehicles
The Battery has an extensive diary of varied firing commitments supporting not only the Royal Artillery, but also The Infantry Training Centre (ITC) at Warminster, the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), The Royal Military College of Science (RMCS) at Shrivenham and many others. The Battery also supports RSA courses such as Young Officers (YOs), Gunnery Careers Course (GCC), Artillery Command Systems (ACS), Strike and Targeting.
5.0 Phase 2: Specialist Training
The Young Officers’ (YOs’) Course is four months long and provides officers with the specialist training they require to be a Gunner Officer. At the start of this course trainees will be taught about each part of the Royal Artillery, and once fully informed, trainees get to choose which part of the Royal Artillery they wish to serve in, subject to the demands of the Service. Trainees will then spend three months learning how to become a Troop Command in this field. On completion of the course trainees will be posted to their first Regiment, and life as a Troop Commander begins.
Royal Artillery recruits complete Phase1 initial training at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate for Junior Entry soldiers, Army Training Centre in Pirbright or the Army Training Regiment in Winchester for Standard Entry soldiers.
Recruits will then complete Phase 2 specialist training at the Royal School of Artillery (RSA) at Larkhill in Wiltshire.
During Phase 2 intensive training is given in gunnery, air defence, surveillance or signals, training used to be generic. Training lasts around 3 months, and training continues in the evenings and 1 in 2 weekends (apparently).
The Royal Artillery Communicator Course turns partly trained soldiers into qualified Gunners. The first 3 weeks include military training, playing sport and adventure training. The next phase will see trainees undergo driver training on a variety of different vehicles:
- Category B License (i.e. car).
- Category B+E (i.e. car and trailer).
- Part 1 Signals Service Driver Conversion (SDC), driving Land Rovers on/off road.
The last phase will teach trainees how to use the Army’s high tech communications system (with the Royal Corps of Signals in Blandford) before a final week of fitness tests and briefings.
The RA CPD offers every Gunner recruit the opportunity to achieve an Apprenticeship in Logistics. Telecommunications awards up to HNC (Level 4 – Foundation degree) are offered to the Command, Communication and Fire Control trades; Level 3 awards are offered to those in the stores and driving trades; and relevant specialist qualifications are available for the Unmanned Air Vehicle (drone) and mounted (equestrian) Units.
6.0 Phase 3: Career Training
After Phase 2 training officers and gunners will be posted to RA units worldwide, but almost all of them will return to the RSA for frequent career and (Phase 3) employment courses.
- L118 Light Gun Detachment Commander’s course.
7.0 Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development
Throughout the Royal Artillery the Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development (RA CPD) offers Apprenticeships and a wide range of other civilian vocational and professional qualifications to all Gunner personnel. Courses include:
- Information technology;
- Learning and development;
- Horse care; and
- Leadership and management.
8.0 Cost of Training
In 2012, it was estimated that the cost per soldier recruit for Phase 2 training for the Royal Artillery was £17,430 (HC, 2012) for a single Phase 2 course.
HC (House of Common Debates) Daily Hansard – Written Answer, 12 June 2012, Column 449W. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120612/text/120612w0002.htm#120612w0002.htm_spnew58. [Accessed: 12 March, 2014].
Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development: http://www.racpd.org.uk/