On 10th November 1st [UK] Division, or 1XX, conducted an Expeditionary Light Forces Exposition inside Catterick Garrison, reports Bob Morrison.
Delivered by 102 Logistic Brigade, as directed in the 1st [UK] Division Command Plan, the expo aimed to bring together new concepts, ideas and the latest technology to showcase how innovative and agile expeditionary solutions can support Light Forces to deploy further and faster with a smaller footprint. Through collaboration across the Field Army (and Defence) and supported by the Defence Industry, the expo sought to cohere Light Force innovation and identify opportunities for experimentation in 2022.
Formerly 1st [UK] Armoured Division, reorganised and renamed under the ARMY 2020 restructuring plan announced in 2012, the 1st [UK] Division is one of three current Land Forces divisions (1st, 3rd and 6th) and formed the core of what was designated the Adaptable Force. According to British Army published sources, it is currently tasked to be:-
- First In: The First Division is the United Kingdom’s persistently engaged force, working with our partners throughout the world through our global hubs.
- First Choice: The First Division is the United Kingdom’s and our Coalition Allies partner of choice – made up of a diverse and capable workforce, containing the Armies most specialist skills.
- First Solution: The First Division is constantly ready – we ensure and enable the United Kingdom’s ‘Theatre Entry’ capability and directly contributes to the international coalition providing increased global security.
The Division’s current structure comprises four light infantry Brigades, two Logistic Brigades, a Medical Brigade and an Engineer Brigade, namely: 4 Infantry Brigade and HQ North East, 7 Infantry Brigade and HQ East, 51 Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland and 11 Security Force Assistance Brigade; 1 Military Police Brigade and 102 Logistic Brigade; 2 Medical Brigade; and 8 Engineer Brigade*. Although a separate formation and part of the Royal Navy, 3 Commando Brigade is closely aligned with 1 [UK] Division and both Royal Marines and Royal Navy Commandos, as well as British Army Commandos, were in attendance at 1XX ELF Expo.
The intent of the Expo sought to cohere innovation across six specific themes: Energy Generation, Storage and Consumption; Deployable Infrastructure; Communicating at Range; Operating in White Fleet Vehicles; Sustaining the Force; and Delivery of Equipment Support. Exhibitors from industry and military units (from both the Field Army and 3 Commando Brigade) showcased new technology and innovative ideas to support a deployed Light Force.
Following planning and preparation plus rehearsal phases by 1st Close Support Battalion REME or 1REME, which is subordinate to 102 Logistic Brigade, the Expo was delivered in three distinct sub-phases, namely: a seated 90 minute long Innovation Symposium; a four hour Exhibit Circulation & Capability Demonstrations with a 30 minute standing lunch prepared by Army Chefs; and an hour long seated Innovation Coherence session with eight back briefs delivered by RE, RLC, REME, Communications and Medical specialists. Major General Charlie Collins DSO OBE, GOC 1 [UK] Division gave the opening address at the start of the symposium and Brigadier E J (Lizzie) Faithfull-Davies CBE, Commanding Officer of 102 Logistic Brigade, closed the final session.
In addition to 1 REME planning and delivering the Expo: 158 RLC led on coherence within Operating in White Fleet; 6 RLC led on coherence within Sustaining the Force; 150 RLC led on coherence within Communicating at Range; 2 REME led on coherence within Delivery of Equipment Support; 7 RLC led on coherence within Deployable Infrastructure; and 3 MED led on coherence within Energy Generation, Storage and Consumption. Following the Expo, these six units were tasked with supporting 1 REME in drafting the Innovation Coherence Recommendations Report.
The wide range of stands around the periphery of the symposium auditorium were manned by both military units and defence industry suppliers, which made for a very interesting day indeed. As was probably only to be expected of an event where Army units, rather than civilians or civil servants, were doing all the organisation the day ran on time and like clockwork. It was a pleasure to attend and well worth the long drag from Devon to North Yorkshire at short notice.
On our part, the 1XX ELF Expo was mostly a highly informative fact-finding exercise which allowed us to listen to how the Division is attempting to adapt to a fast-changing environment and put itself ahead of the curve for future Operations as well as to see some innovative kit which may well enter service in the not too distant future. Unlike at the several defence expos we have attended since the start of September, much of the kit on show was COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) and ready for fast procurement if needed, rather than futuristic and sometimes very expensive systems which can often take years to trickle down to the guys with boots on the ground, so on this score alone the event was well worth the visit.