Introduction to the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom
Consisting of the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force, the United Kingdom's armed services represent one of the premier military forces in the world. With close to 400,000 active and reserve members, Her Majesty's Armed Forces measure as the 25th largest military body. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the British monarch, currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, while the British Prime Minister maintains de facto authority.
The Ministry of Defense was formed in 1964 to oversee the administration of Britain's armed forces. The British military exhibits massive defense expenditures rivaled only by the United States. The primary focus of British military operations lies in its enforcement of its foreign and domestic national security and also Britain's active participation in NATO and coalition operations.
The history of Britain's armed forces is almost parallel in color to that of Britain itself. From the Napoleonic Wars, both World Wars, to its more recent military efforts in the Middle East, the British Military has proven to be a force worth reckoning. Many of the developments made in warfare over the last two centuries have been due to the ingenuity of the United Kingdom and its progression of engagement strategy and technological advances in weaponry. One can be sure that it is due to its fighting spirit and ability to adapt to change that has allowed the United Kingdom to survive the test of time.
Britain's oldest service is its Royal Navy, which from the 18th until the 20th century, was undoubtedly the largest and most powerful naval force in the world. The Royal Navy is still the second largest naval member of NATO and continues to project naval strength around the globe. Another vital division of the Royal Navy is the Royal Marines. The Royal Marines, or "bootnecks", are an amphibious, infantry force, capable of rapid deployment.
The land based armed force of the Ministry of Defense is the British Army. The British Army came in to formation when the forces of England and Scotland merged together with the unification of the United Kingdom in 1707. With a force of over a hundred thousand active and reserve members, the British Army is a major contributor to expeditionary and United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.
Royal Air Force
Founded in 1918, the Royal Air Force is the youngest of Britain's armed forces. The Royal Air Force maintains an arsenal of over a thousand planes and more than 40,000 personnel. These planes and personnel are distributed between the United Kingdom, several foreign bases, and the UK's numerous operations throughout the world. Founded during the First World War, the Royal Air Force mad it's mark in World War II, and continues to play an active in vital role in carrying out the objectives of the Ministry of Defense.