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Y Lluoedd Arfog Gymreig - Welsh Armed Forces (Welsh History Post Glyndwr)

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Y Lluoedd Arfog Gymreig - YLAG

The YLAG (in English the Welsh Armed Forces or WAF) is the overarching title of the Welsh Military. Comprised of the Army (Senior Service), the Navy and the Air force. The position of the professional head of the Armed Forces is a rotational one between the three services, with the current head being the former Chief of the General Staff, Arglwydd Syr Ieuan ab Owain Yrgain.

The Joint Service Headquarters (and the Council Room for the Defence Council) is the Former Royal Palace of Caerfilli. The Palace was of course previously the Castle of Caerfilli and had seen numerous enlargements over the years and is presently the Home Barracks of the 1st Kings Infantry Guard Regiment (The Black Lions), which is the premier ceremonial Regiment of the Welsh Army (BFG). The Castle, converted into a Royal Palace by the Kings of Wales under the Morgannwg Dynasty made this an opulent place of residence, which has since undergone a practical renovation since 1821 when it was first made the Army Headquarters.

The Chiefs of Service

  The Naval Staff

The current chief of the Navy is Tywysog Llyngesydd Syr Gruffydd ap Aeron Powell (Prince Admiral Sir Gruffydd Powell). The customary title of the Head of the Navy is a Prince-Admiral rather than an Admiral of the Fleet as historically the longest serving Naval Chief was the Prince of Powys, hence the use of the Powys Coat of Arms and the title Prince-Admiral to the Nato Rank of OF-10.

Naval Headquarters is based in the main Naval Base at Pembroke (Penfro) where the main Naval Officers Training College is also based. Other naval bases include Fishguard, Bristol, and Conwy.

The General Staff

The current chief of the General Staff is Maeslywydd Syr Alun ap Gruffydd Cleddyf-Gof (Field Marshal Sir Alun Cleddydd-Gof). The Army follows the English rank system and therefore the Head of the Army is granted the rank of Field Marshal.

The Army Headquarters is based in Brecon at Corless Lines (which also houses the Command structure for Army Group South). The main Army Officer Training College is located in its historical base of Ludlow. The Main Army bases are in Holyhead, Caernarfon, Ludlow, Brecon, Pembroke (Naval Attachment), Llantwit Major (Air force Detachment), Welshpool and Winscombe.

The Air Staff

The current chief of the Air Staff is Llu Awyr Cadlywydd Syr Pedr Andreivich Lobanov-Rostovskii (Marshal of the Air force Sir Pedr Lobanov-Rostovskii). Sir Pedr is one of the descendants of the Russian emigres to Wales after the 1917 Russian Revolution. The Air force follows mainly the Continental rank system, with the addition of the word "air" to certain ranks to help differentiate between Army and Air force ranks.

The Air force HQ is based in Gorsaf Llu Awyr Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major Air Base) with Air force Officers being trained at the Army Officer Training College in Ludlow.

The main air force bases as at Llanilltud Fawr,
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Welsh Air Crew pose in front of a B24 at Llantwit Major Air Base

The Defence Council

The Parliamentary control of the Armed Forces is based around the Defence Council. Nominally the Head and Commander in Chief of the YLAG is His Majesty King Llewelyn III, at a political level however, the Chancellor through the Secretary of State for Defence have operational control of the Armed Forces through the Defence Council

Members of the Defence Council

  • Secretary of State for Defence - Syr Andreas ap Gwilym Pritchard of Abergaveny
  • Deputy Secretary of State for Defence - Ioan ap Rhys Durman
  • Chief of the Defence Staff - Arglwydd Syr Ieuan ab Owain Yrgain (Former Head of the Welsh Army)
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff - Cadfridog Is-Gapten (Llu Awyr) Syr Iwan ap Meurig Bowen
  • Chief of the Naval Staff - Tywysog Llyngesydd Syr Gruffydd ap Aeron Powell
  • Chief of the General Staff - Maeslywydd Syr Alun ap Gruffydd Cleddyf-Gof
  • Chief of the Air Staff - Llu Awyr Cadlywydd Syr Pedr Andreivich Lobanov-Rostovskii
  • Chief of Defence Procurement
  • Chief Scientific Advisor
  • The Permanent Undersecretary of State for Defence
  • The Defence Commissioner (Peoples Commissory Department

Below the Defence Council lies the governmental departments which run the day to day business of the Welsh Armed Forces.

These comprise of the following

Y Weinidogaeth Amddiffyn - Defence Ministry - Secretary of State for Defence This is the overarching department with overall control of the three branches of the Armed Forces. The Penteulu or Sec-Def (Secretary of State for Defence) is the head of this ministry.

Under the YWA lie the three sub-ministries which administer the three branches of the armed forces.

  • Swyddfa Rhyfel/Y Swyddfa Fyddin - The War Office or the Army Office.

Traditionally the government department was called the War Office but since 1945 it has generally been called the Army Office. The minister in charge is called the Ysgrifennydd y Fyddin/Secretary of the Army (Ysg-Fyd/Sec-Arm)

  • Y Swyddfa Morlys - The Admiralty Office.

This is the traditional department running the Navy, whilst the Prince-Admiral is the professional head of the Navy and therefore traditionally the senior officer at the Admiralty, in the modern age the head of this government department is the Ysgrifennydd y Llynges/Secretary of the Navy (Ysg-Llyn/Sec-Nav)

  • Y Weinyddiaeth Awyr - The Air Ministry.

This is the youngest of the Armed Forces ministries. The political office attached to this ministry is the Ysgrifennydd y Llu Awyr/Secretary of the Air Force (Ysg-Awyr/Sec-Air)

Defence Review 2011

On 01 Dec 2011 the YLAG and Defence Council published its recommendations for the Defence Budget. Cuts would be made across the board. The Navy, saw many cuts, with the loss of the carrier fleet being the most severe cut. The review also recommended the retirement of the Super Etendard fleet, a reduction in the number of new vessels to be purchased/built and closures of a number of coastal defence establishments.

The LFAG suffered badly. A reduction in manpower being the main hit. Two fighter units are to be disbanded, Nos 9 and 12 Squadrons stood down on 5 Dec 2011. The F16s and Mirages to be sold to Croatia and The Congo. Further purchases of Gripen fighters and new helicopters are also to be stopped.

The Army it would appear, have escaped major reductions in manpower and no Regiments lost. However, the proposed purchase of new Stryker and Ariete AFVs has been stopped as well as the replacement of aging utility vehicles. A number of Colonial bases have also been returned to their Sovereign countries control.

Operational cuts include the return to Wales of 500 troops from Afghanistan and a reduction of support to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

Welsh Military Operations Past and Present

Over the years since the Great War Wales have been involved in many operations worldwide. In 1950 they deployed to Korea in support of the UN, in 1967, controversially, to Vietnam, 1991 and 2003 to Iraq and finally in 2001 to Afghanistan.
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Currently the Welsh military have a number of operations and deployments ongoing. Units from all three services provide personnel and equipment.

Operation Celtic Unity - Ongoing Peacekeeping operation to Ireland - Infantry Battalion, Cavalry Battalion, Air Support Sqn, Communications Regt, Support Regt

Operation Glyndwr III - NATO Operations in Afghanistan - Infantry Battalion, Support Regt, Helicopter Sqn, Fighter and Strike aircraft. - Final withdrawal of Welsh forces in August 2014

Operation Pipecleaner - NATO No-Fly zone Libya - F16 Vipers, Hercules, Do 228

Operation Strongbow - NATO operations in Iraq and Syria - F16 Vipers - In support of Kurdish Peshmurga forces fighting the ISIL insurgents.

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