Friday, 30 November 2007

UNIT Organisation

UNIT has always been one of my favourite aspects of Doctor Who (the Brigadier is my favourite character from the whole 40 years of the show). However, I always felt that (due to budgetary restraints, no doubt) the UNIT team we saw in the show was a little too Dad’s Army! Given that a Brigadier was in command, there were far too few personnel – he only had a Captain and a Sergeant as his support staff!! Where was his Aide-de-camp, or his senior Warrant Officers?
At times the chain of command seemed to have completely gone to pot – ‘The Daemons’ springs to mind, where Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton shared a plate of corned beef sandwiches in some sort of dormitory. Officers and NCOs do not mix like this in social settings! There is an Officer’s Mess and a Sergeant’s Mess and each cannot go into the others!
However, the UNIT ‘cosiness’ was endearing, to a certain extent! I just wish they could have afforded more than 5 troops! To a degree ‘Battlefield’ displayed a much better military organisation (but again, where was Bambera’s support staff? At least they were not shown in their HQ so at least there was a feasible reason for there not to be all the necessary staff). I loved ‘The Christmas Invasion’ for actually made UNIT feel like a proper military formation!
Rant over – don’t be mistaken, despite these shortcomings I always thought that UNIT was great!!!

Since I am the sort of person who likes detail when writing scripts or creating comics (each character has to have a name and a history), I have put together a rough organisation chart for the British Contingent of UNIT. It seems quite large compared to what we’ve seen on the TV, but since a Brigadier is in command, it has to be this size. If it was any smaller a more junior officer would be in charge (I once saw it written somewhere on the Internet that the British Contingent of UNIT was only 1 battalion in size. If so, Lethbridge-Stewart would have been a Lieutenant Colonel not a Brigadier).
Also, I must stress that this is the organisation of the British Contingent of UNIT based on the organisation of the British Army – other UNIT contingents in other countries would doubtless have a different organisation structure based on the organisation of their host countries’ army.

We know from the Doctor Who TV series that a Brigadier commands the British Contingent of UNIT, so it must be comprised of a brigade of troops.
However, a British brigade can be anywhere from 2 to 5 battalions in size (a standard NATO brigade consists of about 4,000-5,000 troops).
Usually a brigade is a sub-component of a division (a larger unit consisting of two or more brigades, commanded by a Major General); however, some brigades are classified as a separate brigade and operate independently from the traditional division structure. Given the nature of UNIT, it is logical to assume that the UNIT brigade is probably one of these independent formations.

For the purposes of my films the British brigade of UNIT consists of about 4,500 troops, made up of 2 infantry battalions and an Intelligence battalion, plus other logistic units (including, I imagine, some sort of PR unit since they need to put out cover-stories to explain to the public about all the alien incursions!).
One of the infantry battalions is based in the South of England – largely at their main HQ (the Stately Home in Newbury), but they also have troops based in London (including their HQ in the Tower of London).
The other infantry battalion would be based in the North of England / Scotland.
The Intelligence battalion (which is known as the Special Operations Branch) is the battalion in which Elworthy serves. They are based in Sandford Castle (a fictional castle that I invented and is located somewhere in Staffordshire – a centralised location in the UK).

Each battalion is comprised of about 500-1,000 troops, is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel and is made up of 2 to 6 companies (usually a Headquarters Company, Support Company, A Company, B Company and C Company).
The HQ Company contains signals, quartermaster, catering, intelligence, administration, pay, training, operations and medical elements. The Support Company usually contains anti-tank, machine gun, mortar, pioneer and reconnaissance platoons.

Each Company is formed of about 3 to 5 platoons, and comprises about 75-200 soldiers. Each company is commanded by a Major (the Officer Commanding) with a Captain or senior Lieutenant as his Second-in-Command. Each company also has a Company Sergeant Major (who will be a soldier with the rank of Warrant Officer 2).

A platoon is composed of 2 to 4 sections and contains 30-50 soldiers. The Platoon Commander is a Lieutenant, assisted by the Platoon Sergeant, who is actually a Sergeant.

Each section within the platoon consists of 8 soldiers, with a Corporal as section commander, a Lance Corporal as his second-in-command, and 6 Privates.
In conventional warfare, the section can be split into two 4-man fireteams (“Charlie” and “Delta”), commanded by the Corporal and Lance Corporal respectively.

Since Elworthy works for the Special Operations Branch I have gone into a little more detail about that particular battalion.

Below are some of the important figures in the battalion:

Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Beckett
Second-in-Command: Major Wolfe
Adjutant: Captain Villiers
Quartermaster: Major Williams
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant: Warrant Officer 2 MacDuff
Regimental Sergeant Major: Warrant Officer 1 Squires
Regimental Medical Officer: Major Stephanie Broadchest (Royal Army Medical Corps)

When I started the Elworthy Comic, David Elworthy was given a UNIT undercover ‘secret agent’ role like James Bond. He was simply referred to as a Field Agent. Fitting him into the UNIT organisation came a little later on.
In a throwaway line that I wrote in one of the film screenplays, I stated that he was a Platoon Commander, as well as an Undercover Field Agent. But, as stated above, a Platoon Commander is usually a Lieutenant (which Elworthy was when he joined UNIT, but is now a Captain). However, specialist platoons can indeed be led by a Captain, and since Elworthy is a secret agent, surely his platoon is specialist – so problem solved! But not quite!!
When a platoon is led by a Captain, he is assisted by a Warrant Officer or Staff Sergeant. Elworthy’s second-in-command, John Edwards, is only a Sergeant! This would be fine if Elworthy were a Lieutenant, but he should really be, at least, a Staff Sergeant for the series to be accurate! I have already filmed some scenes with Sergeant Edwards in for Episode 3, which means in Episode 1 he will also have to be a Sergeant, but perhaps I will promote him for any scenes he may appear in in the later episodes!
The only other thing I could do is change the line, and just make Elworthy Second-in-Command of a Company.

And on a final note with regard to the UNIT organisation, I assume that the Brigadier has 3 people to report to: Someone in the United Nations (perhaps even the Secretary General himself), a liaison in the British Government (Department C19), and a liaison within the British Armed Forces (most probably a Major General).

So that concludes my lecture on the UNIT organisational structure! I really didn’t mean to go on for quite so long!! For those of you who made it through the whole thing – thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So where does sunny Portsmouth fit into this..I know..Torchwood Four didn't dissappear, it's actually the Spinnaker Tower, it took so long ot build, they just forgot Torchwood was underneath.