The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote Britain's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.
Since the formation of a Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 (later succeeded by the United Kingdom), the armed forces have seen action in a number of major wars involving the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the First World War, and the Second World War. Repeatedly emerging victorious from conflicts has allowed Britain to establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers.
Today, the British Armed Forces consist of: the Royal Navy, a blue-water navy with a fleet of 75 commissioned ships, together with the Royal Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the British Army, the UK's principal land warfare branch; and the Royal Air Force, a technologically sophisticated air force with a diverse operational fleet consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. The British Armed Forces include standing forces, Regular Reserve, Volunteer Reserves and Sponsored Reserves.
Its Commander-in-chief is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance. Long-standing constitutional convention, however, has vested de facto executive authority, by the exercise of Royal Prerogative, in the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence. The Prime Minister (acting with the Cabinet) makes the key decisions on the use of the armed forces. The Queen however, remains the supreme authority of the military. The UK Parliament approves the continued existence of the British Army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years, as required by the Bill of Rights 1689. The Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines among with all other forces do not require this act. The armed forces are managed by the Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence, headed by the Secretary of State for Defence.
The United Kingdom is one of five recognised nuclear powers, is a permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, is a founding and leading member of the NATO military alliance, and is party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained at Ascension Island, Bahrain, Belize, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Kenya, Montserrat, Nepal, Qatar, Singapore and the United States.
Service Branches: Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force.
Commander in chief : Queen Elizabeth II.
Size: 150,000 Active Personnel, 83,000 Reserve Personnel.
Deployed Personnel: 11,000