10% of exercises cancelled to save money

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
More than 10% of the training exercises scheduled for Britain's armed forces were cancelled last year, mainly to save money or because the troops involved were already serving on the frontline in Afghanistan or Iraq, The Herald can reveal.

Ministry of Defence figures also show that the cancellation rate has increased since 2006, despite official denials that the services are increasingly overstretched.

A total of 76 "training events" were either scrapped or UK contingents due to take part were withdrawn in 2007 out of the 727 national and multi-national exercises on the defence planning schedule. That amounts to 10.5%.

In 2005, 79 of 379 exercises - 20% - were abandoned. In 2006, 58 out of 533 were scrapped, amounting to more than 9% of the total.

Nick Harvey, the LibDem defence spokesman, yesterday accused the MoD and the government of neglecting the long-term effectiveness of the forces by pursuing policies which sacrificed vital training needs in the interests of expediency and cost-savings.

"Operational commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan are clearly having a big impact on our forces' ability to conduct military exercises. If these exercises are abandoned then we are in danger of undermining our wider operational capabilities," he said.

"It is further proof that our armed forces are critically overstretched and suffering from the demands made by fighting in two countries.

"The government must set a timetable for a full withdrawal of troops from Iraq and establish a new Strategic Defence Review to resolve the critical problems caused by overstretch."

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, said last year that, because of the focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, insufficient time and resources were being devoted to training.

A spokesman for the MoD said all troops were given specific "deployment training" before serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and there was no question of compromising that training.

He added: "Cancellations do not include training that is necessary for personnel to perform effectively on operations. It is our responsibility to deliver the requisite amount of training.

"While we are facing high operational tempo, we ensure that everyone deployed is fully prepared."

Of the training events cancelled last year, 29 were removed as "savings measures", another 18 for operational commitment reasons, and 20 for "changed priorities".

Seven due to take place abroad were cancelled by host nations.

A total of 33 air exercises were among those abandoned. It costs £33,000 an hour to crew, fly and maintain a Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, £30,000 for a Nimrod surveillance jet, £46,000 for Apache helicopter gunships and £24,000 for Chinook transports.

On the MoD's own figures, 12% of the army is on active operations and another 7% on "other military tasks", while 4% of the Royal Navy and 7% of the RAF are engaged on support operations.

As of this week, there were 13,280 service personnel deployed overseas, including 7000 in Afghanistan and 4200 in Iraq.

A similar number are recovering from operational tasks and another 13,000 preparing to go as replacements for those already there.
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/new...ng_exercises_were_cancelled_to_save_money.php
 
#3
"Operational commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan are clearly having a big impact on our forces' ability to conduct military exercises. If these exercises are abandoned then we are in danger of undermining our wider operational capabilities," he said.
Unbelievable, :? complaining about not being able to go on exercise due to being on Ops! Is it me or am I missing something here? :D
 

untallguy

Old-Salt
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#5
TheBigUn said:
"Operational commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan are clearly having a big impact on our forces' ability to conduct military exercises. If these exercises are abandoned then we are in danger of undermining our wider operational capabilities," he said.
Unbelievable, :? complaining about not being able to go on exercise due to being on Ops! Is it me or am I missing something here? :D
According to the article, one of the reasons for cancellation is lack of money: the drive here being that the Forces are not being financed properly.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, said last year that, because of the focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, insufficient time and resources were being devoted to training.
If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
 
#6
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
[/quote]
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.
 
#7
TheBigUn said:
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.[/quote]

War fighting skills against an armoured enemy is never an out dated skill, that's akin to declaring after WWI that the Tank was a one off and the British Army would never need to train in fighting with and against armour, which is pretty much what the Army did for 20 years. Result, the British army got it's head handed to it on a plate for nearly 3 years...Stop being such a bean counter and read some History
 
#8
TheBigUn said:
Unbelievable, :? complaining about not being able to go on exercise due to being on Ops! Is it me or am I missing something here? :D
When was the last op you got to practice everything until you got it right. Most of my tour time I spent stagging on or standing around bored off my tits, and when things did get exciting, you were far too busy to look around you and see what lessons to learn.

Besides, on ex you get to go bang without anyone going bang back. Much more fun.
 
#9
Kitmarlowe said:
TheBigUn said:
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.
War fighting skills against an armoured enemy is never an out dated skill, that's akin to declaring after WWI that the Tank was a one off and the British Army would never need to train in fighting with and against armour, which is pretty much what the Army did for 20 years. Result, the British army got it's head handed to it on a plate for nearly 3 years...Stop being such a bean counter and read some History[/quote]

I agree, however, we are likely to be conducting Ops in Afgh and Iraq for quite some time so i don't think there is a great need to conduct in depth Armoured Warfare training inbetween tours.
It depends on specific roles I suppose. After 2 Iraq and 2 Afgh tours I don't see the point of training for a scenario that probably isn't going to occur in the next 10-20 years or longer.
That training time could be better spent on improving skills for current Ops.
 

untallguy

Old-Salt
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#10
TheBigUn said:
Kitmarlowe said:
TheBigUn said:
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.
War fighting skills against an armoured enemy is never an out dated skill, that's akin to declaring after WWI that the Tank was a one off and the British Army would never need to train in fighting with and against armour, which is pretty much what the Army did for 20 years. Result, the British army got it's head handed to it on a plate for nearly 3 years...Stop being such a bean counter and read some History
I agree, however, we are likely to be conducting Ops in Afgh and Iraq for quite some time so i don't think there is a great need to conduct in depth Armoured Warfare training inbetween tours.
It depends on specific roles I suppose. After 2 Iraq and 2 Afgh tours I don't see the point of training for a scenario that probably isn't going to occur in the next 10-20 years or longer.
That training time could be better spent on improving skills for current Ops.[/quote]

A fair point but if we don't retain the skills now, they will be gone in 10-20 years time. Kitmarlowe made the point above about post-WW1 - strangely enough, we were on ops in Afghan and Iraq then, neglected our heavy skills and got a good kicking 20 years down the line.

It's the same as saying in 1989 "OK, lads, Cold War's over, ditch the armour and practice COIN in the UK environment as Ireland is the only ongoing tour." If we'd done that (and many armies did something similar), we couldn't have deployed with an effective force on GRANBY, Warrior may have been replaced by something lighter (doctrine drives equipment purchase!), we'd have been less effective in the Balkans etc etc.

In short, we need to keep a balanced force because one day we will have to ramp up to do the heavy armour thing and then drop back down to a lower level.
 
#12
I just hope that if they are cancelling exercises, they are cancelling the right ones.

Personally I'm a lot more worried to hear speculation about curtailment of basic training than some of the more esoteric or specialised stuff.

If you have to train soldiers to use new tactics or specialised weapons, it's much much easier if they are already thoroughly competent and confident with the basics - and have the right attitude and level of fitness.

My concern is that you can easily delude yourself about true capability by adopting the wrong priorities. By showing thousands how to use in pitch dark the M-this or the L-that, in truth you may be producing narrowly specialised men, not generally capable soldiers. Put another way: it is much easier to produce competent specialists from good soldiers than it is to turn trained equipment handlers into sound fighting men.

So I do hope that we are not scrimping on or sacrificing the basics. (Yes, even bullsh1t drill.)

But if the rumours about sending troops out with halved training were true ... well, has anyone here ever overestimated the stupidity of politicians and bean-counters? Do tell, it would have to be a cracking good story ...
 
#13
TheBigUn said:
Kitmarlowe said:
TheBigUn said:
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.
War fighting skills against an armoured enemy is never an out dated skill, that's akin to declaring after WWI that the Tank was a one off and the British Army would never need to train in fighting with and against armour, which is pretty much what the Army did for 20 years. Result, the British army got it's head handed to it on a plate for nearly 3 years...Stop being such a bean counter and read some History
I agree, however, we are likely to be conducting Ops in Afgh and Iraq for quite some time so i don't think there is a great need to conduct in depth Armoured Warfare training inbetween tours.
It depends on specific roles I suppose. After 2 Iraq and 2 Afgh tours I don't see the point of training for a scenario that probably isn't going to occur in the next 10-20 years or longer.That training time could be better spent on improving skills for current Ops.[/quote]

Really? I bet nobody expected in 1989 to have to deploy a weak Divison to the Midle East 2 years later. I bet nobody in 1991 expected to spend 3 out of 7 years in exactly the same place 10 years later....... Just because nobody can see a need now justifies scrapping a whole Training package.....That is once again akin the RN pulling out of AS warfare because nobody will ever blockade the UK by submarine, or the RAF not bothered with UK AD because nobody will ever bomb the UK by air with manned A/C ever again........
 
#14
TheBigUn said:
The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.
I agree to some extent that day to day training should reflect they type of conflicts we're likely to be involved in.

Having said that, my opinion is that 'green' exercises are what set us apart from so many other armies. It's hard, character building work for one thing, and it takes a great deal of discipline, robustness and mental strength.
 
#15
TheBigUn said:
Kitmarlowe said:
TheBigUn said:
[quote="untallguy

If I remember rightly, CGS made the point a while back that if we don't train for a war rather than the war, we'll be really good at fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but lose our flexibility and our ability to fight in other environments.
I don't buy that for a minute. The old, we are losing our "green" fighting skills (insert cold war doctrine here) etc etc is (IMHO) a dated arguement.

If the need arises in the future we adapt to the relevant environment and get on with it. (We wont be given enough notice by the government to enable us to train anyway)

Coming back from Ops and on your next Ex doing an advance to contact on Salisbury Plain isn't the way forward I don't think. But, as usual I'm no doubt going to be told otherwise by armchair soldiers.

The whole issue of training needs grabbing by it's ankles and shaking vigourously. It's dated and it's time for a change. The operational experience in the army nowadays far far outweighs the exercise experience and that experience needs to be put to good use and not stifled by cold war doctrine.
War fighting skills against an armoured enemy is never an out dated skill, that's akin to declaring after WWI that the Tank was a one off and the British Army would never need to train in fighting with and against armour, which is pretty much what the Army did for 20 years. Result, the British army got it's head handed to it on a plate for nearly 3 years...Stop being such a bean counter and read some History
I agree, however, we are likely to be conducting Ops in Afgh and Iraq for quite some time so i don't think there is a great need to conduct in depth Armoured Warfare training inbetween tours.
It depends on specific roles I suppose. After 2 Iraq and 2 Afgh tours I don't see the point of training for a scenario that probably isn't going to occur in the next 10-20 years or longer.
That training time could be better spent on improving skills for current Ops.[/quote]

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. As has been said we never get enough notice to train for new theatres. So the best way to stay on top of your game is to train for as many theatres as you can.

If we put all our eggs into one basket in training purely for Afghan then the Serbs drove Tanks into Kosovo we'd be caught off guard. Or if Norway was invaded by Penguins.

Train Hard Fight easy!

We need to maintain Armoured warfare skills.
We need to maintain CBRN warfare skills
We need to maintain our COIN skills
We need to maintain our Artic/jungle/temperate skills

Because we may be expected to use them at short notice.

Lads who went on Exercise in Jordan, Cyprus, other hot places before Telic kicked off benefitted from lessons learnt.


Next you'll be shouting "Peace in our time" just before the Russians rock up in Berlin in T80's!
 

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