Ability of the British Army to fight wars in the future.

Discussion in 'Seniors' started by Praetor, Feb 26, 2013.

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  1. I have a general question and I apologise if I've posted in the wrong forum. I have a presentation to do in a cople of days, and I'd like to canvas some of the regulars here on the forum for some informed opinions.

    I'm looking for peoples opinions on this - Do you think, in the future, Britain would be able to fight a war on it's own?

    Would we have public support?
    Would conscription ever be an option/necessity?
  2. Based on opinion:
    Public Support- Yes and No. Why? Because the UK has always been divided when we go to war. As we grow and become more diverse, I feel that going to war will become even more frowned upon. In years to come, our forces will be so low in numbers, that we will be less offensive (Falklands at risk) in our capability. Relying on other country's to provide the killer punch in any conflict we are caught up in. Providing they sympathise and can AFFORD it....votes! Next elections!
    Not required because we get enough Volunteers to fill the Army. Wembley Stadium can house our entire Army. So no need for pressed men. Debate over. Crazy.
    My opinion....
  3. In future we won't have our own Army, it will be part of the EU Defence Force.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Depends upon who we're engaging. Russia/America no, Isle of Wight yes.
  5. Public Support: Thats a very variable thing, if its another US Inspired intervention (say Iran) then almost certainly not, if the public percieved it as a war where the UK should be directly involved in then I think yes, of course that also depends on how well number 10 "sells it" - I would give the example of the Falklands which provoked an unimaginable level of support for a place 90% of the population had never heard off!

    Capability: We are changing from an army structured for Armoured Warfare against the Soviet Hordes towards a much lighter and smaller force equipped much more for low intensity warfare, so again the type of war would largely determine our ability to contribute effectively

    What is more worrying is the logistical capabilty we have, we would be hard pressed to project significant force at a distance for any extended period of time without external support

    Would we fight a war on our own - if we had too yes, I am long past my days of service, but the guys I see going off to Afghan are of the same stuff that the Tom always has been, when it comes down to it, they can, do and will fight

    Conscription - The types of conflicts where a "mass army" is required are history now, the tempo of a full scale conventional war would be so high that both sides would be exhausted (logistically) quite rapidly and facing the option of escalation to nuclear (or threat of) or negotiating a cease fire. It would not be possible to conscript, equip and train in time for them to play an effective part in that sort of war. With the types of conflict we are seeing now "low intensity warfare" then there is no need for conscripts at all.
  6. Of course the other side may not know this.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Let's throw reality out the window for a moment and say we get involved in another Vietnam-esque campaign where conscription is necessary.

    Can anyone honestly see it being accepted by our skinny jeans wearing next generation?

    Barring a situation where The Chinese fleet are enroute to Southampton via Cyprus and Gibraltar I don't think we'll ever have conscription again.

    The public/politicians alike would sooner stay out of it. I know it sounds like an old codger thing to say but I really don't think we have the stomach for sending thousands to their deaths anymore. Probably quite rightly so.

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  8. The other factors in public support are:

    The effect of TV reporting of returning casualties eroding support away

    The effect of fighting a major war with the instant TV reporting available to journo's in theater (both embedded and more importantly independants)

    The effect of unofficial reporting via the internet (YouTube etc)

    The first two were factors in vietnam but the capabilities and the insatable demand for TV News and Footage has grown imensely since then
  9. Do we not have a history of only being prepared for the last war we fought? However, the British serviceman/woman has a better than average score for winning despite/whatever the crock of shite the myopic and self serving politicos of the day have served up.

    I think that the loss in military power that we as a nation should lament most of all is the that of large scale military support from the commonwealth nations such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. (Alphabetical order only no other reason!) How could we have possibly have prevailed in WWI or II without them. Please no US of A comments; I know, I know without you we'd all be speaking like Herr Flick.

    As to the EU Army mentioned in a prior post, great, smashing, super and many parts (particularly those from the Bundeswehr and many parts of the French Forces) would be excellent military partners but the wishy-washy politicos in Brussels would take so long to debate the issue that any conflict would be over long before the EU army got permission to leave barracks.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Troll/journo/low ability student?

    are you answering your own OPs with another ID to tickle up comments?
  11. Should have finished the last by mumbling my thoughts about public support. As things stand today the British public is so risk averse (constant diet of 'elf 'n safety) coupled with the legacy of the Blair (et al) WMD porkies. I think it would be unlikely that there would be a majority for any form of large scale military adventure anywhere in my lifetime. However, vis a vis conflict in general the majority of the British public is now at last able to differentiate between the gross stupidity of politicians in getting us into dodgy wars and the fact that soldiers are merely doing their duty.That, at least in my view, is a good thing.
  12. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    In order:-

    - Not from choice for a while. If we had to, we'd give it best effort.

    - Maybe, and the more serious it was (e.g. Falkland Islanders at risk of being offered one-way flights to the Rio Plata estuary) the more support you'd get. Also, split "support for this stupid pointless war" from "support for the brave men and women obeying the political morons" - one underappreciated success is that there's still a good level of support for the troops even if there's little enthusiasm for the cause. We aren't at the Vietnam level of returning soldiers being jeered / spat on / pelted with dogshit by mobs of rampaging hippies, which has become part of the US national history whether it ever happened or not.

    - Conscription? Not unless the Red Horde or Yellow Peril are storming ashore and we're building a new Home Guard (and by then the supply of mobilised reservists, the old, bold and retired and the keen if clueless volunteers is likely to grossly exceed the supply of firearms and ammunition)
  13. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer


    Warning of thread drift here, but a question arises in this day and age, where technology has become so sophisticated and complicated to produce, would it possible, in a prolonged conflict of severe proproportions, to revert to a command economy that would result in the spread of an industrial capability in the production of, and exceeding, the levels of technology that we posesses today, or would we see small, bespoke improvements, small scale, but effective -yet somewhat short term?
  14. Do you think, in the future, Britain would be able to fight a war on it's own?

    Yes. A small one. And if the enemy is technologically challenged, poorly funded and has no external support, we might win. That may not be a good thing, though, as we'd then have the responsibility to support the vanquished country. Better to make a token gesture and pull out, threatening "Behave yourself or we'll come back".

    Would we have public support?

    This is difficult to define. The Army recruits from the pool that is generally considered to be anti-establishment. Decision makers tend to be from a different generation, though, one that missed WW2 and was too old to be involved with Iraq/Afghanistan. Most seem to have been generally supportive of the actions in FI in 1982 but would maybe have a rethink if events repeated themselves. Perhaps if the theoretical conflict visibly had an impact on events in UK, there'd be support, otherwise any action would, at best, be tolerated if it wasn't too costly.

    Would conscription ever be an option/necessity?

    I wouldn't rule it out. While other posters look at WW2 and say that we'd never be involved in something of similar scale or look at Iraq/Afghanistan and say that it's a relatively small war, I have a view that conscription would be dependent on the balance of necessity to continue the conflict and the attrition rate. Afghanistan has been going on for about 12 years but thankfully there has been a low casualty rate. Had it been much higher, it's likely that the TA would have been mobilised in greater numbers. Mobilising the TA is fine for a few years but when employers start to see a trend of their employees being repeatedly mobilised, they'll bleat. And the argument will come up that it would be better for the economy to conscript the unemployed rather than deplete the national workforce. So there will be some circumstances where conscription could be considered - a high attrition action where political doctrine dictates continuance of the action over an indefinite period. Draw parallels to Vietnam if you like.

    That's answered your questions but you didn't ask how likely it would be that Britain would be involved in such actions as to warrant the sending of an expeditionary force. It only takes a government to say that the operation would be too costly, either in terms of cash, morality or votes, for the whole thing to stop and we limit ourselves to defending our island shore.