Afghanistan likened to WWI and WWII

#2
I believe he is correct.

Apart from the 8th (Desert Rats) and the 14th (The Forgotten) Armies, the rest and vast majority of the British Army was only engaged from D Day to VE Day – about 10 months.

During that time combat rotation was the same as WW1 – one week in the front line, 1 week in support and 1 week in reserve. So, during the 10 month campaign the average time spent in the front line was 14 weeks.

I understand that is rather less than is currently the case in Afghanistan.
 
#3
Balleh said:
I believe he is correct.

Apart from the 8th (Desert Rats) and the 14th (The Forgotten) Armies, the rest and vast majority of the British Army was only engaged from D Day to VE Day – about 10 months.

During that time combat rotation was the same as WW1 – one week in the front line, 1 week in support and 1 week in reserve. So, during the 10 month campaign the average time spent in the front line was 14 weeks.

I understand that is rather less than is currently the case in Afghanistan.
My father would disagree with some of that; he fought his way north through Italy, describing it as a long and brutal slog before D Day.

Litotes
 
#4
http://www.legion-magazine.co.uk/news/defence/afghanistan-just-as-tough-as-wwii-for-troops/

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has risked offending veterans of previous conflicts. In controversial comments he said that: 'Unless you came all the way up with the Eighth Army from El Alamein and through Italy, you didn¹t do much more than lads are having to do now'.

He said: 'People shouldn¹t be any doubt about it. What our guys are doing in Helmand now, and were doing in Iraq before, is as hard as anything that the British Army has faced in its history.

'We were in a battle for national survival during WWII and there were a lot more people involved. But if they do six months hard fighting in Helmand and then they go back for another year of hard fighting, it stands up to what previous generations have had to do before.

The minister also stressed that decision-making and responsibility extend much more widely through the ranks now. ³Somebody at the lowest level, a private or a corporal can do something, for good or bad; and it can reverberate around the world. These decisions are not all in the hands of generals and colonels any more.

'One of the things that¹s enormously impressive is the degree of decision-making capability that there is right down at the low end. A 20- or 22-year-old corporal has a huge amount of responsibility for their age. I¹m always flabbergasted by it.'
Surely he is just suggesting support for the troops out there now, I don't think he is purposely trying to upset any of the older generation that fought in WW11
 
#5
Litotes said:
Balleh said:
I believe he is correct.

Apart from the 8th (Desert Rats) and the 14th (The Forgotten) Armies, the rest and vast majority of the British Army was only engaged from D Day to VE Day – about 10 months.

During that time combat rotation was the same as WW1 – one week in the front line, 1 week in support and 1 week in reserve. So, during the 10 month campaign the average time spent in the front line was 14 weeks.

I understand that is rather less than is currently the case in Afghanistan.
My father would disagree with some of that; he fought his way north through Italy, describing it as a long and brutal slog before D Day.

Litotes
Sorry if I did not make myself clear.

The 8th fought all the way up Italy having fought in North Africa. I can't remember the duration but it was well more than 10 months. So their time in the front line was very much more than the UK based Army which fought only in N Europe.

They and the 14th were the exception to the experiences of the vast majority of the British Army.
 
#6
Spank-it said:
http://www.legion-magazine.co.uk/news/defence/afghanistan-just-as-tough-as-wwii-for-troops/

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has risked offending veterans of previous conflicts. In controversial comments he said that: 'Unless you came all the way up with the Eighth Army from El Alamein and through Italy, you didn¹t do much more than lads are having to do now'.

He said: 'People shouldn¹t be any doubt about it. What our guys are doing in Helmand now, and were doing in Iraq before, is as hard as anything that the British Army has faced in its history.

'We were in a battle for national survival during WWII and there were a lot more people involved. But if they do six months hard fighting in Helmand and then they go back for another year of hard fighting, it stands up to what previous generations have had to do before.

The minister also stressed that decision-making and responsibility extend much more widely through the ranks now. ³Somebody at the lowest level, a private or a corporal can do something, for good or bad; and it can reverberate around the world. These decisions are not all in the hands of generals and colonels any more.

'One of the things that¹s enormously impressive is the degree of decision-making capability that there is right down at the low end. A 20- or 22-year-old corporal has a huge amount of responsibility for their age. I¹m always flabbergasted by it.'
Surely he is just suggesting support for the troops out there now, I don't think he is purposely trying to upset any of the older generation that fought in WW11
I do not for one moment believe he is setting out to diminish the older generation who fought in WWs 1 and 2.

I think he is drawing attention to the fact that currently the British Army is actually experiencing a far greater burden than its forefathers and they had it bad enough.
 
#7
Personally, I think he is taking the piss, the second WW was a totally different ball game to AFG.

How can he make such comments, having never served in either conflict?

Regardless of which theatre served in during WWI or WWII, none compare to AFG, in so many ways its untrue.

When I say compare, I dont mean AFG is worse, nor better than either previous campaign.
But WWI and WWII were toally different situations, and totally different manners of warfare to be compared to modern day conflicts.

This is a complete insult to all those who fought/died or survived all three theatres, and should be ignored on that basis alone.
Apart from the fact he is a cnut, for trying to make a story out of it.

Why do we still give print space or news time to cockends who know fook all?
 
#8
Hmmm.. 4th(Border) and 5th Bns of the KOSB after disembarking from France with 52nd Lowland Division in 1940 remained in the UK training first as Mountain troops then Airborne (Gliders) they had to wait until September of 1944 before being launched into a seaborne assault on Walcheren in Holland - below sea level!
Peter White in his book "With The Jocks" describes his own (4th) Bn's journey from the day they landed until Germany surrendered - approximately 7 months - during which time his platoon took 100% casualties. And they were not unique.
Our service personnel undoubtedly face grave danger daily in Afghanistan and do so with great courage though comparing the campaign in Afghanistan to WW2 (let alone WW1) or even the Korean conflict is not quite accurate.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
WWI: The misery of life in the trenches, with full-scale battles against an entrenched enemy with massive artillery support etc.
WWII; Mobile warfare and major battles against a highly skilled enemy using air, artillery and armour as well as infantry.
Korea: Battles of annihilation against an enemy of predominantly light infantry (though later in the war they got heavy artillery) who favoured night-time, mass attack.
Afghan: Enemy is small numbers of light infantry who lack the resources to over-run or annihilate allied units, but who are skilled at low-level warfare and who can maintain a constant rate of attrition.

I think the interminable small-scale skirmishes, firefights and IEDs, and a constant trickle of casualties in Afghan may cause a greater psychological strain than the more occassional "big shows" of WWI, WWII and Korea, but looking at the big picture, the enemy in Afghan is less formidable, and less capable of causing mass casualties.
 
#10
I doubt the OLD and bold from previous wars would have any reason to hold the current generation of Her Majesty's Armed Forces with anything then other then admiration.
They are doing a magnificent job on the ground only let down by their Political Masters who just waffle their old load of Political twaddle.
Dear Tone said words to the effect, The The troops will get what they need.
How many years ago was that and what does Tom risking life and limb on the front line have now ?
The all important Helicopters so vital to provide swift, effective movement of Troops and stores.
The Armored wheeled wagons with their Vee shaped hulls developed so many years ago to ward off the worst effects of landmines.
No these will come , sometime perhaps maybe and perhaps the crabs will get the vital Modern Trash haulers that are needed for this land locked campaign.
john
Someone else can speak on the treatment of injured Vets back Home.
 
#11
jonwilly said:
I doubt the OLD and bold from previous wars would have any reason to hold the current generation of Her Majesty's Armed Forces with anything then other then admiration.
They are doing a magnificent job on the ground only let down by their Political Masters who just waffle their old load of Political twaddle.
Someone else can speak on the treatment of injured Vets back Home.
Well said Jonwilly, lets not get into a urine contest on behalf of the old and bold who as Jon suggests have no reason to do other than hold the current generation of servicemen and women in the highest regard.

Isn't there a danger here that we set the hare running on a PC type issue where we all get upset on behalf of a 3rd party who havent even made a complaint, but because we think that they might.

As for why the Minister made his remarks, thats for him and his conscience. Why dont we just assume he meant to pay our Armed Forces a compliment and leave it that.
 
#12
A few more helicopters wouldn't go amiss, but the rest of the kit is pretty good. I went most places on Shanks's pony, but the Vikings we occasionally got lifts in were ok.

V shaped hulls and wheel arches well away from troop carrying compartments are not new inventions, but they do massively degrade the vehicle's offroad capability. Most mines and IEDs are found on well worn routes.

As for the injured, medical care in Afghanistan is outstanding. There are a number of multiple amputees in Headley Court (another first rate facility - as is Selly Oaks) who surgeons tell us would not have survived their injuries even just a couple of years ago. The response times of the medical immediate response teams and the abilities of the CMTs and RMAs (two of whom with 40Cdo were doing back to back tours in order to pay their way through medical school) were all held in the very highest regard by the troops on the gound.

A bit off thread, but I just wanted to let folk know that it isn't all doom and gloom. I for one felt a tremendous sense of support, purpose, gratification and achievement during and after my tour that I doubt anything else in my military career will ever come close to replicating.

I'd go back tomorrow.
 
#13
Rodgerout
on the subject of PC

" The following is the winning entry in an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term: This year's term was Political Correctness.

The winner wrote:

"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end"

R. J. Wiedemann LtCol. USMC Ret.


john
 
#14
brummieboy1 said:
Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth reported in the Royal British Legion news letter.

http://www.legion-magazine.co.uk/news/defence/afghanistan-just-as-tough-as-wwii-for-troops/

edited for rubbish spelling.
In all honesty grim as it is out there it doesnt begin to compare to the horrors of the industrial mass slaughter seen in many sectors of the western front, you just cannot compare the two and to do so is a injustice to both todays soldier and his forebears
 
#15
Busterdog said:
Hmmm.. 4th(Border) and 5th Bns of the KOSB after disembarking from France with 52nd Lowland Division in 1940 remained in the UK training first as Mountain troops then Airborne (Gliders) they had to wait until September of 1944 before being launched into a seaborne assault on Walcheren in Holland - below sea level!
Not to mention the 7th (Galloway) Battalion KOSB, most of whom spent only ten days on operations over the course of the war.

At Arnhem.

A battalion went in, 4+72 came out.
 
#16
I'm worried to think that HM Armed Forces Minister was ignorant enough to think such a thing. And stupid enough to print it.
 
#17
Typical Labour idiot, what military service has this clown ever done yet he chops off at will making stupid ill-informed comments.

I am an ex-infantryman who fought in Afghanistan and yes, we had bayonets fixed, yes we engaged the enemy at very, very close range, yes we was close enough to hear them talking, yes we took casualties and at times were in very dodgy predicaments, ie surrounded.

But on the same level as the Somme? Walking towards a heavily industrialised army of hundreds of thousands of German troops kicking a football? Or the Gloucesters at Imjin River? I don't think it was quite on the same scale. And if I don't, I don't see why this Ainsworth muppet should.

It makes me laugh when they say the "fiercest fighting since WW2". Yes it is fierce but what about the Falklands? I've walked up Tumbledown and to advance up that open-arrsed hill against Argentinian Marines who had been digging in for months, that is fcuking fierce. All while someone is playing a bagpipe to let them know you're coming!
 
#18
I'm inclined to agree with Auxie. As bad as Afghanistan is, it doesn't hold a candle to the horror of life in the Trenches in WWI, to take just the earlier of the two examples.

I do not, for one second, diminish the sacrifice British Soldiers have made in Afghanistan. However, these losses pale when compared to one single offensive in WWI, losing thousands of soldiers in an incredibly short period of time. There are many examples of this I'm sure readers of this forum will be well aquainted with.

Similarly, we have the option of withdrawing from Afghanistan with the survival of the country unquestioned. Political complications would ensue, of course, but the future of the UK as a sovereign state is assured. Soldiers in WWI did not have such a luxury, bringing about a sense of stalemate and forced attrition unseen since.

WWI and WWII were total wars, drawing on the support and backing of the entire nation's industrial output. Afghanistan is nothing like on that level.

Therefore, I'd like to put forward the conclusion that Mr Ainsworth is talking rubbish.
 
#19
Balleh said:
I think he is drawing attention to the fact that currently the British Army is actually experiencing a far greater burden than its forefathers and they had it bad enough.
So what is the esteemed Minister going to do about easing the burden - not more troops surely? :roll:
 
#20
I've only done Iraq to date so far so can't claim first hand knowledge of afghanistan. That said from all the tall tales from mates around the campfire then this seems like a pretty pointless comparison really. I think he is trying to compare the intensity of conflict and length of tours and so yes many of the troops engaged in NW Europe might have served less days on the 'front line' than today. I remember reading an interesting booklet on 1 Suffolks in Normandy. Very interesting as pretty much detailed all the engagements they went though with dated casualty list in the back. Some transitional days were relatively quiet, aside from mortar stonks and sniper activity, and other days they would lock horns with the germans and lose 30 guys in one day as they mixed it up against 21 Pz Div. So on the experience of just one of hundreds of btlns in NW Europe I'd have to say he is dribbling. Yes it is more intense than many guys experience of WW2 I'm sure as there were millions in uniform, and proportionally few at the sharp end.

Maybe you could argue that if its counterinsurgency that we are engaging in then its on balance more intensive than other British CI campaigns in Aden or Malaya or Borneo. Maybe you could also argue that the army has never had to do so much, with so few blokes. But it is still pretty much impossible to compare one with the other whichever angle you look at it and really isnt that helpful. At least the bottom line is he seems to be showing respect for what the guys are being asked to do, even if it is by underestimating the efforts it took the guys after D-Day to shift 60 divisions of heavily armed germans out of France...
 

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