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Armour and A More Deployable Army

#1
Interesting to note that in Army circles that there has been much debate about a more deployable Army - light lean and lethal. More use of helicopters in asymetric warfare, deep fires et al et al.

And yet in the Iraq conflict it appears from  media reports . . . . .

- Heavy armour was essential in the leading elements for the clearing of major Iraqi towns. A major force multipier. (Do we have the right balance at present ? Is there a case now for more heavy rather than medium forces than was originally thought ?)

- Light forces (ie. on foot) could not be moved quickly around the battlefield safely and there was a shortage of sp hels to move them when they were really needed. (Light Bns - are there days numbered. If no tpt then useless ?)

- Parachute forces - not used in role again. (Do we really need to retain this ability I wonder ?)

- 16AA. Do they have enough protection, firepower and ground mobility once deployed ? Are we using them to best affect ?

Views ?
 
#2
Interesting topic - especialy with what is being bandied about on the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2950403.stm) - The Invasion of Iraq was won by air power!!!!!!!!!!!!

I personally believe that the recent events highlight the fact that there is a greater need for more infantry and armour to fulfill the types of conflict and police actions that the British Armed forces are going to find themselves involved in - air craft cannot take or hold - you need the PBI for that  ;D
 
#3
Assuming there was an expansion in inf and armour, how would this be achieved? Would this be done by re-activation of 2nd Bns or by new formations (new cav reg's or an extra RTR)?
 
#4
Assuming there was an expansion in inf and armour, how would this be achieved?
I don't think there would be an expansion of inf and arm but we would not see a reduction, and in the case of the inf, we must make them more deployable on the battlefield.

The problem as we all know with light inf or 16AA is that once deployed; that is it. Fine for holding ground, air heads et al but not for flicking around the battlefield fast and safely. We lack the air assets and so I would argue for a vehicle such as the LAV (ie PIRANHA) that the USA have. It is sufficiently well protected and armed to move troops quickly and safely around a battlefield whilst packing a punch at the same time.

Lets scrap a couple of fighter aricraft and that would pay for mechanising all our Lt Inf Bns. Remember you heard it here first !  :)
 
#5
At the risk of sounding a bit naive, could you ever see a time where there could be an expansion or is it generally the rule that the Govt's like to or feel obligated to contract the Reg army?
 
#6
could you ever see a time where there could be an expansion
No I am afraid not. It is too much to hope for.  ;)

Slightly off topic, but we could perhaps be more cost effective by stopping arms plotting. This would enable Inf Bns to be highly skilled in a particular role.

We need to do something urgently to fund the improvements to our Lt Roled Bns; greater mobility and firepower.
 
#7
One thought that has been doing the rounds (and which is heresy amongst some) is that we could quite easily slim down our Log compliment to concentrate on more effective Close Support and General Support operations. Consider:

1. Improved heavy lift STOL capability of the RAF with more C5 Galaxy, FHLA/C130J, and Merlin.

2. Hand over the P&M role of 17 Regt and Marchwood SMC to the RFA and RMR and re-role 17Rgt to CS

3. Re-role 23 Pnr Regt to GS and hand over tasks to RE

4. Re-role part of 24 Regt handing over MC to the RAF and DLO with arrivals in-theatre being looked after jointly by RAF/DLO/RMP

5. Amalgamate the roles of 5 and 25 Trg Rgts into a single Regt structure.

The manpower which is released from the Pnr and P&M roles can be re-roled as CS in support of armd inf which is highly mobile. No changes would be necessary for the units directly supporting either Armd Bde, or 16AA. An improved lift capability with the RAF will enable stored to be moved more effectively to the FMA, and the RFA can take over port operations with the DLO when kit arrives in-theatre. We could easily loose the Pnr function in favour of more direct logistics ops and devote more resources to GS to the rest of the army.
 
#8
Woopert,

I had heard mutterings about this but to be frank because it requires an investment (ie.STOL) then the cynic in me says it will not happen.

We certainly need to improve our logistical chain similar to the USA and accept that we have to invest properly and devote dedicated resources to it. However that said, with so many other priorities and a shortage of cash we will do as we always do - and make do !

Whilst talking logistics, I anticipate more and more contracted support from our defence companies. Some say we do not want civilians in our rear areas providing technical support. In my view, if it saves soldiers doing it, then why not. With BOWMAN (especially 2 - 3rd line system support issues) and a more technical Army, then we must accept it.
 
#9
If we accept the concept of civilian involvement in the rear for kit maintenance and log tasks then we have to look at the issue of PFI. The issue there becomes one of transference of risk from the risk of manpower to the risk of operating an unworkable solution.

Take for example the issue of the "intelligent client" or a KPI related service credit scheme. If, as any institutional investor would require, a system for penality relief for failure to deliver a service against the specification in operational environments, then the intelligent client looses all power to manage the behaviour of the contractor. If they then down-tools because they feel that they at personal risk then we are stuck. Any investor will wish to protect his financial investment and will not wish to loose either staff (compensation issues as well as bad PR for recruiting purposes) or income (suspension of the service credit scheme which PFI hinges on), and so it will be the investors who call the shots on the way the contract is structured, and we may not get what we set out to achieve.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the principle of contracting out certain maintenance functions, but it is the financial and contractual mechanism for doing this when you can't use the Armed Forces Act to compell a contractor to stay in theatre in the same way you can with a soldier which I think is the issue to be overcome.
 
#10
Yes, but I am sceptical about all this spin on leaner this, leaner that, small & efficient etc etc, it just stinks of accountant speak which invariably means cutback.  Cynical sod I know!
 
#11
but it is the financial and contractual mechanism for doing this when you can't use the Armed Forces Act to compell a contractor to stay in theatre in the same way you can with a soldier which I think is the issue to be overcome.
Yes I am with you on this one. I too am a sceptic. However perhaps the way around is to put something into the contract that gives them a very harsh finciancial penalty if they withdraw their services. Furthermore, if the man on site leaves, they have to find a replacement.

The devil is always in the detail and provided the contract is correctly written and is let to large blue chip size defence company, then there shouldn't be a problem. A large blue chip company would not want the reputation of not being dependable as they would lose any future defence contracts.

I have to say from my own experience, most of the technical support is provided by ex military personnel anyway, who are just doing it for more money.
 
#12
Surely we must expand 16AA BDE, a unit which allows rapid deployment around the world with the capability to Parachute / airland into theatre. One of its jobs is to enable access or create a bridgehead for conventional forces is it not?

We live in a very uncertain world and do we really want to be in a position where we have lost the ability to get 2,000 plus troops in place at short notice i.e 72 hrs.

I know all the old arguments regards 'when was the last operational jump' etc. But we spend millions sending blokes to train in the artic but haven't fought a war there since WWII, the point is you must have the capability to do so if the need arises.

This is not the start of a inter-unit pissing contest just one former Paratroopers views.




 
 
#13
Couldn't agree more, just because the last 2 conflicts have required the need for heavy armour doesn't necessarily mean that we should scale down the need for a QRF with Para/Airlift capabilities. I agree the need to make the army as a whole more mobile and effective is a concern, especially the fire power/protection of Light/16 AA.
 
#14
Still doesn't detract from the fact that a serious Armoured capability is required for current and future conflicts.  Agree that there is still a definite requirement for 16AAB et al.  

I just don't want to see the government do "more with less" and get soldiers killed because some bean counter has found a way to save 50p for the next 3 years....... :mad:
 
#16
I can think of 2 new Aircraft carriers for a start.
 
#17
I would guess that a serious evaluation of the way the forces spend money as a whole would identify some areas where there is a bit of leeway to spend extra.

One area could be a serious re-evaluation of the form and role of the TA and its supporting TAVRAs.  I say this with the knowledge that i will get jumped on, however, i am a supporter of the TA (I just think it could be structured better). Saying that TAVRAs do have a habit of spending money on diverse and unsupported advertising campaigns, as do units, with no eye on ROI or total spend - especialy where the message contradicts the ones coming from recruiting group etc.

A second area that could do with evaluation is the Forces advertising spend, and its heavy reliance on COI, which adds another layer of costs.  Whilst I admit that it would be expensive in the short term to create user friendly templates for brochures, flyers, handouts and web sites for all to use, the long term savings are much greater - especially if the templates are built with flexibility and the future in mind.

A third area would be to look at where the forces are involved - either in peace keeping roles or aid to the community and to see if this penny pinching government would actually set aside some money from the funds set up for these ventures, to help pay for the forces involvement, rather than asking that the forces pay for it from existing budgets (or giving it over to corrupt 3rd world politicians).  This could also be turned slightly and the British forces could get paid for doing humanitarian infrastructure work - ie rebuilding bridges, schools, water plants etc - not much money, but it would be something to add to the pot.

A fourth area should be the development and testing cycle for new kit - Bowman is years late and well over budget!!!  I would suggest that if more effective time plans, budgets and costs were decided upon at the out set after a period of paid consultation and fact finding then these such issues would not keep arising - it would also help if the briefs were not changed on a regular basis and keep so narrow in their focus.

I would also suggest that the whole of the defence structure and ratio of forces proposed for the future be re-evaluated.  I fear that too much money will be given over to aircraft and smart weapons etc, when at the end of the day the only effective way in influencing policy on the ground is to have a platoon of Jocks there in presence (with the right level of logistical support) doing what they are best at, (not thieving as some might suggest - though they are very good at liberating money, weapons, cars....... ;D ;D ;D ;D)

Sorry if this a bit rambling, but it is a bit of a brain dump.
 
#18
A fourth area should be the development and testing cycle for new kit
The procurement cycle has long been a black-hole in defence spending. The Treasury Committe tasked HMT to come up with a means of intelligent procurement, which it did via the OGC. They came up with the Gateway framework of establishing key stages and external reviews to ensure that projects were well justified, a proper framework for tendering and contract management is in place, and a project management toll (PRINCE 2) is used in conjunction with each "Gateway". It has proved relatively successful with more recent projects, but sadly is not retrospective on R&D projects which pre-date it.

I would agree with the sentiments on the TA. Serious consideration needs to be given to examining what value the TA adds, and I would suggest it could miprove its viability by taking on more of the tasks which are required in conflict and peace-keeping but in less demand during normal peace-time operations such as Topographic Survey, Int, Med, and certain logistics and CSS tasks. It is a disservice generally to waste money duplicating effort paying for a TA that tries to mirror exactly the regular army. The TA can provide a pool of "labour" for tasks in demand like Log CS and GS, but the standard of training commitment should be higher. it is a nonesense to suggest that light cav TA regiments should be equipped with soft-topped vehicles and yet be deemed deployable in an armoured role.

An area of considerable defecit is the development of "systems of systems" for inter-operability. With deployments under so many banners it is impossible to adapt our SOPs to meet so many legacy systems. I would argue that we should look to deploy only under UK only deployments, UN, or NATO, and look to better align our SOPS to primarily a UK/US standard to better integrate with those chains of command, as after all the majority of deployments now are US led.
 

CGS

War Hero
Moderator
#19
...However perhaps the way around is to put something into the contract that gives them a very harsh finciancial penalty if they withdraw their services. Furthermore, if the man on site leaves, they have to find a replacement.

The devil is always in the detail and provided the contract is correctly written and is let to large blue chip size defence company, then there shouldn't be a problem. A large blue chip company would not want the reputation of not being dependable as they would lose any future defence contracts.  
In my limited experience of a couple of years in the DLO, working across many of the DLO/DPA IPTs, this is really not an adequate approach unless combined with other measures.  If we write stringent contracts, nearly all contractors/partners seek to limit the scope of available contracts/deliverables as they need to gain the best reciprocated value for their efforts (In fact, I can't think of any that dont!).  All the major Blue Chips have protected revenue streams and specific economic models which allow for only minor change anyway (to protect business models and prevent hiring and firing)

As for the thread topic, I am reminded of the words of Guderian, who extolled the virtues of armour in the inter-war years and argued against the positional focus that many of his predecesors found themselves bogged down with.

Perhaps the logical evolution takes us further towards the new (dare I say it 'Rumsfeld') doctorine?  Where a surgical insertion of a large number of tps is backed only by lighter armoured formations.  The real meaning of course being that a concert of all available means is employed, rather than ignoring the total value of 70 tons of armour charging at the enemy, backed by heavy inf.

I think that even old Heinz would be keen to exploit all available capabilities, rather than just relying on the known fixes that lead to the decimation of so many soldiers in the Autumn of 1914.
 
#20
On reflection , I still favour "Tailored Force packages"

We need to define a limit on our participation in any conflict, and make sure we're kitted up to the nines for that deployment.

Ok, we may have less troops on the ground, but certainly, for this latest conflict, the Americans would have been happy with a SAS Squadron, AAR capability and Medics, just as long as they could say "The British are coming"

We don't have the money, equipment or troops to fight a high intensity conflict for any length of time currently, so we should start spending, to service being a "Vital component"

...and I still favour greater cross training on coalition equipment, the abilty to lease that equipment in time of conflict, and as Woopert says, more specific training for TA and reserves, to reflect our new role.

When I first joined, we were still effectively training for stopping the Red Hordes, even though that threat was effectively over.

The Government, need to look at training and finance at the sharp end very carefully, and stop spending money on fruitless "Willy-waving" exercises, like 2 new super carriers, when we have trouble crewing the "Escort" carriers we currently have. No we don't need umpteen hundered Eurofighters, we are unlikely to face an Air Force, that is numerically on par or superior, in the near future. I would rather see a move to A2G cheaper aircraft , Hawk 200/A-10 II , then really expensive Air defenders. If we need to go and get an air superiorty aircraft, then let's licence build SU-30's or lease F-15's and F-16's. We fell out with Europe on the last exercise, so why are we building aircraft and Supercarriers in co-operation with them, when there has already been a fundemental shift in strategy?. Why are we buying more "Smart Weapons"? To avoid civilian casualties? Or so we can say to the Americans.....Look, we have smart kit too?

Simply put, Smart Weapons, ALCM/SLCM/GLCM's, Microwave bombs etc do not take and hold ground, the PBI and Mk1 Bayonet do that. They need the support to best manage that exercise, and that means better supply and logistics, effective CAS from our own team, and excellent comms.

Now all we have to do, is lobby hard for that. The First Sea Lord knows that 2 super carriers would be a nightmare to crew, and with the moey they're costing, equipment at the sharp end will be cut back, so all you're left with, is a technological toothless Tiger. Yes, we will be able to project force around the globe, but we won't be able to fight half decent opposition.

Fortunately/unfortunately, the Iraqis didn't put up much of a fight. Fortunately, limited casualties, and that is always good. Unfortunately, because once again, the mandarins at the Treasury, FCO and the MOD will believe their existing policies are vindicated. If the Iraqis had put up half the fight they did against Iran, then GB would be looking at spending what we need, to absolutely make sure

Sorry....Brain dump II
 

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