Army chief insists Afghanistan must come before Trident

#1
Army chief insists Afghanistan must come before Trident

Published Date: 09 June 2010
By Sam Marsden
FUNDING British forces fighting in Afghanistan must take priority over defence projects such as a new Trident nuclear fleet, the head of the British Army insisted yesterday.

• Gen Richards believes that military funding must focus on troops on the ground. Picture: PA

General Sir David Richards also attacked those who were reluctant "for far too long" to admit that the bloody Afghan conflict – which has claimed the lives of 292 UK troops – was a war.
More
http://news.scotsman.com/news/Army-chief-insists-Afghanistan-must.6348994.jp?
 
#2
Brilliant. Short term objectives trumpibg long term strategic considerations. Brilliant.
 
#4
Both of the last two comments have merit although I have more time for the latter these days! :D
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
Long-term strategic considerations are exactly that - "considerations" and "long-term." The current, tactical situation is that we face a shooting war. Given the disparity between live realities and strategic hypotheses, I think the general's views have total merit.

I also tend to believe that the extra-state threat from Islamic terrorism trumps the threat from states boasting conventional militaries which could, conceivably, be deterred by sub-launched nukes. But that is just me.
 
#7
Andy_S said:
Long-term strategic considerations are exactly that - "considerations" and "long-term." The current, tactical situation is that we face a shooting war. Given the disparity between live realities and strategic hypotheses, I think the general's views have total merit.

I also tend to believe that the extra-state threat from Islamic terrorism trumps the threat from states boasting conventional militaries which could, conceivably, be deterred by sub-launched nukes. But that is just me.
If you can prove that your assessment will stand for the next 50 years then crack on.

If not then explain how we would deter a credible state threat (nuclear or non nuclear) without a deterrent. Or how we would reacquire such a deterrent in a reasonable time frame.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Man's a fool. That someone as dim as this can rise to the top of the army also says something about the officers who did less well. I just hope Liam Fox has the nous to recognise stupidity when he sees it.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Perhaps we should look at it the other way. Richards is saying we can either afford to fight a war in Afghanistan OR we can afford to buy our nuclear shield. Given that "either or" I choose Trident. At least I can see something tangable for my money and can articulate the benefits to me
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
SNIP
If you can prove that your assessment will stand for the next 50 years then crack on.
SNIP

So you are asking me to predict the course of the next half century? You don't want much, do you?

As stated, I prefer to face and deal with the issue at hand than 'possibles,' 'potentials' and 'what ifs.'

Can you, OTOH, prove that in the next 50 years we will face a state threat that will require an independent nuclear deterrent to keep in check? Obviously not, for reasons given. (Though if you DO possess a proven crystal ball, let me know your address, I'd like to make an appointment.)

Given that inability, I'd suggest you would also benefit from focussing on actual, current realities as opposed to possible future scenarios.

The country faces massive fiscal shortfalls, and defense budgets are not going to be able to cover all contingencies. Hard choices are going to have to be made.

I can respect the opinion posted by Marseille Stew, above: He states a preference based on real deliverables (and, I assume from his point about articulation of benefits, that he does not agree with the Afghan mission - fair enough) rather than hypotheses.
 
#12
He told a Royal United Services Institute conference in London that supporting the current mission in Afghanistan had to take precedence over "future projected possibilities".

This appeared to be a reference to planned costly equipment projects like building two new aircraft carriers and replacing the Trident nuclear fleet.

Gen Richards said: "While Afghanistan is not the template on which to base the future, it is most certainly a signpost for much of what that future might contain.

"There must be a balance between current operational priorities and future capabilities.

"When they conflict, we must resource those current known requirements over future projected possibilities."
So what he actually said is very far from 'let's scrap everything that doesn't contribute much to the campaign in Afghanistan', rather that 'in these financial difficult times we have to focus spending on the war that is actually taking place, rather than the one that might come along in the future'. Seems sensible enough to me. He didn't even mention Trident; that is simply an assumption by the Scotsman.
 
#13
Bouillabaisse said:
Perhaps we should look at it the other way. Richards is saying we can either afford to fight a war in Afghanistan OR we can afford to buy our nuclear shield. Given that "either or" I choose Trident. At least I can see something tangable for my money and can articulate the benefits to me[/quote

good point, I am surprised that someone with the political nous of Richards hasn't realised that the cabinet now consists of committed atlanticists, namely, Fox, Hague, Osborne and Cameron. I'll put my house on Trident being replaced. Richards is very close to the Afghan heart, a bit too close for my liking, hope it is not affecting his judgement.
 
#14
I think they'll can it and pick something else that can be done on a piecemeal basis. Of the £60bn they need to cut in the next 4 years, the ease of which you can bin 1/3rd of that in one go has got to make it a major target.
 
#15
At what point does short term become long term? Tactical to Strategic? We have been fighting there for 4 years (in country for 9 years) with possibly another 4 to go but who knows how long?

The politicians are saying that this a strategic fight against terrorism, it will be upto them to decide which strategic policy is most important, all we need is some direction. Gen Richards is quite correct to state the obvious in my opinion, its a simple choice really. If you want to cut budgets, something has to be chosen to go be it Carriers, Trident or the amount of money we spend on the Army's involvement in Afghanistan!
 
#16
Bouillabaisse said:
Perhaps we should look at it the other way. Richards is saying we can either afford to fight a war in Afghanistan OR we can afford to buy our nuclear shield. Given that "either or" I choose Trident. At least I can see something tangable for my money and can articulate the benefits to me
Nothing more needs to be said you've put it all there, Maybe Richards wants to go down in history as the first conqueror (along with the US) of Afghan and immortalise himself? And is willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it.
 
#17
London_native said:
Bouillabaisse said:
Perhaps we should look at it the other way. Richards is saying we can either afford to fight a war in Afghanistan OR we can afford to buy our nuclear shield. Given that "either or" I choose Trident. At least I can see something tangable for my money and can articulate the benefits to me
Nothing more needs to be said you've put it all there, Maybe Richards wants to go down in history as the first conqueror (along with the US) of Afghan and immortalise himself? And is willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it.
I think that comment is spurious. I'm pretty sure the sentiment is to simple get out of the place without taking a beating, ensuring that the fight is correctly financed to minimise the troop sacrifices made to fulfill the Governments objectives.
 
#18
in_the_cheapseats said:
London_native said:
Bouillabaisse said:
Perhaps we should look at it the other way. Richards is saying we can either afford to fight a war in Afghanistan OR we can afford to buy our nuclear shield. Given that "either or" I choose Trident. At least I can see something tangable for my money and can articulate the benefits to me
Nothing more needs to be said you've put it all there, Maybe Richards wants to go down in history as the first conqueror (along with the US) of Afghan and immortalise himself? And is willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it.
I think that comment is spurious. I'm pretty sure the sentiment is to simple get out of the place without taking a beating, ensuring that the fight is correctly financed to minimise the troop sacrifices made to fulfill the Governments objectives.
Agree with ITC, this is bigger than a retiring Senior Officers' ego. The issue has become confused and no-one has sought to clarify what was meant.
 
#19
bullet_catcher said:
America can depend on our support in Afghanistan.
Can they really? given the consistent mindset of some of the limp wristed appeasement monkey's currently running the show, I'd say that just like in Southern Iraq - they can't
 
#20
Thinking we need to look at 'the here and now' is very short sighted indeed.
Think back to the boer war, a mere century ago. That was a war that didn't require battleships. We had no instant need for battleships at the time as no other country with a fleet was threatening us (we were pretty good bezzers with the hun practically right up until the war).
Working on the same vein of logic, we should have pumped most funds into the army fighting to boer instead of maintaining our fleet. Then we would have lost the Great War.

The fact is, no one knows what's round the corner, not in 50 years, not in 10 years, not next year. We are very fortunate to have an independant nuclear deterrent and since we have the 6th greatest GDP it's not really a club to which we don't belong. It's something we should be holding on to.
America's recent attitude towards us (offering to 'negotiate' for us over the Falklands, piling on the blame for the BP oil spill) should be enough to make us question whether America really can be relied to look out for our interests.

The armed forces should be ringfenced, especially while we are fighting a war. The government's no.1 priority, always, is ensuring the security of the people. With current commitments, and a very unstable world atm, It would be irresponsible to subject the armed forces to more cuts.
 

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