Army fought MoD to save six infantry battalions

#1
Army fought MoD to save six infantry battalions
Times Online
Link
The Army’s top brass had a huge row with Civil Service mandarins to stop them cutting the number of infantry battalions by a quarter, The Times can disclose.

During the restructuring of the service in 2004, which was ordered by General Sir Mike Jackson, then Chief of the General Staff, General Jackson himself fought to maintain an infantry force of 36 battalions - down from the existing 40.

He then fought with Sir Kevin Teb-bit, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, now retired,over an Army plan to transfer the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment to a new force providing support for the SAS and the Special Boat Service (SBS). The Times has learnt that General Jackson insisted that the SAS and SBS urgently needed back-up to help them in covert operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MoD mandarins saw this proposal as a ploy to save one battalion and worked out that the new role for 1 Para would add millions to the already-strained defence budget.

However, General Jackson won the argument after he and his senior army colleagues persuaded Geoff Hoon, then Defence Secretary, that the new role for 1 Para was vital. Mr Hoon had himself voiced the importance of special forces operations and indicated the need to enlarge the SAS and SBS.

It was later announced that 1 Para was to be formed into the Special Forces Support Group. This new unit has been involved in many of the recent covert missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Jackson is likely to make some reference to his row with civil servants in his autobiography, Soldier, which is published this week.

The general, who retired in August last year, came in for considerable criticism over his plan, announced in December 2004, to form larger regiments, each with at least two battalions, and some with as many as five. The strongest attacks came from retired officers of the Scottish regiments after it was announced that six regiments were to be merged into a five-battalion formation to be called the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The restructuring followed the decision by the executive committee of the Army board, headed by General Jackson, to end the traditional way in which battalions were given new roles and locations every two or three years. Known as the “arms plot”, General Jackson considered it outdated and the cause of needless disruption for soldiers and their families.
 
#2
Whilst I personally think General Sir Mike was an outstanding commander and significantly one who always had the interests of those under his command foremost in his mind all these comments he is making are clearly aimed at lifting sales for his autobiography.

Call me cynical if you want but after McNab and others that have gone before can be blame him?
 
#3
Even using official stats Army is short of me by more than the 2 Battalions Jackson is reported to have fought for. Jackson agreed and willingly sent his troops to fight on another front. This has had a massive impact on recruitment and retention.

Wonder how his book sales are going. Hope the extra money was worth the international row between the UK and our closest ally.
 
#4
Geezer, you are cynical. Happy?

What is missing from the quoted bit of the article is the relevant last paragraph:

His decision to scrap this system was made possible by the peace deal in Northern Ireland, which cut troop numbers from 11,000 to about 5,000. Senior civil servants at the MoD argued that this withdrawal meant that the number of infantry battalions could be reduced from 40 to 30, but General Jackson and his board successfully argued for 36.
So, lots of stuff about Jacko fighting hard to save a non-hat battalion (this is a surprise?) and a quick mention of the other 5 down the bottom without any details. Investigative journalism.
 
#5
Also worth noting that the senior civil servants weren't arguing on figures plucked out of thin air, but on papers that would have been drafted and staffed by serving army officers at all levels. They were going on the information given to them by the army.
 
#8
Reminds me of how property developers operate near Swindon. Threaten to build 3000 homes, then agree to build 1500 and people think they have gained a concession. Property developer goes away happy, til next time.

You have top generals here agreeing to cut the British Army at a time of war, and seemingly content with 4 instead of 6.

Well,we have more than 2 battalions worth of injured troops now. Wonder if they factored that equation into the dual front war?
 
#9
It's funny how the Regiments could go but the 900 surplus officers are still here.

From the Telegraph this morning it would appear that Jacko was trying to save Regiments, fix quarters and get loads of equipment and it wasn't his fault but that of the MOD civil servants and politicians.

More spin than New Labour in my view.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/03/wbasra203.xml
 
#10
Judging by the excerpts of the book Jacko doesn't do humility. Nothing about Sgt Roberts. He states that he absolutely believed the threat of WMD, battlefield chemical warfare etc, but he was happy to commit troops to war without essential defences against the chemicals or bullets.

It appears nothing was his fault, his subalterns assured him it was OK.

Funny that.

I'll take Dannat's style of leadership any day.

Background to Jackson's decision making.

Lord Vivien 22 Apr 98

As a background to this debate it is necessary to realise that between 1990 and 1997 defence spending has been cut from £27 billion to £21 billion, a reduction of 22 per cent. We have reduced the number of frigates from around 45 to 32, the number of tanks from 700 to 450 and the number of fighter aircraft by around 30 per cent. The Army has been reduced from 165,000 to around 116,000 and is too small. Any further reduction to our regular Armed Forces will place the security of the realm in jeopardy. Our country no longer possesses regular force levels approaching those employed during the Gulf War when numerous units were stripped out in order to form one division of two manoeuvre brigades. Such luxuries will not be available if a conflict approaching that of the Gulf War again calls upon Britain to contribute military forces.

Some would wish us to believe that we can rely on our allies to support us in times of strife, but in reality only the United States of America and ourselves have properly trained and experienced troops to fight and win wars. Our European allies do not possess either the quality or the quantity of trained troops to assist in large-scale conflicts, and frequently their foreign policy aims do not accord with our own. It could be said that France was not as helpful as she could have been to ourselves and the United States of America during the recent Iraq crisis.

Our regular forces from the three services are severely overstretched and critically undermanned, doing more with less. The Army is around 5,000 soldiers below strength, which represents around 5 per cent; the infantry is 7.5 per cent. short of its required manpower. That worrying situation emphasises the importance of the reserves. It should not be forgotten that without the Territorial Army, which provided the essential framework from which could be generated hundreds of battalions, we would not have won either the First or the Second World Wars.
 
#12
The Army is currently established for around 100,000 trained soldiers, and is, I believe about 3,500 short, with the infantry especially short of manpower. How would we recruit the other 3,000+ soldiers we would need to go back to the 40 Bns we had prior to FAS?
 
#13
How could we recuruit more? There is only a very small pie to divide up and people don't seem to want to become soldiers.
 
#14
RiojaDOC said:
The Army is currently established for around 100,000 trained soldiers, and is, I believe about 3,500 short, with the infantry especially short of manpower.
3,500 = Just short of six infantry units. As for recruitment, it can be done and is done most of the time, just make retention more attractive.
 
#16
It's simple. Set starting pay for 18 year olds joining the army at £19,500 per annum and you will get your 3000 new recruits. However that won't happen until £19,500 is considered to be considerably below minimum wage.

Lucky for us General Dannatt seems to be very much "For the lads" and I think we may see a rest from Army chopping during his reign.
 
#17
RiojaDOC said:
Western, thats 3,500 against the current establishment. 4-6 more units would leave us about 7-8,000 short!
Sorry I wasn't very clear there what I meant to say is that the overall proposed cut was in fact exceeded as we are six Battalions worth of manpower short so in effect there has been an overall reduction of ten. Having lots of shiny unit signs doesn't make fully manned units any more than calling Corps sub units Regiments.

Add to that the 900 surplus officers and that's eleven and a Y List.
 
#18
Bad_Crow said:
It's simple. Set starting pay for 18 year olds joining the army at £19,500 per annum and you will get your 3000 new recruits. However that won't happen until £19,500 is considered to be considerably below minimum wage.

Lucky for us General Dannatt seems to be very much "For the lads" and I think we may see a rest from Army chopping during his reign.
Why not £25,000 or £50,000

I don't know of any career which, not asking for any qualifications for the basic jobs, offers £19,500. If HM forces did so then all other parts of the employemnt sector would do the same to retain their share of the pie, those with qualifications would demand higher wages and inflation would rise.

Are there any sensible suggestions as to how to get a bigger slice of that pie?
 
#19
Sven said:
Bad_Crow said:
It's simple. Set starting pay for 18 year olds joining the army at £19,500 per annum and you will get your 3000 new recruits. However that won't happen until £19,500 is considered to be considerably below minimum wage.

Lucky for us General Dannatt seems to be very much "For the lads" and I think we may see a rest from Army chopping during his reign.
Why not £25,000 or £50,000

I don't know of any career which, not asking for any qualifications for the basic jobs, offers £19,500. If HM forces did so then all other parts of the employemnt sector would do the same to retain their share of the pie, those with qualifications would demand higher wages and inflation would rise.

Are there any sensible suggestions as to how to get a bigger slice of that pie?
Ahem! The Police?
 
#20
western said:
Sven said:
Bad_Crow said:
It's simple. Set starting pay for 18 year olds joining the army at £19,500 per annum and you will get your 3000 new recruits. However that won't happen until £19,500 is considered to be considerably below minimum wage.

Lucky for us General Dannatt seems to be very much "For the lads" and I think we may see a rest from Army chopping during his reign.
Why not £25,000 or £50,000

I don't know of any career which, not asking for any qualifications for the basic jobs, offers £19,500. If HM forces did so then all other parts of the employemnt sector would do the same to retain their share of the pie, those with qualifications would demand higher wages and inflation would rise.

Are there any sensible suggestions as to how to get a bigger slice of that pie?
Ahem! The Police?
Probationers get £19500 - really?
 

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