BAFF and the Defence Committees Iraq report

#1
Following their visit to Iraq, a report by the House of Commons Defence Committee was released from embargo at midnight last night. (09 Aug)

Some print newspapers have led with this very important story, which has also been covered in this morning's broadcast media.

Link - Scotsman


The Defence Secretary's reaction "stretched, but not over-stretched" has also been mentioned on ARRSE.

BAFF spokesmen had already spoken in recent weeks about many of the issues raised by the Defence Committee. It will surprise no-one that BAFF had an advance copy of the embargoed report, and was ready to be interviewed had not the issue been pushed down the running list by this morning's breaking news.

The Defence Committee's report is now available online here (browsable html version) or here (pdf).

More to follow.

D.Y.
 
#2
BAFF welcomes the report, and expects the MoD to give its recommendations urgent attention. (A couple of recommendations have already led to some action in anticipation of the report's publication.)

The cross-party Defence Committee's conclusions and recommendations can be seen here.

Recommendations 1-13 are about a range of security, diplomatic and reconstruction matters on which we are all entitled to have an opinion, but are generally outside the scope of any comments which BAFF would wish to make.

Recommendations 14-27 are about equipment and personnel matters, many of which have already been commented on by BAFF. If you have the time, I recommend you check them out, and comment, if you like. ((Always bearing in mind OPSEC, where applicable.)

You will see that many of the recommendations are directly relevant to recent discussions on this website.

D.Y.
 
#3
To give you a brief sketch of the subject matter of the recommendations, they include:


14. Snatch LR etc

15. Armd veh and heat exhaustion

16. Air-con esp for cooks

17. Hel shortage

18. Leave disruption due airbridge failures

19. Address airbridge unreliability as matter of urgency

20. C130 ESF protection. Protection of our Armed Forces should be highest pri

21. A400M (C130 replacement)

22. Over-stretch. "Can-do" attitude may cause CoC to underplay pressures on personnel and families

23. MoD reliance on reservists may not be sustainable.

24. Financial recognition for active service overseas

25. Long-term procurement project failures

26. Defence Industrial Strategy

27. "The issues raised in this report give rise to a fundamental question: are our Armed Forces structured, trained and equipped to fulfil the role envisaged for them in the Strategic Defence Review and its successor policy documents? This is a question of very great importance, going to the heart of the Government's defence policy. ..."


my emphasis

over to you!

D.Y.
 
#4
We are concerned at the increasingly sophisticated nature of the threat and the
consequent vulnerability of UK Forces travelling in Snatch Land Rovers.

We welcome the Secretary of State’s review of the use of Snatch vehicles in Iraq and believe it is essential that this review be completed as quickly as possible.

In the long-term, FRES may offer a solution to the difficulties associated with the Snatch, but its introduction is too far off to offer an answer to current operational needs in Iraq.

The MoD should consider an “off the shelf” purchase as an immediate and interim replacement for Snatch, even if it does not fulfil the long-term capability requirement.

It is unsatisfactory that the lack of capability was not addressed with greater urgency much earlier.
Here here! A group of politico's with the sense to see that protecting the lives of servicemen in the short term is more important than balancing the books in the long term.
 
#5
The scary thing is that what the Defence Committee is pointing out is blindingly simple, except, apparently, to New Labour; if you don't want to spend money on the armed forces, don't commit them to operations. On the other hand, if you want to commit your armed forces to operations, understand that it will cost money and be prepared to spend it.

Des Browne's feeble 'stretched, not overstretched' response is really just what you'd expect of a lightweight Labour minister who's never served his country, has no experience of what he's talking about, and doesn't really seem to have got a grip of his department and responsibilities at all.
He's just repeating what he's been told to say by the MoD spin machine.
 
#6
Well done Hackle -Again we hear on the news this morning, the SoS for Defence pretty much brushing aside the Committee's report with the comment that our forces are "stretched, but not over-stretched."

Whilst he follows up this statement with news that shortages are now being addressed, the evidence available to the committee plainly indicates otherwise. A number of these shortages are nothing new and given the history of the last three years, again it appears that HMG is more concerned with the message at home, as opposed to the kit on the ground.
 
#7
ABrighter2006 said:
Well done Hackle -Again we hear on the news this morning, the SoS for Defence pretty much brushing aside the Committee's report with the comment that our forces are "stretched, but not over-stretched."

Whilst he follows up this statement with news that shortages are now being addressed, the evidence available to the committee plainly indicates otherwise. A number of these shortages are nothing new and given the history of the last three years, again it appears that HMG is more concerned with the message at home, as opposed to the kit on the ground.
I just hope that one of our 'journo' friends reads this and actually does something to make clear to the punlic the actual situation, rather than that posed by the smoke and mirrors machine at the MOD.

Minty, where are you ? :D
 
#8
AS, You're right - but I would also say that we haven't done ourselves any favours in this respect either. There are a whole number of serving pers, who have been in a position to voice this at the table, and for whatever reason, have chosen not to.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#10
An excellent interview with Douglas Young on Radio 5 Live drivetime this afternoon. James Arbuthnot, Chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee agreed with everything he had to say!
 
#12
I think this is a particularly damning report, especially when considered in context. There have been criticisms of the MoD since 2003 with regard to equipment availability and suitabilty for use in operations, as well as overstretch. Some of these lapses will have cost lives. The standard response from MoD has been to deny there is a problem - CGS's remarks about troops not having toilet rolls in their bergens, Hoon denying there were equipment shortages etc. Many will remember when the then-CDS Admiral Boyce was contradicted in public by Hoon when mentioning "overstretch". The lackof an air-bridge and the effect on leave or return to the UK is particularly galling, considering that government Ministers use the RAF for their trips and that civilian charters could also be paid for. The only admissions of failure or attempts to redress problems have arisen as the result of campaigns by individuals and the media in the face of MoD denials. Personnel are gagged from speaking out and their complaints are ignored and denied by the system. Quite simply, MoD cannot be trusted and is not trusted - hence the demand for a Federation. Perhaps Parliament should be recalled to debate this report as well as everything else, as otherwise there are two more months before the Minister or Secretary of State can be expected to explain why MoD is not "fit for purpose" and there are thousandsof Armed Forces personnel in operational theatres who will not be enjoying a recess during this period.
 
#13
Biscuits_AB said:
I was hoping to hear it but was otherwise engaged. Is there a link?
bbc five live drivetime (thurs aug 10, 06)

the interview is about 1hr 35mins in so you can use the fast fwd buttons to get to it quickly.

Welldone Hackle. Points well put! Just a shame the interview was so short.
 
#14
I agree with all that has been said the MOD is like an alcoholic, in denial, despite all available evidence. Well done hackle. The MOD needs an independent enquiry regarding its role in supporting the armed services and if it is fit for purpose to carrying out that role.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#15
Skynet said:
...The MOD needs an independent enquiry regarding its role in supporting the armed services and if it is fit for purpose to carrying out that role.
Skynet,

I disagree. Independent enquiries are a good way of throwing money at blood-sucking lawyers. What we need to do is get behind BAFF and develop one voice, independent of the chain of command, which can effectively articulate the views of service men and women.
 
#16
The military have been robbed of the resourses nessasary to do their job as there will 'Never' be a proper Full Scale War for them to fight. The Fall of the Berlin wall and end of communisam sorted out that.
An attitude acceptable if ya a European country with no overseas commitments but totall unaceptable for an Army that has for so long spent its time fighting the governments Small Wars wherever.
By nature of the Beast Labour, in whatever form, has never trusted its Military, too many Rodneys and the Them and US attitude.
Labour promises so much but like all government never can deliver. Someone must dip out and Tom is always a good candidate, keeps mouth shut and does his duty. An OK attitude until one of the small wars surfaces and then Tom can pay in blood for the lack of investment by HM Gov.
john
 
#17
Today's MOD response to the HCDC Iraq Report:
includes more "stretched but not over-stretched", without which no MOD statement is complete:

MOD Responds To Defence Select Committee Report On Iraq

Friday, August 11, 2006

Defence Secretary, Des Browne, today highlighted the MoD's continuing commitment to the Armed Forces in Iraq, and outlined the steps taken to ensure they were provided with essential equipment.

Commenting on the report, Des Browne said:

"I am glad the Committee recognises the professionalism, courage and dedication of our people in Iraq. As the Committee rightly says, they deserve our respect, admiration and support. It is my duty to make sure we give them the resources to carry on the superb job they are doing, often in exceptionally challenging circumstances.

"I believe we have demonstrated our continuing commitment to this over the last few months - including in the few weeks since the committee visited Iraq in June.

"For example: the report notes - and I acknowledge - that there is pressure on our helicopters and on our air lift capability. We are already taking steps to deal with this. On helicopters, we have a long-term programme to increase operational availability levels - and we continue to explore ways of meeting short-term needs.

"On air lift, we announced last week the purchase of a 5th C-17 Globemaster to reduce the burden on the existing fleet, and we continue to lease commercial aircraft where we can.

"The report also notes the review of vehicles in Iraq which I announced on 26 June, and urges that it move quickly. It has in fact completed, and on 24 July I announced a package of new armoured vehicles - and made a commitment that they would start to become available in Iraq before the end of the year. Sourcing and buying new vehicles, adapting them with additional armour and protective counter-measures, and delivering them to theatre all in a matter of months is no mean feat - as I said at the time, I commend all those who worked to make this happen.

"Finally, the Committee voices concerns about 'overstretch'. I share the view of the Chiefs of Staff, that the Armed Forces are stretched, but not overstretched. We all acknowledge we are asking a lot of them, and that we need to take steps to manage the impact - on them, on their training and recuperation, and their families. But as they themselves are the first to recognise, the work they are doing, in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the world, is absolutely vital - and I pay tribute again to their outstanding efforts in carrying it out.

"There is no room for complacency, and I welcome the Committee's scrutiny. I will respond to the report in full when I have studied it in more detail."

The House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) Report "UK Operations in Iraq" is published on Thu 10 Aug 2006. A formal response to the report from the Ministry of Defence will be made within six weeks.

There have been three major developments since the Committee visited Iraq in June 06:

First, the Government announced the procurement of three new batches of armoured vehicles on 24 July 06.
Second, the Government has announced the purchase of five C-17 Globemaster aircraft (four of which were previously leased) on 4 Aug 06.
Third, security responsibility for Muthanna province has been handed over to the Iraqi authorities. This is a clear demonstration of the growing capabilities of the Iraqi Security forces and the real progress being made in parts of Iraq.

We note the Committee's concerns about the use of armoured 'Snatch' Landrovers in Iraq. There is no question that they remain useful for a wide variety of tasks where their size and less aggressive posture are vital. It has the best available armour and electronic counter measures that a vehicle of its size and weight can have, but the threat is also continuously evolving.

There is no such thing as perfect protection and military operations are inherently risky. The Defence Secretary announced a review of armoured vehicles in June 06, in light of the developing threats to British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. On 24 July 06, he announced new orders of around 100 additional VECTOR, Pinzgauer-based protected patrol vehicles for Afghanistan; around 70 extra uparmoured and upgraded FV430 troop carriers for Iraq; and around 100 new 'Mastiff' medium weight protected patrol vehicles, based on the Force Protection Inc 'Cougar', for both operational theatres. These vehicles will be delivered as soon as they can be manufactured. Additional specialist armour, Electronic Counter-Measures and Bowman communications kit will then be fitted before they are deployed to operational theatres. With WARRIOR and SNATCH they will give military commanders a coherent suite of options to balance protection with the threat and their task in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence spends about £6 billion a year on new equipment to support our Armed Forces. In addition, the Urgent Operational Requirements system delivers priority equipment in response to needs in Iraq. More than £527 million has been spent on extra kit to protect our people serving on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes new armoured vehicles, personal protection, electronic counter measures and improved defensive aid suites for air transport.

The handover of Muthanna, one of the four provinces in the Multi-National Division (South-East) area of responsibility in Iraq, has reduced the footprint and logistics requirement of the Armed Forces. We look forward to the handover of security responsibility for other provinces, as the right conditions are established on the ground.
Source: MOD
 
#18
No mention of the pisspoor airbridge, then, which could be sorted out so easily, or of the tax issue that was raised.

Perhaps Swiss Broon needs to wait for instructions from Twitchy Broon, the Scottish Thief.
 
#19
ViroBono said:
No mention of the pisspoor airbridge, then, which could be sorted out so easily, or of the tax issue that was raised.

Perhaps Swiss Broon needs to wait for instructions from Twitchy Broon, the Scottish Thief.
Still, it is helpful to be told that
There is no such thing as perfect protection and military operations are inherently risky.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#20
ViroBono said:
No mention of the pisspoor airbridge, then, which could be sorted out so easily, or of the tax issue that was raised.

Perhaps Swiss Broon needs to wait for instructions from Twitchy Broon, the Scottish Thief.
Always nice to bring nationality into it. As if it bears some form of relevance.
 

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