Blog article: How Do you Solve a Problem Like a Deployable Division?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by jim30, Aug 6, 2017.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

    • Like Like x 9
    • Excellent Topic Excellent Topic x 9
    • Informative Informative x 6
  1. Wouldn't it follow that to have the Carrier strike force we are developing it would make sense to have a sizable deployable force.

    Carriers can bomb shit out of somewhere but you don't control the landscape unless you have significant boots on the ground.

    Question really is, would that be at Division strengh or Brigade.

    Next question how do we deploy it.

    Interesting article all the same and the strengh of it's argument makes me underqualified to comment.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. meerkatz

    meerkatz On ROPs

    You have 1 x LPH, 1 x LPD, 3 x LSL(A), 4 x Heavy sealift.

    So that's the size of your 'Deployable Force' in near time.

    Beyond that, its leased in MN ships and months.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
    • Show again braincell Show again braincell x 1
  3. Shh,you never know who might be listening.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  4. napier

    napier LE Moderator Reviewer

    Just do the Hitler thing and call anything a division. Hey presto! (size of bde staff now pretty large anyway)
    • Funny Funny x 8
    • Informative Informative x 2
  5. It's an interesting article but shaping an Army can only be achieved once the likely threats are determined. In the absence of a clear enemy(ies) we don't know what we need to prepare for. Therefore, why do we need 82K personnel? Why not 70K or 90K? Why a division? You are right that the Army is unable to properly reform and restructure itself until the balance of advantage falls in favour of capability over heritage. However until the enemy is known what do we invest in? There is an urgent requirement for genuine visionary political leadership but in these uncertain days of minority government, the appetite for change will be limited by fiscally led SDSRs. Meanwhile the talent will move on. Where you point out that key headline grabbing aid to civil power deployments in the form of flood defence work helps generate positive headlines was starkly depressing. Is moving peoples furniture upstairs when we get too much rain the best we can hope for?

    What are the forthcoming years of the 'Millies' going to look like?

    The blog is a good idea; you must keep it up.
    • Like Like x 8
  6. That's a thoughtful article Jim, with some good questions and analysis for those looking towards staff college in the next couple of years. I don't agree the Army is as broken as your essay seems (to me) to imply, but the issues you raise are fair ones. Nick Carter et al could usefully be presenting a credible counter argument for internal consumption at least. I don't think the two or three tier approach to structure really cuts it.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Fascinating and important question but maybe quite wrong in the conclusion? I think back to the 1920's when similar questions were being answered, and the '10 Year Rule' was in place...if we didn't have a threat, we would have 10 years to re-arm. At the same time Billy Mitchell was in trouble for demonstrating the death of the battleship and the cavalry were fighting a rearguard action to keep their horses.

    Fast forward to the 1980's and 4 - then 3 - divisions in BAOR to keep back 3 Shock Army. Oh how we laughed at the Long Look Aussie officer who told us that the Aussies maintained an Army without an apparent threat! Officers resigning over 'salami slicing', troops deploying on exercise with nobody in the back of the panzers, no track mileage for exercises, 'dues out' on vehicle batteries (etc) lost in the Atlantic Conveyor or the fire at Donnington, being issued with new combats that looked like they were made out of DPM teabag material...

    Then in MoD for 'Options for Change' 'Smaller but Better' became 'Smaller but Bitter'...when the 'Arms Plot' promised 18 months at home after every operational tour.

    In that light, a deployable division made eminent sense IMHO and I certainly supported the idea in my time at MoD. Along with a single brigade at a shorter time frame and retaining the 'Spearhead' battalion at short notice to move. Top that off with a team of SF/Int types as an immediate notice to move recce team and then Robert's your father's brother.

    Use the same logic the RN used for its DD/FF fleet commitment to the FI and that means 3 divs held in total to be able to deploy one, assuming one's being worked up and another being refurbished on return. That's more or less what happened for GW1 only it exposed the myth that we had 3 armoured divisions ready to deploy in Germany.

    Now add in some extra capacity for UN missions, MACC/MACP etc, and you have the basis for a structure. We simply have to present the alternative to the government

    "Right then, if you want a div at a month notice to deploy by sea in xxxx configuration with yyyy RN support and zzzz air cover it will cost this...

    If you want an airportable brigade to deploy in a week, with suitable air cover it will cost you this...

    If you wan a spearhead battalion, air assault or airborne capable etc

    If you increase the notice to move times you save this but lose the associated capacity"

    The problem seems to be not that the deployable division is flawed logic, but that we haven't started by defining the aim and then defending the capacity against cuts/or accepting a commensurate reduction in capacity. If history teaches us anything it's that we're carp at predicting the next threat. Given that, perhaps maintaining a standing capacity at a given state of readiness isn't such a bad thing.

    Perhaps we should have learned more from the Aussies...

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
    • Like Like x 13
    • Informative Informative x 3
  8. The old adage will always apply .... words to the effect that .....The military is an insurance policy and if cover is light then when the brown stuff hits the fan then your policy will not be able to save a sinking ship. [probably a mixed metaphore but yhou get the gist of my post]
    • Like Like x 8
  9. meerkatz

    meerkatz On ROPs

    The Army has screwed itself.

    1) It doesn't bring victories, only embarrassment to the PM's door.

    2) It refuses to cut its costs to fit its needs and budget.
    • Like x 6
    • Show again braincell x 5
    • Disagree x 2
    • Dislike x 2
    • Funny x 1
  10. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Popular myth.

    Read Everything Worked Like Clockwork... The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942 by Roger Salmon

    In an ideal world, the whole cavalry corps would have mechanised in 1919 but
    1. There was an empire to police, easier on horseback than tanks.
    2. There was no money. Regiments were disbanded to save money, then reformed because the regiments were needed (see 1) then amalgated, see 19th Hussars.
    3. A total of two regimental colonels (one I think was colonel of the Royal Dragoons, but it's late and I'm not looking it up) one of them an MP fought a rearguard action to keep horses.
    4. The generation of cavalry after the war were entirely amenable to change, as demonstrated by the RTR conversion team, who found the cavalry to be better learners than those who went RTR.
    Because most of Europe was governed by pacifists and pacificists, the absence of money to develop and build tanks was kept from the public by perpetuating the myth that the cavalry dragged their feet.

    The evidence to the contrary is abundant.
    • Informative Informative x 12
    • Like Like x 10
  11. Caecilius

    Caecilius LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I wonder if the regimental colonel fighting to keep the nags was Scots Greys? I think they were the last to mechanise in ~1940.
  12. Thanks...I'm sure you're right...but even two Colonels fighting the cause in such a public manner makes the point I'm trying to.

    Similar to having to put the two Guards battalions into 'suspended animation' in 'Options' because the Household Division Mafia kicked back at the thought of them being disbanded. Emotions don't help when trying to redesign a military in the absence of the threat they were built to counter, be it Kaiser Bill or the Soviets. Hence my support for the 'deployable division' idea.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    • Like Like x 3
  13. Entirely the wrong question. It should be, "Is a deployable division the right solution for the UK's military commitments?"
    • Like Like x 9
  14. Having lived through the army's evolution from the late 60's to the early 90's, all I can say is that, learning from the Aussies is one thing, but we would have been far better off learning from our own experiences.

    However, here we are today with half an army that has not much in the way of assets and yet we are facing more threats than ever before.

    The thrust of opinion of the politicians seems to be, "we have a couple of big ships, so watchit, alright?" But like any tattooed pub bully, unless he's a pikey with a load of mates in white transit vans in the car park, a smack in the mouth and a kick in the balls is very often enough to see him off.

    All I ever heard during my 22 years in the RE was, "cost cutting, defence cuts, no fuel allowance, no mileage for the tanks, dues out, no budget ........" In 1968 we were patrolling the tank parks in Hohne with WW1 greatcoats and pick helves; In 1971/2 we were pushing the tanks (bridge layers and AVRE's) in and out of the hangers "to save fuel".

    In 1982 we came close to losing a fckn war due to penny pinching and cost cutting. the day was saved by the blokes, officers and men - from all arms -- who did more than pull their weight - and the chestnuts out of the fire. Which bright spark in the MOD decided to put all the task forces assets on one ship? A ship that was promptly sunk by the enemy (thats the enemy's job you know!). Loss that cost us lives and could have cost us the war. And a few years later the MOD saved a lot of pension payments by putting ALL of their intelligence officers on one Chinook wokka on a jolly in Scotland and killed the friggin lot of them. Brilliant!

    Who designed some of our warships to have aluminium alloy structures that burn so well when hit? How about the warships that can't fire missiles at attacks from behind?

    Also in 1982, whilst the government was wasting the odd billion quid in fighting a war that they could have prevented if they hadn't been spending their time fiddling their expenses and shagging rent boys, I had to contend - as a Sgt - with some lunatics from the MOD who were intent of cost cutting at STC Sennelager. Aha, said some major or other, we can cut costs here by taking away one of the two vehicles that you use for batsims and EOD cover for the ranges. I asked him how he expected us to deliver range EOD/batsims blokes to ranges that were 70 kilometres apart - as the crow flies, simultaneously. Aha, said he, triumphantly, you will just have to get up earlier in the morning and deliver guys to one end of the ranges and then drive to the other end..... Fkn brilliant, eh? But the flaw in the plan?

    Well, apart from the range roads speed limit, which would have meant the batsims guys coming in to work at around 02:00 to prep up and deploy (and in fact we would have had to increase our teams numbers to also cope with night firing), due to cost cutting exercises some years earlier, the range EOD and batsims teams had been replaced by German civilians. Soooo, there would have to be a significant increase in overtime costs for the team - assuming that the German civilians would agree to working the extra hours - not a fkn chance. In addition, the explosive store would need extra manning.....

    The major's brilliant solution to the problem was to authorise the issue of a trailer GS - in lieu of a landrover, so that we could tow it behind our now only - and ancient - land rover. I never did find out what we were supposed to do with it. Range control gave us another vehicle which meant that someone else went short somewhere.

    Next came the matter of explosives - was I sure that we needed to use several thousand lbs of explosives per year. That should be cut by 50% to cut costs!

    I could see that, similar to Dads Army, we would be relegated to our batsims guys going on the various ranges and shouting BANG, BABANG BANG etc. However, as I wearily explained to this fkn idiot major who, after all was an OFFICER and therefore far more intelligent than I, that actually, we were still using PE 808 from boxes marked 1944, of which there were still massive stores at the depot. And occasionally we had to use explosives that were even older. So I couldn't really see how cutting our explosive usage would save money. The major didn't like to be obstructed in his blind insistence in "cutting everything", so he suggested that we cut our charges from 1/4 lb batsim charges to 1/8 lb charges at which point I mentioned that we would then need a proper explosives charge processing room and that the batsim team would either need more hours (at more cost - time and a half at least), or more manpower (at more cost). The idea was quietly discarded.

    Back in the UK as a newly promoted SSgt I took over a dud busting troop of BAC blokes. Most of them were civvies on such crap labourers wages that we had to pay them subsistence allowance 7 days a week just to keep them as employees, which was against army regs but had been going on for many years. There was a massive SIB investigation into this in about 1985 - since it was actually fraud and had been going on for millions of quids over time. However, the whole matter was swept under the carpet, because it was actually the result of MOD cost cutting and penny pinching originally "I know, lets employ civvy labourers to dig up bombs, cheap as chips. Brilliant idea".

    And whilst all this was going on I was having to get around the teams in places as far apart as Glenborrodale in Scotland, Trawsfynnd in Wales and Norfolk in England, delivering magnetometers by the boot load (5,000 quid a pop) and other stores (but not explosives) in my own car, as, due to cuts we didn't have enough transport - and being paid about two pence a mile for the privilege. Not surprisingly, after 6 months or so and about 20,000 miles, knowing that I was having the urine extracted from me by a multi billion quid organisation to save a few pennies overcame my blind loyalty to the system, I declined to use my own car for army business. Which didn't endear me to the hierarchy.

    All of the above isn't a moan or a whinge, it's just what happened. And my real point is that all of the MOD's efforts in bending to the governments attempts to save costs at any price, leads to irritating and non cost effective cheese paring of the army's effectiveness.

    Theres a certain Arrse member (no names / pack drill etc) who was an RE captain in Berlin a few years ago. He had raised the issue of the anti personnel landmines that were to be deployed for the defence of Berlin in the event that the mighty Russian bear came over the border to growl at us. The problem was that the issued a/p mines were designed (during WW2, I think) to be stuck in the ground. BUT the magnificent flaw in the plan was that Berlin is largely concrete and tarmac. Sooooooo, where to put the a/p mines?

    He-who-shall-not-be-named hit on a plan. Since no one was listening to him and his madcap complaints that we were storing half a million of so ancient a/p mines for no good reason, he decided to use ridicule as a weapon. On the next big inspection of Berlin defences, He-who-shall-etc., arranged for of blocks of wood, many, to be made with holes in them. Each bit of wood designed to hold an a/p mine. Come the day, bemused sappers placed blocks of wood all over the place in the Brit area of Berlin each with an a/p mine in it.

    WTF is all this cried the V senior officers upon seeing the bits of wood mounted a/p mines. He-who-shall-etc explained.

    Oh, quoth the V senior officers.

    And the a/p landmines were put back into the explosive store, it being too expensive to replace them right now..... But the cost of storing them was already budgeted for.

    And when I, as a cynical old WO2, arrived at DEODS, I asked for proper air exraction and ventilation in the room where I daily mixed highly carcinogenic chemicals. Open a window, they said. I had real trouble refraining from telling them to shove it or do it themselves. Eventually I was told to design a system myself for consideration by the upper classes.

    And at the same time I was teaching cryogenic neutralisation of fuses, by pouring liquid nitrogen from an old white enamel WW1 hospital jug. The cost of proper apparatus for transferring N2 safely was 400 quid. But there was no budget. Now I really can't imagine that anyone would actually attempt fuse neutralisation with N2 in a real life situation, by carrying liquid nitrogen around in an enamel jug. FFS!

    The real point of all of this is that the army has become punch drunk with cuts, cuts and more cuts over the years since the war, coupled with the fact that whenever the government has to face the facts that, due to incompetence, stupidity, corruption, whatever, they have a crisis it is the army that is called upon to save the day. And the army responds by making do and mending etc.

    The fact is that the government doesn't really know what it wants of the army. Its a kind of "Tool GS - break glass and remove tool in case of emergency". Followed by, "oops we fkd up again and need to cut costs, where's that tool in the glass case? Can we use a wooden case? How about we cut the number of available tools and put them only in inaccessible places?".

    Until the next time...

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
    • Like Like x 61
    • Informative Informative x 8
    • Funny Funny x 2