Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by FrogPrince, Sep 13, 2005.

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  1. Journalistic interest in the Reserves from the Telegraph:

    Cash and manpower shortages leave emergency military force 'in chaos'
    By Neil Tweedie
    (Filed: 12/09/2005)

    A military force created by the Government to help the civilian emergency services in the event of a major terrorist attack has been described by senior Army officers as a white elephant, crippled by lack of manpower and money.

    The Civil Contingencies Reaction Force (CCRF) was set up after the September 11 attacks to provide military support to police, fire and ambulance services coping with an attack or other serious emergency.

    But critics say it is unable to fulfil its role because many of the more than 7,000 reservists who notionally make up its strength are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. In addition, lack of money has deprived the CCRF of the communications equipment it needs to co-ordinate operations with the civilian authorities.

    An officer who has detailed knowledge of the workings of the CCRF told The Daily Telegraph that it had turned out to be a cosmetic exercise designed only to give the impression of action after the New York and Washington attacks.

    He said: "The Government constantly makes demands and constantly fails to support us. How could the CCRF work with no funding?

    "The situation is in chaos. We are suffering a huge shortage of manpower and, at present, the CCRF is nothing more than a white elephant. We have a name and a role but no troops and no resources.

    "There has been plenty of criticism here about the performance of the US National Guard in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, but they are infinitely better equipped and there is no guarantee that our performance would be better."

    The CCRF, announced in October 2002, is supposed to offer specialist assistance, including nuclear, biological and chemical expertise, as well as armed troops. The Territorial Army, which provides the vast majority of the manpower, set up 14 regional CCRF contingents, each composed of 500 reservists. Each area has a co-ordinator who liaises with the civilian authorities, and each unit is supposed to have half its strength ready in 48 hours.

    But the 7,000 CCRF volunteers are just the kind of reservists who are likely to volunteer for overseas service, because both tasks require understanding employers willing to lose staff at short notice or for extended periods.

    The slimming down of the TA is also a problem. For example, the reduction in TA infantry battalions in the north-west of England could result in as few as 200 locally-based troops being available to the CCRF in Manchester and Liverpool.

    Liaison officers are also in short supply as many are staff officers regularly mobilised in Iraq and elsewhere.

    Shortage of money means there is no proper system for communicating with the emergency services. Regional controllers have complained that they were given a mobile telephone and told to get on with it.

    Outside London there are have been few exercises beyond paper planning events.

    The CCRF is strongest in the capital because regular units such as Guards battalions on public duties could be deployed at short notice. Even so, the CCRF was notable by its absence after the July 7 suicide bombings, although supporters of the force would argue that its deployment was inappropriate.

    The police are known to be wary of any encroachment into their area of responsibility, and there is sensitivity in Whitehall about the presence of troops on the streets.

    The Ministry of Defence denies that there is a problem with CCRF manning, claiming reservists sent abroad are replaced by other personnel.

    So that's all right then....
  2. So do you think the TA would be better serving as a National Guard type organisation

  3. All the MoD's invisible friends?
  4. I thought the CCRF was a wizard wheeze dreamt up by TA headsheds to keep as many bodies and as much funding as we could during and after SDR? I'm not being sarcastic, I actually believe that.

    How many times has the CCRF been crashed out since conception? We've had several incidents large enough to justify at least the Sigs and Meds dashing into the TAC and grabbing LR's and getting on the street where needed. Let's face it, the CCRF was supposed to be about reaction to terrorism. 56 people die in London , chaos reigns, did the TA specialists get a call? RMP/Medics/Sigs/Inf Sigs Yes or no?

    To the best of my knowledge, the answer is never. This winter hereabouts , farmers and villages will be flooded out, roads will be impassable etc , and we still won't get a crashout for 4wd Trucks and some help rescuing people and getting roads clear.
    It's all very well for the headsheds to have argued for the CCRF to save the TA (and arguably their own jobs) but, if it's not getting used, then guess what will happen to it?

    When the CCRF was first mooted , there was a big presentation, with key personnel invited. These included the bigwigs from the Bluelight. The Important Army Bloke talked about a plan that went something like "Major incident at a football match , Hundreds dead and injured , we will get a call, all report to your respective post-SDR TACS (Think of the footprint here), then we will travel 50 miles North to our rally point , and from there, we will co-ordinate activities" I just sat there with my mouth hanging open thinking "You fcuking what?"

    However, a Deputy CC was quite direct. "If you people are going to turn up in that time frame, then you might as well bring brooms, because all you'll be used for, is sweeping up glass" In the syndicate session later, he was more forthright, but I'll spare the blushes here.

    What Blue light thought they were getting, were small Army specialist dets , that could be on the ground within 1.5 hours of a GO order , with a range of comms and specialistions including Airwave , and operating as co-ordination between Bluelight and EOD/MED/SEC , until the rest of the Army got there.The idea he wanted to see , was duty CCRF dets , all on pagers or mobile comms , with their Vehicles all tasked ready to go on a request from through the chain. (Yeah I'm sure he wanted a Pony for Xmas too)

    Would love to have a vehicle tasked for CCRF only, if they all weren't in LAD/IRAQ/QPSI Company hack.

    It's a white elephant, because the people that created it , can't, won't or don't know how to use it.

    Out of idle interest, how many local councils know they have this capability in their midst?
  5. Not fully sure about my figures however I suspect, as I was told 500 TA troops VS 50 000 emergency services in London (not including surrounding areas which could be called upon)

    That sums it up for me
  6. Notable by it's absence? The response to the events of July 7 were well within the capabilities of 'Blue-light' services. There were no shortages of Police, so no need for RMP's... no shortage of medical staff so why call in the Medics... No problem with Comms (not for the Emergency services) so why call out the heroes of 2 Bde (parts of which were already doing their job in places like Gleneagles etc.)?

    Bad as it was it was well under control and the small number of Army regs who were working with the ES were all that was required. In fact, it shows exceptional foresight and understanding of the situation by whoever was at the helm that day that the streets of London were not flooded by CCRF personnel.

    The hack that wrote the Torygraph piece might have a point that mobilisations would almost certainly have affected the ability to respond to something 'serious', but much of what it says is unsubstanstiated drivel...

    Some fat arrse ex-reg LE with an axe to grind no doubt...
  7. To me the CCRF principle was totally Arrse about face. Forgive me for some lack of minor detail here, but each Regional Bde mustered up 500 CCRF bods. A Regional Bde's boundaries are defined by counties, and we have 9 Regional Bdes plus LonDist (give or take a couple I may have omitted). So, terrorist incident occurs (and I doubt terrorists keep their actions within nice county boundaries) so 1 or 2 Bdes call out their CCRF. How long would that take? Many CCRF members are also blue light bods who will be dealing with said incident anyway. Surely it would be better to find a Regular unit who I am sure could muster up troops quicker than a widespread TA footprint, with a tried and tested command structure. Then, as they deal with the incident, call out the CCRF over the next few hours to relieve the Regs. That is if they want to use the TA, but I agree with what has been said and I can’t see them ever being needed. Wasn’t it SDR (New Chapter)? More like SDR (Final Epilogue).
  8. Who says we don't have that ability.

    As for not being required for 7th July, people identified several areas where army sigs dets could have been of use (such as helping Railway companies to get their comms running). I believe many units were bombared with 'are going questions' from ARRSE users, we'd probably have had a least 1x(ARRSE) Sigs Sqn and a couple of CCRF(ARRSE) Coys in place early afternoon.
  9. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Oh dear, much ignorance here.

    1. CCRF would only be called out for a MAJOR incident, we are talking here of 9/11 plus.

    2. It would be used after the Regulars had short their bolt, so nothing for the first 48 Hours (We'd need that to get in and sort ourselves out).

    3. Most likely, you'd be called out for an incident in a neighbouring Brigade, as transport links in yours would be scrambled.

    4. Most likely use - cordons, transport, vehicle control, maybe feeding (but much H&S debate on that to be sorted out first - what happens if a Field Kitchen 'hurts' someone?). No plans for using any specialist kit that I have seen - a REME Unit was tasked to turn up with Shovels, rather than Heavy Recovery Vehicles, on one recent exercise.

    Finally, it's a political answer to a non-existent question. The Coppers don't want or need it, and they CERTAINLY don't want soldiers with guns ANYWHERE on the streets of the UK. For example, there are many, many time more NBC Decontamination Units in the Metropolitan London Area than the entire MoD possesses. Or, how many coppers in the Met? How many soldiers in London (Reg and TA?) Sorry, chaps, it's a knee-jerk reaction to a problem already being planned for.

    However, it was a useful stick for the TA Infantry to use to increase their establishments, prior to the recent deployments.

    Apart from that, waste of space.
  10. It is difficult not to become cynical and assume that Tony wanted to have a National Guard thing he could flaunt in time of emergency like widespread flooding.

    Here in Scotland big plod wants the soldiers to do crowd control whislt little plod attends to things although with no powers of arrest and no immunity from prosecution I can't really see them being terribly effective. Even if they have managed to get the incident in the first place.

    Remember that before Telic that CCRF was almost the only justification for not rolling up the TA and selling off the silver (and the TACs)
  11. Only cos we don't shoot Brazilians.
  12. The last CCRF trg I did was very informative. The blue light services all gave demo's of thier various abilities, showed their equip and told us what they required from us........

    The blue light services seemed to believe we would be doing all sorts of thing for each of them, from cordons to crowd control, documentation to sandbagging.

    After all the demo's (which were all very good) the only service who knew thier role and were ready to do the job was the coast guard they are a very impressive organization. They work with everyone national and international, civil agencies, military and public sector (and they don't seem too fused about the budgeting) I think we could learn alot from them.

    If we are needed we'll be asked for. At the end of the day when the s*!t hits the fan, every TA soldier who can be of help will be, we can be very flexible and that is what is needed.

    As for the comment about comms with blue light services, I've been working with Airwave\Cleartones systems since it was new to the police, the army seems to have more hands on with the kit than the fire brigade who seem to be dragging there feet (for thier own reasons).
  13. I recently attended a CCRF wkend where we practiced a simulated call-out - It was not well attended by the lower ranks - Plenty of enthusiasm from the Officers though. The low turnout by the junior ranks might have something to do with it being the summer hols !!
  14. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Our Bde CCRF FTX has been cunningly planned to take place within a fortnight of both Major Units in the brigade returning from their Annual Camps.

    Attedance is likely to be low; this will not be helped by previous experience of these, which entailed much waiting around, and very, very little doing anything.
  15. In my previous Bde I was much relieved not to be involved in CCRF (when asked for volunteers I made sure it was the other bloke). Reports from the exercises run were amusing and not surprising: No one service could communicate effectively with any of the others, Mr Plod went home early as they weren't paying overtime and our soldiers spent all their time in one place (put out of the way) with little to do or contibute to.

    However, trouble has now arisen as now that I have moved Bdes apparently I am automatically volunteered for CCRF and have a briefing on such this weekend. Despite being a believer in the system when it comes to CCRF I seem to get a good dose of cynicism. Perhaps it looked good on paper but the practical realities will, I think, make CCRF unworkable.