Changing the army - how?

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The RN - At current strength, does not have the capacity to protect the UK's supply lines

Perhaps that is for another thread.
Quite possibly. But still a fair example of the principle, if not the current reality.
Poor example: throughout the Battle of the Atlantic the Americans were both supplying Britain ( and those allies based there) and building up equipment depots for their own use, so it was mutually beneficial for both Britain and US/ Canada to jointly protect convoys.
With regard to today's trade routes, we are not at war, it is therefore the suppliers' problem to ensure their goods reach destination, not the buyers'. As in most trade, if one supplier is unable to meet contract, others are available.
Your scenario would have UK forces eternally deployed doing what supplying nations should have been doing in the first place. Which rather negates any benefit of trade with such countries.
Others are not always available and it may be very much in the national interest to look to ensure supplies.
 

Col Scheller plans to bring formal charges against General Kenneth Franklin McKenzie following the Afghanistan debacle. He has a bizarre notion that senior officers must be held accountable to the same standards as their subordinates.

This is an American issue that is directly relevant to this thread.
 
It gets dark



Options for Change / Afghanistan / Iraq - Shows that, that model didn't work. And only an idiot would expect it to work in the future. ( Einstein said something about doing the same thing over and over again ............ )



Cowardly ? - I think not. More of a self preservation mode by Officers.



But we do not make intelligent decisions - Otherwise the thread wouldn't exist / Or perhaps the risk analysis is serious flawed by people intent on keeping their jobs.
I think you are confusing your Defence Reviews. Options for Change was the post Cold War peace dividend cuts. It didn’t provide any future vision for forces, just that they were smaller and cheaper. And it had little bearing on Afghanistan which happened over ten years and another review later.

It was the 1998 Strategic Defence Review that provided a forward looking vision for what the forces were to look like and be capable of delivering over the next 25 years. From the RN and RAF perspective, SDR was remarkably prescient. Both services today look very like what was described in 1998 and have largely renewed their entire equipment inventory to deliver the SDR.

The Army never really bothered to implement SDR. Sure, you could blame Iraq and Afghanistan, but FRES didn’t fail because of either. It failed because of dire strategic oversight and programme management. The cornerstone Medium Capability still doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, the Heavy Capability has been allowed to wither to the point where the only answer is to scrap Warrior.

If the Army had delivered its SDR vision, this thread would not be necessary. We’d have an Army fit for the next 20 years, with new or rebuilt equipment fit for purpose.

Instead, we have a light capability that isn’t fit for purpose and some programmes that might deliver an incoherent capability (there’s nothing coherent about CR3, Ajax and Boxer). And we’ve got the next bright idea to follow Strike; a Ranger Brigade

Riddle me this. If the Army cannot describe what it wants to look like in ten years time, how the hell do you think it can secure funds for its equipment programme?

Final question. What is the difference between “self-preservation” node and cowardice?
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Show a direct threat to UK arising in Africa, South America or Central Asia?
None have the ability nor intention to interdict UK trade traffic.
Piracy Horn of Africa.
 
Riddle me this. If the Army cannot describe what it wants to look like in ten years time, how the hell do you think it can secure funds for its equipment programme?

That description should not come from the Army itself - It should come from the Government, who should have taken direction from various Agencies.

Final question. What is the difference between “self-preservation” node and cowardice?

You tell me - You brought it up.

However - To my mind, the ' self preservation '' of an Officer class, that appears to be not fit for purpose, does not indicate cowardice.
 
That description should not come from the Army itself - It should come from the Government, who should have taken direction from various Agencies.



You tell me - You brought it up.

However - To my mind, the ' self preservation '' of an Officer class, that appears to be not fit for purpose, does not indicate cowardice.
On the former, I disagree on two counts.

Firstly, the department of government setting the requirement is (obviously) the MOD and the Army is intrinsically part of that department. Unlike health or policing there are no separate commissioning bodies setting policy. Ministers get their advice on land matters from the Army’s senior leadership and the majority of work to shape the Army’s future happens in Army HQ. There’s nowhere to lay the blame.

The second reason I would disagree is that IMHO setting the future vision for an organisation is absolutely the role of the strategic leader.

Yes, I do think there has been a degree of cowardice from the senior leadership over the last 20 years or so. They have successively sloped the big decisions that take moral courage to make and implement. A couple of examples. Not one honestly took responsibility for Iraq or Afghanistan. In the same period, 1SL and CAS took huge capability gaps to secure the long vision for their services.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
I think you are confusing your Defence Reviews. Options for Change was the post Cold War peace dividend cuts. It didn’t provide any future vision for forces, just that they were smaller and cheaper. And it had little bearing on Afghanistan which happened over ten years and another review later.

It was the 1998 Strategic Defence Review that provided a forward looking vision for what the forces were to look like and be capable of delivering over the next 25 years. From the RN and RAF perspective, SDR was remarkably prescient. Both services today look very like what was described in 1998 and have largely renewed their entire equipment inventory to deliver the SDR.

The Army never really bothered to implement SDR. Sure, you could blame Iraq and Afghanistan, but FRES didn’t fail because of either. It failed because of dire strategic oversight and programme management. The cornerstone Medium Capability still doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, the Heavy Capability has been allowed to wither to the point where the only answer is to scrap Warrior.

If the Army had delivered its SDR vision, this thread would not be necessary. We’d have an Army fit for the next 20 years, with new or rebuilt equipment fit for purpose.

Instead, we have a light capability that isn’t fit for purpose and some programmes that might deliver an incoherent capability (there’s nothing coherent about CR3, Ajax and Boxer). And we’ve got the next bright idea to follow Strike; a Ranger Brigade

Riddle me this. If the Army cannot describe what it wants to look like in ten years time, how the hell do you think it can secure funds for its equipment programme?

Final question. What is the difference between “self-preservation” node and cowardice?

Re: The first paragraph of your post......

I do believe that some of the current problems within the modern British Army can be traced back to those outrageously severe budget cuts of the years 1991-1994.

Nonetheless you are 100% correct that all Options For Change (and the following Front Line First) cuts were about making the Forces smaller and cheaper.....(although then Defence Secretary Tom King declared that "A Lighter More Flexible Army" would emerge......)
 
Re: The first paragraph of your post......

I do believe that some of the current problems within the modern British Army can be traced back to those outrageously severe budget cuts of the years 1991-1994.

Nonetheless you are 100% correct that all Options For Change (and the following Front Line First) cuts were about making the Forces smaller and cheaper.....(although then Defence Secretary Tom King declared that "A Lighter More Flexible Army" would emerge......)
I don’t think it’s reasonable for any strategic leader to blame problems today on decisions that were made 30 years ago. Not least because Labour provided an opportunity to reset 8 years later.

On the back of SDR, the other two services have delivered a huge equipment inventory. A non exhaustive list; the Navy have delivered two carriers, two assault ships, four LSLs, 6 T45s and 5 Astutes with two more in build. T26 is progressing well. The RAF have delivered Typhoon, Lightning, Poseidon, Voyager, C17 and Atlas. On the back of the Integrated Review, the Navy have kicked off T31 and the RAF have Wedgetail coming.

I think I am right in saying that the only SDR capability the Army succeeded in introducing was the Apache. And that was a blind alley that has now been replaced. You could add Titan, Trojan and Terrier, but they are niche. The Army’s Integrated Review equipment program is a stripped out version of SDR 20 years late.
 
Ministers get their advice on land matters from the Army’s senior leadership and the majority of work to shape the Army’s future happens in Army HQ. There’s nowhere to lay the blame.

Really ?

By that logic the Army's senior leadership in conjunction with Army HQ is to blame.

The second reason I would disagree is that IMHO setting the future vision for an organisation is absolutely the role of the strategic leader.

But apparently we don't have any of them - They are too busy ducking and diving, making sure that the are not the next Prisoner Welch.

A couple of examples. Not one honestly took responsibility for Iraq or Afghanistan

Oddly enough - It is rather difficult to pinpoint responsibility when you are part of a coalition. It is also very easy to duck your responsibilities by hiding behind the cloak of its a coalition.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I think you are confusing your Defence Reviews. Options for Change was the post Cold War peace dividend cuts. It didn’t provide any future vision for forces, just that they were smaller and cheaper. And it had little bearing on Afghanistan which happened over ten years and another review later.

It was the 1998 Strategic Defence Review that provided a forward looking vision for what the forces were to look like and be capable of delivering over the next 25 years. From the RN and RAF perspective, SDR was remarkably prescient. Both services today look very like what was described in 1998 and have largely renewed their entire equipment inventory to deliver the SDR.

The Army never really bothered to implement SDR. Sure, you could blame Iraq and Afghanistan, but FRES didn’t fail because of either. It failed because of dire strategic oversight and programme management. The cornerstone Medium Capability still doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, the Heavy Capability has been allowed to wither to the point where the only answer is to scrap Warrior.

If the Army had delivered its SDR vision, this thread would not be necessary. We’d have an Army fit for the next 20 years, with new or rebuilt equipment fit for purpose.

Instead, we have a light capability that isn’t fit for purpose and some programmes that might deliver an incoherent capability (there’s nothing coherent about CR3, Ajax and Boxer). And we’ve got the next bright idea to follow Strike; a Ranger Brigade

Riddle me this. If the Army cannot describe what it wants to look like in ten years time, how the hell do you think it can secure funds for its equipment programme?

Final question. What is the difference between “self-preservation” node and cowardice?
Re: The first paragraph of your post......

I do believe that some of the current problems within the modern British Army can be traced back to those outrageously severe budget cuts of the years 1991-1994.

Nonetheless you are 100% correct that all Options For Change (and the following Front Line First) cuts were about making the Forces smaller and cheaper.....(although then Defence Secretary Tom King declared that "A Lighter More Flexible Army" would emerge......)
Options for Change, as was noted by informed observers at the time, had the potential to do good things.

What was promised, and this will sound wearily familiar, was a smaller but better-balanced army. Fuller battalions, no more mixing cap badges for tours, proper support arms in the right quantities, full logistical back-up.

In fact, what was promised would have done us well. Internecine squabbling put paid to that and all we got was hollowed out.
 

Mölders 1

War Hero
Options for Change, as was noted by informed observers at the time, had the potential to do good things.

What was promised, and this will sound wearily familiar, was a smaller but better-balanced army. Fuller battalions, no more mixing cap badges for tours, proper support arms in the right quantities, full logistical back-up.

In fact, what was promised would have done us well. Internecine squabbling put paid to that and all we got was hollowed out.

Re: Full Logistical Backup.....The Front Line First cuts were aimed at the Logistic branches of the Forces.
 
You wonder whether sending Robertson and indeed Stuart Peach off to multinational bigwig jobs in pursuit of "influence" was such a good idea, don't you...
 

HE117

LE
Fundamentally disagree. The economic impact / disruption of sending reserves off to war is too high. Which is why few SMEs (the bulk of employment in the UK) employ reservists. If / when 5% of your skilled workforce buggers off to kill her Maj's enemies (i.e. one person in a 20 person firm) you have a problem. Even when a replacement is found and paid for, they won't be as good.

Remember SME's are owner managed, why should they risk putting food on the table to cover up an incompetent Army that is unable to recruit the manpower that it needs.
You have every right to disagree, however I would also suggest that to expect that only a full time miltary can provide the required level of contingency I woud suggest is unaffordable and unrealistic.

I do agree however that using reserves as the first option to engage in combat operations is equally unrealistic. This is why I said that we need to develop a much better formula for maintaining contingency and for adopting a much more pragmatic and flexible manning system.

The ideas that the country should be able to frog march folk into operations in some form of press gang is terminally stupid, although it came very close to this at times. Far too many regulars considered that reserves were only any good as cannon fodder, although this was rarely considered in theatre. There is much potential mileage in looking at options to blend military service into education with sponsorship for example to ensure that you had a reserve of skilled tradesment that could tranfer into an active role if needed. The key is to make reserve service attractive both socially and economically.

That said, througout the Iraq/Afg period, I am pretty sure there was never a case where a small business was threatend by a call up. The employer always had a veto, which was invariably supported..
 
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Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
That said, througout the Iraq/Afg period, I am pretty sure there was never a case where a small business was threatend by a call up. The employer always had a veto, which was invariably supported..
Of course what you don't see is the non-employment of reservists by employers who aren't content to accept the disruption, despite the compensation. Despite being ex forces, and well aware of the capability benefits that a reservist brings for no charge, I was very reluctant to employ. I know I'm not alone in this (including in the ex-mil) but many might not admit it.

As regards maintaining the contingency capability, that's part of my thinking of effectively maintaining a deplorable bn buy having two additional bns in work up and recovery. Fixing orbats to WE would also help, but that's a refinement for the day when we have an Army with a credible plan and committed to delivering it.
 

Cynical

LE
Book Reviewer
Options for Change, as was noted by informed observers at the time, had the potential to do good things.
That's not my recollection, and I was both an observer and a victim.

Best thing I saw was VVSO summoned to inspire the DS at Sandhurst (of whom I was one). Usual "Faster better lighter" pitch delivered to stony silence.

Spectacularly Senior Major "Do you really believe that?"

VVSO "Well yes. But there are financial challenges"

SSM "So you don't believe in it 100%. Here, at the Army Boards' behest, we teach that you must believe in the orders you issue and, if you can't get satisfaction, you should resign. When are you resigning?"

Applause.

VVSO "It's not a resigning issue."

Tutting and muttering of "bollocks /bullshit /to55err"

SSM "So what is?"

VVSO exits


Arguably the seeds of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid in Options for Change which destroyed the only part of the army that got mission command, removed all the original thinkers who would ask awkward questions. This diminution of the military gene pool set the army on the track to the collection of pedestrian, procedure loving navel gazers who accepted WFM and never once suggested that a macralon land rover deemed inadequately protected for West Belfast might need more than a snappy name in the way of upgrades.
 
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Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
That's not my recolllection, and I was both an observer and a victim.

Best thing I saw was VVSO summoned to inspire the DS at Sandhurst (of whom I was one). Usual "Faster better lighter" pitch delivered to stony silence.

Spectacularly Senior Major "Do you really believe that?"

VVSO "Well yes. But there are financial challenges"

SSM "So you don't believe in it 100%. Here, at the Army Boards' behest, we teach that you must believe in the orders you issue and, if you can't get satisfaction, you should resign. When are you resigning?"

Applause.

VVSO "It's not a resigning issue."

Tutting and muttering of "bollocks /bullshit /******"

SSM "So what is?"

VVSO exits


Arguably the seeds of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid in Options for Change which destroyed the only part of the army that got mission command, removed all the original thinkers who would ask awkward questions. This diminution of the military gene pool set the army on the track to the collection of pedestrian, procedure loving navel gazers who accepted WFM and never once suggested that a macralon land rover deemed inadequately protected for West Belfast might need more than a snappy name in the way of upgrades.
I'm not going to challenge you on that. Your last paragraph nails it. I'm with you all the way.

I guess it depends on how it was spun and to whom and when.
 
That's not my recollection, and I was both an observer and a victim.

Best thing I saw was VVSO summoned to inspire the DS at Sandhurst (of whom I was one). Usual "Faster better lighter" pitch delivered to stony silence.

Spectacularly Senior Major "Do you really believe that?"

VVSO "Well yes. But there are financial challenges"

SSM "So you don't believe in it 100%. Here, at the Army Boards' behest, we teach that you must believe in the orders you issue and, if you can't get satisfaction, you should resign. When are you resigning?"

Applause.

VVSO "It's not a resigning issue."

Tutting and muttering of "bollocks /bullshit /to55err"

SSM "So what is?"

VVSO exits


Arguably the seeds of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid in Options for Change which destroyed the only part of the army that got mission command, removed all the original thinkers who would ask awkward questions. This diminution of the military gene pool set the army on the track to the collection of pedestrian, procedure loving navel gazers who accepted WFM and never once suggested that a macralon land rover deemed inadequately protected for West Belfast might need more than a snappy name in the way of upgrades.
I’m not convinced Options “removed all the original thinkers”. IMHO original thinking was more or less eradicated (and deliberately so) by the doctrinisation of the Army. In a very short space of time, we transformed from an organisation that experimented, tried ideas and embraced failure (if only once) to one that used doctrine as a crutch, promoted doctrine Nazis and punished anyone who strayed from the doctrinal approach.

Alongside that shift to doctrine was the move to a universal ICSC, the loss of technical Div 1 and RMCS. That was the beginning of cult of generalism and cost the Army it’s deep expertise in its equipment. Its should really be a surprise that the Army’s equipment programme has been an unmitigated disaster for 20 years when we deliberately eradicated the expertise to run it.

As for your implied suggestion that the armoured corps was the only bit of the Army that got mission command, I think that’s wrong. There was a strong mission command ethos in 5AB Bde and 16 Air Asslt and I think too in combat support arms.
 
Arguably the seeds of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid in Options for Change

As I have previously mentioned.

which destroyed the only part of the army that got mission command,

I cannot comment on the bolded part - However, it might be fair to say that Options for Change was around the time that mission command ( for those that got it ) disappeared in favour of micro-management.

Or at least became very noticeable.
 

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