Danny Boy: Pathetic radio failings put troops at risk

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#1
Iraq report: 'Pathetic' radio failings put troops at risk
They serve with 'one of the most advanced Armed Forces in the world’, but a leaked report reveals how 'pathetic’ radio failings put troops at risk in battle . Andrew Gilligan reports.

Published: 9:51PM GMT 28 Nov 2009

The language of secret military reports is nearly always dry, terse, and filled with jargon. Not this one. “This is disgraceful,” it said “and if known to a wider audience, would cause serious questions to be asked as to the reason that such a pathetic situation pertains in the 21st century for one of the most advanced Armed Forces in the world.”

It was May 14 2004. In what became known as the “Battle of Danny Boy”, one of the fiercest ever fought by the British in Iraq, soldiers of 1st Bn, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR), had just been ambushed by about 100 armed insurgents. They were fighting them off with close-quarter rifle fire and bayonets. They badly needed to call for help.

But according to the “post-operational report” leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, their Army radios failed completely.

To get reinforcements, the beleaguered soldiers – bullets whistling past their ears – had to ring the Ministry of Defence switchboard operator in London on their mobiles and ask her to pass on a message, as urgently as she could, to their own headquarters, less than 20 miles down the road from where they were...
Sunday Telegraph
 
#2
...To get reinforcements, the beleaguered soldiers – bullets whistling past their ears – had to ring the Ministry of Defence switchboard operator in London on their mobiles and ask her to pass on a message, as urgently as she could, to their own headquarters, less than 20 miles down the road from where they were...
Would those be the same mobiles that none of them would be permitted to have brought into theatre for OPSEC reasons?

We all know BOWMAN has its failings, but like so many things there's a line between shit kit and just doing it wrong, and that's even more true with technical kit. What do some of our in-house scaleys think of this?
 
#3
We used mobile phones in IRAQ in 2003 and again in 2004 to demand spares as comms were poo. :x
 
#4
fcuk me they have even have published the documet
 
#5
The phones referred to were the Satphones issued to troops. To talk to people on landlines you had to phone MoD MB switchboard and as to be put through to them.

We used to joke on Telic 3 that if we were in contact, you'd phone the nice lady and state calmly 'contact, wait out' then hang up, redial and continue with your message. There was no other way to get comms with Abu Naji if you were outside the 20km radius as we didn't have HF in the rovers.

We were still using clansman at this stage.

As the report says - pathetic.
 
#6
This story, including the calls on the sat phone, were all covered in Dusty Warriors so it's hardly the exclusive that Gilligan is claiming.
 
#7
Nige said:
The phones referred to were the Satphones issued to troops. To talk to people on landlines you had to phone MoD MB switchboard and as to be put through to them.

We used to joke on Telic 3 that if we were in contact, you'd phone the nice lady and state calmly 'contact, wait out' then hang up, redial and continue with your message. There was no other way to get comms with Abu Naji if you were outside the 20km radius as we didn't have HF in the rovers.

We were still using clansman at this stage.

As the report says - pathetic.
I'll 2nd that, during Telic 2 we were using Satphones beyond Dannyboy, the Stadium at Al Almarah & other locations as we had no other choice in comms :x
 
#8
LEGZ30 said:
This story, including the calls on the sat phone, were all covered in Dusty Warriors so it's hardly the exclusive that Gilligan is claiming.
I dont think it does say "exclusive", but should the Sunday Telegraph not have run the story because the same facts are mentioned in a book?
 
#10
hackle said:
LEGZ30 said:
This story, including the calls on the sat phone, were all covered in Dusty Warriors so it's hardly the exclusive that Gilligan is claiming.
I dont think it does say "exclusive", but should the Sunday Telegraph not have run the story because the same facts are mentioned in a book?
That was my take on it

Today, thanks to this and other leaked documents, we can for the first time place before that wider audience the sometimes heroic, sometimes shocking, and mostly untold story of 1 PWRR
I have no issue with him running the story, it is the sort of thing that the public should be reading so they understand what the problems and issues really are.

My bitch was about the journo trying to big himself up with the untold story bit.
 
#11
Nige said:
The phones referred to were the Satphones issued to troops. To talk to people on landlines you had to phone MoD MB switchboard and as to be put through to them.

We used to joke on Telic 3 that if we were in contact, you'd phone the nice lady and state calmly 'contact, wait out' then hang up, redial and continue with your message. There was no other way to get comms with Abu Naji if you were outside the 20km radius as we didn't have HF in the rovers.

We were still using clansman at this stage.

As the report says - pathetic.
gotta say I did just the same thing

Clansman was Shiite and Harris was no good fo anything other than the FAC... We used the jundie cell phone network more often than not
 
#12
Someone trying to be controversial could point out the fact that for years soldiers abused their Clansman systems by for example:

Never putting radios through monthly test regimes on the correct equipment (because it was all to difficult)

Never carrying out CFT/MFS on the vehicle installed radio kit (because it was all to difficult), allowing the cables fitted in such vehicles to become split & snapped with ends hanging off.

Never ensuring vehicle radio batteries where routinely maintained

Never properly earthing radios when installed in vehicles

Never routinely splitting antennas and cleaning the copper connections to ensure a good electrical connectivity

Never carrying out any battery maintenance or allowing the battery too completely discharge once in a while before re-charging

Never putting audio and ancils through monthly test regimes on the correct equipment (because it was all to difficult)

Always throwing audio and ancils in the at the bottom of sh*t loads of kit and never inspecting it for loose wires or general wear & tear

Never reporting faults breakage’s, just stuffing kit in the bag at ‘Endex’

Always blaming the equipment for their shortfall in their own knowledge

Not understanding the laws of physics and the limitations of the kit they are carrying

Always thinking the above was someone else’s responsibility

Always blaming Clansman because it is old and sh*t. Next people will be blaming Bowman because it’s new and sh*t 8O

However, I wouldn’t be that controversial :wink: :D
 
#13
Nige said:
The phones referred to were the Satphones issued to troops. To talk to people on landlines you had to phone MoD MB switchboard and as to be put through to them.

We used to joke on Telic 3 that if we were in contact, you'd phone the nice lady and state calmly 'contact, wait out' then hang up, redial and continue with your message. There was no other way to get comms with Abu Naji if you were outside the 20km radius as we didn't have HF in the rovers.

We were still using clansman at this stage.

As the report says - pathetic.

Danny Boy had been a PVCP prior to the LI BG handing over to the Tigers, the book does cover the facts in a nutshell. There had been a rocket attack that afternoon, so when the OC's rover group got shot at the Condor platoons crashed out in response. As per SOPs Sat phones & PS were always carried.

The HMG platoon had a landrover fitted with HF, the mast was strapped on to the side.
 
#15
Maybe we should put the next comms contract out to Orange®
 
#17
I personally found clansman worked fine whilst deployed on Telic 4 and was quite often to be found carrying it. The only gripe I had was it spent most of the patrol switched off for the obvious reason that those who know will know. It would have been nice to have the alternative comms some have spoken of so we could have been reachable.
 
#19
CAARPS - you are right to an extent, but the sheer lack of comms equipment on TELIC left many relying on SATCOM phones as their only method of comms.

Apart from the obvious "Contact - Wait Out" taking in excess of 90 seconds, whilst the SAT Phone located the satellite, wait until they publish the bills!

All no doubt hidden away in any number of UOR’s, but the I would wager that the amount of money spent with the likes of INMARSAT would have funded both Clansman and Bowman adequately for decades. To all intents and purposes, another example of military outsourcing, where the true costs are not seen, and the operational impact / risk, is not understood by those in government.
 
#20
Selective quoting there Hackle. The main thrust of the article is that poor comms and constant contacts may have put the troops in a mental state where they could have committed the atrocities that they are accused of.
 
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