Defence is at a crossroads – with no signpost

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jan 13, 2010.

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  1. From The Times
    January 13, 2010
    Defence is at a crossroads – with no signpost
    So here are some priorities: add 10,000 to the Army; forget ‘balancing’ the Forces; root out amateurism everywhere
    Allan Mallinson

    A fifth of the infantry is hors de combat. According to the Ministry of Defence, almost 5,000 soldiers and officers are not available for combat duty.

    As ever with MoD figures, it is not that straightforward. Some of these combat troops cannot be deployed because they are about to be discharged. Others are excused from action on compassionate grounds. But there are more than a thousand soldiers recovering from wounds or other incapacity sustained on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This is a sobering thought, the human price of foreign policy and homeland security; but an even more worrying one to senior officers trying to gear the Army for not only the long haul in Afghanistan, but also for the unforeseen contingencies that Harold Macmillan so pithily summed up as “events”.

    These statistics ought to be a wake-up call. Last summer Operation Panther’s Claw showed to a dozing Whitehall that the Army was unquestionably at war. These figures show the true manpower attrition — and the overstretch — of an Army that is not only fighting a serious campaign in Afghanistan but is continuing with global commitments such as in our garrisons in Cyprus.
    More
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6985479.ece
     
  2. Time for UK Defence Force-1 General Staff,1 procurement setup,1 set of MOD civilians etc.That would surely fund as many sharp edge troops as needed,& cut the Governments alcohol,entertainment,bribes bill enough to fund another 8 Chinooks.Cynical,moi? :(
     
  3. And again, in English?
     
  4. Alcohol, entertainment, procurement, MOD civilians, rabble rabble, bribes, rabble rabble, chinooks. Comprende?
     
  5. Got it. Crystal clear. Why couldn't he have put it like that in the first place?
     
  6. Who needs a signpost when the only way is 'down'?
     
  7. Mmmmm.

    The problem I have with what appears to be sensible analysis in general is that he has a tendency to go a bit Lewis Page.

    Dealing with his first point, the FJ flying club vs tactical air force.

    Quick questions, Brigadier. Number of RAF FJ squadrons?

    12.

    Will go down to 9 (losing the last Tornado F3, 1 Harrier and 1 GR4 Sqn) in the next 12 months.

    And will probably lose another GR4 squadron and perhaps the final light blue Harrier unit.

    It'll gain one Typhoon squadron in that time - so overall, total of FJ units, without the defence review interfering, by Dec 2010 = 8

    And the number of helicopter and transport squadrons?

    Er, well, Brigadier, don't quite know how to tell you this, but it's 18.

    Granted, 3 of those units (22, 202 and 84) are SAR helicopter sqns which are unlikely to deploy.

    Number of these squadrons to go? None.

    So the FJ flying club acutally has more squadrons of SH and transport aircraft than it does FJ at present, and that gap will increase.

    And he hasn't even mentioned the ISR units...

    And then, passing over the point often made here (and not just by me) that the Typhoon has always been a multi-role type and that the roof-rack/Ferrari analogy was wrong the first time he used it, I wonder what he makes of this:

    (General (rtd) Sir Richard Dannatt, RUSI Land Warfare conference, 2009 ,if you were wondering)?


    It's a typical example of a senior officer (albeit retired) deciding that rather than turning fire on the Treasury and asking why we're giving aid to two nations with space programmes and ambitions to operate aircraft carriers (India and China), or spending billions on pointless quangos, prefers to fall into the nice, comfortable, trips off the keyboard easy-as-you like attack on the other services approach instead.

    Tired, hackneyed, derivative. Show again.
     
  8. So you're saying:

    -We're spending enough on AT and SH, and there's no need to worry;
    -And the balance between spending on AT/SH on the one hand, and FJ on the other, is right.

    Right?

    And you live on what planet?
     
  9. For me spells out in ten foot high neon letters why having an army man as the main service advisor on the next defence review invites disaster. How anyone with the brains to see the failure in his own force can then deliver idiotic throw-away comments about the Navy lack of 'spirit' and RAF being a 'flying club' shows just how disastrously institutionalized even the most intelligent person can become given enough time. And the sad fact is that, given the current focus on Afghanistan, they'll be listened too. I hope to god Dannatt has more about him when he's advising Cameron.
     
  10. A slight tangent: there is no denying that defence is in need of a serious fix. When money's tight, it needs t learn how to stop wasting it, for a statr - but it goes even deepr.

    Not so long back, threads on here were about the Army failing to remember lessons learned on other battlefilds.

    I have been saying for about three years that Afghanistan is a Crimea for our time.

    I hope I am right: the feckup in 1854 prompted the reforms that in time gave us an Army worth the name for 1914.

    Here's the rub: I do not believe that any of the truly hisotric reforms to Britain's armed forces were inititated, planned or sustained either by men in uniform, or by politicians - rahter they were driven by civilians.

    Right now, the signs are that neither the uniforms, the politicos ofr the sybil serpents have in their ranks the talent imagination, determination and organisation and leadership skills to do what is required.

    Sh1t creek beckons.
     
  11. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Interesting point that, wasn't it the amateurs in WWI that produced the real innovation, civis in uniform?

    There is a grain of truth in his comments on the RAF and RN though (even if spectacularly failing to recognise any deficiencies in the Army)

    The RAF is still wanting an ultra expensive FJ in JCA instead of investing that in rotary, transport and ISR

    The RN is going to be dangerously top heavy, CVF and JCA but without the capability to do the bread and butter tasks that actually provide maritime security
     
  12. In reverse order:

    1. The same one as Richard Dannatt.

    2. Wrong.


    My contention, using the air bit as an illustration is that Mallinson has written a lazy piece of analysis which sees his proferred solution to the problem to be to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    We are not spending enough (again using air as an example) on either FJ or SH & AT, particularly the latter.

    Nor are we, if we are to maintain the current, and probably (if Hague's comments are anything to go by) future position that the UK must be able to use military power in a variety of scenarios to maintain its national interests (however they are defined) spending enough on Land or Maritime capabilities.

    My point is that by using a tendentious, inaccurate and simplistic set of examples, Mallinson produces his copy, but fails to take the opportunity to ask more challenging questions about the apportionment of money by the Treasury.

    Would the £1 bn+ we give in aid to India and China - or at least some of it - not, perhaps, be better spent on (maintaining the air theme) Chinooks? Or more C-130J? Or a more credible platform than Future Lynx (at least for the AAC).

    He doesn't suggest that perhaps the government - whichever colour it is after the election - has a fundamental choice; the real crossroads bit, in fact.

    Does it conclude that:

    (a) we are, in fact, quite a small nation which really should stop p1ssing about pretending that we're punching above our weight, reduce worldwide commitments and accept our reduced status in the world which results from this

    or

    (b) we need to continue to be involved in operations such as Afghanistan while maintaining the ability to defend the UK and our dependent territories, and this requires armed forces which can meet a range of contingencies.

    But no. Mallinson instead chooses to dress the argument up as a choice between "Cold War type battles" or Afghanistan (because that's the only sort of war we'll fight. Ever). Which is dangerous and naive as a cursory glance at the number of 'Bugg£r! This isn't the war we conigured for!' conflicts we've faced would show.
     
  13. Does it conclude that:

    (a) we are, in fact, quite a small nation which really should stop p1ssing about pretending that we're punching above our weight, reduce worldwide commitments and accept our reduced status in the world which results from this

    or

    (b) we need to continue to be involved in operations such as Afghanistan while maintaining the ability to defend the UK and our dependent territories, and this requires armed forces which can meet a range of contingencies.

    But no. Mallinson instead chooses to dress the argument up as a choice between "Cold War type battles" or Afghanistan (because that's the only sort of war we'll fight. Ever). Which is dangerous and naive as a cursory glance at the number of 'Bugg£r! This isn't the war we conigured for!' conflicts we've faced would show.

    It seems to me that its not that we can't afford it but our politicians don't wish to afford it. What must be spelt out to all voters prior to the election is the possible consequences of taking the decision not to afford it. That to my mind is the message that our retired experts must get over. I must say though that many of them must take responsibility for the mess defence is at the moment. Many civilians will be very sceptical at the wisdom of giving the MOD the benefit of spending any money without very close supervision.
     
  14. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Having forces for the conflicts ahead i.e. Afghanistan and the Middle East/Africa AND forces for any eventuality is the sensible thing, we all know that

    BUT

    What if you haven't got the money for both?
    What do you choose?

    Option 1 - Concentrate all resources on what is immediately in front of you to support a rapid resolution

    Option 2 - Try and spread things around, recognising that a possible future conflict will require equipment not used today but also accepting that the fight you are in today is going to be resource poor

    Its OK making a case for an increase in spending but against a backdrop of very public bungling inefficiency (uniform and civilian) and the financial environment, its a hard sell

    So whilst the author makes a number of plainly ridiculous arguments the thrust, as said above, is make a choice
     
  15. Seems to me that none of the "within the box" options are very satisfactory and that lack of funding is inevitable unless we stop funding the other shite. Someone mentioned a "UK Defence Force". I like the sound of that. Augmented by auxilliaries, these being youngsters coming of age who don't wish to pursue a career in defence or other crucial employment, being conscripted to participate in basic specialist training, scheduled along military lines, that would provide critical support to other agencies in time of disaster ie Construction, water purification, vehicle maintenance, logistics, power supply etc, etc , etc. This might be full or part time, but obligatory, paid and with a qualification. It might also be a good precursor to a defence career. Time to start bouncing ideas around be they crap or not.