Expeditionary Army?

#1
"This restructuring is part of our strategy to provide a truly robust and expeditionary Army. It is the next step in modernising the Army into a fully deployable force. It is essential to ensure that we are structured to provide the most powerful capability possible from the resources available."

So said some bad-breathed politician today. What the hell is this about? The UK is no longer the centre of an Empire with any requirement to provide 'expeditionary' forces to defend its' interests in faraway countries. The world economy is a matter for market forces, not those armed with the sort of second-rate weapons our Government kindly allows ours to bear, and it should be apparent to any but the least endowed that 'expeditionary Armies' aren't now generally welcome anywhere. Haven't we learned anything from history? Our Armed Forces are full of living people, who would like to stay alive. We want them to achieve that ambition, and only to consider the remote possibility of risking their lives if some basta&d has a go at us (economic and loyalty considerations included).

Discuss (or don't, if the pub's open).
 
#3
Expediontary Army: overworked, underpaid, equipped with s"""e weapons and other kit, sent to fight in illegal wars for the greed of corporations and the vanity of politicians...
So, nothing new there, then.
 
#5
Serious question: are you advocating that the UK only has defence forces and that "force projection" is now redundant?

The term "Expeditionary Force" is probably now too pejorative, but how else to describe the focussed, precision deployment of military forces to achieve objectives abroad in pursuit of the national interest?

I agree that HMG has totally missed the point where the "X" of resources meets the "Y" of realistic outcomes on the bell curve chart. Nonetheless, what you are saying, in effect, is that we only need enough Home Guard to sit at Dover nowadays. I'd, respectfully, disagree.

V!
 
#6
Vegetius said:
what you are saying, in effect, is that we only need enough Home Guard to sit at Dover nowadays.
That'll be 1 PARA then!

So, whatever way you look at it, PoD gets his own way. :)

But to answer the serious question, UK forces will NEVER be truely 'expeditionary' - except maybe for a small para, cdo or light inf BG operating independantly for a VERY short period. We will ALWAYS require in theatre ports and ready-made airfields capable of handling BIG aircraft. So, we either need a benign conflict or a friendly neighbour in theatre. If we have that, then our forces are no less expeditionary now than they will be in, say, 20 years time. Remember, 'expeditionary' has replaced 'deployable' in the military lexicon to indicate this very change. The 2 new carriers, if ever produced, will gives us a part-time capability to offer limited airstrikes - far better, and far cheaper would be a couple of TLAM cruisers! That's not expeditionary forces, that's gun-boat diplomacy.

The word 'expeditionary' is used quite inappropriately by the MoD and various other bigwigs in suits. What the mean is 'self-sufficiency' and 'self-sustainability'. In plain English, this means we need more 3rd line troops (loggies etc) to support the 1st line troops - and a fleet of new aircraft to carry them. Why was the Telic 1 battle plan only as far as Basrah and no more? Because we couldn't resupply our troops any further than that under 'war' conditions - unless we borrowed a US CSS brigade!

Since there is no extra money to go in the pot, the drive for 'expeditionary forces' is a code-word for spending the little money that is left in the pot on 'high-tech' stand-off weopans and the reconfiguration of 1st line troops to 3rd line troops. By 2020, I will be surprised if we have 30 line infantry battalions in the orbat.
 
#7
Have to say i agree with Vegetius here - besides, power/force projection and gunboat diplomacy are not the same thing. Whilst gunboat diplomacy may be part of projecting your power worldwide it doesnt solve everything, and as i'm sure most on this site would agree boots on the ground will always be necessary. Thus whilst it would be cheaper to buy cruisers and TLAMs rather than the CVF the effect would not be the same. Maybe i am naive and believed what was discussed in strat studies too easily but although Britain is no longer in possession of an empire there are many reasons why the ability to project power is important - not least because once we cease to be able to project power and influence world events we lose our Veto on the Security Council - which means we can't infuence events....downwards spiral from there. DB goes and sits quietly in corner, faces wall
 
#8
Oh and in Telic 1, incidentally, wasn't it Cdo Logs that provided CSUPs for Britfor...?!! So whilst maybe more emphasis does need to be placed on sustainability, there was a Bde asset supporting a Div. And talking of the necessity for host nation support etc etc, look up "sea basing"....
 
#9
My point was obviously not put across very well.

I am not suggesting that HM Armed Forces become a simple (home) defence force. I am simply pointing out that they are ALREADY the 2nd most 'deployable' force in the world and that the idea of an 'expeditionary force' is a holy grail - or better still, a red herring!

2 carriers does not give permanent capability; there will be periods when both are in dock under various stages of refit. Let's just hope that the hypothetical emergency doesn't come along when they are both layed up! They are also just a floating airfield. So they don't help in your boots on the ground capability. All they may be able to do is provide aircover to troops on the ground - who have been inserted by current equipment. Moreover, the size of the air wing embarked will only be able to support a BG at the very most in a warfighting situation - hence my previous point. Unless, of course, the Chancellor is prepared to find an extra few billions to make the carriers a worthwhile size!

The carriers, as currently envisioned, will only be able to support a minimally sized force for a very short period of tim; or, provide the launch pad for a brief manned aerial-only assault; or, try to scare somebody by looking big and mean! Which takes me back to gunboat diplomacy.

HM Armed Forces can ALREADY deploy anywhere worldwide with significant size and capability. However, they require a significant lead-in time prior to the first shot being fired, major 'borrowing' of uplift capacity (air and sea), and can only sustain themselves in a relatively geographically small AO for a short period of time - in war fighting conditions.

I do not advocate giving up 'force projection' capabilities. I am saying that we already have them, and the more cost effective and sensible way to improve this is NOT the way currently being employed/discussed by HMG.


dutybooty said:
Oh and in Telic 1, incidentally, wasn't it Cdo Logs that provided CSUPs for Britfor...?!! So whilst maybe more emphasis does need to be placed on sustainability, there was a Bde asset supporting a Div. And talking of the necessity for host nation support etc etc, look up "sea basing"....
Errrmmm! UK Armed Forces had far more than Cdo Log Regt supporting Telic 1. Far, far, more than that. But all together, the planners decided that all they could support under combat conditions was an AO upto Al-Qurnah and no further.
 
#10
History is repeating itself folks. These are the discussions which went on in 1908. Read, "The British Army" by Field Marshall Lord Carver. Very interesting insight into how HMG viewed the forces back then. Of course we had a navy then and that made a difference.
 
#11
merkator said:
We will ALWAYS require in theatre ports and ready-made airfields capable of handling BIG aircraft. So, we either need a benign conflict or a friendly neighbour in theatre.
merkator said:
HM Armed Forces can ALREADY deploy anywhere worldwide with significant size and capability. However, they require a significant lead-in time prior to the first shot being fired, major 'borrowing' of uplift capacity (air and sea), and can only sustain themselves in a relatively geographically small AO for a short period of time - in war fighting conditions.
I presume from your earlier post that by lead-in time you mean logistic build-up, enabling works, infrastructure, etc. However, the whole point of amphibious forces is that they are able to land on a beach and build up from there - with sea based logistics. Vide Op CORPORATE. But the problem with amphibious forces is that surface ships are quite difficult to hide - and so something needs to stop enemy air from sinking them. Obviously air defence systems are part of the solution, but I know I'd feel safer if a few of our magnificent men were up there in their flying machines!

merkator said:
They are also just a floating airfield. So they don't help in your boots on the ground capability. All they may be able to do is provide aircover to troops on the ground - who have been inserted by current equipment. Moreover, the size of the air wing embarked will only be able to support a BG at the very most in a warfighting situation - hence my previous point. Unless, of course, the Chancellor is prepared to find an extra few billions to make the carriers a worthwhile size!

The carriers, as currently envisioned, will only be able to support a minimally sized force for a very short period of tim; or, provide the launch pad for a brief manned aerial-only assault; or, try to scare somebody by looking big and mean! Which takes me back to gunboat diplomacy.
However, in the early stages, the most important task is arguably not CAS (for which NGS will be something of a substitute, at least in the close), but CA/AD.

I see the thrust of your argument, but I'm not sure you're fully accounting for amphibiousity*.

merkator said:
2 carriers does not give permanent capability; there will be periods when both are in dock under various stages of refit. Let's just hope that the hypothetical emergency doesn't come along when they are both layed up!
Absolutely - and one might think that, ceteris paribus, the enemy will know that too. So perhaps Gordon needs to dig even deeper!

* - I use the word with my tongue slightly in my cheek - it is a horrible made up word!
 
#13
Ok my bad there, i didnt intend to suggest that the whole of Britfor was supported by Cdo logs - but it is true that in particular a large proportion of the required POL came from afloat assets.
Yes NGS is useful, but for the amount that it was hyped up (first gunline since Falklands, blah blah) the effect achieved was minimal with few rounds actually being fired. Until the grey funnel line get a gun bigger than 114mm that can fire further....
Have to agree with nasch re the magnificent men in their flying machines! Prove if you also think it is crazy to be withdrawing FA2s at least 6 years before the replacement enters service.
 
#14
I do - I've written lots of posts on the Sea Jet thread over on PPRuNe...(don't click on the link if you don't want to)...

http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=98152

These day an expeditionary Army needs an expeditionary Navy, and an expeditionary air force. All three are dependent largely on each other.

As for NGS, there was some discussion of fitting some Type 45s with a 155mm gun.......but the treasury put paid to that.
 
#15
nasch said:
I presume from your earlier post that by lead-in time you mean logistic build-up, enabling works, infrastructure, etc. However, the whole point of amphibious forces is that they are able to land on a beach and build up from there - with sea based logistics. Vide Op CORPORATE. But the problem with amphibious forces is that surface ships are quite difficult to hide - and so something needs to stop enemy air from sinking them. Obviously air defence systems are part of the solution, but I know I'd feel safer if a few of our magnificent men were up there in their flying machines!
OK. Let's assume the 2 carriers get built within the budget permitted by the current Chancellor. If we assume that ALL the RN's amphibious forces are put to sea (2 'new' carriers, Ocean, the 2 'new' assault ships, the venerable LSLs and the support ships) the uplift is just 1 brigade strength - 3 Commando Brigade. How long could they sustain themselves, and how far inland could they penetrate, in the face of an opposed landing? Not much I fear. Where do the follow-on forces come from? Commercially chartered vessels? QE2 and QM2 converted into troopships? Atlantic Conquest into equipment carrier and so on? In essence, in 2020, all HM Armed Forces will be able to do in an 'expeditionary' fashion is what they can do now - and actually did in 1982! Is that progress? OK. I accept that they may be able to do it a bit better, but not that much considering 40 years of elapsed time.

And remember, to do that requires ALL the RN's assault ships. How long a lead-in time will that require?


nasch said:
I see the thrust of your argument, but I'm not sure you're fully accounting for amphibiousity.
Nah! Seen it and accounted for it.

In my opinion, we are about to spend huge sums of money just to stand still.
 
#16
#17
merkator said:
OK. Let's assume the 2 carriers get built within the budget permitted by the current Chancellor. If we assume that ALL the RN's amphibious forces are put to sea (2 'new' carriers, Ocean, the 2 'new' assault ships, the venerable LSLs and the support ships) the uplift is just 1 brigade strength - 3 Commando Brigade. How long could they sustain themselves, and how far inland could they penetrate, in the face of an opposed landing? Not much I fear. Where do the follow-on forces come from? Commercially chartered vessels? QE2 and QM2 converted into troopships? Atlantic Conquest into equipment carrier and so on? In essence, in 2020, all HM Armed Forces will be able to do in an 'expeditionary' fashion is what they can do now - and actually did in 1982! Is that progress? OK. I accept that they may be able to do it a bit better, but not that much considering 40 years of elapsed time.

And remember, to do that requires ALL the RN's assault ships. How long a lead-in time will that require?

nasch said:
I see the thrust of your argument, but I'm not sure you're fully accounting for amphibiousity.
Nah! Seen it and accounted for it.

In my opinion, we are about to spend huge sums of money just to stand still.
No, of course 3X couldn't penetrate that far in the face of an opposed landing - but hopefully they could penetrate just far enough to give an umbrella of protection to STUFT (or whatever it's currently called) to come far enough inshore to unload. However, that would almost certainly still depend on sea based CA/AD - so we still need those 2 (3) carriers.

One of the key things to bear in mind is that the current defence planning assumptions are that the maximum scale of effort for UK plc is 'large' - i.e. one Division. It is therefore perfectly feasible for 3X to be the spearhead bde for this div, with follow on bdes on STUFT... so the scenario in my mind isn't too different to the planning scenario.

Yes, we are spending money to stand still - but if we don't spend money, we'll move backwards...


PS - Assuming we're talking about a couple of years time, it's LSD(A)s, not LSLs - so a significant LIM and capability uplift.
 
#18
nasch,

I feel our opinions have far more in common than disagreement.

18 months ago I was part of a small team conducting an independant 'capability study' of the various size/configs being put forward for the 'new' carrier (CVF). At the time, probably still now, the Navy and was talking about one size/config - a MINIMUM of 65,000 tonnes - HMG were talking somewhere around 50,000 MAXIMUM - although this figure depended on who you spoke to in HMG and what day of the week it was. Our foreign policy (FCO driven) dictates a 'capability' that is not being matched by our willingness to pay for that capability (Treasury driven). Even after the contract has been signed, it is expected that the design will alter quite dramatically downwards to save money!

I am not against the RN aquiring the carriers, in fact I'm all for it. But for HM Armed Forces to become independantly 'expeditionary' - at a worthwhile force scale - it needs a minimum of 3 carriers of 70,000+ tonnes. 2 carriers of smaller size is pi$$ing in the wind. Why?

Various defence white papers over the past 6-7 years have discussed the need to provide military effort according to 3 scales: BG (small), brigade (medium) and division (large). We can now, and will continue to be able to provide, rapidly deployable (semi-expeditionary) forces of small scale independant of other forces and states. Supposedly, we can also do this at medium scale. However, in my opinion, and others, this is technically possible but requires a significant lead-in time to scrape the necessary forces together from across the entire armed services. We will only (it's written somewhere) deploy at large scale as part of a coalition - ie. alongside the septics. Within the corridors of Whitehall, it is assumed that we will never doing anything bigger than small scale on our own. Anything larger will be alongside (under) US forces. Hence the reason FRS.2 has gone - the USN provides 'our' AD capability!

HMG is split in its thinking. Half wants to spend billions on equipment that dovetails into the US's armoury. This means giving up much of our 'independance of operation' but scoring points in Washington by providing significant support to big brother. The other half sees a need to aquire independant capabilities, but at a smaller scale, and thus forsaking some of the VERY expensive technologies/equipment needed to impress the septics.

I'm all for the latter option myself. I'm all for aquiring the capability to act alone, or to provide the framework for a coalition which excludes the US (a European effort). A 3 carrier (each 70,000+) RN, in conjunction with the French would provide the framework to a significant European amphibious strike force (the Spanish and Italians can also scrape together a reasonable landing force but have no AD etc). Force projection is all about projecting 'your' military force on the international political scene. The way we are heading under this government is simply providing support forces to US force projection. No serious military analyst, be they Indian, Chinese, Korean or Iranian sees it in any other way. They can see it just as easily as we do, that 2 carriers at 50,000 tonnes may look smart steaming into foreign ports, but only provides part-time capability to land a BG, or, after a significant lead-in time, maybe a brigade+ force. All they have to do is buy a handful of Russian 'Sunburns' and our amphibious force is neutered!

We are already the 2nd most deployable military force. If we want to move forward, to improve our expeditionary capabilities- which is what all HMG's hot air suggests - we need to spend the cash wisely. However, HMG's currently plans provide oodles of cash which doesn't improve the capability, it just maintains the status quo. I like the words, but I'm not fooled by them into believing that's what we'll actually get.
 
#19
merkator said:
nasch,

I feel our opinions have far more in common than disagreement.

I am not against the RN aquiring the carriers, in fact I'm all for it. But for HM Armed Forces to become independantly 'expeditionary' - at a worthwhile force scale - it needs a minimum of 3 carriers of 70,000+ tonnes. 2 carriers of smaller size is pi$$ing in the wind. Why?
I think we're both agreed that having an enhanced capability to operate expeditionarily and independantly is 'a good thing'. Where we perhaps differ is in our responses to the imposition of budgetary limits.

We both agree that 3 large carriers would be hoofing. However, if HMG's unwilling to pay for them, then I'm arguing that 2 smaller carriers will still give us a limited CA cover to protect a task force (and, yes, at lead times, etc - but the capability is still there). If we don't have that, then surely we've completely lost any independant expeditionary capability (at whatever scale)?
 
#20
nasch said:
I think we're both agreed that having an enhanced capability to operate expeditionarily and independantly is 'a good thing'. Where we perhaps differ is in our responses to the imposition of budgetary limits.
I guess your position is: 2 smaller CVF is better than nothing.
My position is: For the capability that these 2 hypothetical carriers offer, I feel the money could be spent elsewhere more wisely.


nasch said:
However, if HMG's unwilling to pay for them, then I'm arguing that 2 smaller carriers will still give us a limited CA cover to protect a task force (and, yes, at lead times, etc - but the capability is still there). If we don't have that, then surely we've completely lost any independant expeditionary capability (at whatever scale)?
Hmmmm! My analysis is that we are only likely to attempt an offensive action alone against an inferior (militarily) state that will not present a significant threat from manned aircraft. Thus a manned AD fighter is essentially irrelevant. Where an air threat is possible, the implication is it will be a much larger operation, and thus only conducted under the umbrella of US forces. This is, in effect, the theory behind the justification for scrapping FA.2 early.

The JSF is primarily a PGM carrier. It's AD role is secondary, and in my opinion limited to 'self-defence' not 'fleet defence'. Thus, a handful of JSFs (F-35B) will not provide the protection of the task force that you speak of. I for one, cannot see the RN agreeing to put a task force into an AO where there is a credible threat from manned aircraft without US support - even after the introduction of a 65,000 tonnes CVF with JSF. Let's face it, even the F.3 Tornado was not considered 'good enough' to fly into Iraq or Serbia when the air threat was real. In that sense, a 65,000T CVF with JSF offers greater capability than a 22,000T CVS with GR.7/FA.2, but 2 CVFs offers less flexability than 3 CVS.

From the analysis that I've done, what we're supposedly getting does not equate to the rhetoric offered.
 

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