FAS, FIS and "rangers"

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Luke_L, Jul 9, 2005.

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  1. Hi guys,
    I'm a postgrad student doing MA defence/security at Lancaster uni, formerly home of CDISS. Ive decided to do my dissertation on the re-roling of 1para into a "ranger" style battalion, how easy this transition will be, how it will affect the military's fighting capability, what exactly the changes will involve and so on.
    So far Im not having much luck with contacting people who might prove useful in aiding me with my research. Ive tried MoD, Janes defence group, RUSI, CDISS and havent even got a reply from them as yet.
    I was wondering if anybody here might have any ideas about people they think might be worth contacting about the re-roling of 1para under FAS. Im pretty keen to contact senior officers within 1 para to get their view on the proposed changes but so far havent even been able to find a contact address/email for 1para (are they based in dover?).

    Any help on this guys would really really really be appreciated.

    Cheers, Luke.
  2. Hello Luke,

    You're probably going to need to prove your credentials before you get to meet with the senior officers within 1 PARA (CO would be the ideal obviously, but I'm guessing that he'll be pretty busy at the minute) or indead the DSF people (if they are even prepared to help with this sort of thing -I'm pretty sure that they are not mandated to do so).

    I suggest that you start by approaching RHQ PARA at Colchester with a request for information from them. You can contact them through their web site, just drag it up through a search engine. Once they (specifically the Regt Col) are content you are who you say you are then I suspect that they are just the people to arrange for a visit to 1 PARA and perhaps, if time permits, a meet with some of the key personalities. Who, I can assure you are very reasonable people contrary to the sometimes popular opinion.

    I hope you're in no rush: 1 PARA are currently in Northern Ireland...they haven't actually taken on the new joint special forces support unit, or "Ranger" role yet.

    Anyway, good luck with it.
  3. Thanks for that,
    Proving my credentials will not be a problem. Ive been checking the various websites including Para RHQ website and can't find an email contact address. The closest thing Ive found so far is the parachute regimental associaton.

    Does any1 have a email contact address or a link to to one as I just cant find one.

    Thanks, Luke
  4. OK, I see what you mean.

    Can't help you immediately and won't be in the office myself for a few weeks.

    If you're in a hurry try:


    These guys are co-located at Colchester so they should be able to give you an RHQ email address or a phone number for starters.
  5. cheers mate,
    nice one, thanks for your help on this.
  6. Luke,

    You might ask your supervisor to talk with the academic staff at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham - your tutors will know some of them (they are part of KCL), and the academics there will be able to ask the military staff.

    Hope it goes well
  7. If you scratch the surface gently you might find that some of them have gone somewhere else already................
  8. Just walk around Colchester town centre with a T-Shirt proclaiming:

    "All Paras are W@nkers"

    They will introduce themselves to you in no time, although you may have trouble asking questions through a feeding tube.
  9. Luke,

    1 PARA have been in NI for the past 6 months, and will return to Dover v soon. So, don't waste yr time in Colchester listening to the wrong toms! :)

    Sound advice but just one small problem, none of the staff have any connection with the military - unless Martin Edmonds is still popping in. And, for the Lancaster Politics Dept, contacting KCL for help is like supping with the devil. I'm afraid you've chosen a subject which leaves you left to your own devices. If you want help from the staff, I suggest changing your topic to 'the social reconstruct of feminist theory on the parachute regiment post 9/11'. That'll get Cindy Weber and that aussie t@rrt who's trying for a PhD wet with excitment...

    Unfortunately you've shown up at Bailrigg after the department has decided to go 99% lefty, pinko, theorists! The only one left with an ounce of hard-nose 'realism' in his bones is Alan Warburton. I cannot think of anybody less suited to running a "MA in Security and War" than Michael Dillon. His language is full of so much academic theoristic babble/jargon that I hadn't the slightest clue he was ever on about. Yet he hasn't got a clue what the word 'battalion' means - "it's a military unit of some sort isn't it"!!!!! "Well yeah, but...... arn't you teaching defence and security??????"
  10. Luke,


    The above article in Hansard should provide you with some useful information from the highest level. Because 1 Para are being tasked to provide direct support to special forces, I would honestly advise you to at least consider the scope of your dissertation, if not change it completely. You will almost certainly find it as hard as nails to get hold of any worthwhile detailed source material (even using Freedom of Information Act and nomatter who your contacts are), and whatever material you do get hold of will almost certainly be sensitive if not classified.

    After getting a month into my own dissertation (some time ago) I found that I needed to trim down the scope because I could not source all the material I would have needed to come to a solid conclusion (which would consequently have affected my grade). I am concerned that you may find that within a few months, you have very little material to go on and are running out of time. I might, of course, be proved wrong.

    Just to give you some alternatives, there are plenty of far less sexy but very important and easily sourced topics, such as the current changes which are (or should be ) being made in defence logistics. It doesn't sound much, but I have friends who went to war in Iraq with only 10 rounds of ammo. Other guys and girls on ARRSE will no doubt have similar horror stories of their own, all of which boil down to the failings of the logistics system. You would have no drama researching this area, whatever angle you chose to come from.

    If you would prefer to go for a more warry tactical topic, you couldn't go wrong with an area like development of combined arms warfare TTPs (e.g. for use in peace support operations), EOD TTPs in Iraq (countering the IEDs etc). Or something more conceptual (but equally pragmatic in application) like how to integrate British Army units in a multinational setting, taking into account such aspects as the differing doctrines on delegation of decision making authority to subordinate commanders (British: Mission Command). All of these would be fairly easy to research, and if published could help contribute to current defence thinking.

    I recommend a quick look at http://da.mod.uk/DefenceAcademy for other ideas, and possible contacts.

    I hope that some of this helps. Good luck.
  11. Luke,

    I agree with much of what Bits says. However, having completed an MA in Defence Studies myself I would counsel you on keeping out of the weeds. I think examining the re-roling of 1 Bn is a very narrow field and one which is not really worthy of a Masters thesis. Add to this the complexities of SF security/access issues and the fact that the doctrine and operational capabilities of this new grouping are still being dreamt up, will make your research extremely difficult. The Ranger concept is a veiled excuse for the retention of another Para Bn and empire building for DSF. I don't dispute that a worthwhile and satisfying operational role will emerge, but I expect any well resourced half-decent Infantry Bn could do the job.

    If you wish to stick with this area I would suggest examining the wider changes of FAS and whether they represent a suitable restructuring to cope with the current threat spectrum. You could broaden this to look at changes that other nations have made in a context of post 9/11 or post Iraq intervention. Since your degree is Defence and Security Studies you could link FAS with changes to the Security Services and Police and the changes to National/International Law.

    Obviously you cannot examine all of the above in any great depth but you could pick a couple of elements. We are living through some serious changes in our security and legal framework as a response to increasingly asymetric threats and this is certainly worthy of examination/criticism.

    I honestly think you're bolting down a rabbit hole that is still under construction with the Ranger thing, but good luck!


  12. Agree entirely - Alan Warburton was one of my main MA tutors at Lancaster and he was excellent; sadly I got Dillon for my dissertation and he does talk total nonsense; I like my theory but he was ridiculous. I remember with a shudder his Politics of Security module. Martin Edmonds has decamped the whole CDISS thing down to Henley on Thames I beleive so am not sure how much of a relationship he has there now (have not spoken to him in a while).

    I agree also with the previous post about the proposed topic being perhaps a little narrow. How about an examination of the MOD's (or defence/military establishments generally) inability (or unwillingness) to implement lessons identified from previous ops and exercises; recent events in the Gulf could provide some interesting ammo; organisational learning, resource prioritisation etc - it may sound a little dry, but there are some significant capabilty impacts (e.g. TELIC).

    Good luck with the MA..
  13. Luke,

    There has been some excellent advice proffered in this thread. Think wisely before you embark any further on your dissertation. You have a number of obstacles to overcome before you get a decent grade awarded, and 'playing the game' is usually far more profitable than doing what interests you most.

    Originality will get you bonus marks, but you are trying to suck blood from a stone AND push water uphill at the same time. The department no longer has a 'corporate' desire for 'real world' research - it's now far more interested in theoretical mumbo-jumbo. The people marking your work are these very people. Remember who your readership is when choosing the subject and approach. Then look at the subject matter with regards to your research. Is it really wise to research a subject which is a) still shrouded by the OSA and b) still only in the development stage? To put it bluntly, many of the key people in this process simply can't tell you anything substansive because they don't yet know themselves!

    I guess the thing to remember is this, the 'ranger' battalion is only really going to do a job that could be done by any line infantry battalion with a little extra training, appropriate security measures applied, and the nod of the Chancellor with regards to funding. Unless you actually have a desire to impress upon those decision-makers in Main Building and Wilton what you 'think' the 'rangers' should be doing, ie. you are part of the shaping process, then really it's a subject likely to have more worms than beans in the can.

    PM me if you want a little private advice.