Flawed doctrine to blame for Army failures

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jul 8, 2009.

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  1. From The Times
    July 8, 2009
    Flawed doctrine to blame for Army failures
    Why the shift in Army thinking over the years through lower intensity operations is causing problems today
    Sir, I read with interest Professor Richard Holmes’s excellent Opinion (“Rupert should not have died for this”, July 7) and one aspect of his argument in particular strikes a resonant chord. For almost 20 years I was a member of the academic staff at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and during that time a noticeable shift in army thinking was apparent. After the end of the Cold War, and in common with the other two Services, the Army was looking for a role that it found in its perceived expertise in counter-insurgency warfare and what became known as peace support operations.

    Increasingly the academics and their military counterparts involved in officer training were encouraged to shift the emphasis of their courses away from traditional war fighting to these lower intensity operations. For example, a village was built on the Army’s training areas in Norfolk where the appropriate tactics could be practised, and we academics, none of whom had any legal qualifications, were invited to teach international law as it applied to limited military operations.

    In following such a path the Army was building on the successes in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia, which were used as case studies. These apparent successes produced an arrogance in the British Army in which it projected the view that other armies should look to the British as the role models in such activities. This caused much irritation in a number of other countries, particularly the United States, and also in Australia after its experience in East Timor.

    Unfortunately, this whole attitude has been called into question by the Army’s limited success, if not failure, in Iraq and its difficulties in Afghanistan where expertise in a narrow area of operations has proved inadequate. Consequently we now see senior army officers and their civilian and political supporters using the traditional excuses of lack of resources and poor equipment for their difficulties, reasons that have been cited in almost every failed conflict in history. In reality, the cause has been a doctrine and a philosophy that was conceptually flawed from the beginning.

    The other two Services should resist strongly any attempt by the Army to make them shoulder the financial burden of the Army’s difficulties. In some future conflict it may be the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force that might need those resources.

    David J. Pickup

    Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies,

    Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (1996-2005)
  2. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Not a friend of the Army then.
  3. He might well have a point in his third paragraph.
  4. Sounds like a paid lobbyist. Wonder who bought him.
  5. Mirrors many of the themes that have appeared in the Toxic officer warning thread- the foolishness of regarding COIN as something distinct from normal ops that we need to reorganise the entire army toward- the Army supported Op banner from 1969-92, conducting a COIN campaign whilst maintaining the high intensity capability needed in the Falklands, Gulf War 1 and deterring the commies- we need adaptable general purpose forces rather then a specialised one use force. Its easier to go from MCO focus to COIN then vice-versa, history would suggest...
  6. I'd say hes a better friend to the army by offering constructive criticism then by arrse-kissing when things clearly aren't going well...
  7. RMAS Sandhurst...?
  8. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Then what did he do between 1996-2005? Or is it now he has left he finds it easier to criticise - also as he is not the first in this theme, it looks like he has a gripe and is just jumping on a bandwagon.

    I may be wrong, and not having been at RMAS at the time in question (or at any time I may say) I apologise if that is the case. However, if it is then the tone of his article does him no favours.
  9. Well, it only became apparent to everyone how badly basra was going '05-'06, hard to offer constructive criticism if hes no longer in post. The tone of the article is fine IMHO, harsh words are necessary sometimes.
  10. Claiming to not have enough resources to divert attention from a failure to win and not having enough resources and faling to achieve a win are difficult to appraise - unless of course you whack in the right level of resources and then win. If you whack in appropriate resources and fail, well then it is obviously the doctrine.

    We should all avoid the Typhoon/Carrier/FRES elimination round. It makes us look as though CM is not joined up, allows the gobmint to identify cracks and we all end up looking like a bunch of Air Marshals - spiteful, unable to address big military theory and determined to keep the flying club going regardless of the presence/effects generated.
  11. I always thought that the role of the Army was to train and be ready to fight against a skilled well equipped enemy force built around armoured divisions; probably, but not exclusively, somewhere in Northern Europe.

    Any small wars, insurgencies and guerilla conflicts were a deviation from the main purpose and something to adapt to at local level, before returning to preparation for a major conventional/NBC war. Small wars were useful for testing the quality of the troops and low level tactics, and good for a bit of prestige, but definately not a raison d'etre.

    After the Cold War it became fashionable to discuss whether there was even a future for MBTs, and the politicians couldn't wait to scrap infantry battalions that we now need....

    I see a slight comparison to the situation after WW1 when the prevailing mindset was that there couldn't be another war in Europe and the army could be cut right back and used as a colonial police force - the only fighting would be small scale stuff on the North Western frontier.

    I think the emphasis should always be on being ready to fight the most skilled, numerous well equipped enemy possible. Downsizing the army is inevitable when there is no direct threat, but shifting emphasis away from conventional armoured and mechanised warfare is negligent. God knows what the situation in Europe will be in 15 or 20 years time.

    If it is the case that junior officers and NCOs are beginning to think that their primary role as soldiers is to fight or support light infantry operations in third world countries, we are possibly creating a problem for the future.
  12. Let's not forget that "the" Strategic defence Review which informs our current equipment programme, doctrinal template and force organisation was published in 1998. Lot of water under the bridge since then...

    When you look at it, it looks so reasonable. Of course it was before 9/11 and the peace dividend was burning a hole in the new "defence-anitpathetic" ZANU-Liarbour regime's pocket.

    Check it out, it's a funny old thing hindsight! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defence_Review
  13. Flaws in the doctrine maybe?

    Raging flaws in the direction emanating from a dysfunctional government were, are, greatly more relevant and dangerous.

    Bliar - I am going to emulate Thatcher and engage in warfare.

    Brown - I am vetoing the funding of that awful man's military ambitions.

    From May 1997 to date we have had to put up with the appalling 'spiv' and 'wanabe pop-star' Bliar, and the equally appalling anchorite Brown who has clearly lived his equivalent of 'a life' on a different planet to the rest of us.

    Now 'Oaf' Brown, in the last days of his political existence, brings in a creature so alien as to be only barely recognisable as a human. I refer to the current political boss of this sad country - Mr. Mandelson.