Discussion in 'Infantry' started by Outstanding, Aug 24, 2006.

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  1. I remember after the Falklands that returning regiments lost loads of guys, who had seen enough action and frankly couldn't adapt to peacetime soldiering. They weren't PTSD, they weren't disilliusioned, they had simply seen combat and got the tee shirt.

    The fighting in Sangin (and elsewhere) is possibly harder than that in the Falklands (no great claims or arguments here) - it is certainly as intense, involves all platton weapons, arty and Close air. Sadly however it is unlikely that at the end of the tour that our fighting soldiers will have much to show for it, other than the unquestionable honour of their Regts.

    My concern is that in already under recruited, under resourced, adequately (just) paid and over stretched units returning from battle to peace time Colchester will be a sanguine moment and many will vote with their feet.
  2. Go and have a lie down mate. The units involved in this operation have been absolutely outstanding, you need'nt worry about their attitude on return to UK, they'll be just fine.
  3. Don't worry, Tony has ensured that there are other venues available to ensure that they don't have to make the transition back to peacetime soldiering.
  4. Disagree - I suspect Outstanding has a valid point, although I reckon more about PTSD etc than he expects.. My own experience, with individuals from line infantry privates to SAS colonels, suggests that over 50% of those who have experienced 'intense' operational fun and games find it difficult to re-adust to 'normality'... It's not a slur on the unit's attitude, it's a comment on how individuals are affected. They just can't return to guards and duties and monthly bills after the experiences they've had.

    The problem will be compounded by the way in which these operations are being marketed by the current regime: guys in Afghanistan appear to be experiencing a combination of the sort of combat intensity and duration that we haven't seen since Korea - and yet the nation is barely aware that it's happening. It's very easy to be cynical about this, but, IMHO, we are going to see a large number of problems over the next decade as a result. Look at the issues from the Falklands and Gulf War 1 - 'minor' actions, in comparison (meant with no disrespect to anyone), and yet a raft of maladjusted soldiers.
  5. Do you mean that [my emphasis]? Acknowledging that you have both meant no disrespect, to those involved, I still find it remarkable that you could come to such a conclusion.

    How did you come to such a conclusion?
  6. Yes, I do. Like you,no disrespect to anyone (indeed, 'I was there', for Gulf War 1). However, in comparison: We had an armoured division plus a large expeditionary tail in that war (around 50,000): we suffered 47 casualties. So that's a less than 1 in a thousand chance of being a UK casualty. (and I think this includes wounded, not just fatalities - can't confirm just now).

    For Afghanistan/Helmland, we appear to have some 3600 troops in the south (and before anyone gets an opsec hissy fit, I'm deliberately using the rather vague figures from the MOD's own 'open' website, so calm down, ladies...), of which the 'bit' being tasked to death appears to be an Infantry battalion plus a number of attached/supporting sub-unit sized elements. So far, they've had 13 killed in action (setting aside the 7 'non-combat' deaths that bring the total to 20). So, in the 'best case', assuming the entire Helmland force package is equally at risk and involved in the sort of stuff we know is happening, that's a 1 in 276 chance of being killed - and it ain't over yet.

    So, in answer to how I come to such a conclusion, the boys in Helmland have, so far, 4 times the chance of being a combat related casualty as we did in Gulf War 1: I noted with interest that the entire section that the latest fatality came from have now been wounded in action (less one man, I think, to be fair).

    In addition, the intensity of ops appears high in 2 aspects: duration -some of the reports from Sangin imply a virtual state of siege - and, for want of a better word, 'full-on-ness'. We are hearing about artillery being called in at danger close, grenades, CAS saving the day, etc etc...

    The Falklands was undoubtedly as intense when the major engagemnts were occuring, and the endurance in truly foul weather was thoroughly impressive - but each major unit had one, maybe 2 battles, and they were fought as 'set-piece', major unit battles: there seems to have been more of a 'this is our big horrible battle, now we're tabbing to the next one' feeling - not the constant, unpredictable threat of ambush that appears part of this op.

    More to the point, whatever one's views on this debate as to whether 'this war or that war' is worse, I believe that Falklands vets suicides now outnumber combat deaths, and I know that roughly twice as many Gulf vets have commited suicide as were casualties in that war. To return to the original thrust of outstanding's post: stand by for the aftereffects.
  7. Nosh,
    Very simplistically, both these capmaigns had limited goals - to recapture The Falklands and to liberate Kuwait.

    During the Falklands the campaign was fought with an acheivable aim against a uniformed enemy with poor leadership, crap equipment, harsh conditions to which they were not experienced a weak CoC, little re-supply and a somewhat overstretched sense of purpose.

    Gulf War 1, was a limited campaign against a poorly equipped, heavily bombed, badly led and weak enemy, their reserves (Republican Guard) being held back until capitulation.

    What is happening in Iraq (to alesser extent) and Afghanistan now is significantly different. 16 AB Bde have fought over 25 Major Battles each lasting over 2 days, duuring which they have been engaged by a determined, well equipped and trained indigenous force fighting with religious, nationalistic and criminally commercial ideals. These battles have not been one offs, they sometimes merge one into another. Our troops are calling fires from 105 light guns, air support from fast jets and attack helicopters as well as firing all platoon weapons and natures of ammunition. There is no aim to capture a particular place, there is no end limitation placed on our presence other than a rather murky establish a safe and secure environment.

    I agree with Muzzleflash in at least one aspect, that the boys (and girls) have been brilliant, but remain concerned that the delights of Colchester will be a very different place to Sangin. We are relatively inexperienced in dealing with troops returning from such battles and my message is we need to be better prepared.
  8. Good answers both. I agree that the after-effects [and not necessarily PTSD] will be slightly different from the perspective of COIN ops than maybe from conventional war-fighting. However, I think it's incorrect to compare 'intensity' just as a corollary of casualty and fatality rates, with the intensity that is generated in any land action involving close combat. That is to say that casualty rates shouldn't impact on the perceived level of intensity in an op any more than the myriad other cumulative stresses and strains. In fact I would argue that, from speaking to our lad in B coy at the mo, the overall intensity is quite low for Herrick compared to war-fighting.

    Why do I say this? It's a personal opinion of course, but the engagements I have read and been told about have been more like the serials that you would come across in an OPTAG scenario. Small scale actions that are limited in duration and closely followed by periods of enhanced recovery in a more secure environment. Irrespective of the assets used eg CAS, FPF etc. Were this pattern-of-life to continue indefinitley then it would impact massively on a person's stress endurance, but I think it's well below the intensity of deliberate war-fighting at the moment. I don't wish that to sound like I'm in anyway denigrating the efforts of those involved or perhaps under-estimating the true nature of the operation in Afghanistan; because having re-read it back to myself I think it may come across like that. But, I suppose I'm just putting forth the contention that in my opinion true war-fighting is more intense and will have a greater post-engagement effect, than counter insurgency, albeit close operations, will on the soldiers involved.

    To re-iterate, I, of course, mean no disrespect to anyones' experiences or views. I have deployed under war-fighting ROE (not necessarily a war in everyones eyes) and on counter insurgency operations and the thing that had the greatest effect on me was the availability of OWP and logistic infrastructure accessible in the latter than in the former.

    That doesn't alter the reality though, that there will be soldiers unduly affected by the incidents we've all been reading about. Have we got measures in place enough to cope?
  9. The test of that question will be in 6 months time when some very battle weary troops return, to await re-deployment 9 months later.