Gen. Dannatt Calls for More Infantry

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hansvonhealing, Jun 17, 2007.

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  1. From Mick Smith's blog in 'The Times'...
    June 16, 2007

    Head of British Army Calls for More Infantry

    The head of the army has called for “several thousand” more frontline soldiers to “round out” the British Army’s capabilities, reversing cuts to infantry levels made by his predecessor. Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of General Staff, fears the army risks being degraded by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to a level at which it is no longer able to operate properly. He called for the extra troops in an impromptu address at the end of a Whitehall conference on the future of land warfare earlier this month. It begs questions as to why his predecessor Gen Sir Mike Jackson ever thought it was sensible to cut infantry levels at a time when the army is more hard pressed than it has been since the Korean War.

    The “several thousand” new troops Dannatt wants – effectively the size of an additional infantry brigade - would more than reverse the 2,000-man cuts to the infantry made by Jackson, who to be fair was under intense pressure from Geoff Hoon to axe troops as part of what must surely be among the most ill-judged defence cuts in history. The then Defence Secretary was widely known across the military as “Buff” for reasons I will leave you to work out yourself.

    Dannatt caused controversy last year by insisting the army needed to get out of Iraq “some time soon” in part because he feared it could be “broken” by the extent of its commitments. "I want an Army in five years time and 10 years time,” he said. “Don't let's break it on this one.”

    The infantry in particular has been left with too little time between deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland or the Balkans to train properly. They have also been left with little time at home to recuperate leading to an exodus of experienced soldiers from the army that is outpacing relatively good recruitment. The number of trained troops in the army has dropped to just over 99,000 against a requirement for 101,800, a figure Dannatt wants restored to around 105,000.

    The MoD insisted the media be excluded from the Royal United Service Institute's conference on Future Land Warfare in an attempt to keep Dannatt's comments private. The comments were made not in the uncontroversial, some would say soporific, speech with which Dannatt opened the conference but in an impromptu address at the end of the conference on June 6.

    Delegates attending the speech said he told them he wanted "several thousand" more troops. "It wasn't just numbers for numbers sake,” one said. “He [Dannatt] said it was to 'round out our capabilities'." Another said: "He definitely spoke about increasing numbers", while a third confirmed that Dannatt had used the figure of “several thousand”.

    “He said he couldn't give a precise figure but he needed “several thousand” to "round out capabilities," the delegate said. “He [Dannatt] was clearly talking about new troops. It was in the context of the whole of the conference where one general questioned whether it was possible to get enough troops to fight the long war [against terrorism] without reintroducing national service.”

    The delegates declined to be named because Dannatt's speech was off-the-record and they feared the MoD would have them banned from future conferences. But frankly if this was what the media were banned from hearing, it is hardly news. Even Labour politicians are beginning to get the message. The current Defence Secretary, Des Brown, admitted last week during a lunch with defence correspondents that the scale of current operations meant “we could be in danger of degrading our armed forces”.

    http://timesonline.typepad.com/mick_smith/2007/06/head_of_british.html#more
     
  2. Well said Sir.
    I always said Dear Tone chopped the last few battalions to keep Gerry happy, NI Peace and all that, Dear Leaders bequest to postiria.
    But just how you reactivate Fighting Battalions Quickly, is beyond me.
    john
     
  3. No real suprises here other than people find it suprising!!??
     
  4. I think you'll find it was Jackson who 'chopped' the Bns.

    At the time, Inf Bns came in a wide range of different sizes, and had to borrow soldiers from each other to bring themselves up to strength for ops, which soaked up Staff time and effort, and slowed the deployment process.

    Given the supposed 'truth' that the secret of our Army's effectiveness is the cohesion engendered by the Regtl system, that was clearly bollox.

    Since Mr Broon wouldn't fund him to increase the overall number of Inf, he reduced the total no. of Bns, and at the same time, tried to sort out the dog's breakfast left by the 1968 defence reorg, that gave us a not-very-systematic mishmash of capbadges: some Big Regts (like Paras and the Queen's Div) with recruiting footprints spread all over the UK and others (like the Green Howards) untouched by amalgamation over 300 years.

    His final contribution was to kill the vastly expensive Arms Plot, which meant that at any one time, as much as 30% of the teeth arms could be combat ineffective, because it was busy reorging after changing location, and learning a new way of soldiering.

    Most of this was - actually - good sound military and management logic.

    The bad part was doing it within the existing budget (from the Chancellor)

    The Same Chancellor has been insistent on the sandbox ops being conducted within peacetime budgets. See "Afghan Fighting - The Latest Reports" for an indication of what that has meant in terms of helicopter shortages, while - in 2003, AFTER the Iraq op had commenced, I can remember a LieBar spokestwat replying to "What are the gummint's Top Ten priorities" with a fluent list WHICH DID NOT INCLUDE DEFENCE.

    That Chancellor is about to become PM. He will not relinquish the purse strings readily - stand by for a 'Yes Man' in No 11.

    If Dannatt (or his successor - Sir Richard is aproaching the halfway mark in his current appointment) is to achieve the stated aim, and even if the incredible happens, and Broon sez "Agreed" - you can betcha life he will be under-resourced for it, and it will have to be funded by cuts elsewhere. 8)
     
  5. The Infantry are the tip of the lance. The business end. Even an ex scaley like me can see that. It is utterly pointless having big HQs and Gucci logistics tails if there are no teeth.
     
  6. Found this American bloke on the NYT front page.
    Why does it seem to fit in this thread, I wonder? 8)

     
  7. We should make better use of what we already have. Let's see, I can think of about 2,300 bods who could be more usefully employed.
     
  8. Very true the tight fisted Broon has his money belt welded on now and a mini me will be put in place in No11.

    Can hear the conversation from the new PM to Chief of Defence..... Yes you can have the extra 5000 troops you require when we get the money back from the (car boot sale ) sale of those Warrior and CR2. I can see pay cut 2008 coming soon, maybe the next budget.
     
  9. . . . here, by any chance?
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  10. Have just had a look at Gen Dannatt's speech to the RUSI on the MoD website - nothing about extra infantry is mentioned at all, not even an oblique reference. If you look at Mick Smith's blog at the top of this thread, those that were at the RUSI event talk about CGS making references to 'rounding out capabilities. Mick Smith has made the assumption that this means more infantry when in fact, it could mean more of any capability that CGS thinks the Army is lacking - in his speech CGS says:

    'It is, therefore, my intention that the physical capabilities of the Army, including the Joint Helicopter Command, deliver a comprehensive Land Manoeuvre capability to Defence. This will comprise a balanced Ground Manoeuvre capability of heavy, medium and light force elements working in partnership with an integrated Air Manoeuvre capability itself comprising an effective mix of lift, reconnaissance, attack and utility capabilities'

    So I don't think we should rush to the conclusion that it means extra inf - no evidence of that whatsoever and extra medics and extra helicopters would probably be a good start.
     
  11. Two points in response...
    1. Gen Jackson tried to oppose the infantry cuts in FAS. He even exercised his right of direct access to the PM to do so, face to face. It was the only time in his tenure as CGS that he did this, and Gen Dannatt has not taken a similar step yet. The reason Gen Jackson did not win his battle was because of Treasury pressure. Step forward Gordon Brown.
    2. Getting back a few more infantry battalions seems highly desirable. But how easy would it be to recruit them ? There's a pay rise on the way, but perhaps more cash needs to be put in to compete with jobs in civvy street.
     
  12. I was thinking these who by all accounts took the beaches at Normandy, won every major battle the British Army have been involved in and then stopped for lunch:
     

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  13. brettarider

    brettarider On ROPs



    But how long before they were fit for role and coherent enough to go go on OP's bearing in mind you would have to form a regiment/Bn from scratch if it was to happen tomorrow time line 3-5 years at the earliest?
     
  14. Given that the US Army has managed to create 8 new brigades (shortly to be 10) almost from scratch in the past 3-4 years, and some of them were deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan within 15 months of initial formation, I think your timescales are a little pessimistic.

    The big problem is recruitment. We simply cannot encourage enough to join in the first place to fill the ranks - irrespective of how we divvy it all up. :x
     
  15. A link, p'raps?

    Does the MoD site include a record of the 'off the cuff' remarks made by Dannatt after he had concluded the formal part of his address?

    My understanding of the story is that his 'more infantry' remarks (or wotever he meant) were in there, not in the pre-scripted bit.

    Micksmith is hampered by being forced to rely on hearsay. Shame, I wasn't present. Being a boring old fart, I have a li'l mp3 voice recorder I would use (discreetly) at such events, the better to be able to refresh my memory afterwards.

    (Anybody fancy a really long, awful-sound-quality resording of a couple of "Kermit Roosevelt" addresses? Don't all rush at once :D )