Guardian Comment: Robert Fox- A call to alms

#1
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/robert_fox/2007/02/_behind_the_rhetoric_and.html

A call to alms
One of the big questions behind Tony Blair's latest announcement about troops in Iraq is what he intends to do about funding for defence forces.
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About Webfeeds February 22, 2007 12:30 PM | Printable version
Behind the rhetoric and headlines about Tony Blair's decision to bring 1,600 British troops home from Basra, there are tough home truths. The announcement is a signal that Basra is now the business of the warring Shia parties and militias. Theoretically, security there is now in the hands of the 10th Division of the new Iraqi army - but whether the army ends up as a partner or client of the Shia militias is an open question.

British defence chiefs wanted to bring out at least 2,000 troops by May. They have got to send more troops to Afghanistan with the opening of the spring fighting season there, aggravated by the gathering of the biggest opium harvest ever. Next month Britain is sending a second battle group of 1,000 fighting troops to Helmand. The army wants to up this to three battle groups by the late summer - but this can only be done if they "draw down" in Basra to about 4,000 troops by the end of the year.

Tony Blair's demeanour has been less than triumphant when talking of Iraq of late for the obvious reason that it has finally dawned on him that there is no triumph to be had there. With or without the presence of American and British troops Iraq is going to be a mess for years to come. The big question now is the size of the mess, and whether it can be contained to Iraq's present borders.

As things stand now there are signs that things there, at least around Baghdad, Kirkuk and the upper Euphrates, are going to get worse before they get better. That part of the country is now in full-blown civil war - Shia groups against Sunni factions - and there is nothing the spin men of Washington or Whitehall can do to conceal this. And by the looks of things the fighters have got a few more nasty tricks up their sleeves. For the first time in Baghdad large truck bombs have been detonated releasing chlorine - which burns skin and kills instantly. From the north the use of children as hostages, proxies and couriers of weapons and bombs is now widely reported.

Many of the old patrol vehicles used by the Americans and the British, the humvees and "snatch" land rovers, have proved highly vulnerable to the new range of shaped charges that can slice through most armour protection, including that cladding most main battle tanks. This has led commanders on the ground in Basra to conclude that it wasn't much use putting patrols out to monitor the Shia and criminal gangs' private wars - in the old formula, trying to keep the peace where there is no peace to keep.

The Americans are struggling to crank up their programme of refitting their humvees and other vehicles, and will not have an adequate supply until August at the latest. The House of Commons defence committee has reported this week that the British army will not have a full set of "fit for purpose" ground patrol vehicles until 2017.

The defence committee has touched on one of the big questions behind the latest announcement of troop march and countermarch in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite his selective use of evidence to the contrary, Tony Blair has not given adequate funds and resources to support the tasks and role he has set the defence forces. Now the cracks are beginning to appear: ageing and worn out equipment, poor housing and conditions for the troops and their families, risky shortcuts in training. In real terms Blair has indulged in stealth defence support cuts. Now it is widely reported that Gordon Brown actually wants real cut in the funds voted for defence and security. No wonder there is now serious talk of the service chiefs donning their uniform to confront Tony Blair on his sofa about a crisis that they believe he and not his successor must deal with now.

He must address the issue now before he tests the patience of the service men and women who have served him so well to breaking point. The Iraq crisis is now being overcast by the shadow of Iran and yet another of George Bush's subjunctive wars - subjunctive as in Saddam might have weapons of mass destruction, Israel might try to nuke Natanz, and Ahmadinejad might bomb the Sunni triangle and neocon pigs might fly.

Moreover the international effort to keep Hamid Karzai's government going in Afghanistan is yet again threatened by coalition politics. The Italian government has just fallen over whether to pull out of Afghanistan, where some Italian units have been playing a vital role. The Danes are arguing with the British about whether their state-of-the-art 101 Merlin helicopters can be used by British forces - as if the British had the luxury of staring such a gift horse in the mouth, given their chronic shortage of helicopters - despite the Tony Blair pledge that his troops "can have all the equipment they want".

There isn't time or space for the editorialists' airy speculations about what troop reductions mean for the Blair legacy, and whether it is retreat, defeat or judicious lowering of the profile. It is time to get back to reality and facts on the bitterly contested ground of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the order of the day is all hands to the pumps.
 

Goatman

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Book Reviewer
#2
Good article Evey,thanks.

Lot of respect for Robert Fox....younger readers may not be aware that he accompanied ( in the current parlance was embedded with ) 3 Para across the Falklands in 1982.....been on the 2-way range - even if as far as he was concerned it was only incoming.

Not a Guardian reader unless it is handed to me, generally. But some good stuff here.

Lee Shaver
 
#3
Defence spending simply isn't a priority for the left and Gordon is further left than Tony.

They'll be calling for company directors to be prosecuted over last night's rail crash while conveniently forgetting those who have died in Iraq due to government ineptitude.

The left's attitude to the armed forces is exacerbated by the catastrophic state of the public finances. 'Official' public sector borrowing is already at record levels. If you include the 'off balance sheet', Enron style, PFI debts that are omitted from the government's accounts, public sector debt isn't just billions - it adds up to trillions of pounds.

Like a chav with his first credit card, Gordon Brown has been spending far beyond his means and the bailiffs are now knocking at the door. I'm afraid defence spending will be the least of Gordon's worries.
 
#4
Robert Fox is a chap worth listening to (b'Liar take note) he lectures to various courses - I heard him on a PsyOps course a few years back and he always has good stuff to say.
 
#6
Goatman said:
Good article Evey,thanks.

Lot of respect for Robert Fox....younger readers may not be aware that he accompanied ( in the current parlance was embedded with ) 3 Para across the Falklands in 1982.....been on the 2-way range - even if as far as he was concerned it was only incoming.

Not a Guardian reader unless it is handed to me, generally. But some good stuff here.

Lee Shaver
Was it Robert Fox who phoned the UK with a battle plan which was transmitted by the Beeb World Service?
 
#7
Not that I recall. Can't remember who it actually was, though.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#8
Sven said:
Was it Robert Fox who phoned the UK with a battle plan which was transmitted by the Beeb World Service?
No.....he was at Goose Green getting shot at with the rest at the time.....wasn't it the telegraph's favourite military pundit, Max 'Wendy' Hastings?

Lee Shaver
 
#9
It gave the name in 'Don't Cry for me Sgt Mjor', can't look it u though - I gave my copy to a Canadian Aunt to show the serviceens sense of humour. That was rather silly
 
#10
'He must address the issue now before he tests the patience of the service men and women who have served him so well to breaking point'.

Ran out of patience with Bliar and his parasites in January 2000 in a tent in Pristina at -30 when the diesel in the heaters froze. It was blatently obvious that he saw the Armed Forces only as a tool to improve his own image and that once that objective had been acheived we would be cut loose and left to rot.
 
#11
goose green was the MOD in london fcuking up it took longer to get news back from the falklands than it did in the crimea
 
#12
Goatman said:
Sven said:
Was it Robert Fox who phoned the UK with a battle plan which was transmitted by the Beeb World Service?
No.....he was at Goose Green getting shot at with the rest at the time.....wasn't it the telegraph's favourite military pundit, Max 'Wendy' Hastings?

Lee Shaver
IRRC Hastings was with H Jones when he heard the broadcast from the BBC and threatened to sue if anybody was killed as a result.
 
#13
Sven said:
Goatman said:
Good article Evey,thanks.

Lot of respect for Robert Fox....younger readers may not be aware that he accompanied ( in the current parlance was embedded with ) 3 Para across the Falklands in 1982.....been on the 2-way range - even if as far as he was concerned it was only incoming.

Not a Guardian reader unless it is handed to me, generally. But some good stuff here.

Lee Shaver
Was it Robert Fox who phoned the UK with a battle plan which was transmitted by the Beeb World Service?
I dimly recall that it may have been Maggie herself. She was giving a speech to the WI or some such nonsense, and the BBC broadcast it, figuring that if open source information was not too sensitive for the ladies from Little Dribblings on the Wold to here, then everyone else could too.

I could be barking completely up the wrong tree though.
 
#14
Max_Bialystock said:
Goatman said:
Sven said:
Was it Robert Fox who phoned the UK with a battle plan which was transmitted by the Beeb World Service?
No.....he was at Goose Green getting shot at with the rest at the time.....wasn't it the telegraph's favourite military pundit, Max 'Wendy' Hastings?

Lee Shaver
IRRC Hastings was with H Jones when he heard the broadcast from the BBC and threatened to sue if anybody was killed as a result.
. . and Fox told me in person, that he had the final interview with H Jones, recorded on a tape the night before Goose Green.

Sadly, while Fox was as far forward as he could get, some thieving REMF cnut went through his (and other troops) bergen and nicked the tape (and other stuff).

But Sven - hey, you feel free to slag off a man about whom you know nothing, on the basis of a vague and inaccurate recollection of a book you lost.

I'll remember that the next time you pontificate about "evidence" and "unnamed sources".

You are a sad and inconsistent twat, black belt, 4th dan and no mistake.
 

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