Helicopter shortage forces commanders to dump Helmand towers

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jul 25, 2009.

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  1. Helicopter shortage forces commanders to dump Helmand towers plan

    A chronic shortage of helicopters forced commanders to ditch plans to counter Taliban home-made bomb attacks against British troops, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

    By Sean Rayment Defence Correspondent
    Published: 10:00PM BST 25 Jul 2009

    Senior officers wanted to build a "necklace" of fortified watch towers through Helmand to spy on insurgents planting improvised explosives devices (IEDs) – the single biggest killer of soldiers in the province.
    But the plan, which was drawn up by officers serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade last summer, was dismissed because there were not enough troops available to occupy the towers or a sufficient number of helicopters to keep them resupplied with food, water and ammunition.

    Details of the plan can be revealed the day after the MoD announced the death of another British soldier in Afghanistan.
    The soldier, who has not been named, was serving with the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery and was taking part in a patrol near the town of Lashkar Gar yesterday when his vehicle was blown up by an IED. Two other soldiers were injured, one seriously
    More on the link

  2. Interesting quote from the article relating to 19X role:

    Seems a fair summary.

    Not for the firstime this year, the Prime Minister should note the pages of The Telegraph and act.

    So, if the thrust of the article is right, along with additional troops, more helicopters would have enabled BRITFOR to more effectively secure the ground?

    This story fits perfectly with every government spokesman referring to the shortage of helicopters not being related to the recent spike in those KIA or injured. Which (on the basis of this article), is somewhat crass.

    My take on this is that 16X are pretty switched on to what is needed to control and secure the ground. If their view was that these watchtowers would increase security, it directly relates to the mission and on the face of it, seems a sensible direction to take.

    From the article it is evident that 16X built a plan that with additional troops and helicopter support would have likely saved the lives and injuries of many BRITFOR pers since.

    This is not a plan that would have been produced on the back of a fag packet. Input for this type of plan is likely to have been given the attention of many parts of the military footprint in Afghanistan and beyond. It is not an underestimate to conclude that hundreds if not thousands of man hours effort, co-ordination and preparation could well result from this type of plan. Plant_life will be along to correct me shortly. :)

    It would appear that 16X end up fairly hamstrung by this. Personally, don't think 16X dreamt this idea up without some fairly immediate input from senior parts of the CoC and beyond, on the ongoing logistical resource needed to enable the continued operation of a string of watchtowers. Or, planning assumptions by any other name.

    So, either this article relates to16X having wasted a lot of man hours on something of a wild goose chase - personally doubt this. Or, 16X have pursued the planning, having made initial warnings throughout the CoC on the requirement for more helicopters as an essential part of their proposed solution - and, having had the confirmation from the CoC that such would be available.

    Hold on a second, we've been here before haven't we? Didn't a similar suggestion get made by Colchester's finest during the early months of TELIC? Because, if the answer is yes, then we are wasting a lot of effort and will continue to witness the ongoing bodycount. My money is on 16X here.

    In context if we cannot man and supply a string of watchtowers - and let's face it, we've done this a few times before, it speaks volumes about the constraints that BRITFOR on HERRICK are having to work to.
  3. Why not start building (manning and supporting) what we can?
  4. Sounds like 16X wanted to reinvent South Armagh with the environmentally kind re-use of the Romeo and Golf Towers parts that are still rusting in the old Maze. Think of the helicopter lift we had there compared to recent Ops in Iraq and AFG and there is the problem.
  5. Because it would still take a large amount of resources to do and ultimately Terry will know he is being watched and move elsewhere.

    Duke, you beat me to it on South Armagh, that's exactly what I was thinking of.
  6. Seems like it would have been a calculated, sensible and positive step forward to me. The pencil pushers rule as ever though. It would have taken a hell of a lot of time to put the proposal together I would imagine. What a waste of man hours. When will the MOD and cyclops realise you can't win a war on a bare bones overstretched underfunded deployment of troops and that these proposals arnt just pulled out of thin air, they are put together out of the neccessity to look after troops.
  7. isn't that the point? Creating an area where the Taliban can't use IEDs?
  8. It would be if you could do the whole thing, but having a few watchtowers spaced out to far, or a few clumped together would only make Terry move to areas that weren't watched.
  9. We built hundreds of Sangers/Watch towers on the North West Frontier and in the Kyber Pass in the 19th Century, and the system worked in South Africa in the Boer War

    Attached Files:

  10. Failed in Vietnam though. Enabled the Vietminh to control their casualties and time their engagements by providing them lots of static Government targets they could hit any time they wanted, and tying up troops that could otherwise have been out hunting them.
  11. Having more helicopters would help resupply a more mobile force. Forget about having FOBs and PBs, whatever happened to getting out on the ground and moving around. If you've got the air lift capability, you can drop off supplies at RV points, and the patrols can move around for months on end, dominating the ground. The trouble is that Terry T knows that at some stage, we're going to have to come down a couple of roads to get back to FOB A, so can quite happily mine the route, and wait out.
  12. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    The only problem I can see, and this was demonstrated by 16X in their earlier tours when they had Platoon Houses. The platoon houses were targetted day and night fo rmonths on end. The Paras couldn't get out on the ground as they were too busy trying to stop their platoon houses being overrun. Just like trying to defend the district centres in Afghan and Iraq, the only areas under Hearts and Minds ops and under British control where the hard points/district centres/CIMIC Houses and a few hundred yards in a circle around them. Everywhere else, and everyone else was under the control of the enemy.

    In Basrah, it was the Mahdi army caling the shots, in Afghan, it's the Taliban. With these hardpoints, they have to be resupplied, and that takes lare, heavily armed convoys fighting their way in, and then back out of a heavily boobytrapped and armed area completely surrounding each hard point.

    One needs to look at a comparison between the style of ops used between 16x, locked in situ and under constant assault, and 3 Commando in which they adopted a policy of dynamic unpredictability. Yes, they had hard-points with good over-view, by they also hit the enemy on their own turf, regularly - and this endeared us to the locals far more than sitting in platoon houses whilst they were left to the tender mercies of the Taliban.

    Everyone has agreed that without the support of the Afghans, the whole enterprise is unwinnable, just as it was without the support of the Shias or Sunnis in Iraq. When the Iraqis got p!ssed off with the insurgency, and changed sides, Iraq turned almost overnight from a raging insurgency that was tying our soldiers down in mostly fixed locations to one where there was relative peace.

    I think we do need a combination of fixed points, but regular, heavy, intelligenced-based assaults, just as 3 Commando did. The fact is, either way, we need a lot more troops, and we need a lot more helicopters, and despite regular denials by the cretins in government and the MOD, it's been the case from the outset.
  13. Like NI you'd need the towers along the border too, in this case NW Pakistan
  14. I agree with the posters who mentioned South Armagh; there are quite a few parallels between NI and Afghanistan. One of the key differences, however, is that whilst in NI we were "just" peacekeeping (MACA, call it what you will), in Afghan we're having to take and hold ground from the enemy, and the scale is much larger. We have about 9,000 deployed at the moment; OP Panther's Claw took an area the size of the Isle of Wight (0.05% of the total area of Afghan) with a population of 65,000 (0.19% of the total population), how do we hope to hold it with the forces we have? Afghan is nearly 50 times the size of NI, is held by the enemy, yet we try to take it with half the forces we had at the peak of the Troubles in NI? At the moment we're not even 100% sure whose side Hamid Karzai's government is on.

    The Taliban can maintain the attrition for decades to come. We cannot. Either the government rethinks our strategy, or it rethinks our commitment, or we will lose.
  15. I think lessons could be learned from Malaya and Oman in terms of fortifying local villages and living among locals to win hearts and minds. These were very successful campaigns with relatively few resources, some SF teams embedded supported by Gurkhas, Paras and Royal Marines depending on the theatre. Helos would still be required though.