Hutton in Afghanistan

#1
UK Secretary of State for Defence visits ISAF troops in Southern Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan - British Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton met with British troops deployed to Kandahar Air Field, ISAF Regional Command South as part of his two-day visit to Southern Afghanistan.

This is the second trip to Afghanistan for Mr. Hutton since being appointed to his position last October.

Mr. Hutton spent the first part of the morning with Lt. Col. Charlie Stickland, Commander 42 Commando Royal Marines, in a private session at Camp Roberts to discuss recent operations conducted in the ISAF Regional Command South area by 42 Commando.

Afterwards, Mr. Hutton received working demonstrations of vehicles, equipment and weaponry currently being used by 42 Commando. During the demonstrations, he continuously thanked the Royal Marines for their hard work and dedication.

“It’s not an easy thing we’re asking you to do,” he told one Marine. “Please know that we’re all thinking of you at home, you’ve done very well and make us proud.”

Sgt. Richard Hayden of the Manoeuvre Support Group for 42 Commando said he was glad to see someone of Secretary Defence Hutton’s position mingling with the troops.

“He just walked right up and immediately started asking questions about our equipment and what we needed,” Hayden said. “It’s fantastic to see the civilian leadership like that take a genuine concern over what we need and be genuinely curious about what we’re working with.”

Mr. Hutton later met with leaders and troops of the 904th Expeditionary Air Wing where he was briefed on the aircraft currently deployed by the Air Wing. He will round off his tour tomorrow after meeting with British troops in Camp Bastion.
http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/pressreleases/2009/01/pr090121-059.html
 
#3
Whilst you may think he is genuinely interested, Hutton represents Barrow-in-Furness whose main industry is the BAE Systems dockyard, building the Astute submarines. He knows full well that if he doesn't show some support for the armed forces he will be out of the door come the next election. The proof of the pudding will come if he shows he can stand up to the forces-hating cyclops and his like minded cronies and (most unlikely) screw more money out of him.
 
#4
I am always very sceptical about these visits and how they are reported. The government has been stung badly by lack of proper kit so you can with a 100% degree of certainty predict that any visit by any minister to an theatre will have a press release that mentions UOR spending or how we are delivering excellent kit that saves lives.

Of course the UOR is either an admission of bad planning or an admission of poor funding before the event. They also focus on the things that are visible and can be wheeled out to the press, especially personal equipment and vehicles.

Be sceptical
 
#5
A very nice piece, but is anybody really fooled? This is propaganda by a confirmed w@nker, it will change nothing - just like all the previous visits.
 
#6
UK Defence Secretary lauds troops on visit to Afghan town freed from the Taliban

The Defence Secretary John Hutton flew into the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand in Afghanistan where UK forces successfully drove hundreds of Taliban fighters out in a massive Christmas operation.

Mr Hutton personally thanked the British men and women who took part in the mission, which caught the Taliban off guard and provided a boost in security for 70,000 people.

After meeting UK forces at Kandahar Air Base, Mr Hutton was flown by helicopter into Nad-e-Ali where he was briefed on the mission by the Helmand Task Force commander, Brigadier Gordon Messenger RM.

Mr Hutton said:

"Only a few weeks ago the town of Nad-e-Ali was a Taliban stronghold and no-go area. The very fact that I am able to see first hand the progress which has been made is testament to the bravery of UK forces and their determination to take the fight to the Taliban."

The operation involved a Brigade-sized force and was one of the largest operations mounted by 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines since the invasion of Iraq. 1000Kg of narcotics were destroyed during the mission and large quantities of weapons, including rocket propelled grenades and mortar rounds, were seized. Taliban forces were judged to have been dealt a blow to their lines of communication.

Mr Hutton travelled outside of the patrol base for talks with the District Governor and met troops from the 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales Regiment.

He added:

"UK troops are making a real difference in Afghanistan. They are fighting for freedom and democracy in the towns and villages of Afghanistan to prevent the export of hatred and terrorism back to the UK."

Since Operation Sond Chara, Afghan Security Forces have continued to consolidate the new found security in the district, ushering in a much improved quality of life for local people. Earlier this month, the Provincial Governor of Helmand Gulab Mangal held a 'food zone' shura in the town where wheat seed was handed out to some 350 local people who attended as part of the Afghan Government's drive to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce dependency on farming opium
http://www.isria.info/en/diplo_22january2009_x29.htm
 
#7
Neu Arbeit Smoke and mirrors

Believe nothing and you won't be disappointed.

Its just a vain attempt to deflect the 'scum reader/NA voters ' away from current economic news.
 
#8
Notwithstanding SoS's constituency interests and his loathesome partei, SoS has seriously impressed at least one very senior matelot (not senior enough to be thinking of a trip to Gieves to be measured up for ermine number ones).

Time will tell if it's business as usual or a genuine new broom with a brain and a pair.
 
#9
I think SofS is genuine - I've spoken with a lot of people who work with him, or have seen him in action, and he's getting good marks.

As for this point " Of course the UOR is either an admission of bad planning or an admission of poor funding before the event. They also focus on the things that are visible and can be wheeled out to the press, especially personal equipment and vehicles."

Sorry but I totally disagree with you there - sure back in 2003 we could have said it was poor funding that prevented something from occurring, or poor planning as we didn't know what we'd face. Today the UOR process is very swept up, and genuinely covers emerging operational issues that we could not realistically have foreseen as a requirement (this is said having seen every single UOR come our way for quite some time). The system is responsive as we often find the threats we face have changed - the kit today is being bought not because we messed up our planning, but because we are having to do ops in a way that no one could ever have envisaged even a few years ago.

The challenge of course is for MOD planners to recognise this - too often the UOR process is seen as a sticky plaster and additional source of gucci kit - and not something that is there for Urgent Operationally specific Requirements. We need to take a long hard look at our EP priorities and reprioritise - the days when we could buy lots of gucci kit and have HM Treasury pick up the tab for an additional expedition to Afghan are probably coming to a close...
 
#10
Jim, probably another debate on the UOR, I am not knocking the process which gets much needed kit to the people at the pointy end but tell me how long have we been in the armed forces business, how long have we been fighting insurgencies and how many reccomendations came out from other conflicts (not always our own)

Whilst the UOR process can be defended the need for it can only be defended so far, of course in all conflicts you tend go equipped for the last one and is it quite right that you should adapt to conditions on the ground but was it really beyond the realms of good planning and appropriate funding to have the vast majority of UOR's thought about, planned for and funded beforehand. After all, aren't we suposed to be set up for global operations?

I also thought Dr Reid was actually a reasonable Secretary of State for Defence but politics will always come into play and this government is addicted to news management, as I said, remain sceptical
 
#11
I think I would be more impressed if he visited a FOB, and did at least a week there without all his hangers on and really see life at the frontline. If Henno can why can't he?
 
#12
Meridian - fair points - the problem is that while its clear we're going to be doing COIN, their lordships (Generals / Airships and Admirals) remain emotionally linked to the 'sexy stuff'. Thats why things like CVF, FRES and Typhoon will always win the day, not the cheap dirty little enhancement projects for UORs. The irony is of course, that to actually get the forces equipped to a reasonable COIN standard wouldnt' cost that much, but it would take military leadership to chop a large Cat A project and put the funds into small beer projects instead.

Given the current ops we're on, I think a lot of them couldn't have been thought about in advance. While I'm not going to discuss any UORs going through on an open net, its fair to say that all of them have been brought about as a result of a change in operational circumstances which planners would probably not have forseen.

As for Reid - loathed, utterly loathed by all of who worked for him. He's a deeply unpleasant man, utterly obsessed with getting the best spin for himself. I've heard from those who had regular exposure to him that he cared only about himself and not defence.
 
#13
Definately agree with you there Jim about the big ticket items hoovering up funds from the basics, its a topic many have discussed at length on here many times.

Its funny that your view of Reid is so strong yet others seem quite supportive, perhaps he has the personality where you either love him or hate him, politicians tend to galvanise opinion like that
 
#14
'but it would take military leadership to chop a large Cat A project and put the funds into small beer projects instead'

Don't assume that if a large Cat A project was chopped that the funds would automatically get ploughed back into funding kit that we need. The greatest need at the moment is more boots on the ground and Cyclops is on record as saying that he wants a 'peace dividend' from the withdrawal from Iraq - and we all know what that means. Besides, as I said earlier, there are not a small number of senior New Liarbour ministers who actively detest the armed forces and would lobby energetically for any spare funds to be allocated elsewhere.
 
#16
I think Hutton has had a pretty good ARRSE write-up and reception in general. So far, probably well deserved.

A bit surprising for a site populated by such a high proportion of right-wing, bigotted, reactionary old gits really.

Doesn't change the fact that he works for a man who seems to detest everything about the Armed Forces and has serious "control issues". Hutton has to tread a careful path if he wants to hold onto his job. When Brown need to cut his spending defence will be top of his list - then we will see Hutton's mettle.
 
#18
jim30 said:
I think SofS is genuine - I've spoken with a lot of people who work with him, or have seen him in action, and he's getting good marks.

As for this point " Of course the UOR is either an admission of bad planning or an admission of poor funding before the event. They also focus on the things that are visible and can be wheeled out to the press, especially personal equipment and vehicles."

Sorry but I totally disagree with you there - sure back in 2003 we could have said it was poor funding that prevented something from occurring, or poor planning as we didn't know what we'd face. Today the UOR process is very swept up, and genuinely covers emerging operational issues that we could not realistically have foreseen as a requirement (this is said having seen every single UOR come our way for quite some time). The system is responsive as we often find the threats we face have changed - the kit today is being bought not because we messed up our planning, but because we are having to do ops in a way that no one could ever have envisaged even a few years ago.

The challenge of course is for MOD planners to recognise this - too often the UOR process is seen as a sticky plaster and additional source of gucci kit - and not something that is there for Urgent Operationally specific Requirements. We need to take a long hard look at our EP priorities and reprioritise - the days when we could buy lots of gucci kit and have HM Treasury pick up the tab for an additional expedition to Afghan are probably coming to a close...
Those day ended years ago - don't kid yourself. So here it is in a nutshell - if we as a Nation want to be a major player we NEED the Gucci kit. How do we know whats going to happen 10 years down the line - we don't. So if we want to go to AFG and do the biz - then we have to fund it.

Take a Billion back from Northern Rock - should make the OE/UOR process a bit smoother.
 

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