Hypothetical Question

Discussion in 'Infantry' started by Vegetius, Mar 14, 2006.

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  1. Sitting about waiting at work and playing get-on-the-bus-get-off-the-bus led to a conversation with an ex-army colleague. I mentioned the thread on ARRSE regarding the lack of parachute training because the crabs don't have enough C-130s. This led onto a more general discussion about paratroopers and airborne troops in general. Now I'm not talking about the hoary old "why do we need paratroopers?" chestnut, but what we came out with was this:

    If parachuting was just one type of delivery method for elite light infantry, and you didn't really have a parachute regiment anymore, what would the model for the British army for elite infantry (i.e. airmobile/ commando) in the 21st century? US army Rangers model (no laughing at the back)? AACC combined with P Coy? Or something entirely different. Would it be a nominated unit given that role and training (i.e. "The Rifles" are roled and trained thus) or would it be volunteer-transfer entry?

    Excuse my ignorance if the 1 PARA SF-support thing is filling this void, I don't know much about it.

    In the end, the guy I was talking to came back to the conclusion that paratroopers were now effectively an anachronism but that you very definitely needed something like the parachute regiment. But maybe without the emphasis on jumping out of aeroplanes...

  2. Discuss carefully and rationally! If this degenerates, I'll just bin the thread.
  3. DM, that may be asking a bit much! The polarisation that occurs in these discussions is in many respects laughable. I would enjoy a balanced discussion that examines the merits and demerits, weighed against utilty, cost and intersoersed with sensible comment.
  4. Although the opinion seems to be that the parachute delivery method is out-dated, there still remains no better way to get troops on the ground quickly and effectively with a minimum of fuss.
  5. Veg wrote

    "Would it be a nominated unit given that role and training (i.e. "The Rifles" are roled and trained thus)"

    We already have a unit who does this - their role is Air Assault Infantry - trained in RAL and FAL.

    P.S. I just saw 2 C130s 8O pass my window on what looked suspiciously like a training flight/drop
  6. Me too! Scary!!
  7. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    In a sense the Paras have had it easy, insofar as they've largely retained the same role since they were created (I know Para Bns have occasionally done 'heavier' jobs but it was rare), whereas most of the rest of the infantry have arms-plotted around like blue arrsed flies. This has given them the opportunity to focus almost exclusively on the para/air assault light infantry role and they do it extremely well; just as the Guards do the whole boot-polishing, stamping, shouting thing very well. With the end of the arms plot, the line infantry will finally have the chance to go down the specialisation route, and it will lead to changes; as I understand it, infantry soldiers will basically have a choice between heavy, light, air assault, airborne and so on, when they sign up, and they'll spend most of their careers doing those things. I don't think it would be especially difficult to convert a line battalion en masse into an Air Assault Commando Para Ranger battalion, but it would take them a long while to get as good at it as the Paras are now.

    Personally, I think the whole 'do we need Airborne' question is overplayed: it's a potentially extremely useful capability to have up your sleeve, so we need to have people trained to do it. But as an army we get a greater benefit from having Airborne Forces as a kind of 'focus of excellence' for light role assault infantry. If the end of arms plotting and the new structures work out we ought to get the same effect from, for example, 7 Armd Bde as an elite 'heavy' bde.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts.
  8. ^ OK, that was the sort of argument that I was looking for. What, though, is the difference between infantry in the "light" role and airmobile infantry? No, not a wah, isn't the only difference their delivery method (i.e. primarily helicopters)?

    I'm sure there are doctrinal/ operational differences but wouldn't it make more sense to make all infantry capable of being airmobile, er, airmobile? Would offer greater flexibility etc.

    Again, excuse my ignorance, I was in a TA inf. Bn. in the days of Milan-roled units tasked for BAOR. I'm not sure what "light" infantry is except in the context of "heavy infantry but in lorries."
  9. There is quite an amount of training and currency that needs to acquired and maintained to have an effective and capable airborne force, and (I think this critical) you do need sufficient numbers and equipments to make them credible. Once trained, to remain fully current and therefore "fit for role" consideration of their empployment must be made each time you take an element of the force out of role.

    The alternative, which I think impratical in peacetime is to train GS Inf Bns to parachute in order to compliment the AB forces. (Whilst it works when you have large forcs (WW2) I think given the size of the current army such measures cannot be sustained.

    I don't think anyone wants to see the complete demise of the Parachute capability, but its use as a force multiplier is certainly questionable, unless it is improved, empowered and enlarged.
  10. 1. At what point is a recruit considered fully trained and combat ready ? After one of the two main phases (Para/Cdo) or not until both have been completed ?

    2. The aggregate cost of training the recruit would put him into the same 'High Value' asset bracket as SF or aircrew, unless you get the economies of scale of putting large numbers through the Maroon / Lovat Green sausage machine.

    3. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none ? To maintain a combat ready skills set, units would either be forever busy or else they would have to specialise, returning us to the status quo of 'Para' units vs 'Cdo' units.

    4. The current methodology of having a fourth GS Inf bn rotated though 16 AA Bde seems to work, and is obviously being considered for a Rifles bn for 3 Cdo Bde. Losing the arms plot will mean that young turks can apply for a posting to the battalion that was 'in role', if they so desire, and possibly graduate to the full qualification.

    5. In just the same way as the Guards have a permanent Gds coy attached to the paras, the new larger infantry regiments could establish their own 'elite' Patrols / Pathfinder elements, another half way house to grander things. Not sure what CO's would think of the perpetual drain on their best troops.
  11. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    One of the issues here is P Company. If you took that out of the equation, I'm pretty sure that you could get 90% of most line battalions through para training without too many dramas (provided the crabs co-operate, it isn't their wives' club bingo night tomorrow etc etc); likewise with the Commando course. It would be one of those tough decisions that you would have to take if you wanted to expand or broaden the airborne capability, a bit like when 22 SAS established G Squadron in the late 60s. If you just want to have an airborne capability for a rainy day, then it wouldn't be a problem to simply convert line battalions; if you want to have a combat ready brigade like 16 AA and its predecessors, then something like P Company is pretty much essential.
  12. I agree that the two are so different that a decision needs to be made and for my money it would be simply wrong to lower standards. So for me P Coy must remain, whether its format could be adjusted is something only P Coy staff can comment on properly. I still feel that retaining a (too) smal cadre is possibly not the right answer.
  13. Please don't get me on this....

    DM if I get carried away please stop me.....

    Think of the savings that could be accrued through the cessation of para trg, taking their airborne delivery 'at risk'. For goodness sakes we are taking large scale deployments 'at risk' for the moment and the last one was only 3 years ago. The last op drop was perhaps 41 years ago and still we fund it?

    A rant...but I am getting to my point..

    The money needs to be spent on driver training for infantrymen. Why oh why can we not get them qualified in Phase 2, because we know that they are more likely to be employed as drivers than they will conduct an operational para drop. I doubt there's a single person on this thread that hasn't torn his hair out at how difficult it is to get our boys qualified in something they do all the time on operations. The burden falls squarely in the unit, and is nothing more than an abrogation of ATRA responsibilities to provide something close to a working product from Phase 2.

    Rant over, switched to rx.
  14. Quite a measured rant and a fair view, I suppose if you could simply swop one for the other then you might carry the argument, but the reality is that if you stop one activity it is unlikely you will see the money go straight to driver training. We would just lose AB and still have pants Dvr trg.
  15. Was put on stand by to drop into the Falklands, but alas the Argies gave up at the witching hour !

    Ref driver training: it is well within each unit to organise driving cadres on a annual or bi-annual basis (TA) or throughout the year (Regs).
    the system to use contract instruction is in place in order that units can gain newly qualified drivers when ever needed, it just takes a bit of organisation on the part of your MTO/MTWO. The budget is there - use it !