jackson to take on marines


Army chiefs are out to capture the Marines
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 31/07/2003)

The Army and the Royal Navy are fighting a turf war for control of the Royal Marine Commandos amid a reorganisation of infantry forces to provide more rapid reaction units.

Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of General Staff, is understood to be behind a move designed to wrongfoot the Royal Navy and bring all land forces under his control.

It follows efforts by the Royal Marines to build on their role in Iraq, where they outshone the Army's Parachute Regiment, to acquire their own dedicated armoured reconnaissance units.

The Army's response has been a demand that the Commandos, originally an Army force, should be brought back under its wing, something the Royal Navy has rejected.

Gen Jackson, himself a paratrooper, appears to be attempting to pull back the Royal Marine Commandos who, when Adml Sir Michael Boyce was Chief of Defence Staff, had the choice of all the best jobs.

With Gen Sir Mike Walker replacing Adml Boyce as Chief of Defence Staff, the Army is in charge and determined to reassert its authority in this autumn's Government Defence White Paper.

Under plans to create more forces that could be sent abroad very quickly, the Army is also ready to axe its main front-line rapid reaction force, 16 Air Assault Brigade, and revert to a dedicated airborne brigade, the journal Defence Analysis reports today.

The decision is a tacit admission that the Apache attack helicopter will not deliver the radical changes once promised.

The 1998 Strategic Defence Review was based on the belief that the helicopter could destroy enemy tank formations, transforming front-line operations, and making many of the Army's own tanks redundant.

It created a special unit, 16 Air Assault Brigade, merging the former 5 Airborne Brigade with three regiments of Apache helicopters.

But five years later, the Government is poised to admit that the whole concept of "deep air manouevre", under which the Apache helicopters would take over part of the anti-tank role of the Challenger 2 tank, was a costly mistake.

The Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade will now be split into two, with the Parachute Regiment forming the basis for a revived 5 Airborne Brigade and the Apache helicopters hived off to support individual battle-groups.

The demise of 16 Air Assault Brigade is bound to raise serious questions over why the Army Air Corps was so eager to acquire its 67 Apache helicopters at a cost of £4 billion that it ignored potential pitfalls.

An embarrassing failure to train sufficient pilots has left half the helicopters mothballed until 2007 while problems with night flying technology mean they will not be fully operational until 2012.

But the nail in the coffin of 16 Air Assault Brigade has been the Apache's poor performance in Afghanistan and Iraq where it proved highly vulnerable to the Second World War-era RPG7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

During Operation Anaconda in eastern Afghanistan last year all seven Apache helicopters thrown into the fray were forced back by machinegun fire and RPG7s.

Those problems were reaffirmed in Iraq when 32 Apaches attacking Republican Guard positions at Kerbala were beaten off by a "hornets' nest" of small-arms fire. As more and more problems have emerged with both the helicopter and the tactics, defence chiefs have decided that the whole concept was flawed and they would be better off reverting to a simple airborne brigade.

Although poor tactics played a role in Afghanistan and Iraq, the impact was such that, according to Defence Analysis, "the concepts drawn up in the mid-1990s for the use of the Apache have been torn up and thrown away".

Defence chiefs also aim to set up an additional rapid reaction brigade by converting a mechanised infantry brigade into a light infantry brigade or even a second airborne brigade.

An MoD spokesman said there were no current plans to move the Royal Marine Commandos from Royal Navy control to that of the Army.
Reminds me of an Army CO on a joint exercise - 'Gentlemen, in my view 'Joint' means do it the Army way.'

Surprised (if it's true) to see Gen Sir Mike Jackson empire-building, but not Walker.
I don't think that this is empire building. From his bio:

For just over 2 years, until the end of 1988, he was the Senior Directing Staff (Army) at the Joint Service Defence College, Greenwich. Following the Higher Command and Staff Course at Camberley in early 1989, he then spent 6 months on a Service Fellowship at Cambridge writing a paper on the future of the British Army.
This is a guy with experience of resrtucturing an entire branch of the amred forces and who perhaps sees the way forward based on the US model of the Marines being a group of small, rapidly deployable, mobility assets that are more independant of Admiralty controls and ambitions.

The concept of air power reigning supreme came out of GW1 and 16 Air Mobile was just a natural progression of this US-led fetish with high-altitude strategic bombing that really took hold with Clinton as he was reluctant to commit troops to the ground. It was a concept that was barking mad nonesense 10 years ago, so it was a bit of a surprise when we started to consider emulating part of thre US moel that failed so badly in Kosovo by the creation of 16AMBde. It lacked the power to be anything of significance, it was logistically diificult to support, and the expectations of what it could deliver by the politicians was far from realistic.
Of course 3 Bde do have the minor advantage over every Army unit of:

a. Having had a (relatively) easy and clearly defined task in Iraq.
b. Being fully resourced in terms of manpower, equipment and training.
c. Having their own fully integral CS and CSS assets who train with them on a regular basis, does anyone else know of a Bde with its own dedicated SH (845 NAS), Avn (847 NAS) and recce (I don't mean the QDG)?
d. A HQ that is only equalled by 16 Bde or most Army Divs....

Funny old thing ... they did very well!
I'm not sure about this one, can you really see the Navy giving up the the bootnecks. 8O

They were formed to act as sea-borne infantry and took on the commando role during the war, even if the commando concept was an Army idea the Marines have continued it since. You can't expect them to suddenly become part of the Army just like that not with their history and Naval traditions.........nah can't see that happening somehow.

As for their out shining Para Reg in Iraq it has to be said the booties seemed to have a clear mission and a complete compliment of supporting assets (and their PR has finally been sorted out)

How much of this is due to a jolly Jack Tar running the show back home I dont know, may be I'm just a cynical Paratrooper but 16AA Bde looked like they were given a 'walk on part' from back here.

As for re-forming the Airborne Bde, bloody right. I can think of a rather good Bde emblem, how about Bellophron riding on Pegasus 8)
Since the Falklands I have been party to, too many bar room arguments centred around Paras vs 'Royal. As has been said above ' Royal always seem to have their supporting arms + CSS well sorted out, in comparison to 16 Bde, and most of the rest of the Army come to that!

On both sides the Quality of the toms is not in question, although would suggest that Para Regt seem to have a unique ability to inflict shock and awe even when operating on the lightest of scales.

But with regards to Royals unrivalled Combat Support, maybe its got something to do with the quality of the oriffices and their OR process?
Its also helped by them exercising regularly as a complete Bde, having a small cadre of Officers and SNCOs who have known & trusted each other for years, an RN ATG organisation that works relatively well (COMAW), a Bde HQ that is controlled by themselves, having many of their CS/CSS troops having stayed in role for years, etc, etc, long practice at running their own CSS (Cdo Log Regt)... PPPPPPP, every time - funny thing that?!!!
Based on my experiance during Telic the Booties were streets ahead of 16 Bde. Form my point of veiw it all came down to arrogance, the Paras were and the booties were not.

16 Bde staff would not listen to "hats".

In terms of Tactical mobility 3 Cdo Bde were much mor flexible than the Bedford assault Bde.
Is this thread turning into a 'Para baiting session'. 8O or am I just a sensitive soul. :wink:

The mindset of your 'typical' Paratrooper is best summed up in the words of this little ditty we would sing when in our ballet classes, or was it contempoary dance my memory isn't as good as it was.

In the land of Montezuma, where the yanks have never been
Stands a ten foot Zulu warrior being f*ucked by a Royal Marine
We are the perverts of the nation, we are the c*nts you never see
We are a bunch of loud mouthed basta*ds
We are the Airborne Infantry

*to the tune of 'The Halls of Montezuma'

Its drummed into you as a crow that you are joining a Regiment with an aggresive, determined outlook. The Regiments history supports this.

I can't deny this may well come across as arrogance, I'm sure those of you who have worked with Para's have met the 'one eyed, gobby, posturing, arrogant, blinkered Tom/LCpl/CPL/Sgt etc..........guilty as charged.

Maybe I was brain washed (yes I do have one 8O ) along with everyone else who went through the Depot but I am fiercely proud of my Regiment, just the same as you. I may have been out 13 years and clamed down a bit, but you dont have to scratch the surface very far to find the person described above.

Can you change the type of person wanting to join the Para's......I doubt it

Will today's training change the end product............I doubt it

Will people still be chuntering about gobby Para's in five years.....probably
(with the caveat that the don't bin the Reg before then)

Can I hold a reasoned, sensible discussion with anyone who hasn't served in Para Reg...........depends how much I've drunk :lol:

C'est la vie
Weve had a few Para Regt blokes and from Units such as 7RHA transfer across to train as operating department practitioners, with the exception of just one bloke, the rest have been great, out of the 'para mentality' thing they just crack on with their job and socially theyre no more trouble then anyone else. Fiercely defensive and proud of their former regts but are the first to admit that they only really acted the prat when they were with other paras (a bravado thing?) They joined the army to do the soldier thing and then took a step back looked at what they were going to do when their soldiering days were over (or for injury reasons) and decided on rebadgeing to train for a well paid future career.
I think judging the abilities of both 3 Cdo and 16 Air Asslt bde just by what happened on Telic is a bit harsh. 3 Cdo Bde had been planning the Al Faw operation since the Autumn of 02. They had the whole task tied down and significant resourse already loaded on the ARG. 16 Bde were given a sniff of a job in late Dec 03. They had little preperation time but managed to deploy in good order quickly and reletively efficiently.

3 Cdo Bde did a great job in the Al Faw as did 16 Bde in the Rumaillya Oilfields and subsequently Al Amarah. It is hardly the Paras fault that they had only a relief in place task.

It also became very apparent (I worked in Div HQ) that neither formation was well suited to fighting a armour heavy force (the Iraqis) without their own armour. Hence why Royal and the Paras screamed for tanks from 7 Bd, which the booties were given but not the Paras as the enemey had melted away by then.

What I am trying to say is that they are both very capable with a fantastic Esprit D'Corps but following the initial landings for the booties and even on crossing the line of departure the paras were not well suited to the type of warfare we were engauged in. 7 Bde were by far the most adaptable and increadibly powerful organisation. Basically they all did realy well considering thier inherent advantages and disadvantages. Reconfiguring to fight the last war is not big and definitely not clever.

Sorry about the rambling nature of the post. :wink:
Sir - I take strong exception to your report (July 31) which states that I was behind a move to take the Royal Marines under my "control". There is no such move. In today's joint operations, Army units may serve under command of RM officers for a particular mission, and the reverse is equally true. The recent battle for Basra is a particularly vivid example.

The article continues with a gloom-laden report about the Apache attack helicopter. Overall, the Apache proved itself highly effective in the Iraq war. Our own programme is largely on track, and there is no doubt that the Apache system will deliver "radical changes". We are working to update our thinking on its use in the context of lighter, faster-moving intervention forces.

Far from being a "costly mistake", any changes that flow from that work will be an endorsement of the central role the Apache has in our vision for future land operations.

Gen Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, London SW1
Jacko has his say! Click for the Telegraph
It's the second letter that caught my eye, the writer appears to have swallowed every bit of bootneck bullshit put infront of him........Corps pissed methinks
All in all, as always only a percentage of what you read is near the truth, the rest is massaged to the ends of the publisher.

I personally think the Royal's should stay as they are.
On the subject of 16 AA Lets get shot of it and reform it as 16th Independant, turn the clock back reform all the old units 23 PFA, etc make a few of the old sweats happy! :D [/img]
Funny how things go round in circles, didnt 16 Independant get disbanded in the 70's reformed to 5 AB in the eightees to become 16 again in the nintees only to become 5 AB again (potentially) in the naughties!!!

On the subject of absolute failures, has anything more been said about the piss poor logistics of GWII (i.e. being at the FEBA with 5 rounds in the mag) I belive there was to be an investigation in the house of commons about this? or will it be swept under the carpet?

Interestingly further to this debate I read an article in the DT about how the yanks faced similar although not as severe supply issues like ourselves, how true this is I will leave that to the guys that were there to comment....


Well they say the MoD is now a business, if something doesnt work or pay for its self- get rid- or change its name.

Op Telic tells us what the rest of the Army already knew 16 AA leave alot to be desired and the 3 Cdo do not. Hence the tasks given out on Telic.

Cdos do some war-fighting and 16AA guard some oil wells.


Blackcat said:
On the subject of 16 AA Lets get shot of it and reform it as 16th Independant, turn the clock back reform all the old units 23 PFA, etc make a few of the old sweats happy! :D [/img]
Thats probably on the cards what with the new airborne DGAMS! Be afraid-be very afraid.
Were the 'plastic paras' of 23 PFA ever used in anger (i.e. parachuting into a location to do their job, on ops), or was it all about strutting about in para smocks? :)

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