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PM to deploy more Afghan troops

#1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8305922.stm

Gordon Brown is expected to announce that Britain is to send an extra 500 military personnel to Afghanistan.

The UK has about 9,000 soldiers in the country, the second-largest contingent after the US, but there have been calls for increases in Nato troop levels.

To date, there have been 221 deaths among UK forces there and the PM has faced some calls to bring troops home.

Mr Brown will address MPs at 1230 BST, after the first prime minister's questions of the parliamentary session.

'Right strategy'

He will begin his statement with a sombre tribute to British forces, reading out the names of the 37 servicemen who have died in Afghanistan since the last prime minister's questions in mid-July.

It is believed that Mr Brown will agree to the deployment of 500 more British troops but with some caveats.

The BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said: "The prime minister will want assurances from military chiefs that the extra troops will be properly equipped.

"He'll also expect Britain's NATO partners to follow suit by offering more forces themselves."

British forces have been in Afghanistan since October 2001. More than two-thirds are stationed in the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold.

Last week Mr Brown's spokesman said: "We have always said that more troops would have to be subject to a number of criteria - the feasibility of sending the right equipment, the right strategy internationally, and particularly this issue of 'Afghanisation' which the president and prime minister talked again about yesterday, and obviously proper burden-sharing."

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference, leader David Cameron pledged to send more troops to Afghanistan to speed up the training of Afghan soldiers.

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the Afghan mission is "failing" and called for a new strategy and "a political surge" rather than more troops.
 
#2
I'm sure those 500 will make a difference but i'd have hoped for more. Its clear that the rest of the ISAF forces bar a select few are not going to step up so i think we should bite the bullet and send in a significant number more. After all its boots on the ground that is needed!
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
RE: More Troops:
Good. If we are fighting, let's not fight half-arrsed. My understanding is that the military have been asking for this step for a long time.

But...


SNIP
The BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said: "The prime minister will want assurances from military chiefs that the extra troops will be properly equipped"
SNIP

Assuming Ms Wyatt knows whereof she speaks, this raises a very interesting question - in fact, two.

The conventional wisdom is that the army is poorly equipped in Afghan because govt bean counters don't supply the Armed Forces with enough dosh, ergo, they can't afford the necessary kit. However, if the PM is asking this question of the top brass, one must ask:

(1) Does he mean he won't agree to the deployment unless the troops have the right kit? And said kit may not exist on inventory, for the financial reasons given above? Which gives him a convenient out if the Army keeps asking for more men. ("Gentlemen, I apprecaited your concerns, but I am not going to put more men in harms way if they do not have the right equipment - which we cannot afford. Sorry!" )

Or:

(2) Is Ms Wyatt/the PM implying that the Army DOES have the necessary kit - but that kit is NOT being issued to troops/units being deployed in Helmand? ie The wider Army (read: COs and units) is not prioritizing our main operational theater by stripping peaceable, low-risk garrisons around the world of the best kit to send to the front line...?

ALL the criticism I have seen of the lack of equipment in Helmand has been aimed at government. What if the Army itself is at fault...?

After all, what unit will willingly pass a nice piece of gear held by his unit to another unit - even if that unit is being deployed on active service? Since the days of Caesar, COs and QMs have hoarded the best kit for their own units.
 
#4
Rich indeed, heard the "caveat" on the Today programme and nearly choked on my porridge.

I now know where all the brass I pick up goes! It gets melted down and given to this govt to replenish their necks. Gordon Brown has some f#cking nerve to try and give the impression he even gives a rats ass about the troops on the ground.

This a case of major political schizophrenia. If Gordon Brown wants to speak to the person responsible for kit shortages he should find a f#cking mirror and give himself a good dressing down. :x
 
#5
I can see it this way:

Richards: "PM, we need these men"
Brown: "Can you equip them General?"
Richards: "With body armour and rifles, just about, PM"
Brown: "Ok, send them out"

Brown (to press): "General Richards assures me our men are fully equipped... we therefore don't need to increase procurement spending!"
 
#7
Andy_S said:
RE: More Troops:
Good. If we are fighting, let's not fight half-arrsed. My understanding is that the military have been asking for this step for a long time.

But...





(2) Is Ms Wyatt/the PM implying that the Army DOES have the necessary kit - but that kit is NOT being issued to troops/units being deployed in Helmand? ie The wider Army (read: COs and units) is not prioritizing our main operational theater by stripping peaceable, low-risk garrisons around the world of the best kit to send to the front line...?

ALL the criticism I have seen of the lack of equipment in Helmand has been aimed at government. What if the Army itself is at fault...?

After all, what unit will willingly pass a nice piece of gear held by his unit to another unit - even if that unit is being deployed on active service? Since the days of Caesar, COs and QMs have hoarded the best kit for their own units.
The kind of kit being I assume you're referring (new helmets, new body armour, new vehicles, new weapons etc) is centrally held, after purchase often goes straight to Afghanistan and is issued there, apart from some kept in the UK for training purposes.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Baboon:

RE: Centraliztion of new kit:
Cheers, that partly answers that question.

But when it comes to critical big ticket items such as, for eg, troop carrying and attack helos, I wonder if the number available is reflected in the number actually in theatre?
 
#9
Andy_S said:
Baboon:

RE: Centraliztion of new kit:
Cheers, that partly answers that question.

But when it comes to critical big ticket items such as, for eg, troop carrying and attack helos, I wonder if the number available is reflected in the number actually in theatre?
Well with helos you have several factors involved

1) How many the government is willing to pay to keep in-theatre
2) How many are available in general- some will always be in long-term maintenance
3) Numbers of air and ground crew available
 
#10
Kit. Brown is looking for a name so that if/when a coroner comments on a death associated with dodgy kit, Brown or Aintworth can say "General **** said it was all lovely. We would not send troops out without proper kit" He does not care a stuff about the kit - just covering his arrse is what it is
 
#12
The deployment being caveated by "only if there is a sufficient kit" is as deeply cynical as it is unprescedented.

Brown or his Ministers must know if the troops can be kitted out properly - they have been looking at this request for months. What Brown is trying to do is kill off any dissent on the subject of kit. If anyone (Generals, other officers, politicians or media) raise the issue of kit being lacking, the PM will say that the Military have stated quite clearly they have enough otherwise he wouldn't have sanctioned the extra troops.

It will also make the justification of future UORs more difficult. Any new requests will face a Treasury response of "you had enough kit for the extra troops - what has changed". A short term means of the Tresury cutting costs but Brown is only ever looking at measures in terms of months.


As an aside, it doesn't say much for our Nation's war-fighting capability if we cannot deploy a further 500 troops does it? Just as well we don't have a belligerant super-power like Russia any more
 
#13
I feel sorry for the guys who are told you have x amount of time to be deployed, leave cancelled etc. while they decide if they have the right kit or not. Spend a couple of months training, jabs and then get stood down.

Capital for morale that one.
 
#14
re-stilly said:
I feel sorry for the guys who are told you have x amount of time to be deployed, leave cancelled etc. while they decide if they have the right kit or not. Spend a couple of months training, jabs and then get stood down.

Capital for morale that one.
Like 12 Bde just went through you mean?
 
#15
Brown also said, if IIRC, that he hoped other NATO members would send more troops. Now I don't know any figures, but surely if all members of NATO sent a similar number, wouldn't it help a bit?
 
#16
The issue of other NATO countries sending more troops is a convenient red herring being used by Brown to justify not giving our commanders the troops they need.

Other NATO allies are either sending what they can or have no intention of giving more. Even if they did it is unlikely that the French, Germans and others would deploy into our AOR - they are elsewhere and have resisted being moved (sometimes for good reasons sometimes not - I see no value in throwing insults at our allies in this regard).

Obama now seems to be using similar tactics to delay making decisions - in his case, citing the need to address the strategy before sending reinforcements.

If the guys on the ground are at risk because they don't have enough boots and bayonets then they should be given more to stem the problem. Fix the strategy and burden sharing issues once you have done all you can to stop your soldiers dying.
 
#17
Most of the kit out there is either on general issue and not in short supply (eg rifles) or specific to theatre (eg the range of new vehicles, body armour, desert clothing and so on and only in short supply because of funding limitations).

Any "personal issue" kit shortages for 500 additional men could easily be made up with a simple injection of cold hard cash. Come to think of it, most kit shortages could be made to go away by more money.

Helicopters and such are clearly a different issue. We dont have enough of them but you cant just get them off the shelf at Tescos. Years of underfunding are responsible for that shortage. But then again, I dont see helicopters being on this agenda as they are not part of any Unit's kit list unless it is an aviation unit!

What Brown really meant is surely - "you can have the extra troops but only if I dont have to pay any extra for it."

The timing also smacks of political convenience rather than tactical/strategic or anything in between considerations.
 
#19
Blokeonabike; "The timing also smacks of political convenience rather than tactical/strategic or anything in between considerations."

Are you suggesting this increase in troop numbers are for reasons outside the theatre rather than the situation in theatre?

No way?! :eek: 8O
 

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