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Sea Training: An Oft Overlooked Strategic Asset

Yokel

LE
I saw this back in October, but forgot to post it.

Sea Training: An Oft Overlooked Strategic Asset

Rumours abound that the Royal Navy is to gut its globally respected Operational Sea Training organisation in order to reallocate cash across defence. It is not simply the UK’s martial reputation that would be at stake; the evidence states that operational sea training is a crucial asset on which the Royal Navy should not skimp.

The Operational Sea Training organisation of the Royal Navy is based on centuries of experience in what it takes to win at sea. A centre for innovative approaches to warfighting for all of NATO, this organisation will need to curate that knowledge as the Royal Navy faces a new strategic environment and a very different and highly complex force design built around its new aircraft carriers.

In one of the most comprehensive studies of modern military effectiveness to date, Stephen Biddle discovered an intriguing statistical anomaly. In none of the wars fought over the last century did typically cited predictors of military success (for example, national GDP, the technological superiority of a state’s equipment, or numerical superiority over adversaries) predict victory with more than a 50% probability – that is to say, coin toss odds. Rather, what predicted military victory was successful force employment – the ability to marshal one’s forces as part of a seamless coordinated system of fire and manoeuvre.

The question then arises: why do states – particularly those with high GDPs, which frequently underperformed in Biddle’s study – not use their resources to train and employ their forces in tandem with best practices? The answer, it would appear, is that generating forces capable of effective force employment is perhaps the highest barrier to entry for states to surmount. The key predictor of effective force employment is the product of high-intensity training and deployment that few militaries can sustain. Building an effective officer corps with well-drilled uniformed personnel and developing experience and knowledge in the idiosyncrasies of equipment all require a bespoke specialist training group with clear, high-level direction and leadership.


It could be said that both FOST and the Maritime Warfare Centre are descendants of organisations key to winning the fight in the Atlantic in World War Two. FOST has been key to the performance of our ships and people in places like the Falklands, have helped ship survive peacetime accidents, and are part of NATO's readiness and force generation.
 

Dredd

LE
Sadly, looks very much a case of you don't know what you have until it's gone.

Just part of the gradual incremental decline.

Remind us, how much of our trade is reliant on sea freight routes?
 

Yokel

LE
I think it might be more like this:

Politicians: We want you to put more ships to sea - all the time.
RN: Can we have more people?
Politicians: No! People cost money!
RN: So where we all these people come from?
Politicians: Take them from shore drafts.
RN: Most of them are civilianised!
Politicians: Find things that are not, and gap them!
RN: But we cannot do that without destroying capability...
Politicians: The spreadsheet says.....
 
I think it might be more like this:

Politicians: We want you to put more ships to sea - all the time.
RN: Can we have more people?
Politicians: No! People cost money!
RN: So where we all these people come from?
Politicians: Take them from shore drafts.
RN: Most of them are civilianised!
Politicians: Find things that are not, and gap them!
RN: But we cannot do that without destroying capability...
Politicians: The spreadsheet says.....
For politicians, read Treasury civil serpents.
 
Couldn't they have done it before I just had to do FOST.........
 
Sadly, looks very much a case of you don't know what you have until it's gone.

Just part of the gradual incremental decline.

Remind us, how much of our trade is reliant on sea freight routes?
It appears to be a lesson that every generation needs to relearn. Usually at the cost of a lot of good people and ships.
 

Yokel

LE
Since NATO navies train at FOST (not just the RN and RFA), and the nearby RNAS Culdrose can provide training to NATO partners such as the Royal Netherlands Navy who have NH-90 ASW helicopters training there, why not develop it as a NATO centre of excellence for ASW?

As well as full spectrum training for UK or allied units that is. It probably counts as an important contribution to NATO.
 
Since NATO navies train at FOST (not just the RN and RFA), and the nearby RNAS Culdrose can provide training to NATO partners such as the Royal Netherlands Navy who have NH-90 ASW helicopters training there, why not develop it as a NATO centre of excellence for ASW?

As well as full spectrum training for UK or allied units that is. It probably counts as an important contribution to NATO.

Because there's no money and probably limited interest from other NATO nations given their own facilities and the number of ranges elsewhere around the World.

Regards,
MM
 

Yokel

LE
I thought other countries paid for FOST training - apart from when they contribute assets for training such as SSKs?

I remember a FOST Staff Officer explaining their value to NATO with not only the facilities at Devonport but also Culdrose nearby for both helicopters and FGA simulating air attack. They also have easy access to the Western Atlantic and South West Approaches.
 
I thought other countries paid for FOST training - apart from when they contribute assets for training such as SSKs?

I remember a FOST Staff Officer explaining their value to NATO with not only the facilities at Devonport but also Culdrose nearby for both helicopters and FGA simulating air attack. They also have easy access to the Western Atlantic and South West Approaches.

I would imagine they do.

However, they're unlikely to pay for the additional infrastructure required. Remember that there are several deep water and fully instrumented ASW ranges already available to what is arguably a pretty small NATO customer base.

I defer however to @alfred_the_great on the matter.

Regards,
MM
 
I don’t know nothing guv.
 

Yokel

LE
You heard it here first!


820 NAS is the designated carrier ASW squadron, so could the ASW helicopters aboard our carriers be augmented by NATO allies?. Do other navies send their ASW squadrons to train with us?

RFA Argus was originally purchased to carry aircraft to sea for training, so potentially the ASW crews could train at sea, as part of a task group, against real SSN/SSK targets.
 

Yokel

LE
I knew that budgetary pressures exist, but using a board game - really? I must admit I read this quickly and wondered if there was a new board game on the market:

Boardgames created to teach ASW tactics

Their Anti-Submarine Warfare game is loosely based on the children’s classic Battleships, while a second helicopter search game, called Pingers, is more similar to the Asian strategy game Go. A third card game teaches Nato codewords in an elaborate version of Snap.

The pair are also developing another card game based on the mechanics of poker - although without any gambling – where the cards list tactical manoeuvres and the chips represent ships and helicopters.

Lieutenant Commander Oates added: “We already do work with the trainees in the classroom and in our simulators. This is something extra where we can pull out the key points we want to teach and do that using a game. This is all about a long tradition of wargaming in the military.

“Take our Anti-Submarine Warfare game for example. Yes, it’s based on the game Battleships, but this uses the relevant up-to-date anti-submarine tactics. It follows the same 7-step NATO and Royal Navy planning process, analysis and search grids.

“The players take it in turns, then they debrief and switch over. Whether you playing as the aircrew or playing as the submariner, it allows you to understand the whole picture from both sides.

“The key thing about the games is that you have to get the science right, because that is the reality. You’ve got to do your maths and you’ve got to make sure your timeframe and the game mechanics are in sync with the maths.

“The artistic part of designing the game is about making it fun, because it has to be enjoyable too as that is how the human brain works and that is an effective way to learn.

“These games could even be expanded to bring in multiple players or whole teams of players in different rooms representing the various ranks on the ships.

I bet soneone is thinking of ways to charge the MOD £££ every time the 'game' is played.
 
No, they won't.

Wargaming in ASW is invaluable.
 

Yokel

LE
No, they won't.

Wargaming in ASW is invaluable.

I know. But the track record on contracts is not good - I once went on a course taught by an RN senior rate but the RN still got charged by a contractor.

Then we had things like PFIs, and MFTS...
 
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