Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles reveals helicopter jaunts for 'military tourists from London

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by jim24, Jan 14, 2011.

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  1. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    If this is true someone needs f@cking

    BBC News - UK troops deployed to Afghanistan 'to avoid cuts'

    Army strategy in Helmand under fire from former top diplomat | UK news | The Guardian

    Press Association

    The military blamed ministers unfairly for shortages of equipment in Helmand, Cowper-Coles wrote, adding: "I cannot help remembering an RAF movements officer in Helmand showing me a pie chart of British helicopter movements in southern Afghanistan ... 27% of the helicopter movements were for moving VIPs around theatre.

    "And most of those VIPs were senior military tourists from London."
  2. i imagine that any senior military personnel are not over there taking snaps and topping up their tan. Still, you can slap any word on that and 'tourist' sounds like a good enough label to cause outrage.

    And if anyone is getting****ed, I hope its you. Repeatedly. In your gaping face.
  3. This from the Times:-

    cut & paste here for those unable to access:-

    ‘We went to war to keep the Army busy’ senior diplomat says

    A furious row has erupted in Whitehall after a former senior diplomat accused the Army of sending troops to fight and die in Afghanistan four years ago simply to stop the Government from reducing its size as operations in Iraq dried up.

    The allegation by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles was strongly denied by General Sir Richard Dannatt, who was head of the Army at the time. “It is a disgraceful set of comments,” Sir Richard said. “It is not his business to opine about the Army. He is well out of his lane and well out of order.”

    Sir Sherard, however, who until last summer was the Government’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, stuck by his words. “He is lying, I am afraid. I can recall him saying it, sitting in his office in the Ministry of Defence,” he told The Times.

    Sir Richard insisted that he did not recognise the quote. “He’s got the wrong person there,” he said.

    The seasoned diplomat, with a reputation for being something of a maverick, also accused the top brass of being “misleadingly optimistic” in their advice to ministers, failing to spell out the potential costs and risks of what turned out to be an enduring and bloody commitment in Helmand.

    In addition, he said that enthusiasm for the Afghan mission was in part fuelled by a desire to salvage the military’s reputation among US colleagues who were critical of Britain’s failings in the Iraqi city of Basra.

    The explosive remarks, in a written memorandum to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, supported the findings of an investigation by The Times last year, which heard evidence that commanders and senior civil servants had ignored warnings that Britain was ill prepared to send troops to Helmand and had approved a deeply flawed plan.

    Sir Sherard wrote that the escalating conflict in Afghanistan had presented the Army with a “raison d’être” that it had lacked for many years, and the opportunity to demand new resources on an unprecedented scale.

    In one of his most stunning claims, he said that Sir Richard, then Chief of the General Staff, had told him in the summer of 2007 that the Army would lose the battle groups that were leaving Iraq in a future defence review if it did not use them in Helmand. “It’s ‘use them, or lose them’,” Sir Sherard quoted the former commander as saying.

    Sir Sherard added: “In my view, the Army’s ‘strategy’ in Helmand was driven at least as much by the level of resources available to the British Army as by an objective assessment of the needs of a proper counter-insurgency campaign in the province. Time and again, ministers were pressed to send more troops to Helmand, as they became available from Iraq.”

    Sir Richard told The Times: “I have great respect for Sherard Cowper-Coles as a diplomat but believe that many of his comments with regard to the military are somewhere between misjudged and mischievous.

    “His most distressing comments relate to the suggestion that the Army wanted to become increasingly involved in Afghanistan. Any soldier who has seen any action and the casualties that result does not go looking for more.”

    The general added: “The decision to go to Afghanistan was taken by the Government in some haste in 2004 and announced by Tony Blair at a Nato summit after he had turned down a request by the Americans for the UK to do more in southern Iraq. From that moment on, we were committed to two campaigns, while only resourced for one. From 2006 to 2008, this was a major juggling act.”

    Bob Ainsworth, a former Defence Secretary and a member of the committee, which is conducting an inquiry into Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that he did not know which version of events was correct, but said of Sir Sherard’s claim: “If it’s true then it is of concern.”

    In a staggering attack on the heads of the Armed Forces, Sir Sherard, who said he wanted a “proper equlibrium” for civilian and military oversight of the war, criticised the policy of rotating brigades through Helmand every six months, a strategy which he said had led to campaign plans changing every half-year and a lack of continuity in the overall mission.

    He also said that the military had blamed ministers unfairly for a shortage of helicopters and armoured vehicles — a problem that blighted the Blair and Brown years — with the families of servicemen who died in Afghanistan and Iraq blaming the Government for their loss because of inadequate kit.

    “Those ministers could not possibly have been reasonably expected to have known the details of logistics needs associated with a particular deployment,” Sir Sherard said. He claimed that in 2007, when there was a helicopter shortage, more than a quarter of helicopter movements were for giving lifts to VIPs. “And most of those VIPs were senior military tourists from London!” he added.

    A source at the Ministry of Defence played down his comments. “Sherard has always been a maverick. He is entitled to his opinions but this is a scenario that we would not recognise,” the source said.

    However, a former brigade commander in Helmand, who declined to be named, said: “Much of \ analysis of the military is correct and is representative of an organisation that has been unable to adapt to the circumstances it has found itself in. There has been too much willingness by senior officers to give hapless ministers a good kicking rather than being prepared to have a good hard look at themselves in the mirror.”
  4. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    The six-month Tour Syndrome strikes again. It has done us no favours, continues to blight our abilities, and our relations with our Allies, and has the sole positive (If it is positive) benefit of ensuring that the maximum number of staff Officers experience Operations in one or more roles.

    But as regards 'military tourists' - utter bollocks.
  5. I hear the sound of axes being ground.
  6. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    There always a stupid cnut isn't there,
    BUT , if it is true, it would not be the first time in history that British soldiers were getting killed because some ****** wanted to look good, keep there name in the papers, save their jobs,ect and do you really think that a shit hole like Afghanistan is worth the life of one British Soldier when we have been trying to control the dump on and off since 1840 with no noticeable success
  7. What makes you say that?
  8. Do you really think that a shit hole like the Falkland Islands was worth the life of one British Soldier? What about Northern Ireland or Iraq? I bet that sounds equally as offensive, doesn't it? When was the last time the country went to war to make someone look good? Even the catastra**** in the Suez had reasons other than to make a certain prime minister interesting. Now piss off back to your tall tales.
  9. There are loads of other examples of jollies for senior brass.

    I was in Banja Luka before the Welsh Guards pulled out in ?08. They flew in a vast entourage of senior officers from various countries to watch a mocked up FIBUA exercise, followed by a slap up feed.

    And I recall at least four Blackhawks full of senior ranks flying 'Apocalypse Now' style into Camp Film City in Pristina to enjoy an agreeable meal of moules et frites with French commanders there.

    ISAF is also guilty. The Italian contingent at ISAF HQ in Kabul flew in a 6ft x 8ft, brick pizza oven to boost morale, while the Dutch cheered everyone up by flying in a 12ft wooden model of a windmill.

    As for the British - I remember lots of extra stag from British units in Kabul (can't remember which ones), who together with Gurkha PMCs sealed off a large area of western Kabul so that the British Council could host a party in their compound, complete with piper, gin and tonics, etc, etc.
  10. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    True enough, but never before in history have we the people had such access to information, and through sites like this the power to actually do something about it, of course NI and FI were a f@ckup and a waste of lives but at that time there was no way of making a single voice heard. Its a whole new ballgame now.
  11. Go on then, tell me why we are in Afghanistan?
  12. But with so little analyisis to go with it (apart from cries of 'Ooh! Ooh! A secret!').

    We'd better disband the forces straight away. We obviously don't need them because by your measure there's nothing worth defending. Not to worry though, just think of the money we'll save.
  13. It makes me laugh when (ex) squaddies rant and rave about being fecked over by the Civil service (I know I am one of them), but resolutely refuse to believe that the most senior officers can be cnuts too! I can believe everything that this Sir Sherard chappie says on this matter regardless of his motives or reputation!

    It makes sense that the COS would want to save his forces from cuts, and it makes sense that if there was percieved to be no need for a 'large' (hah!!) standing army that the Liebour cnuts (and indeed now with camerons lot) would cut the levels!

    I never served under Dannat (and if I had I was so far down the food chain to have cared anyway) but when he came out critiscising the state of affairs in his first week as the big cheese (I think it was) he showed his true colours the very next day at sparrows fart by retracting everything he had said with words of appeasement to his political masters.... just another cnut protecting his own career!

    And we all know how senior ranks take joilles so why should the bit about the helicopter taskings be untrue? and why do people here get so upset about it eh arby?
  14. Me, me, me - I'll be first!!

    Fcuk off, Chubb!
  15. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    Because the Americans are f@cking stupid.