TCH's opinion in the Torygraph

#1
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/...xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/12/07/ixopinion.html

Sentiment must not guide what is best for our soldiers
By Geoff Hoon
(Filed: 07/12/2004)

This newspaper has a strong tradition of support for the Armed Forces, and has rightly praised the bravery, professionalism and fighting record of the Black Watch during their operations in North Babil.



In recent weeks, however, the suggestion has been made by the media that, while this historic regiment is operating in dangerous territory, back home the Ministry of Defence and senior generals are undermining the troops who serve with the Black Watch and other infantry regiments.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The changes that are being proposed by the Army to the infantry structure will actually improve the ability of soldiers to balance their professional commitments against those they have to their families. They will also make more battalions available for operations, reducing the burden on individual battalions.

I recognise the concerns that have been raised about the future of historic regiments. Their tradition, sense of identity and esprit de corps evoke a sense of pride and respect in all of us - but it is what is best for serving soldiers, rather than sentiment, that must drive the modern structure of the Army.

The Army has always evolved to meet new challenges. It has always embraced the kind of dynamic change which would send most private sector organisations reeling. Today's Army is no different.

The Army recognises the need to modernise and restructure to meet the demands placed on it by the new threats we face, not least responding to the threat from ruthless and fanatical terrorists. The Armed Forces must be able to deploy and sustain forces quickly across the world to those areas, often remote and inhospitable, from which terrorists seek to plan, train and operate. This requires more deployable and more flexible Armed Forces.

The Army must also improve its ability to support simultaneous operations, such as those in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. To do so, it requires a better balance of capabilities.

Recent experience has shown that we need to strengthen essential supporting units, such as logisticians, engineers and intelligence personnel who are currently under most pressure, and without whom infantry and armour cannot operate.

The central accusation made against the Ministry of Defence, not least in this newspaper, is that restructuring is ``smoke and mirrors'', designed to cover a cut in the infantry and reduce the number of "boots on the ground". This is simply wrong. Indeed, the changes that the Army is proposing will make more - not fewer - battalions of infantry available.

With increasing normalisation in Northern Ireland, four battalions of infantry will no longer be required there. We can therefore safely reduce the number of infantry battalions from 40 to 36. The posts saved will be used to add manpower to enabling skills such as those engineers, logisticians and intelligence personnel - individuals currently called on with the greatest frequency to deploy - and will also increase the number of troops in the remaining 36 infantry battalions to ensure they are up to strength.

Given that it often takes longer (and therefore often costs more) to train those engineers, logisticians and the other key enablers where we are looking to invest more manpower, the reduction of four infantry battalions can in no sense be presented as some sort of cost-cutting exercise.

The drive is not financial; rather it reflects the need to ensure that the Army of the future is properly organised to meet the priorities and challenges of the future, rather than the past.

Of the current 40 infantry battalions, as many as eight are constantly tied up with moving,

re-roling and retraining as part of the Arms Plot - the out-of-date system of moving regiments around the country, or the world, every two years or so.

One of the unfortunate consequences of arms plotting is that regiments and their families struggle to put down roots. Most battalions currently relocate every two to six years, dragging their soldiers' families with them. This causes disruption for children as they change schools and for spouses as they struggle to pursue their own careers. This affects relationships and severely impacts on our ability to retain highly trained people.

The Army is rightly looking to provide greater stability and a more settled family life for our service personnel and their families, and improve regimental links to local communities.

By bringing battalions together into larger regiments, it will allow personnel to move between battalions to develop their careers and broaden their experience, without necessarily having to move homes. Battalions will become specialists in their field. Individuals will move between battalions rather than battalions re-roling wholesale every few years. More battalions will therefore be available for operations.

We want to do this while retaining the best of the regimental system: that esprit de corps, loyalty and camaraderie, while ending the worst - inflexibility, unavailability, constant movement and disruption to soldiers' families.

We will look to preserve as much of the existing tradition and heritage as possible within new larger regiments, as has been done before. It should also be firmly borne in mind that half the infantry is already, voluntarily, on the large regiment structure - and with evident success. It should be noted, too, that very few of our regiments and corps exist today in the same form as they existed in the past. In the early 1990s, the Highlanders, the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment were all created.

No one can deny that the new regiments needed time to adjust, but they have successfully incorporated the history and traditions of their antecedents while developing their own special reputations. And these regiments have all performed with the same professionalism and effectiveness in Ulster, Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq as their unamalgamated counterparts. The Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, for example, deployed rapidly to Kosovo in March and played a crucial role in quelling the unrest there.

To maintain the current structure would be to concentrate not on building effective fighting forces and improving soldiers' conditions, but to focus on sentiment alone. The outcome would be an Army less well suited and structured to do its job, with fewer soldiers available, and shackled with outdated structures.

There may be those who believe that this is worthwhile if, as a consequence, no unit changes part of its uniform or its cap badge. I am not among those people. The Chiefs of Staff are not among those people. More importantly, I do not believe that serving soldiers are among those people, either.
 
#2
There may be those who believe that these changes are not entirely Treasury driven, and that TCH does not tell lies. I am not among those people. The Chiefs of Staff may not be among those people, but do not wish to retire early. More importantly, I do not believe serving soldiers are among those people.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#3
Thats because he is a slimy back stabbing tossing f**ckwit law**r, who has no idea about what unit cohesion and esprit de corps is.

The epitomy of Neu Arbiet Cool Britanyer Sh**te. Sentiment my A**se. I'll F**cking sentiment him the gonadless greaseball.

I have never read such a spineless ignorant statement from a so called SecDef. :roll:
 
#4
We will look to preserve as much of the existing tradition and heritage as possible within new larger regiments, as has been done before. It should also be firmly borne in mind that half the infantry is already, voluntarily, on the large regiment structure - and with evident success.
So why are Fusiliers, who this member is describing, being threatened with the axe?
 
#5
Ultimately, how, against the laws of nature, do you get more people available out of Army by reducing its manpower?

Doesn't add up. His discussion is basically what he (or a "Consultant") wrote for the Scotsman a while back. It does not address any of the major concerns or queries raised. Peace dividend!

Modernisation is good - where appropriate. Investment in new kit and equipment is great - pissing money away on dead or useless projects...

FRES - well seeing will be believing, but if it turns out anything like Eurofighter or Bowman ... :evil:

Whole thing stinks.
 
#6
This makes my pi ss boil. we have not managed to meet any of the DPAs, and yet we still reduce our manpower. restructuring proposed by the Army (or the Navy / Air Force for that matter)? I cannot believe that he is trying to feed the country this dogsiht. Doe s he think that we are fools? Clearly so.

The fact remains that this government can find as much money it wants to fund single-legged lesbian assylum seekers, but when it comes to national security......

The Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself (although it appears he has none). The Global War against terrorism is supposed to be a priority, so how do we spend our money? And that's our money? On ID cards, because that'll defeat terrorism. And on a new NHS computer system which will no doubt fail, as virtually all other public sector massive IT projects have.
 
#7
Dogmonkey.

Youa are band on the mark there. Don't forget the £155m spent on a 6 year investigation into the bloody sunday killings and the £306m on consultancy fees for diddly squat. BrownJobs has got to recoup the money from somewhere so it might as well be the Army

:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:
 
#8
I like the buzzwords sprinkled through out the article, and I especially like the way Hoon has placed the re-org firmly upon the army, as if it wasn't due to budget cuts (the army thinks it's best to do this, and the army has decided the other).
He also mentions that the soldiers will now be able to spend more time with their families, but considering that for almost all singles and alot of pads to the regiment IS their family this holds no water.
All in all the spineless toad (he can't possible stand up to the bully which is Godon Brown) has sold everyone down the river.
Why not make cuts in Govt? Who'd even notice if they did?
 
#9
Very true - and nor should penny pinching but it does.

Whoever wrote that article is arithmetically challenged. Four less battalions means more soldiers, more availability, more flexibility? How? The implication is that battalions working up in their new role due to the arms plot can't be deployed. Bouncing spherical objects.

It's about saving money, saving money, saving money, and saving money but wrapped up in as neat a bit of scrim as you'd find in a Bundeswehr store.

For once NuLab - try telling the truth. You'll still get beaten up but it'll be for the right reason.
 
#10
TCH said:
There may be those who believe that this is worthwhile if, as a consequence, no unit changes part of its uniform or its cap badge. I am not among those people. The Chiefs of Staff are not among those people. More importantly, I do not believe that serving soldiers are among those people, either.
He really needs to log-on more. :roll:

biffed up the hyphen :oops:
 
#11
Speedy said:
I like the buzzwords sprinkled through out the article, and I especially like the way Hoon has placed the re-org firmly upon the army, as if it wasn't due to budget cuts (the army thinks it's best to do this, and the army has decided the other).
He also mentions that the soldiers will now be able to spend more time with their families, but considering that for almost all singles and alot of pads to the regiment IS their family this holds no water.
All in all the spineless toad (he can't possible stand up to the bully which is Godon Brown) has sold everyone down the river.
Why not make cuts in Govt? Who'd even notice if they did?
Good points. Of note is the quote that "Honest, cross my heart, it isn't "Smoke and Mirrors"", followed by some of the least camouflaged Smoke and Mirrors seen in the national press in recent years.
Simply contemptible.
 
#12
"With increasing normalisation in Northern Ireland, four battalions of infantry will no longer be required there."
Yes quite.
john
PS Er have you told Gerry ?
 
#13
Benjaminw1 said:
Thats because he is a slimy back stabbing tossing f**ckwit law**r, who has no idea about what unit cohesion and esprit de corps is.

The epitomy of Neu Arbiet Cool Britanyer Sh**te. Sentiment my A**se. I'll F**cking sentiment him the gonadless greaseball.

I have never read such a spineless ignorant statement from a so called SecDef. :roll:
I wouldn't have put it in so precise language but basically I do agree with you argument.
john
 
#15
Reader's letters to the Torygraph about TCH's piece yesterday:

Hoon's plans for the infantry won't work

Sir – The Defence Secretary states (Opinion, Dec 7) that it is necessary to form large, new regiments in static locations and trickle-post men into them. This is to ensure that large elements of the front line are not in constant flux and training, and therefore non-operational.

In fact there will be no economy. Trickle-postings last for two years, during which the man himself has to be personally retrained in the technology of his new role. That means that, if it takes four months to train a man, then 20 per cent of a unit is untrained and not fit for battle at any one time. It will be necessary to over-establish all units by 20 per cent. There is therefore no saving in manpower.

The idea that a residual critical mass of knowledge within the unit will overcome this is of no help to a young man in serious danger and confronted with a new gismo that he does not know how to use to defend himself.

P. H. Freke-Evans, Trustee, King's Own Royal Border Regiment, London W4

Sir - Geoff Hoon states "most battalions currently relocate every two to six years, dragging their soldiers' families with them".

Every engineer, signaller, logistician and key enabler is posted from one unit to another every two to three years as an individual. The wife and family invariably know no one or very few at the new unit. Infantry and armoured units move as a body, so that all families know each other at the new location.

Whatever changes are made to the infantry, the rest of the Army, apart from armoured units, will continue to be posted as individuals every two to three years, "dragging their families with them". In 29 years' regular Army service as a signaller, my wife and I had 21 moves.

If you join the Army, moving your family every two to three years is one of the factors you have to accept, just as you have to accept a code of conduct and discipline that is probably alien to a large part of the civilian population. It is stupid to use relocation as a factor in justifying changes to the infantry.

Malcolm Bradbury, Winsford, Cheshire

Sir - As the most recent in a distinguished line of correspondents, and with reference to another cut in the number of front-line infantry battalions, Lt Col Andrew Larpent (letter, Dec 6) bemoans the very limited role of logic in these matters.

Why is this? I would have thought that, as an experienced officer with more than a passing knowledge of politicians and their trade, he would be extremely surprised to find that logic plays any part at all.

Robin Saltonstall, Beverley, E Riding
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#16
jonwilly said:
Benjaminw1 said:
Thats because he is a slimy back stabbing tossing f**ckwit law**r, who has no idea about what unit cohesion and esprit de corps is.

The epitomy of Neu Arbiet Cool Britanyer Sh**te. Sentiment my A**se. I'll F**cking sentiment him the gonadless greaseball.

I have never read such a spineless ignorant statement from a so called SecDef. :roll:
I wouldn't have put it in so precise language but basically I do agree with you argument.
john
I think I missed out shallow somewhere in the above :D
 
#17
More from the Torygraph Letters Page:

Hoon's plans for the infantry won't work

Sir – The Defence Secretary states (Opinion, Dec 7) that it is necessary to form large, new regiments in static locations and trickle-post men into them. This is to ensure that large elements of the front line are not in constant flux and training, and therefore non-operational.

In fact there will be no economy. Trickle-postings last for two years, during which the man himself has to be personally retrained in the technology of his new role. That means that, if it takes four months to train a man, then 20 per cent of a unit is untrained and not fit for battle at any one time. It will be necessary to over-establish all units by 20 per cent. There is therefore no saving in manpower.

The idea that a residual critical mass of knowledge within the unit will overcome this is of no help to a young man in serious danger and confronted with a new gismo that he does not know how to use to defend himself.

P. H. Freke-Evans, Trustee, King's Own Royal Border Regiment, London W4


Trickle posting is what happened to US Infantry units in Vietnam, with the consequent isolation of so-called FNG's. From what I've read, and in conversation with friends who actually experienced this, trickle posting was probably responsible for the chronic lack of morale and unit cohesion amongst the infantry, exacerbated by socially biased conscription.

Back in 1966, at the time when I joined the county regiment, in which my family had been represented for more than five generations, there were at least fourteen families that I knew, either personally or by reputation, serving in the battalion. I had no problems fitting in and those in my draft, who were 'new-comers', benefitted by association with me and others like me.

Slightly cross-threading, to the 'bullying' thread, I believe that the reason that we experienced nothing that could be called bullying, during training, was because the training staff were quite aware that we 'belonged' to them and that chickens have a habit of coming home to roost, as it were. Aside from that the training staff were professionals in every sense of the word and proud of the product that they sent to the battalions.


Sir - Geoff Hoon states "most battalions currently relocate every two to six years, dragging their soldiers' families with them".

Every engineer, signaller, logistician and key enabler is posted from one unit to another every two to three years as an individual. The wife and family invariably know no one or very few at the new unit. Infantry and armoured units move as a body, so that all families know each other at the new location.

Whatever changes are made to the infantry, the rest of the Army, apart from armoured units, will continue to be posted as individuals every two to three years, "dragging their families with them". In 29 years' regular Army service as a signaller, my wife and I had 21 moves.

If you join the Army, moving your family every two to three years is one of the factors you have to accept, just as you have to accept a code of conduct and discipline that is probably alien to a large part of the civilian population. It is stupid to use relocation as a factor in justifying changes to the infantry.

Malcolm Bradbury, Winsford, Cheshire


Another nail hit squarely on the head! The Pads, like it or lump it, are part of the scene and a powerful focus in any Infantry Battalion. IME, there is as much of the 'glue' that holds a unit together within the social structure of the Pads, as there is within the Orbat of the Battalion. Trickle posting will destroy that structure just as surely as it will directly affect the morale of the unit.

Sir - As the most recent in a distinguished line of correspondents, and with reference to another cut in the number of front-line infantry battalions, Lt Col Andrew Larpent (letter, Dec 6) bemoans the very limited role of logic in these matters.

Why is this? I would have thought that, as an experienced officer with more than a passing knowledge of politicians and their trade, he would be extremely surprised to find that logic plays any part at all.

Robin Saltonstall, Beverley, E Riding


Nicely put!
 

X-Inf

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#19
Benjaminw1 said:
jonwilly said:
Benjaminw1 said:
Thats because he is a slimy back stabbing tossing f**ckwit law**r, who has no idea about what unit cohesion and esprit de corps is.

The epitomy of Neu Arbiet Cool Britanyer Sh**te. Sentiment my A**se. I'll F**cking sentiment him the gonadless greaseball.

I have never read such a spineless ignorant statement from a so called SecDef. :roll:
I wouldn't have put it in so precise language but basically I do agree with you argument.
john
I think I missed out shallow somewhere in the above :D
I think that we all take that as read. However BJ1, you really are going to have to come off the fence and say what you really mean. :wink:
 

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