Telegraph article - "Cuts have left Army '20 years out of date' and Forces 'not fit for purpose' "

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jrwlynch, Nov 15, 2017.

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  1. As a posh sounding bloke who has worked extensively with Engineering Senior Rates, I'd disagree - quite virulently in places.

    If we take your example to the (absurd) limit, why not just go back to Flower Class corvettes?
  2. Are you sure that there isn't a teensy bit of hand-waving in the bolded statement? Note that I agree with you about the specifications, and @One_of_the_strange will have a few things to say about not having any design teams left with the knowledge to achieve it.

    First, you need a design; you need all of the thousands of components that go into that design (including any long-lead items); you need to be able to maintain the design (managing component obsolescence), train with the design, use the design. Have we got many places able to construct an AFV turret? Manufacture ammunition for main armament?

    Meanwhile, it's all very well being able to generate (say) the 300 AFVs that you need for your armoured division - but where will you find the crew commanders that know how to fight them (not just drive them around), the troop and sub-unit commanders with the experience of employing them correctly as teams, the support units with the ability to support their mobility, their logistics demands, their maintenance needs? These skills have development times measured in years, not months; and skill fade within months, not years (as we are regularly assured by those who insist that there is no place for AFVs in the Reserves).

    If instead you're suggesting that we focus on crew skills regardless of vehicle (i.e. it's easier to get a Jackal crew to man an Ajax, and a Jackal is a lot cheaper to run) that still doesn't quite cut it for AFVs - you don't train with a Helibedford in the same way as a Warrior, nor train with a Scimitar in the same way as an MBT.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  3. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    You mean the Type 31e you're going to be getting? Fitted for, but not with, snorkers?
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  4. Nimrod MRA4 and Astute; that's what you get when you don't have a current design team. And you lose said team about a month after there's no more work for them, you lose the ability to reconstitute maybe 6 to 12 months after that. Then you're starting from scratch.

    I'd also point put that modern methods can churn out vast quantities of stuff quickly; but that what that depends on is years of painstaking supply chain planning; suppliers on long term contracts to support production; tightly integrated bespoke factories full of expensive equipment; all purchased on the hard nosed commercial basis that running the equipment at max rate for years will enable it to pay for itself and then some. That does not sound like UK MOD procurement to me.

    Also, don't confuse lean with the ability to surge. If you do lean right then, by definition, you cannot surge. The old Royal Ordnance factories were what you need for that; hopelessly overmanned and underworked, to have enough staff to go from 1 shift to 3 with otherwise untrained staff quickly brought in; massive overstocking of raw materials, to allow production to surge regardless of supply issues; and hopelessly underused machinery, to allow long term 24 hour working with spares to cope with the inevitable breakdowns. That costs though, and UK plc wasn't prepared to pay the bills.

    FInally, specs are easy compared to detailed design to allow manufacture. And specs are not easy at all.
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  5. My point, and I apologise if I got carried away a bit in the dramatic emphasis, is that churning out the articles is in many ways the easy bit.. getting the design right is not. In the day when we could afford (and had the skilled workforce!) to hand build AFVs and indulge in the excesses that entailed maybe need to be reconsidered? We need to design AFV that can be manufactured quickly and be reliable. Having been in the maint/supply chain for many years, you need to understand that our "traditional" equipments were an absolute bodge from an engineering/support POV.. a Chieftain had over 1000 types of screw fastner from whitworth to UNCl to metric!

    Ammuniton manufacture is certainly an issue, however this is more to do with design for manufacture rather than an absolute problem. Indeed using more robotics for ammunition production makes lots of sense for all sorts of reasons!

    What we cannot afford to do, and which is what we have been doing for the past twenty years, is to abdicate any responsibility for systems design and development completely. We need to keep the wheels turning, albiet slowly, so that we can ramp up production if needed. To walk away from the defence and firearms industries in the way we have done is incredibly stupid..

    Whilst I accept your points that training in equipment "A" does not necessarily train you for using "B", however if you can't afford "B" at this time, then is it not better to train in "A" on the understanding that it is "B" you will be using for real? I suspect this "Oh we have to train in the real thing" line is more about not trusting the providers to cough up on the day than a realisitic position? Seemed to work OK for the Wermacht and the Luftwaffe in the 30s?

    Likewise I simply do not buy the "skill fade" line.. Much of this stuff is like riding a bike! Yes, do refresher training, but do what needs doing and is of value, and not to meet the needs of the training empire! My greatest relief on retirement was not having to give/listen to the same "values and standards" guff yet again.. you could have chanted it in Sanscrit for all the value it had after the first telling! But taking your point above, train everybody to be a vehicle commander now while you have time, because you will need these guys if ever the sh1t hits the fan!

    Defence should not be an all or nothing proposition.. all I am saying is that just because "they" will not give you the toys now, there no excuse not to plan for being given the toys later. The situation is far from ideal, but if they hand you lemons... make lemonade!
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  6. Working in an unrelated field now, I can only agree with @One_of_the_strange. The ability to design and manufacture even simple kit is a very perishable skill, and vastly expensive to regain. Also vastly expensive to retain to be fair.
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  7. You think you sound posh?

    How sweet. Proof northeners will believe anything their betters tell them...
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  8. Your Essex twang is living example that CS positive discrimination is alive and well.
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  9. We don't have any betters.
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  10. Ironically I am 50% essex, 50% tyneside coal miners by my family genes. I'm essentially a nasal sounding 6 fingered yokel with a penchant for squeezing into impossibly tight places and getting right dirty in the process.

    Its astounding frankly that I didnt consider a career as a submariner...
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  11. You're forgetting us "More-North-eners". Face it, a Jock accent only adds to an engineer's credibility*

    *or for that matter, an infantry SNCO - School of Infantry was full of them, presumably because the full-Danny-Dyer or Scouser just sounds wrong, and South-West England (while just the thing for an aspiring Pirate, arrrrrr) is hardly the most aggressive...
    Allllroite moi loverrr, let'zzzz get uzz torrre innn....
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  12. The Viet Jock lost all technical credibility when a plastic porridge wog started whining about dilithium crystals.
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  13. Maybe...
    Maybe not...
    you and me.gif
    No More More-North-erners?
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  14. You have Fifer blood in you too :-?
  15. Only when I'm pretending to be Count Dracula...
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