The army is dangerously small warns top general

#1
from today's Sunday Telegraph (copied in full because registration required)

The article names 6 regiments to be merged or disbanded. IF correct, that would imply two amalgamations and two total disbandments to achieve net reduction of four battalions.

The army is dangerously small warns top general
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 12/12/2004)

Lord Guthrie, the former head of the Armed Forces, said yesterday that cutbacks have left the Army "dangerously small and over-committed".

The retired general, who is Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service and served as Chief of both the General Staff and the Defence Staff, told The Telegraph that Government plans to cut the size of the infantry were a mistake and would leave Britain unable, in certain situations, to react militarily.

Referring to the plans, to be announced this week, to cut the number of infantry battalions from 40 to 36, Lord [Charles] Guthrie said: "The Army is very small as it is and has a huge number of commitments. It has become dangerously small for what it is being asked to do.

"The Army always has to be prepared for the unexpected but, of course, if you have too small an Army you can't react." Ministers did "not understand" the military.

The intervention by Lord Guthrie on the eve of an announcement on the future structure of the Army will alarm the Government. Lord Guthrie, 66, who served as a senior officer under both Conservative and Labour governments before retiring four years ago, was highly regarded by Tony Blair, and is seen as one of the finest and most combative Defence Staff heads of the past 30 years.

While Lord Guthrie praised General Sir Mike Jackson, the Chief of the General Staff who is in charge of reorganising the Army, as an "excellent and highly experienced soldier", he implicitly criticised senior officers for accepting the Government's demands to cut military spending and reduce the size of the Army.

Parts of the reorganisation were "sensible and necessary", allowing more soldiers to take part in operations, said Lord Guthrie. But "the more sensible option" would be to reorganise the infantry without cutting its size.

Referring to his time as the Chief of the Defence Staff between 1997 and 2001, when he was under Treasury pressure to make cuts, he said: "You can object and argue your case and you can often win arguments with politicians and civil servants if you have logical plans.

"Sometimes one did argue and argued at a very high level, sometimes with the Prime Minister and Chancellor, and they do listen."

Asked whether he thought the Government understood the requirements of a modern military force, he said: "None of them [the Cabinet] has been in the military and politicians do not understand nowadays that the Army is not just another job."

Lord Guthrie fought heated battles to stop Labour cutting military spending. In 1999, during exchanges over the defence budget, he famously fell out with the Chancellor.

"You don't think I understand defence, do you?" Gordon Brown asked him. "No, I bloody well don't," responded the general. He also clashed with Geoff Hoon, over the Defence Secretary's plans to give female soldiers a front-line combat role.

His relationship with Tony Blair was much more productive. A month after the September 11 attacks the Prime Minister brought Lord Guthrie out of retirement to act as his personal military adviser. The position, although unpaid, led to accusations that he had become one of "Tony's cronies".

Under the Government's "rebalancing", Army numbers will shrink from 104,000 to 102,000, while Navy and RAF cuts will go much further.

Last week, the Government announced that the RAF would make up to 8,000 troops redundant by 2008, to save £250 million a year. Full details of the cuts to the Navy, which will be less savage, are expected soon.

Army restructuring will affect all 24 infantry regiments of the Scottish, Queen's, King's, Prince of Wales' and Light divisions. Regiments bearing the brunt are The Royal Scots, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, The King's Own Royal Border Regiment, the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment and The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment. All face disbandment or merger.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that the Army was not dangerously small. "It will have more boots on the ground as a result of the restructuring of the infantry and will be better placed to meet future commitments."
 
#2
"It will have more boots on the ground as a result of the restructuring of the infantry and will be better placed to meet future commitments."

I have a mental image of an idealised MoD Parade Ground - row upon row of highly polished boots with no soldiers attached to them :x :x
 
#3
Oddbod said:
"It will have more boots on the ground as a result of the restructuring of the infantry and will be better placed to meet future commitments."

I have a mental image of an idealised MoD Parade Ground - row upon row of highly polished boots with no soldiers attached to them :x :x
:( :( and when I read what you said, I got a mental image of one of those American field memorial services with the empty boots, helmets and rifles of the dead lined up as on parade.
 
#5
And the news - which comes as nothing like news to you lot - that we couldn't put on/mount an Op Corporate-sized work out nowadays (even if we needed to) comes as 'how much' of a shock?

The first order of business of ANY UK gov't is defence of the realm - not fannying around with bollocks such as Blair's new arse of 'The Opportunity Society' - what ever the f*ck that means!??

Woe and rue the ever-approaching day we dance to the orders of a 'Rapid Reaction Force' of a Euro Army under the O-group of a French/German 2 star! Especially after the James Hunt those officers and 'armies' made of it in the Balkans!

If memory serves, all signatures and takers of the Queen's Shilling, from Ruperts to uber-Junior Brecon Boy Soldiers (whilst willing to fight anywhere), sign up to fight enemies of the (UK) state? NOT what might be going noisey in Upper Saxony as part of an EU mobilisation?!
 
#6
There was never enough infantry in my day 67-90. You can't just take troops from the non infantary roles and turn them in combat infantry, with a Tin City training course.
Yes it was tried as many could tell, but in this day and age it just don't work.
Don't understand.
How true and how many lives will it take to convince, 6 in MAK where just a start.
john
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#7
Oddbod said:
"It will have more boots on the ground as a result of the restructuring of the infantry and will be better placed to meet future commitments."

I have a mental image of an idealised MoD Parade Ground - row upon row of highly polished boots with no soldiers attached to them :x :x
..and if you take a close look at those boots, you'll see that they are all privately bought. The issue ones, having been made in China, weren't up to the job.
 
#8
Never mind - TCH knows best, despite what previous CDSs and ACDSs may think...

Hoon rejects Army cuts criticism

Mr Hoon said cuts were intended to make the Army more flexible
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has rejected claims from a top general that looming cuts will leave the British Army "dangerously small".
Speaking on BBC One's Politics Show, Mr Hoon said he did not share the views of former head of the Armed Forces Lord Guthrie, printed in a Sunday newspaper.

Lord Guthrie told the Sunday Telegraph that cuts due to be announced this week would leave it "dangerously small".

But Mr Hoon said he thought the changes would leave the Army in better shape.

The proposed changes include cutting Scotland's six single-battalion regiments to five and merging these into a super regiment, which may affect the Black Watch currently returning from duties in Iraq.

He said: "What we are trying to do is ensure our armed forces, and our Army in particular, are organised to face the challenges of the 21st century.

"The nature of the enemy has changed even in those five short years that I have been in this job.

"We have got to make sure, indeed it's my obligation and responsibility, to make sure that our armed forces are equipped and organised to face the kind of challenges we face today, not those of a previous generation."

Critics say cuts will affect the army's ability to serve

The government is expected to announce this week cuts that will reduce the Army's size from 104,000 to 102,000, with the majority of cuts amongst infantry troops.

Cuts are also expected for both the Royal Navy and The Royal Air Force.

The number of Army infantry battalions are expected to be cut from 40 to 36 - one from Scotland and three from England.

Lord Guthrie, 66, served under both Conservative and Labour administrations and retired four years ago. He is Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service.

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001 he was called out of retirement as Prime Minister Tony Blair's personal military advisor - an unpaid role.

He said the Army was "over-committed" in what it was already asked to do.

"The Army always has to be prepared for the unexpected but, of course, if you have too small an army you cannot react," Lord Guthrie said.

The cuts were also criticised by another respected military commander.

Colonel Tim Collins said the cuts were being pushed ahead for purely financial motives.

He told BBC One's Breakfast With Frost: "The government has cleverly made this, and caused the Army board to make this, a subjective argument.

"It is cuts whatever way you look at it and it's been ordered by the Treasury. What the Army board is doing is the best. They have been told to jump and the Army board has said 'how high'?

"But in doing that they are actually affecting our capability. In a time of war it is the military institutions that give us the martial habit and the discipline to protect ourselves, that is what they are cutting," he said.

Liberal Democrat peer Air Marshal Lord Garden supported the criticism.

"We have got all our military working hard, overstretched, the government wanting them to do more and more all around the world and yet we are cutting back," he said.

"This is very strange when we have got more tasks around the world than ever before."
 
#10
From todays Mail on Sunday, a further twist to the infighting about who will be the fourth battalion in the frame? .....or just another curve ball thrown by the MoS.

Mail on Sunday – 12th December
GURKHAS IN THE FIRING LINE
By Christopher Leake Defence Editor

THE GURKHAS face being sacrificed this week after senior infantry commanders ganged up against Britain's top Army officer General Sir Mike Jackson over defence cuts.
The cuts would reduce the worldfamous Nepalese soldiers from two battalions to one after a distinguished military history dating back to 1817.
Senior Army insiders say the Executive Committee of the Army Board has recommended to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon that he should axe the British Army's Gurkha battalion at Folkestone, Kent, comprising 600 men.
This would leave the Gurkhas with a single battalion which, although based in Brunei and financed by the Sultan of Brunei as a resident jungle warfare unit, could still offer support to British units.
Last night, a huge political row brewing over the changes seemed likely to force Mr Hoon to delay the announcement due tomorrow - until later in the week.
Tory Armed Forces spokesman Keith Simpson said: 'The reorganisation of the regiments is all about cuts, pure and simple. It comes at a time when our infantry is needed more than ever and is overstretched.' .
And one Ministry of Defence insider said: 'The Government won't have much trouble with Labour MPs. They don't have a constituency called Nepal South.' Senior Gurkha officers told The Mail on Sunday any attempt to cut the regiment would be met with stiff resistance.
One said: 'If the Gurkhas fall victim there will be uproar.'………......... They are held in high public esteem, but if the infantry can sacrifice them to save themselves, then they won't think twice.'
 
#11
The trend to cut personnel to pay for weapons systems is all too common and unfortunate. Weapons programs spiral upwards in cost while manpower is reduced at some point you are not left with enough personnel to man the weapon systems. What the civilians at MoD and in Washington fail to understand is that the defense is not a factory or a corporation and any savings derived from cuts will be lost in procurement. Getting a grip on procurement will derive real cost savings that will obviate the need to cut manpower.
 
#12
..and if you take a close look at those boots, you'll see that they are all privately bought. The issue ones, having been made in China, weren't up to the job.[/quote]

I bought locally a pair of 'combat' style boots to wear when on my motorbike.
I swear that the tread pattern is 'same ' as the DMS and calf length combat boot of the Brit army of the 80's.
john
 
#13
" 'The reorganisation of the regiments is all about cuts, pure and simple. It comes at a time when our infantry is needed more than ever and is overstretched.' "

I seem to remember from my readings over the years, sum general said words to the effect of
" You can keep all your tanks , planes , arrtillery and political talk, but at the end of the day it all comes down to some guy with a bayonet on the end of his rifles who has to convince the other guy with a rifle and bayonet just who has won the fight."
john
Armies are about people not the latest super toy.
 
#14
I'm afraid.

I'm Afraid that we (the Uk) are going to get caught up in another big bust up, like in 1940. We got our behinds well and trully poked there, but we survived becuase the CiC on the other side was a nut.

Will we be that lucky next time?
 
#15
So Hoon is all of a sudden a far greater tactician & military thinker than our Generals?
He also possesses a crystal ball that tells him there will be no resumption of the "troubles" in NI, no more outbreaks of "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans & definitely no unforseen calls on our military.
It must be humbling to be a cross between Nostradamus & Napoleon :roll:
 
#16
didn't you know? After 1990, and the collapse of the soviet union there would never be another large scale war, the forces where just not avalible. acording to the politicals.

Wanna count how mnay Iraqi troops got lost in a Sandstorm in 1990, and wandered into Kuwait?

Intresting thing I (Think) found out, check my maths/facts if you want.

In 1989 the UK had 1200+ MBT's in service.
In 1991 (according to one of my tanker freinds from 9/12 lancer's) we had about 250ish tanks left.
A couple of years ago the govenement decided to cut 100 of them.
Then they released the new reforms to the army, including the deletion of more armourd units.
IIRC: We will have left three tank regments with one recce squadron each?

Uruguay has three tank regiments....
 
#17
[/quote]One said: 'If the Gurkhas fall victim there will be uproar.'………......... They are held in high public esteem, but if the infantry can sacrifice them to save themselves, then they won't think twice.'[/quote]
Bloody right. If we have to lose Infantry Battalions, and I do not agree with the concept, then let's drop the foreign ones. Why keep Nepalese hillmen and get rid of Scottish Highlanders, Welsh, English or Irish? Makes perfect sense to me.
 
#18
At the end of the day, this must rank as one of the most short sighted, illogical and politically motivated moves carried through by a government whose dependence on the military has, in the past 5 years been absolutely clear cut. With a chancellor who dislikes the military and the spending the military entails, there is no amount of posturing by Hoon that it's his idea and necessary. It is a stab in the back and a timely warning, if ever one was needed, that socialism is dressed up but the core values remain. Ditch these poseurs before it's too late. Political correctness and the military do not mix, never will and will never be easy bedfellows. Labour has shown that at the end of the day the leopard has not changed its spots.
Rant over!
 
#19
Zofo said:
At the end of the day, this must rank as one of the most short sighted, illogical and politically motivated moves carried through by a government whose dependence on the military has, in the past 5 years been absolutely clear cut. With a chancellor who dislikes the military and the spending the military entails, there is no amount of posturing by Hoon that it's his idea and necessary. It is a stab in the back and a timely warning, if ever one was needed, that socialism is dressed up but the core values remain. Ditch these poseurs before it's too late. Political correctness and the military do not mix, never will and will never be easy bedfellows. Labour has shown that at the end of the day the leopard has not changed its spots.
Rant over!
The $64 question is, lets hope the voters show them the error of their ways in May or when ever the Head Prawn calls the Election

One thing for sure , we can expect a load of spin etc and re-inventing the wheel :evil:
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#20
Chief of Defence Staff at Royal United Serrvices Institute last week:

" I have read some reports in the press of late, which were either wilfully misleading, or written by journalists with no real grasp of military matters. I feel very strongly that it is irresponsible of the media to use essential changes in our systems and structures to create sensational stories, which alarm our servicemen and women and only serve to confuse our piblic.

Therefore, I want to send a crystal clear message to those outside this room. The changes we have started and will continue to make to our armed forces are fully supported by senior officers. They have not been forced upon us by politicians or accountants. We must be careful, of course, and we must ensure there is no change for the sake of change - but this White Paper is about building 21st Century armed forces. I cannot be more clear, and I hope certain people will remember this in the coming weeks. "


Full text at http://centre.defence.mod.uk/DGCC_NewsPortal/stories/0312/rusicds.htm

or at
http://news.mod.uk/news/press/news_press_notice.asp?newsItem_id=2726


So, who had a gun to his head then ?

Le Chevre
 

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