Too few British troops to defeat the Taliban, says US milita

#1
Too few British troops to defeat the Taliban, says US military
Britain does not have enough troops in Helmand to defeat the Taliban in the districts under its command, the American commander in the region has told The Daily Telegraph.

By Damien McElroy in Lashkar Gah
Published: 7:00PM GMT 08 Jan 2010
Brig Gen Larry Nicholson cast doubt on UK military numbers and tactics saying British forces had not matched the success of his troops in recent months.
He will soon have 20,000 US Marines under his command in Helmand while British troops now number 9,500 regular soldiers plus hundreds of special forces.
The US force has claimed dramatic progress in recent times but the continuing high levels of attacks against British forces, particularly using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), has dismayed US commanders.
More
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...s-to-defeat-the-Taliban-says-US-military.html
 
#2
It doesn't need a Brig General to tell us that. Most 'toms' could work that one out! Pointless clearing an area (and losing blokes) only to pull out the following day.
 
#3
No sh1t Sherlock!

And don't forget, it was just 3 and a bit years ago that some political clowns in London thought ALL of Helmand could be 'won' with a single battle group and puffed-up CSS.
 
#4
Wow 20,000 is more than twice 9,500 . Glad to see my years at school weren't wasted

I reckon even though it's the second week of January the Telegraph wins the most useless headline of 2010
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
You can see why the Septics get frustrated with their Allies sometimes. At least the Cloggies and Canucks took on a reasonable area to run - but no, we (i.e. Mr Blair, for it was he) insisted that we take Helmand (we were offered somewhere else, but it wasn't enough). As with Basra, we soon showed that we simply haven't got the military trousers to go with Blair's political mouth, and we end up losing - losing face with the USA, with NATO, with the Afghans, with the Arabs, with the Pakistanis, with the Iranians, with the Indians and, most of all losing Soldiers. The Military were not helped, of ourse, by some particularly odd political guidance, and by the fact that the Chancellor/PM, Mr Brown, would never ever ever stump up enough cash. What we spend per Soldier in Afghanistan is pathetic compared to the USA.

Thanks, Mr Blair, and you wonder why Labour are not popular amongst the Soldiery?

Rant over. We've been fecked over by the Government, and an unnecessary number of good men and women have died - not for nothing, but for less than they should and could have. As in Southern Iraq, the USA has had to come in and finish the job. We've pissed off our Euro allies for cosying up to the Yanks, and pissed off the Yanks by being incapable of doing what we said we would

What a sad state we've let ourselves get into, and all thanks to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
 
#9
StickyEnd said:
RedCoat2009 said:
Mr._Average said:
Seems like the powers that be might agree with the Americans....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6981599.ece
If accurate, this will tarnish our reputation as THE world-class COIN army.
I don't think that it reflects upon the army as much as it reflects upon our politicians. Specifically the government.

It will.

People don't seem to be able to seperate the two. The Americans, militarily speaking, won in 'Nam for example.
 
#10
I am sorry, you are all busy blaming the politicians but our own military leaders came up with the plan (Jackson et al).

Face the uncomfortable truth. Military "leadership" has become politicised, self-serving and is woefully inadequate.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#11
RedCoat2009 said:
Mr._Average said:
Seems like the powers that be might agree with the Americans....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6981599.ece
If accurate, this will tarnish our reputation as THE world-class COIN army.
Too late.

We no longer have a reputation as THE world-class COIN Army. That suit of emperor's clothes was comprehensively rubbished and seen through in Basra. We are an Ally now with a couple of niche skills, that's all.
 
#12
Hopefully we'll leave without firing a single shot....
 
#13
There is one other thing at play here. Gordon Brown has an election coming up. He is squeamish about loss of life, it has a direct effect on his own political future. Has he deliberately taken British troops out of the firing line to give himself a better chance when he calls that election?

Sod the reputation of the British Army. Just as he emasculated the military in Basra at ANY cost [reputation], to reduce the flow of bad news from another deeply unpopular war.
 
#14
RedCoat2009 said:
Mr._Average said:
Seems like the powers that be might agree with the Americans....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6981599.ece
If accurate, this will tarnish our reputation as THE world-class COIN army.
Does anyone really think that? (Apart from us). Our reputation went west in Basra. Besides which if COIN is fundamentally a political / police campaign (which was the route of Templar's success in Malaya), then having just a world-class COIN army is missing the point, you need a wider civil / political capability in order to run successful COIN campaign. I'm not sure if the US has this; but there is not doubt that we no longer have such a capability.
 
#15
nigegilb said:
I am sorry, you are all busy blaming the politicians but our own military leaders came up with the plan (Jackson et al).
The military leaders came up with a 'plan' based upon two overriding factors:
1) they were being sent to Helmand as a political guesture,
2) they were restricted in their effort by a Treasury cap on the number of troops and reseources available.

Moreover, the original plan was, given the above solid and workeable - within the context of its application. That plan, was ripped up by the politicians within days of the BG's arrival in Helmand.

The politicians deserve 99% of the 'blame'.

nigegilb said:
Face the uncomfortable truth. Military "leadership" has become politicised, self-serving and is woefully inadequate.
I do not believe the first accusation is valid. The second two have merit but any 'noble' military leadership will be engulfed by the so-called democratic civil-military relationship currently inforce in the UK.
 
#17
It just goes to show that the US still know how to prosecute a war. In the last 4 years or so, they've certainly restored their credibility on the world stage, redeeming themselves in Iraq, and 20 000 US Marines could well tip the balance decisively in our favour in Helmand, if used correctly. It's all good news, but it's just a shame they're making us look so shite while they're at it.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
Good luck to the USMC: they not only have the numbers, they have the will and the drive.

I meet a lot of US troops out here, and none of them (that I speak to, anyway) believe that:
(1) They have been shafted by their politicians
(2) Their mission is unwinnable
(3) The war on terror itself is unjust or unreasonable

One might call some of their opinions naive, but this is the kind of 'good guys, bad guys' mentality you need to win.

In the 1980s and 1990s, we could say, 'We have the finest army in the world,' and we could say it with justice. We were coming off recent successes in Dhofar, the Falkands and Sri Lanka. What has happened since then is that the US military has massively upped its game, while ours has been found wanting: the army has been unable to effectively cope either with COIN or with the demands of long-term, active-duty deployments.

Defeat in Southern Iraq and inability to hold our own in Southern Afghanistan has left Britain's military reputation in tatters. Many on ARSSE blame the politicians, but the wider world don't have that information; they simply see failure by the British Army. (The naval humiliations in Iran have made the Senior Service a laughing stock, and the RAF is clearly a very minor player compared to the USAF.)

This is certainly affecting our relationship with our allies. USMC sources state that the Estonians are more tactically aggressive than the British and a friend of mine working with US troops in Kandahahar tells me there is considerable disgruntlement with British forces among the American leadership at the battalion command level.

Finally, as the article notes, the local population question British numbers, tactics and will: They would rather the Americans take over responsibility for the AO. This is absolutely critical, as this war is being fought both with and among the population.

What, then, does the future hold? In the near term, it seems the Americans are losing patience and are going to take more ground and greater responsibility in Helmand. I don't see the British Army pulling out altogether, but being moved into a much smaller (and perhaps safer) AO seems likely.

Then there is the longer term. Given the apparent inability to deploy more than a brigade (ie one tenth of the army) on extended operations, I think the best strategic choice we can make for the future is for to push for a European Army. Then, at least, we could take a leading role and be part of a force that could field a respectably sized contingent. The Germans are politically hamstrung, and the Italians seem inept, but the Dutch, French, Estonians, Poles and Danes are all on active operations and seem to be acquitting themselves at least as well as we are.

Seriously, I wonder whether Blair's military misadventures are going to have the same effect on British politicians that Vietnam had on the US:
ie a major loss of morale across the armed forces, and a decade-long reluctance by politicians to use military force.
 
#19
Andy_S said:
Good luck to the USMC: they not only have the numbers, they have the will and the drive.

I meet a lot of US troops out here, and none of them (that I speak to, anyway) believe that:
(1) They have been shafted by their politicians
(2) Their mission is unwinnable
(3) The war on terror itself is unjust or unreasonable

One might call some of their opinions naive, but this is the kind of 'good guys, bad guys' mentality you need to win.

In the 1980s and 1990s, we could say, 'We have the finest army in the world,' and we could say it with justice. We were coming off recent successes in Dhofar, the Falkands and Sri Lanka. What has happened since then is that the US military has massively upped its game, while ours has been found wanting: the army has been unable to effectively cope either with COIN or with the demands of long-term, active-duty deployments.

Defeat in Southern Iraq and inability to hold our own in Southern Afghanistan has left Britain's military reputation in tatters. Many on ARSSE blame the politicians, but the wider world don't have that information; they simply see failure by the British Army. (The naval humiliations in Iran have made the Senior Service a laughing stock, and the RAF is clearly a very minor player compared to the USAF.)

This is certainly affecting our relationship with our allies. USMC sources state that the Estonians are more tactically aggressive than the British and a friend of mine working with US troops in Kandahahar tells me there is considerable disgruntlement with British forces among the American leadership at the battalion command level.

Finally, as the article notes, the local population question British numbers, tactics and will: They would rather the Americans take over responsibility for the AO. This is absolutely critical, as this war is being fought both with and among the population.

What, then, does the future hold? In the near term, it seems the Americans are losing patience and are going to take more ground and greater responsibility in Helmand. I don't see the British Army pulling out altogether, but being moved into a much smaller (and perhaps safer) AO seems likely.

Then there is the longer term. Given the apparent inability to deploy more than a brigade (ie one tenth of the army) on extended operations, I think the best strategic choice we can make for the future is for to push for a European Army. Then, at least, we could take a leading role and be part of a force that could field a respectably sized contingent. The Germans are politically hamstrung, and the Italians seem inept, but the Dutch, French, Estonians, Poles and Danes are all on active operations and seem to be acquitting themselves at least as well as we are.

Seriously, I wonder whether Blair's military misadventures are going to have the same effect on British politicians that Vietnam had on the US:
ie a major loss of morale across the armed forces, and a decade-long reluctance by politicians to use military force.
Excellent observations...from what I saw when out there, it was apparent, many other nation's armies were damn good. Canada, Estonia, Denmark, Netherlands and France. All are aggressive, first class fighters.

I have found the Yanks to be pretty forgiving, and not too vindictive, if they have a complaint about our abilities and aggressiveness, we can overcome that. What we can't fix is a worthless government that is starving us of vital resources and supplies.

As well, the mood of the nation and the defeatist attitude that one sees in public opinion polls make it tough for the mission.
 

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