Torygraph sticks the boot in again: Relying on reservists will hobble the UK Military

#1
Relying on reservists will hobble the UK Military - Telegraph

The premise of the cuts to UK defence spending is that the reduction in troop numbers from 102,000 to 82,000 will be mitigated by better integration of reserve soldiers and increased use of contractors. Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond recently claimed that "the reserve will be a vital, integrated component of the army". Yet, the experience of Britain’s closest allies has shown that this vision is deeply problematic and has the potential to create a much more dysfunctional armed forces for the UK.

Or could it be that the functions currently provided by contractors will in future be carried out by reservists?

m-s-r
 
#4
What the authors of the article - and many others - don't get is that this isn't a bug, it's a feature. The whole bloody idea is to hobble the Army, to make damn sure we don't go anywhere any time soon.

We had a large standing army as a legacy of NI and the Cold War; all it allowed us to do was to lose two pointless long term campaigns and piss an obscene amount of blood and treasure up the wall. And do precisely bugger all to improve the security of the UK. There is a belief that the Army is run by regular Generals who would do anything no matter how pointless to preserve Regular PIDs and who cannot be trusted to advise the PM du jour that going into places sandy with no idea what we're doing is a bad idea. Based, of course, on the perception that we have done exactly that. Twice.

Relying on Reserves means that we will not go anywhere without comprehensive, massive, all party popular support; that is what will be needed for a long term mobilisation. Like I said, not a bug. A feature.

And it should also be understood that any failure on the part of the Army Reserve should such an eventuality arise will be seen as a failure by the Army to sort it's Reserve out. The Reserves Review was quite clear about this; do not be naive enough to think that whining "the nasty STABs did it and ran away and it's all the politicians fault anyway" will save the Army from the blame. Indeed, the cynic might think that the Army is being set up for some radical and externally imposed reform should it fail to make A2020 work - after all, FR2020 is merely a part of the larger whole.
 
#5
The article is poorly argued by mixing supposition and evidence. It is not progressive by a) not suggesting a new solution and, b) insisting on adherence to the status quo.
OOTS - while I find afinity in what you say, I hold back full agreement on 2 factors, 1 external, 1 internal.
Firstly, external. Whether GB likes it or not EU foreign and defence policy is starting to coalesce from the abstract and we are roped in at many levels. Choices about national posture maybe out of our hands soon.
Secondly, your faith in a higher political strategy and oversight making choices or creating intentions to direct future capability and posture may be too optimistic.

There is little effective public outrage on an equivalent scale to crimea or 2nd boer war to initiate a reforming momentum. Where is the modern day Haldane to pick up this torch and make the necessary changes.
We are wallowing in a mediocre stew with little light on the horizon.
The past form can't continue, but there is no real future alternative.
 
#6
I'm not even going to read it on principle. I am sick to the gills with the whinging coming out of MB to the Shitagraph. The chance to influence policy makers (so skillfully ignored when it was there) is so well and truly gone that not even a faint whiff of it exists any more.

Just ******* get on with it - and by getting on with it I of course refer to the full-time job that no reservist could do as their V&S and SO ignoring press briefing skills would be woefully inadequate.
 
#7
Having not posted for a while.... I'm having a distinct "Archers" moment. Go away for months and the story-line has not moved on one iota.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
There is a belief that the Army is run by regular Generals who would do anything no matter how pointless to preserve Regular PIDs and who cannot be trusted to advise the PM du jour that going into places sandy with no idea what we're doing is a bad idea. Based, of course, on the perception that we have done exactly that. Twice.
The US (and Allies) won the initial military campaigns hands down. What no-one seemed to to was to work out how to win the peace.

Before we invade anywhere else it would be helpful to have a fast track method for turning a failed state into a functional democracy with a growing economy and minimal corruption. And in a time scale sufficiently fast that the majority of the population of the country see siding with the coalition to be to both their immediate and long term advantage.

But until you can win the peace, you'll win battles - not wars.

Wordsmith
 
#9
There's a review of defence policy with respect to reserves coming soon, does anyone know the date?
 
#11
I reckon the battle was over a long time ago. It's just that, as an institution, the Army is pathetically unable to deal with reality. No amount of waffle leaked to the Telegraph will increase budgets. The masses will not rise up and demand an extra penny on income tax so that we can preserve Regiments. The only way Regular force sizes are going is down. Future conflicts will involve SF, the odd helo on a ship, crabair in hotels and a token BRITBAT. Because that's all we will be able to do.

Face it, the UK version of "proper soldiering" involves hiding away from the public in a cosy bubble muttering about "bloody civvies" and that COA was never going to end well from an info ops perspective.

It used to be counterbalanced by a quarter million strong TA distributed all over the UK but as they shrank so did the ability of the Army to influence policy.
 
#12
The US (and Allies) won the initial military campaigns hands down. What no-one seemed to to was to work out how to win the peace.

Before we invade anywhere else it would be helpful to have a fast track method for turning a failed state into a functional democracy with a growing economy and minimal corruption. And in a time scale sufficiently fast that the majority of the population of the country see siding with the coalition to be to both their immediate and long term advantage.

But until you can win the peace, you'll win battles - not wars.

Wordsmith
My Bold: None of that is the job of the British Army, or indeed ANY army. An Army's job is to kill the enemy, and the British Army is no different in that regard.

Perhaps next time we should send Haringey Social Services Dept and not 2 PARA. Might win more of the peace then.
 
#13
My Bold: None of that is the job of the British Army, or indeed ANY army. An Army's job is to kill the enemy, and the British Army is no different in that regard.

Perhaps next time we should send Haringey Social Services Dept and not 2 PARA. Might win more of the peace then.
I would argue that in large part that attitude is why we lost and why the Army is perceived as failing. Civvies expect the Army to get shit done not whine about demarcation like some 1950s shop steward. Why would anyone increase funding to an organisation that said it could do something then fucked it up big time ?
 
#14
We had a large standing army as a legacy of NI and the Cold War; all it allowed us to do was to lose two pointless long term campaigns
Political failure old boy. The Army has never been geared, even during the Cold War, for a significant and enduring expeditionary operation. The current campaigns haven't been lost in a military sense - they have failed due to lack of an achievable and sustainable political end-state.
 
#15
My Bold: None of that is the job of the British Army, or indeed ANY army. An Army's job is to kill the enemy, and the British Army is no different in that regard.

Perhaps next time we should send Haringey Social Services Dept and not 2 PARA. Might win more of the peace then.
Really? Maybe it's about time that "winning the peace" does become part of the job of the British Army. The US are already starting to edge that way. This TED talk summarised a lot better than I could ever hope to do:

Thomas Barnett: Rethinking America's military strategy | Video on TED.com
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
My Bold: None of that is the job of the British Army, or indeed ANY army. An Army's job is to kill the enemy, and the British Army is no different in that regard.

Perhaps next time we should send Haringey Social Services Dept and not 2 PARA. Might win more of the peace then.
All western armies have a branch of the higher staff called something like Civil Affairs or suchlike. Here's the manual for the US version.

FM 41-10 Table of Contents

The function of Civil Affairs is administration of captured territory including care of civilians, restoration of infrastructure, etc. What happened was the the civil affairs section in the US Army, aided and abetted by some of the US administration, completely failed to have a viable plan for winning the peace.

Such a plan needed to take into the account the cultural sensitivities of the bulk of the Iraqi or Afghan people, their physical and infrastructure needs and how to execute rebuilding while gaining and retaining the strong support of the major part of the population.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan there was a window of opportunity to exploit the goodwill of the population immediately after the fall of Saddam and the Taliban. Those windows of opportunity were squandered, which is why lives are still being lost.

Had there been a good and well run/not corrupt reconstruction program ready to roll immediately after the fall of the regimes, the UK armed forces could have been back home by now.

Wordsmith
 
#17
There are good and bad bits,throughout this discussion,personally,I don't have a problem with cutting back on numbers in the Armed Forces as a whole.

It's about time,they became a Defence Force,I for one am sick,and tired of,our forces being sent,all over the world,and dying,at the behest of politicians,who still think we (The UK ),should act as World Policemen,so that they (the politicos),can gain a bit of kudos,and admiration,from the rest of the World.

It's bad enough that the dross of the Third World,end up in our nation,without us having to go and sort out their national troubles as well,**** 'em,let them sort it out,and when they eventually become civilised,let them join the human race,until then,they're on their own,and we can save,a lot of lives,heartache,and shitloads of money!

And if in the future,a member of the House of Commons,really does have a hard-on,for some military assistance to a foreign power,fine give him a weapon,and an airline ticket,let him go himself! ^_~
 
#18
Exactly the last two adventures have been a fiasco.
Does matter how brave or resourceful the blokes on the ground are. They have frequently proved themselves some of the best soldiers on the planet.
If they are trying to do the wrong thing with two rolls of duct tape and a stick.:(
The chiefs of staff were busy wanking over new toys aircraft carriers, typhoon, fres and sweating over if we could fight THE WAR rather than the two ******* wars we were already in :(
The idea we can have the right kit for the next conflict is bollocks and probably always will be.
Not having the ability to launch a brigade and 50 attack jets on a carrier to attack singapore. Is not a failure the military is always going to say yes to a war its its job after all.
Limiting the ability of the goverment to start something is a good idea.
If the world changes the budget may change
 
#19
Limiting the ability of the government to do anything would be like trying to nail jelly to the wall.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#20
Going back to MSR's original post, the idea of Reservists taking over from Contractors is simply impracticble. At present, we can do a one-off intervention style Op, and survive on military capacity alone for a very short while. After that, we need contractors, and they carry out roles that the Reserves are probably not best suited for. For a start, TA would be far far more expensive, even more expensive than KBR (and that's saying something). Secondly, there is no way that they could provide the specialised capabilities for anything other than a single Tour. In Bastion alone thre are several thousand contractors working for the Brits. The TA could not replace them, not even those who are 'white men' contractors (I'll assume that all the shitty jobs will continue to be done by cheap darker-hued labour - non-PC, but the truth), and certainly not for long.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top