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UK military chiefs clash over future defence strategy

#1
From The Guardian
I Agree that Army must have the kit to do the job on the ground
But Britian is an Island nation.
john

UK military chiefs clash over future defence strategy

First Sea Lord defends navy and insists Britain must keep 'hard power'

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, Chief of the Naval Staff and First Sea Lord.

The battle over the future shape of ­Britain's armed forces will spill into the public domain tomorrow when the First Sea Lord launches a forceful defence of the Royal Navy in a bid to protect it from swingeing spending cuts.

In a direct riposte to claims today by the head of the army that Britain has put too much emphasis on "hugely expensive equipment", Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope will say that the UK's influence and commercial interests depend on a fleet that can operate worldwide with full capabilities "including high-intensity warfare".

He will argue that the armed forces need to fight and win wars with "hard power".

"We must look beyond Afghanistan … we must be prepared for surprises and strategic shocks. The Falklands war was such an event. It came in from left-field."

His intervention comes a day after General Sir David Richards delivered a speech in which he painted a very different picture of Britain's defence needs, arguing it was not only a question of shifting emphasis from the navy and RAF towards the army, but recognising future conflicts will differ from past ones.

His comments reflect concern over the way the military deals with unconventional attacks, and came as the Taliban launched an audacious guerrilla offensive in Kabul, setting off explosions and exchanging gunfire with security forces near luxury hotels and the presidential palace. Twenty fighters took part in the assault and at least six people died.

Richards said: "We will be involved in a different type of conflict in the 21st century. Conflict today, especially because so much of it is effectively fought through the medium of the communications revolution, is principally about and for people – hearts and minds on a mass scale.

"Defence must respond to the new strategic, and indeed economic, environment by ensuring much more ruthlessly that our armed forces are appropriate and relevant to the context in which they will operate rather than the one they might have expected to fight in in previous eras," Richards told the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

In a thinly disguised attack on the number of fast jets in the RAF and weapons platforms being ordered for the navy, he said "too much emphasis is still placed on … hugely expensive equipment".

"Hi-tech weapons platforms are not a good way to help stabilise tottering states – nor might their cost leave us any money to help in any other way – any more than they impress opponents equipped with weapons costing a fraction," he said.

"We have traditionally viewed state-on-state conflict through the prism of putative tank battles on the German plains or deep strike air attacks against strategic sites."

Presenting a list of equipment most needed by the army – and not as expensive as those in the RAF or navy inventory – Richards said: "Operating among, understanding and effectively influencing people to gain their support and trust requires mass – numbers – whether this is 'boots on the ground' …and high-speed littoral warships, or UAVs, [unmanned drones] transport aircraft, and helicopters."

He added: "We can't afford to continue as we are, so must take a risk against capabilities that are more relevant to 'traditional' 20th century conflict."

Stanhope will challenge this view. He will say that Britain's defence is "intimately tied to Britain's wider position of influence in the world … It is far more than an insurance against future crisis."

He will say the navy "contributes significantly to the overall business of defence across the globe, and to fully understand the full scope of this business we need to assess in strategic terms how we use it and the other services for the overall benefit of the taxpayer," according to an advance text of his speech seen by the Guardian.

Navy chiefs are concerned that some of their projects, including two new aircraft carriers, US fighters to put on them, and the replacement Trident submarine nuclear missile system will be victims of cuts in the post-election defence review promised by all parties.

The different emphasis placed by the heads of the army and the navy is ­striking. Stanhope dwells on the need for "hard power" and what he called "persistent military activity" – including decades of patrolling the Gulf – as well as the need to "ensure that we are ready to respond at short notice to the unexpected but not unforeseen".

But Richards said last night: "We must put much more emphasis on preventing conflict, on ensuring fragile states do not become the Afghanistan of tomorrow. Our opponents are agile and unconventional, experts at exploiting asymmetric advantage."
 
#3
Ah yes, the only Chief of Staff who has flown Typhoon, is now allegedly working for BAe and has more than doubled his salary, (actually more accurate to say, nearly tripled his salary). Perhaps we should worry less about hugely expensive items of equipment and more about who the very Chiefs of Staff go on to work for.

Tail wagging the dog?
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#5
Charm_City said:
Do I hear the sound of giggling drifting across Whitehall from the Treasury ?

C_C
Exactly. They've achived their aim of getting the services to fight amongst theirselves. We can afford to have a properly funded Navy, Army and Airforce. Its just that the Government thinks it's best to spend Billions on pointless Quango's. Abolishing the RDA's would pay for the Carriers and their Strike Wing!

* 2004/2005 — £1.847 billion
* 2005/2006 — £2.163 billion
* 2006/2007 — £2.244 billion
* 2007/2008 — £2.297 billion
 
#6
There's quite a nice summation in an Editorial piece in the same paper.

Guardian - Defence Policy: New Wars For Old

There are three eminently practical reasons why Britain's senior military planners are doing so much significant thinking in public about the future of the armed forces right now. The first is Afghanistan, a war which, as yesterday's shocking series of attacks in Kabul underlines, remains damagingly unwon either on the frontline or the home front and which has thrust the nature of modern armed conflict daily on to the front pages. The second is that British defence thinking has still not fully adjusted to the end of the cold war and to the new threats of the globalised era, particularly from what are called in the jargon "non-state actors". The third, and in many respects the most pressing, is the imminent strategic defence review to be held by the next government, whatever the general election result, amid the prospect of large cuts in overall defence spending.

Yesterday the chief of the general staff, General Sir David Richards, launched the latest pre-review bombardment on behalf of the army. Today it is the turn of the first sea lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, to counter with a weighty naval broadside. It is tempting to caricature these exchanges as merely another example of the traditional Gilbert and Sullivan rivalry between the services. Yet there is actually a very pressing and material reality to them this time around. These arguments matter. They matter because the nature of warfare, in Afghanistan and into the future, is changing. Against this backdrop, Britain, like every other modern nation, needs to be clear where its security interests lie and how they are best secured. There is an almost universal understanding that something large in UK defence spending is going to have to give soon, whether under David Cameron or Gordon Brown.

General Richards argued yesterday that the old "state-on-state" warfare is in decline. So, it follows, are the days of hugely expensive hi‑tech warfare in which the powers, especially the US, have always invested. Success in warfare today, in the general's view, is increasingly measured in terms of public confidence at home and in the conflict zone, rather than in destroyed enemy tanks, ships and aircraft. But today's wars are not just asymmetric conflicts between a superpower or an international coalition on the one side and guerrilla armies on the other, as in Afghanistan. Increasingly they are also state-on-state conflicts fought more cheaply and at less risk by proxy forces or through cyber or economic weaponry.

We can't go on like this, says General Richards, echoing the politicians and also speaking the truth. With cuts on the way, choices must be made. Risks must be taken. The inference from the general's speech – surprise, surprise, from a naval or air force perspective – is that spending vast amounts on carriers, fast jets and a new deterrent would be largely irrelevant in most of the conflicts in which Britain is likely to be engaged in the foreseeable future. That doesn't mean the end of the large navy or the air force. But it does mean that the future belongs to state-building and to prevention – and that means increasingly to the army. It is, as General Richards has said before, akin to the "horse and tank" moment in the first world war.

General Richards set out a compelling case yesterday for the centrality of a changed army at the heart of new defence priorities. Well he would, wouldn't he? Yet while it is obvious that there is, from the general's point of view, a convenient convergence between his analysis of the nature of the new forms of war and the need for a stronger army, his conclusion does not invalidate his analysis. It certainly puts pressure on Admiral Stanhope to match him today. But this is not an argument that can or should be left to the military chiefs or the boffins. In the end it is also about the kind of British military effort that fits with the kind of nation we want to be. It is a debate that should be at the heart of the general election campaign too.
 
#7
The Royal Navy appear to be time-transporting First Sea Lords from the late Seventeenth century. Admiral Stanhope sounds like he's making his pitch to Samuel Pepys. It's good to know that the Andrew stands ready to defend blighty from the imminent threat of naval invasion. Hopefully the RAF are as equally well prepared to fight off the menace of the Luftwaffe.

Sadly, on the basis of recent debacles such as the Iranian kidnapping and the RFA vs Somali pirate incident, it looks like the Navy would be better off investing in the quality of its people rather than the quality of its kit.
 
#8
nigegilb said:
Ah yes, the only Chief of Staff who has flown Typhoon, is now allegedly working for BAe and has more than doubled his salary, (actually more accurate to say, nearly tripled his salary). Perhaps we should worry less about hugely expensive items of equipment and more about who the very Chiefs of Staff go on to work for.

Tail wagging the dog?
Who are you talking about? I don't think that it's either of the Heads of Service mentioned in this article so I fail to see the relevance.

The debate needs to happen and it needs to happen in the public eye as an important policy discussion during the General Election campaign so that the British public can decide how much they want their Amred Forces to do for them.
 
#10
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#11
P2000 said:
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.
Quite. The chattering classes all seem to be in Sun Tsu mode. Which is a novel concept.

Looking at the effort the US are putting into Haiti, an aircraft carrier looks to be an ideal asset. So, in the future, could a QE class carrier disembark its strike wing, take on extra heavy lift and provide a similar capability to a Hurricane devestated West Indies?
 
#12
P2000 said:
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.


There ya go…

It's all well and good have a 'light' army geared to fighting insurgencies as long as the opposition only ride donkeys. But one day, the army is going to have to fight someone who have airpower and SAM's and all that fast air and shiney high end ships are going to be rather useful… well they would have been, but we flogged them all off.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#13
Semper_Flexibilis said:
P2000 said:
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.


There ya go…

It's all well and good have a 'light' army geared to fighting insurgencies as long as the opposition only ride donkeys. But one day, the army is going to have to fight someone who have airpower and SAM's and all that fast air and shiney high end ships are going to be rather useful… well they would have been, but we flogged them all off.
Yes - see UK Defence policy 1920 - 1937.
 
#14
Semper_Flexibilis said:
P2000 said:
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.


There ya go…

It's all well and good have a 'light' army geared to fighting insurgencies as long as the opposition only ride donkeys. But one day, the army is going to have to fight someone who have airpower and SAM's and all that fast air and shiney high end ships are going to be rather useful… well they would have been, but we flogged them all off.
You hit the nail on the head there, meanwhile our MP's have left it to the stage where our HOS's are clashing over where & what cutbacks are made (I know not for the first time either)

Diverting from the OP slightly, It begs the thought, shortly they intend to start drilling in the Falklands & perish the thought, as the Argies might step up their anti, via another thread the fact this Government intends to cutback in every sector possible would concern most in these vulnerable areas of interest,

The future looks very bleek either way you look at it :(
 
#15
vaeviso said:
The Royal Navy appear to be time-transporting First Sea Lords from the late Seventeenth century. Admiral Stanhope sounds like he's making his pitch to Samuel Pepys. It's good to know that the Andrew stands ready to defend blighty from the imminent threat of naval invasion. Hopefully the RAF are as equally well prepared to fight off the menace of the Luftwaffe.

Sadly, on the basis of recent debacles such as the Iranian kidnapping and the RFA vs Somali pirate incident, it looks like the Navy would be better off investing in the quality of its people rather than the quality of its kit.
Participated in many post-WW II joint operations abroad (e.g. Malaya, Suez, Cyprus, Falklands, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc), have you? If you have, you should also know that there is a world of difference between the ROE for UN-mandated constabulary (policing) operations and the rules for armed conflict or are you happy to turn every hostage-taking situation into a bloodbath or possible war?
 
#16
Dunservin said:
Participated in many post-WW II joint operations abroad (e.g. Malaya, Suez, Cyprus, Falklands, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc), have you? If you have, you should also know that there is a world of difference between the ROE for UN-mandated constabulary (policing) operations and the rules for armed conflict or are you happy to turn every hostage-taking situation into a bloodbath or possible war?
Yes I have served on a number of those operations that you list and I understand the nuances of RoE in very fine detail - thank you for asking. The RN itself conceded that those involved in the Iranian kidnapping incident had not acquitted themselves well and made a number of far-reaching changes to training as a result. The Somalia RFA incident has a worrying number of parallels, although also a number of fundamental differences. I stand by my original point that investment in sailors might be more apposite than investment in ships.

To come back to the topic of the thread, this ball-busting Navy that CNS aspires to will operate for most of the time under exactly the same restrictions that have on two very high profile occasions rendered it so utterly impotent. So basically he is asking the Nation to make an enormous investment that for most of the time will be useless and will only really be insurance against the least likely contingency - state-on-state conflict involving high intensity maritime warfighting. It doesn't sound particularly likely compared to the scenario that CGS posits, does it?
 
#17
fozzy said:
Quite. The chattering classes all seem to be in Sun Tsu mode. Which is a novel concept.

Looking at the effort the US are putting into Haiti, an aircraft carrier looks to be an ideal asset. So, in the future, could a QE class carrier disembark its strike wing, take on extra heavy lift and provide a similar capability to a Hurricane devestated West Indies?
Not looking for an argument just asking the question.
Extra lift capability?
Where would that come from?

We only plan to have 2 QE class ships, so how does that work then?
One in re-fit and one on ops?
Not room in the plot for Humanitarian aid requirements is there?



All our lift capability is tasked at the moment.
Slightly off tangent but even Geoff(Buff)Hoon has said that procurement is a long winded process.
He wanted to / was advised to get more lift capability back in 2002/2003 and had it been approved would only of been coming into service now.
 
#18
Sounds like CNS has got to read the CAS book "How to do PR, and win at the budget box"

He's fighting a rear guard action prior to the fight starting , trying to get a pre-emptive 'aren't we great' story into the media.
Shame we are all so cynical here and see straight through it.
 
#19
fozzy said:
P2000 said:
Interesting how much of the debate, in the media at least, is framed in terms of "we're broke, soldiers are cheaper that ships and planes; and they seem to be a tad busy in Afghanistan".

Not entirely sure that makes for a credible view on defence policy, however.
Quite. The chattering classes all seem to be in Sun Tsu mode. Which is a novel concept.

Looking at the effort the US are putting into Haiti, an aircraft carrier looks to be an ideal asset. So, in the future, could a QE class carrier disembark its strike wing, take on extra heavy lift and provide a similar capability to a Hurricane devestated West Indies?
Very good points from both of you.

Litotes
 
#20
'If' we get the 2 QE class ships , and 'IF' we get the Joint Strike Fighter/F35 wing to go on them, then 'Maybe' we can play at being a world power, until or when that unlikely event actually happens we need to realise,

WE ARE BROKE, and can't afford all the shiney, whizzy, expensive toys.

Boots and troops are cheaper and easier for the media to understand with the media and general publics limited attention span.
 

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