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US accuses Britain over military failings in Afghanistan

#1
From The Times
December 16, 2008

US accuses Britain over military failings in Afghanistan

Tom Baldwin in Washington and Michael Evans, Defence Editor

The performance of Britain’s overstretched military in Afghanistan is coming under sustained criticism from the Pentagon and US analysts even as Gordon Brown ponders whether to send in further reinforcements.

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary who has been asked to remain in his job under Barack Obama, is understood to have expressed strong reservations about counterinsurgency operations in British-controlled Helmand province.

He has already announced plans for a surge of 20,000 US troops into Afghanistan but Mr Brown, who was given a bleak progress report when he visited Afghanistan at the weekend, is said to be reluctant about committing another 2,000 British troops on top of the 8,400 already there.

A total of 132 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001 and the Government is worried about public opinion turning against the campaign. British officials are concerned that the US may take over control of Helmand – where Mr Gates plans to deploy an extra 5,000 troops – if Mr Brown fails to support the surge. The Americans have grievances over Britain’s lack of equipment, including helicopters, which has left troops unable to perform the same tasks as US counterparts and led to more cautious tactics. There is also grumbling about the regularity with which US airstrikes are called to rescue British troops.

It is understood that there has been “tension and resentment” over the air of superiority adopted by British commanders such as Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who suggested that his American counterparts needed to take lessons from Britain’s experience in Northern Ireland and Malaya.
More on the link
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5349036.ece
 
#3
Skynet said:
From The Times
December 16, 2008
The Americans have grievances over Britain’s lack of equipment, including helicopters, which has left troops unable to perform the same tasks as US counterparts and led to more cautious tactics. There is also grumbling about the regularity with which US airstrikes are called to rescue British troops.

They have got a point though. It is acknowledged (by us) that we haven't got enough CH and fast air in theatre, surely it follows that as a result we are not able to perform as we should.

From personal experiance my platoon had to rely on US Blackhawks more than once, the same goes for US CAS.
 
#5
Don't we always moan about how the government is massively underfunding the whole Afghanistan campaign both in terms of cash and equipment like helicopters that leads to us not being able to do as much as we'd like to be able? Plus if they're getting attitude from a few people about how great we are at X, Y and Z and how they should be taking a leaf out of our book when we're having trouble covering our commitments then is it all that unreasonable for them to get the hump a bit?

Edit: And Poor_Bloody_Infantry gets his post in whilst I wander off to make the tea.
 
#6
as long as the blame for any british problems lands where it belongs (brown), then maybe he may start to understand that you cannot starve the armed forces of cash for 10 years and then expect miricles.

if it's worth fighting, its worth funding.

edited to add.

it's been said many times on these hallowed pages, that it will take a large defeat and/or loss of british lives for underfunding to be resolved. If this report highlights the problems of underfunding, enough that something is done abot it without many more lives lost, then it should be welcomed.
 
#7
SkiCarver said:
as long as the blame for any british problems lands where it belongs (brown), then maybe he may start to understand that you cannot starve the armed forces of cash for 10 years and then expect miricles.

if it's worth fighting, its worth funding.

edited to add.

it's been said many times on these hallowed pages, that it will take a large defeat and/or loss of british lives for underfunding to be resolved. If this report highlights the problems of underfunding, enough that something is done abot it without many more lives lost, then it should be welcomed.


My bold - I'll believe that when I see it..... Our glorious leader being blamed for the failings of a bunch of magnificently equipped and supported squaddies? No comrade, the Officers and Generals set over them are clearly not up to the task. Maybe they're even agents of Goldstein. By the way, the chocolate ration's been increased to 20g per family per week and we're now at war with Eurasia.

The Neue Arbeit spin machine will ensure that no blame for this will attach to Comrade Brown. They'll probably blame some poor Rodney with a headline in the Sun saying "CO of elite special force 4LSR swilling champagne and port in the Mess while troops slack off".

Pardon my cynicsm, it's been a long day! :D
 
#8
Funny though, the press over this side of the pond haven't picked up the story, last week Gates was on TV praising the UK and Canadian Forces for doing a great job.


Newspeak = "is understood to have expressed strong reservations"

Neswpeak = "is said to be reluctant".

not very definitive is it ?
 
#10
Oh no he didn't...
While I accept they could be irritated with out government for not committing the resources.. how can they be pished with us calling in air support? "Gawd Dang-it, thems brits be wantin' us to kill somemore tal-e-ban, whootever next?"
 
#11
CrownImperial said:
Oh no he didn't...
While I accept they could be irritated with out government for not committing the resources.. how can they be pished with us calling in air support? "Gawd Dang-it, thems brits be wantin' us to kill somemore tal-e-ban, whootever next?"

Because on one hand we have retired Rodneys telling the Yanks they're shite at COIN ops, and on the other hand they're saving British lives almost every day in the Green Zone and other nice places. Sure, we had a big headstart on them with Norn Iron, and the US Army of the post vietnam era wasn't exactly the Brigade of Guards, but they are catching up with us fast in some respects.

Their infanteers may be inadequately trained and poorly led (in my experience), but they're a good bunch of guys, even if they do tend towards naivety and have all the subtlety of a herd of enraged bull elephants. However they're superbly equipped and I'm forever grateful to American CAS.
I just wish that we didn't have to rely on them, we shouldn't have to.
 
#12
Poor_Bloody_Infantry said:
CrownImperial said:
Oh no he didn't...
While I accept they could be irritated with out government for not committing the resources.. how can they be pished with us calling in air support? "Gawd Dang-it, thems brits be wantin' us to kill somemore tal-e-ban, whootever next?"

Because on one hand we have retired Rodneys telling the Yanks they're shite at COIN ops, and on the other hand they're saving British lives almost every day in the Green Zone and other nice places. Sure, we had a big headstart on them with Norn Iron, and the US Army of the post vietnam era wasn't exactly the Brigade of Guards, but they are catching up with us fast in some respects.

Their infanteers may be inadequately trained and poorly led (in my experience), but they're a good bunch of guys, even if they do tend towards naivety and have all the subtlety of a herd of enraged bull elephants. However they're superbly equipped and I'm forever grateful to American CAS.
I just wish that we didn't have to rely on them, we shouldn't have to.
With all due respect to the British Armed forces, I'm kind of tired of hearing this rubbish. If these folks are so poorly led, I wonder why they seem to be doing just as well (and in some cases better) as you supposedly well led Brits. Face it people, this is something too many folks on this board tell themselves to feel better. No one on this side of the pond has time to compare themselves with you lot on a near constant basis. These folks seem secure in their own abilities and training to do so. Plus there are two active wars, ongoing ops in Djibouti, and the Philippines to worry about.

Just my 0.02 cents.
 
#13
This is only from what I've seen of the US Army mate, I haven't worked with them more than about half a dozen times so it's not a conclusive opinion. Odd though that so many in the British Army and other country's militaries share it?

I think it was Steven Fry who said of the US Army (to paraphrase)

"Yes yes terribly nice vehicles, oh yes lovely kit, wonderful guns etc, but tell me, are there any adults around here?". Sums it up perfectly for me!


And it's undeniable that the US millitary has a huge advantage in the form of numbers, a superior logistics chain, and generally more of everything that counts than we do. And they're really into overkill as well. Why send a platoon when an A-10 can go? (Which I don't disagree with actually.)
 
#14
Yank bashing...absolute piffle.

This whole debate we're referring to isn't about TTPs. It's about doctrine and strategy. The US has done a marvelous job of writing FM 3-24 and implementing it. To have gone from post-Vietnam's willful ignorance of COIN to FM 3-24 in the space of three years is phenomenal.

The US military has had the means and the political backing to implement a comprehensive strategy. Britain has not. HMAF have no cash and neither PM has never come close to creating the environment for a unified effort. The remarkable work of British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been overshadowed by political tokenism and a ministry of defence run amok. The Bush administration, for all its faults, has worked its arse off to at least get the US forces necessary operational funding. And they're still cutting corners - if that's the case, how can HMAF keep up with so much less backing?

From personal experience, I can confirm that US Marines and grunts still have a certain culture that must be overcome to successfully conduct COIN - imagine if the British Army were entirely composed of stereotypical Para Corporals - but they are overcoming it and in large numbers (though their training establishments still offer little hearts-and-minds training - and this indicates a lack of long-term change to me).

Just to reiterate: this argument isn't about us. It's about politicians. Why bash each other and let the real problem stirrers off the hook?
 
#15
What he said.


I'll try and reiterate, I'm not Yank bashing here, like I said I think they're a good bunch of guys. Not perfect by any means but then neither are we. Although the British Infantry is the best in the world. End of!
 
#16
cheesypoptart said:
Just to reiterate: this argument isn't about us. It's about politicians. Why bash each other and let the real problem stirrers off the hook?
Exactly...
 
#17
I gather the US refer to us as either The Borrowers or The Flintstones...
 
#18
Is it me or is this yank bashing getting a bit boring now, as far as I'm concerned the yanks have got something we haven't, support from the government. We make ourselves look like fools comparing current ops to the old N. Ireland days, it ain't the same and never will be. Northern Ireland was an intelligence war fought dirty with white anglo-saxon informers over a number of years. Afghan is a different kettle of fish, culturally, religiously and geographically.

I'm bloody embarrassed at reading some of these posts that constantly slag of the yanks, who have come to the aid of British Troops in contact every single day. Why? because we haven't got the resources to support ourselves and the political will.

Come next year when i deploy again, i suspect the Brits will stag on the FOBs and the yanks will push down to the south to do the job we all know needs doing but can't do it ourselves.
 
#19
Cheesypoptart has this right. Red Shrek/Poor Bloody Infantry you're nowhere in the debate.

This isnt about Brits and Yanks it's about everyone doing crap, crap, crap. Not because they can't do it but because they arent given the right resources or the right orders. British and US troops perform well above and beyond in the firefights, it isnt about that. The firefights should have ended long ago under plan A.

On the Brit side, there are far too many top UK generals telling the politicians what they want to hear and leaving the PBI to sort it out on the ground. Forget plans T, U and V, (it might be X by now). We need to get back to plan A.

Put enough troops on the ground and aircraft up in the sky so that there isnt room for any major kinetic from the other side and produce the security that will bring in proper reconstruction from USAid and DfID working with the NGOs - with large sums of money going into the hands of the Afghan workers building things rather than the warlords or KBR.

It would of course help if this plan was talked through with theNGOs, USaid, DfID to ensure they will come in to do their job rather than whinging about the military all the time.

Petraeus is the only hope, he worked this out long ago, so stop bashing the Yanks they are doing it better than us right now. (Course Petraeus's deputy in Iraq was Graeme Lamb with a corporate memory of real hearts and minds carried out by the real guys on the ground in Malaya and Dhofar. Petraeus used Lamb to reach out to the Sunni sheikhs.)

If Petraeus cannot do it, no-one can and we really should decide enough is enough.
 
#20
I think we should bite the bullet and join the next surge, with as many blokes on the ground as possible. Maybe it will buy us some breathing space for a few years, because at the moment we are just marking time and not achieving very much. We have built so many FOBs that we have just enough men to fill them. We are slowly slipping into the Basra scenario of being confined to camp because of the IED threat. Yes we will take casualties, but you ask anyone i bet they would rather risk death in a firefight than get blown to pieces.
 

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