Which Way Now for the UK

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by meridian, Nov 9, 2009.

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  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    In light of the upcoming strategic defence and security review there has been some interesting work on shaping the armed forces for the future

    Before the question of 'what do you want the armed forces to do' can be answered the obvious thing to do is ask another question;

    What Strategy

    RUSI have been doing some analysis of the options so I thought I would throw them up here for discussion

    Option 1: The Global Guardian Option

    This option focuses more specifically on a continuation of ground operations for robust stabilisation which will provide continuity in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. It will also allow governments to develop and sustain aspirations for global influence through regular and long-term ground commitments, and the ability to act as framework nation for ground operations. Highintensity ground combat capability would be retained to provide effective escalation dominance and to contribute to trans-Atlantic inherent deterrent capability. Naval and air forces would have relatively minor supporting roles. This could be characterised as the ‘continental’ option in the ‘continental’ versus ‘maritime’ debate of Jonathan Swift and others of the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. It bears mention that the Swift context was essentially European, but Basil Liddell Hart included an expeditionary aspect to the ‘continental’ option in a lecture at the Royal United Services Institution. This option allows best for continuity in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, but risks creating a force structure that is not well prepared for other uncertainties, and the prospect of a medium and long term in which there is a general political aversion to commitments to enduring ground occupation.


    Option 2: The Strategic Raiding Option

    This ‘maritime’ option recognises that there is unlikely to be the political will in government or in the electorate for further embroilment in operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. It limits this capacity for ground campaigns and refocuses on short-term operations using agile specialist ground forces. It emphasises sea basing and very early presence and inducement operations. High-intensity ground combat capability is retained, but is very specialised strategically. Special forces, and agile infantry such as the Parachute Regiment, Royal Marines and other air mobile formations, would be supported by light- to medium weight armour with a view to developing ground forces more widely as specialist forces but with a ceiling on numbers in favour of quality. The premise is that a small (relative to other Western nations of similar size) elite ground forces would limit government choices very specifically to short-term early interventions, which would be influential in shaping the pattern of subsequent operations. The UK would make a substantial contribution to maritime security, which would permit a degree of international leadership in this respect. The UK’s contribution to trans Atlantic and European security and inherent deterrence should focus on proactive and maritime capability. This option specifically provides for preventive, precautionary and pre-emptive deployments to contribute to shaping the security environment proactively. The problem with this option is that it is unlikely to be fully achievable while priorities remain in Afghanistan.

    NAVY WIN, everyone gets their toys

    Option 3: The Contributory Option

    A selection would be made from the present capabilities of the UK’s armed forces in order to specifically contribute to the needs identified in an international context, such as the bilateral USUK relationship, the European context (whether within a NATO or European Union force planning construct), or some other multinational context. This option would sacrifice any possibility for national autonomy for intervention operations, because the UK would be dependent on other nations for all the capabilities that it had surrendered.

    Option 4: The Gendarmerie Option

    This option accepts that aspirations to be a major expeditionary power are unaffordable and focuses ground forces on contributing to stabilisation options as the offer – albeit a weak offer – in a strategic bargain without the aspiration to retain framework nation capacity or significant high-intensity combat capability. This option could also include some constabulary naval capability to contribute to maritime security.

    Option 5: The ‘Little Britain’ Option

    This option focuses specifically on defence and internal security of the British islands, its air space and territorial seas offering such capacity as is available as a contribution to overseas operations if and when the home situation permits. This option abandons any strategic bargain. There is also the question of the UK’s Dependent Territories around the world to which there is a legal obligation for defence and security. A government taking this option would have concluded that these responsibilities are unaffordable and would need to relinquish them and transfer them formally to some other authority or, alternatively, insist that these territories assume their own independence in this respect regardless of capacity and consequences.


    Original article
  2. I would suggest that the first question is not 'what strategy', but 'what threat'. My answer to which is not Islamic terrorism, but food and energy shortages, economic collapse and climate change. Desperation, mass migration and disease are existential threats, bombs on trains are just a nuisance.

    Which leads me to strategy:

    Option 1: The Global Guardian Option. Quite frankly, awful. It leaves us capable of Herrick, and not a lot else, not even another Afghanistan. I certainly wouldn't call it an Army Win. Inflexible, expensive and dangerous.

    Option 2: The Strategic Raiding Option. My preferred option. It allows us to strike at any threat, anywhere, on a whim. It removes any option for pointless nation building. It allows us to spread capital across the Services, creating a balanced, but more affordable force. We could operate as part of a coalition or independently.
    Gunboat diplomacy makes empires, nation building destroys them.

    Option 3: The Contributory Option. Absolutely not. Current and past operations have demonstrated that one country's national interests are not necessarily those of another. And who is to say we'll all still be friends in the future.

    Option 4: The Gendarmerie Option. An option if we accept that the UK is never to be a world power again. Personally, I don't like such defeatism.

    Option 5: The ‘Little Britain’ Option. See above. Also a sea change in centuries of British defence strategy. We fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. If the fight does come here, what level of civilian casualties do we allow before surrender?
  3. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    It is presented as an either or option

    My thoughts, Option 1 is the most likely because I think we will be trying to defeat fundamental islam for a long time, at least until the Middle East oil runs out. Was the preferred option of a certain Mr Dannatt?

    Option 2 allows us to sit back and not get involved, everyone is happy because all the forces get a break, get all their toys, keeps BAe in sausage rolls and things get back to the days of BAOR. All well and good but does this actually diminish our influence and and become another France, on the outside looking in

    The other options, agree, they are nonsense

    I think the answer is Option 1 with a smattering of Option 2 but at a lower scale
  4. Whilst I might agree with your sentiments, I doubt that the man on the Clapham omnibus does.

  5. Option 2 as the basis for strategy/doctrine/JWP/JDN etc; enough money, if spent wisely, for Option 3; a real capability somewhere around Option 4.

    Cynical, moi?

    Seriously, probably 2. I think the appetite for sustained intervention is waning.

  6. What a stupid thing to say.
  7. We may try to defeat fundamental Islam, but we'll never succeed. Among 6.5 billion people there will always be fundamentalists, and the only way they'll be a significant threat is if they gain access to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal - even then, we'll be a long way down the list of targets.

    Which is why I like Option 2. Short, sharp wars are much preferable to long, drawn out ones. Is what we are doing in Afghanistan now of any strategic benefit to the UK? How much would it cost, both financially and in physical resources, to actually have a positive effect? How vulnerable does it leave us? I doubt we have either the money or the manpower to make Option 1 work.
    Option 2 with a smattering of Option 1. We go in, slap them silly, cause a regime change, home for tea and medals. Let them sort their own internal problems. We're better at these things, they're more likely to be used, it's cheaper and it gives us flexibility.

    I don't disagree with you, but it's all about perspective. We're talking about defence of the nation, not of individuals.
    The tube bombings were barely a blip on most people's radar. A tragedy for those directly involved, but how many was that? <1,000?
    How many suicides would you guess the recession has caused? I bet it's more than were killed by the tube bombings. Financial cost? Position in the world? A small recession has had more impact on more people for far longer than the tube bombings. Now magnify that to mass migration bringing an epidemic, total financial collapse, famine.
    Remember that civilisation is just three square meals from anarchy.

    It may be when taken out of context, like you have just done. That was why it was part of a longer sentence.
  8. Alternately you can correctly fund the armed forces and maintain a capability that is basically 2, but with the ability to do more if required. This doesn't mean having a million strong standing army, but its probably useful to have very specialist logistics and engineering capabilities combined with large enough teeth arms to do some damage if required.

    Speaking as a civvy (hopfully not for much longer), I think that of those number 2 is the best for the UK but that a combination of 3 and 4 is likely to happen within a very short period.

    As a talking point, aren;t we going to be in trouble when we can no longer defend the Falklands or Gibraltar? Surely only option 2 allows for such a capability to be seriously maintained.
  9. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Defend them from what?

    Seriously, Argentina is in no fit state to do anything about the Falklands, they are in a worse state that in 1982. Plus there is the small matter of a pair of Typhoons and an enlarged garrison (once the hangover has cleared) for them to worry about.

    Gibraltar is at peril from politics not military forces.

    Isn't Option 2 the easy option and assumes that everything can be solved by the application of a short sharp shock, as per the powerpoints for NEC and RMA etc etc. As Ottar says, fly in, quick dust up with Johnny Foreigner (who obligingly has decided to go toe to toe), rebuild a school and home in time for tea and medals. Johnny Foreigner has decided to say 'fcuk this for a game of soldiers' lets counter a million dollar vehicle with a $20 IED, i.e not fight on our terms.

    If you look at our past havent we done more 1 than 2

    I would also add, don't events have a habit of dictating the way you fight

    The hard choice is 1, the easy choice is 2, buts a ticket to diminishing influence (like France) although we still have lots of cultural, economic, industrial and other 'soft' power options
  10. There is also option 6:

    Carry on with the same capability as we currently claim to hold and with similarly dire funding levels. All thats required for this is abject political cowardice combined with a civil servant whose job it is to say "Military top brass tell us that they have enough equipment" in response to every press story about an equipment sortage.

    I somehow suspect that cowardice may be the order of the day, and therefore this situation will be the inevitable result.
  11. There is a saying that "endless supplies of money form the sinews of war".

    The Romans noticed that 2000 years ago. As nothing has changed in this respect, the next question, bearing in mind the state of the economy is, what can we realistically afford? I would say not a lot, therefore we are definitely going to have to limit our aims. The days of playing the big boy are over.