IMO, the problem in Iraq is not that the British are losing; rather that they have not won (which is absolutely not the same thing).
Bear with me whilst I explain a theory:
Unlike in the simpler wars of our grandfathers, where the principle protagonists seemed to enjoy relatively equal standing in terms of physical military power, strategic/political empowerment, liability and commitment; in contemporary Iraq we can witness a fundamental imbalance. We (the US and its Allies) are limited in our commitment (this connects well with the well-founded complaints of poor equipment (above)) but are totally liable for not only our own action but also the wider environment/situation that we find ourselves in. On the contrary, our adversaries (of which there is a growing list) appear to be totally committed (eg, I doubt that wed get much luck recruiting suicide bombers for our cause) whilst seeming to have relatively little liability. This affords them almost total freedom of action in philosophical terms (ie all activity less the conventional military) and leaves us in a corner that we must fight and win from. Now watch as they fight over who will fire the departing shot as we eventually depart and claim to have been the ones to rout the British from Basrah.
The bottom line is really that, whilst we have to win absolutely and outright in order to succeed, our adversaries only have to survive to be victorious. Indeed, much of the problem is in understanding what any of that means as I fear there is a fundamental disconnect between the practical implications of reality on the ground and the various agendas that support strategic policy. Part of the solution is to better educate our Officers so that they in turn can better brief our politicians in future. Read this article for what OIC Iraq, General David Petraeus, feels about how best to deal with that particular issue:
Just covered a couple of the points mentioned in another thread regarding the vehicle requirement and perhaps some upcoming solutions.
As for grand EU projects simply to pretend there is a cold war on, Putin is in the process of threatening the west once again, as well as spending BILLIONS and BILLIONS on ramping up his armed forces, including new fighter aircraft, carriers and subs. China is doing the same, and so is the US. I'm getting the sh!ts thinking about this new arms race and the attendant threats that go with it. The cold war might yet be re-starting.
What the septic article fails to point out is that the UK should be developing its very own defensive and offensive products, and not relying on either the US OR the EU to assist in the process. If the Aussies, Septics, Germans AND Frogs can do it, then why the fcuk can't we, as a nation do the same?
Edited to add: Yeah, yeah, just shut the hell up about 'Snatch Landrovers' and the SA80 will ya!
You can call it poetic justice: While Europe went mad with anti-American rage during the Bush years, the Europeans also sabotaged themselves. urope has been in massive denial of the terror threat, of Islamic fascism, and of nuclear proliferation to rogue regimes in the Middle East. Instead, they have been marching around like a cock with barnyard matter on its feet, blissfully ignorant of mounting dangers.
"agreed Dragstrip its a tough battle but we defianatley arn't losing has anyone seen the taliban casualty list lately we are mowing them down."
No, no, no, no, no. That is NOT the point! What we seem to have in Helmand ( and I don't know for sure - I'm not there ) is a certain stalemate.
Remember the "complete approach" we expounded when we went in - the "rope" idea?
Three strands - aid (short and long term - DfiD), security (thats us) and developing governance (FCO guys) in the rope. Without all of them we will fail.
What seems to have happened to Helmand is that it has turned into a straight out fight. We've got enough firepower to pound them again and again. They have the man power to come back again and again. But what's the point, what are we fighting for? To improve the lot of the everyday Afghan - peasant and middle class. Why?
a) So they can get their country back on its feet and make it a reasonably free and prosperous place to live - as we believe everyone has a right to
b) No longer export huge amounts of opium
c) No longer support, and act as a haven for, terrorism
We can only achieve these through development and aid. The Army's role is to provide a safe enough environment for them. At the moment we are killing Taliban (of very varying motivations) and being killed (much less) in return.
That is neither winning not losing. In fact long term its probably losing - unless we turn things around relatively soon and move on from killing achieving some kind of victory will become progressively harder and more expensive.
We should take no pride in the body count - morally or practically.
Edited to add - Crabtastic, you're right. The point, though, is true of Basra. We seem to be providing security (of a sort) but not the other two strands. In my opinion, if we confine ourselves to defining success by security we have admitted defeat.
We may be able to hand over Security to the Iraqi Police & Army. But have we set the conditions for political development and economic aid?
Actually TC, you help to illustrate my point nicely. This is not a war of attrition where all that is required is to physically defeat the enemy. If it was we'd have 'won' a long time ago. Rather, it is very much a war where we can only hope to succeed by comprehensive means. Nothing new in this of course, Van Crefeld (The Transformation of War) has been saying it for years, as has Rupert Smith more lately in his Utility of Force. Furthermore, this forms the basis of the Britsh Military Doctrine, the Manoeuvrist Approach and, conversely, asymmetric methodology (which is pretty much the same thing as 'being manoeuvrist' in any case).
The basis for this article is, of course, Richard North, a regular poster on this site, and a knowledgeable man on procurement issues (albeit that the author has added his own anti-British/European prejudices to it).
There is, of course, quite a lot of truth in it, however I believe the link between poor/wrong equipment and Europe is as overstated in this article as it is in some of Richard's own statements.
The optimism that firepower and manoeuvrability could negate the need for protection (thus reducing weight) is far from being a uniquely British trait - the death of the MBT has been predicted for years, even during the Cold War. The Americans have suffered exactly the same problems with their Humvees as we have with SNATCH - if not worse, its just that they have more cash to resolve the problem quicker. Scenes of US Army convoys being protected by artic tractor units on the rear of which sheet steel had been welded to create some protection for the bloke with the 0.5 standing up were commonplace when I was there.
There are clearly major problems with defence resource allocation across the 3 services, and there are clearly major problems with some aspects of European unification of defence policy and procurement but, as I have said here to Richard before, to make an anti-European political point by suggesting that soldiers are dying as a direct result of Europe is both a little offensive and somewhat over-egging it.
I find it quite condescending reading about British failure in Iraq in an atricle entitled 'The American Thinker' when Iraq is a US led operation and theire 'big base/stand-off' strategy has caused us so many problems.
Whilst there are some worthy points it is all fairly outdated (we are not using Snatch quite as described anymore) and the bits about Concorde are right out there...
Thanks for your intelectual brilliance US...
The reason we are having problems in Iraq boil down to the malcontent due to a lack of infrastructure (electricity/water/industrial base/security) and the way we have allowed a certain border country to control/supply the enemy in a puppetlike fashion without standing up to them. If you were a young Iraqi or local Imman would you be satisfied with what we have done there or would you be tempted to drive out the infidel?
We might as well be aliens farming them for food/water/oil (anyone remember 'V' (eighties US TV Show) for all the good we are doing out there. This is, of course, nothing to do with the fact that the majority of contracts went to US companies like KBR
Why is the most best European fighting army, the British, losing the battle for Basra in southern Iraq? Because the UK Ministry of Defense supplied its soldiers with the wrong equipment, having invested its shrinking budget in long-term European Ego Projects to keep the military bureaucracy happy.
What a load of absolute crud! Depending upon the level of personal cynicism that one has arrived at, the following statements are applicable:
a. It`s not what you say, it`s how you formulate it,
b. It`s not what you say, it`s what you fail to mention!
Let us consider this gem:
"The EU Galileo satellite navigation system is soaking up billions of euros just to duplicate the free American GPS system, because Europe must have its own high-tech toys."
Reads rather innocent, doesn`t it - and is in itself quite true, the basic statement cannot be disputed.
BUT, what is not mentioned, is that GPS is fully under the control of the Pentagon, or some such US governmental agency, and its use by others can - at any time, for any reason, without warning and for an unspecified period - be denied or curtailed.
Now, is this guy seriously suggesting that we Europeans should set up a load of super sophisticated systems based on free American GPS IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE that these systems can be totally paralysed at any time on a US-American whim?
Doesn`t sound like a very good idea to me - and, if my reading on Galileo is correct - it is being set up precisely so that we are not at the mercy of US whims.