View Full Version : UK military problems & policies

Pages : 1 [2]

SWJ Blog
07-06-2016, 01:08 PM
Chilcot Report: British Inquiry Finds Iraq War 'Went Badly Wrong' (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/chilcot-report-british-inquiry-finds-iraq-war-went-badly-wrong)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/chilcot-report-british-inquiry-finds-iraq-war-went-badly-wrong) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog), where there are three comments.

07-08-2016, 07:18 PM
After the Chilcot Report there has been a flurry of media attention, but the report being so large it will take time for a fuller analysis. Meantime here are two SME, both British, giving their viewpoint.

Professor Michael Clarke, ex-RUSI Director:https://rusi.org/commentary/chilcot-judgement-history and he opens with:
The Chilcot Report reinforces the view that Tony Blair will not be held criminally responsible for taking Britain to war in Iraq. That is no surprise. But Chilcot’s devastating critique is a surprise insofar as it reveals just how systemic was the policy failure over which he presided. Tony Blair was determined to exercise prime ministerial leadership and he led the country into a strategic blunder from which neither Britain nor the region has so far recovered.

(He ends with) But like the tragic Shakespearean figure he now appears to cut for himself in the light of the Chilcot Report, he will face the judgement of history, which may be a good deal harsher.Thanks to WoTR for the next historical analysis by Huw J. Davies is a senior lecturer in Defence Studies, King’s College London @ Shrivenham Staff College amd he ends with:
What does this mean, then, for the future of British military interventions? If the military historical examples I have cited are anything to go by, then there is little chance that we will learn the lessons of the Iraq War in the long-term. Each of the mistakes committed in the lead up to the invasion in 2003 was committed in one form or another previously. Sir John Chilcot hopes that a decision to go to war will not again be made without careful and considered analysis. It seems likely that this odd statement of the obvious will prevail in the short-term. But Britain’s history of political-military relations suggests that this simple objective is far from obvious, and even less likely to be adhered to. Politicians will do what politicians want to do. The Chilcot report merely confirms yet another example of a failure of the political and military interface. I suspect it will not be the last.

07-11-2016, 10:23 AM
A good review of the Chilcot Report by a long serving political journalist:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/09/ten-things-chilcot-reveals-about-tony-blair-and-iraq

08-11-2016, 07:08 PM
A concise explanation how the Royal Navy has shrunk and is no longer the capable ally the USN likes to work with:http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-uk-military-navy-commentary-idUKKCN10L1AD

I don't recall such a full explanation in the UK press, but six of the RN's most modern destroyers, Type 45, have engines that do not work, each costing £1 billion and the MoD say they need 'deep maintenance':http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/30/labour-saddled-navy-ships-with-dodgy-engines/

12-07-2016, 08:10 PM
For those like me that scratch their heads when trying to get to grips with Army 2020 the following is funny, insightful and ever so sarcastic in a very Monty Python-esque way and is specifically aimed at the new Strike Brigade idea (I won't grace that with the epithet "concept"). Gen. Carter you magnificent bastard!!!!! I wonder, do you have a silly walk too?


12-07-2016, 08:19 PM
No sure if posted elsewhere but a damning indictment of HMGs procurement and management of the Type 45 destroyer (precise: it's not all BAe's fault, surprisingly)


04-06-2017, 12:13 PM
Recently SW Journal had this article:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-us-continues-to-%E2%80%9Ctrump%E2%80%9D-the-uk-on-special-forces-transparency and the author referred to a forthcoming report on the theme. I spotted it this week via the Oxford Research Group's e-briefing, as the project comes from their sub-group the Remote Control Project.

A grand title 'All Quiet On The ISIS Front : British Secret Warfare In The Information Age' as yet unread (63 pgs). The summary says:
Remote Control’s latest report tracks the UK’s secretive but growing military commitments abroad by analysing the rise in the use of drones for targeted killing, the use of Special Forces, and the provision of capabilities such as intelligence and embedded troops to allied forces. The deniability of these operations may bring flexibility, which can create opportunities when it comes to dealing with fluid and complex security threats. But we question the notion that greater secrecy is always better strategy, particularly in an age when leaks of information are seemingly inevitable, demand for political accountability is high, and trust in politicians and the wider expert community is low.Link:http://remotecontrolproject.org/report-quiet-isis-front-british-secret-warfare-information-age/

04-08-2017, 12:59 PM
Professor Paul Rogers comments on the issue "mainstream" UK politicians are avoiding over CT at home and countering Daesh abroad:
So if we kill thousands of them, they would like to kill at least hundreds of us. That may be a very crude representation of what is happening. But it is still worth asking why there is so little discussion about the connection (https://opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-war-and-isis-connection), virtually no parliamentary scrutiny, hardly any media coverage, and notably little dissension.

(He concludes) Now, a much expanded "war on terror" will be fought far more remotely than before. At the very least, Britain should go into it with its eyes open. All Quiet on the ISIS Front could do much to ensure the debate that is so much needed.Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-s-secret-wars-iraq-mosul-trump-isis-drones?

04-11-2017, 04:49 PM
General Sir Richard Dannatt was the UK's top soldier (CGS) from 2006 to 2009 and in 2016 published a book 'Boots on the ground - Britain and her Army since 1945'.

Thanks to a "lurker" for the pointer to this review by an ex-UK Army regimental commander, David Benest; which is scorching in places about the book on The Falklands, Northern Ireland and Dhofar.

10-17-2017, 03:44 PM
The UK defence budget is once again in a quandary and another Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR) is underway. WoTR has a commentary by a ret'd Australian naval officer:https://warontherocks.com/2017/10/the-royal-navy-has-a-problem/

One option is to reduce the Royal Marines by 1k (or 1 in 6) and scrap the two assault ships (one of which left harbour recently after six years of resting) . The RN plan to scrap an helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean; whose last mission was post-hurricane help in the Caribbean.

Both the RN and Army have problems recruiting (including the reserves).

It is a common criticism that the UK forces are being hollowed out. As many readers here are American the UK is desperate to reassure the USA it remains a capable friend - or as some wags say "Belgium with nukes".

12-17-2017, 02:25 PM
A short, powerful and well-written article by Professor Lawrence Freedman, ex-Kings Wars Studies, in the FT and on open access (hopefully).

01-19-2018, 01:27 PM
Thanks to a "lurker" for the pointer to this different article by a Russia SME watcher. It is a short read and ends with:
The defence review must consider British interests in the round, of course. But if deterring the Russians is a major concern, then it is worth paying attention to what might really deter them: a flexible, fast-moving and versatile force of true professionals. Not necessarily with the heaviest kit, the biggest ships or the priciest aircraft, but able to get where they are needed, when they are needed.Link:https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/19/nuclear-weapons-uk-defence-review-russia

01-23-2018, 04:33 PM
Quite clearly there is contest within Whitehall-Westminster over the UK's defence budget, whether a current review will end up with reductions being made and the military being reduced.

Step forward to the public rostrum @ RUSI, the UK's top soldier General Nick Carter, with a speech approved by his ministerial boss:
In this one-off lecture General Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, will elaborate on some of the increasingly real threats that pose a risk to the UK’s way of life as described by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach in his annual Chief of the Defence Staff lecture to RUSI last December.Link to the speech, in a podcast, transcript and the Q&A (70 mins):https://rusi.org/event/dynamic-security-threats-and-british-army

The CDS speech is far shorter (32 mins):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o6YoI9kjbc&feature=youtu.be

01-31-2018, 01:16 PM
A short article in 'The Sun' by a ret'd Army officer; which opens with:
Nearly eight years since the Conservatives came into government, we have self-inflicted a strategic loss of fighting power and reputation. We are facing another serious black hole in the defence equipment programme. What is going on?Link:https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5401842/our-army-is-at-its-smallest-since-waterloo-more-cuts-will-kill-it/

04-30-2018, 03:07 PM
Just found that a new official UK Army quarterly publication, Agile Warrior, is partly available publicly as a NGO has publsihed Issue No.2.

The official preface opens with:
Agile Warrior (AW) is the Army’s intellectual examination of current and emerging threat and opportunities for land capability. It generates an evidence base to inform the continual transformation of land forces and force structures across all lines of development.It aims to be both reflective and progressive, challenging current assumptions where necessary.

The issue has an outstanding article by the Anglo-Australian academic Professor Patrick Porter - who is very challenging to the orthodox view. Here is a passage near the end:
The future of UK security policy is not all about counter-terrorism, weak-state stabilisation, and “asymmetry”. Indeed, claims that “hybrid operations” in Eastern Europe represent some radical new departure elide (a) just how much heavy capability such operations involve, (b) the centrality of subversion/disinformation to strategy throughout history, and (c) the risk of escalation to conventional/nuclear warfighting that represents “hybrid” warfare’s greatest danger. Strategy is about limitation, about ranking and ordering things we value into a hierarchy, distinguishing the vital from the peripheral. It is about partly shaping the future environment, rather than fatalistically just accepting it.


06-03-2018, 09:29 AM
Contact has been made with the Editor; the publication is not on the web, pending negotiations and I have been added to the distribution list so other articles may appear here. Note since posting the previous post there have been 6,347 views.

06-03-2018, 09:37 AM
A short BBC radio discussion on the issues:
How well equipped is Britain today to defend itself both at home and overseas?Britain's armed forces are struggling to maintain numbers. According to the National Audit Office there is a shortfall of more than 8,000 among military personnel (6% below authorised strength) and there is a significant shortage of personnel with skills in critical areas.

The Army is at its lowest level since the days it was preparing to confront Napoleon, unable to meet even the reduced requirement of 82,000 regulars.
Several reasons are cited: the lack of a current war to act as a recruiting sergeant, a recruitment process that's not working well, discontent within the ranks and a higher number of people leaving the forces than normal.
We examine these causes and ask what effect the shortages have both on the battlefield and strategically.

The speakers are all experts and it is quite good. They conclude 'not critical yet, except in an emergency - even more so for the RAF & RN who have far fewer reserves than the Army'.

01-15-2019, 05:09 PM
Unlike the last post on manpower this report using FOI found the RAF aircraft fleet is short of planes ready to fly:
...142 of 434 of the air force’s planes have been sidelined....Out of 60 Chinook helicopters, 19 are down, while only seven of 23 Pumas are operational

The official response:
The sustainment fleet includes aircraft undergoing maintenance, upgrade programs or being held in storage....Modern military aircraft are highly complex machines that require careful management and maintenance to ensure they are fit for service and in sufficient numbers to fulfil tasks we call upon them to complete.
Link to original UK story:https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/third-raf-planes-were-storage-13803563 and to a US follow-on which is very slightly different:https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/rip-raf-one-third-britain%E2%80%99s-air-force-can%E2%80%99t-fly-41527