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Thread: UK military problems & policies

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default 'Dogs of War' Ban Will Rob British Army of Vital Frontline Soldiers

    5 August London Times - 'Dogs of War' Ban Will Rob British Army of Vital Frontline Soldiers by Fred Bridgland and Michael Evans.

    Seven Hundred South Africans serving in Britain’s Armed Forces will have to abandon their careers or surrender their citizenship under draconian new anti-mercenary legislation being enacted by South Africa’s Parliament.

    The new Bill, designed to scotch South Africa’s reputation as a rich recruiting ground for “dogs of war”, was approved by 11 votes to one by the Parliament’s defence committee this week despite an impassioned appeal from Paul Boateng, the British High Commissioner.

    If the Bill is approved by the full assembly, as now seems probable, it will end a tradition of South Africans serving with the British military that goes back to the First World War, and leave Britain’s Armed Forces overstretched.

    Many of the 700 are serving with British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second Lieutenant Ralph Johnson, 24, one of the three British soldiers killed in Afghanistan this week, was born in South Africa. Sholto Hedenskog, 25, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2003, was also South African. It was the activities of a former British soldier, Simon Mann, that inspired the Bill. In 2004 Mann, a former SAS officer, began an unsuccessful coup against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago of Equatorial Guinea using 70 mercenaries recruited in South Africa. He is now in prison and Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of the former British Prime Minister, was fined £265,000 for helping to finance the attempted coup.

    The legislation, which will greatly strengthen South Africa’s previous anti-mercenary laws, is driven by politics as much as security.

    The ruling African National Congress, which came to power in 1994 after decades of apartheid rule, fought in exile alongside Angola’s former Marxist army against such apartheid-era forces as the Buffalo Battalion, the Reconnaissance Commandos and the Parachute Brigade...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-04-2017 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Was a stand alone thread till merging in 2017.

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British General writes

    The Daily Telegraph (London) has published extracts from General Sir Michael Jackson's autobiography, he retired as Chief of General Staff (CGS), the UK's most senior soldier and was badged to the Parachute Regiment. He comments on a number of issues: Iraq, Kosovo, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.

    I suspect only his much reported refusal in Kosovo to follow General Wesley Clark's orders was covered in the US press.

    General Sir Mike Jackson speaks out

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...1/wmike101.xml

    Gen Sir Mike Jackson accuses MoD of waste

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.../wbasra203.xml

    Gen Sir Mike Jackson condemns 'war on terror'

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...jackson103.xml

    Gen Sir Mike Jackson: Crossing Clare Short

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...jackson204.xml

    Gen Sir Mike Jackson: My clash with Nato chief

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...jackson104.xml

    Gen Sir Mike Jackson relives IRA Paras bombs

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.../wjacko105.xml
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-04-2017 at 11:19 AM. Reason: Was a stand alone thread till merging in 2017.

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    Default MoD Performance Against Key Targets Grows Worse

    28 Jan 08: MoD performance against key targets grows worse says Defence Committee
    The House of Commons Defence Committee today reveals that the continuing high level of deployment of UK Armed Forces is leading to worsening performance by the MoD against its key Public Service Agreement targets. "We are deeply concerned that the Armed Forces have been operating at or above the level of concurrent operations they are resourced and structured to deliver for seven of the last eight years, and for every year since 2002" says the Committee in its report published today (Fifth Report of Session 2007-08, Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2006-07, HC 61).

    The MoD's assessment of its expected achievements against its six Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets, which run until the end of March 2008, has deteriorated. At the end of 2007 the MoD did not expect to meet the target for generating forces and expected "only partly" to meet targets relating to defence equipment procurement, and recruitment and retention. For the latter target, manning balance in the Royal Navy and the Army is not expected to be achieved by April 2008 and the Committee says it is very disappointed with the failure to meet harmony guidelines in the Army and the RAF. The Committee considers this to be another clear indicator of the pressure on UK Armed Forces. The Committee calls upon the MoD to set out what impact this is having, particularly on the retention of Service personnel.....

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    Default Transforming to EBO: Lesssons from the UK Experience

    SSI, 30 Jan 08: Transformating to Effects-Based Operations: Lessons from the United Kingdom Experience
    This monograph has been subdivided into four parts. Section 1 undertakes a review of the evolution of British defense policy since the end of the Cold War and evaluates the degree to which it has adopted an effects-based approach. Section 2 examines the British operational experience since the end of the Cold War, including an analysis of the lessons learned and its experiences of working with allies. Section 3 analyses the UK’s capability development through its doctrine and acquisition strategies. Finally, section 4 evaluates the implications of these findings for the U.S. Army and makes a number of recommendations....
    Complete 71 page paper at the link.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    This is what passes for military thought now in the UK.

    I would like to make it clear that there are many good military men, in the UK and other places who utterly reject the intellectual fraud of EBO and the comprehensive approach.

    Personally I find it an object of some shame to be associated with a nation that has so profoundly lost its way, in the respect of doctrine and strategy.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  6. #6
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default UK Army Problems

    Gentelman,

    See the links. A very sad situation indeed. I was prompted to post this by a Sgt Major friend of mine who reads these boards. He says the situation is worse than the papers make out.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../01/do0106.xml

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...1/narmy331.xml
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  7. #7
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    Default

    Yup.

    We're falling apart in slow motion, and you can see it in everything we do. The last thing to fail will be the blokes in the sections, but that will happen eventually when the C2 and decisionmaking supports crap plans that put people in the wrong place at the wrong time, have treated them like serfs for too long. No one is biting the bullet:
    Double the size of the infantry
    Double their wages
    Enforce the training standards; sack anyone who doesn't pass muster

    Thus creating a large enough force to do all that is required of it, attractive to join for the calibre we need.

    This could be funded by sacking pointless procurement projects (FRES - it'll never be what we want it to be, because its an ill conceived idea).

    If they can find the entire annual defence budget to bail out a crap bank, then they can certainly manage this...

    Won't happen until its too late, though. The human/British condition.

  8. #8
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Although the articles portray the situation to be nearly ghastly, I have a few points regarding both the human rights abuses and current state of the British Army. No one has specifically prepared common Infantrymen to work as prison guards, nor was anyone prepared for the immense civilian element.

    To now conclude that reducing the Army’s standards with accelerated (reduced) training, appears the government hasn’t a clue. If anything, the training cycle should have been increased permitting COIN and ‘Prison Keeper’ specific training.

    Estonia’s December 2007 rotations and visit by the Chief of Staff to the Helmand Province indicated that their 3,000 plus British counterparts were very professional and excellent warriors and instructors. Our COS is a former Russian tank commander, and rarely finds time for compliments !

    It appears that BG Aitken spelled it out plainly for his government and has taken the necessary steps and the issue was under wraps quickly.

    But he warned the military "must not be complacent".
    Brig Aitken said it was not enough for troops to learn rules "parrot fashion" but the service needed to "embed in people a better understanding between right and wrong". Those involved in abuse were a "tiny number".
    "We can never say never again, but I am about as certain as anyone can be that the Army has minimized the risk of similar instances occurring again."
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  9. #9
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Don't bother reading the paper!

    I agree with Wilf's despair at this writing, albeit from a very different viewpoint. As a concerned taxpayer the author neither describes what has happened nor what is necessary. It is also slightly jarring to read the same sentence or information time after time. As for the lessons UK experience can offer the USA not very persausive.

    Finally I suggest SWJ members don't bother reading it!

    davidbfpo

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    Sadly I did not heed the sage advice above.

    A very strange document. Did I miss the section on moving to EBO or had I just fallen asleep? It struck me as a rambling and quite poorly informed account of the evolution of the UK's approach to operations. The author apparently believes everything he reads.

    I would not judge the standard of military thought in the UK based on this example. Though it doesn't say much about SSI's baseline for publication.

    The author's bio:

    http://www.umds.ac.uk/schools/sspp/d...d/adorman.html

  11. #11
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Larger Problem

    This should not be seen in the abstract, divorced from the larger, more systemic problem with leadership. This yank is sad to watch this happen. Britain is suffering from a leadership problem at the highest levels, and she should demand better of her leaders.

    More complete response:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2008/...army-problems/

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    This has been a deacade and a half in the making, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have provided the tipping point. The British Armed Forces in general, and the Army in particular, have almost completely burned out: too many committments, too few resources, and weak military leadership. Not to mention Government policies. There is a real danger of an institutional breakdown in the not-so distant future.

    14 weeks of initial training? That's only enough to cover Recruit training; there's no time for real Infantry training, and that takes at least 3 more months on top of that 14 weeks to get right. This is very disturbing, sending partially-trained troops to war.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 02-03-2008 at 10:46 PM.

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    Default Lions, Donkeys, and Dinosaurs

    Anyone here (particularly British servicemen) read this? Are his horror stories about procurement and the basics of his argument right on? Sure seems that way just from reading the Telegraph every couple of days.

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    Council Member Geoff's Avatar
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    Default Oh for a leader not a politician

    What can I say, this has been going on since Options for Change, an amazing programme where we reduced the armed forces, so that the MOD could take on more civil servants - to er manage the change?

    As always the soldiers are the political football, all parties mouth their support then turn around and shaft them. Unfortunately I beleive that GB has an over inflated opinion of its ability to influence world affairs - too many FCO Civil Servants who haven't got round to updating their maps, since the Raj. As a consequence we (GB) believe that we can "punch above our weight". The Armed Forces are used as a projection of this "punch" and inevitably suffer the consequences from muddled foreign poilcy thinking and a genuine desire to show that Britain is still no 1.

    What we need is a genuine leader who can accept the reality, state the desired goal, plot the steps to reach that goal and then actually do something about it, this includes what the Armed Forces are going to do for GB, and what they will be used for.

    Sorry for the rant - feeling a bit hot under the collar

    Geoff

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    My take on this is that UK forces suffer from serious insecurities, in that we are always trying to be clever and complex, when our great strength was being obvious and simple. The IDF is currently making the same serious mistake, by trying to ape the US.

    The UK always talks a good game, but real analysis of actual operational achievement never matches the pre-game hype. We are unnecessarily emotional about our armed forces and still have way too many technical and intellectual delusions (FRES being a great example) which let us down badly when we start trying to be too clever.

    ...and money isn't the problem. The people are the problem. There is enough money in the system. We just have very bad decisions being made by people unwilling to change - but they're all frightfully nice chaps!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We resemble that remark...

    "...and money isn't the problem. The people are the problem. There is enough money in the system. We just have very bad decisions being made by people unwilling to change - but they're all frightfully nice chaps! "

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    Default Outside looking in, confused.

    Although I am British I am a complete outsider, militarily, and do not even know anyone who has served. From this vantage point the problems seems to be confusion over what is expected from the armed force by the public, politicians and - to a lesser extent - the military. This is aggravated by the radically different time scales that politicians and military procurement operate on. As alluded to earlier some sections of the public, and some politicians, seem to be confused about our military capabilities expecting us to be able to project force unrealistically. The politicians try to buy a seat at the big table by volunteering our armed forces' services in all corners of the globe but historically have not funded for that. Due to the very long lead times involved in any major weapons system the politicians need to decide what they expect the forces to be able to do, set long term guaranteed funding to match that goal, with agreed periodic reviews for course adjustments, and then leave well alone. At the moment it seems each government thinks it wise to campaign on 'a new vision for the Army', to differentiate it to the electorate, leading to frequent reviews of the role of the military, with commensurate changes to their budgets, manpower levels and raison d'etre. The result of all this tinkering is vast amounts of wasted money, a military with some bits of good kit but not to the same level in all areas and a compromised ability to operate effectively outside of a coalition. In the military's defence I am generally impressed by how well they seem to manage the tasks they are given - considering how small they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post

    ...and money isn't the problem. The people are the problem. There is enough money in the system. We just have very bad decisions being made by people unwilling to change - but they're all frightfully nice chaps!
    They're not nice chaps...they're pr!icks, yes men and amateurs. The Canucks and Yanks have cut to the chase. Weak military leadership. UK has traditionally suffered from crap Generalship in peacetime, with Marlboroughs, Wellingtons,Slims and Thompsons being forged from the opportunities of war. The US model of Generalship based on Character has a lot to offer. To progress in the UK system one must deliver 1) perception of intellect 2) work ethic to support ambition and drive subordinates 3) delivery of the answers the chain of command wishes to hear.

    Actions or discussions which go Off-piste will result in being marginalised and quietly filed to the sideline as a 'maverick' or 'unsuitable'. And its certainly not class related. Some of the most ambitious grey men are the most shocking oiks and nouveaus...probably because they know if they stay the course and keep their heads down all the good blokes will get hacked off and self select and make money/see their families/work in the commercial sector where risk taking and success is rewarded.

    Apart from that, I think we're doing OK.

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    From my three years of exchange duty with the British Army, I think the largest frustration among my coworkers was the length of time required for new equipment to be fielded. I was the subject of good natured geering or taking the p*ss as far as the "Yanks, and all their Gucci kit". There were some exceptions. The Puma and Panther showed up rather suddenly. The various programs to replace CVR(T) and associated simulation kit is one area that received some heated debate.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coldstreamer View Post
    They're not nice chaps...they're pr!icks, yes men and amateurs. The Canucks and Yanks have cut to the chase. Weak military leadership. UK has traditionally suffered from crap Generalship in peacetime, with Marlboroughs, Wellingtons,Slims and Thompsons being forged from the opportunities of war. The US model of Generalship based on Character has a lot to offer. To progress in the UK system one must deliver 1) perception of intellect 2) work ethic to support ambition and drive subordinates 3) delivery of the answers the chain of command wishes to hear.

    Actions or discussions which go Off-piste will result in being marginalised and quietly filed to the sideline as a 'maverick' or 'unsuitable'. And its certainly not class related. Some of the most ambitious grey men are the most shocking oiks and nouveaus...probably because they know if they stay the course and keep their heads down all the good blokes will get hacked off and self select and make money/see their families/work in the commercial sector where risk taking and success is rewarded.

    Apart from that, I think we're doing OK.
    The US Army's reserve forces are still very much like you describe.

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