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Thread: UK military problems & policies

  1. #201
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Weary, cynical and cyclical

    From a November 2012 post: A recent piece of research, based on opinion polling:
    The research found that nine out of ten people respected the UK Armed Forces and eight out of ten had a high or very high opinion of the Services. The UK Armed Forces was also more respected as a profession than doctors, lawyers or the police. It seems that support for the UK Armed Forces is significantly higher among men, older people, those with lower educational qualifications and people who align with parties on the political right, as found in overseas studies.

    The study also showed that 58% of the UK public were opposed to Iraq and 46% disapproved of operations in Afghanistan, with women, older people and people supporting minor political parties significantly more opposed to the missions. Despite this, more than 90% supported military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of their agreement or disagreement with these missions.
    The British public's stance reflects several factors, which includes an element of war weariness - even if the military is shrinking - over two failed wars and the apparent wish of this government to be ready to intervene again. The grim Syrian civil war has strengthened this; in marked contrast to the Bosnian conflict where public opinion favoured intervention before the politicians.

    Then there is the 'trust & confidence' the public have in politicians which has shrunk steadily in the last decade, if not longer.

    Do you trust your local MP? In 2003 44%; in 2012 37%.
    Do you trust national politicians? In 2003 27%; in 2012 19%.
    Adapted from:http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_upload...s_Nov_2012.pdf
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-03-2014 at 09:03 PM.
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  2. #202
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default We have our doubts

    The House of Commons Select Committee on Defence has published a report on 'Army 2020', it is pgs long, so I have cited the conclusion only and in part. Paragraph 6:
    We remain to be convinced that the Army 2020 plan represents a fully thought-through and tested concept which will allow the Army to counter emerging and uncertain threats and develop a contingent capability to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The MoD needs to justify how the conclusion was reached that the Army 2020 plan of 82,000 Regulars and 30,000 Reserves represented the best way of countering these threats.
    Link:http://www.publications.parliament.u.../576/57603.htm

    Curiously the committee used an unofficial website ARSSE for:
    During the course of our inquiry, the Army Rumour Service hosted a web forum to enable us to hear the views of interested parties on the Army 2020 plan which we used to inform our questioning of witnesses. The forum received 494 comments from 171 contributors.
    From the final conclusion:
    143. Army 2020 represents a radical vision for the future role and structure of the British Army. It departs significantly from the announcements made in SDSR 2010 and we have considerable doubts about how the plan was developed and tested, and whether it will meet the needs of the UK's national security. The evidence presented to date has been far from convincing. Our principal concerns are twofold:

    · First, the MoD has failed to communicate the rationale and strategy behind the plan to the Army, the wider Armed Forces, Parliament or the public.

    · Second, we remain concerned that the financially driven reduction in the numbers of Regulars has the potential to leave the Army short of personnel particularly in key supporting capabilities until sufficient additional Reserves are recruited and trained.

    144. The Government has said Army 2020 has to work and that there is no Plan B.
    Link:http://www.publications.parliament.u.../576/57607.htm
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  3. #203
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Default

    The latest entry from abovesaid blog: Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    GLOBSEC: The Road to Bratislava
    ...
    History is only senseless and cruel if the politics and strategy that make history are driven by short-term prescriptions in which the easy politics of the moment trumps strategy and security. In standing up to Greater Russia it is time for all Europeans as Europe to stand tall and resist the precedents of macho power Moscow is seeking to re-establish in Europe. Fail and it will not simply be the poor people of Ukraine who suffer the consequences. The very idea of ‘Europe’ will have been demonstrated a hollow, empty lie – a good-time gamble unable and unwilling to stand up for the very values and interests it claims as its heritage.
    It reminds me the lamentations of one European author from 16th cent. about the moral superiority and military prowess of Ottoman Turks, while Europeans are divided, depressed and apathetic. Where is Europe and where is Ottoman Empire now?
    Last edited by mirhond; 05-15-2014 at 08:00 PM.
    Haeresis est maxima opera maleficarum non credere.

  4. #204
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default We have more horses than tanks

    From an observer:
    Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) is now down to just one Regiment with 56 Main Battle Tanks. For the first time since WWII we have more horses than tanks.
    There are two other tank equipped regiments in the British Army, but they are called cavalry regiments and do not have horses for operational use:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...t-9644238.html

    I leave aside the Blues & Royals, the mounted cavalry of the Household Division:


    Well I suppose they could give some Cossacks a surpise if they reach London.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-02-2014 at 10:09 PM.
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  5. #205
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ex-SAS Co writes: a military 'sugar rush' risks strategic failure

    Ex-SAS commanders are not known for taking a high profile on current events, so this article deserves reading. It does refer to the UK decision to become involved last week. It is a moot point whether it also applies to the USA and others outside the region.

    The title 'Get the politics right, then the plan for the military might work' and sub-titled 'Bombing IS jihadists provides a 'sugar rush', but the Government has been silent on what it knows is needed'.

    Link:http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/...k-9759924.html

    Here is one key paragraph:
    But to those of us that know Iraq, terrorists and extremism, and have fought organisations such as Isis within that country, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the situation does not look as positive, or the plan as robust, as that presented on Friday in Parliament. Projected by the theatre of Parliament, the deployment of six RAF bombers has taken on a military and political significance out of all proportion to their real military value. They provide us and our leaders, desperate to do something, with a military sugar rush, to be followed inevitably in six months’ time with the “war-downer” reality that things are not going as we wish them to, and that the long-term costs of our involvement are escalating, in ways that will need to be explained, or hidden, during a general election.
    Then shorter passages:
    Bombing that is not geared to an Iraqi political purpose will only create propaganda opportunities for Isis, as it seeks to legitimise its hold over western Iraq.....Bombing alone will not break the will of Isis to hold its ground in Iraq, and it must be joined on the ground by the Iraqi military if it is to be decisive. What, then, of this essential task?.....Bombing and killing Isis and Iraqis without a political solution for the Iraqi Sunni is to risk strategic failure – to risk making the Iraqi Sunni see Baghdad as oppressors and not liberators. Bombing without an effective Iraqi army is to risk operational stalemate on the ground and a fixing of the front lines, both of which appear to define the course that we have set ourselves.
    Personally I am deeply pessimistic from the comfort of my armchair about the UK resuming a military role in Iraq, for our national interests bar one which I will end with later. Secondly the Iraqi state shows no sign of changing and as Joel Wing reports on the main Iraq-Syria thread the state armed forces remain, well a mess. I fear we have done what ISIS wanted, as western powers return to the region with just bombs.

    What is the UK national interest bar one? Joining in a coalition which the USA has advocated, so once again we stand beside you.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-29-2014 at 05:07 PM.
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  6. #206
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    David,

    All good points, and I think I can argue we already failed strategically when we failed to find WMD, and changed the balance of power in the region in a way that favored both Iran and sunni extremists. The current approach may have been well intended, but the underlying assumption or hope that Iraq would step up politically and militarily hasn't happened.

    Can we recover from failure? England did during WWII, as have others throughout history. My question for you is should the West fight IS regardless based on the threat the pose to us?

  7. #207
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Before I get serious on Bill's question

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  8. #208
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    Bill asked me:
    My question for you is should the West fight IS regardless based on the threat the(y) pose to us?
    From my armchair faraway Bill my response is political not military.

    I am unconvinced that we, the UK, should join this alliance and take military action in Iraq, maybe with Syria being added.

    First and foremost we do not understand the region well enough to navigate our way around and achieve the goal of a united, coherent Iraqi state. This weakness is partly historical and reflects the lack of information, let alone intelligence on what is happening now.

    This academic piece has value 'With bad intelligence on Islamic State, West is flying in the dark':https://theconversation.com/with-bad...the-dark-32247 This analyst takes a more strategic viewpoint - what can intervention achieve:http://leftfootforward.org/2014/09/5...st-should-ask/ and from ICSR:https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/...ikes-stop-isis

    Secondly I am not convinced ISIS poses such a threat to the UK and allied national security now or in the near future, that it demands military action. In the debate here last week a number of MPs referred to the threat to Turkey, which is a very weak argument given Turkey's own stance to date. Yes like all jihadists they hate the 'far enemy'. Have they the motivation and capability to attack us now? It seems to me they are busy enough carving out their emirate and contemplating how to attack Baghdad.

    The allied military action taken so far has been criticised in many quarters; reflected in the other SWC thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=21196

    I support giving aid to the enemies of ISIS such as the Kurds in both countries, although their objectives are quite limited and they are unlikely to want to attack traditionally Sunni Arab areas. As for the Iraqi state I see little action of consequence.

    In Syria it is harder to decide on how to fight ISIS. I would oppose a "deal" with Bashir Assad and his rivals the jihadist-inclined groups. As many have noted a number of those groups may ally themselves with ISIS now. If that happens the non-jihadist groups are doomed. Assad rarely attacks ISIS, as Crowbat reminds us.

    Containment of ISIS is achievable:

    1) Reduce its newly acquired heavy weapons capability (artillery, tanks etc)
    2) Support the Kurdish enclaves in Syria
    3) Support rival groups overtly and covertly to attack / resist ISIS
    4) Enforce a 'no fly zone' over Syria (build up to this)
    5) Weaken its message, finances and flow of personnel
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-30-2014 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Add links
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  9. #209
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Forty years command experience

    A review of Taking Command, by General David Richards, with a foreword by Max Hastings. A model four-star general takes us through his 40 years in the British army
    Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/936...view/#comments

    A book I might ask for Xmas.

    I know he has his admirers - in some strange places - and critics. He can be remarkably direct sometimes.
    davidbfpo

  10. #210
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Help! There's a (Russian) sub out there

    The British government acknowledged today that a submarine periscope had been sighted in waters near a main U.K. base, (off west Scotland), touching off a massive NATO hunt in November.....A pair of U.S. Navy P-3 Orions, as well as Canadian and French planes and two British warships, scoured the waters for days when the periscope was seen in November.
    Link:http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headline...-in-uk-waters/
    More detail:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...sh-waters.html

    Embarassing as the UK has no maritime patrol aircraft. Even more as the only 'main' UK base in western Scotland are the Trident SSBN facilities in the Clyde. Taken alongside the current higher level of Russian flights and probing it is to say the least interesting.


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  11. #211
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Cuts could reduce Army to virtually useless

    A rather clear, pointed commentary by a respected military correspondent that the planned budget cuts - across most government departments - will make the British Army and others almost irrelevent:
    The UK now becomes the unreliable ally that probably won’t be able to protect its own vital maritime interests.
    Link:http://www.theweek.co.uk/uk-news/617...#ixzz3Lb8psgAH

    davidbfpo

  12. #212
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Help! There's a (Russian) 2nd sub out there

    Oh dear, once again a suspected Russian submarine periscope appears near the transit route for the UK's nuclear missile submarines, based in the Firth of Clyde. This time a RN frigate was on station and needed two USN maritime patrol aircraft's help:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...submarine.html
    davidbfpo

  13. #213
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Moderator at work

    Prompted by creating a new thread for the UK's top soldier, General Nick Carter, giving a speech, I have combined approx. nine threads here. The title remains unchanged, although the emphasis here is on the Army.

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-23-2015 at 05:30 PM. Reason: removed redundant link
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  14. #214
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Future of the British Army: CGS speaks

    General Nick Carter, the UK's top soldier, spoke on February 17th, on the theme of 'The Future of the British Army: How the Army must change to serve Britain in a Volatile World' and a 24 min podcast is here:http://www.chathamhouse.org/event/fu...volatile-world

    The UK continues to see itself as the USA's leading ally and as readers will know some in the USA have expressed their doubts, both in terms of capability and political will. So there is value in listening to the intention, it is a moot point if it will be funded.

    He does rather pack a lot in, in fact the speech sounds almost hurried. Following 'Chatham House Rules' the Q&A are not available. It is interesting that the venue is Chatham House, aka Royal Insititute for International Affairs, not RUSI or IISS.

    There is a main thread 'UK military: problems & policies' into which this may be merged:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4819
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  15. #215
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    The new doctrine of "Integrated Action" will be of considerable interest to the COIN community. It is influenced heavily (from what I can see) from Emile Simpson's book "War From The Ground Up" and to my mind seems to be most suitable for stability operations. I will be curious to see how the operational use the doctrine as the character of conflict assumed by the doctrine demands a whole of government response, and a response that is both swift and agile. To date Whitehall has proved quite incapable of this.

    As for the UK's position with the US. The UK remains the only ally who can put a division in the field with the Americans and is technically more integrated than the other "Five Eyes" partners. On the political front the relationship seems firm, although Scottish Independence (they haven't gone away and the politics remains fevered and volatile north of the border, with increasing sectarian undertones) or continued strategic myopia by the UK Government (further defence cuts and absence from Europe) would undoubtedly relegate us.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  16. #216
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Citing Red Rat in part:
    The UK remains the only ally who can put a division in the field with the Americans and is technically more integrated than the other "Five Eyes" partners.
    Chatting with a "lurker" with military expertise they remarked the current emphasis on the UK contributing at divisional level meant the one UK division that can be deployed MUST be when an overwhelmingly national interest is at stake. Plus there isno follow-on division.

    Secondly I do wonder if NATO decides it must have forces deployed forward in Eastern Europe, Poland notably, will the UK actually totally exit from Germany? Rotating from established bases in Germany is far better than other options.
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  17. #217
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    I would be surprised if there were not steps to address the lack of a follow-on division. Certainly the troops are there in number, although not currently in configuration. What would be needed would be a deployable divisional HQ (I don't see why HQ 1 (UK) Division or HQ Force Troops Command could not meet this requirement). More difficult would be sufficient enablers (logistics, CIS, aviation, artillery etc).

    A division would operate as part of a corps construct,which could only be fielded by either the US or NATO. One would hope that in both cases national interests would be both aligned and significant. Your lurker is correct in that as the UK's military strength dwindles, commitment of smaller elements constitute greter effort and greater risk. Much like the 20th century Home Fleet much of the strategic value remains in being a "force in being", would the UK really risk the tactical defeat in detail of 3 (UK) Division or the loss of HMS Queen Elizabeth?

    I am slightly nonplussed by the UK focus on operating at the divisional level. It seems at variance with the general thrust of what passes for UK defence strategy.

    I cannot see the UK not withdrawing completely from Germany, that train appears to have left the station.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  18. #218
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default General Odierno: can the UK-US still work together?

    General Odierno has publicly voiced his concern over future working with the UK, an issue that Westminster-Whitehall would prefer not be asked, as it undermines the 'Special Relationship'.

    I would be lying to you if I did not say that I am very concerned about the GDP investment in the UK. In the past we would have a British army division working alongside an American division. Now it might be a British brigade inside an American division, or even a British battalion inside an American brigade. We have to adjust our programme to make sure we are all able to see that we can still work together.....(He described Britain's role as a key US ally as) about having a partner that has very close values and the same goals as we do. As we look at threats around the world, these are global issues and we need to have multinational solutions. They are concerning to everyone. We all need to be able to invest and work together to solve these problems.
    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31688929

    The BBC cites the original story elsewhere:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-general.html?

    There are several issues here, notably UK military capability as it shrinks and how much is spent on defence (2% GDP being an agreed NATO level).



    Avid SWC readers will know UK military reform and the politics are debated in the main thread 'UK military problems & policies', with 85k views and 200 posts:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4819

    For at least two years now I have encountered mutterings about the UK's declining capability and perceived lack of political (and public) will to remain the US's willing partner. It is the irony of following the US into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as an ally, that the US military first began to ask were we a capable and willing partner. Diplomacy aside I do wonder if American politicians have asked such questions.

    I expect if UK (and NATO) defence spending dips below 2% of GDP that the criticism of Europe relying on the USA for it's defence to become louder.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-02-2016 at 06:59 PM. Reason: This post was in a seperate thread on Odierno's query can UK-US still work together. Now merged into main UK defence thread.
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  19. #219
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    I missed PM David Cameron's response. Rather oddly amidst a wider article, ah well here it is!

    Britain is still:
    a very strong partner for the US
    Economy of effort there!

    From the article:
    But that is a long way short of saying he will commit to maintaining defence spending at 2% of GDP
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...fence-spending

    Then I found a longer story, apparently given in Colchester as part of election campaign (the town is the ome of an army brigade) and apart from the laudatory list of projects is this:
    And as for working with the Americans, I know because I spend time with President Obama and others, how much they appreciate the fact that Britain is a very strong and capable partner and able to fight with them, when it's in our national interest, anywhere in the world.
    Now I expect a few people would be puzzled at this claim:
    You can see that very specifically today in Iraq, where the second largest contributor in terms of air strikes and air patrols is Britain by a very large margin. You have to add up several other countries to get to the scale of what we are doing, second after the Americans.
    The RAF have six Tornados in Cyprus, so old it has been widely reported only two are available at one time. As the House of Commons Defence Committee reported last week the UK's on the ground presence in Iraq is three people (I assume that excludes SOF) and for example the Australians have many more. See:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...state-iraq-mps

    This report refers to the UK undertaking:
    6% of the air strikes against Isis.....British drones used in Iraq and of those flying over Syria – from October, when they were introduced, through to December. Over that period the UK flew 100 armed Reaper missions, launching 38 Hellfire missiles.
    Manpower in Iraq (not Kurdistan):
    in December, found at that time there were only three UK military personnel outside the Kurdish regions of Iraq compared with 400 Australians, 280 Italians and 300 Spanish.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-02-2016 at 06:59 PM. Reason: This post was in a seperate thread on Odierno's query can UK-US still work together. Now merged.
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  20. #220
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Spend 2% and pay less attention

    A Kings of War blog article laments the political attention given to foreign and security policy in the General Election campaign so far:
    Whilst some people might look at the treatment of foreign policy, defence and security issues during the 2015 UK General Election campaign as a farce, is it not now becoming something much more akin to a tragedy?
    Link:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2015/04/cclkow-the-2-doctrine/

    Sometimes the leaders refer to their opponents stance on the Trident dettterent, without mentioning the Scottish Nationalist's adamant opposition to its basing in Scotland. Fewer wonder as defence is not "ring-fenced" from spending cuts how much post-election defence will be cut.

    I expect that the UK will end up spending less than 2% even after fudging the figures. What the UK spends does not IMHO affect other European nations; it may annoy the USA though.
    davidbfpo

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