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Thread: UK military problems & policies

  1. #61
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with Wilf, not the Army's job...

    With three caveats:

    1. The Geographic Commands were not designed to be the point men in US foreign relations but fell into that mode by default. That needs to be rectified, probably by adequate funding of State, the establishment of Ambassadors Plenipotentiary, aligned with the GeoComs, who take back that responsibility. Revitalization of USIA and USAID are also required.

    2. Someone has to do it -- and here in the US, the Army has gotten into the business as a result of WW II experience (Again... ) AND the default of the US government and Congress in particular to prepare for contingency operations. I suspect the same problem exists in the UK and the legislators are unwilling to pay the bill for what's needed in order to avoid having to tell voters their votes will no longer be bought. What's required is an assessment of what may occur and adequate funding for the foreign policy establishment and those government agencies that should be doing this kind of work.

    2. In the US, we have tabbed FID and allied efforts to USSOCOM -- who'd really rather not (in the case of some) be involved -- recall that initially, SOCOM had the whole ball of wax, SF, JSOC, PsyOps and ALL Civil Affairs. While there were and are problems with that organizational concept as illustrated by the current situation, what's now required is a multi-agency assessment and review to establish a new model.

    But the bottom line is that it is not really an Army or Marine mission other than in the first 30 days or so after major combat. Not least because in an era of highly paid and exorbitantly equipped volunteer forces in a healthy global economy, the cost in spaces is too high for the services. You can have war fighters or nation builders but not both in adequate numbers for the long missions.

  2. #62
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    As I understand it, Dannatt's comments arise from the British Army's experiences in southern Iraq, starting from April 2003. They had taken control of Basra and were trying to fill in the gaps caused by the collapse of Iraqi government structures. I remember the CO of 7 Armd Brigade sitting in his office in the palace, describing how he was running the local main bank out of an ISO container in the grounds, administered by TA soldiers with a finance background.

    I believe the Army has formed the view that it cannot rely on the UK civilian agencies and ministries to stand up when they are needed, especially in non-permissive environments in Iraq and southern Afghanistan. This has been particularly notable in the MoD's (and again the Army, via 52 Brigade) development of new SSR doctrine. They have come to the view that in order to successfully exit from operations such as those in Iraq, they will need to have organic stablisation assets and capabilities, because their civil counterparts can not or will not fill the gap.

  3. #63
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Ding, Ding, Ding...

    ... we have a winner. Yep, it ain't our job but somehow we always seem to be required to fill the vaccuum when our Phase IV buds are UA / AWOL from the game.

  4. #64
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Do we always?

    SWJ ED:

    We did in WW II because that was the nature of that war; everyone that could be put in a uniform donned one and the Armed Forces did virtually all of it -- to include the OSS mission. That was by design and made sense at the time due to the total mobilization.

    The only time between now and then that such effort has been required was in Viet Nam. There was no total mobilization and there were plenty of civilian agency folks involved to include such minor exotics as Agriculture, Commerce and Labor; Sate was heavy in it, USAID was was literally everywhere and into everything and the CIA was a civilian agency. I don't know the numbers, I do know there were a slew of civilian employees of the US Government all over SEA.

    We let all that lapse because we were going to eschew nation building and COIN. Add to that the movement of the GeoComs into the foreign policy arena by default -- someone had to do it and they were there -- and the result was the chaos of mid 2003 and 2004. Yes, the Armed Forces filled the gap again by default because someone had to do it. That they have generally done it well is a tribute to all involved.

    There is no question that in any entry operation, a degree of Armed Forces involvement in the Phase IV process is required for a period of time and that complete interface with that process will be needed as long as the US is in that nation. There's also no question that a capability to do that is required. Nor should there be any question that units and people can be trained to fight a war, enforce a peace and pass out food and blankets. That can and should be done.

    That does not however address the problem. That problem is, simply, numbers. Force levels are finite. Every uniformed person devoted to post conflict duties is one less available for other missions. Therefor, it only seems sensible that a reinvention of a wheel is required and more robust civilian structure to cope with the long term FID / nationbuilding / restoration must be developed and sustained. It seems likely that similar requirements may crop up in the near future and that if they do, a full mobilization is unlikely. I submit that to take the attitude that we, the Armed Forces, "Can Do" it is to invite and allow others who'd rather not be involved to escape their responsibilities.

    Far worse and more dangerous, it will also adversely impact, possibly far more significantly than today given another situation, the ability of the Services to fulfill their responsibilities.

    The issue is not "can we do it" or "we have to, there is no one else" -- the issue is who should do it. The Armed forces, if given the mission will do it, no question -- but is it really their job? Should it be their reponsibility? Been my observation that if one is willing to accept a responsibility, even if it is not rightly theirs, the world will readily accede to that and walk away. I think that's probably the genesis of the phrase 'mission creep' and the word 'overcommitment.' Just because it can work doesn't mean it's right -- or should remain that way...

    This is one of those 'be careful what you want, you may get it' issues.
    Last edited by Ken White; 07-20-2008 at 08:49 PM. Reason: Typo

  5. #65
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Concur resoundingly

    Quote Originally Posted by gh_uk View Post
    As I understand it, Dannatt's comments arise from the British Army's experiences in southern Iraq, starting from April 2003. They had taken control of Basra and were trying to fill in the gaps caused by the collapse of Iraqi government structures. I remember the CO of 7 Armd Brigade sitting in his office in the palace, describing how he was running the local main bank out of an ISO container in the grounds, administered by TA soldiers with a finance background.

    I believe the Army has formed the view that it cannot rely on the UK civilian agencies and ministries to stand up when they are needed, especially in non-permissive environments in Iraq and southern Afghanistan. This has been particularly notable in the MoD's (and again the Army, via 52 Brigade) development of new SSR doctrine. They have come to the view that in order to successfully exit from operations such as those in Iraq, they will need to have organic stablisation assets and capabilities, because their civil counterparts can not or will not fill the gap.
    Yep:

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    ... we have a winner. Yep, it ain't our job but somehow we always seem to be required to fill the vaccuum when our Phase IV buds are UA / AWOL from the game.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    SWJ ED:

    The issue is not "can we do it" or "we have to, there is no one else" -- the issue is who should do it. The Armed forces, if given the mission will do it, no question -- but is it really their job? Should it be their reponsibility? Been my observation that if one is willing to accept a responsibility, even if it is not rightly theirs, the world will readily accede to that and walk away. I think that's probably the genesis of the phrase 'mission creep' and the word 'overcommitment.' Just because it can work doesn't mean it's right -- or should remain that way...

    This is one of those 'be careful what you want, you may get it' issues.
    (emphasis Ronexcept for the first should ,that was ken)


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  6. #66
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It took us seven years

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Do you think those who need to are going to get that or not?
    in Viet Nam to get enough Civilians there, in Iraq it took about four (acknowledging there's still a shortfall), so we're getting better. As this LINK shows, this administration is at least trying to get on the stick. We'll see what the next few years bring.

    One minor worry, to me, is the folks within DoD who will want to keep the job as military as they can for control (and comfort) purposes. That was a part of the problem in Viet Nam. In my view, that would be very short sighted; the Armed Forces must be able to handle the short term effort, no doubt -- but the long term will be better if mostly civilian. Seems a shame to train troops to fight wars and put them on non-warfighting tasks when it can be avoided. Fortunately, this time nothing else requiring Troop presence elsewhere intruded; I'm unsure that can be relied upon in the future.

  7. #67
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gh_uk View Post
    I believe the Army has formed the view that it cannot rely on the UK civilian agencies and ministries to stand up when they are needed, especially in non-permissive environments in Iraq and southern Afghanistan.
    The Army can't rely on the civilians for a lot, and the Army doing it, reduces the abilities of the army instead of demanding the civilians get up to speed. Servants of the Crown can demand and force the other servants to pull their weight!

    They have come to the view that in order to successfully exit from operations such as those in Iraq, they will need to have organic stablisation assets and capabilities, because their civil counterparts can not or will not fill the gap.
    ...and this view is in error. The Army must create a "permissive" environment for the other agencies to work in. Someone needs to risk their career (more dear than life to senior UK officers) and tell the FO, DIFD and all the other work shy clowns that they need to go buy some 511 pants and get their flabby backsides out into the bundu.
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  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    The Army must create a "permissive" environment for the other agencies to work in.
    Isn't this the nub of the problem? The British (and the Coalition more widely) failed to create a sufficiently permissive environment in Iraq (and subsequently in parts of Afghanistan) for the civilian agencies to operate (though admittedly other factors like a lack of planning and buy-in from other departments also had an impact).

    I think its a real Catch 22 - you can't undertake civil-led reconstruction without making it safe enough for non-military operations, but you can't, apparently, create that environment without reconstruction. Witness the sending of a Royal Engineer detachment with 3 Commando Brigade to Helmand - it was recognised that is was too dangerous for civilian engineers to operate there and the military engineers were sent in their stead to try and make initial progress.

    Maybe the creation of a military capability which can, in the short to medium term undertake 'nation-building' (or whichever term you wish to choose), to the point where the situation is stable enough for the deployment of civilian agencies and contractors is the only way it might work (though I acknowledge that the military may then be left with the problem in the long term anyway). Sadly, if this does occur, I doubt any new resources will made available to create and maintain such forces.

  9. #69
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Painful truth

    An excellent, long article based on an interview with a just resigned UK Para Lieut.Col.: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...SS&attr=797093

    Lots of uncomfortable details, notably the lack of Chinook helicopters which force movement onto the ground (nearly useed roads) and IEDs.

    davidbfpo

  10. #70
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gh_uk View Post
    , but you can't, apparently, create that environment without reconstruction.
    I can't see that line of reasoning. "Security" is not dependant on infrastructure. You may have to address basic needs, - food, water, power - but education and the banking system are not priorities if people are dying.

    Now Northern Ireland, Malaya, Yemen, Kenya and Cyprus all had functioning civil services (best in the world!- Colonial British) so we never needed to do this before, but we may need to do it in the future. The idea that we can't send civilians to dangerous places is just rubbish. Pay them well, and give them clear and achievable goals.
    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

  11. #71
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    The idea that we can't send civilians to dangerous places is just rubbish. Pay them well, and give them clear and achievable goals.
    Casualties - especially POWs - might be a problem. The problem also applies to soldiers, but to send unarmed personnel into hot zones is even more difficulty. The political responsibility is the key problem, not the non-political feasibility.

  12. #72
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Casualties - especially POWs - might be a problem. The problem also applies to soldiers, but to send unarmed personnel into hot zones is even more difficulty. The political responsibility is the key problem, not the non-political feasibility.
    All good points but none of them are unthinkable or not doable. - and they do not have to be un-armed. There are well understood conditions for arming civilians in conflict zones, if done for self-protection. - and they are not really civilians. They are Government contractors. We've been here before many times.

    ...and If the Political will does not exist, then we shouldn't be there.
    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

  13. #73
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Thin on the ground

    According to a British Army contact one of the infantry battalions scheduled to go to Afghanistan next Spring is currently only able to deploy two, not three rifle companies, plus a support company and HQ (minus one rifle company).

    I suspect a third rifle company will be grafted on, from other units; I recall - without details - a Para unit deployed with a Ghurkha company added for example

    There is no sign of recruiting picking up, although there are too many junior officers to go around (odd I thought and confirmed by Wilf as affecting the Royal Marines too).

    What caused this recruiting problem, no - a crisis? Multiple factors and IMHO includes the recent regimental reforms which reduced local links in favour of bigger is better (one reason ostensibly was to improve recruiting across a wider area).

    Now the Army faces increasing demands, notably in Afghanistan, with a second brigade to be deployed. Part of the Army's response has been to post recruits to where they are needed most, i.e. for impending operational tours and not the regiment they choose to hoin or have an affinity to - for all manner of reasons, e.g. brother serving in. Understandable? Yes, appears to have short-term gains outbalanced by long-term losses IMHO.

    Apparently news of this response has spread outside the army and recruiting has gone down.

    There appears to be no political will to allow the British Army to recruit, even reform, to fill the gap.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-23-2008 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Add text

  14. #74
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    At the risk of sticking out my neck for a piss take.....

    One thing that is predictable in America is grass roots patriotism. Not to say that it isn't alive and well else where. I do not want to cast Americans as war mongering or violent at all, it is just when something like 9/11 happens, you see a huge upswing in recruiting. It is hard to explain. The same thing happened in 90-91 with Desert Storm. It is not that Americans love a good fight, it is just the inbuilt desire to serve.

    I know this spirit is alive and well in the British Army. I worked with as fine a group of lads at the Gunnery School as any I have encountered. I would serve on operations with any of them, without question. I think it is, as previously stated, an issue of political will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tankguy View Post
    At the risk of sticking out my neck for a piss take.....

    One thing that is predictable in America is grass roots patriotism. Not to say that it isn't alive and well else where. I do not want to cast Americans as war mongering or violent at all, it is just when something like 9/11 happens, you see a huge upswing in recruiting. It is hard to explain. The same thing happened in 90-91 with Desert Storm. It is not that Americans love a good fight, it is just the inbuilt desire to serve.

    I know this spirit is alive and well in the British Army. I worked with as fine a group of lads at the Gunnery School as any I have encountered. I would serve on operations with any of them, without question. I think it is, as previously stated, an issue of political will.
    You were at Lulworth? I was in Bovington two weeks ago doing research, went for a run and went out on the range at Arish Mell Gap. You probably blew up old Chieftains around there. Pretty place.

  16. #76
    Council Member Tankguy's Avatar
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    Ahhh, there are some of my fondest memories. Not blowing up Chieftans, but the view of Arish Mell Gap from St. Andrew's and Bindon ranges. Absolutely beautiful. I lived on Bindon Close just south of the main camp and the views walking up the hill to work in the morning were spectacular. The sun rising and lighting up the cliffs on St. Aldam's Head were impressive.

  17. #77
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British Army has too many officers....

    Under the full headline 'British Army has too many officers and not enough rank-and-file soldiers', see the Daily Telegraph story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...-soldiers.html

    In summary: There are almost 1,000 more trained officers on the Army payroll than the force needs to do its work. But among the ranks, there is a shortfall of 4,400 - the equivalent of around seven infantry battalions.

    My emphasis added.

    davidbfpo

  18. #78
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Under the full headline 'British Army has too many officers and not enough rank-and-file soldiers', see the Daily Telegraph story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...-soldiers.html

    In summary: There are almost 1,000 more trained officers on the Army payroll than the force needs to do its work. But among the ranks, there is a shortfall of 4,400 - the equivalent of around seven infantry battalions.

    My emphasis added.

    davidbfpo

    OK

    Let's get 'em seconded to the US Army to fill our needs for officers....a reverse lend lease

  19. #79
    Council Member Tankguy's Avatar
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    I can relate to that story. It seemed that of all the courses I taught during my three years in sunny Lulworth, all the officer courses were full to capacity. The enlisted courses were usually short.

  20. #80
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    Thumbs down Sad

    Apparently the UK Army's problems relate to hotel stays as well.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7596798.stm

    A soldier home on leave after being injured in Afghanistan was refused a room by a hotel when he showed his military ID card at reception.

    Corporal Tomos Stringer, 23, from Gwynedd, was visiting a wounded colleague in Surrey when he was turned away from the Metro Hotel in Woking.

    He spent the night in his car after being told it was management policy not to accept military personnel.
    The hotel has apologized, but really, that is low.
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