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Old 12-08-2015   #241
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Default Watching, not bombing

A simple explanation why the RAF's contribution is practically valuable and here is a single passage:
Quote:
....the most significant British contribution to the campaign may not be in the form of armed jets. The Royal Air Force has been using its considerable surveillance capabilities against IS since the beginning of the campaign, and while a few more bomber planes may look flashy on newscasts, they may not make a huge difference in practical terms. Airplanes devoted to electronic listening, on the other hand, do add a hugely important capability to the international coalition rallied against the Islamic State.
Link:https://news.vice.com/article/a-litt...syria-air-war?

IIRC Vice News is an international agency and I have yet to see any decent MSM reporting here.
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Old 01-02-2016   #242
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Default The three strikes ally - a "meaningful difference" said David Cameron

Interesting to see that the BBC and Daily Telegraph both have articles today asking this question, albeit with different headlines:

1) The BBC:
Quote:
Are UK bombs making a difference in Syria?
Later rather pointedly:
Quote:
It is of course still early days. But given the limited number of UK air strikes it begs the questions: why was the government so keen to expand the air strikes to Syria, and why the agonising over a vote that appears to have changed relatively little?
Link:http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35166971

2) DTelegraph:
Quote:
RAF bomb raids in Syria dismissed as 'non-event'
Since MPs voted for war over Syria RAF Tornados and Typhoons have mounted only three strike missions
Later citing a regional SME, Jon Lake:
Quote:
Britain’s air campaign in Syria so far is basically a non-event which can have had little, if any, impact on the balance of power on the ground.
Perhaps the RAF has a far better role to play, the MoD says so:
Quote:
The Ministry of Defence said that the RAF’s contribution to reconnaissance over Syria is more significant, with some reports that it is providing up to 60 per cent of the coalition’s entire tactical reconnaissance capability. It declined to specify the number of reconnaissance missions flown, however.
Having merged in a thread which asked 'Can the UK-US still work together' to this main UK defence thread, it is a coincidence the question is being asked again.
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Old 01-23-2016   #243
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Default Would Britain Really be Back as a Traditional Carrier Power?

Devastating analysis of the Royal Navy's aircraft carrier programme; yes the one where the ships float minus any aircraft (F-35 Lightening). A few things I'd quibble with:http://cimsec.org/21192-2/21192

There was gossip that their building was 100% political as Scottish shipyards were involved and the builder, British Aerospace, had "stitched up" the contract so tight cancellation would be more expensive than building them.
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Old 01-24-2016   #244
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Default Lions, Donkeys, and Dinosaurs

If you haven't read that pretty devastating polemic on British defense procurement and BAE, I urge you to do so.
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Old 01-24-2016   #245
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Unhappy Lions, Donkeys, and Dinosaurs: missed that

Granite State,

Thanks I missed that book! Amazon UK shows it was published in 2007, with good reviews:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lions-Donkey...+and+Dinosaurs

For USA readers:http://www.amazon.com/Lions-Donkeys-...+and+Dinosaurs
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Old 01-25-2016   #246
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Default Peter Hitchens on renewing Trident

Quote:
Trident may seem to David Cameron to be a very useful weapon for attacking Jeremy Corbyn. But does it keep Britain safe?

Actually, no. There is a good, hard, patriotic argument for getting rid of this unusable, American-controlled monstrosity before it bankrupts us and destroys our real defences. And lazy, cheap politics shouldn’t blind us to these facts.
************************************************** ***********
WE do not even control Trident, relying on the USA for so much of its technology and maintenance that we could never use it without American approval. How independent is that?
Meanwhile the Army is visibly shrivelling, demoralised, ill-equipped, historic regiments hollowed out and merged, experienced officers and NCOs leaving. Something similar is happening to the Navy, saddled with two vast joke aircraft carriers whose purpose is uncertain, even if they ever get any aircraft to carry. The RAF is a little better off, but not much.
This is caused mainly by the giant bill for renewing Trident, which will probably end up more than £100 billion, at a time when we are heavily in debt already. If there were any obvious or even remote use for it, then maybe this could be justified. But there isn’t. We could easily maintain a small arsenal of H-bombs or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, just in case, for far less.
http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co....-of-money.html

Pretty persuasive to this Yank.
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Old 01-25-2016   #247
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Of course it is recent accounting innovation to bring Trident into the core defence budget. Previous nuclear programmes were kept separate simply because while their strategic utility was not questioned, neither was their lack of tactical utility.

The problem with Hitchen's analysis is that he is basing the utility of Trident on the world now, not the world in 20 years time. Having started my erstwhile military career facing 3rd Shock Army on the Inner German Border and then less than 15 years later finding myself with German Fallschirmjaeger on the Tajikistan border operating alongside Uzbeks against the Taleban, I am not sure I would want to make that prediction.
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Old 01-28-2016   #248
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
Of course it is recent accounting innovation to bring Trident into the core defence budget. Previous nuclear programmes were kept separate simply because while their strategic utility was not questioned, neither was their lack of tactical utility.
Certainly any such drastic change in budgeting raised eyebrows, as consistency is for very good reasons a key principle in accounting. Such a shift should have a much better arguments on it's side as the previous stance supposedly also had its pros.

There is no doubt that facilitating the ill-conceived and poorly executed austerity policy of the recent government was a major factor in this decision. Maybe supported by the ability to show 'strong British commitment' to it's Nato partners by puffing up the percentage of British military spending by subtracting x on one side and adding x on the other.

Even if it's sounds ridiculous this shift pretty likely had already on impact on British defence spending. The specific accounting logic certainly influences more or less the way countries and companies operate. In this case the rest of the defence budget should be under heavier pressure then with the former accounting policy.
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Old 01-30-2016   #249
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A short interview with the British Army's top soldier (CGS), the headline is focused on legal actions against soldiers, but I thought this was of note:
Quote:
One of the challenges I face as CGS is that, paradoxically, we’ve never been more popular, with 91 percent approval rating. But I also think that I cannot remember a time when we were less well understood.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ral-staff.html
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Old 03-07-2016   #250
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Default Between a superpower and “Belgium with nukes.”

Hat tip to WoTR for this superb critique of UK national security policy as it tries again to decide what it needs to do and then do it:http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/the...ion-and-power/

He starts with:
Quote:
In the winter of 2015, as Britain released its latest statement of its national orientation, there was every sign that the wishes that had underpinned its statecraft were being blown away.
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Old 07-06-2016   #251
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Default UK military problems & policies

Chilcot Report: British Inquiry Finds Iraq War 'Went Badly Wrong'


Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog, where there are three comments.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-08-2016 at 08:23 PM. Reason: Copied to here and edited.
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Old 07-08-2016   #252
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Default Chilcot: a failure of the political and military leadership

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:
Quote:
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:
Quote:
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.
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Old 07-11-2016   #253
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Default Ten things that Chilcot’s verdict reveals about Tony Blair and the Iraq war

A good review of the Chilcot Report by a long serving political journalist:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...blair-and-iraq
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Old 08-11-2016   #254
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Default Shrinking RN wth some expensive engines that fail

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-...-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...dodgy-engines/
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Old 12-07-2016   #255
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Default Sad but true and very funny

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?



http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogs....html?spref=fb
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Old 12-07-2016   #256
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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)

https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/...roject-Ma.aspx
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Old 04-06-2017   #257
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Default All Quiet On The ISIS Front:British Secret Warfare In The Information Age

Recently SW Journal had this article:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...s-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:
Quote:
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/repo...formation-age/
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Old 04-08-2017   #258
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Default The "War on Terror" comes home to kill

Professor Paul Rogers comments on the issue "mainstream" UK politicians are avoiding over CT at home and countering Daesh abroad:
Quote:
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, 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-r...p-isis-drones?
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Old 04-11-2017   #259
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Default Britain's top soldier's book scorched

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.
Link:http://www.ccw.ox.ac.uk/blog/2016/10...ichard-dannatt
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Old 10-17-2017   #260
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Default The Royal Navy & Royal Marines have a problem

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/th...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".
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