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Old 09-08-2012   #141
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Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
The creation of permanet div HQ also facilitates so called stabilisation ops esp. when one considers that in Afghanistan Bdes were largely left to their own divices in theatre with regards COIN ops. Now a permanet Div can help smooth the transition during roulement and allow startegic objectives to be translated into tactial missions without distrupting operations because of redeployments (however, the LACK of a strategy was probably the real problem in Afghanistan).
.
The fact that UK bdes operated in effect autonomously for too long in Afghanistan is a failure of the ISAF and UK chain of commands. In theory the structures were in place to enable operational oversight. The lack of strategy didn't help either...

The problem with the A2020 structures is that there are two divisional HQs, but no divisional enablers (arty, sigs, ISTAR, logistics).
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Old 09-09-2012   #142
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The fact that UK bdes operated in effect autonomously for too long in Afghanistan is a failure of the ISAF and UK chain of commands. In theory the structures were in place to enable operational oversight. The lack of strategy didn't help either...

The problem with the A2020 structures is that there are two divisional HQs, but no divisional enablers (arty, sigs, ISTAR, logistics).
Good points all round. Personally I would have liked to see the expansion of the Royal Marines to two bdes with associated naval assets and the army reduced to three large(ish) bdes (each about three inf, one-two tank and two arty bns) but I doubt the regimental ethos and traditions of our armies would permit it (and let's not even get started with the Scots regts!). What really galled me was that the SDSR mentions UK commitments to allies yet our commitments to pacific nations doesnt even get a mention. To boot the SDSR outlines a REDUCTION in royal marine strength by 1,800! Definitely a document written by a committee if ever I saw one.
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Old 09-09-2012   #143
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The Royal Marines have somewhat elevated quality ambitions, comparable to the army's paras. It is often advisable to keep the authorised personnel of such quality units few in order to
(1) maintain the quality and
(2) not leech very many promising men from the regular combat troops.
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Old 09-14-2012   #144
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This could be the future for the U.S. but about 5x bigger. I don't have inside information nor a crystal ball - just the winds of change.
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Old 09-15-2012   #145
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Frank Ledwidge's latest offering puts his finger on where (he believes) the real problem lies:

Punching Below Our Weight: How Inter-Service Rivalry has Damaged the British Armed Forces

The blurb is:

Quote:
In this 5,000-word e-book, the author of the bestselling Losing Small Wars looks at the problem of rivalry between the top ranks of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. He argues that senior generals, admirals and air marshals have focused more on empire-building within their own services rather than on the needs of the UK armed forces as a whole, with enormously damaging results. In particular, the UK involvement in Libya was hampered by a total lack of aircraft carriers - sacrificed to preserve the Typhoon, a fighter jet designed for Cold War combat that never happened.

Written with Ledwidge's trademark insight and panache, this is an incisive condemnation of the British armed forces at the very top, and ending with some pertinent suggestions for how the UK could reorient its military priorities.
Ledwidge's first offering was:

Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan
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Old 09-25-2012   #146
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Read or watch the RUSI's Director giving his assessment (I'm catching up both made in July):http://www.rusi.org/analysis/comment...4FFA86E865E07/ and six mins podcast:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBfk3...mber_132352243

I picked out the:
Quote:
The Reactive force was 10% reservist, the Adaptive was 30% and this meant growing from 16k to 30k reserves....after a six month active operation the Army will have problems....Will this give the young soldier and officer a career that they expected?
Particularly interesting on the reserves role after the discussion on another thread about this regarding active and reservist in the USA:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5136
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Old 09-25-2012   #147
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Germany attempted a two-speed military in the 90's until recently.
In the end, the higher readiness, deployable part of the military got about what it needed (normal business) and the rest was starved of resources, usually operating old crap equipment.

I was amazed the Brits could be stupid enough to follow a path proved to be stupid (with the benefit of hindsight !) when I saw those plans for the first time.
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Old 11-10-2012   #148
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Default Farewell to our warrior nation

A scathing article by Max Hastings on the UK's defence policy; a taster:
Quote:
David Cameron’s Government is cutting the regular Army to its lowest manpower strength for centuries: 82,000. When the downsizing is complete, more than 20 per cent of our soldiers will have gone. I must confess that I am profoundly sceptical whether it will prove possible to recruit the 30,000 reservists the Defence Secretary promised this week.

Soon, we shall be capable of deploying only a single battlegroup of 7,000–8,000 men for sustained operations overseas. Compare this tiny force to the 35,000 troops deployed in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles in the 1970s, or the 30,000 military personnel sent to the First Gulf War in 1991.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...or-nation.html
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Old 11-11-2012   #149
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Thanks for sharing David, and while I can emphasize with UK's concerns about whether this is enough capacity based on the current and projected security environment, in my opinion this has significant implications on US strategy also. We have been endeavoring more to pursue "shared" security responsibility with our allies and partners, but the reality is most of our allies and partners have very little capacity to share, and the trend in most cases is downsizing, while potential adversaries such as China and Russia are significantly increasing the size of their militaries, not to mention the continued instability throughout much of the world that we will feel compelled to stick our noses into.
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Old 11-11-2012   #150
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Thanks for sharing David, and while I can emphasize with UK's concerns about whether this is enough capacity based on the current and projected security environment, in my opinion this has significant implications on US strategy also. We have been endeavoring more to pursue "shared" security responsibility with our allies and partners, but the reality is most of our allies and partners have very little capacity to share, and the trend in most cases is downsizing, while potential adversaries such as China and Russia are significantly increasing the size of their militaries, not to mention the continued instability throughout much of the world that we will feel compelled to stick our noses into.
This sounds confused.

The U.S.'s allies have plenty to fill up a sizeable share of "security responsibility".
OK; Luxembourg has only a battalion and some AWACS and Iceland only has bases and a coast guard, but all others have real military forces.


Now what exactly don't they have, what exactly are the Brits going to have less than many are used to?
Ready-to-go land forces for great power gaming in distant places.
Why won't they have them any more in large numbers?
Because they're not worth the expense.


Furthermore; which treaty other than the Charter of the United Nations says that China is relevant to UK security policy? I suppose they don't need to care about East Asia, just as the U.S. could stay at Hawaii and not care about East Asia any more. That's a sovereign option.

Russia "significantly increasing the size of" its military is news to me. Their army converts to a border region crisis quick reaction force, their navy is replacing ships at a rate sufficient only for a coastal navy and their air force will probably need a decade to get substantial numbers of new generation combat aircraft operational.
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Old 11-12-2012   #151
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Posted by Fuchs

Quote:
This sounds confused.
The U.S.'s allies have plenty to fill up a sizeable share of "security responsibility".
I won't debate your point on China primarily because I agree with you. Nations have enduring interests and not all of them are common with their allies, but we do have many shared security interests and NATO's shortfalls that were demonstrated in Libya in my view effectively counter your argument that NATO countries have real militaries. Furthermore, if the US is going to shift more effort to the Asia-Pacific (agree, disagree, or indifferent doesn't matter), then there will be less US capacity and capability in Europe. Capacities and capabilities that the EU and NATO militaries are dependent upon. It is one thing to claim to have a real military and another to actually have that one that can independently conduct combat operations because it has invested in all needed support and enabling systems in addition to the shooters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/op...le-moment.html

Quote:
President Obama, who pressed hard for NATO involvement, rightly insisted that Europe, along with Canada, take the lead. It is reasonable to expect the wealthy nations of Europe to easily handle a limited mission in their own backyard that involved no commitment of ground troops. Reasonable, but, as it turned out, not realistic.

For decades, European nations have counted on a free-spending Pentagon to provide the needed capabilities they failed to provide themselves. The Pentagon is now under intense and legitimate pressure to meet America’s security needs more economically. It can no longer afford to provide affluent allies with a free ride.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...ulnerable.html

Quote:
And with the U.S. increasingly looking across the Pacific as it reshapes its defence policy to counter China, we may find we have to be more reliant on ourselves — but with very little to rely on. A Labour government defence review in 1998 — before the threat of Muslim extremism was exposed by 9/11, and when Chinese power was far less than it is today — concluded we needed a minimum of 32 destroyers and frigates to be equal to our responsibilities.

We now have just 19.

The Army’s manpower is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000, with the MoD claiming that a boost in the reserves to 30,000 will cover the shortfall. However, it is feared that these part-timers would provide no more than the equivalent of 2,000 full-time soldiers, and that an unsustainable strain would be put on them and their employers.
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Old 11-12-2012   #152
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Concerning "Libya":

I suppose we have a different idea of what a military force is supposed to be capable of.

Extended cruise missile diplomacy does not rank high on my list.


There's something about military power that got lost by small wars-minded people: If you go to war, you mobilise it.
We (Europeans) could have swamped Libya with three million soldiers IF we had been serious about fighting Ghadafi. We were not serious. We pushed him a bit with the left-hand small finger, and this was a political choice - not a limit of our military capability.

As far as I can tell, insufficient mid-air refuelling and guided munition stocks were among the main criticisms during and after the Libya thing. I would be most surprised if such things were taken seriously as sufficient indicators for having a "real" military.
Guess what? The German general staff panicked after the 1939/-9 Poland invasion because ammunition stocks were badly depleted. Three or four weeks of intense military action with France and the Heer would have folded by 1939-11.
Range of German fighters back then? About 500 km.
I have yet to see anyone who asserts that Germany had no "real military" by fall 1939.
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Old 11-12-2012   #153
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Fuchs,

I don't think you're accounting for political reality today, even if you and I don't agree with the general trend of political decisions to get involved in so called small wars, they are a fact of life. Maybe the economic crisis will bring us all to our senses, but in the mean time the challenge is having armed forces sufficiently large enough to support the current enduring occupation and peace keeping missions around the world, and in addition have enough strike capacity to conduct offensive/coercive military operations on short notice. I think you over estimate Europe's capacity to do so.

Of course a nation can attempt to mobilize to go to war, though I wonder how effectively modern, liberal democracies could actually do so if a real mobilization was actually required? Could Britian have sufficiently mobilized its industry to support and sustain major combat operations during WWII without extensive US support? Our industrial mobilization to support the UK and others at that time lifted us out of depression and perhaps enabled the allies to win.
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Old 11-12-2012   #154
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That's what people in government pay are supposed to do; work to make stupid policies work.

It's not a "reality" outsiders need to face. To them, stupid policy is just that and may deserve to be fought against.
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The Western economies have some issues, but even in "old" industries such as steel production we have usually multiple times the output of the 30's.
I suppose a mobilised Western country will rather have training issues and worries about protecting its economy against warfare than actual output issues.
That is, unless you're in the U.S., want to repeat the naval bvuildup of 1942-1945 and face the fact that your shipbuilding industry ranks behind Poland's.
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Old 11-13-2012   #155
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Default Significant implications for US strategy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Thanks for sharing David, and while I can emphasize with UK's concerns about whether this is enough capacity based on the current and projected security environment, in my opinion this has significant implications on US strategy also. We have been endeavoring more to pursue "shared" security responsibility with our allies and partners, but the reality is most of our allies and partners have very little capacity to share, and the trend in most cases is downsizing, while potential adversaries such as China and Russia are significantly increasing the size of their militaries, not to mention the continued instability throughout much of the world that we will feel compelled to stick our noses into.
For too long both the UK & USA have leaned on each other; with one major exception when each has used large-scale military force, respectively Suez and Vietnam. Often the UK has made strategic choices to act and since the end of 'The Cold War' intervene simply as the 'Special Relationship' was seen to be at risk if we didn't.

The USA, especially with the historically close military to military relationship, has looked for support from the UK - from the low profile to the high profile, mass support seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Westminster-Whitehall-Cheltenham circles the 'special relationship' is seen as (pause) embedded for ever.

As an aside the differences between the DoD and State Dept in the Falklands War are a good illustration of how this can alter the situation.

In a curious way the UK's downsizing of military capability could enhance 'smart power' and doing more with less for the USA. This I suspect explains why UK SOF and intelligence escaping downsizing (and a few other capabilities).

Politics though come first.

It is easy to see US officials and politicians asking if the UK and others will not share the burden, do we need to engage with them? Engagement of course takes many forms, two examples: intelligence sharing and sales of equipment.

This has happened before: with New Zealand after its stance on nuclear weapons (which has just ended), Canada when its military capability and will evaporated in the 1970's and there's France - with whom the USA has well, a different relationship.

The significant implication for US strategy? Shared and shallow relationships with new partners for the USA, rather than the in-depth embedded 'special relationship' with the UK.

In the interests of contrary views try this:http://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.c...l-warrior.html
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Old 11-13-2012   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Fuchs,

I don't think you're accounting for political reality today, even if you and I don't agree with the general trend of political decisions to get involved in so called small wars, they are a fact of life. Maybe the economic crisis will bring us all to our senses, but in the mean time the challenge is having armed forces sufficiently large enough to support the current enduring occupation and peace keeping missions around the world, and in addition have enough strike capacity to conduct offensive/coercive military operations on short notice. I think you over estimate Europe's capacity to do so.

Of course a nation can attempt to mobilize to go to war, though I wonder how effectively modern, liberal democracies could actually do so if a real mobilization was actually required? Could Britian have sufficiently mobilized its industry to support and sustain major combat operations during WWII without extensive US support? Our industrial mobilization to support the UK and others at that time lifted us out of depression and perhaps enabled the allies to win.
The Wages of Destruction should deal nicely with the historic part. It is a complex topic but a highly interesting one. Needless to say that the effort of the US did play a huge huge part directly and indirectly.

Arguably today it would be much easier to mass produce the means to wage war then back in WWII at least as long the necessary ressources (raw materials!) pour in, enough time is available and the necessary willpower is there at all levels.
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Old 12-18-2012   #157
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Default How the British Army will Fight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kedBlURaRaE

These interviews impressed me as being balanced. Those interviewed realize that Afghanistan isn't a template for future conflict, and logically state the requirement for having a full range of military capabilities.
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Old 12-18-2012   #158
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Default Comments from an armchair

Bill,

I have now watched and listened to the film clip twice. It raises a number of issues succinctly, although some of the footage was odd - the Russians in Kosovo and the IDF. Being an official product, when the MoD prefers to be in hibernation from public comment, it is a shame alternative voices do not feature. The speakers, with one exception, being MoD employees or contractors.

After a recent, speculative press report 'British Army's fleet of Apache helicopters 'could be scrapped' it was almost amusing to hear the remarks on "heavy" assets versus Apaches:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-scrapped.html

What was more valuable was the very careful skirting round the issue of, from various voices:
Quote:
an ability to go with them (USA)...making a strategic difference to the USA....an ability to do a task alone..
There are dissenting voices that think the shrunken UK military have - now and will clearly do so soon - fallen below the US minimum level for a contribution.

Reductions in public spending are driving this process, not a change in strategic direction nor a change in public opinion - which gives defence a low priority. I suspect that politically no-one wants to ask, let alone hear either the British professionals or US politicians answer the question is the UK a meaningful ally when it comes to a fight? A fight not for national survival, hard to conceive of today, more likely an intervention with the USA somewhere.

Hypothetically had the UK not pushed others in NATO in 2005 over "making a difference" in Afghanistan; the decision for ISAF to go south, would the USA have done so alone? You can argue that the minimal campaigning by the USA in Afghanistan better suited your national purpose.
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Old 12-18-2012   #159
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Some governments pay too much attention to maintaining relationships and cooperations of nebulous value.

It's as if they knew from an inexplicable source that a certain cooperation makes sense, and don't even bother to think about the "why" or even "if".
The result are expensive policies for the sake of maintaining said cooperation/prestige/relationship.

Germany had and has its strange fixation on keeping NATO and transatlantic cooperation strong, even though the value is probably zero (to cooperate prevents overt rivalry, but the latter doesn't need to happen without said cooperation anyway).
There were also expensive policies done in order to support the bid for a permanent UNSC seat (for which we have little actual use).

Same with the EU; European unification has become an ideology which tolerates no even only small step backwards. Officials rarely discuss the actual utility of additional European cooperation.

The fixation on maintaining big brother's good will is particularly strong in NZ, Australia and the UK. Maybe it's the common language which support this fixation?
Maybe it wouldbe wise to look at more relaxed, non-Anglophone countries and thier alliance policies?
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Old 01-16-2013   #160
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An IISS Strategic Comment 'Redesigned British Army: smaller, with more reserves':http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...more-reserves/

It concludes:
Quote:
..the reforms have the potential to transform the army's capability and to incorporate the lessons of recent operations. Success depends on the programme being properly led, managed, resourced and politically supported.
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