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Old 12-16-2008   #81
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Default US Accuses Britain Over Military Failings in Afghanistan

US Accuses Britain Over Military Failings in Afghanistan - Tom Baldwin and Michael Evans, The Times

Quote:
The performance of Britain’s overstretched military in Afghanistan is coming under sustained criticism from the Pentagon and US analysts even as Gordon Brown ponders whether to send in further reinforcements.

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary who has been asked to remain in his job under Barack Obama, is understood to have expressed strong reservations about counterinsurgency operations in British-controlled Helmand province.

He has already announced plans for a surge of 20,000 US troops into Afghanistan but Mr Brown, who was given a bleak progress report when he visited Afghanistan at the weekend, is said to be reluctant about committing another 2,000 British troops on top of the 8,400 already there...
More at The Times.
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Old 12-16-2008   #82
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Default Letter to Tom Baldwin, The Times

Letter to Tom Baldwin, The Times

Dear Mr. Baldwin

I was sent an email by Dr. Carter Malkasian stating that you wished to speak to me. I then quickly was informed that an article was published with a quote from this summer's CNA/Press Club book launch.

I wished you had waited to speak to me, since I would have put the quote in context. There are many positive developments within the British Army at the moment.

British officers and soldiers were embarrassed since they felt they could not complete their COIN mission in Iraq, due to issues outside their remit.

There is recognition that the Americans have reformed beyond all expectations. The British Army has recognised the need to reform as well.

The British Army and HMG had many issues in MND SE due to a variety of decisions, one being the US approach to the campaign from 2003-06, which was not appropriate. However, the British Army recognised that the war had changed dramatically in 2007 and many commanders, officers, NCOs and soldiers wished there had been a shift of strategy from Whitehall for MND SE.

The shift finally occurred with the Charge of the Knights and the British were able to support the Iraqi 14 DIV in its efforts to clear and now hold the city of BASRA, through proper embedding into MITTs. The British Army in their time honoured tradition of learning and adapting, was able to restore honour to their mission in MND SE. Many lessons are being learned from the campaign in Iraq that have had a positive impact on British operations in Helmand and RC South.

The British campaign in RC South and Helmand has been difficult but not due to the efforts of the officers, NCOs and soldiers of the British Army. Their preparation for Helmand has been stronger with each HERRICK due to lessons from the past as well as Iraq. There are issues for the Army that are outside their control but rest with Whitehall that need to be addressed.

All armies need to learn and adapt. The Americans have done so and now the British are doing it as well.

I feel that I should write a letter to the editor or an op-ed to put these 'quotes' in their proper context. Do you have any ideas how best to do this?

Best
Daniel Marston
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Old 12-20-2008   #83
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Default US Opens Fire on Brown’s ‘War Fatigue’

US Opens Fire on Brown’s ‘War Fatigue’ - Sarah Baxter and Nicola Smith, The Sunday Times

Quote:
As the United States prepares for a troop “surge” in Afghanistan in the new year, Robert Gates, the defence secretary, and senior commanders are concerned that the British government lacks the “political will” for the fight.
General John Craddock, the Nato commander, said last week that Britain must put more troops into Helmand province to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

In an interview with The Sunday Times at Nato’s supreme headquarters in Mons, Belgium, he said Gordon Brown’s announcement last Monday that more troops would bolster Britain’s 8,100-strong force in Afghanistan by March was not enough. Although planning is under way to send up to 3,000 extra troops to Afghanistan next summer if required, Brown committed only 300 in his Commons statement.

“I don’t think 300 more, if you are talking about Helmand province, will do the trick. We’ve got to hold down there until we’ve got some Afghan street forces who can take over,” Craddock said.
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Old 12-20-2008   #84
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Default A Special Relationship

This open US military criticism is not un-expected, whether it helps is a moot point. I doubt if the UK or US public accept what is currently an open-ended military commitment to Afghanistan (73% oppose the UK role there). No-one can assure the UK public that more UK troops will make a difference.

As other threads have asked what is our strategic aim in Afghanistan?

PE Obama may need some diplomatic effort with Gordon Brown, if this row escalates.

There's also a commentary in The Sunday Times, by Michael Portillo, on the UK's lack of will: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle5375770.ece

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Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-20-2008 at 11:22 PM. Reason: Add link.
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Old 12-21-2008   #85
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Default Praise in public, criticize in private

One of the first lessons that I was taught, that I actually used was the policy of "praise in public, and cricize in private". If a smuck like me knows that then I am sure that Secretary Gates and the various generals and admirals do to.

It makes me wonder what undercurrents are going on?

I have always been glad to have Great Britain as our best friend and ally, and hope that these issues will pass, if only for personal reasons. For years I have been tormenting my friends of Irissh descent with the question - "When was the last time the Irish Army won a war, and when was the last time the British Army lost one." I love watching their faces turn even redder
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Old 12-21-2008   #86
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Default Me too, early lesson. A later one was that you had to know the person concerned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icebreaker View Post
One of the first lessons that I was taught, that I actually used was the policy of "praise in public, and cricize in private"...
For some introspective types, public praise is embarrassing and makes them acutely uncomfortable, they'd much rather hear a quiet word of praise away from the crowd.

OTOH, for others, who can lie about anything, private criticism will get turned into "He tried to chew me out and did I ever back him down..." when it's told to others later and they'll rationalize it away. Worst thing you can do to those types is criticize them publicly, that hurts worse than a whopping fine. Of course, they'll hate you but who cares. Tough munchies.
Quote:
It makes me wonder what undercurrents are going on?
True.
Quote:
I have always been glad to have Great Britain as our best friend and ally, and hope that these issues will pass, if only for personal reasons. For years I have been tormenting my friends of Irissh descent with the question - "When was the last time the Irish Army won a war, and when was the last time the British Army lost one." I love watching their faces turn even redder
"Ah, sure and if the Irish didn't have the whisky, they'd rule the world..."

Being Scotch Irish, I defend nor attack either the British or the Irish. -- but I do agree with you that the UK is our best friend and ally in Europe and hope that any bumps in the road are small and insignificant. They have, unfortunately, had to put up with far worse than that from us in the last 90 years or so.
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Old 12-21-2008   #87
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Default Britain Has Lost the Stomach For a Fight

Britain Has Lost the Stomach For a Fight - Michael Portillo, The Sunday Times opinion

Quote:
Last week Gordon Brown announced a date for Britain’s withdrawal from Iraq. Most troops will be back in time for a spring general election. The prime minister posed with soldiers and expressed his sorrow over yet more fatal casualties in Afghanistan. He did not dwell on Britain’s humiliation in Basra, nor mention that this is the most inglorious withdrawal since Sir Anthony Eden ordered the boys back from Suez.

The fundamental cause of the British failure was political. Tony Blair wanted to join the United States in its toppling of Saddam Hussein because if Britain does not back America it is hard to know what our role in the world is: certainly not a seat at the top table. But, for all his persuasiveness, Blair could not hold public opinion over the medium term and so he cut troop numbers fast and sought to avoid casualties. As a result, British forces lost control of Basra and left the population at the mercy of fundamentalist thugs and warring militias, in particular Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The secondary cause of failure was a misplaced British disdain for America, shared by our politicians and senior military. In the early days in Iraq we bragged that our forces could deploy in berets and soft-sided vehicles while US forces roared through Baghdad in heavily armoured convoys. British leaders sneered at the Americans’ failure to win hearts and minds because of their lack of experience in counterinsurgency.

Pride has certainly come before a fall. British commanders underestimated both the enemy’s effectiveness and the Americans’ ability to adapt. Some apparently failed even to observe how much had changed. At a meeting in August 2007 an American described Major-General Jonathan Shaw, then British commander, as “insufferable”, lecturing everyone in the room about lessons learnt in Northern Ireland, which apparently set eyeballs rolling: “It would be okay if he was best in class, but now he’s worst in class.” ...
SWJ Editor’s Note: From the small corner of the world of counterinsurgency I occupy my observation is that our (the US) adjustment to face COIN realities, produce a new doctrine for the same and execute that doctrine were well informed by the British Army, Royal Marines and Air Force participants in a program I was associated with (and am) from 2003 to the present. That program – Joint Urban Warrior – cosponsored by the USMC and USJFCOM – specifically looked at insurgent threats and counterinsurgency strategies as well as tactics, techniques and procedures - in five annual wargames and dozens of seminars, workshops and planning events. The UK delegation; along with the Australians, Canadians and others; contributed first-class lessons learned, theory and practice - we owe them quite a bit for that. - Dave Dilegge
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Old 12-21-2008   #88
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Default More UK views on Iraq: success or failure

It must be the weekend and the furore continues: an article in The Sunday Telegraph, by General Mike Jackson - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/p...held-high.html

Which has a critique follow-up: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/

Note there is a widely held public view that our servicemen and women have done us proud, so should have a heroes welcome back to the UK. The mainstream panel on the weekly BBC Radio 4 'Any Questions' programme all said this. I've not looked at a wider range of websites.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-21-2008 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009   #89
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Default Some reason to be optimistic

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/Ab...archLondon.htm
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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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Old 02-01-2009   #90
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Default

Quote:
Britain's armed forces

Losing their way?
Jan 29th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The British army suffers from lack of soldiers, lack of money and lack of conviction
http://www.economist.com/world/brita...ry_id=13022177
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Old 02-01-2009   #91
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Default The Stomach of the British Army

If we accept, in more than just an abstract sense, that the deployment, strictures and funding of our armed forces stem from political decisions, I feel the questioning of the commitment of the British Army astonishing and remarkably small minded.

The perceived lack of British Military's commitment in Afghanistan, for example, has basis in the refusal of the British Government to commit additional funding and troops. Lest we forget we live not in a military dictatorship but a liberal democracy.

For those in the U.S. military it is worth remembering the damage that was done to your armed forces by the Clinton administration. Surely, these shortcomings were not blamed on the armed forces themselves?

This is more than just another 'rearguard' defence of the British Army by one of its own. In my own experience, I have had nothing but support from my U.S. counterparts, in turn I have nothing but admiration for them. Let's not get confused between the arguments of political expediency and a the need to maintain a meaningful relationship between the armed forces of two countries, a bond formed, at some of our worst moments in history, in bloodshed.
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Old 02-01-2009   #92
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Default If there's any trend here, it's

one of sympathy. Your comments on the US Armed force during the Clinton years are on target; we've been there. So have the Canadians. You've been around longer than the rest of us so there's more to lose.

Sad.
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Old 02-01-2009   #93
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Default But

Will we actually learn from history or do as we usually do and let history repeat itself yet again?
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Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

Why did you not clear your corner?

Because we are on a base and it is secure.
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Old 02-01-2009   #94
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Default Mid-Atlantic criticism

The Economist (London-based) has for a long time taken a mid-Atlantic viewpoint and this article is a curious mixture of insider views alongside a review of where the UK Army is. Nothing startling, indeed nothing new and much pasting of old stories.

The article asks two questions: Should the British continue to aspire to a global military role? And what sort of wars is the future likely to bring?

The first question has been repeatedly answered by successive UK governments, before and after the Cold War ended. The UK does not aspire to a global military role, it will act in concert with allies in many places (Former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan) and alone in very few places (Falklands and Sierra Leone). We will support the USA, but not always (our absence from Vietnam).

The second question has been discussed here before and no answer given has certainity.

I do find the closing paragraph of US concerns tiresome and is so typical of The Economist. Whatever the global outlook of the UK government there is no political will to spend larger amounts of treasure, nor accept a higher blood loss and public admiration aside - why are we in Afghanistan is the usual refrain in public and private discussions.

I understand the Royal Marine brigade in Helmand now have had a dozen dead (Wilf, apologies if wrong) and seven times that number disabled / unfit for further duty. That scale of loss is increasingly difficult to absorb, not my words, but an insider's.

My armchair comments

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Old 02-02-2009   #95
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post

I understand the Royal Marine brigade in Helmand now have had a dozen dead (Wilf, apologies if wrong) and seven times that number disabled / unfit for further duty. That scale of loss is increasingly difficult to absorb, not my words, but an insider's.
Actually I think it's about 14, so near spot on, sadly - and you would never owe me an apology!
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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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Old 02-06-2009   #96
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Default Decent summary of the Snatch Landie disaster

New Statesman article

Love the nutty comment at the bottom.
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Old 02-06-2009   #97
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Default Is it really a disaster or a is it a presumed disaster

due to the fact that we -- in all western societies -- have become unduly coddled and protected from risks of all sorts by the proverbial Nanny State?

I do not denigrate the loss of a single soldier from any nation but I do believe risk goes with the job. This furor in all western nations involved in current fights about troop protection or force protection is truly getting out of hand. All us old guys who wandered about Europe in WW II and Korea in unarmored gun Jeeps and Viet Nam in unarmored M151s with pedestal mounts and and M2 or M60 can only shake our heads in wonder...

Many say that the risk of HIC is remote. One would hope so. Given current trends and desires, no one will be able to afford the equipment costs...
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Old 02-06-2009   #98
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Default Comments elsewhere

On the Kings of War website: http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/

A comment on The Economist article: 'the root cause, given that a fish rots from the head, is that the British Government, in part as a reflection of British public opinion, is lukewarm in its commitment to Afghanistan, mutedly hostile to the Iraq war at the highest levels and fears (probably correctly) that operations in both countries are undermining its domestic counter-radicalization programme. The confluence of these factors has created a strategic void into which the Army has fallen'.

If interested in the anger over the use of poor wheeled transport by UK Army, browse through: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/ which has many articles, photos and links.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-06-2009 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Try to add quotes and second item.
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Old 02-10-2009   #99
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Default UK think tank commentary

A more balanced review (11th Jan '09) by the UK think tank RUSI of the Afghan dilemma, than the Economist cited previously: http://www.rusi.org/research/militar...496A10B7D39F6/

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Old 02-10-2009   #100
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Default Good article...

From the RUSI article linked:
Quote:
"It is not that strategic thinking is absent: if anything there is too much of it going on in too many different places."
That about sums it up...

Thanks for posting that.
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