UK defence issues and the odd container or two

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!


  1. ArmChairCivvy

    I like this man, Sarko, he speaks the truth:
    “The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, described the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, as a “liar” in a private exchange with Barack Obama at last week’s G20 summit in Cannes that was inadvertently broadcast to journalists.

    “I cannot stand him. He’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama. The US president responded by saying: “You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.”

    Neither leader apparently realised that microphones that had been attached for a press conference had already been switched on, allowing journalists waiting for a press conference to hear the conversation.” – today’s Guardian

    -the last time he delivered the same line (in Moscow, during the Georgia troubles) he also gave the Russian Defence Minister a good shake

    – Dave rode to the rescue of our good Baroness when she was failing in the early days of Libya (in doing her EU job)

  2. x

    Stop your snivelling garcon. Now you live in the Greater German province of Frankreich snivelling is strictly verboten…….

    I didn’t say I disliked all Frenchmen or all Americans. Gawd!!!!!!! Anybody would think I accused you of being Australian……..

  3. IXION

    World War two as a bar fight

    The story so far.

    Since the last bar fight Germany has been left lying on the floor after France and Britain had gone through its pockets. The landlords demands for damages had left it broke, it had tried to work of the debt, but failed. Since 1933 Germany has been sat in a corner at the bar drinking on tick, getting increasingly stroppy and aggressive, talking loudly about how the last fight ‘wasn’t fair’ and how it would have won if it’s trousers hadn’t fallen down and it ‘will get them all next time’.

    There had already been some trouble that night, Germany had told France to get it’s coat off Germanys peg called ‘The Rhineland’, and after a bit of a face off, Britain had shouted out to France that ‘He wasn’t worth it’ and France had taken it’s coat and put it on the chair next to itself and Germany have its peg back.

    After a nasty argument Austria had decided that it really was Germany’s absolutely best buddy and from now on whatever Germany did was all right by Austria’ and their bit of the bar was now Germanys.

    A little later Germany then started arguing with Czechoslovakia over half its bit of the bar; about how that it was really Germanys all along, and Czechoslovakia had nicked it when Germany was unconscious earlier. There was a big row. France and Britain got off their bar stools and started to walk towards the arguing couple. Britain thinks better of it and starts telling everybody to calm down, asks France to ‘ Hang on a bit’, and takes Germany onto a corner and has a little chat, comes back and announces that If Czechoslovakia give Germany half its bar then Germany has agreed it will play nice with everybody. Czechoslovakia has no choice and gives in leaving itself with hardly arm room to down a pint.

    Germany quietens for a bit, and everyone returns to their pints although France and Britain are now sitting at the same table, waiving at Poland from across the other side of the bar. Germany then starts messing with Spain’s head, whilst muttering at Poland about its bit of the bar and when every ones back is tuned swipes the rest of Czechoslovakia’s bar pushing it onto the floor.

    Then it all goes quiet. But Russia, who hasn’t said much, having just had its own bloody punch up with Finland outside in the car park, (but who has also been messing with Spain’s head), goes into a corner with Germany, they mutter for some time Germany comes out of the corner, punches Poland, who falls backwards. France and Britain shout out that’s not fair, tell Germany to stop or else they will have to get up and come over to that side of the bar and sort Germany out. Germany tells them to go %*!! themselves. Both announce they are going to sort out Germany and line up on their side of the bar; shouting encouragement to Poland without actually hitting Germany. In the meantime Russia knocks out Latvia Lithuania and Estonia, and hits a recoiling Poland over the head with a bottle, finishing it off.
    Germany then punches France. Almost knocking it out; and beats up Britain pushing it into the corner. Britain hurls defiance at Germany but does not try to come out. Germany threatens destruction but also does not try to go in for the kill as Britain has a broken bottle in its hand. They throw insults and the occasional ashtray at one another.

    Italy attacks France managing to lose a fight with a barely conscious opponent. It punches Greece and Britain and is so crap at fighting Britain holds it off with one hand. Italy calls out to Germany for help.

    Germany then punches Russia, keeps punching and punching, driving Russia across the bar but cannot knock it out.

    The USA and Japan have been in a gentlemanly quarrel, ever since Japan started beating up china. Suddenly Japan kicks the USA in the knackers but only hits one testicle. USA Grunts bends double but gets up and says “right I’m gonna do you”. Germany shouts out whilst still punching Russia, that it and Japan are mates and that the USA had better watch out. The USA shouts back that fine it will do Germany as well.

    Whilst sill hitting Japan, The USA walks over to Britain shakes hands and offers it medical attention and all the assistance it can handle, shouting out to Russia the same. Coming round the back way it starts helping Russia and Britain. Russia starts punching Germany, Britain and USA punch Germany and Italy; Italy has a change of heart and decides it was Britain and the USA’s side all along.

    Britain and USA finally coming over to Germanys side of the bar to finish the job, and what’s more start kicking it as well, France gets up and joins back in, Germany is finally knocked out by a double blow from Russia and USA.
    The USA gets fed up with punching Japan which won’t quit or fall over, so the USA pulls a gun out and shoots it in the foot, Japan then says it’s had enough.

    In fact everybody has had enough, Britain and France now very tired and worn out slump back in their chairs telling the USA that so long as it’s over, whatever is all right by the USA is alright by them. Russia and the USA have a pint together. They agree to split the bar into Public and private lounge, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland get told whether they like it or not they are drinking in lounge bar with the Russians from now on. Russia shouts out ‘My friends!’ and puts its arms round their shoulders and taking a very firm hold, frog marches them into the lounge. Austria decides that in fact it was never best mates with Germany and that in fact the ‘big nasty man made me do it’. But is allowed to stay in the public bar although Russia Realy Realy wanted it to come into the lounge with its friends.

    Germany is allowed to get up of the floor after a while, and told to sit in the corridor between the two bars on it’s own AND be very very quiet for the next few rounds or else it will be kicked out the pub for good.

  4. paul g

    they’re not. what’s happened is when everyone was busy they bought the bar, and put up a set of rules, with the right to ban anyone who doesn’t obey the rules gets barred from the pub.

    obviously these rules included only being allowed to use special beer tokens called euros to buy beer. Luckily GB being the main accountants for the bar have been allowed to use their own different tokens, sadly though greece went on a massive party all on the slate and due to hangovers failed to turn up to work to make any money to pay the slate.

    now everyone has agreed to pay greeces slate for them, but now they’ve had another party with that money and GB, being accountants have refused to bail them out.

    France likes drinking in the bar and are sucking up to germany and telling them to ban GB, germany are unsure as GB spend a lot of money in the bar and greece have had a hissy fit and are threatening to go drink in their own bar with their own beer tokens.

    Apparantly there’s going to be a big party in the new year, but nobody’s sure who’s invited and if it’s going to be in germanys bar, some fancy dancing on a brazilian beach while some fancy going for a sit down chinese.

  5. IXION


    I have friends in weird places, In the 90’s when the wall fell down, the unified Germany was asked whether it would accept the post WW2 border including Poland’s Oder Line.

    Chancellor Kohl refused to do so, stating publicly that Germany’s borders were not settled, and would be a matter of future negotiations.

    Poland went apeshit, What is really funny is what happened next.

    Not a sausage.
    No one, not a single country said anything for a few days or so; and suddenly Germany realised that no one was doing anything BUT staring at it, very intently, AND saying nothing.

    Within the week Germany had fully recognised and accepted it’s WW2 borders and we were all friends again.

    My friend said that diplomatic circles had never seen anything like it. He described it as the silence you get before the shssssh sound of lots of people, deciding as one that no further discussion would be necessary, this time they would all act as one at the very start; drawing their swords….

  6. DominicJ

    It popped on wiki a couple of months ago.

    Michael Yon has a bee in his bonnet about US “Dust Offs” at the moment, I’d figured on his adherants had done a bit of background work on how red cross Helivacs are supposed to work

  7. Chris.B.

    It looks mint. Wonder what the top speed is?

    Scary thought for you X, I actually sat down earlier and tried to write down the merits of Navy-centric spending. Well, probably Army-gutted spending would be more appropriate.

    Had to lie down afterwards.

  8. x

    Well super-cavitation was mentioned in the spec’s….

    The container is probably more seaworthy than the boat!

  9. Chris.B.

    Stand it on end and you could probably use that as a sail. With the tyre/gunports, it has an oldy worldy feel to it.

  10. x

    I know many here believe I suffer from that rare disease rafprlegendphobitis and I don’t care. Unlike our host I think Black Buck raids were rhubarb and the RAF PR Mafia and its auxiliary groups have done nothing but try to jump on the Falklands War bandwagon and build up their minor role in the war. Not satisfied with bulling up Black Buck they are now using Falkland raids that didn’t happen to grab attention in this 30 anniversary year. I note the dignify silence from the senior service who suffered real losses and similar from the Army.

    They would have been blown out of the sky by Argentine Mirages. Hint look how well they were doing over San Carlos. I find this distasteful.

  11. Topman

    it seems some suffer from iseerafpreverywhere common in fishhead groupies. On a more serious note i never had you down as a dm reader.

  12. Think Defence

    Topman, hadn’t you better get off to your gold standard accommodation, you have never had it so good :)

    I watching your debate the other night, mad me chuckle but decided to refrain from chipping in

  13. x

    Well it is good for a laugh especially the comments on the more right wing contentious issues. I wouldn’t pay to read it.

    Anyway got to dash I am lashing up an article entitled “How Harold would have won Hastings with Hurricanes”…..

  14. Topman

    @ TD i would but an italian airman heard about my gold standard of treatment and is now squatting in my room… @ x i wouldn’t even do that, might encourage the buggers.

  15. Chris.B.

    Have only just seen the link X provided to that YouTube clip about the Falklands. Made me laugh quite hard.

  16. James

    True Story that reads like a Joke:

    Early 1980s, a patrol of 12 infantrymen in 3 bricks of 4 is approaching Fort Whiterock in West Belfast, their base and home for 4 months. Given the street layout, there is little they can do to avoid setting patterns in the last 200 yards, so this is a high threat routine. They are overlooked by numerous high rise blocks in the area, any window of which could have an IRA sniper behind the curtains.

    Whiterock has 4 sangars, each with a machine gun. When a patrol returns to base, the sangars cover the threat areas, ready to respond. The arcs of fire are carefully planned to leave no threat out of arc for a lethal response.

    One of the sangars contains a bored sentry. As is the drill, he hefts his GPMG and begins tracking the incoming patrol, swinging into aim on supposed threat windows.

    The sentry has a negligent discharge, a single round. The round impacts the wall of a block of flats about 50 feet above the heads of the incoming patrol. ”Christ on a bike!” thinks the guilty sentry, ”I’m f**king for it now!”

    The patrol react. They’ve heard the incoming round, seen some brick dust. They all convince themselves that the round was fired from a block of flats on the other side of the Fort, from something like the 11th floor. They start firing back. A dozen or so rounds fly over the top of the base and start taking chunks out of the bricks on a block of flats on the other side of the base.

    The other 3 sentries heard the first negligent discharge, and certainly heard the returning fire. Over the field phones that all sangars and the base Ops Room share, they rapidly group think that there is a coordinated sniper attack coming from the flats directly above the patrol. They all take aim and start firing back at the threat windows of flats known to belong to Republican sympathisers which may be hosting the IRA gunmen.

    The initially guilty sentry thinks ”Thank f**k for that!”, hefts his GPMG and lets loose a long burst into the flats above where the patrol is.

    The Ops Room orders the patrol to return to base immediately as they are in the danger area. They sprint in. Firing continues for another couple of minutes or so. A total of about 250 rounds has been fired.

    After initial elation, the Ops Officer and Company Sergeant Major rapidly establish that it has all been a massive cockup.

    There is serious CivPop irritation, and few bricks thrown, RUC turn up, CO gets involved, Heli-Tele is deployed, minor rioting carries on for a couple of days.

    Official story is that there really was a single sniper. In 2010s language, LOL.

  17. Chris.B.

    @ X

    Yes. If you scroll up, you posted it here on March 18th, 11:59pm. About five or six posts up.

  18. Jim

    Just read this one and thought it worth sharing

    Cristina Kirchner
    met with the Queen on an official visit.

    She said to Liz,
    ” I fancy calling myself Empress, what do you think”?

    HRH replied,
    “you need to have an empire for that”.

    CK “Oh, how
    about being a Princess”?

    Again the reply,
    “you need a principality for that”.

    CK “How
    about Duchess”?

    “Sorry but
    one needs to have a dukedom”.

    “Well there
    must be something I could call myself, what do suggest”?

    “Well you do
    have Country, why don’t we leave it at that” :)

  19. jackstaff


    Two for you and the Queen’s Own Red Trousers. The first one may make the laptop a bit dusty:

    And then this bit from the Bird Catchers and — indeed — your lot (I’m guessing you drank a few of these chaps under the table on shooting weekends):

  20. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi x,

    The FRES fire support version has disappeared from plans
    – anyway, an interesting article (they did something similar in Canada, on a different chassis?)

  21. Peter Elliott


    I came across the following quotation recently:

    “We are entangled in a labyrinth of which no end is to be seen, and in which no certain path has been discovered; that we are pursuing schemes which are in no degree necessary to the prosperity of our country, by means that are apparently contrary to law, to policy, and to justice; and that we are employed in a foreign quarrel only to waste that blood, and exhaust that treasure, which might be employed in recovering the rights of commerce, and regaining the dominion of the sea.”

    What startlingly modern stuff. Was it written by a left wing journalist about Afghanistan and Iraq? Or perhaps by one of those ‘dark blue’ web commentators who polarise the debate so enthusiastically?

    No. It is of course a quotation from around 1740 and is attributed to a young opposition politician: Lord Sandwich was making a noise in parliament to try and get his name recognised at the very beginning of his political career.

    Nothing new under then sun.


  22. Peter Elliott

    Just caught up on David Starkey’s recent series on Sir Winston Churchill & John Churchill Duke of Marlborough.

    Very interesting stuff but the part that really chimed was right at the end when he pointed out that from 1945 – 1989 we were essentially following a grand strategy that Sir W Churchill set out in his ‘iron curtain’ speach. Since then, Starkey said, we have been ‘groping’.

    This fits in with a lot of the discourse on this site about a lack of Grand Strategy for the UK since the end of the Cold War.

    One of the clever things Sir W did was coin the vocabulary to describe his big ideas. Any suggestions of catchy names for the challeneges of global security today? ‘War on Terror’ is pretty tarnished these days. ‘New World Order’ didn’t go so well either.

  23. Peter Elliott

    ‘Transition’ only works if it gives some sense of what we are transitioning to.

    Starkey pointed out that any period of rapid dis-armament has usually been followed by a big, nasty, unexpected war. This is worrying. The trend of our current policy could therefore be branded: ‘Transition to Weakness’

    The fluffy liberal view would be that we are on the way to universal world peace: ‘Transition to a secure world’

    My own view is probably somewhere in between along the lines of ‘Expect the Unexpected’ or ‘Transition to Chaos’. As such having more agile, balanced forces optimimesed for small to medium sized expeditions is great. Cutting logistics and support is not so clever.

  24. Swimming Trunks

    @ Peter – ” ‘Transition’ only works if it gives some sense of what we are transitioning to.” Ah, thats the question isn’t. I have a few fluffy liberal view videos about IR; I’ll post them later…

  25. Alex

    Very interesting stuff but the part that really chimed was right at the end when he pointed out that from 1945 – 1989 we were essentially following a grand strategy that Sir W Churchill set out in his ‘iron curtain’ speach.

    WSC himself thought he was following a wider grand strategy that had been in operation since Elizabeth I – that the UK (as it wasn’t) would fight to prevent any single hostile power controlling the Low Countries and therefore threatening to dominate the Narrow Seas.

    Cold war thinking from our PoV fits that pretty well – BAOR and 2 TAF were lined up to defend, yes, the north German river lines..

  26. Topman

    Nice video mark especially for today. Bringing that video up reminds me; BBMF are (hopefully) getting a Mosquito in around 18 months time, by all accounts they are removing a Spitfire from the flight for it.

  27. wf

    @x: that is delicious. Perhaps next time Cristina visits the UN we could arrange to have her impounded because her boobs could be resold?

  28. Brian Black

    That’s an attractive looking ship; would look even better flying British colours.
    It’s a US investment company that got the court order, but I’m assuming they’d auction it. I hope so much it ends up in British hands, it would annoy Kirchner so much. I think her tiny mind would explode if ever a royal set foot on board too.

  29. x

    @ Brian

    There is some British involvement in the ship being arrested.

    Not many know but the UK has an Admiralty Court. One of the areas it deals with is mortgage disputes.

  30. Brian Black

    It would make a great addition to any of the sail training charities we have in this country, x. I hope there’s some private money around to pick it up.
    A drop in the ocean for all Argentina’s creditors though, but a significant signal nonetheless.

  31. x

    @ Wise Ape

    I just hope that the article is read at Sandhurst. And it puts a kibosh on the Household Cavalry desire for a version of FRES with legs.

  32. jackstaff


    That first comment in the Hoth thread is perhaps the greatest milblog comment of all time. And how often have we read that, or something like it, here and elsewhere?

    @Wiseape ref: destroyers,

    Yep. But if even Palpatine, an actually competent evil overlord (in the prequels anyway, which is God knows not saying a lot), can’t manage the Death Star-sized hole in Core budget then how on earth will Dave and Ozzy?

  33. jackstaff


    Wonder how many billion quid it would take BAE Shipbuilding to knock up a couple or three of those? In my mind’s eye I can see Sir John Hawkins sitting in front of it drinking a Buck’s Fizz.

    Also, am I missing something or have we left a rich vein of humour gravely unattended since the junior service consolidated their repair shop at RAF Wittering? I thought that was a job description rather than a location….

  34. jackstaff

    In a past life, when I taught a bit of World History, I used to put up up an older version of that map first day of the second (modern) half of the class, and say, “why does that map look wrong to you? Think a minute about how big the universe is, about Einstein and relativity and observer bias and all that. How do we know which way is up? Because this lot (waves laser pointer over projection screen or hand over overhead projector, depending on how posh the classroom’s A/V was) won and drew the maps.”

  35. Brian Black

    And the prize for the most ironic department title is awarded to… “The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea”, which recently released this gem.

    “It is the steadfast determination and unshakable faith of the army and people of the DPRK led by the illustrious commander of Mt. Paektu not to allow the hostile forces to infringe upon the sovereignty and dignity of the country but decisively and mercilessly wipe them out.

    The DPRK abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the north and the south. Therefore, the DPRK officially declares that from the moment the Korean Armistice Agreement is made totally invalid on March 11 all the said agreements will be completely nullified.

    The hostile forces should clearly know that our just option is by no means a mere threat but is an expression of the fixed will of our army and people to annihilate the enemy.

    All the service personnel and people of the DPRK will turn out as one and mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and provocateurs with the tremendous might of Songun they have consolidated, and build a reunified, prosperous and best powerful country on the land of three thousand-ri without fail.”

    Pyongyang, March 8 (KCNA) [ABRIDGED BY BRIAN] — The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK)

  36. Mark

    An Air Council came into being on 2 January 1918 and the foundation of the RAF took effect on 1 April 1918 when the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were absorbed into its structure. Thus, the RAF became the first truly independent air force of any major power free to fully develop all the applications of aerial warfare.

  37. x

    An RL coming ashore from Empire Grebe, a Ministry of TRANSPORT ship, operated by Atlantic Steam Navigation Co Ltd. Management then British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, not RFA. Note the ship’s traditional trooping livery of blue and white.

    That was back in a time when the UK still had bases nearly everywhere. Go figure. :)

  38. x

    If you study IR you learn about the power of maps as politcal tools. Bearing that in mind this is probably the truest map I have seen in a long time,

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