This Weeks Links

A collection of interesting news and views from this week

F35 Performance Specs

A look at the operational impact of eroding the F35’s performance specifications

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Europe’s Air Transport Command Agreements

A very comprehensive piece from Defense Industry Daily

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Another Airship Bites the Dust

Maybe next time!

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European Defence Agency

Are we in, out or somewhere in the middle?

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The Labour Party are Back on Early Intervention

Do the words “preventative intervention” sound familiar?

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Everything Must Go

Sir H on the problems of returning equipment from Afghanistan

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A Slow News Day

Shortages of FAD whilst the old No 2’s are on sale, hold the front page

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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!

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Brian Black
Brian Black
February 15, 2013 12:50 am

The US DoD has just formally announced its new ‘Xbox medal’, for military gamers shooting at targets on tv screens – the Distinguished Warfare Medal.

“Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has approved the Distinguished Warfare Medal, designed to recognize service members directly affecting combat operations who may not even be on the same continent as the action.”

Is it time for the UK to introduce such a medal, or are remote acts occasioning significant combat effect already covered by the British awards system? Do we need to consider combat effect at all in our system, weighted towards gallantry -courageous behavior in battle? An RAF or RA drone pilot could surely never win a DFC, no matter how critical or impressive his thumb-stick skills were.

February 15, 2013 6:25 am

Sad to see that airship article. I favour loitering airships as the AEW platform for the carrier group(“s” added when I feel optimistic.) Also as a troop-transport platform to marry up fairly rapidly with ro-ro sealift with plenty of pax and without using up the Voyagers or requiring a working, hardened airstrip. We’ll get there eventually — we’ve just been stuck in this sorry alternate timeline without clean, efficient Zeppelin travel everywhere since the 1930s ;)

Also, without simply defending Labour (I’m no fan of theirs nor really these daysof any British political parties on my side of the political fence) such statements follow pretty directly from a broad reading of “upstream engagement” and the Army surely plans to defend its jobs program for brigadiers known as the Adaptable Force on that sort of basis, that rather than using BATTs with fewer but better real combat brigades to back them up, instead the Amalgamated Ex-Loamshire Fusiliers should go a-colonial policing fairly often to keep up “relevance,” budget share, and critical mass for the Under-18s pool of future 4*s to defend said budget share.


This is the “all shall have prizes” into which the US awards system has fallen since Vietnam. Before that, though never so much as British and Commonwealth nations, the Yanks were more parsimonious about awards and, during the now-closing Sandbox Decade they’ve started to return to that form when it comes to gallantry awards (apparently, based on a little digging, there’s a chance that the Medal of Honor may actually have been under-awarded in Iraq based on some of the hairy messes into which the US got its folks.) But rather than creating a simplified, linear non-combat awards system (like the Bath/British Empire grades typically used in the Forces, or the Order of Military Merit and related lesser Crosses/Medals in Canada) the US model multiplied vastly, creating for example duplications of service-specific commendations for work at the Pentagon, and various petty good-service gongs so young ORs could show off to their high school chums back in Lower Fistula, Nebraska and the like. The US have plenty of awards that would do this already, particularly the non-“combat V” version of the Bronze Star for the minor bits (e.g. a particularly well-executed drone strike) and the old chestnut the Legion of Merit (a good rough equivalent of a military-list OBE in the Honours, or a MMM from Ottawa) for bigger achievements. No need at all for something else to weigh down American dress uniforms, just a bit of rearranging. The World-of-Dronecraft types in Arizona bunkers really don’t need their egos fluffed. You should hear my emigre-Glaswegian father in law in re: drone pilots (after his parents migrated he ended his career a full colonel in the USAF, after flying special-ops helis in Southeast Asia doing various crazy things in countries he was not officially supposed to be flying over, and though he never mentions them picked up five American DFCs plus various other bits — even back home he might have managed a DFC and Bar in a similar war. Quite modest for a Glesge boy but quite definite in his views of what constitutes hard work in wartime :)

February 15, 2013 6:56 am

Either someone is very dumb, journos are shooting from the lip or the Armed Forces Minister Andrew Robathan is telling porkies in Parliament, which I always understood to be a bit of a no-no.

Desider Feb 13 quotes hims as saying “We expect to bring almost all our equipment out” He also says “We are in negotiations with the Pakistanis and hope we will be able to bring a great deal more back through the Pakistan land route than we are currently doing”. Comment (I was a properly IO). This is consistent with recent improvements in relations with Pakistan, and between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and providing the current PM there hangs on will probably be delivered.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 15, 2013 12:43 pm

The Labour defence secretary seems a little late to the ‘upstream conflict prevention’ party.
I’m sure early engagement in troubled countries and regions is necessary and worthwhile, but I suspect that an element of the Defence Engagement Strategy is simply to provide an excuse for the limited punch of our future forces. Perhaps also to provide leaders with a delusional security blanket to hold onto as they hack and slash at defence spending and warfighting capabilities.

February 15, 2013 3:03 pm

Queens new song about airships..

‘Another one bites the dust’….

February 15, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: gongs for not actually being there; don’t we just call that an assist?

That Murphy bloke has achieved the not inconsiderable task of making Hammond look sharp.

February 18, 2013 8:34 pm