The Story of FRES – 2010 Scout Contract Award

2010 would finally see some tangible progress but it was not all easy street for FRES.



The beginning of 2010 saw BAE and General Dynamics promoting their respective entries for FRES SV

The General Dynamics offer was based on the Austrian-Spanish Cooperative Development or ASCOD vehicle which is in service with Spain and Austria, as the Pizarro and Ulan respectively.

The BAe option was a shortened CV90, fully developed and available in the flesh, although to what extent readiness extended under the skin was not clear. The basic vehicle was to be constructed at Hagglunds in Sweden and shipped to Newcastle for final assembly and integration.

General Dynamics FRES SV Scout
General Dynamics FRES SV Scout

Outwardly there was little to distinguish them, both using  in service infantry fighting vehicle of nineties origins as the base platform and both were equipped with the mandated 40mm CTA cannon with a range of C4ISTAR, protection and automotive upgrades. The new Generic Vehicle Architecture would form the backbone of the sensor and electronic systems for both vehicles.

Neither featured a telescopic sensor mast as TRACER had and both were conventionally powered and protected, no hybrid powerpacks, electric armour, active hydrogas suspension or segmented band tracks.

This was a significant step back from both the TRACER and initial FRES visions because the MoD, smarting from relentless criticism, facing an impending budget crisis and continuing pressures of ongoing operations knew full well they would have to trade ambition for realism and getting something into service was critical for the credibility of the project and the department.

Therefore, FRES SV represented a paucity of ambition.

On the flip side of this complain is the reality that new vehicles were needed and maybe something that was 80% was good enough. Many pointed to an inability to trade capability for time and cost led to the demise of TRACER.

It was and is a fair point.

Both solutions offered uplifts across the lethality and protection domains, would be equipped with the latest (albeit off the shelf) sensor systems and offered great potential of future upgrades through Generic Vehicle Architecture and automotive improvements.

Neither was a poor design, far from it, both being solid, well designed machines.

The main issue that most commentators remarked on was the sheer size and weight of both proposals. It is difficult to envisage a force comprising 30-40 tonne vehicles being rapid to deploy, mobile on the battlefield without significant manoeuvre support or being stealthy in support of the reconnaissance mission as defined by UK doctrine.

BAE announced the investment of £4.5 million in a Turret Test Rig for both Warrior and FRES programmes in February.

The £4.5m Turret Test Rig (TTR) will mimic the field testing of turrets for Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) Scout and Warrior vehicles by subjecting them to tests under extremes of temperatures. The tests are expected to take a turret through a 20-year lifespan in 12-18 months.

Also in February the UK and French governments agreed to fund further development and qualification of the 40mm CTA weapon. Incidentally, the announcement mentioned 245 Scout vehicles, down from 270 in the original bid materials.

At the end of February the Investment Approvals Board met to decide between General Dynamics and BAE and the pressure was on to make a decision before the upcoming election announcement after which there is traditionally a six week period of purdah on major contracts.

As usual with these closely guarded secrets the MoD’s leaky sieve was in full on leak mode with a number of outlets reporting a win for General Dynamics.

BAE tried to sweeten the deal on jobs and fabrication location, Sweden to Newcastle being the new offer. BAE also issued a press release stating that the integrated demonstrator had completed testing at 40.4 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight.

In March the MoD announced that General Dynamics had been selected for FRES SV Recce Block 1, or more specifically, selected as preferred bidder.

General Dynamics issued this press release;

General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited has been selected by the Ministry of Defence to provide the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles to the British Army. The MoD has chosen General Dynamics’ ASCOD SV tracked vehicle as the winning design for the demonstration phase of the Specialist Vehicle competition, providing both the Scout variant and the Common Base Platform for up to 580 SV vehicles. ASCOD SV is the latest generation of a proven European design which has been significantly redesigned by General Dynamics’ UK engineering team, and will provide unparalleled military capability for the British Army over the 30 years of the vehicles’ life.

“The General Dynamics UK team won this competition to provide the British Army with its next generation of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) because it is the best vehicle for the British troops,” commented Dr. Sandy Wilson, President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK. “We offered the best integrated solution, the best growth potential over the 30-year life of the vehicle, the best value for money for the British taxpayer and the best deal for the UK Industrial base.

The ASCOD SV programme is British to its bootstraps, delivering a Military off the Shelf vehicle with British design by British engineers to the British Army while safeguarding or creating 10,600 jobs for British workers.”

British troops using the ASCOD SV will have the best protection available in this vehicle class, both as it is delivered and as it grows to meet future threats. The vehicle will be immediately capable of delivering load- carrying growth potential of up to 42 tonnes thanks to a modern, proven drivetrain. This means that ASCOD SV is capable now of being equipped to meet future threats likely to appear over its entire 30 year life, without the need to upgrade its engine or transmission during that time. Finally, 80% of ASCOD SV’s full rate production will be based in the UK, securing or creating over 10,600 jobs for British workers.

These new jobs will be secured or created over the duration of the SV programme in South Wales where General Dynamics UK is based, Scotland, the North of England, the North West, the East and West Midlands, and the East and South of England. General Dynamics UK has sub-contracted Lockheed Martin UK INSYS to produce the turret of the Scout variant of ASCOD SV, and will transfer full rate production of the entire ASCOD SV programme to DSG in Donnington, ensuring 80% of ASCOD SV production happens in the UK.

Lord Peter Levene, Chairman of General Dynamics UK Limited said: “We are delighted that the MoD has selected ASCOD SV for its SV programme, a decision we believe will sustain the British tank industry for future generations. We are confident that the decision will, most importantly, provide the best protection for British soldiers, as well as provide both the greatest long-term value and the best military capability for the UK Government and the MoD. We look forward to delivering this contract in partnership with the MoD for the benefit of Britain’s armed forces.”

Based on a proven European design, it is the latest-generation vehicle developed specifically for SV by a team of General Dynamics UK’s engineers in Britain and Europe. It is a low-risk choice for SV, with excellent weight and growth potential.

The vehicle offers one common-base platform which can meet the range of SV roles. Its turret is designed by Lockheed Martin UK INSYS, specifically for the British Army’s scout role. ASCOD SV also offers high value to the UK Defence Industrial Base. Its Intellectual Property will be based in the UK, part of the sovereign capability available to the British Government. By value, 80% of the vehicle manufacture will be completed in the UK, with 70% of the supply chain companies UK-based.

Overall, ASCOD SV will create or safeguard more than 10,500 jobs in the UK.

There was still ambiguity on intellectual property, ‘based in the UK’ is not the same thing as ‘owned by the MoD’

It also made the British to It’s Bootstraps claim, that 70% of the supply chain would be UK based and 80% by value would be completed in the UK.

Bold claims, but very careful with the wording.

On the supply chain for example, British based maybe, but certainly not British owned or traded on the London stock exchange.

Industrial issues aside, at least the project now had some clarity, contract would follow based on a clear understanding on the relevant issues and BAE could now get on with closing its UK vehicle manufacturing base.

On July 1st the Leicester Mercury published a story describing a loss of jobs at the BAE Braunceton Frith, Leicester site. Quoting a BAE official, it said

We don’t see any short to medium-term opportunities for design and manufacturing. Design is the majority of what Leicester does

In other Leicester news, HJ Hall announced job cuts following an Army sock contract going to China

Quentin Davies said

the MoD must buy the best equipment regardless of where it was made

it also emerged that the General Dynamics solution would include a turret provided by Lockheed Martin, the actual design being based on the Rheinmetall LANCE medium calibre turret, another one of those British Bootstraps although Lockheed Martin insisted 75% of the turret would be manufactured in the UK, on what basis that 75% was measured was not clear.

Time for a video.

General Dynamics United Kingdom – ASCOD Scout SV Presentation [480p]

A Freedom of Information Act request made by the Times newspaper revealed that the MoD had spent £68 million on FRES SV to this point.

With the election out of the way the MoD and General Dynamics announced successful negotiations in June and the award of a £500 million contract for the Demonstration and Manufacture phase of FRES SV Recce Block 1. Seven prototypes would be built with first testing completed by the end of 2013.

RUSI published a paper written by Grahame Birchall in October that compared and contrasted the French success  with their transformation programmes and medium weight vehicles compared to FRES. It is a fascinating paper and anyone interested in the subject should take the time to read it, click here

Briefly, Grahame distilled the the French secret as

  • Be soldier centric
  • Take decisions you know to be right without endless studies that confirm what you just know
  • Sign off by the users, procurer and manufacturer at each stage
  • Avoid the ‘big idea’

He also drew attention to the fact that NEXTER was involved at every stage and that organisation had a view across the wider subject, not just vehicles.

The annual ‘kick the MoD in the teeth’ report by the National Audit Office was published on the 10th of October.

For FRES, it revealed that the actual/forecast for FRES UV had risen to £162 million with no explanation of why.

Non FRES Vehicles

The first of the production Boxers are now in service with the German armed forces and the Dutch are starting their production facility build near Eindhoven.

In February/March, alongside FRES, the MoD was also considering the future of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Project (WCSP), a competition between BAE and Lockheed Martin.

BAE released a marketing video for Warrior CSP that showed live firing trials of its MTIP-2 turret. BAE were proposing a new turret design (MTIP-2) and Lockheed Martin, an upgrade of the existing Warrior turret.

BAE Systems – Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) Upgrade [480p]

In March, the MoD Investment Approvals Board recommended a year long delay to WCSP.

The MoD announced another order for 140 Supacat Jackal 2A’s (an enhanced version of the Jackal 2) and an additional 28 Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (Heavy) in June. The contract for Supacat was £45 million and bought the total numbers of Jackals in service to over 400.

The Light Protected Patrol Vehicle contenders continued with their media display, by now, it was down to the Supacat SPV400 and Force Protection Ocelot.

Supacat SPV400 for UK LPPV programme

Ocelot light protected patrol vehicle

June was the bid submission deadline for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle

June also saw a number of reports that BAE (after losing the FRES SV contract) and the MoD were negotiating the restart of the CVR(T) production, at least for hulls.

DefenceIQ reported;

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and BAE Systems are negotiating the re-started hull production for the British Army’s Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) fleet. The heavy wear and tear, corrosion and fatigue on the CVR(T)s deployed in Afghanistan has prompted the move, which has raised concerns among British Army equipment managers that the fleet of CVR(T) derivatives could soon be rendered combat ineffective. There are 1,100 CVR(T)s still in use. The CVR(T) is currently the mainstay of the Royal Armoured Corps’ reconnaissance regiments.

There are reportedly also concerns among senior army officers that the scout variant of the recently selected General Dynamics ASCOD Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) vehicle will not be ready by the planned 2015 in-service date to replace the CVR(T).

It is still not clear how many hulls are involved, but all the 100 or so vehicles deployed in Afghanistan are expected to pass through the rebuilding process.

Army sources indicate that they expect “a couple of hundred” CVR(T)s to remain in service beyond 2016 for use in air-portable and amphibious rapid-reaction units where the requirement is for a vehicle weighing less than 10 tonnes.

The irony of new build CVR(T)’s and old ones being retained for units that needed them for rapid deployment could not have failed to have been appreciated by all, especially BAE, the official loser of the FRES SV contract.

It was revealed later that CVR(T) Mark 2 would use remanufactured hulls and a wide range of improvements, Scimitar Mk2 would use a Scimitar turret and Spartan Mk2 hull.

Scimitar Mk2 it was, not Spartiman or Scimitan!

Pretty much every component was replaced or upgraded, mobility, protection, power provision and maintainability all improved.

125 German Boxer vehicles would receive a protection upgrade in the form of Schroth inflatable restraint system, airbags in other words, read more here

Navistar announced an additional £33 million order from the MoD in September for 89 Husky Tactical Support Vehicle )Medium)

September also bought success for Force Protection with its Ocelot vehicle for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) requirement. The MoD announcement confirmed their status as preferred bidder and in November an £180 million order was placed for 200 Ocelots, to be called Foxhounds.

7 years after the first IED death in a Snatch

A number of Mastiffs and Wolfhounds were also purchased during the year.


Towards the end of January the Chilcot Iraq War Inquiry heard evidence of of a shocking lack of equipment in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

From a Guardian article

John Hutton, who described delays in providing the army with a new armoured vehicle as a “procurement shambles”

He sharply criticised the delayed Future Rapid Effect System project, designed to provide new armoured vehicles. “I think it’s hard to imagine a worse procurement shambles,” he said.

“That, I think, is a pretty grim episode and in my view makes the case for a very urgent shake-upof the equipment procurement function of the MoD absolutely essential … Ten years into it, we still haven’t got a single vehicle.”

The pressure on the MoD, on DE&S and on FRES was building.

Following the publication of the 2008 Defence Strategic Guidance and 2009 Future Army Structure (Next Steps) that recognised the most likely operation was not a large scale state on state operation but enduring medium scale interventions that would be complex, crowded and with ambiguous goals.

As Future Army Structures (Next Steps) matured in early 2010 the proposed light, medium and heavy structure gave way to the concept of six Ground Manoeuvre Brigades each with an identical modular structure. These brigades would be supported by three Support Brigades and a high readiness Air Assault Brigade.

Although FAS(Next Steps) made perfect sense it did not address the resource issue, indeed, when fully implemented it would have required a 10% uplift in personnel.

It was thus, utterly unrealistic.

This was recognised by March FAS(Next Steps) was no more and General Richards instructed the Army to come up with a new plan that recognised financial reality and paid attention to the newly published Future Character of Conflict published by the Defence Doctrine and Development Centre.

And so was born ‘Transformational Army Structure’ or TAS

TAS bought the 6 plus 3 plus 1 Brigade model of FAS (Next Steps) down to 5 Multi Role Brigades and 1 Air Assault Brigade and instaed of 3 support brigades, a single Joint Theatre Enabling Command.

TAS was much more inline with the Future Character of Conflict that suggested that future operations would be more like Afghanistan than the Gulf War; congested, cluttered, contested and connected.

October 2010 saw General Richards succeeds Jock Stirrup as CDS

Following the election the pre SDSR silly season was in full swing, leaks, counter leaks and inter service backstabbing reached new levels.

A Telegraph article on the 9th of October quoted the eponymous ‘Senior MoD Official’ who said

FRES is dead in the water. It’s a dead duck. It is the definition of everything that is wrong with the MoD’s procurement process

The Multi Role Brigade concept survived contact with SDSR 2010 but not unscathed, they would now be self supporting instead of using the Joint Theatre Enabling Command and force reductions across the board became the chosen position.

Although SDSR confirmed its commitment to FRES  the concept of the Medium Weight Capability was dead in the water.

The FRES vision of a bulging middle joined by a smaller heavy and light capabilities was gone

The future was modular, the future was enduring and the future was certainly not the quick in quick out medium weight vision.


The rest of the series

The Story of FRES – Introduction

The Story of FRES – The Sixties

The Story of FRES – The Seventies

The Story of FRES – The Eighties

The Story of FRES – The Nineties

The Story of FRES – US Experience in the Balkans

The Story of FRES – 2000 to 2003

The Story of FRES – 2004

The Story of FRES – 2005

The Story of FRES – 2006

The Story of FRES – 2007 and the Trials of Truth

The Story of FRES – 2008

The Story of FRES – 2009 and a Return to FRES

The Story of FRES – 2010 Scout Contract Award

The Story of FRES – 2011

The Story of FRES – 2012 to 2014

The Story of FRES – A Summary


As one might imagine, this series has taken an enormous amount of research, taking into account many sources but I must give special mention to our Chris and Challenger2 from Plain Military, without their expansive knowledge and most helpful insight and support, this would have been much the poorer.




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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Pete Feeney
Pete Feeney
July 20, 2014 9:29 pm

Superb series, though I smell a fashionable waft of garlic about its conclusions. A large piece this time about how wonderful, how pragmatic the French have been getting their VBCI out of the traps. Given the leg up they had from MRAV they have done marvelously. Giggly politicians are fawning all over it.

Meanwhile the hugely capable, NATO Compliant, Anglo Saxon MRAV, Boxer has quietly made its way in to service studiously ignored by those who cancelled it and are now forced to go elsewhere to avoid admitting they were, fundamentally, WRONG to cancel it.

At ALL levels Boxer beats VBCI. Yet we see slight of hand and political maneuvering skimming past European procurement rules and conducting trials without competition. Since their decision to pull out of Boxer … ahem …. MRAV was right, you’d have thought they had nothing to fear by conducting a head to head comparison. But of course, we have already done that and come up with the wrong answer.

The bottom line is, that for unfathomable reasons, we are p@ssed on the French this week and damn the capability.

July 20, 2014 9:59 pm

Paucity of ambition….? FRES-SV is at roughly the same technology level as the much troubled (though now coming right) Puma, be weary of the TRL claims of engineers.

I am not sure what being traded on the LSE has to do with anything either, the UK Treasury may accrue a small amount of corporation tax from the tax domicile but other than that its insignificant.

BAE’s original industrial offer was pathetic, they approached the entire competition with their usual swagger and arrogance almost assuming a win. In the meantime GDUK quietly, and without much fuss, went round Europe collecting all the best bits and pieces they could find and stuffing them in a platform with a max GVW of 42 tonnes, a turret ring of 1,7m, an 800hp engine and transmission tuneable to 1,000hp and substantial and upgradeable electrical output. Truth be told GD Scout is far more German than it is either Spanish, Austrian or American.

July 20, 2014 9:59 pm

Pete – ref VBCI process – as far as I can determine the good aspect of VBCI procurement was that at all stages the User, the Customer and the Designers engaged. I was going to write ‘cooperated’ but I suspect there might have been a few ballistic teddies along the way – disagreements are not always a bad thing; they remove erroneous assumptions, clear the air and allow resolution to be determined thus keeping all three parties on-side. Compare and contrast with the traditional hands-off UK procurement, where the Customer and User are not permitted to suggest design, but have to talk in arm-waved handfuls of capability instead, while giving the Designer a quarterly kicking at the programme reviews for not meeting expectations…

Hohum – TRLs are an invention of programme managers to try to reduce engineering progress to a set of red-amber-green status flags on a presentation. Reality of course is that any engineer asked how near complete the project is will answer “Its about 90% complete”. Its always about 90% complete.

July 20, 2014 10:18 pm

Its all well and good saying that Boxer or VBCI or Piranha could have been in service by now, and its not inaccurate from a simple time consideration, but it is worth noting that the MoD did not run any great budget surplus, the UOR vehicles came from funding over and above the core budget, and nothing was acquired in Piranha’s place from within the core budget. One can not help but wondering where that money was spent or if it ever really existed in the first place.

July 20, 2014 10:57 pm

So after all this time and money, in the future our ‘Rapid Effects’ and scouting will be provided by, drumroll please… CVR(T) YMCIU.

July 20, 2014 11:05 pm


It is possible to make that argument, but at least a couple of years vanished somewhere but it still takes us full circle, even if that was the case it just means there were two children to feed with just one lunch box.

I am not sure that UV should be the priority, the dogs are there now so we may as well use them and it gives us time to properly develop the requirements for UV. The Army is now very well placed to buy an excellent vehicle if it so chooses, one that considers all the lessons and technology improvements of the last decade.

I don’t think we have created a monopoly with GD, in fact I think quite the opposite, the FRES selection as well as the dogs and Warthog have made a powerful statement that the UK will buy from anyone in the acceptable world.

July 21, 2014 1:11 am

It beggars belief that the arrogance of the Tories continues to stand so far and long.

The entire FRES UV debacle could be sorted instantly. Right now.

Pick up the phone to Germany, order the Boxer. Job done in 5 minutes.

But no, they could never bring themselves to that. They are worried about some tabloids picking up on “WE CANCELLED THEN WENT BACK QUESTIONS ASKED AFTER FLIP FLOP”. They never will have a thought toward the logical choice.

Boxer is better than VBCI. It is cheaper than VBCI. It avoids getting stuck into the French industry. It is more common to our components than VBCI. It shares more parts than VBCI. It does everything that “eh” French vehicle does and much more for a lower long term price. The only thing stopping us having those things in British service in less than a year is the suits at the top concerned about their egos and not wanting to admit they ballsed up.

Now we’re going to be stuck lampooning off the damn French, getting inferior vehicles and paying far too much for them. Again.

The Other Chris
July 21, 2014 6:20 am

Selective reading there Tenor. All as bad as each other over the whole timespan with “friendly inter service banter” to boot.

As for which vehicle is better… AMV gets my vote. It floats!

July 21, 2014 7:00 am


Interesting rant, no basis in reality but interesting nonetheless, I would point out that Labour had 13 years to buy the Boxer and appeared to be in no hurry to do so.

Peter Feeney
Peter Feeney
July 21, 2014 8:03 am

Waves papers vigorously – Cries Here, Here!

Since trials of VBCI =< OJEU Petition to No 10 = Boxer? Rule for one ???

The Other Chris
July 21, 2014 8:05 am

Spot on Hohum.

July 21, 2014 2:06 pm

What exactly is “anyone but BAE” syndrome?

It seems to be somewhere between:
a) preventing a single overweening supplier taking monopoly share in a segment of the defence marketplace (eg: armoured vehicles)
b) a clandestine, vindictive, punishment for (alleged, perceived) manipulative incompetence (eg: MRA4 tail assembly instability).

Please could someone summarise?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 22, 2014 3:26 pm

Labour has 13 years to decide to do a lot of things and screwed most of them up. But then again most Politicians should be charged with professional negligence. They should only deal with the big picture and allow professionals to do the real work, and I do not mean Col. Buggerme on a three year tour. Of course the military have an input, but cannot micro-manage any programme with an ever increasing wish list. The Politicians decide the role of the Armed Forces, the professional work out what is needed and the cost. If the politicians don’t like said cost they downsize the role of the Armed Forces. Just a thought but maybe this would allow resources to match the need and be more transparent.

July 22, 2014 3:54 pm

Isn’t it on page one of the Art of War that politicians should not interfere with generals. 2500 years and it still hasn’t bloody well sunk in.

July 22, 2014 3:58 pm

No, that was Sun Zhi training the King’s concubines. He had the 1st and 2nd favourite executed to “encourage” discipline and to show no one was immune, which annoyed the King to making critiques which prompted the above reply. The Art of War was more a free ranged table top discussion between 3 strategists.

July 22, 2014 9:35 pm

If there is any “anyone but BAESystems” syndrome, it’s probably a wide mix throughout the spectrum you described, possibly with some added resentment at their pulling the “buy our products or we’re going to shut down x factory in y constituency.” every five minutes. Especially galling if they then offer what appears to be a largely foreign-built vehicle.

If we are quoting influential treatises on warfare, what about paraphrasing von Clauswitz where war is a continuation of politics by other means?

July 22, 2014 9:52 pm

@ Chuck,

“Isn’t it on page one of the Art of War that politicians should not interfere with generals. 2500 years and it still hasn’t bloody well sunk in.”

— Not sure if it was page one or not, but yes. However, that was more to do with the planning of campaigns, as in decide what it is you want to achieve politically, then let the generals get on with the solution.

July 22, 2014 11:31 pm

I cannot understand the preference for Boaxer//MRAV/GTK.

It’s a horrible, idiotic concept of a vehicle.
Infantry combat requires numbers, and you cannot afford the proportionate numbers of GTK to support these infantry numbers.

It’s a gold-plated super security bus, and in most missions you could make do with two Toyota Land Cruisers instead.

Boxer is not meant to drive into the thick of battle, but it has a higher protection standard than support vehicles by several leagues – including better protection againt DPICM than most MBTs possess! Why protect the infantr this much while it’s riding, wheres engineers, electronic warfare, artillery support and many other troops ride 1960’s grade protected vehicles or soft vehicles?

The whole thing is thoroughly idiotic, a focused partial maximization effort instead of a sensible component of a battalion battlegroup.

July 23, 2014 12:06 am

thank you, ok so I am not missing some specific definition

I feel I agree with mr.fred and Chris B; war is politics by other means, politics has a huge impact on strategy and failure to get strategy right in the first instance is irrecoverable by a Generals’ brilliance down the line.
Best have a military minded politician very close to politically minded general, bonded together with “Auftrangstaktik”.
I do not think you meant it for a moment, but you do not want the aloof Japanese Emperor and his Generals model.

July 23, 2014 2:37 am

Interesting points on the nature of war, but I was just agreeing with Lord Jim and whining about the politicisation of procurement.

On the larger points, none of which I particularly disagree with; politicians should set foreign policy(the basis of any strategy or action), pay the bill and generally stay well away from the rest. Too many in Westminster fancy themselves a military genius or are more concerned with their own appearances than military results. Even in the wars they started.

This does a great disservice to our foreign policy and our military in equal measures.

The Japanese example is the problem reversed the Generals having to much political power, without doubt just as pernicious.

Of course the other great issue with our politicians is the paying the bill part. They want a seat at the top table, the ability to achieve ‘rapid effects’ whatever the hell that is(buzzword bingo anyone), but heaven forbid they might have to run a campaign without promising to cut taxes for their base and corporate donors. Even when we were fighting 2 shooting wars and had troops deployed in a couple of other places the notion of increasing the budget or size of the military was dismissed out of hand.

Look at Helmand. Great example of our current flawed thinking. Who needs the ability to take the fight to the bomb makers when you can just UOR some bombproof trucks right? Just over 1000 combat troops to hold an area half the size of England is plenty, can’t admit that it isn’t. Wouldn’t want to look bad in front of the yanks.

Time and again these points were made(less sarcastically) to Westminster, then publicly, by the generals, but Westminster knew best. The tax rise or deficit increase to pay for maintaining a suitable force to achieve our goals at that range would be terrible for the poll figures.

So the general is over-ruled(and often resigns in disgust). The lads get smashed to bits and we piss a load of blood and gold without achieving any of the things we set out to. Did we achieve a single objective after all this? The Taliban are richer than ever, now pretty much owning a monopoly on opium and will soon be back in control, once the US finally pulls out. AQ now operates from the Atlantic cost of Africa to the east Indies. Not even mentioning those they inspired or span off.

July 25, 2014 4:42 pm

Can’t really gainsay most of Chuck’s comment.
The only point I would make would be that the infantry needs a protected mobility vehicle, proof against artillery, small arms and counter mobility devices like IEDs and mines. But then that ought to have come out of the core programmes rather than being rushed in as a UOR.

SO’s point – I think that the Boxer, along with most modern 8x8s, have far more direct-fire protection than is necessary. In most cases even heavy machine gun is over-egging it a little. On the other hand, a pair of land cruisers would be stopped by a man with a machine guns. Soft skins have no mobility on an opposed battlefield.

The sensible thing to do would be to acquire enough vehicles to equip all units in the battle group with the same level of protection, using a common base vehicle for all roles, rather than discard the whole lot as a bad job.

July 25, 2014 6:31 pm

mr.fred – ref “equip all units in the battle group with common base vehicle for all roles with the same level of protection” – its a no-brainer to me…