We are an island you know

The issue of ‘sea blindness’ is one that vexes anyone who has even a passing interest in UK defence issues but is even more important to those that think the Royal Navy should receive more funding than the other services.

I hate inter service rivalry with a passion, it is responsible for many of the problems we face today.

Make no mistake, it is the grown ups in all three services who must shoulder equal amounts of blame with those devious ministers and unfeeling civil servants the mainstream media like to vilify. It seems to be an unwritten rule in defence reporting that civil servant/minister = BAD and anyone in uniform = GOOD.

Quite ridiculous of course but back on topic.

One can almost guarantee in any justification of spending on CVF or any other naval system the immortal words ‘we are an island you know’ will not be far behind.

In a neat one two, the island argument is  swiftly followed up with a light dusting of statistics, 95% of our visible trade is reliant on shipping or the majority of our food arrives by sea etc.

The Royal Navy provide some excellent background reading here

Behind the headlines though, is an interesting picture of spin, de-emphasis and obfuscation.

Visible Trade, yes, but what about invisible trade, for example financial services or tourism. The service sector is about 75% of UK GDP, financial services is 32%.

Traffic, the overwhelming vast majority of maritime trade is between European ports, not far off places. 70% of export tonnage and 66% of import tonnage is with Europe. When North America, Africa and South America are included the figures rise even higher.

Value, values are roughly in line with volumes, the majority is with Europe.

Shipping Industry, the industry is often touted as the third largest sector in the export economy but how much of this is shipping insurance and chartering?

Food, most of our food arrives by sea, so certain quarters would have you believe, raising the spectre of starvation without a strong Royal Navy, but this ignores our food exports, a growing proportion of air transport and the originator of these imports, Europe again. Out of the top 20 export countries, 15 are European. Imports from Europe account for roughly 70% of inward food trade. We are 60% self sufficient in all foods and 74% self sufficient in foods that can be grown here. It is estimated that we could become self sufficient if exports were stopped and certain foods not consumed.

Fuel, Food production is highly reliant of energy, as is the vast majority UK economic activity. We are oil and petrochemical products net importers and increasingly are importing large quantities of gas from Qatar.

Goods, trade with the Far East is primarily for manufactured goods but as China evolves it may well move away from being the low wage economy that has driven its growth, manufacturing output may well move to Africa and other low wage countries.

It is obvious that maritime security is important for the UK, but, and it is a BIG but, does it justify an expeditionary Royal Navy, centred on CVF and the amphibs?

What is the best way to provide security for a maritime dependant UK?

I am all for a strong Royal Navy, but please, let’s base it on sensible arguments instead of scaremongering.

In many ways, we are as dependant on the sea as France or Germany, Samsung plasma TV’s sold in Berlin still arrive via sea.

Looking at the above and other possible strategic futures one could argue that there are other, non defence, things to spend a finite budget on to secure food, energy and economic security. Increasing gas storage, new nuclear power stations, research in nuclear technology, agriculture, improving the resilience of gas pipelines, deep sea oil exploration and many other non defence areas might contribute to actual security more than an expeditionary naval capability.

This may seem strange coming from a defence blog but defence should always be seen in the wider context of security.

Our overseas territories should also be considered, Cyprus SBA, Gibraltar, the Pitcairn’s, various Caribbean islands and central and the south Atlantic but of these the only ones requiring a strong naval element is the South and Mid Atlantic, which would also include Africa, especially Nigeria for oil products and others for food. The Falklands and Antarctic may be important sources of food and energy.

Given the actual nature of sea trade and its importance to the UK an argument for stronger defences against asymmetric threats to European ports, pipelines and offshore energy installations could be made. Mines or suicide attacks against these could have a serious effect on UK and European short sea trade and energy distribution.

In the future, oil products may increasingly be obtained from deep sea and non Middle East sources, should infrastructure protection be taking a larger slice of the defence pie.

In an increasingly telecommunications and IT system dependant world, cyber defences will make increasing demands on the security budget, where is the money for this coming from?

Drugs interdiction, fisheries protection and anti piracy/seaborne terrorism are likely to be enduring requirements, some might argue for a stronger coast guard and there would be some merit in the argument but a Royal Navy better equipped for these challenges would be equally valid.

The Royal Navy is the training partner of choice for many nations, should we be expanding this and the broader defence diplomacy role.

This leads me to question the capability that the RN is mortgaging it’s other capabilities against, CVF and the air wing.

As the Royal Navy contracts to what is by default a surge expeditionary capability, rather than one based on forward presence, maybe it is time to address our real maritime security needs.

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Jedibeeftrix
September 1, 2010 11:56 pm

“It is obvious that maritime security is important for the UK, but, and it is a BIG but, does it justify an expeditionary Royal Navy, centred on CVF and the amphibs?”

In my opinion, yes, but not just because of the trade and energy arguments:
1. as an island nation we are not vulnerable to blitzkrieg, and thus we do not have the same requirement to maintain large standing armies as typified by the continent. you might then ask how best to deliver force beyond our own borders given that it is not needed to man the line……

2. as an island nation, if we wish to affect matters via military means on somebody else’s shores, the effect will be delivered principally by naval tonnage. this is not advocacy for a advocacy of a Royal Naval Marine Corps, deep blue in hue, merely recognition that between the RN and the RFA we can deploy and/or sustain land force elsewhere.

Without the above we are automatically in hock our partners for bridgehead and and the bridge itself, regardless of whether that is a large scale operation where allies are essential, or a medium scale operation where we might choose to engage regardless of the commitment of our allies.

Andy
Andy
September 2, 2010 12:53 am

Since the basic premise of UK defence policy (at the moment) is to meet any threat where it exists and not wait for it to come to our shores then an expeditionary Navy is needed above and beyond the reasons outlined here.

Without a navy capable of organic air power and amphibious lift beyond our continent the UK will become incapable of meeting any small to medium scale threats alone.

Meaning
1) We basically require host support.

2) We will always be in danger of fighting someone elses war and become an adjunct to another countries foreign policy. The conservative position on the green paper was that they disagreed we would always fight with allies and need the capability to act alone.

Remove the RN as a blue water navy and I don’t think any state will be threatened or coerced into behaving themselves by our 10,000 troops or ever shrinking airforce.

3) We will lack a conventional deterrent that the government has made a big play on in pre-SDR speeches. Far, far better to deter than fight.

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 3:06 am

“In a neat one two, the island argument is swiftly followed up with a light dusting of statistics, 95% of our visible trade is reliant on shipping or the majority of our food arrives by sea etc.”

This may be correct for mass transported, but is certainly wrong in regard to value. Air freight is astonishingly important in its share of export value.

quick google:
http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications/downloads/Air%20freight%20growth.pdf
“Goods transported by air now account for 5% by
volume of all goods traded globally but 36% by value (IATA, 2006)”

German news said during the Icelandic ash aviation blackout that half of Germany’s export value was exported by air.

————————–
: You still don’t think in alliance terms.
You know, you could send an armoured division through the tunnel to Romania’s or Turkey’s border and it would be just the same as if (continental!) Spain did it.
We could get into a hot conflict with some North African power and end up with triphibious assault – just the same for UK and Germany, the country of origin doesn’t matter here.
A stupid government could decide to go on a stupid adventure overseas and send its navy to transport army and air power for the adventure – again, just the same for Germany/Spain/Italy/France/Netherlands/UK/Poland.

The only real differences are the available fiscal power, military tradition and a few overseas possessions – and most of them could best be secured with local defence preparations.

Jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 8:26 am

@ Sven – “You still don’t think in alliance terms.
You know, you could send an armoured division through the tunnel to Romania’s or Turkey’s border and it would be just the same as if (continental!) Spain did it.”

I do, just not entirely.

An amphibiously deployable brigade with a 2* headquarters to coordinate local forces has long, I am lead to believe, been deemed a valuable contribution to NATO.

This has not disappeared, and arguably grown more important with climate change opening up new energy reserves on NATO’s northern flank.

However, the point about all this naval tonnage is that it is not only useful for insertion into a contested theatre, it can be used to deploy and sustain (not forgetting the point-class), and provide C2 if necessary for British Forces they might be, and in whatever NATO/coalition operation they might find themselves in.

How many heavy transporters do we have available?
How much could we quickly expect to charter as rail freight?

Not much.

If there were a general war on Nato’s periphery would you really want a logistics chain starting in a single tunnel and then traversing an entire continent on a fairly predicable, and easily disruptable road/rail link?

Not much.

Where this becomes useful in the particular, rather than the merely the general, is when there is a medium scale conflict/stabilisation mission that is not of immediate importance or relevance to our partners, or, that requires an immediate response before a situation deteriorates into civil anarchy.

Bridgehead/First Entry in large-scale coalition operations / strategic effect at the medium scale in operations of sovereign importance.

I just don’t buy the idea that Britain’s limited budget is better allocated in any other way.

Retain sovereign capability.
Retain contributory capability.
We don’t need to deploy at a divisional level in any situation outside general war on NATO’s doorstep, as you eloquently argue, lots of other nations can provide brigades too.

DominicJ
September 2, 2010 8:35 am

“Traffic, the overwhelming vast majority of maritime trade is between European ports, not far off places. 70% of export tonnage and 66% of import tonnage is with Europe. When North America, Africa and South America are included the figures rise even higher.

Value, values are roughly in line with volumes, the majority is with Europe.”

Actualy not the case.
Because of your rather sordid history of strike action, the UK lacks serious Port Facilities. So most of our our imports and exports will first go through a continental port like Rotterdam.

These are counted as “internal trade” between the UK and EUrope, and the international trade is accrued to the final EU port.
The goal being to boost internal trade figures.

Sven
“You still don’t think in alliance terms.”
Thats because we consider the most likely response of our EUropean allies when called upon to aid us would be to ignore the treaty, a small chance of stabbing us in the back and a tiny chance of actualy overuling public opinion and meeting treaty obligations, or the alliance is worthless to us because it specificaly does not cover large portions of our territory.

Only a few days ago you were calling me irresponsible for suggesting that a Russian invasion through the Baltic States should be met with a NATO blocking force in the Baltics and counter invasions in the extreme North and extreme South.

“You know, you could send an armoured division through the tunnel to Romania’s or Turkey’s border and it would be just the same as if (continental!) Spain did it.”
Unless France said no.
In which case the British Army could get as far as Dover.

“A stupid government could decide to go on a stupid adventure overseas and send its navy to transport army and air power for the adventure – again, just the same for Germany/Spain/Italy/France/Netherlands/UK/Poland.”
Germany could go on a stupid overseas adventure?
How?
If Germany wants to go real estate shopping its limited to/by its immediate neighbours.
The only way the German Army can leave Germany is if its neighbours allow it passage or it hires a cargo ship.

Admin
Royal Navy Carriers and Assault ships give us the ability to sail around the world and hit foreign folk until they do what Her Majesties Government tells them to.
The RAF cant do that.
The Army cant do that.

Only Assault ships can land an army uninvited and only carriers can (realisticaly) provide them air support once they are there.
Although the Frogs new Submarine launched Storm Shadow makes my Guided Missile Carrier look like a better idea again.

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 11:34 am

“Sven
“You still don’t think in alliance terms.”
Thats because we consider the most likely response of our EUropean allies when called upon to aid us would be to ignore the treaty, a small chance of stabbing us in the back and a tiny chance of actualy overuling public opinion and meeting treaty obligations”

Oh really, isn’t this a bit crazy?

Europe sent ten thousands of troops into a war in response to what wasn’t even meant in the NATO treaty and entirely summoned as a problem by the Americans themselves and you doubt that they would fight with the UK when the UK would come under serious attack?
The UK is now even twice allied with continental Europe – it could even go to the European Court of Justice to demand allied defence urgently.

And you believe that the future RN would be able to justify its expenses with securing the few and mostly indefensible overseas possessions on its own?

Reality check and cost/benefit analysis might help here.

My view on German defence is that this is a time of no real threat, and thus we should focus on maintaining the skills and the ability to expand our forces very quickly if needed.
Meanwhile, UK defence seems to be centred on keeping that bully ability that Blair loved so much and maintaining tradition and old self-perceptions.

x
x
September 2, 2010 11:59 am

Moving from Germany the American 1st Division got stopped by the Sava River on there way to Kosovo. Moving things across land isn’t always straightforward…..

Boyce was fluffy on Radio 4 this morning. There is it seems no wish for the naval greats to point our that air space is sovereign (and host nations apply conditions.) The RAF can’t just go where it wants. And when that is considered the 1800 mile range of the Typhoon starts to look a little short legged; let us not mention the 13billion PFI for tankers.

As a very great man once said the Army is a weapon best fired by the Navy.

And if “we” want to we can afford a navy. The government needs to scrap the International Development and Aid budget (9billion) that is wasted year on year or ends in up the pockets of Third World government officials/criminals. Actually the latter could be said about the EU payments too (some 15billion I believe.) And again we won’t mention the 13billion PFI for the tankers. Even the latter would pay for a third carrier, some nice big amphibs, some extra oilers, couple of extra Darings, arming the Daring with CIWS, SSM, etc. etc. etc.

It is also “simples” (as the kids seem to say) it hurts my head.

@Sven

Without the sea we starve. Without air transport we can’t get strawberries out of season……..

x
x
September 2, 2010 12:04 pm

The Cypriot SBAs do we need these?

Once we have proper carriers the RN can do all its good weather training in California with the USN.

As for electronic eavesdropping we can plonk all that kit on a couple of hulls and have them orbiting the eastern Med. GCHQ staff would be fighting for a chance for an extended cruise………

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 12:15 pm

between cyprus and gib we have a permanent ‘say’ on what enters the med, from any direction, they are strategic points that we can ‘choke’ at will.

same can be said for the falklands.

why would we give this up?

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 12:20 pm

“Without the sea we starve. Without air transport we can’t get strawberries out of season……..”

That’s badly misleading, for the RN does not prevent the “sea” from disappearing.

(I) The UK wouldn’t starve at all. It would need to intensify and reorganise its agriculture real quick and probably restrict food access, but that’s about it. Fatties would become less fat.
This has always been true, so even the “strangle” attempt with German subs in both World Wars were much less dangerous than history books assert.

(II) The UK depends on overseas trade no more than does for example Sweden. Still, they only “need” coastal corvettes, FACs and subs. How is that?

(III) Air transportation has easily enough capacity to transport all food needed in the UK, it’s just not as economical as is transporting such low value density goods by sea.

(IV) The RN sucks at overseas trade protection. It could at most protect one convoy fully at once – and that is an optimistic guess in face of AIP SSKs.
The RAF is much better at protecting maritime trade; it has the power to strike the bases of possible commerce raiders.

You’re cherishing your RN high seas tradition that goes back to 16th century, and don’t seriously think about actual present-time needs (and cost/benefit). Tradition clouds your view.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 12:28 pm

(II) The UK depends on overseas trade no more than does for example Sweden. Still, they only “need” coastal corvettes, FACs and subs. How is that?

Two years ago the value of goods and services traded between the uk and the EU/RoW was 51/49 percent, i know because I asked the ONS.

I am willing to bet that statistic has reversed in the intervening period?

I am also willing to bet that the EU average for the value of trade in goods and services split between EU and RoW is much closer to 66/33 percent, and climbing rather than declining.

If you have access to comparative figures i’d be delighted, for while i have UK figures, wider EU comparisons are harder to come by.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 1:13 pm

Admin – “Paul, the Japanese has a very powerful navy without huge carrier fast air, which is of course a strike weapon”

What kind of powerful? And we must acknowledge that the JMDF exists as it does because of constitutional limitations resulting disastrous foreign adventures some years back.

Admin – “Parking CVF off someones shore will have precisely zero coercive effect, as has all sea based air in the last several decades. You have to be able to back it up with sustained land operations and even then the coercive effect is debatable”

Just to clarify whenever I refer to naval expeditions i refer to CVF and and ARG, not one or another unless mentioned specifically.

Admin – “we should have an expeditionary RN including CVF with all the trimmings and to suggest that with a finite pot of cash, there might be alternatives”

The facts are as they stand, but CVF, the amphib fleet along with its RFA support are a capability useful to:

Autonomous Obligations –
> Security & Defence of Oversea Territories
> Evacuation of Non-Coms

Contributory Obligations –
> Defence of Nato Article V area
> Pro-active counter-terrorism

Contributory Operations of Choice –
> Expeditionary operations

Autonomous Operations of Choice –
> eg Sierra Leone

http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/fdr6.pdf

Re europe/US/allies/reliability/cheese/etc –

These are the facts:
> The government has said it will not give up on autonomous capability.
> The multi-party green paper agreed on status & influence as desired outcomes of Defence policy.
> The US is [THE] most important alliance we have, over and above all else.

Dancing around these cast iron facts is pointless and worthless.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 1:18 pm

Just to recap the conclusions of the FDR6 paper:

The hard strategic choice remains between continental and maritime expeditionary capability.

Some capabilities, including command and control, ISTAR and helicopters, are required in full for either strategic option. For most others it is a matter of scale.

The case for aircraft carriers would be confirmed by the maritime

strategic choice; frigate numbers relate closely to obligation but quantification is difficult.

There is not a strong case for retaining heavy armour.

Andy
Andy
September 2, 2010 1:51 pm

”Royal Navy Carriers and Assault ships give us the ability to sail around the world and hit foreign folk until they do what Her Majesties Government tells them to.
The RAF cant do that.
The Army cant do that.”

This is the reality (within reason of course, the UK isn’t going to go poking Russia or China anytime soon)

The Defence policy and the green paper suggest we should have an expeditionary outlook, if we do not have the carriers then we are basically ripping the assumptions of it up and accepting strategic shrinkage and resigning ourselves to a contributory option to someone elses war.

The CVF’s ARE the UK’s big conventional stick. The soft power that all governments seek can only be backed up if you have hard power too.

The Japanese navy has next to little power projection so how powerful is it in reality?

Marcase
Marcase
September 2, 2010 1:53 pm

Admin – “Parking CVF off someones shore will have precisely zero coercive effect…”

China seems to think otherwise when a US CSG was floating around in ‘their’ South China Sea.

Considering air power, perhaps some will remember a little US-Libya shindig back in the ’80s called “Eldorado Canyon”. A couple of F-111s based in Lakenheath, UK, had to fly all around Europe and over the Med to reach their targets, because Europe (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) refused passage. This also played havoc with tanker support.

Or remember the Balkans; Italy was very close but still there wasn’t enough tarmac around.
Also, air power struck away but only after ground forces intervened did the conflict simmer down.

Cheers.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 1:58 pm

just to be clear, the second half of my post was not addressed to you:

“Re europe/US/allies/reliability/cheese/etc –

These are the facts:
> The government has said it will not give up on autonomous capability.
> The multi-party green paper agreed on status & influence as desired outcomes of Defence policy.
> The US is [THE] most important alliance we have, over and above all else.

Dancing around these cast iron facts is pointless and worthless.”

—————————————————-

On the matter of the conclusion in my most recent post:

“1.The hard strategic choice remains between continental and maritime expeditionary capability.
2. Some capabilities, including command and control, ISTAR and helicopters, are required in full for either strategic option. For most others it is a matter of scale.
3. The case for aircraft carriers would be confirmed by the maritime strategic choice; frigate numbers relate closely to obligation but quantification is difficult.
4. There is not a strong case for retaining heavy armour.”

I’m not sure how they are objectionable in and of themselves.

1. cannot see how a budget already insufficient to maintaining both a naval and a continental capability, can possibly do so with a further 15% cut.
2. nothing objectionable here, particularly the last part; “For most others it is a matter of scale.” Choosing one or the other is not an exercise in absolutes.
3. if a maritime strategy were chosen, would not there be a greater justification for CVF?
4. i disagree with if we take the statement to its logical conclusion; ditching Ar/FR/AI to create the mythical medium weight force, but i read it as merely downsizing the armoured divisions currently in Germany.

It is me that drew the parallels between mission profiles and assets, not the FDR article.

Andy
Andy
September 2, 2010 2:01 pm

Is it Taboo to mention the South Atlantic around here? Basing our future defence policy on what General Umbongoo might or might not do doesn’t seem wise to me?

The S.Atlantic is a REAL unique British strategic interest not a hypothetical mythical scenario, it seems to be swept under the carpet when future decisions are debated. I’m not just talking Falklands either, the whole area may be rich in energy resources and only a fool would not foresee potential conflict over this in the next 30-40 years.

Can anyone guarantee that in that timescale the growing S.American economic countries don’t start to get more beligerent if Oil is found and may wish to do away with a ‘foreign’ presence in their Latin area?

Now you may say quite rightly the way to defend our interests is to defend it in the first place. I’d argue that the permanent manpower involved in keeping British interests in that area safe go way over the costs of a CVF which can also be used in other spheres at her majestys pleasure.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 2:10 pm

“Is it Taboo to mention the South Atlantic around here? ”

In addition to the falklands themselves it should be remembered that hague is getting all moist about the possibility of cuddling up to Brazil, in which case Mt Pleasant is the hub of multi-lateral activity in southern South America.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 2:18 pm

purely as a point of interest, the FDR6 paper has the naval definition presence, which seems relevant given the current topic:

“In British naval doctrine, ‘presence’ is defined as the exercise of the use of naval force in support of diplomacy in a general way, involing depployments, port visit, exercising and routine operating in areas of interest. The purpose is to declare interest, reassure friends and allies, and to deter (convince a potential aggressor that the consequence of coercion or armed conflict would outweigh the potential gains).”

Andy
Andy
September 2, 2010 2:33 pm

Admin

‘Andy, come on, are you saying that the blood and treasure cost of maintaining a defensive stance in the mid and south atlantic is more than mounting a flotilla, mobilising pretty much all the armed forces and sailing south in a hail of guts, glory and bullets.’

—-

No, i’m saying that keeping a minimal presence on the Island backed by the threat of the possibility of the latter is preferable to keeping manpower equivalent to the potential threat faced (and it will surely rise if my scenario plays out) which over the course of those 30-40 years will be a lot more expensive. Not least because CVF isn’t a one trick pony.

Let’s not beat about the bush – the threat from Argentina is minimal to negligible at the moment. It may not always be that way, the entire S.American block see’s the Falklands as an anachronism. I’d never back against the Latin temperament to do silly things if they feel the UK is leeching oil from ‘their patch’.

DominicJ
September 2, 2010 3:13 pm

Sven
“Oh really, isn’t this a bit crazy?”
No.
EUrope sent barely 10,000 soldiers to the safest areas of Afghanistan (This is what we’re talking about right? Serbia was an EU plan we roped the US to) and ordered them not to fight.
But who cares about Afghanistan?

Anyone who thinks France is going to conscript 5 million men and march them from Georgia to Russia through the meat grinder that a dug in infantry division could be is frankly crazy.
Its almsot 20 years since the EU first stated it wanted to form a Rapid Intervention Corps, it still exists only on powerpoint.
Words dont cut it when bullets are flying.

“it could even go to the European Court of Justice to demand allied defence urgently.”

And the ECJ is going to mount a Coup, conscript 10 million Germans, nationalise German Industry, have it build an armada and sail said 10 million German conscripts across the world to die?
Lines on a Map and Words on a Parchment are not Actions

“And you believe that the future RN would be able to justify its expenses with securing the few and mostly indefensible overseas possessions on its own?”

No, the RN exists to beat Johny Foreigner until he does as he’s told.
But defending the far corners of the UK is more “PC” goal.

Sven2
Point 1
Very True
The UK was never really at risk of starving, although acording to TheDaysOfGlory we were very close to localised shortages, like London running out of Gas and Coal.

Point 2
Sweden relies on US goodwill to keep its sealanes open. If the UK decided to cut them, Sweden couldnt stop us.
Lack of Capability does not indicate lack of requirement for one.

Point 4
You dont win wars by defending against enemy attacks, you win wars by destroying the ability of your enemy to attack.
To do which, you (sometimes) need expeditionary capability.

“You’re cherishing your RN high seas tradition that goes back to 16th century, and don’t seriously think about actual present-time needs (and cost/benefit). Tradition clouds your view.”

No, your incapable of accepting that the present peace is a historical anomaly.
Whats needed today is, well, nothing.
But you dont “know” that next week the UK wont be at war with the PanAsians.
I do know that it takes years to design and build a ship, even if the entire capability of the UK was marshalled it might take a decade to retool to a war economy.

Jedi
If you include Acension and Diego the RAF could cut virtualy every shipping lane in the world.
East Asia to West America is all that could survive.
Stick an Airbase on Pitcairn and you can snap that as well.

Admin
“1. Host nation support has ALWAYS been available”
Has it?
Why didnt we use the available ground based air support during the Falklands then?
It seems odd that we sacrified several ships when we had the much better alternative of using Chiles airfields to destroy the AAF on the ground with V bombers.
How many times has the UK NOT intervened because we lacked the capability? Impossible to know.

“In one form or another”
Oh yes, they let us fly some recon planes from their bases.
Which rather sounds like a none sovereign favour begged for that we cant rely on.

“2. UK Carrier air operations will be able to do very little without support from land based air”
Define very little?
It can overpower the defences of anyone without their own F35/Typhoon/Rafael/SU35 fleet and if the submarine service grounds them with naval stormshadow, well it can overpower them anyway.

“3. Parking CVF off someones shore will have precisely zero coercive effect, as has all sea based air in the last several decades. You have to be able to back it up with sustained land operations and even then the coercive effect is debatable”
Which is what the Ampibs are for.
But we do have to be realistic about what we can achieve.
The aim should be to hit them until they agree to behave, not cultural adjustment.

“Paul, the Japanese has a very powerful navy without huge carrier fast air, which is of course a strike weapon”
Define “Very Powerful”.
Awesome at hunting the chinese submarine fleet and destroying surface vessels whilst under the protection of the Airforce.
Not quite so awesome at fighting around the Galapagos islands.

“Dominic, all the assertions I made in the post are based on facts from various sources like UK stats, OECD and the various shipping and food trade bodies.”

I cant find a decent counter right now, but suffice it to say, the numbers you use ared rigged, but it doesnt really change anything, I wasnt challenging the “outcome”, just informing, the UK is no more at risk to a naval blockade than Germany

Admin 2
“but does in fact need a balanced force structure with both pace, strength and longevity”
Without either a “Local Partner” or an amphibious group, an army cannot land, so its longevity is 0 months.
Without Sufficient “Depth”, an army cannot meet deployment limits, so its longevity is 4/8/12/16/20 months.

Having the manpower to maintain an army group in theatre forever is pointless unless you have the capability to move it to theatre in the first place.

The US can afford both.
The Rest of the World can only afford 1, if any.
TROTW – The UK have land borders that need defending, so pick land armies.
The UK doesnt have land borders, so can pick no military, a big land army, or a big navy.

“The talk of a mobile airfield being parked offshore and General Umbongo doing what we want is sheer fanatsy and not once has it been shown to actually work and that includes the ARG, which is going to be in real trouble against anyone with even a handful of T55′s let alone anything more modern.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Zanzibar_War
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunboat_diplomacy

I think it depends what your asking him to do.
If you demand he surrenders and faces certain death, of course he’s going to fight to the death, he’s got nothing to lose.
The “Do as we say” has to be a better option than “or else”.
Either that or we need a credible party ready to topple the General with our support and capable of holding power without it.

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 3:35 pm

DJ – “It seems odd that we sacrified several ships when we had the much better alternative of using Chiles airfields to destroy the AAF on the ground with V bombers.”

A good point, to which we could add at least one more example, the failure of the Turkish front in OIF.

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 4:21 pm

@DominicJ:

Two things.

1.
How did you circumvent the spam filter? The blog scoffs at me for being “spammy” when I write as long comments as your latest.

2.
“No, the RN exists to beat Johny Foreigner until he does as he’s told.”

You better retract this, for this equals calling the RN an institution for war crimes.
The Charter of the United Nations, Kellogg-Briand Pact, North Atlantic treaty and probably even more treaties which are in force in the UK illegalise such behaviour.
There’s no way around it. To send the RN to make others bow to your will without being attacked by them in the first place (including collective defence) is a war crime.

An institution solely meant for committing war crimes is a criminal organisation. In this case, it might even considered to call it a terror organisation if your claim wasn’t wildly inaccurate.

That’s why I think you better retract that line.

Besides; if that was the RN’s job, it would have been the greatest waste of money ever, for the RN hasn’t really done what you expect it to do for a generation – and apparently only once overall in the last two generations.

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 5:08 pm


jedibeeftrix September 2, 2010

DJ – “It seems odd that we sacrified several ships when we had the much better alternative of using Chiles airfields to destroy the AAF on the ground with V bombers.”

A good point, to which we could add at least one more example, the failure of the Turkish front in OIF.”

IIRC Chile sold old Mirages to Argentina in 1982, therefore I’d like to know a source about this “option”.

The Turkish front was no “failure in OIF.
The U.S., UK and Poland clearly violated the North Atlantic Treaty with OIF, while Turkey proved to be more loyal to its commitment.
I recommend to read the actual NATO treaty. It’s much more explicit in the parts that require peacefulness of the NATO members than it is about the actual requirements in the event of war.

See articles 1 and 5.
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm

jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 5:34 pm

“I recommend to read the actual NATO treaty. It’s much more explicit in the parts that require peacefulness of the NATO members than it is about the actual requirements in the event of war.”

I have no doubt that Turkey felt it had no legal obligation to provide basing under NATO, or that it felt the correct response was to refuse access, but until the British Parliament declares OIF to be an illegal war it remains a legal one, parliamentary sovereignty and all that.

And in sanctioning war they deemed to be legal Parliament quite reasonably held an expectation of opening a second front from Turkey, a NATO ally, and while the negotiations went on a great deal of time and effort was wasted in what was proved to be a fruitless task.

It is stands as a valid example of a failure to achieve basing rights and thus detrimental to the effectiveness of the campaign.

Jed
Jed
September 2, 2010 6:48 pm

@Sven

“You better retract this, for this equals calling the RN an institution for war crimes.
The Charter of the United Nations, Kellogg-Briand Pact, North Atlantic treaty and probably even more treaties which are in force in the UK illegalise such behaviour. There’s no way around it. To send the RN to make others bow to your will without being attacked by them in the first place (including collective defence) is a war crime.”

Come on matey, I know you mean well, but please get a grip! Are you deliberately taking the original comment out of context ?

All any nations armed forces have ever existed for is to kill, maim and disfigure whoever their political masters decree is the current enemy. National Armed Forces are not social institutions to be used to churn out model citizens with first aid certificates.

So, you don’t have to be overly creative to consider the original comment as supporting UK foreign policy: “Dear rest of the world, please be aware that if you ever attack us or our interests, at home or abroad, we will find you and kill you”.

Whether that is in response to an out and out attack or not, whether it includes escalation through regional bodies or UN resolutions depends on the situation, but frankly I think your response in calling for a retraction is a little over top :-(

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 6:51 pm

“…until the British Parliament declares OIF to be an illegal war it remains a legal one, parliamentary sovereignty and all that.”

Actually, it already did declare OIF illegal by ratifying* Kellog-Briand Pact, Charter of the United Nations and North Atlantic treaty.

The only thing missing is a statement by a court or government to make this obvious to everyone.

*: Ratification is a bit special in the UK, but it can be said that these treaties became effective in the UK and parliament played its part.

Jed
Jed
September 2, 2010 6:53 pm

Admin

Even if we have no maritime expeditionary requirement at all, sticking to ‘sea control’ to protect our interests, and those of our allies in the sea lanes and on the rest of the global commons, the CV is still a very useful asset.

It can carry ISTAR, AEW, ASW and other assets to be used in ‘sea control’ scenarios. If its fixed wing air group has a decent anti-ship missile, even better.

This does not mean Queen class is the right size or shape, it does not mean that it passes an cost benefit analysis you care to undertake, I am simply stating that Carriers as vessels are not “one trick ponies” (as someone already said) and the ownership of a large CV is not entirely tied to expeditionary warfare.

Jedibeeftrix
September 2, 2010 7:29 pm

Sven – “…until the British Parliament declares OIF to be an illegal war it remains a legal one, parliamentary sovereignty and all that.”

Sven, regardless of how much you or I, or a great many other people, wave are hands in the air the fact remains that the British parliament took legal advice and came to the conclusion that the existing UNSC resolutions gave sufficient legal justification for OIF.

It may well have been a foolish adventure, it may well have been disastrously managed, with hindsight it may even be judged to have been a regrettable act, but as far as Britain is concerned it was a legal war because on the best advice available Parliament decided that it was a legal war, that is what Parliamentary Sovereignty is about.

If you want to complain further then take it up with Parliament, and if they hold a legal review which decrees whose conclusion is accepted by Parliament I will agree with you.

Until that point it is an excellent example of the problem to be found with trying to achieve forward basing rights for military action.

DomincJ
September 2, 2010 7:42 pm

Sven
1. It had to await moderation
2. Lines on maps and words on paper.

“IIRC Chile sold old Mirages to Argentina in 1982, therefore I’d like to know a source about this “option”.”
It wasnt an option, which was the point.
Admin said airbases were always available, I was pointing out that they arent.
It was in Chiles interest for us to rough up Argentina, but they werent going to go to war over it themselves.
As for NATO, see above, words on paper.

Legality
The HoC is the highest court of the United Kingdom, it sometimes bows to lesser courts, but there are (almost) no constitutonasl limits to the power of the HoC, certainly none that could have their actions be declared illegal.
The HoC could pass a law that *I* must be killed on site, failure to do so being punished by dismemberment.
It would be perfectly legal, it would simply supercde any pre existing laws.
Its questionable if it would be enforcable.
But no court order could protect me.

Sven Ortmann
September 2, 2010 8:51 pm

@DominicJ:
It’s probably no wonder that a nation which thinks it can warp the meaning of treaties in its favour at will because in the end it gives a shit about the actual meaning of international law and multinational treaties does not really trust other nations to fulfil their binding treaty obligations.

I observed this with the U.S., seems to be the 2nd side of the coin.

I’ve long held the opinion that overall the two English-speaking NATO members are the worst allies of Germany of the post-Cold War period, and the arguments keep coming.

Keep in mind that the belligerence and “we give a shit about their sovereignty” approach of Austria-Hungary is what dragged us (all of us!) into WWI in the first place. Germany has had its disastrous experiences with belligerent allies, and it’s really disappointing that the “We must not forget our history” crowd doesn’t look at this part of our history and draws its lessons from it as well.

(irony begins here)
Oh, btw. The Nuremberg trials were all wrong.
Hitler was completely right to invade Poland – err, defend against Polish aggression. It was clearly legal and legitimate by any advice he got. Actually, he didn’t need that- the leader principle stated that he himself decided what was wrong or right.
The main Nuremberg trial indictments of

“# Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace
# Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace”

were obviously wrong, forget the Kellogg-Briand Pact and common sense.
Just the same as with Blair. The British Parliament has spoken, thus he was absolutely right, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.
(/irony)

On the other hand – Blair simply killed hundreds of British citizens and destroyed national wealth.

Maybe a nation should learn of its history if not of other nation’s history.

x
x
September 2, 2010 9:02 pm

Sven said ” Sweden…… “need” coastal corvettes, FACs and subs. How is that? ”

Sven, Costa Rica has decided it has no need for armed forces. How is that?

@ Jedibeeftrix re Cyprus

I was only joking. I do that sometimes.

@ Admin

I like alternative ideas but I think you are on shaky ground here. I grew up in the shadow of “the bomb;” if you had told me at 18 that the Soviet Union would be gone by the time I turned 21 I would have laughed. My great grandfather saw GB fall from the status of super-power to a second rate (at best) in the space of his life time. And if you had told an Englishmen in 1602 that in 1649 an English king would be beheaded he would have been dumb struck. To use that line credited to Macmillan “Events, dear boy, events” or in other words things happen. Lets say we play the counterfactual card. Could you guarantee that say the UK will stay in the EU? Or that the countries in the EU (like Germany and France) won’t leave NATO? Or that the next US president takes an isolationist stance? You can’t. I can’t. Nobody can. But are these scenarios really that left field? No not really.

I know the current vogue in military thinking is to believe that the West will spend the next 50 years running around the more remote areas of the world chasing tribesmen with AK47. But I think we are heading for a period more reminiscent of the early modern age where small, well trained, and expensive forces are deploy sparingly at the point of (potential) conflict (or crisis.) There may be even elements of a balance of power model. Conflict will come about because how intelligence is deciphered; intelligence garnered through the whole spectrum from humintel to platform based to space based to perhaps cyber based. These conflicts will be short (perhaps one side launches a missile and the other side counters that is it) as politicians move to de-escalate rapidly. In this model it doesn’t really matter if the missiles are costly.

Where does this leave CVF? Well it is a status platform; the modern day gun boat. Will General Umbongo quake with fear? Maybe no, maybe yes. Third World dictators don’t really care if their people are hurt. And the rather inefficient ICC means he has a good chance of getting away with stuff. As do the West’s rather liberal “human rights based” ROE. But the CVF will still demonstrate to Third World leaders that they can be reached. But where the CVF pays dividends is that demonstrates resolve to our allies and enemies; as I said it status platform. And though a lot of people hate the fact the US is still the biggest game in town and will be for a good few decades yet. Compare if you will the decline of the British Empire with the US’s current position. There is a good case that the launching of HMS Warrior in 1860 represents the zenith of British imperial power. We were still a major player in 1914. And though the very junior power the British will still a power broker at Yalta. If in the next 50 years wars become wars for resources chances are we will be on the US side as will Europe. And who will get the best slice of the pie after the US? Those who show, to use that awfully now loaded word, “willing.”

Lastly I don’t think you appreciate the sheer utility of the CVF. A battalion can’t do much by itself. Neither can a single fighter. But put a hull in the water and you have power. The Army has only operational reach, the RAF has strategic reach but no endurance. only the Navy fields units that have both strategic reach and sustained endurance.

Actually forget discussions about the Navy and CVF verses the RAF and land based airpower. Perhaps the question we should be asking is “do we need an army?” After we leave A-stan it will be a very stupid British government that takes us into a similar adventure for a generation. We only need an army really if want to fiddle in the affairs of others……….

Joint
Joint
September 2, 2010 9:23 pm

I have to take issue with the phrase “Expeditionary Navy”. If the Navy is not ‘expeditionary’ in nature in the future then neither are the Army or RAF. In other places it has been said that the British Armed Forces should adopt a ‘raiding’ profile. i.e. sharp/strong short term deployments followed by military withdrawal and then restructuring of the place by others. If this is not expeditionary warfare then I don’t know what is. I do know for certain that neither the Army or the RAF can conduct expeditionary or raiding warfare, where it is likely to be needed, without the Navy as a launch platform. Seems to me that ASCOD 2 SV and any future FRES utility is probably best deployed by PACSCAT with cover from CVF with RAF/FAA F35C! (Lets hope that is what replaces Harrier/Tornado!).
I think that both CVF’s are essential ……. even tho it is said the RMS St Helena is due to retire and be replaced by a cheaper 100 million pound airfield. Now I wonder why that is?? I am also sure that islands and atols are easier targets than flat topped ships especially when we have very little in the way of shore based air defence capabilities.

Euan
Euan
September 3, 2010 12:10 am

Holy Cow guys I had a read of this last night and came back to it today and well you’ve been going at it so much so I think I’m going to keep my thoughts in my head. As to put fingertips to keys would result in a humongous disorganised mess of a comment as there are plenty of points on both sides. I’m still here though lurking and who knows I might decide to have a stab at putting my thoughts into words at some point anyhow carry on. :)

Sven Ortmann
September 3, 2010 12:32 am

“…it has been said that the British Armed Forces should adopt a ‘raiding’ profile. i.e. sharp/strong short term deployments followed by military withdrawal and then restructuring of the place by others.”

This has been Rumsfeld’s strategy for Iraq – it does not work. it is proven to not work.

1st: You cannot count on indigenous clients to do what you want.

2nd: States with substantial forces aren’t stupid enough to serve that obviously as your vassals by giving you auxiliary troops for missions in which you don’t pull a heavy weight.

3rd: Politics and publicised media don’t follow neat strategies, they have their own life. They force you off that strategy.

Two “raiding” options might work (and would often be illegal):
* Proven French intervention style: Do damage as a message, then get away or do at most support an existing government a bit (see Chad). This requires humility instead of total victory thinking.
* Proven limited warfare style: Short campaigning, then negotiate a peace that improves the situation but leaves the enemy largely intact. This does also require humility instead of total victory thinking.

You can’t have total victories on the cheap except against miniature states like Panama or Grenada.

Jedibeeftrix
September 3, 2010 8:17 am

“This has been Rumsfeld’s strategy for Iraq – it does not work. it is proven to not work.”

Rumsfeld’s [war] was massively successful, it was his [peace] that was a failure.

It is arguable that the ‘raiding’ forces of OIF was so swift that it defeated the opponent before much demographic disruption of infrastructure destruction could occur, as would certainly have been the case had a Desert Storm style slow build-up of massed power and more coherent front lines.

Having toppled some statues Rumsfeld should then have surged troops into Iraq to adopt a stabilisation profile, and should not have purged the army and gov’t of anyone connected with the Baath party (virtually everyone). We are now all too familiar with the failure of the peace, and it should provide an object lesson in the foolishness of Blair’s ill-considered adventures.

Regardless of the above, a raiding profile is perfectly compatible with NATO requirements.

An amphibiously deployable brigade with a 2* headquarters to coordinate local forces has long, I am lead to believe, been deemed a valuable contribution to NATO.

This has not disappeared, and arguably grown more important with climate-change/technology opening up new energy reserves on NATO’s northern flank.

However, the point about all this naval tonnage is that it is not only useful for insertion into a contested theatre, it can be used to deploy and sustain any military force (not forgetting the point-class), and provide C2 if necessary in whatever NATO/coalition operation they might find themselves in.

How many heavy transporters do we have available?
How much could we quickly expect to charter as rail freight?

Not much.

If there were a general war on Nato’s periphery would you really want a logistics chain starting in a single tunnel and then traversing an entire continent on a fairly predicable, and easily disruptable road/rail link?

Not likely.

Where this becomes useful in the particular, rather than the merely the general, is when there is a medium scale conflict that is not of immediate importance or relevance to our partners [or] a stabilisation mission that requires an immediate response before a situation deteriorates into civil anarchy.

Bridgehead or First Entry in large-scale coalition operations / Strategic Raids at the medium scale in operations of sovereign importance.

I just don’t buy the idea that Britain’s limited budget is better allocated in any other way.

Retain sovereign capability.
Retain contributory capability.
We don’t need to deploy at a divisional level in any situation outside general war on NATO’s doorstep, as you eloquently argue, lots of other nations can provide brigades too.

DominicJ
September 3, 2010 8:21 am

Sven
I’m argueing the facts as they stand.
I’m not trying to make some moral point.
The Nazi leadership faced trial because it lost the war, had it won, it would not have faced trial.
Simple as.

I am bound by the laws of the UK because the UK has the capability and thre will to have its enforcers beat me into submission if I do not follow said laws.
The UK is not bound by any international law because the “World Community” lacks both the capability and the will to impose its views on the UK.

I’m not argueing that *Only* the UK can do as it wants, I’m argueing that “International Law” is a sham drafted to legitamise the strong imposing their will on anyone they can.

Daniel Hannan who blogs at The Telegraph explains this very well.

“This has been Rumsfeld’s strategy for Iraq – it does not work. it is proven to not work.”
Was it bollocks!
Thats like sayiong it was German Strategy in WW2.
The entire History of the British Empire is that of a small force winning a short war and retreating, being replaced by localy raised forces under a local government with British “Supervision”.
The Americans didnt have a clue what they were going to do afterwards, or thats certainly how it appears.
I think its safe to say they didnt have a credible partner on the ground who was ready to take power with a little support and hold it with none.

There are many viable raiding options depending on the situation.
From a “Show of Force”, like the IDF likes to “Buzz” enemy capital buildings, to a nuiscence raid, not picking on the IDF, but they also like to cut enemy phone lines.
But you can get more direct, actualy killing the main agitatators who are displeasing you, sorry IDF, you can fight a small war, win convincingly, and then issue very mild terms, Falklands(?), you could support a local partner who is more ameniable to your wishes AND can hold power on his own and finaly you could simply kick the door down and wreck up the place to such an extent that the enemy can no longer harm you, or have indoor plumbing, or electricity.

Afghanistan has been such a cluster**** because the “local partner” had h9is credability torched when we flew in 10,000 advisers who started lecturing on Wimmins Rights.
Its not a goal of strategic raiding.
Use our superior power to back the coup, crush the current encumbants and get the **** out of dodge.
That would have seen The Taliban/Al Queda suppressed.
Instead we attempted a cultural revolution and they set themselves up as trying to save Islam.

x
x
September 3, 2010 10:13 am

Dom is right. Even teenagers in their first year at uni’ reading International Relations soon realise that “international law” is a phantom in an anarchic nation state system where states, great and small, have equal sovereignty. (Though saying that it surprising how many IR lecturers don’t understand this and bang on about treaties and supranational organisations like they have real power.)

Sven seems to be arguing himself in circles. I note he mentions how the French conduct show of force operations. And he is right. But he forget that is the reason why they build CdeG…..

I have just heard that Dr Fox is en Francais parlez’ing with le French now. No good will come of it…….

Jim30
Jim30
September 3, 2010 10:31 am

An interesting debate. WRT Chile, the Chileans were extremely pro UK in the Faklklands, but needed to balance their support for us, against the need to have Argentina as a long term neighbour. There was zero chance of them allowing V bombers on their territory, for the simple reason that after the war was over, they’d have to keep having Argentina as a neighbour. Suggestions that the Vulcans could have gone there belong in bad fiction!

There is no evidence Chile sold Mirages to Argentina, but I believe Peru sold bits of equipment to them.

On the subject of SBAs, don’t forget that the UK isn’t the only nation to benefit from them. A key reason why the UK/US relationship is so strong is because the UK is able to offer the US access to real estate in parts of the world where it couldnt easily base itself. Gib / Cyprus and DG (and in the Cold War, Bermuda too) play a major part in ensuring that the UK is a credible partner for Washington. Lose them and we lose a lot of influence and access to capabilities.

x
x
September 3, 2010 11:02 am

I said about the SBA I was joking. One of the stupidest things HMG has done post-war was let Malta go. Then again if we look at our current track record with Europe we British would have probably found ourselves responsible for keeping IIs out of Italy at our own expense……

Sven Ortmann
September 3, 2010 11:57 am

“Sven seems to be arguing himself in circles. I note he mentions how the French conduct show of force operations. (…) But he forget that is the reason why they build CdeG..”

No, you just didn’t check in how many successful interventions French carriers were involved:
82 years combined service and not a single successful intervention. The only combat operations were useless air raids on Lebanon and marginally effective air raids against Taliban (with non-organic aerial refuelling!).

The successful interventions were much smaller than sending a carrier or even a carrier group. The French sent a flight Mirages and two flights of Jaguars to strike an Lybian airfield from where the Lybians intervened in the Chad civil war, for example.
http://tinyurl.com/2wlwnrd

Jim30
Jim30
September 3, 2010 12:13 pm

Sven

You need to look at what the french airgroup on the Clemencau and Foch consisted of during the cold war. One of the carriers was always used as an LPH, and the other tended to carry Etendards and F8 crusaders (air defence fighters) and Alize ASW aircraft. None of which are particularly good at credibly bombing or influencing an enemy nation, but are good at the mission of tackling Soviet ships and submarines.

Only with the Rafale has the MN gained a credible ground strike capability, and even that is dependent on having an Etendard carriyng a targeting pod.

Far better to look at whether the carriers did their designed job, than seek examples of failures for not being able to do something they weren’t intended to do!

Sven Ortmann
September 3, 2010 12:14 pm

@DominicJ:

“The entire History of the British Empire is that of a small force winning a short war and retreating, being replaced by localy raised forces under a local government with British “Supervision”.”

You’re wrong. Most often a substantial detachment of troops stayed in the country for years if not decades. That is the essential price for much control over events in that place.

Your view on IL mirrors U.S. views quite stereotypically. A look beyond the language barrier or at recent history might help you to understand that it’s delusion to think that there’s no substantial price for violating IL.
The U.S. president was called “leader of the free world” for decades. They led other Western countries in almost nothing (but their two wars) since 2003. Their whole foreign policy became ineffectual, unable to reach anything, to initiate anything meaningful or to stop anything big. Zero leadership. The U.S. foreign policy has been less effective than French foreign policy for years.
Now go on thinking that there’s no price to be paid for violating rules that are respected by others.

The school bully who thinks he’s entitled to beat up others may succeed to beat up others and never go to jail for it, but he’s essentially an anti-social, dumb failure and everybody knows it but himself.

Sven Ortmann
September 3, 2010 12:26 pm

Yet there were troops, and there would have been more if regional circumstances would have necessitated it.
The redcoats didn’t return from Kabul once they had reached it.
Besides; the English army was always small, I bet its share of troops in India was greater then than its share of deployed troops (outside Europe) today.

Rumsfeld really planned to march to Baghdad, declare victory and leave. Bremer represented the friction of war by disbanding the Iraqi Army (not planned at all!) and politics didn’t allow for the planned withdrawal (and intended next quick war of aggression).
It simply doesn’t work. Even with the Iraqi army in place, they would still have been compelled to leave at least one brigade + overhead in Iraq.

Ditch that fantasy of cheap wars of aggression for regime change. It’s not going to work.

jedibeeftrix
September 3, 2010 12:39 pm

“Ditch that fantasy of cheap wars of aggression for regime change. It’s not going to work.”

I’m not sure if this was fired in my direction, but as a response; i don’t believe i am fantasising about cheap wars of aggression.

I want:
1. to retain sovereign and strategic capability to intervene in medium-scale operations into contested theatres
2. to act as entry forces to large-scale multi-lateral operations
3. to provide the C2 required that will allow Britain to act as the multi-lateral ‘spine’ in enduring operations.
4.to provide specialist functions to multi-lateral operations such as MCM/CVF/Spec-Ops

DominicJ
September 3, 2010 12:52 pm

“You’re wrong. Most often a substantial detachment of troops stayed in the country for years if not decades. That is the essential price for much control over events in that place.”

You would have to Define “Substantial”.
Every British Victory in India didnt increase the needed garrison troops, the British army stayed merely to advance, garrison duties were carried out by Company soldiers.
Are you mistaking British Army for British Company Army?
By 1900ish the Indian Army was considerably bigger than that of the Britain.

“The school bully who thinks he’s entitled to beat up others may succeed to beat up others and never go to jail for it, but he’s essentially an anti-social, dumb failure and everybody knows it but himself.”

I’m sure the nerds will sit in darkend rooms playing dungeons and dragonms and telling themselves that secretly they’re better than the bully.
The bully will be shagging the cheerleaders.

I’m sorry, but the idea that the US hs no sway in international relations is laughable.
The idea that Obama makes a call and the person on the other end says “Let me check with Rumpey Pumpy/Merkhal/Sarkozy/Cameron” just has no bearing on reality.

“Yet there were troops, and there would have been more if regional circumstances would have necessitated it.”
But thats the whole point of this arguement.
YOU ENSURE THAT MORE TROOPS ARE NOT NECESSITATED.
You set reasonable goals that can reasonably be met with a reasonable amount of force and a reasonable amount diplomacy.
That means Un-Nationalise my mine or I’ll bomb it and every other mine.
Not pipe MTV into every household and open a McDonalds on every street whilst allowing your womanfolk to walk around indecently.

“Ditch that fantasy of cheap wars of aggression for regime change. It’s not going to work.”
sigh
Why are you still prattling on about Regime Change?
Who on here has suggested the primary function of the British Armed Forces should be to effect regime change?
I havent

In fact I’ve specificaly stated it is not possible in the vast majority of cases and requires a credible partner on the ground, who requires your support to seize power, but is then capable of keeping it on his own.

The purpose of a strategic raid is to make the current government more ameniable, not to “Be a force for what Blair defines as good in the world”

x
x
September 3, 2010 7:41 pm

Perhaps “Think Defence” should proffer a fleet structure for us to critique?

Joint
Joint
September 3, 2010 7:43 pm

I have to go along with the requirements of Jedibeeftrix. In all things, we must not lose sight of the fact that some other entity may wish to achieve regime change in some distant area e.g. E Africa that supplies us with foodstuffs in order to wage war on us indirectly. We may not be able to intervene until things have progressed far beyond the point that we would wish and the ‘legal’ authorities may be averse to shouting for help until its too late. Therefore we would need the ability to go in mob handed with offshore air support.
I find it interesting that the Russians are obviously building there Northern fleet (in time for Arctic resource exploitation) and that the Swedish Navy is now envisaging out of area deployments for the Visby class. First of class has recently conducted BOST in Plymouth?!
It is also interesting to note the transition of pirates to uniformed, shoreside armed militias. Was the piracy just a fund raising exercise as a precursor to ‘greater’ things? If the answer is yes (and it appears that way) then we had better ensure that we are still capable of ‘out of area’ ops at the same time as conducting ops in what I would call our natural habitat of North and South Atlantic. The Danish, Norwegian, Dutch and Swedish appear to have hoisted this in some time back (witness the current modern make-up of their Naval forces).

DominicJ
September 3, 2010 8:02 pm

It wouldnt be the first time Piracey has funded a nation.
Barbary
Drake

jackstaff
jackstaff
September 3, 2010 8:39 pm

Admin,

I suspect Sarkozy did. But I also suspect he thinks Carla Bruni likes him for his looks :-)

I’m going to sidestep the main thrust of the discussion here for the time being to concentrate on a specific point, just ’cause it lets the lapsed history teacher in me blather. That point (did you raise it first, boss? Or was it another commenter? Lost onto the second page just now and I’m in a hurry of typing) was about whether projected power of the kind you get off the sea has “ever made Gen. Umbogogo do/not do/comply with” something. This is purely British material, I haven’t dipped into American carrier deployments or the US/Soviet jousting in the backgrounds off the coast of the Six Days’ or 1971 Indo-Pak wars (the latter because it involves a different scale, namely working your way up the proxy ladder.) Back to the point:

Operation Vantage — It’s 1961, and the well-dressed, jumped-up president of Iraq Gen. Kassem, hoping to reward his clan backers from the coup three years previous (sound like anyone we’ve met?) says nope, that little emirate in Kuwait is really an Iraqi province. Oops. Lots of Kuwaiti dosh already helping to prop up sterling post-Suez, concern about Iraq-Iran friction being a devil’s playground for Ivan. So, HMS Bulwark (the original) runs up the Gulf with a task group and 42 Commando aboard, helos them in to key locations around the urban center at al-Kuwait. RN also covers arrival of RAF assets. At the same time, because Turkey denies overflight to the Paras (again, a theme here, the Shah was happy to help, different days indeed) 45 Commando is pulled off Aden garrison and shipped over as backup. The booties dug in along Mutla Ridge made famous by its joint US Army-USMC capture thirty years later, in the worst of the July sun. Army battalions were sent to follow on and, with NATO airlift support, even Centurions of the late great Caribiniers. By that point there was enough RN-enabled “speed bump” in place to prevent a quick coup, to encourage Kassem that the US and Iran might honour CENTO obligations, and for the Arab League to send its own peacekeepers to Kuwait, as they did. No shots fired.

Limbang Raid — In the confused beginnings of the Brunei Revolt, the British resident and a dozen other Britons in the town of Limbang were seized by rebels who, as part of the general course of mayhem, planned to hang them as a message to the old colonizers. While Gurkha units from Singapore secured the Sultan and government, and while some old SOE hands still living in country mobilized Dayak tribes upriver in support, tamping down rebel efforts to control the coast, destroy infrastructure, and kill foreigners fell to the RN. A company of 45 Commando under Jeremy Moore (familiar twenty years later in the South Atlantic) went upriver towards Limbang in landing craft (piloted by Jeremy Black later of the Vinci.) Though they lost the element of surprise to the rattletrap old engines, they seized the police building where rebels had dug in, located the hostages, and freed them. Though the pre-body armour green death lost six men, the civilians were recovered, the rebel raid tamped down, and the rest of two RM Commandos moved similarly along the coast to deny the rebels control of civil and government infrastructure. It was the first notable rescue of civilian hostages by a military force, predating the Belgian paras’ “Dragon Rouge” mission in the Congo by two years.

Belize emergency — In 1972, after three years of persistent talks about the status of the historically vague border between Guatemala and British Honduras (fair point to Guatemala on that detail), Guatemala’s president Col. Carlos Arana upped the ante as Guatemala had done several times before. Saber-rattling from Arana caused the MoD to fear that, with only a nominal British force providing security in country (to be renamed Belize the next year) the Guatemalans might “retake” the little country at last. HMS Ark Royal, visiting Florida at the time, scrambled its Buccaneers and sent out rotating flights on the long trip to buzz Guatemalan airspace, while fleet escorts and commando carriers like HMS Hermes were mobilized to stage an amphibious exercise with 3 Cdo Brigade in reply. After a bit more muscle-flexing from Guatemala to save face, the situation rapidly died down.

By and large, things that go on the list of “What Doesn’t Happen.”

Sven Ortmann
September 3, 2010 9:06 pm

@DominicJ:
“I’m sorry, but the idea that the US hs no sway in international relations is laughable.
The idea that Obama makes a call and the person on the other end says “Let me check with Rumpey Pumpy/Merkhal/Sarkozy/Cameron” just has no bearing on reality.”

Tell me a single post-2003 foreign political endeavour of the U.S. that required more than U.S. (and Marshall islands etc) support and succeeded (without being in the interest of major European powers anyway). Seven years – enough time to justify a leadership reputation with a single action. Keep in mind there were numerous international conventions and treaties that came into existence despite U.S. opposition!

And I think you’ve got no idea about international diplomacy if you really think that heads of government would not very often consult with Great Power leaders before agreeing with Obama on anything. Obama/Clinton have very little political capital in comparison to the established links of other Great Power governments. GWB had zero political capital post-2003.
He had only freedom of action if U.S. abilities sufficed on their own. Even the EU parliament was able to force them to renegotiate and change several treaty bills.

The U.S. paid a huge price for the OIF aggression, as did the UK under Blair. There are many who are blind to these consequences (and focus on the lack of overt enforcement of IL), but diplomats know these consequences very well.
Medium level ministry bureaucrats in Europe were laughing about and turning U.S. diplomats down in the last years. This wasn’t made public enough to let everybody know because there’s no interest in more open political conflict and widespread antipathy, but the U.S. diplomats felt the Antarctic climate.

Jed
Jed
September 3, 2010 9:28 pm

Admin

Ref sharing the carriers: No obviously, you cant just hand over one of our ships to someone else for a set period. However as I have waxed lyrical on here before, if you have a standard airwing and conops, then you can successfully have limited “sharing” – vis a vis a French Rafale squadron and E2 flight embarked on a British carrier for a “training cruise” keeping French pilots qualified when CdeG is in dock. To cement the relationship FAA Rafale training could be done at same base as FN (with original carrier quals done on T45 Goshawk with USN).

We should fits cats, steam or EM, and buy Rafales so we can enable such an accord !

x
x
September 3, 2010 9:51 pm

@ Jackstaff

You forgot Aden which required two carriers…….

jedibeeftrix
September 4, 2010 12:07 am

thank you jackstaff, very informative.

jackstaff
jackstaff
September 4, 2010 5:26 am

x,

Thanks for reminding me (Aden), I missed that one out. Appreciate the catch.

jedibeeftrix
September 4, 2010 9:53 am

“threats are only credible if people are convinced you will back them up.”

quite so.

that requires two things:
1. will – best demonstrated via previous form
2. capability – hard to see how this is diminshed by a carrier

Andy
Andy
September 4, 2010 12:54 pm

”Which in a roundabout way says it is a team game, something those often blinkered CVF supporters ignore.”

Bit of a stereotype to say anyone who thinks CVF is important doesn’t think a balanced armed force is important isn’t it?

”how about Serbia, Somalia and Iraq, where those on the opposing team took absolutely no notice”

Isn’t that a bit of s strawman like the what use is a SSBN against terrorists argument though?

CVF will not be useful in every conflict, but it means that UK plc will have global reach and be agile and adaptable enough to play a part in a wide spectrum of most conflicts.

No CVF pretty much means the UK reduces is military power tenfold, I think thats what most ‘CVF suppporters’ truly believe.

Sven Ortmann
September 4, 2010 1:13 pm

“CVF will not be useful in every conflict, but it means that UK plc will have global reach and be agile and adaptable enough to play a part in a wide spectrum of most conflicts.”

On the other hand, CV supporters inflate their statistics about supposed CV necessity with historical missions in which CVs were actually unnecessary because enough land-based airpower was available (1951-1953, 1964-1973, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2003).

x
x
September 4, 2010 7:42 pm

Andy said “No CVF pretty much means the UK reduces is military power tenfold, I think thats what most ‘CVF suppporters’ truly believe.”

Yes and no. I find myself thinking, or should that be feeling, that the issue for me has deep historical roots. I will try to explain. I think it “natural” for Germany to have a large army because of its geography; this goes beyond the rather glib thrust of this thread of “we are an island, blah, blah.” Until WW1 the Army was a colonial police force used more as a trusted elite at the centre of a larger “native” army; in European terms the British army for the majority of the modern era has been tiny by continental standards. Indeed “the army” for a large piece of British Indian history an armed body belonging to a commercial company. (Was it this thread where the East Indian Company?) Britain was a power broker and her armed forces supplementary. It is a bit more visceral with me; it just seems natural to me for me to for the GB to have strong army, and is so blatant to me that the failure of those opposed to this “fact” is beyond understanding. The NATO period has run against the grain of history; perhaps this explains why the army suddenly has gained a sense of self-importance far out side is practical reach.

Jedibeeftrix
September 7, 2010 4:01 pm

As a matter of interest here is an essay question from a training course for senior officers at the Advanced Command and Staff Course (Reserves) at the moment:

http://meanderingmammal.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-staff-course-essay-question-2/

“The United Kingdom currently maintains, in principle, the capability to delivery military effect on a global basis either independently or more regularly as part of a coalition. The ability to do so is in question, given the ongoing experience in the Afghanistan theatre, but there is currently the infrastructure in place to do so.
The question of ‘’can the UK continue to aspire to a leading military role in the world’’ depends on several factors:
1. Can we continue to provide the resources to field adequate military forces?
2. Can we maintain the broad range of capabilities required to operate independently when required?
3. Do we retain enough credibility to operate as a military force and be seen as leaders in the field?
4. Should we aspire to this?”

Question 2 is the one i find most interesting.

x
x
September 7, 2010 5:23 pm

I realised I said “strong army” when I meant to say “strong navy”. Whoops!!!!!

DominicJ
September 7, 2010 5:26 pm

Damn, my comment must have gotten lost.

Sven
Theres politics in the real world, and politics in a fantasy land.
One of them involves things being done, and the other involves things talking about being done.
I know which one the US has sway in, and which one the UN has sway in.

If you disagree, fine.

“On the other hand, CV supporters inflate their statistics about supposed CV necessity with historical missions in which CVs were actually unnecessary because enough land-based airpower was available (1951-1953, 1964-1973, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2003).”
Its better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Admin
Carrot and Stick dont work without no Carrot.
As the Americans and Europeans pranced around the sea in battleships, Serbs were being murdered for their organs. (Yes, they were, not trying to ignore that fact that they were doing their own pillaging, but the threat of attack, no matter the scale, is not going to outweigh actual attacks happening now).

As The US and The UK sailed around the gulf and buzzed Sadams palaces, Sadam was playing a game of extreme brinksmanship trying to halt an Iranian inspired Islamic Revolution in the south. (There are some schools of thought that say that we invaded Iraq to prevent an Islamic Revolution, which at the very least passess a mild plausability check). Either Sadam ignored the US and hoped they ignored him, or he lost his kingdom to Iran. As it turns out, the US didnt ignore him, but thats where the best odds were.
Unless you mean 91, in which case, Sadam didnt believe we had the stones to take him on, and were it not for our recent guided weapons advances, and his own armed forces incompetance, he would have been right. Had we lacked our ISTAR advantage and guided bombs and been fighting a head on slog, it would not have been pretty.
As it was, we werent prepared to take the fight to him in Baghdad even with the tiny losses we had suffered.

Somalia, see above.
Best case if you obey US, enemy kills you
Worst Case if you obey US, enemy kills you.
Best case if you ignore US, you kill enemy and US goes home.
Worst case if you ignore US, US kills you.

“Threats are only credible if you are prepared to back them up”
Ready, Willing and Able.
I dont see how Carriers naff any of those, but lack of them can impinge upon “able”.

“Back on the coercive effect of carriers”
Coercian has limits.
Sometimes Americans dont get that deploying a carrier and saying “Shoot yourself in the face or I’ll kill you” doesnt become a better proposition if they deploy a second carrier and say “Shoot yourself in the face or I’ll skill you twice”.

Unnationalise my Canal or I’ll beat the tar out of you and then give the canal to the Israelis, is a better arguement for carriers.
Although in that instance, Cyprus provided most of the basing.