A Nation of Shopkeepers

135

Napoleon was said to have called the English a nation of shopkeepers and with a story appearing in the Sunday Telegraph today he may well have been right because if after the withdrawal from Afghanistan the Army is whittled down the 80,000 personnel it will be at its smallest since the year after he died. Looking at four major retailers in the UK; Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and the Co-Op, each of them have more employees than the Army now, let alone in 5 years time when we have executed our ‘get the fuck out of dodge and pretend it was a victory’ strategy for Afghanistan.

A-Nation-of-Shopkeepers

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
marcase

It’s an amusing comparison of course, but I’m interested to see the UK’s overall government employee numbers. Which ministry employs the most and how does/will the UK’s MoD compare?

Mark
Mark

Of course in the past the army has required numbers to garrison an empire, hold back the russian hordes in west germany and police civil unrest in northern ireland all of which no longer exist indeed I await with interest TDs army pieces to see what exactly we intend to use the army for post 2015. Total UK armed forces numbers would be a better comparison but interesting comparison none the less.

x
x

What about army numbers vs police numbers?

Or army numbers vs NHS numbers? Does the NHS employ somewhere in the region of 1million on a budget of about 100billion. The army about 100,000 on a budget of 15billion.

Mark
Mark

A quick google suggests the NHS employees 1.7mill nationwide 3rd largest employer in the world after the chinese army and indian railway.

x
x

@ Mark

Thank you. Sorry typo.

CNH
CNH

Good question. What will the army do once it has left Afghanistan? Lots of training on Salisbury plain, and …?

Repulse

Compared to the RN and RAF the army has not had to adapt to the financial and global realities. A restructure is overdue, a large reserve element plus a smaller professional adaptable core seems the obvious way to go.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

This is not news, it was always the plan.

The decision not to cancel the carriers, or much of the amphibious force, during the SDSR should have been all the indication that was needed that General Richards plan to transform Britain’s forces for counter-insurgency war had failed, and that the maritime doctrine preferred by Fox had won through.

Troop numbers were always going to preserved while afghanistan was a going concern, but is it really a surprise that all of the bigs ‘hits’ happened to the RAF and navy whilst the army got off lightly?

Frankly speaking, it is an appropriate result because the country is unwilling for further protracted and nasty counter-insurgency wars, so any future for British expeditionary war is going to have to take a different direction.

The ability to be both a land power and a naval power is no longer within our grasp, and the choice would appear to have been made.

http://critical-reaction.co.uk/2783/17-10-2010-britain-and-the-world

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

it would appear that war among the people is struggling to be relevant in political circles, which would rather chime with a smaller army post 2015:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/02/rory-stewart-is-right-about-afghanistan-and-david-cameron-knows-it.html

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

The Army was 160,000 strong at the end of the cold war. It is crazy to say the army has not been cut.
Interesting you only compare with large supermarkets. Small shops have been driven to the edge by high business rates, 20% VAT, draconian parking rules, endless expensive legislation on disabled access & employment rights.
Small shops are going the same way as the armed forces.

Andy
Andy

‘The strategic raiding concept is in my very humble opinion, a load of steaming old cock, dreamed up by people who think the answer to every problem is a spot of Navy with a light dusting of more Navy’

But it might well be the answer to a post-2015 Britain in which its public will simply not tolerate any more lengthy COIN wars.
Since governments in the modern era pander ever more to the public voice for votes, government apetites for such wars will wane too.
Agree with TD though – they would already have canned CVF no.2 had they been able to. Not sure UK plc has any strategy beyond defecit reduction and downsizing the state!

Did anyone see the report in the London Evening Standard on Friday? That the government is rethinking its naval strategy in the light of Middle East events and the other news item i’m surprised not to have heard more about is the Sunday Times reporting that the RN wants to buy £1bn worth of MPA for the FAA.

Mark
Mark

TD

I agree with your first 2 paragraphs i think jedi’s reading of sdsr is very optimistic but it should have been a return to a form of the strategic raiding concept.

As for your next bit I couldn’t disagree more. While we should aim for a balanced armed forces with 2.5% to 3% of GDP spent on it that anit going to happen. SDSR demanded tough choices and a strategy it failed in both.

The idea of going to coin force makes zero sense a army is only useful for invading and occupying other countries which has hardly been a roaring success in either afghan or iraq despite the efforts of many brave people trying to make it one. Containment and coercion work far better than us in the west attempting to install our brand of democracy on people.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“Did anyone see the report in the London Evening Standard on Friday? That the government is rethinking its naval strategy in the light of Middle East events”

I doubt they rethought anything personally, this is politics we are talking about; the art of massaging policy in a way that is acceptable to the public.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“I think you are deluded if you think the carrier decision had anything to do with strategy, the SDSR was an equipment led document, strategy had ZERO involvement”

i don’t believe the Guvmint when they said they would have cancelled both were the contracts not so adverse, they had mad their decision by that point.

“Much of the amphibious force you say, what 50% of the assault ships and 25% of the auxilliary, kicking MARS into the long grass etc etc, some victory”

The CVF’s can do the job of the LPH’s.
One of the two LPD’s has been put into extended readiness.
One of the four LSD’s got canned.
Mars had been kicked into every piece of long-grass for far longer than SDSR!

“There seems to be a distasteful glee in the way some people are waiting for the Army to get its just rewards post Afghanistan just so the Navy can have more shiny toys yet if history of the last 30 years tells us you cannot always take your pick, the enemy has a say in how you fight.”

It isn’t glee, it’s relief that given a budget which is going to be no more than 2.0% of GDP is not going to have to absorb Britain’s COIN army post 2015.

“All three services have failed to adapt to the times but to say the CVF is a sign of the RN adapting to the times if frankly laughable”

You misunderstand; it isn’t the NAVY adapting or failing too, it was a political choice made by our political masters as to where they wanted to invest their shekels.

“The strategic raiding concept is in my very humble opinion, a load of steaming old cock, dreamed up by people who think the answer to every problem is a spot of Navy with a light dusting of more Navy”

And you are welcome to your opinion, but with a Defence budget hovering at 2.0% of GDP it is either continental or maritime, there is no middle road.

Jed

TD – I have to agree with JBT to a large extent (ha, no surprise there he says…).

If there is no current perceived threat to the European continental borders of NATO (i.e. the cold war Soviet threat scenario), then where is the British Army going to be utilized without being delivered by sea ?

We no longer have the budget to maintain sizable strategic transport aviation assets. We did have a sizable (for Europe) amphibious fleet. I don’t care if we only ever use the QE2 class as v.large LPH, they can provide an excellent mobile base for Chinooks and Apaches even if they never see an F35 or F18.

So ref: “There seems to be a distasteful glee in the way some people are waiting for the Army to get its just rewards post Afghanistan just so the Navy can have more shiny toys yet if history of the last 30 years tells us you cannot always take your pick, the enemy has a say in how you fight”

No distasteful glee on my part, but I do believe I am learning different lessons from the last 30 years, where Afghanistan is the only land locked, army ‘focused’ fight we have fought, and to be honest the enemy originally had no say (or very little) on how they were completely dismantled. Revenge might sound pathetic, but all we actually needed to do was spank the Taliban and AQ for what they did in NYC, and killing British Citizens. However, instead of quick in and out, we decided we have to “help” the people of that country by making sure the Talibs can’t comeback, and oh and to provide them the benefits of western democracy – what a crock…….

I have no doubt that at least some generals thought a good long, low intensity conflict would be a great replacement for Northern Ireland for keeping up skills and all. Unfortunately they miscalculated.

So, when we have decided to be a ‘continental’ power, with a much reduced army residing in the UK rather than Germany, I fail to see how this model will meet any of the rhetoric published in the SDSR. As we will have reduced Army, Navy and Airforce capabilities to a bare minimum we better hope that the next threat also has very little say in the way we may fight them :-(

S O
S O

100,000 men in the army is still more than the Reichswehr had in the army (84,000 IIRC), and nobody claims that the Reichswehr was incapable of quick expansion.

(This comment would already be non-PC in Germany…)

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

I reckon it is going to be at least 2025 until we start to see any form of balanced armed forces at the earliest. Afghanistan is oign to be our “Vietnam” as far as the politicians and public are concerned and it is going to take us at least a decade to recover from the fallout. Hopefully during this time the Powers that be will be wise enough to carry out the neccessary reorganisations and requipment programmes for all three services.

Looking at the way things are going, as far as operational deploymeent in the future, these will be limited to short to medium deploymetns of a reinforced brigade sized battle group with 1 or 2 battalion sized groupings for long term peacekeeping and stabilisation ops. Air power will be limited to 2-3 FJ squadrons for surge ops but only a single squadron at most for medium to long term. The same will go for rotary assets. At sea the RN is probably going to have a singe deployable task force taylored to individual ops with a maximum of 3 patrol stations as it will not have enough assets to maintain all those we currently man.

Our Armed Forces will still (hopefully) be well equipped and trained but on a much smaller scale with little stamina for lenghty operations.

Richard W
Richard W

I totally doubt that these reported troop reductions have anything to do with strategy. The Telegraph report was clear the reduction are financial crisis driven. No one is announcing a re-weighting of the MoD in favour of a maritime posture.

What it does tell us is how bad the financial situation is; the government would hardly volunteer to take the flack for 20 thousand more redundancies if it didn’t have to. It is clear that for a good number of years to come we are looking at a scenario of ‘what to cut’ rather than ‘what to buy’.

Hopefully TD has lined up for us a heartening analysis of how to maintain a robust army at lower cost.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

Or its merely a justification for stuff they wanted to do anyway, as per my response to the idea that government is rethinking its naval strategy in the light of ME activity:

“Did anyone see the report in the London Evening Standard on Friday? That the government is rethinking its naval strategy in the light of Middle East events”

I doubt they rethought anything personally, this is politics we are talking about; the art of massaging policy in a way that is acceptable to the public.

a
a

if after the withdrawal from Afghanistan the Army is whittled down the 80,000 personnel it will be at its smallest since the year after he died.

Minor point: does this include the Company’s armies?

Major point: that isn’t too bad on the face of it. In 1822, as now, Britain didn’t have any real enemies on the continent of Europe. In fact we’re a huge amount safer now than we were then; the idea of war with any of the major European powers is ludicrous. And, as pointed out, we had a lot more overseas possessions to defend in 1822 (though many of them were covered by the Company’s army).

I am also waiting impatiently for TD vs. The Pongos…

Brian Black
Brian Black

SO February 20

Quick expansion is of course possible, but doesn’t give you a force that is balanced in terms of skills and experience.

A modern army is a very hi-tech organization. You can’t pull pilots or technicians or infantry sergeants out of a hat, for example. All you get with a rapid expansion is a lot of inexperienced grunts.

When I joined the army, it took me two and a half years to get to my first operational unit; it would take years to build that strength back up with a balanced skills base if it was necessary.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

tornadoes may leave service faster than ‘anticipated’:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/20/cuts-raf-fleet-tornados

a
a

A modern army is a very hi-tech organization. You can’t pull pilots or technicians or infantry sergeants out of a hat, for example. All you get with a rapid expansion is a lot of inexperienced grunts.

This is sort of uncharted territory, really, because nobody has ever tried to expand a modern high-tech army rapidly. Most of them have been shrinking.
Exceptions are places where we’ve been trying to build modern armies from scratch – Iraq, frex – but there are other factors there which mean that it may not be a good example of how the process would go in the UK.
Any thoughts on this? If the government suddenly decides it needs an additional armoured brigade, for example (and is willing to supply the funds) how long would it take to stand it up?

Repulse

“There seems to be a distasteful glee in the way some people are waiting for the Army to get its just rewards post Afghanistan just so the Navy can have more shiny toys yet if history of the last 30 years tells us you cannot always take your pick, the enemy has a say in how you fight.”

I definitely do not look forward with “glee” to see the Army get their “just rewards”. What I see at the moment though is the other two services getting catastrophic cuts whilst we spend money on a war that nobody wants or believes we can win (beyond a political face saving sham). Occupying other countries should not be on our strategic priority list, defence of the country and our supply lines must come first.

My personal opinion is that the RN has been neglected over the past 50 years since the end of the Second World War; probably rightly so as our main threat was on the continent. However, times have changed and the challenge is global and unpredictable. As such, rebalancing our defence with more focus on naval capabilities I think is the right way to go. Sailing ships where they are needed is surely more efficient / effective than land basing troops / aircraft in every potential hotspot.

I am as mad as anyone over the complete mess of MOD procurement; it is criminal how other countries can field better capabilities with less money. Regarding the RN; over specification and over specialisation of warships is not new and has been going on for a very long time (probably pre WWI). A wholesale change is required in the mindset of the people at the top to ensure every pound spent gets maximum value – there is a long way to go…

Jed

Brian

Ref “rapid expansion” – well it depends on what you want capabilities you want to rapidly expand does it not ?

The other question of course is what form does such “rapid expansion” take. If your expanding from nothing, i.e. trying to rapidly induct civvies with no prior experience then I agree.

However if your trying to ‘rapidly expand’ the size of available, deployable units by drawing on an existing and already trained reserve force then that is different again.

Either way, there are some categories of people you would not be able to rapidly expand, such as pilots, AAC ground crews, some EW and other specialists. On the other hand many ‘specialists’ are already provided by the TA – Psyops, Media Ops, Info Sec specialists etc.

For those specialists I can see the point of having professionals who are constantly using, honing, upgrading their skills in their civvy day jobs, but for more basic military capabilities perhaps we have to return to a cold war style reserve element – one that is mobilized in case of dire need, one that includes both infantry, and heavy elements (MBT and AS90 for example).

With every remaining ‘regular’ infantry battalion having a companion TA battalion, we could then ‘rapidly expand’ at least some capabilities by calling up the reserves.

Dominic Johnson

“There seems to be a distasteful glee in the way some people are waiting for the Army to get its just rewards post Afghanistan just so the Navy can have more shiny toys yet if history of the last 30 years tells us you cannot always take your pick, the enemy has a say in how you fight.”

I think thats both an unfair mischarecterisation of the viewpoint and, frankly, wrong.

The simple fact is despite over a thousand dead and who knows how many maimed soldiers, not to mention over a trillion dollars, no progress has been made in Afghanistan since early 2002.

Thats reality.
The dead men died for no reason.

We can throw blame at the coalition for cutting, running and cheering victory, but the Army has provided no roadmap for victory, it was in fact the biggest opponant to MRAPs!!!

The idea that a 250,000 strong British Army would have won Afghanistan is just deluded, because the million strong US Army got its arse handed to it.

I just dont understand the desire for a bigger army.
“Surge” forces are dictated by the naval and air assets that can land them, not the size of the rear party.
Theres not much reason a 60,000 Strong Army couldnt surge a 60,000 Strong Army for a crisis.

Occupation forces are dictated by the size of the army, but a quick back of the fag packet maths ought to show how weak that arguement is.
That 250,000 strong army I hung out earlier?
35,000 Deployed.

The US has 90,000 Men in Afghanistan.

Even if the UK could police Afghanistan with 100,000 Men overseas, we’d need a 700,000 strong army to maintain that force.
Just the wage bill is well over £10bn

And thats just for a force we know is entirely insufficient.
We’d probably need half a million men over there to keep order, so we need 3.5million men in the army, thats 1 in 20 people!
Thats 1 in 5 military age men!!
And thats JUST AFGHANISTAN!!!

No, that way lies madness.
The UK’s strengths are our near limitless wealth (seriously) and our technological lead (China cant even build jet engines remember). Near limitless manpower is not on the list.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

“The UK’s strengths are our near limitless wealth (seriously) and our technological lead (China cant even build jet engines remember). Near limitless manpower is not on the list.”

Not to mention:

A naval force structure that allows us to deploy surgical force at will to most demographically important places on the globe.

A string of naval bases/sovereign territory that supports this global presence/intervention.

And a naval heritage that has created a public which is at least marginally tolerant naval raiding, in a way that cannot be said for protracted and nasty COIN wars.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams

One comforting point to bear in mind when contemplating the scale of the inevitable military cuts: the more powerful our armed forces are, the more our politicians will be tempted to use them in order to demonstrate how we can still “punch above our weight”.

No more Iraqs and Afghanistans, please!

We need armed forces which are carefully judged to provide the necessary defence of the UK (including our vital sea LOCs), plus a limited capability to carry out small-scale short-term policing actions to defend our key interests abroad.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

And meet our commitments to collective defence to our allies, in addition to R2P resulting from our position on the UNSC.

mikezeroone

I am not sure Bonaparts’ comment was really derogatory… pas the usual moral boosting rants he did, he knew the british were the best and awkward out of the alliance put up against him, us and the prussians… funny how we always think of germany as the bad guy, but back past the 1900’s they were our greatest ally.

I am not sure if you should really look too much into this numbers game, of course big consortiums will have more people, but lol can they fight? Rather silly really, the NHS outnumbers the forces by far…and rightly so I say.

If I remember right, we’ve always been having this ‘not enough’ syndrome… not enough soldiers, not enough ships, not enough aircraft… and also, every SDSR that has exists has brought cuts.

BTW the comment about china and its struggling with engines is right… that shiney new ‘J-20’ is suffering from such deficiency.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ Dominic J – talking about the Chinese, do you think we could persuade them to help out in A-stan? They have natural resource interests in the country, they have security interests in preventing militant Islam, and as a member of the UNSC responsibility for International stability. They also have overland logistic routes and near limitless manpower. How about they provide the garrison manpower and we (NATO) provide the strike forces?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ Mike – What the quote reveals is the difference between the economies of the two countries. As well as the first state to industrialise, Britain was able to get more credit at cheaper rates. France, from since before its revolution, had a reputation for defaulting on its loans. In the long run the security of a state is dependent on the health and type of its economy.

Mark
Mark

We have a real problem in this country about using full formed reserve forces especially in the army. Surely the TA is the answer for rapid expansion of the army as jed mentioned. Do it matter if a reserve brigade would take the lead in somewhere like afghan? It doesnt bother the american they deploy national guard all the time.

We have I believe but cant remember where I read it more of a bias to land forces than other of the major western powers 60% to 50% in the US if I remember right so its time to rebalance.

However with events moving rapidly in the mid east we could be about to find ourselves in some bother especially if this spreads to saudi. It should at least cause those in power here to reconsider the rumoured further defence cut to air and naval assets.

Dominic Johnson

mike
it was the german fleet that did it.

Gareth
china and india are at war in afghanistan over pakistan.
In the next China / India war, china wants india to be at war on two fronts, with a stable pakistan. india wants pakistan to be occupied at the durand line.

Neither is overly interested in a bright future of sunshine and rainbows.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

There are 10 million muslims in France, 5 million in Germany, 3 million in Britain. No threat in Europe? Are you sure?

x
x

@ DominicJ

I had a to-do with my Security Studies lectuter over Sino-Indian relations. Apparently China and India were the best of friends and China didn’t lay claim to part of Kashmir.

I sometimes wonder if in 20 years or so the West and China will be fighting each other for Africa…….

x
x

@ Gareth Jones

Did you know the Chinese were mounting patrols around their “assets” during unrest in Zimbabwe last year?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

@ Andy – is there is link to that London Evening Standard article?

mikezeroone

Defected F1’s

http://www.daylife.com/photo/02Q12in14H8Wb?q=malta+airport+libyan

hmm who here has started to look at the Libyan protests with a bit more anxiety? Apprently sent to bomb a few towns owned by the protestors;
which brings me to X’s point, what kinda patrols, X?
China has a lot tied up in that continent, as do we (ie ‘the west’), oil at the pump and certain food-stuffs.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ X – Interesting! Do you have any links? (Confession time: I have a masters in IR and I love it:))

x
x

@ Gareth

It is very brave of you to admit you have a Masters in IR. Or as used to call it “er”. I didn’t like, I didn’t hate, I just didn’t like. I shall go off and to try and find you a link.

x
x

@ Mike

Apparently the Chinese were stalking around the perimeter of their mine with small arms.

x
x

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/chinese-troops-are-on-the-streets-of-zimbabwean-city-witnesses-say-811796.html

http://www.leadershiponline.co.za/articles/politics/891-marange-diamonds

My fear is that Africa being riddle with AIDS will just disintegrate within the next 20 to 30 years. And the West and China will have to import labour to get the work done. Not that many Africans are employed now. But I think there will be greater scope for immigration into the continent. Imagine a rather potent mix of PLA, PMCs, Western forces, and local “forces.” I think Africa will be the 21st security issue. Forget the sandbox and disappearing oil…..

x
x

The Left is fixated on the Middle East like it “the” security issue. It isn’t. (Well it wasn’t until Tunisians started arriving in Italy!) Apart from the oil embargo in 1973 the Arabs have always sold us (US?!) oil. For me Israel/Palestine is a tribal issue. Arctic, China, Falklands, drugs, cyber security, Russia, even protecting Oz and NZ all feature on my security issue list; Israel, um, no, sorry……….

Jed

The thing is X, a lot of very, very rich American Jews would label you as an anti-Semite for your last comment; they may not be right, but they hold an awful lot of sway in American politics, and hence influence policy on the middle east.

a
a

Did you know the Chinese were mounting patrols around their “assets” during unrest in Zimbabwe last year?

Chinese company in “employing security guards” shock!

McZ

@Gareth Jones
“@ Dominic J – talking about the Chinese, do you think we could persuade them to help out in A-stan?”

Why should they do this? They can still wait to get NATO’s arse kicked out, then they take over A-stan along with their Iranian friends, build a pipeline, becoming strategically invulnerable.

a
a

Yes, McZ, because if there’s two things the last thirty years have taught us, they are that Afghanistan is dead easy to take over, and that once you’ve got it you’re strategically invulnerable.

Brian Black
Brian Black

If we were to only consider the absolute essential tasks required of our armed forces in order top deliver a reasonable level of security for the UK, then a standing army of 80,000 is probably quite excessive.

Most of our military strength could be viewed as a strategic political tool, rather than a requirement for territorial defence. It’s British interests that are being defended, not Britain; and “British interests” can be as narrowly or as widely defined as any government chooses it to be.

We’re not under threat of invasion from our European neighbours, and many of our global commitments are optional affairs; on the other hand, trying to do away with an army completely would probably lead to the emergence of an unwanted paramilitary police force to compensate.

For national defence, domestic anti-terrorism, internal security, civil contingencies etc, what would we need?

An army with an emphasis on engineering and logistics support perhaps. Regional EOD and NBC units, field hospital and ambulance units. Some light infantry, retaining special forces for combating violent terrorist acts. Some light and medium protected vehicles would be useful, but no need for heavy armour or tracked vehicles. No need for heavy artillery or attack helicopters. And a much smaller utility helicopter fleet. A greater proportion of that army could also be TA rather than regulars.

Everything we actually need could probably be delivered with a regular standing army of 20,000 or so. Huge opportunities for financial savings, even before we consider corresponding reductions in the RN and RAF; no expeditionary army – no need for landing ships/carriers/escorts etc, no need for strike fighters/cargo/refuelling etc. Only need a basic coast guard and RAF QRA.
———
It’s absolutely right that we don’t want an army of a quarter million. Impractical and prohibitively expensive. An expanded army doesn’t solve the problem of over-stretch either; that’s a political problem – a government can just as easily over commit an army twice the size of the one we already have.

Also, much of the very big cuts in uniformed personnel since the end of the Cold War have been entirely right, as non-deployable posts across the services have been civilianised.

However, these non-deployable posts provided units with a pool of manpower from which they could field full strength subunits. In my own past experience, I’ve been shifted back and forth between a rear party company and deploying companies as my own and other soldiers availability has changed; but looking at the same units now, many of those positions have been civilianised for years.

TD has mentioned before that there’s no point having lots of aircraft and vehicles if you aren’t prepared to pay for an effective spares and maintenance package. Well, we need spare people too. I remember reading about reports, long before the recent operations, that put those soldiers as unfit or unavailable for operational service as regularly greater than 5% of total unit manpower. Training injuries, accidents, legal process, absences etc. Today’s soldiers are carrying more kit than ever before, and the number of non-combat injuries caused by heavy loads has increased as a result.

It’s all very well choosing to have the capability to sustain a brigade deployment, but it’s hardly ideal to have to draw on other brigades and reservists in order to make up the numbers even before a single pair of boots steps off the plane.

Anyone who has served in the army will be familiar with the routine cannibalisation of aircraft and vehicles in order to maintain core functionality; will we begin to see a greater cannibalisation of unit manpower over the next decade too? The structure of the multi-role brigades is designed to make the interchange of their subunits much easier – increasing operational flexibility, but perhaps also facilitating the cannibalisation of entire brigades.

There are no plans to over-man units in order to ensure full strength before future deployments, let alone after taking into account potential combat casualties. There isn’t a shift towards a proportionately larger TA, rather they face their own cuts. So no wholly TA combat units, as is maybe being mulled by some.

By 2020, when we’ve cut army manpower to the bare bones, will we actually have five multi-role brigades? Or is it five on paper, from which we could make four full brigades with a few bits and pieces left over?

I also wonder about the future army’s ability to surge a force larger than a brigade. Cutting orders for military hardware, such as fast jets and heavy lift helicopters, always seems to be justified on the basis of only needing to support the future army’s modest target of brigade strength operations. Should it be necessary, would a 2020 combat deployment of two brigades or more have the firepower and mobility that we would expect, or be able to obtain it within a usefully short period of time?

Recent events across the Arab world show how quickly and unexpectedly the stability of countries and regions can change. Events involved with our own military history, such as the invasions of Kuwait and the Falklands, also show how emergencies can arise unexpectedly. With a decreasing military force size, it’s more and more important that the forces we have are absolutely suited to the threats that we may have to face; but it’s becoming more and more difficult to predict what those threats may be.

There are important issues concerning manpower and the size of our armed forces, and not every concern expressed is a call for a “numbers army” or a North Korean model of massed ranks of lucky cluster bomb targets.

The economy might have recovered somewhat by 2015, but in the meantime let’s arm Sainsbury’s. There’ll no doubt be a few dead shoppers in the aisles, but what price security?

x
x

@ Jed

Actually I am very pro-Israel. And it isn’t just American Jews, it is American Christian fundamentalists too who I would upset. Actually the latter group could be quite dangerous; educated, well funded, Western……..

Um. Yes the Jewish lobby is strong in US politics. But I think the Left like to promote that lobby’s effectiveness beyond reality.

@ a

There are security guards and then there are security guards…..

x
x

McZ

@a
So, you believe a Taleban regime would have any problems of dealing with Iran, who has basically the same crop ruling, or taking money from the PRC, who gives a shit about religion and human rights?

Additionally, the PRC gov gives a shit about loosing 1000 or 100000 men in skirmishes. We do.

How well the PRC plays neo-colonialism can be reviewed in Africa.

McZ

Btw, anyone noticed, how many of the FTSE-topranked “shopkeepers” are refusing to pay taxes.

Small and medium companies cannot afford to move their financial headquaters to Luxemburg or Switzerland, they are paying the burden.

a
a

So, you believe a Taleban regime would have any problems of dealing with Iran, who has basically the same crop ruling, or taking money from the PRC, who gives a shit about religion and human rights? Additionally, the PRC gov gives a shit about loosing 1000 or 100000 men in skirmishes. We do.

You should note that there was a recent occasion when a large nation that didn’t give a shit about human rights or religion tried to take over Afghanistan. It didn’t go well.
Also, read up on Iran’s history with the Taliban. A Shia state run under velayet-e-faqih doesn’t seem to get on very well with a Saudi-backed Sunni emirate.

janus
janus

This may be an old post, but let me ask you something…

what would anyone do if the PRC ethnically cleansed a 200km corridor in Afghanistan and shot anyone that went in it, using cheap proximity sensors to detect intruders?

I think nothing.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Wow. As much as some of us liking playing what if and fantasy fleets I don’t think anybody here would even consider such as a proposition worthy of discussion.

↓