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All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 4:31 pm

I will put this one to bed. It was only ever created to ease stretch on RM whilst they were in the Afghan rotation. I know the last 2 CO,s and both told me that it was a success but has laways been end dated.

x
x
November 30, 2013 5:37 pm

That Leading Writer looks a bit fed up. Wouldn’t mind one of those cap tallies….

Sir Humphrey
November 30, 2013 6:17 pm

A useful source of augmentation for a period when 3 CDO was very busy. But in reality something which always had an end in sight as we move towards the Corps returning to doing this sort of job and not bailing the Army out of HERRICK.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 7:44 pm

@ TD

Of course not but military planning never envisaged using 3 Cdo as a roulement bog standard infantry brigade?
It meant a lot of other responsibilities had to be off loaded, hence P Squadron and led to extreme difficulties in maintaining core skills in the amphib environment.
The fact the Army totally failed to maintain a Brigade level rotation is not so much a criticism of them as much as the planners? I enjoyed my 6 months in Kabul.

Topman
Topman
November 30, 2013 7:53 pm

Likewise I quite enjoyed my tour with army, helping out in filling in some posts they otherwise wouldn’t have filled. Plus the op bonus helped ;)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 7:54 pm

@ Topman

All on the same side :)

Topman
Topman
November 30, 2013 8:04 pm

Yep, plenty of banter but got the job done.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 30, 2013 8:31 pm

APATS / Sir H, the RM have always been part of the roulement plots, way back to 1969 when a RM Cdo (I don’t know which one) deployed to NI. Way before them, in Malaya and Korea they were part of the roulement plot for enduring operations. And to think about it, why not? They are merely a specialised infantry. In a properly ordered world, they wouldn’t need to be part of the Navy at all. But, history and tradition needing them to be part of the Navy, there’s no need for them to be so special they don’t take their turn at implementing HMG’s policy.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 8:35 pm

@RT

We only have one now though and they have other responsibilities, hence P Squadron.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 30, 2013 8:39 pm

APATS,

what do we only have one of? Genuinely slightly confused by your remark.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 8:47 pm

@RT

We have 1 Cdo Brigade.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 30, 2013 9:43 pm

@TD

I like it, imagine people actually making a point.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 30, 2013 9:59 pm

Sorry boss,

APATS and I only indulging in our once a month slanging match. I think it’s called testosterone: he is a PWO, so among God’s chosen within the Andrew. I’m a Cavalryman who ran Armoured Divisional operations (so clearly also among God’s chosen). Clearly, we need to establish who is top dog…

What we need is a fighter pilot Kevin bloke on TD so that APATS and I can form an immediate alliance… :)

Topman
Topman
November 30, 2013 10:45 pm

@ TD

An edible MRE :)
or
A free court mounting servicing ;)

mike
mike
November 30, 2013 11:08 pm

TD,

Clearly… a TD mug :D

Would have said, a Container… but, budget.

Sir Humphrey
November 30, 2013 11:16 pm

SirH, do you think the RM should have been excused duties then?

Interesting question – in short term no, but the reality was that by putting the booties into ‘the’ war, they have now spent nearly a decade away from their core role of Amphibious and littoral operations while doing work that the Army supposedly should have been able to with its larger manpower base.
Part of me wonders whether this is the RN wanting to play a part in the situation, and part of it is the inability of the Army to generate sufficient manpower from within its own ranks so as to require 3 Cdo as one of its rotational forces.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
November 30, 2013 11:21 pm

TD,

wielding the shovel RE is not the important bit. Wielding 4 Sapper Regiments as part of a Divisional manoeuvre is far more exciting. Woof woof woof.

Odd fact. The carried (on wheels) RE bridging of 1st (UK) Armoured Division (assuming 80% re-use of the M2 / M3 rigs in 28 Amph Engr Regt) would have got us from BAOR to the Vistula, but not much further. CRE got his SO3s to work it out. Not that that’s where the GOC wanted us to go, but it was some form of yardstick.

Dunservin
Dunservin
December 1, 2013 12:29 am

Not willy-waving; just revealing a few little-publicised facts for those unaware:

MoD website 9 Apr 2013: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/royal-marines-leave-afghanistan-for-last-time

The end of 40 Commando’s tour marks the end of more than a decade of Royal Marines deployments in the country… 40 Commando is the final Royal Marines unit to serve in Afghanistan after successive deployments which have seen the Green Berets serve in areas such as Sangin, Nahr-e Saraj and Musa Qal’ah.

40 Cdo was also the very first British unit to deploy to the country in 2001, securing Bagram airfield and going on to patrol the streets of Kabul. The equivalent to over 14,000 Royal Marines have deployed on operations in Afghanistan since then. The 7,200-strong Royal Marines Corps has deployed its own units to Afghanistan 12 times, with many Marines also deploying attached to other units with various brigades over the past 12 years…

Up to 12 Nov last year, 9,051 Operational Service Medals/clasps for VERITAS/HERRICK had been issued to RN personnel and 8,336 to RM personnel for some form of service in Afghanistan. This total of 17,387 medals/clasps issued to Naval Service personnel disguises the fact that many of them (especially RMs, FAA and medics) had deployed four or more times.

I don’t have the figures for the RAF but it has made a significant contribution too. Even during the peak of 9,500 UKAF personnel in Afghanistan in recent years, only around 6,000 were Regular Army; even fewer whenever 3 Cdo Bde was the spearhead.

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 1, 2013 5:22 am

@TD “Sir H, you might say the same of the Paras, armour and many other specialisms that have had to concentrate on the defence main effort to the detriment of their normal roles”

Dead right, which is more highly trained or ‘specialised’ a Cdo Bde or an Armd Bde. The former is just light infantry who can cross a beach in addition to knowing where the door is on a heli is. The latter are highly trained in fast moving high intensity operations with a lot of complex equipment that takes time to master.

Oh, IIRC RM has undertaken 4 amph ops since 1945, one per 17 yrs. The real question is does this justify a supposedly specialist formation? RT forget to mention that Singapore based RM rotated through Borneo alongside Gurkhas, UK, NZ, Aust and Malaysian infantry.

dave haine
dave haine
December 1, 2013 8:23 am

Ops Kevin on net…

.Isn’t the reason for 3 Cdo deploying is to ensure they maintain experience/skills in core competencies?

@ RT
I would have thought the Vistula was a bridge too far- if NATO was doing that well, the soviet buckets of instant sunshine would have been popping up anyway.
Or the RAF/USAF would have mullered beyond it anyway, and there would be little point in going any further.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 10:47 am

I think people seem to forget that a lot of the CS units of 3Cdo are army personnel not navy.

Does any one think that the army are going to leave an Artillary unit, Cavalry unit, REME, RE and half a Logistics regt alone to play an amphib role when the rest of the field army are on enduring ops? and if your going to send them you may as well send the infantry that comes with them.

x
x
December 1, 2013 11:07 am

I bit like getting the second XV to bring on the oranges and water at half-time?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 11:17 am

“I bit like getting the second XV to bring on the oranges and water at half-time?”

Apart from all the second XV have completed the commando course yes.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
December 1, 2013 11:23 am

@RT

As TD was too polite to mention Shovel RE is Shovel Round Edge and an all arms stores item. The most proficient wielders of said shovel I saw were a platoon of Pioneers.

I should get out more.

Mark
Mark
December 1, 2013 11:36 am

Is the question not more why with 100k strong regular army and 15k TA were the Royal Navy and RAF required to fill in, in tradition army roles during a 10 year campaign which required at its height less than 1/15th of the army to be deployed to what has been so ably described as defence main effort. Not saying it shouldn’t have been done but capabilities within both the raf and navy were given up or gapped to service Afghanistan requirements or at least that was the government line.

As it was defence main effort why wasn’t recruitment and training to areas of shortfall identified and resourced and force generation changed within the army much sooner and more aggressively if for nothing else to relieve pressure on over stretched trades.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 11:43 am

Ref bridging assets,

When we first went to Poland, we used the Polish bridging system at the time to cross a span of the River Drawa ( I think ) the system was based on the Russian PMP pontoon system and could cross a gap of 100m.

We would of had to use the M2/3 rigs in a ferry configuration to have crossed the gap, a lot less efficiently.

There were concerns at first that the Polish system would not have been able to take the load of the Challenger but it seemed to cope ok, albeit probably at the very edge of its safety limits.

Large gap crossing is something the British army hardly practices, we can do it with in service bridging and pontoons but it is rarely done. We do not possess a large pontoon bridge system that can be put into place quickly such as the Russian PMP system.

Phil
December 1, 2013 11:45 am

Boring!

As if the RMs or the RN would have wanted 3 Cdo sat on its arse, training for an operation that likely would never come and picking their arses whilst the Army gets all the contacts and gucci kit?

There’s that, and then there’s the fact that HERRICK kicked off properly when we were still very much involved on TELIC. (1x Bde on TELIC, means 3 needed at home, that’s 4x brigades, add another operation and you need 8 brigades, which is exactly what we had with 3 Cdo).

And then there’s the fact we maintain an armed forces to go out and do things, not sit on their hands because they fancy a different mission more suited to their self-image or because they think someone else should be able to do it.

Let’s face it, we needed 3 Cdo to go because the politicians bit off more than they could chew and 3 Cdo WANTED to go (I remember one bootie moaning on TV that he was getting no action in 2001/2002) and we maintained 3 Cdo TO GO.

As it was defence main effort

It wasn’t main effort until 2009 when exactly what you describe began to happen.

x
x
December 1, 2013 11:47 am

@ DavidNiven

Um yes……

But Leicester’s second XV is still Leicester’s second XV……… ;) :)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 11:55 am

@ x

But Leicester’s second XV is still Leicester’s second XV ……… yeah you’re right I suppose it’s the same way the Americans view our Navy ; )

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 12:04 pm

TD yeah BAOR days as a very young Sapper!

You’re right we never had a large crossing to make in our AO, but I still think its odd that we don’t snorkel our armour when we can, to elleviate pressure on the brdiging systems and rigs.

As a side note we had to construct the largest Bailey since WW 2 on the training area so as to allow our armour to move around freely, the existing bridge was military class 55 ( from memory ) so was ok for about 90 % of our vehicles just not the tanks.

x
x
December 1, 2013 12:09 pm

@ David Niven re second XV

Not as much as some of them (both US Army and USMC) regard our army after Iraq and Afghanistan………….

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 12:13 pm

@ x,

Agreed, looks like were all f***ed, its probably down to that excellent management we have!

x
x
December 1, 2013 12:20 pm

@ David Niven

:)

I know 3Cdo is very purple. As often I have said (or implied) here I wish the Army was a bit keener on getting its feet wet and not just muddy. :)

@ All

How much of the RAF REGIMENT rotated through Afghanistan and how often?

@ TD

Isn’t the thrust of the article that though important FP stop-gap measures should be wound up after the big bunfight is over? Hint, hint……. :) ;)

wf
wf
December 1, 2013 12:27 pm

@DavidNiven: has anyone actually trialled snorkelling a Chieftain or Challenger? I’ve not heard of it

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
December 1, 2013 12:41 pm

@ wf

I don’t know to be honest, but the Germans and Russians have snorkling kits. It’s something us Brits don’t seem to do, don’t really know the reasons why, but with armour just getting heavier I think it’s something we should look at with the Challenger replacement, there’s only so much tech can help with bridging.

Dunservin
Dunservin
December 1, 2013 12:41 pm

@TD

“So to summarise, the bailing out thing is somewhat wide of the mark

Would that be fair to say?”

– Not from the evidence presented above but, given your track record, no less fair than one would expect. ;-)

Phil
December 1, 2013 12:52 pm

Not from the evidence presented above but, given your track record, no less fair than one would expect.

Why do we have RMs at all then if they are not meant to go and do their bit on in a decade of continuous combat?

Taken to its logical conclusion defence should have disbanded 3 Cdo and the Royal Marines Commando’s and moved them wholesale into the Army if having the RM label means that their contribution is seen as “bailing out”.

How is that for Main Effort?

Dunservin
Dunservin
December 1, 2013 1:18 pm

“Why do we have RMs at all then if they are not meant to go and do their bit on in a decade of continuous combat?…”

– Calm down. If they are needed so much, no one is saying they shouldn’t but I expect you will have plenty of time to ponder the answer to your question when the last Army personnel have returned to the UK from Afghanistan and Germany and are happily ensconced in their new super-barracks.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 1, 2013 1:34 pm

Before anyone forgets, the MoD runs as a joint organisation, and forces are deployed accordingly.

The RM are a light infantry brigade and take their turn. As noted above by Phil,they’d have been pissed off not to go. Even the RAF Regiment get called to assist.

I find Sir H’s contribution to be naive. It is not as though the Army by itself got the DPAs so wrong that they were short by a Brigade to support a medium term enduring operation (and I would staunchly say the same about numbers of Naval ships capable of war fighting, or squadrons of aircraft, so I am not being partisan). It is Whitehall which sets the numbers.

I might have a think about the total uselessness of the MoD Ministers from all parties, the MoD Civil Service as a large and stupidly unresponsive blocking force, and the odd fact that senior officers of all 3 services seem craven in their acceptance of the Whitehall status quo. Have to take some happy pills beforehand though, as I find the reputation of the British Whitehall establishment greatly exceeds the actual capacity to get something even vaguely right.

dave haine
dave haine
December 1, 2013 1:46 pm

@ X

All RAF Regiment Field Sqns (including QCS and RAuxAF) have rotated through ‘stan on 6 to 9 month tours, except 26 & 27 who have maintained permanent detachments, due to CBRN.

During this time they also rotated through Iraq on Op Telic.

dave haine
dave haine
December 1, 2013 4:59 pm

@ WF, DavidNiven

Isn’t it something to do with getting a 75t monster out of the river?, although as you’ve already pointed out Hans and Ivan aren’t too fussed….

Come to think about it, I’ve never seen an British or American tank of any era with snorkelling gear…we went down the DD screen route, last seen on early CVR before the operators kept ripping them off.

x
x
December 1, 2013 5:11 pm

@ david haine

That is about 360 to 450 bods isn’t it (per tour)?

Interesting.

Thanks.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 1, 2013 5:13 pm

“…last seen on early CVR before the operators kept ripping them off”

That’s because the operators (operators? WTF?) had some common sense.

All gone by 1985 when I arrived at CVR(T). some of the hairier Troop Sergeants had some experience of the screens, but none thought them a good idea, either in terms of physics, or more simply, because 2 hours putting them up wasn’t an act of war.

x
x
December 1, 2013 5:17 pm

@ wf

Vickers Defence Mk 3 ( 39,500 kg ) supposedly was available with a deep wading / flotation equipment.

Topman
Topman
December 1, 2013 5:29 pm

@ x

Not that many per Sqn. With attached bods approx 150. (if that’s what you meant?)

x
x
December 1, 2013 5:46 pm

@ Topman

So that is 7 squadrons of 171 according to wiki……….

Yes I see now the 2800 includes reserves too.

Topman
Topman
December 1, 2013 5:52 pm

Many aren’t in field sqns, which can make the numbers seem confusing.

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 2, 2013 9:17 am

Yes, from c. 1960 to c.1990 the biggest river of concern to UK was the Weser. M2 rigs were just fine, but given water meadows rapid trackway laying was mission critical.

IIRC the Vistula was the RIPL or close to it.

The best bridging one is the US 3 Corps, at a presentation in Fort Hood playing reinforcement to NORTHAG they had the great idea of a corps ‘sweep’ across the N German plain, assuming that bridging would be available to get them across the myriad waterways, RE guys present did their arithmetic and estimated that it woud need the entire bridging assets of the Army Group! Famously the sainted Ginge said in a loud voice during his fellow 3*’s presentation of this great plan “It will never f*****g work”. We’ve missed guys like Ginge in the last dozen years.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 2, 2013 9:45 am

Obsvr,

there are (were, at least in the late 80s) about a dozen sets of concreted Class 80 entry points on the western banks of the Weser. Not on the eastern banks.

There are (were) 4 telegraph poles at each junction of firebreaks in the Harz mountains, most of which completely redundant, but ideal for cutting down and dropping in a lattice pattern over the junction to greatly impede vehicle movement. I wonder why? ;)

I also recall talk that every bridge in west Germany had its’ own entry in a NATO ledger, showing how it could most effectively be destroyed. Motorway bridges all had holes pre-drilled for charges, which was probably sensible for the Cold War but I would imagine now a bit of a terrorist nightmare for the German police. If the holes have not been filled up, which would be the obvious response to the ending of the Cold War and the start of a al Qaeda threat.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 2, 2013 10:36 am

TD,

yes, you’ve sparked dim memories of hearing about that.

I did the course in Hameln with 35 Armd Engr Regt designed for Pioneers and Recce Regiment Assault Troops to learn about explosives and chainsawing down things and other acts of wanton destruction. Huge fun. On a range day I managed to forget to unscrew the brown plastic gripswitch after setting off some det cord, and was sent back out to collect it while the cord was still fizzing away. Had to walk, not run. Made it back to the bunker about 3 nano-seconds before the main charge went off, and was told “now Sir, you’ll remember in future”. Bloody right I would.

Observer
Observer
December 2, 2013 10:59 am

What was the gripswitch connected to?

Dunservin
Dunservin
December 2, 2013 11:05 am

@RT

“…On a range day I managed to forget to unscrew the brown plastic gripswitch after setting off some det cord, and was sent back out to collect it while the cord was still fizzing away…”

– Did you really mean det cord (usually containing PETN which detonates at about 6.5 km/sec) or did you mean safety fuze (usually containing black powder which ‘fizzes away’ at around 30 cm/sec depending on type and batch – we always tested a length before use)?

Sir Humphrey
December 2, 2013 11:12 am

I always find that the moment the mod civil service is blamed for military force levels, then you know the person has lost the argument – it’s the classic ‘oh look anyone but the military is to blame for the military’s woes’ syndrome…

@TD – I. Don’t disagree that there should have been rm on the early days of Herrick, but having invested heavily in making the rm the preferred short response force of choice for all the SSFI and other much loved acronyms of the noughties it was frustrating to see that thrown away to become just another roulement force.

wf
wf
December 2, 2013 11:21 am

: @RT is in the cavalry. Fastest walkers in the Army, barring the Light Division, due to their habit of entering lots of man vs horse competitions, or so they told me in the bar :-P

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 2, 2013 11:47 am

Sir H,

I always find that the moment the MoD centre blames one of the services, it is because they have lost the argument as well. So your finding has no more validity than mine, except that mine is demonstrably true, and your’s not. Did you forget that the MoD sets policy, and not the single services? Or did you fail to notice that I quite scrupulously included senior officers and even Ministers working in Whitehall, as well as the civil servants?

Looking at a simple balance, who is more to blame for force levels being as they are? London, or HQ LAND / FLEET / AIR? And so your original comment was grossly offensive.

Observer / Dunservin. clearly, the safety fuse. There was about 20 metres of it, and the charge about 40 metres away. So it was quite fast walking, just not 6.5km/sec walking. At least I connected the two cords in the correct sequence, unlike the Coldcream subaltern also on the course. He didn’t have any eyebrows left.

wf: There were those competitions. The best result was from an enterprising EMElet who rode / carried a mountain bike. He won by a country mile.

I’ve done it both mounted and running. Much of a muchness, for me anyway.

Sir Humphrey
December 2, 2013 1:41 pm

@rt
I have no interest in starting a debate on this as we will never agree. I will simply note that there is a strong tendency at all levels of hm forces to blame ‘mod’ for the decisions taken without considering that everyone is part of mod.
This desire to shift blame is depressing as my experience at tactical, operational and strategic levels of deciosn making, both wearing uniform and civvies is that the military is increasingly keen to blame others for their woes – be it different services, departments and so on, rather than manning up and admitting that often blame lies closer to home than they may be comfortable with.

Observer
Observer
December 2, 2013 1:55 pm

Oh now I get it, you left the igniter at the site after igniting the safety fuse. I was wondering if you were talking about a really double positive firing circuit with an electrical initiator and a det cord/safety fuse circuit. Which would be… really strange. And extreme overkill.