Army 2020 – Good News It Is Not

Working either to the premise that a good crisis should never be wasted or stating a harsh truth a number of former service chiefs have linked the reducing defence budget to the crisis in the Ukraine.

Outgoing NATO Deputy Supreme Commander Europe (DSACEUR), General Sir Richard Shirreff (see his LinkedIn profile here) reportedly told the Guardian;

“I wouldn’t want to let anybody think that I think that Army 2020 is good news, it’s not. The sort of defence cuts we have seen. … have really hollowed out the British armed forces and I think that people need to sit up and recognise that.”

Stinging stuff, read more at the link.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/30/british-army-cuts-risk-general-richard-shirreff

Lord West of Spithead, speaking in the House of Lords said;

I do believe we have reduced our numbers of people to a level where they can’t assist, where they should be able to, the civil power.

Lord Dannatt also called for a handful of new Brigades to be held in Germany.

Meanwhile, the MoD spin machine is in full flow with a recent video showing Army Reserves of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry training with Challenger 2 main battle tanks and Chinook helicopters.

It is interesting to speculate on the impact upon SDSR 2015 of the recent shenanigans in Crimea.

Personally, unless Russia invades East Ukraine I don’t seen European defence budgets increasing in any appreciable manner any time soon, no matter what the Generals and Admirals want.

Phil Hammond, reckons the seniors are talking nonsense!

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2592987/Youre-talking-nonsense-Hammond-fires-salvo-critics-cuts-Armed-Forces.html”]

 

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derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 10:24 am

As ever, the current establishment, as well as many of the commentators on this blog- continue to deny the sheer scale of the 2010 cuts, with tactics ranging from “but what about x” and “look at the minor cuts the US is considering”. UK military power had been on a downward slop prior to 2010, there is no denying that, but what happened in SDSR10 was a rout. The situation now is that there is little if any scope for additional money and little if any scope for significant changes within the Armed Forces without additional money. The end result being Britain has effectively been left as an observer in the Crimea crisis. Power has limits when you don’t have very much of it and that is the situation now being realised.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 10:45 am
Reply to  derekbob

And what power has the USA had over and above what the UK had, no one in NATO or the EU could do anything once Russia did what it did.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 10:54 am
Reply to  Engineer Tom

Thank you for proving my point. “Look over there!!!!” in almost classic form.

It is not about stopping Russia from grabbing Ukraine, it is about reassuring NATO allies that, unlike Ukraine, treaty obligations to them will be kept. The UK’s self-inflicted military weakness meaning it now has considerably less to offer in this regard.

USMC Officer
USMC Officer
April 2, 2014 11:07 am

Following on from ET’s comments you are reinforcing the point of the article the UK forces are now so weakened by cuts that the UK government could not / would not consider doing anything with out the US holding the UK armed forces hand ?

And as a logical conclusion of this there will be no independent UK military intervention with out first the the US’s approval and second there support?

At that point you can then ask the question why have a UK armed forces for anything but self defence thus freeing up money from expeditionary forces to naval and air forces looking to defend UK interests and a army based on the Army/militia concept prior to the 1900’s who sole role is to defend sovereign territory.

Oh and lets be honest as one of the marines who had to rescue the UK forces from Helmand having already rescued you from Basra perhaps UK forces should not be allowed out on your own any way.

accattd
accattd
April 2, 2014 11:07 am

My expectation was that the headline was referring to a recent thorough paper published with the same headline… Well, will have to wait.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 11:12 am
Reply to  USMC Officer

Excellent comment, spot on. In fact I can’t really find anything to disagree with there.

accattd
accattd
April 2, 2014 11:13 am
Reply to  USMC Officer

There is some truth to the last paragraph: configure the force package to the mission, or don’t go at all?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
April 2, 2014 11:13 am

Pity it is always ex or shortly leaving officers who comment like this.

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 11:32 am
Reply to  USMC Officer

sorry are you advocating the UK takes unilateral action against Russia over Ukraine? That just seems silly. why would we do such a thing. also I seem to ember the US pulling back from launching a few cruise missiles at Syria because they had no UK support so why would you expect us to take on the Russians with no US support.

also In reference to your rescuing of UK forces I seem to remember the USMC dropping that ball recently and relying on the RAF regiment for support. Its called being allies. I am sure I also don’t need to point out that both wars were Started by the US and not us and in both theatres the US fucked up the entire theatre long before our issues.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
April 2, 2014 11:34 am

“With a restructured, more flexible and
agile Army and with £160billion planned on new equipment over the next
decade, we will ensure our Armed Forces retain their formidable range of
capabilities and ability to project power across the globe.”

“Mr Hammond insisted that the criticism
was unfounded, pointing out that Britain still had the fourth largest
defence budget in the world.”

The usual soundbites. I have heard them since the Front Line First cuts of 1995. Just how does having less of everything make the military more “agile ” and ” flexible ” ? Even ACM Sir Stirrup was coming out with this crap years back.

Less of everything means knackered, overused equipment, over committed personnel, and no reserves to cope with eventualities.That is not agile!!

The often quoted defence budget total just shows how bad the MoD, government, and UK industry is that we can spend SO much for so little numbers wise. The MoD budget seems little more than subsidizing BAE systems.

I have argued on this and other blogs that the UK still has numerous capabilities most others lack, along with professional and experienced forces. HMG seems to highlight this while ignoring the numbers whittled away. A Type 45 cannot be in two places at once.

I would like to see a better balance between quality and quantity, with more “off the shelf” kit to increase numbers.

In fantasy land I would reverse every cut! Reduce the ridiculous and ring fenced aid budget, place the cost of Trident replacement back to the supplementary budget rather than MoD’s budget. But in reality this is not going too happen, so I console myself with the positives which we still have as a military power, but a much smaller one.

The bottom line is that HMG is quite happy to have the status of a P5 UNSC member, which I support, yet is not prepared to pay for it. The likes of the Guardian and the rest of the loony left would be more interested in the UK having none of this international status.

As for Ukraine. What is Ukraine compared to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria? ( almost ) The usual western hypocrisy.

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 11:38 am
Reply to  derekbob

At Derek, I think we are far more aware than you about the scale of the cuts in SDSR 2010. I wonder however if you have come to terms with how big the long term cuts will be at the DOD. US politics is a pretty toxic brew and I have seen nothing coming from either side on capital hill that bodes well for the long term defence budget. Sequestration is only the beginning and not the end. The MOD. Has gained an advantage that is budget is relatively small now as an overall % of UK government spending but the DOD’s budget is a very large part of Federal government spending.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 11:52 am
Reply to  Martin

Where did the RAF Regiment rescue the USMC?

Also, stop with the distraction and discuss the reality.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 11:57 am
Reply to  Martin

As ever Martin, little understanding of what you are talking about. You have never grasped the scale of the 2010 cuts to the UK and you consistently over state US cuts in an attempt to distract from British military weakness.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 2, 2014 12:05 pm
Reply to  USMC Officer

I agree you did help us out in Iraq and Afghanistan, but both of those campaigns also showed the political and military decisions made by the US government/armed forces to be just as Sh*t as ours. And as the main instigator and policy maker in both of those campaigns then maybe the US should be not be allowed out on their own either.

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 12:11 pm
Reply to  derekbob

I’m sorry sorry Derek but do you read the articles I post on TD? Can you show me any where that I underestimate the scale of the cuts in 2010.

Please do show me the proof or stop trolling one or other. You can see the 30 or so articles I have written not to mention the hundreds of comments in the TD archives so take you time but please do come back with the proof.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 12:18 pm
Reply to  Martin

Back to your old tricks I see, first you post outright falsehoods, then when they are proven wrong you jump straight to the insults.

wf3
wf3
April 2, 2014 12:22 pm

Martin, ignoring the stuff about budgets, you don’t need to land in Crimea to utilise “hard power”. Deploying an armoured unit and a fighter squadron to Estonia for example would be something that we should do, along with shipping expertise and weapons to the Ukrainians.

Putin won’t look so popular when we respond this way and it becomes clear that Russia has lost as well as gained geopolitically.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 12:26 pm
Reply to  derekbob

My point was along the lines the US has probably the most powerful military in the world and that hasn’t helped them, so Crimea is a bad example of why a bigger UK military would be helpful in global politics.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 12:31 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

And therefore your point was not relevant. The UK has increasingly little to bring to the table to shore up NATO’s eastern border.

Nick
Nick
April 2, 2014 12:35 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

Hi there. One subtle difference in interpretation, is that I really don’t think anyone in the “west” had absolutely any interest in do anything about Crimea anyway (even if we’d known days earlier) but what we’re trying to communicate is that if you go further the cost to you is going to be high and you might not like to pay that price.

The Other Chris
April 2, 2014 12:35 pm

@Everyone

Engaging with Bob/Derek is feeding his trolling and merely serving to fuel his flames. Nothing’s changed with the new comment system other than to link his two accounts from the old system. Recommend you turn the other cheek.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 12:38 pm
Reply to  USMC Officer

We are geared up and capable of expeditionary warfare on our own, on a small scale but we are still capable of it.
Basra and Helmand are both examples of COIN and ground holding operations in an enduring campaign, these are roles that are hard without the huge resources the US has (both Iraq and Afghanisatan required a huge influx of troops towards the end and not just in areas the UK controlled but rather the whole theatre) and of any nation in NATO US excluded who else committed as many troops to the campaigns and who else agreed to send them to areas we did.

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 12:44 pm

Simply comparing UK / US defence budgets and capabilities isn’t really showing the picutre. IF we think the future Russian threat deserves to be countered with either forward deployments of armour and fast jets or upscaled expeditionary capabilities then it is the whole of European NATO that needs to reverse its Planning Assumptions and increase its budget. Neither the UK nor the US can or should defend Eastern Europe ‘on its own’. The context of the debate should the Defence Posture and Budgets all across the Western Alliance.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 12:46 pm

Because heaven forbid you have to engage in a fact based discussion…much easier to stick with fantasy fleets and other forms of reality denial.

The Other Chris
April 2, 2014 12:55 pm
Reply to  derekbob

The only response you’ll get from me on this topic:

It doesn’t matter if what you say is correct. There’s too much Noise to work out if your Signal has any quality in it. Consequently you are written off as a Troll with a beef about the UK.

We’ve spoken personally before about how we can improve how you communicate and put across your ideas because if you have a valid point, if you’re genuinely trying to convey an important message, it would be a shame for nobody to hear it and I’d like to engage in that debate.

If you’re truly trying to get a message across and not merely flaming to get a rise, you’ll take on board the constructive feedback we covered previously and work on how to present your point of view more constructively and with more respect to peers.

If not, you’ll continue to be written off as a Troll and ultimately be Moderated.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 12:59 pm

“It doesn’t matter if what you say is correct”

Yes that does summarise your approach, and is also a pretty good indicator that you are a troll.

Frenchie
Frenchie
April 2, 2014 1:03 pm

The problem is that in the European Union, we are the only ones to possess nuclear weapons, and that is very expensive. I wish that in the future the EU helps us to finance this protection that protects all the Union.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
April 2, 2014 1:05 pm
Reply to  USMC Officer

Do you count the surges and reinforcements of US forces by other US forces as rescues as well? Should they not be let out on their own either?
Or is it only reinforcement by other coalition troops that equates to a rescue?
If you cannot differentiate I really worry about your training, if you can but choose not to I worry about your physche.

The Other Chris
April 2, 2014 1:12 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

Interesting concept.

I’m sure the other nations would use non-proliferation in some manner.

How would you pitch the idea of contributing to France/UK as custodians of European nuclear deterrent and would you anticipate issues with it being seen as a “protection racket”?

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 1:15 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

Also not sure if this would achieve effective deterrance. Would UK or France risk launching in response to a nuclear strike on Poland? Or would this be seen as an escalation and a reckeless invitation to the agressor to strike back at them?

And if deterrance is not acheived, why pay towards the cost?

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 1:21 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

More appropriate would be some sort of shared funding of conventional capabilites. This could either be on an informal basis – with the recognition for instance that UK would spend heavily on Navy and de-emphasise Armour, while Gernany did the opposite and the French focussed on Combat Air. Alternatively smaller countries could pay directly towards Armoured Divisions, Combat Squadrons or Naval Task Groups provided by their bigger neighbours. But would get certain contractual rights in exchange to task the assets when needed.

The Other Chris
April 2, 2014 1:22 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

A United Armed Forces of Europe?

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 1:24 pm

Overall it comes down to: do we see a credible threat emerging by 2020 or not?

If we do then we (and all our allies) have to ‘man up’ and spend accordingly.

If we don’t then normal jogging will do.

For my money we would be desparatly stupid not to start a bare minimum of re-armament planning. But the political discourse seems a long way from that right now.

S O
S O
April 2, 2014 1:25 pm

Whenever a flag officer criticises a hollowing out of the forces he’s actually (unknowingly) blaming his own ilk.

Politicians impose budget cuts, but it’s the flag officers who are almost always responsible when the cuts ‘hollow out’ the forces (by reducing operations and training expenses more than nominal strength) instead of just shrinking them or ditching the least efficient expenses first.

But more often they call “hollow out” what’s actually first and foremost ‘shrinking’, and then that’s plain lying.

Rhetorical question: Will the quantity of flag officers be cut in proportion with the budget projection cut?

Frenchie
Frenchie
April 2, 2014 1:30 pm

Modernization of French nuclear deterrence cost more than 10 billion euros, and it does not cost one euro to Germany, for example, which asks us to lower our budgetary spending, I don’t think it’s normal.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 1:37 pm
Reply to  derekbob

Taking a quote out of context does not help your case.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 1:38 pm

Now that scares me.

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 1:39 pm
Reply to  derekbob

Derek you say I have “never grasped the scale of the 2010 cuts” I think you need to demonstrate proof of that or give me an apology.

Frenchie
Frenchie
April 2, 2014 1:41 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

If a country launches a nuclear missile on Poland, you believe that the United Kingdom and France will remain here watching ?

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 1:44 pm
Reply to  derekbob

Camp bastion and note I did not say rescue but support. Please if your going to troll at least try and quote what people say. I’m not sure if you are a natural english speak or just a c**t but if you look in the dictionary you will find quite a difference between the definition of the word rescue and support. just so we are clear allies support each other and cats get rescued from trees.

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 1:45 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

I say there would be real doubt about wether a nuclear response would come or not. The doubt is the point. Without certainty there is no deterrance.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
April 2, 2014 1:46 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

Never. The UK should retain sovereign capabilities.

Waylander
Waylander
April 2, 2014 1:48 pm
Reply to  USMC Officer

British forces in Afghanistan are part of a coalition, so the fact one part of that coalition needed to be reinforced (because they were deployed in the most dangerous province in the Taliban’s heartland) should not be seen as them being “rescued”, or what is the point of a coalition?
It always made little sense that the UK was given the task of pacifying Afghanistan’s most difficult province, surely as the strongest member of the coalition US Forces should have had the lead role in Helmand from the start.
After the surge there were over 20,000 US Marines and British troops in Helmand? If a division sized force could still not entirely control the province and defeat the Taliban, how on earth was a brigade of British troops supposed to do it on their own?
Instead of carping about British forces and making cheap points, it would probably be better to ask which of America’s other allies has done more in Afghanistan?

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 1:49 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

I’m sure there are plenty of EU-philes who would like to see that. But I deliberately avoided proposing it. I am talking more about bilateral contractual deals between soverign powers. With perhaps some NATO (not EU) tankers, trasnport and ISTAR.

But its all a bit pointless unless as the Westrn Alliance we jointly commit to upscale our forces overall.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 1:57 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

That is a complete distortion of reality. The Brits failed in their allotted duty to protect Bastion leaving US Marines to defend it themselves- taking casualties in the process.

Now you are just lying.

Kent Horton
April 2, 2014 1:58 pm

The current occupant of the White House has proposed cutting the US Army to levels not seen since before WW2; he has also proposed ending acquisition of Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles without having a replacement ready to go. (This reminds me of the RAF withdrawing the Harriers before having a replacement.) Over recent years our Congress has cut the purchase of aircraft that we spent billions developing and then complained about the cost per copy, leaving us in nearly the situation we faced pre-WW2 when a 50 aircraft buy was a big deal. Our government fixates on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with little or no regard for the primary responsibility of the United States government which is to protect our borders and our allies. Tons of money spent on MRAPs, which were/are great for ops in Iraq/Afghanistan but are ill-suited for a land war against anyone other than a bunch of goatherds. And what happens to the MRAPs? They are all but given to police agencies in the US at federal, state, county, and local levels. (Nothing like driving past the Cherokee Nation Marshals Service Headquarters and seeing an MRAP in the parking lot.) The bastards have even tried to cut future cost of living increases for military retirees under age 62, including those medically retired due to combat injuries, so they could give that money to their client classes.
Sorry, I’ll put away the soapbox, now.

derekbob
derekbob
April 2, 2014 2:00 pm
Reply to  Martin

Thats an outright lie and you know it. US Marines died because the Brits failed to defend Bastion as was their responsibility.

TED
TED
April 2, 2014 2:09 pm
Reply to  Martin

Didn’t the RAF reg need rescuing from Basra?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 2, 2014 2:14 pm
Reply to  Waylander

I think the question should be has America prevailed in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Iraq has been left with an insurgency and instability (after the American surge worked just long enough for them to get out of dodge just as fast as we left Basra) and the Americans have failed to defeat the Taliban (after coming to the recue in Helmand).
At least we can hide behind the fact that we have’nt got the resources, where as they just failed full stop.

TED
TED
April 2, 2014 2:17 pm

I think your right. No were are not likely to see any change of course by stubborn politicians just because Russia annexed Crimea. Full marks. And you mention the only change in thinking likely to happen if Russia walked into Ukraine. Again I think your right but the whole concept is just wrong. IF Russia starts doing that its too late (arguably it is already.)

The whole point of NATO is to deter Russian aggression. With spending cuts that clearly is not working. Now I’m not saying we would ever of done anything to counter the Russian annexation of Crimea (even if we had peak cold war levels of personnel and equipment) but the fact the Russians KNOW that they can and will get away with it points at a major cause for alarm.

Peter Elliott
April 2, 2014 2:26 pm

You are right TD. But I am not looking at either Crimea or Eastern Ukraine. What’s done there is done.

As per the title of this thread I am looking at 2020 and wondering what stage Russian revancheism might have reached by then. And what forces NATO would need to have procured, trained and deployed by that date to be ready.

Andy
April 2, 2014 2:26 pm
Reply to  derekbob

You miss the point that everyone in the world has been on a downward defence spiral since the end of the Cold War.
You have to look at the position of the UK relative to the threat.
In the case of Russia I can’t think of anytime since the height of the British Empire that we could consider going toe to toe with them and actually even then (the Crimean War) we were allied to France! Certainly at no time since the Cold War would we consider acting alone. We may have had more of everything in the 1990’s but the Russians had even more!
Let’s take one part of the jigsaw of military power – air power – and consider the facts. The Russian Air Force today has at best 1,800 combat aircraft compared to over 6,000 in 1990. European NATO countries (not even counting the US) have 2,200 combat aircraft!
And it’s not just numbers. Our air power is more modern and capable. We’ve got 320 F-35s on order compared to just 60 Su PAK stealth fighters. We’ve got 650 4th+ generation fighters mostly in service compared to only 320 comparable aircraft that they have on order.
There’s no way that faced with this air inferiority that Russia is a real threat to Europe at the present time. It would take years of arms build up before they were a real threat and that’s why Hammond is right to vilify the scaremongerers.
There are plenty of things wrong with UK defence policy but they’re not going to get solved by an extra Brigade in Germany. Even a full Division would have an insignificant effect on the overall balance of power.
If we want to increase our security we’ve actually got to address the real gaps in capability such as actually recruiting the reserves to make Army 2020 work, get a maritime patrol aircraft, keep a naval AEW presence until Crowsnest is ready and have a workable plan for a two carrier fleet.

accattd
accattd
April 2, 2014 2:35 pm
Reply to  Andy

Hear, hear!

Martin
Editor
April 2, 2014 2:38 pm
Reply to  Andy

Well said

Observer
Observer
April 2, 2014 3:20 pm
Reply to  derekbob

I believe the USMC CO in charge got the chop for that. So tell us again how it was a UK security problem as I believe the area hit was a USMC zone? Look at the damage, all USMC equipment. That should tell you which zone was hit.

Observer
Observer
April 2, 2014 3:27 pm
Reply to  derekbob

It is. And you really need to think about what you’re doing. If a large group of people told you that you’re doing it wrong, you need a pause and evaluation, not just charge full speed ahead with whatever you were doing wrong in the first place.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 3:27 pm
Reply to  derekbob

“It doesn’t matter if what you say is correct. There’s too much Noise to work out if your Signal has any quality in it.”

“It doesn’t matter if what you say is correct.”

Two completly different meanings when quoted. Your quote is word for word correct but the context it was said in makes it mean a completly different thing.

Engineer Tom
April 2, 2014 3:34 pm
Reply to  thinkdefence

The problem with NATO is that it has never been tested, if Russia invaded Poland, would the US want to get involved? NATO means they would be legally bound to, but would they? Until it happens we will never know.

Observer
Observer
April 2, 2014 3:48 pm
Reply to  TED

If you want to start comparing things like that, then you can also start lamenting about the US after Mogadishu where they had to be rescued by Pakistan/Malaysia of all people.

Not that I’m suggesting that the US is now impotent, what I am suggesting is that comparing times when people get into trouble and need support is a useless criteria for deciding if an armed forces is viable or not as people in a conflict zone WILL get into trouble sooner or later, and if you want to compare on the “prestige” of rescues, then you have to compare all of it. And no one comes out looking good after that kind of mudslinging.

Pakistan? Malaysia? :(

Observer
Observer
April 2, 2014 3:52 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

I do disagree a bit on the certainty part. If there is certainty, an aggressor can plan for it as it is almost certain to take place. It’s the uncertainty factors that give most people pause.

The Other Chris
April 2, 2014 3:53 pm
Reply to  USMC Officer

Personally I think we’re lucky to be at a point in our joint history where we can, and do, help each other out. We’d all be worse off without it.

Observer
Observer
April 2, 2014 4:03 pm
Reply to  Martin

And one more facet. How to pay for the security. Not a dig at the UK, but an integrated plan for funding to pay for defence isn’t a bad thing. Plan for new sources of government revenue, plan for the increase to be shunted into the armed forces, plan for the replacement of less cost effective material.

It beats crossing your fingers and wishing for a budget increase from Parliament who if I guess right, wouldn’t have planned on how to increase government revenues either.

Interesting thought, should the Armed Forces diversify into manufacturing to fund their own? China has “Farmer Battalions” for their army to be self supporting food wise, why not take one step further and diversify the military to try and partially support themselves financially?

paul g
April 2, 2014 7:20 pm

USMC, for someone who has served you should realise that was probably the most disgusting thing ever said on this site. I’ve lost friends over there and one 50 foot from where I was standing, just so unprofessional and as I won’t be coming back here again as your comment was allowed to stay I take great pride in saying FUCK OFF derekbob you utter utter fucktard. it’s been great talking to everyone of the last 2 years (the one’s that are pleasant with a salient point anyway).

Kent Horton
April 2, 2014 7:50 pm
Reply to  Observer

The perimeter of Camp Bastion was the RAF’s responsibility which they had passed to the notoriously unreliable Tongans. The 19 Taliban were able to penetrate the perimeter without firing a shot or alerting anyone. The VMA-211 squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Raible, armed only with a pistol, died leading ground support personnel as infantry against the attacker. The Brits showed up 12 minutes into the fight while USMC AH-1s and UH-1s took off under fire and supported USMC personnel on the ground as they hunted the attackers.
Yeah, it was a UK security problem.

RedTrousers
RedTrousers
April 2, 2014 8:00 pm

Derek/Bob seems to have an axe to grind. You’ll always get them.

I have worked extremely closely with the Americans in Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf One and post 9/11 (where I think we sent over some Kevins in AWACS to calm the fearful populace, the only time ever that NATO Article 4 was ever invoked). That might be seen by some as a rescue, but I’m not entering that argument.

They are fat, militarily slightly better than the Belgians, loud and uncouth, good Allies, recce by fire and not stealth, seem to attract recruits with IQs about rabbit sized, extremely generous, turn up when they say they will, and relentlessly it is us both against the French.

Would rather have the bastards inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in, to mangle LBJ.

They also have some extremely hot girls in Texas who you can pick up in the Mesquite City Mall if you happen to do some shopping there while wearing a British Army uniform (on a week of proper military conferencing). And police who turn up to your hotel armed and dangerous if your new girlfriend chooses to sunbathe topless at the hotel pool, to which the only solution is a British accent.

:)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 2, 2014 8:07 pm
Reply to  paul g

USMC is no reason to leave mate, we all know people like that exist, and to be honest I’ve probably said worse to them to start a bar brawl in the past ;-)

accattd
accattd
April 2, 2014 8:10 pm

Trolling techniques are many. Once everyone learns to ignore an alias, then another turns up, may be in pairs, talking “to self” to direct the discussion and to sow confusion.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 2, 2014 8:26 pm

Having come late to an increasingly bad-tempered party,could I suggest that we all reflect on the following salient points. It seems to me highly likely that if they had been able to HMAF would have deployed an Army Corps to Iraq and a Division to Afghanistan…that they could not is wholly down to political decisions taken over the last fifty years over which even the CDS has very limited control…beyond resigning when asked to do the very nearly impossible (again) only to see himself replaced by somebody more pliable but less capable…has anybody out there even considered the political implications in a very old representative democracy of the Officer Corps to all intents and purposes refusing to obey the lawful orders of their elected Civilian Government? Because they should, and they are not very pretty. So to blame even the Defence Staff is pretty reprehensible…to talk as though these issues are somehow to be laid at the feet of the young men and women who served and in rather a lot of cases died is rather worse.

That said, what HMAF did do was deploy as a large a force as they could and keep them in the field probably rather longer than was wise…and bearing in mind that our population is in the region of 60 Million and that of the US rather over 300 million…and thus even if we were to look to offer absolute parity in what were, after all, the Cousins Wars we would normally expect to provide 20% of their numbers…how much worse than that did we actually do? Somebody will no doubt rapidly do the arithmetic and tell us…

Furthermore, if not us then who was going to be standing alongside the US in either Iraq or Afghanistan? Was there a German Armoured Corps on offer? Were the French coming along? Was the Eurocorps making it’s first warlike outing? Perhaps the Japanese were planning to change their constitution? The reality is that the only people willing to do the decent thing on a significant scale and in places of consistent danger were ourselves…with no offence intended to those young men and women from other places who did join the party, but I am a little irritated so perhaps not so carefully diplomatic as I sometimes am.

And finally, and only because I am rather testy could I point out that when the US was faced with a terrorist outrage on 9/11 we lined up with you without hesitation and have done our level best to play an honourable part ever since, at a very considerable cost of both blood and treasure. As I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s I did so at real risk of being blown to bits in a City Centre Pub with a bomb purchased by the New York or Boston Irish Community…those of my schoolmates who signed up ran the risk of being shot by an armalite from the same source…and the casualties of that long terrorist campaign mostly financed by some parts of the US rather exceeded those killed in the Twin Towers…

Think on as we say in these parts…in particular about who your friends actually are, and how discussions with them should be conducted…

accattd
accattd
April 2, 2014 8:36 pm

For all we know, mr usmc could be a Russian, privately having some “fun” or gainfully employed, to poke around these places?

Phil
Phil
April 2, 2014 9:08 pm

The key point is maintaining heavy war-fighting capabilities. Maintain them, even at a small size, and you maintain the ability to flex your force structure relatively rapidly. As far as I am aware the only capability we have ‘lost’ is MPA but that has not been lost as such, just placed in suspended animation rather than all aircrew and knowledge being dispersed.

Simple fact is we need to stop pretending we are scaled to fight a Russian style war. We are not. What we have are units that can form the cadres of such a force and which are usefully sized and organised to fight in all other spectrums with allies.

Force structure is never set in stone and it’s too easy to think the only way is down (history proves otherwise). Delete capabilities completely and you seriously retard regeneration but scale them back and you have a cadre. Make that cadre useful in the fighting you are more then likely to see in the medium term and well, that’s a bonus and the difference between us and the Dutch or Belgians.

Chris
Chris
April 2, 2014 9:27 pm

Gloomy – as ever thanks are due for bringing some quiet perspective to bear. Sound facts patiently put. Of course thanks equally due for RT’s perspective that was slightly more – um – colourful…

Kent Horton
April 2, 2014 10:30 pm

Ahem. Having dealt over many years with many of our allies, some of doubtful reliability, on the whole I’d rather have a Brit platoon/troop/company/squadron/regiment/brigade/division on my flank than anyone else. And, if caught in a bad situation where my own people couldn’t get there to help me, I’d be happier to hear that a British Army/Royal Marine/RAF outfit was on their way than anyone else.
Just so y’all know. M’kay?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 2, 2014 11:13 pm

@Kent Horton – Thanks for the good thought, and be aware my own enthusiasm for the Anglo-sphere as a force for good is positively Churchillian…despite the odd outbreak of bad manners on all sides…but rarely from the Gentlemen of the South in my experience.

“Come the three corners of the Earth against us, and we shall shock them…”

As I personally expect we might need to again

An oddly sentimental Gloomy

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 2, 2014 11:48 pm

@ Kent,

There are none I’d want on my flank apart from a US ACR. Not unless they had proper blondes called things like Conchita or Margot-Anne (a Warrant Officer in the French Army, attached to the Foreign Legion and Jesus she scared them, being both beautiful, intelligent, speaking four languages and ballsy to the nth degree, or even Ingrid who after a particularly interesting day of commercial negotiations I discovered that my local agent was actually Swiss and not German. But not to put down Netta, who was proper German and a Prussian to boot. :)

Balans
Balans
April 3, 2014 8:09 am

First of all – I am big TD fan for quite some time now, but this is actually my first comment ever. Most of the topics are UK foreign affairs / military related, and although highly informative , there was little I could contribute in comments, especially knowing how many TD readers are ex-military.

This time, however, is different. So to start with, as Polish native I think I can add something to the discusson. Right now, in Poland, after Ukraine crisis, nobody believes that NATO (or UK,France,Germany in that matter) would do anything in case of some kind of conflict (not necessarily military) between Poland and Russia, except for “expressing deep concern”. There is a strong feeling among nation that Poland is alone, and cannot rely on any treaty with western powers.

On that basis, and idea of contributing to French or English deterrance in exchange of increased safety would be seen as fraud and inevitably end political career of any Polish politician who would be seen as responsible.

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 9:11 am

Interesting perspective Balans, and hardly unique. We have a joke that NATO really stands for No Action, Talk Only.
On the other hand, it’s also a good thing. Assuming that you stand alone is a good habit to cultivate, it breeds self sufficiency. That way, any help is a nice surprise. It beats expecting help to find that there is none coming.

Unfortunately, the only way to match a powerhouse like Russia is by conscription which I believe Poland did away with a few years back. This limits your manpower and reduces your ability to stand up to someone with more manpower. I believe there are also a few other side benefits from conscription but that’s a different story. So now the main question is “If Russia starts being an arse, is Poland going to stand up to them? How?”

Peter Elliott
April 3, 2014 9:12 am

Balans’ comment reminds me of Admiral Cunningham’s comment on tradition at Crete in 1941.

NATO has lost a lot of credibility not just over the recent Ukranian kerfuffle but becuse of the perceived adventurism in Afghanistan, its perceived failure, and atrpohy of core conevntional capabilites ampngst the European members.

A refocus is badly needed. But talk is cheap and only actions will speak clearly. Not provocative short term gestures. But steady long term ones to build up the lost and gapped capabilies to create an overall force mix in the alliance that has Mass, Bite and Deployability.

Suitable opportunities will come to demonstrate resolve around the world in ways that will deter rather than provoke. The Falklands had a big psychological imact on Soviet Russia becuase it demonstrated our willingness to fight hard and well. But without the means there can be no credible actions, and no effective conventional deterrence. The means must come first. Thatcher’s government could not have fought the Falklands without the ships ordered by Callaghan’s (as he reminded her at the time).

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
April 3, 2014 9:34 am

@Balans – Good to hear from you, and the choir here certainly hears you in respect of the credibility or otherwise of NATO…unfortunately we are less than blessed in our political class…

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 3, 2014 9:48 am

@Balans – unfortunately you are probably right, maybe you should consider being the anchor country for a Baltic region defence partnership like the one the Nordic nations have and maybe get Romania, Slovakia and Hungary to join.

I’d personally like to see ourselves look further afield within NATO for partnerships with nations like yourselves and a few others such as Denmark who are willing to both pay and be active members in defence. The French are ok to build missiles etc with, but self interest always wins with them.

dave haine
dave haine
April 3, 2014 10:19 am

@ Peter Elliott

With reference to the Falklands in 1982- Notwithstanding the Forces efforts, I think the ability and willingness of British industry to support the campaign, and the general support for the campaign, must have had a salutary effect on Soviet thinking too.

If you think how quickly the Armed forces raised a Task Force, & adapted and used kit that was designed for a different environment. How quickly industry went to a war footing, and how effectively counter-espionage operations went. The willingness of the government to act and the support from from the general populace. All of this was counter to the Soviet assessment of the UK, showing how out of touch they were.

The Black Buck missions, and the sinking of the Belgrano demonstrated how we would prosecute a war- Very much to the russian way of thinking (Don’t p**s about, war is total, staff officers will get their sleep after the war, etc)

Gulf War 1 and Seirra Leone aside, I’m not sure you could draw the same conclusions now- which gives me the opinion that Putin did what he did in the Crimea, because he was certain that NATO would not intervene. And I suspect that the defence cuts just reinforced that view.

As Phil says cadre-ing is the answer, keep small, highly trained armed forces, that can be the basis of much larger forces, when required. Of course that means we need to maintain industrial capability too. Which I will say, this present government is trying to restore, albeit in a typically half-arsed, hand-wringing way.

…Shame they’ve p**sed about with the research facilities…..

Balans
Balans
April 3, 2014 10:51 am

@ TD, Observer , Peter Elliott, Gloomy Northern Boy , David Niven – thank you for all replies, it is good to know that someone pay attention to different perspective.

But I have to admit, I quite hoped that reaction will be more of “UK or France is committed to mutual defence and we do not understand why you see things differently” So it is nice to see things in a same way, but in that case it is not so reassuring.

Polish situation is complex and requires a lot of skill to navigate to right direction. I will allow myself to write more about it later ( if TD let me get slightly of topic) but with limited time I have now, I can give some facts as starter:

1.Afghanistan & Iraq: Our presence in both affairs was not popular among nation, although many seen it as opportunity to improve equipment, skills, and obtain new (for us) capabilities. Moreover politicians sold it as a trade – we help NATO in AFG, NATO will help us ( you need to be commited to expect commitment in return )

2.That expectation took place during Crimea Crisis when people started to ask why NATO / E.U. did so little (and by no means it meant direct military actions, but political & economical sanctions )

3.As sanctions were in Poland seen as too little, too late , an impression that “we are alone in this dangerous world” become more and more popular, influenced by tabloids which in pursuit of publicity were publishing misleading articles like – France dispatches FOUR fighter jets to defend Poland ( i quess it was about Air Baltic Policy as I recall ). This naturally caused outrage throughout web portals, especially in light of four Mistrals being sold to Russia.

4.At the same time PM and Foreign Affairs Minister continued to navigate between accusations made by parliamentary opposition of acting weakly against Russia, and acting too strongly (in eyes of Germany) giving them excuse to be portrayed as anti-russian extremist, therefore loosing any influence in E.U.

5,The conclusion was the necessity to greatly improve our defence. And this particular discussion is very interesting as Polish defence budget is INCREASING each year, and modernisation effort will be significant for many years to come. How this should be done, and how is being done I believe will be interesting to TD community, so maybe I will give a try to write down what I know anytime soon.

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 11:41 am

@Balans

What is the Polish view on conscription? If you want to protect yourself, you need to have the manpower somehow, and conscription is the easiest answer, but it is a balancing act. If people see the need, conscription is easy, but if people don’t see the need, they become unhappy. Do the Polish people see their situation as desperate enough that they will not oppose conscription?

On a more personal note, I’m Singaporean, not British except by distant ancestry, and I doubt many Singaporeans are a fan of any defence pact that leaves the country’s security to someone else. Been there, done that, so trust me when I say I understand what you’re going through.

Not the British’s fault, they were fighting for their lives at that time in Europe, and the Home Islands and Europe was their homeland and critical areas for the British Empire. They had no choice but to pull resources in. Totally understandable and logical. Which in hindsight meant that we should have built up our own Home Guards/Territorial Army.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 12:25 pm

@Balans Having visited your country (GLIWICE) and worked alongside fellow workers, and met many of your compatriots living and working in our country …. and loved your welcoming and open minded welcome to me and my work mates …. i would like to say you and your people are an example to us all in an expanding EU and NATO and and Single Market in goods and services and i hope your borders would be more secure in welcoming Ukraine into our fold
I would hope and expect that the UK with our WW2 heritage that we would be at the foremost of nations supporting and bolstering your defences against any incursion from the east or any threat that you and your people see before we do
After visiting Auschzvitz and having a thorough and emotianally upsetting guided tour by one of your people who’s knowledge and empathy was first class i can well understand you and your peoples fear of Russian encroachment onto your borders.
You deserve our utmost commmitment in protecting your borders and near neighbours and believe me a vast majority of our people and many in Liverpool and merseyside will be holding their hands up to volunteer like we did in afghan multiplied by 100 to protect you and your people against anyone who threatens you and your people.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 12:46 pm

@ observer dont think 100000 men and the best capital battleships x2 was a leaving you to it or protecting the homeland ….. yes an aircraft carrier wold have changed the course of our support to you… a lack of commitment to you is not justified in your comment it took us 2 years to regenerate that against the japanese ,meanwhile strategically tying up hundreds of thousands of japanese in an attritional war in burma enabling singapore to become free once the enemy was defeated

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 12:58 pm

BTW @observer one of my uncles spent four years as a prisoner of war of the japanese during ww2 after fall of singapore and my father still regales me of his screams as he had nightmares of his sacrifice on his return to my grandparents house …. then again my grandfather dug his sister in law and niece (dead ) out of their bombed house but saved his nephew during may blitz of liverpool in 1941 he wasnt allowed to go to war like his six brothers but did his bit offloading materiel on liverpool docks on 12 hr shifts then firewatching all night …. they all did their bit as your people did noone forgot your people

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 1:15 pm

@observer should have been my great uncle

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 1:16 pm

wirral, you mistake my point. It wasn’t the lack of commitment that caused the UK to neglect the sector, it was a crappy strategic situation. If the war in Europe did not happen, I’m sure the UK would have flooded the area with troops. Unfortunately, Europe was a higher priority, and what was sent to the Far East was “what could be spared”.

The British were relying rather heavily on the American “fleet in being” at Pearl Harbour for deterrence. Unfortunately, we all know what happened to them. That left Malaya wide open for an invasion. That was the situation at that time. It sucks, but life’s a lemon. All the more important for people to have at least a basic self defence capability, no?

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 1:26 pm

@observer i agree yes but with overwhelming force not much you can do and with inept leadership…. however you criticise UK but US was no more helpful? ….

Derek
Derek
April 3, 2014 1:28 pm

Observer,

The British did flood the area with troops, they just ended up surrendering after being out-fought by the Japanese. They also lost two of their most capable capital ships in the process. If you think Singapore would have lasted any longer, even with a citizen Army, on its own then you are truly delusional.

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 1:30 pm

wirral, your great uncle has my sympathies and respect, he was tossed into a balls up situation, but if you want to compare horror stories, you’re at a slight disadvantage. One of the Japanese soldiers’ favorite pastimes was apparently the ring toss. Unfortunately rings and poles seem to have been in short supply, so they had to make do with babies and bayonettes. Lots of stories from my grandmother of that time. Including one where a mother smothered her own child to stop it from crying while a group of them were hiding in the drains from Japanese hunter killer teams. Oh and they really didn’t care if you were a civilian.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 1:34 pm

@observer i understand you and your peoples fear but again we never let you down in regards army +100000 or ships apart from lack of air cover… i agree you need your own defence but against the red dragon you need allies with scale

a
a
April 3, 2014 1:37 pm

observer dont think 100000 men and the best capital battleships x2 was a leaving you to it or protecting the homeland ….. yes an aircraft carrier wold have changed the course of our support to you…

IIRC there was supposed to be a carrier there with them, but it ran aground and had to be dry-docked some weeks previously. And don’t forget that no one had ever sunk a capital ship at sea with air power only before. (Taranto and Pearl Harbor were against ships in harbour; Bismarck was finished off by battleships.)

But, yes, basically it was a terrible strategic situation. First Sub Flotilla spent 1941 in the Med being sunk by the Germans and Italians when the plan was for it to be operating out of Singapore sinking Japanese transports. Germany/Italy we could have handled. Japan we could have handled. Germany/Italy/Japan was the pre-war nightmare scenario. Germany/Italy/France/Japan was what we ended up with…

Derek
Derek
April 3, 2014 1:38 pm

Observer,

When it comes to the Japanese and horror stories nobody is at a disadvantage. Their savagery knew no bounds and all suffered equally.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 1:46 pm

@observer horrific my friend…Wasnt trying to get into a ‘ we were worse off than you’ i know from research that the civilian people of singapore suffered much more horrific torture and suffering than UK armed forces did…. that is why free peoples like ourselves should never let our principles and friendship die against those who say ‘not our problem, not our people, ‘
We are free due to our forbears and we should support and enable, as we have in afghan , and as we should in Ukraine any peoples who want to determine their own future.

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 2:08 pm

BTW wirral, with regards to scale, give a guess how big is our reserves. :)

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 2:20 pm

@observer absolutely no idea friend :- ( 30%? lol

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 2:31 pm

Actually, that is close to correct. :)

1 million out of a population of 3.31 million.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 2:40 pm

@observer yeah but…. to to do what lol i was thinking ready reserves trained to go compared to regular ;-)

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 2:42 pm

Well, the annual practice mobilization call ups are a pain, but 8 hrs is the mobilization time limit we’re given. Assume cockups, I’d put it at 16 hours to mobilize the whole lot.

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 2:58 pm

Anyway, off topic, I’m waiting for the news from Poland. At 36 million in population, conscription can give them about 10 million men, enough to scare the Russians now that the Russian army numbers less than half a million.

wirralpete
wirralpete
April 3, 2014 3:03 pm

@observer jeez 8hrs annual call up that means your sorted then…not…. highly trained forward troops and lower levels for support troops is what i’d want….not cannon fodder

Kent Horton
April 3, 2014 3:22 pm

@a – “And don’t forget that no one had ever sunk a capital ship at sea with air power only before.”

From Wiki (Yeah, I know.): July 21, 1921 – “At this point, 2,000 lb (910 kg) bombs were loaded and a flight was dispatched consisting of two Handley-Page O/400 and six NBS-1 bombers. One Handley Page dropped out for mechanical reasons, but the NBS-1s dropped six bombs in quick succession between 12:18 pm and 12:31 pm, aiming for the water near the ship. There were no direct hits but three of the bombs landed close enough to rip hull plates as well as cause the ship to roll over. The ship sank at 12:40 pm, 22 minutes after the first bomb, with a seventh bomb dropped by the Handley Page on the foam rising up from the sinking ship.”

This wasn’t under “wartime” conditions, as Billy Mitchell claimed airpower could do, but it was the first time a capital ship was sunk by bombing.

The Other Chris
April 3, 2014 3:41 pm

While not a capitol ship, six years previously in 1915 off Dardanelles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Ben-my-Chree

I particularly like the account of a Short Type 184 seaplane torpedoing a “large steam tugboat” while the aircraft was taxiing on the water due to engine trouble!

Observer
Observer
April 3, 2014 3:42 pm

wirral, what makes you think that every man in even the US Army, arguably one of the best trained forces on the planet, is trained to SF standards? Most of them are your regular man in the street, just with more exercise and taught the basics on what to do. After all, where do you think they came from in the first place?

Derek
Derek
April 3, 2014 4:00 pm

Kent Horten,

Mitchell sank a stationary hulk, (hardly a capital ship at that point) with no defensive weapons and no damage control. Not really comparable.

a
a
April 3, 2014 4:09 pm

“This wasn’t under “wartime” conditions, as Billy Mitchell claimed airpower could do, but it was the first time a capital ship was sunk by bombing.”

But it wasn’t at sea. It was moored. I specifically said “at sea” to rule out Pearl Harbor and Taranto, both of which involved capital ships being sunk by air power while in harbour.