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The Future?


In pictures


Whack a mole


Oh, and I forgot



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150 Responses

  1. for a number of years i lived in a nation adjacent to one of those UK sized lakes.

    i was also intimately familiar with the lack of infrastructure when i broken my knee and was subjected to a three hour drive on dirt roads in a landrover twenty years older than i was.

    so much space, in so much isolation, the idea of holding and controlling a theatre of operation is positively ludicrous.

    i repeat my suggestion for the three light-cavalry regiments scattered across the adaptable brigades to be brought together into a third rapid-reaction brigade focused around high-mobility/low-footprint interventions.

    wheels and 40mm CTA designed to self deploy up to 500km from point of entry, with short term resupply capable via a minimal air-bridge.

    3 heavy brigades
    3 rapid reaction brigades (marine/air-mobile/light-cav)
    6 infrantry

    africa is happening.

  2. A case for dfid and defence diplomacy if ever I heard of one. Invest in upgrading or building airstrips and ports to aid the locals, water, fuel storage and connecting roads. Then periodical test the airstrips by flying in an a400m or docking a frigate in a port. Ect ect. Build relations with the locals, and send the engineers to build the occasional bridge.

  3. I know this is completly against the current concept of uparmouring everything, but to me Africa is a prime area to use light mobile units based around unarmoured or lightly armoured vehicles, forget FOB’s and logistic routes etc, stay mobile and don’t consistently travel the same roads and IED’s will be a minor issue, 100 landrovers each carrying 4 guys and 20 trucks of supplys with a weekly resupply by air.
    How many times do you see on TV, african troops moving around in pickup trucks etc, they don’t seem to have an issue with IED’s. It seems to me that IED’s really became an issue in Iraq as we were using the same roads regularly to link up FOB’s.

  4. @ Engineer Tom

    The last big attack on a Nigerian Town left 300 people dead:
    Although this report does not mention it, a news item on the Beeb mentioned that they turned up in 100 Technicals.

    We have sent one Sentinal and a small team of experts. We need to do more than that. The leader of Boko Haram really needs to meet an Apache or a Reaper or two, and so do his followers!

  5. ET, one of the problems that conventional armies face against such irregulars is a problem of supply which has pros and cons. An irregular army can simply disperse home to their families where they get fed, effectively disappearing while a conventional army is tied to a “home” base. The flip side to all this is that conventional armies can deploy far from home as their “home” travels with them, and since they are externally supplied, they don’t have to keep an eye out for planting/harvesting season, while an irregular army is pretty much unlinked to a supply base, they can’t deploy far from home and they have seasons where they can’t fight or the next year they will starve. Think something like that happened with the Maori in New Zealand, Rocco might have more light to shed on that.

    They also don’t have a serious IED threat because their area of ops is very accessible by vehicle. Not many roads to funnel people into a killing trap.

    If you want to really defeat a threat like Boko Haram, the solution is 2 fold. Concentrate into larger villages for self defence and use the increased manpower pool to provide a decent perimeter security. 400 men attacking a village with 3-4 watchmen is a cakewalk. 400 men attacking a protected community with a 100 man security force is a chancier proposition, especially if initial resistance allows more and more people to arm themselves in defence.

  6. @ Observer

    I see your point about pros and cons, but the tactics we have used in Afghanistan i.e. establishing a FOB and then patrolling out from it gives a target for the enemy to attack and then allows them also to avoid the regular patrols in a small area, i can see that defending villages is required but if we defend every village we would need 100’s of thousands of troops to combat a few thousand enemy fighters, i would rather see our troops taking the fight to the enemy by patrolling into ambushs and fighting the enemy they find. By keeping them always mobile you cover a far greater area with fewer troops on the ground.

    For resupply I would establish a base at an exisiting military airfield preferably a heavily defended one, i would have CASEVAC and vehicle recovery helo’s based there as well as using it as a base to send out helo’s with supplies to the troops in the field.

    The vehicle I would use would be a Snatch with a GPMG/HMG mounted on the roof (I don’t know whether they actually make these) or possibly a WMIK either a landrover or jackal, a mix of these types might work well. I would be aiming for a vehicle heavy unit so they can carry more supplies and are also able to lose a few vehicles and still carry the same number of personnel.

    Basically we should have better trained troops using better vehicles and weapons, but similar tactics to the groups using technicals to raid villages.

  7. @ Simon257

    Not sure about the logistics for Apache but I think a couple of reaper with hellfire or better yet Brimestone would do nicely.

    Given Nigeria is an important commonwealth country we could have hoped call me Dave might have got of his arse a bit quicker and done more. The French seem to have jumped on this faster as usual of late. that being said the Nigerian PM does not seem to give a f**k himself so maybe I am expecting too much of our PM.

  8. @ Jedi

    If we are going to have three rapid reaction brigades would it be worth organising them into a light Division with a deployable HQ?

  9. ET, ow that is the wrong way to go about it. You need to let them learn to defend themselves or you’ll just be running around putting out fires all the time. You don’t deploy your men there, you arm the villagers. And you need a system of ID cards to spot strangers and to track them, along with no weapons zones (no weapons in towns except for militia or military).

    Trying to play Rambo and doing both the direct route and going it solo is a mental problem the Americans have. Try not to emulate them.

    In this case, a Home Guard is enough to sort things out, no need to be too heavy handed, just help them out with a bit of air support and some infrastructure for ID cards is enough. And maybe some Special Branch type training.

    I never liked patrolling for the sake of patrolling, for one, there is no point unless you are actively tracking and pursuing an enemy and for another, patrols getting ambushed is always bad news, the enemy has surprise and if he did his work well, he’ll have numbers. Afghanistan is a strange story where you are doing “presence” missions and “hearts and minds”, not really search and destroy. Much better to let the enemy attack an entrenched position then make them pay dearly for sticking their noses out. Even better if you can find out who was supplying them with food and burning their suppliers out if voluntary, offer to give them guns, guard towers and a radio to call for air support if the villagers are continuously being robbed. After you ambush the next few “tax collecting” parties that is.

  10. One thing that will be F all use is a 44 ton Fres whatever, and a Challenger Tank.

    I know Nigeria can be more ‘Jungly’ that south africa but we are back at South African style vehicles aren’t we?

    Casspir, Ratel, Rookat. All wheeled, all (relatively) light.

    Jackal might be good choice.

    All the sorts of vehicle we don’t rally have,. (except of course Jackal).

    We also need these ‘light brigades’ to be teeth heavy sorry but that is numbers game- more troops, less equipment.

  11. Jackal is never a good choice.

    I have a book about a South African PMC who were supplied with a squadron of BMP2 for cavalry and IFV work. The South African in charge of them apparently fell in love with their simplicity and their 20mm gun. I was surprised given their liking for wheels which suit the hard terrain.

    Might give the Parachute Regiment a new lease of life. A couple of cheap transports and some light wheeled transport and away you go. Would be better than a dozen helicopters. The Puma is Africa’s military helicopter and of course the Mi17. All we need is some cheap transports a la C130 or C27…..

  12. “…could have hoped call me Dave might have got of his arse a bit quicker and done more…”

    – 14th April Initial reports of “around 100” schoolgirls kidnapped in a single raid
    – 15th April figures vary between 100-200 and specifically around the figure of 180 school girls
    – 16th April UK amongst countries who have offered help to Nigeria
    – 22nd April Kidnap total up to 230 (estimated) following further raids
    – 24th April #BringBackOurGirls officially “trends” for the first time
    – Period of intervening time. Protests. Pleas from Families. “UK officials in Nigeria” terminology in the news.
    – 4th May President Goodluck Jonathan’s first public comments. Confirms cooperation with UK, USA, France, China in particular.

    “We are talking to countries we think can help us out. The United States is number one. I have talked to President Obama at least twice”
    President Goodluck Jonathan, 4th May 2014

    – 5th May Boko Haram admits to kidnapping, threatens to “sell” girls. Further kidnappings reported.
    – 6th May Senator Kerry confirms offer of USA assistance. William Hague confirms UK assistance.
    – 7th May President Obama details the team being sent to Nigeria
    – 8th May Revival of #RealMenDontBuyGirls campaign
    – 9th May Gordon Brown (UN Education capacity) confirms UK assistance. David Cameron defends assistance.
    – 12th May Details on UK team sent released. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offers intelligence information
    – 13th May Nigeria rejects prisoner swap offer from Boko Haram. USA Drones confirmed.
    – 14th May David Cameron confirms R1 Sentinel and ground team to be sent
    – 17th May “War on Boko Haram” declared by African nations. France included in declaration.

    Take the political party / general election blinkers off.

    It’s clear that international involvement (and the above list is a mere snapshot) has been ongoing since at least the spark of this incident on 14th April (and undoubtedly we have been involved for far longer if Departments, Ministeries and Organisations reports are interpreted correctly).

    It’s also clear that the Nigerian government are overwhelmed and inexperienced with dealing with this kind of “warfare”, they favour assistance from the USA, are not stupid and have accepted help from other Allies. Commonwealth nations dominate the list of those pledging assistance. Germany are present too.

    It’s also clear that France have been working hard cooperating with the surrounding and other key nations in Africa.

    What should we do more of? Deploy troops? More ISTAR? More counselling of families? More funding international organisations?


  13. You certainly need to help them help themselves, but to what level? Do we really expect to train elite military intelligence operatives that can command and mobilise a beweaponed police force over millions of square km?

    I think the answer is formidable hand-slapping, curfews and public information broadcasts.

    It would mean a continuous presence by our armed forces operating from numerous bases, each capable of very rapid surveillance response (by air). This would then be supplemented by land mobile troops to coordinate an interception using overwhelmingly heavy firepower.

    I’d work on a radius of operation of about 300km with a 100km enemy retreat speed meaning overlapping areas of operation for individual Apache/Wildcat flights of 200km radius.

  14. x – I have tried to interest HMG in fine C-130 transportable light armour including 4×4 8×8 & 10×10 covering weights between 7 & 17t but on all occasions I managed to get a response, it was ‘there is no requirement for such vehicles’. There is clearly a need, and a capability gap in UK combat vehicle terms, but no Requirement. Of late the MOD has decided it will not even bother to respond to e-mails which is far from professional, but hey. Having spent years hammering on the fine taxpayer-funded oak doors of MOD Main Building and being rebuffed without serious consideration, its tempting to say the Army deserves to go fight in whatever inappropriate wagons they have and hang the consequences, except its the front line soldier that suffers for the lack of gumption of the decision-makers.

    I suspect the lack of any Requirement being met allied to the capability gap and the mounting likelihood of a skirmish through the Sahel has resulted in the rush to get hold of a few VBCI. At this point I could swear. But instead I will use a bit of video to illustrate the view on going French for 8x8s after years of refusing to admit there was a need for the like:

  15. @ Chris

    I see 2/3 x C130/C27 and a platoon/50 bods and motorbikes/ATVs, and parachutes. That is why i bang on about scout vehicles fitting inside CH47. Dropping patrols randomly at depth.

    The Rhodesians didn’t have much depth or equipment, they fought the CTs (as they referred to the ZANLA/ZIRPA) to a standstill (support for the CTs wasn’t always guaranteed by the blacks and was often taken by violence), and basically lost because the political tide had turned and materially they were exhausted. Given the same scale and depth of resources the UK had Afghanistan (the equivalent for the times obviously) who knows what would have happened? You have to consider they saw their struggle as part of the Cold War; they were fighting communists. Of course will is an issue. They were fighting for their lives. The UK sends troops to fight for ill defined political reasons.

    Going 8×8 would cover the UK for both fighting in Africa and high end stuff. Going 6×6 with BAE RH would do (but with more than one MG/40mm per vehicle , Sphinx or CV90 for cavalry, and towed artillery.

  16. x – all my vehicles would fit inside vertical lift aircraft – MOD just hasn’t bought big enough vertical lift aircraft yet…

    Sphinx looks like a good bit of design even though its a direct competitor to my turreted 8×8 (hmph!) but if you want to take CV90 then you might as well take ASCOD/FRES-SV as they are pretty well the same spec (weight size protection firepower). On the other hand, I also have tracked light armour with common support with the wheeled vehicles but with similar punch to CV90/ASCOD. Just saying, like, if reduction in support burden is seen as important…

  17. Weren’t we very successful in malaya by creating and reinforcing a local armed police? Equally I seem to remember that we managed to run an empire with a smaller army than we have now by raising and supporting local troops?

  18. @ Chris

    CV90 has a GP rating of .5 kg per square cm. CVR(T) has a GP rating of .3kg per square cm. BMP2 has a GP rating of .6 kg per square cm. If ASCOD SV comes in at approx the same as Chally 2 it will be .9kg per square cm. (I think I read them right I prefer kpa as a unit.) Though I know wheels can take you along way off road, I also know tracks allow you to go even further and probably just as importantly more easily. And cavalry’s job is to get there, wherever there may be. I think CV90 with a cannon is a good compromise if all the other vehicles are just carrying MG and grenade launcher. As I said above it said a lot to me that SA soldier had high praise for BMP2 which is as we both know a death trap against a peer and an ergonomic nightmare for the dismounts.

  19. Chris,

    I sympathise with you regarding offering your vehicle designs to deaf ears. Certainly not be responded to is rude, although caveat, if you are sending emails to named people (eg you might find that Boggins has been posted away once his tour in procurement ended. And your emails are now being cheerily put into a spam folder. That’s where I happily auto-Outlook emails from pushy sales people I don’t want to be bothered by. EDIT that sounds horrible, I do not mean it to refer to you!

    I think you might also slightly misunderstand how the MoD procures things. There is no official Requirement unless the Defence Capabilities Board have authorised it, so allocating funding. And the funding for Army wagons may be less highly important than, I don’t know, a pair of spastically large carriers or pointlessly over designed VTOL jets. So with a limited pool of money, the carriers and the jets get funded, the wagons don’t. No funding, no official requirement. It’s not the “fault” of the Army. The need is still there, but not funded.

    Anyway, I wish you’d have been able to come and see me when I was running the Army’s input into FRES SV from 2000 to 2003. Back then, the doctrine and emerging KURs and URs were pointing towards something of about 10 tonnes that we could fly into, oddly enough, Africa (recall that Sierra Leone was on our minds back then). If you’d had a wagon, even a prototype, you’d have had me looking at it, telling you what the priorities were, acceptable trade offs, and probably also the offer of a trial by ATDU for a month or so (at your cost). If you only had PowerPoint engineering, I’d still have given you an hour of discussion time. The key thing was, I’d have got just as much information from you as you did from me, helping me to build a business case that would secure funding. Then we’d have requirements.

    Things have changed a little organisationally in the last ten years, but one tip: don’t immediately go to the the desk officer, go to see the trials units and ask them what the Army needs in a wagon.

    All, FRES was designed for this sort of discussion. Forget whatever kit we might end up with, think instead about the really simple concept. Go first, go fast, go home. Nip out the trouble as it buds, not as it is blossoming. Stabilise the situation, then hand over to the more numerous and probably local peace-keepers such as the African Union. FRES is about kinetic effect in all domains, including social and political, and the FCO and DFID are part if the solution. FRES is not about endurance.

  20. @RT
    “Go first, go fast, go home”

    Works fine until you underestimate the OPFOR and then as an American friend of mine who serves with 101 told me it becomes a matter “fly light and die early”. :(

  21. …. As a follow on, the highest risk identified in the FRES UV and SV Initial Gate Business cases in 2000 and 2002 respectively was that of political inertia, bluntly that the politicians would spend so much time fannying around politicking that “the trouble” whatever it was would have grown in scale to a level that FRES could not handle, and only a full blown heavy deployment could handle it. And that of course would impose additional delay as it would require shipping, not aircraft.

    Similarly, we could have satisfied so many more UORs for both Afghanistan and Gulf 2 if the decisions to deploy had been made more quickly, or authority to start spending had been untied from PM level decisions. Both came so late in the day that we could only proceed with UORs that could be delivered in time.

  22. I see your point about pros and cons, but the tactics we have used in Afghanistan i.e. establishing a FOB and then patrolling out from it gives a target for the enemy to attack and then allows them also to avoid the regular patrols in a small area,

    Here is something either counter-intuitive or something we’ve learned again and again many times over the centuries. A stronghold of any size is necessary to dominate any particular area. Depending on the terrain and a myriad of other factors your stronghold might allow you to dominate a wide area or a smaller area for any given size. Simply patrolling just doesn’t work, the insurgent will work around your patrols and invite contact only when it suits them. And you can’t be everywhere at once. Or can you?

    Having a centralised stronghold and a number of smaller outposts dotted around at key points can lock down a very wide area. You don’t even have to patrol them, their existence locks down any obvious activity around them. Put these little OPs in cunning places and you really frustrate the insurgent.

    But you go one step further. You deploy excellent optics and ISTAR. The Eye of Sauron,coupled with small strongholds and a larger FOB housing a strike force allows you to dominate the ground over any given area. The optics and PGSS or Cortez equivalent, with DH3 etc are decisive. The insurgent now can be seen wherever he is and whatever he is doing.

    Now link this network and optics into a system that can launch little to no-notice precision or even mortar strikes and you then own that area. Wherever the insurgent is he cannot be sure you cannot see him, he never knows when an Exactor or a mortar is going to drop out of the sky. He’ll find blindspots and safe areas but as you are watching and constantly gathering intelligence you’ll find out these places and make them unsafe.

    Laying down a network of OPs, maintaining a mobile strike force, overlaying that with ISTAR assets that allow you to completely oversee your AO and then linking all this to precision, over the horizon strike assets is a very winning combination. Remove any one of those 4 legs and you hobble yourself: have them all together and you’re in an excellent position.

    You need anchor points, you need strongholds, you need little pieces of ground which are yours and from which you can watch, exist and patrol from. Modern tech puts the cherry on the cake by letting you watch nearly all the time and from very far away in TI and visual.

    Driving around the ulu, unless it is part of an operation like the above is going to achieve the square root of fuck all. Yes it does take 1,000s of men. That’s one lesson we constantly as British stick our fingers in our ears about and go LA LA LA LA.

  23. APATS, very true. There was a similar phrase about the old 24 Airmobile Brigade in the Cold War, which was planned to be a highly mobile anti-tank reserve equipped with hundreds of Milan and to be choppered in to wherever was needed, rapidly engage the enemy, and then pull out if it survived. I think the phrase went “fight and fly, or dig and die?”

    I did not mention it above, but enhanced intelligence was very much part of the FRES doctrine. I won’t mention any specific programmes for OPSEC reasons, but lots of intelligence programmes that have been funded inherited some of their rationale from FRES. I recall a chart shown by the then DEC ISTAR which visually linked about half of his portfolio to FRES. And he was a charming Naval officer of prodigious intelligence (there are other sorts, before you declare “what other types are there?” ;) ). He was the right man in the right job, and he really understood was FRES was about, delivering strategic effect, not wagons.

  24. Or get stuck into stabilizing an inherently unstable government for a decade or more…

    dave, Gerald Templar’s strategy is still very important reading and some of his measures have taken a life of their own even decades past the Emergency, like ID cards or centralized towns.

  25. As an add on to Phil’s strategic overview, fortifying villages and arming them turns them into de-facto outposts and keeps out the insurgent as well, and does this with indigenous “forces” that need not cost you a single man. The villagers themselves have a burning need to secure their own areas as it is their own security and that of their children on the line, so they are even more motivated not to sleep on the job. And you don’t even have to supply them at all as they are self supporting, and they have a very good eye for strangers, more so than troops that get rotated in and out frequently.

    Ironically, I’m pro-gun control, but in this case, an armed population might just be the key to solving the problem. It’s like the old saw of giving a man a fish vs teaching him how to fish. In this case, it is defending someone and teaching him how to defend himself.

  26. “stay mobile and don’t consistently travel the same roads and IED’s will be a minor issue, 100 landrovers each carrying 4 guys and 20 trucks of supplys with a weekly resupply by air.”

    This seems like a recipe to repeat the snatch land rover debacle. The insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan turned to IEDs because every time they tried to go head to head with international forces they got smacked down by overwhelming firepower. You can drive around the desert all day long, but at some point to have an impact on the population you’re going to have to approach the various villages and towns. Settlements that will be surrounded by farmland, forcing you use a formal road network….

    Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past by sending our soldiers into a conflict zone in the western equivalent of a technical, not least because we’ve spent all that money on mine protected vehicles.

  27. Holding ground is all very well. But what Afghanistan showed was that without a rapidly deployable reserve then all you are doing is holding on to a roundabout for the opposition whose radius roughly equates to the effective range of whatever rifle round you are issued. That’s what comes of asking a platoon to a company’s work and asking a company to do a battalion’s work. You need your bases, you need to patrol the lines of communication (be they roads, waterways, or whatever), and as I said a highly mobile reserve (probably this will mean helicopters.)

  28. Yes x precisely. As I have long argued, situations like Afghan require static forces and mobile forces. It’s best to have a mobile force at almost every level of operation (as in the company group has a QRF, the battlegroup has a depth company, the brigade has an Ops Company and a few other mobile force elements).

  29. RT – ref insult – taken to heart and deeply wounded…

    Ref e-mails to MOD – not going to name names on the web. There are many and various that have chosen not to respond. Am beginning to suspect the insidious hand of Cheltenham playing sillyb*ggers under the excuse of national security.

    Ref 2002 – at the time I was trying (unsuccessfully) to convince my then employer that FRES was a project worth engaging. They really really weren’t interested. A lot of the ideas upon which the designs later developed were already in place (in my mind) but the development work didn’t start until ex-company & I went our separate ways. And that was years after RT left the project office, apparently.

    Ref talking to trials units – access is limited but I did get a couple of hours with ATDU who offered a raft of suggestions for redesigning undesirable bits out of some of the more radical vehicles; the 8×8 APC got the parting shot “we’ll be keen to trial it when its roadworthy” without an attached list of ‘you need to change this’ comments, which I took to be quite positive. Sadly between Powerpoint/CAD and a working roadworthy vehicle is a yawning chasm that can only be filled in with heaps of cash, and I’m clean out of savings. Had there been the smallest amount of genuine interest from MOD IPTs (or indeed any other permitted customer) then I would have sought investment capital and looked for industry partners. But there was no way I’d risk other people’s money on a whim likely to come to nothing – that would not be honourable at all.

    Would love to get into greater detail but as much as we all respect TD Towers its not really the right place.

  30. Chris,

    Don’t give up. The country needs Barnes Wallis 2020…. ;)

    Here’s a complete random thought. I have a concept doing the rounds of my brain whereby protection against IED blast is partly achieved by a combination of metal sandwiched honey combing filled with water, and sacrificial plastic plugs at the ends of the panel facing 90 degrees (or in reality, more than 45 degrees) away from the axis of blast direction. The honey combing material being compressible like formed wood pulp, the water being incompressible. The honey combing having some “optimum” amount of holes allowing water to be squeezed from cell to cell. Thus the overall blast energy is both redirected sideways, and the energy per square inch of hull of the blast effected area much reduced. And the plastic plugs at the end plates fly off readily to vent the water in great gouts when the IED goes off.

    Probably explained that really badly. I did a bit of MathCAD modelling in a lunch hour which sort of indicates that it might work. but my MathCAD is not highly advanced, and I’m a BD bloke so not taken seriously by the Engineers. Then again, they don’t know who to go and have a G&T with, nor what to say when they are with a Customer. ;)

  31. @ Phil

    I think the Army et al were lucky that a PB wasn’t overrun during Afghanistan. Not right to expect platoons to hold down the fort (literally) and patrol outside the wire too.

  32. I don’t do trucks but should have did c23 to stop the comedians ….:)


    Rohacell cores sound like what your after. Though I wouldn’t go for the water tends to degrade composite.

  33. Agree on the idea on Rapid Reaction formations (using the Paras) that are formed around strengthened company structures and can be grouped together to larger battle-groups as needed. Should be forwarded based, though not necessarily on African soil as the future operations will probably be more on a “request” basis than colonial style interventions. I’m thinking more about Cyprus, Gibraltar and even the Ascension etc.

    The chances of a Sierra Leone type operation is still there, but the evacuation of UK nationals, training / specialist support, hostage rescue, surveillance and anti terror raid scenarios are much more likely.

  34. @x

    Interesting, although not for those in the pictures, they both look slightly silly in different ways. Interesting in who and how their chosen audience recieve and understand the message they are trying to send in there respective PR stunts.

  35. Planes breakdown all the time – its a reality of operating complex kit. Only the UK would see the normal reality of aircraft maintenance as a moment for self doubt about their place on the world stage (as per some tweets I’ve seen this evening).

    Also, if I may be so bold, I put two articles up on UK commitment to Africa recently which are linked below:

  36. x, luck maybe, but although we may have come close several times it never happened did it, over a decade of being lucky, or over a decade of applying effective training and tactics backed up with lots of stuff that goes bang?

    I do like those two images though, just tweeted them

  37. As Sir H, they breakdown all the time, larger aircraft perhaps less so, but no great surprise. Just this flight is in the spotlight.

  38. @ TD

    You are forgetting to factor in an enemy though supported from without was not supported to the degree their forebears were post-1979. A little more push and I don’t think the luck would have held.

    Good drills only carry a group so far before lack of depth begins tell on overall performance.

    The service personnel did all that was asked of them, but you can’t spin either Afghanistan or Iraq as a success.

    Number one lesson? Numbers count. Outcome? Army cut further.

    @ Topman

    Have you been leafing through the OU prospectus again? :)

    When I saw that picture of Call Me Dave I nearly brought me brekky back. Putting silliness to one side we have gone from a woman PM (reviled by the majority of feminist) riding around in a tank (the symbol of hard military power in the 21st at a particular tense time in history as we faced a nuclear armed superpower with millions of soldiers in a struggle perhaps for national survival. To a male PM sitting impotent on a nice sofa taking part in an ineffectual social media campaign (soft power a la mode started by feminists) facing down a few hundred men with a few rifles in a struggle for soundbites.

  39. @x

    I know the context is different and so are the times, what they are trying to achieve hasn’t. They both look a bit silly in trying to achieve it (what’s with the chemistry lesson googles?? and couldn’t they find at least a half decent poster to hold up?)

    But put that to one side, I think it’s more intersting to gauge the reaction and success of the message they aiming for. Politicians would/will try for whatever medium or message that works, more a means to an end.

  40. I’ll be a bit controversial here and suggest disbanding both 3 Cdo and 16AAB. Build an intervention/reactive brigade around the Rifles regiment with the combat support from the disbanded 3 Cdo and 16AAB.

    Keep the Royal Marines as our littoral and raiding specialists (and fleet protection) like the Norwegian Coastal Commando’s, with the Paras continuing as our airborne element with a bit like the US Rangers. No artillery and a small detachment of specialists for each formation.

    The New brigade will be fully mechanised with Foxhound, Viking and maybe some medium armour, and trained in amphibious landing (as in step onto the landing craft from the well deck and then step off onto the beach/port)


    Those chemistry lesson goggles were the issue for fighting vehicles!

  41. Brass them up on the ramparts. Nobody ever got inside a FOB, nobody even got inside a little CP with 6x men in it. Besides, you know my opinion on density and reserves in Afghan so I can only conclude you’re posting these little snippets to prove another point.

    A Platoon to hold a PB is perfectly acceptable anyway – take a company to root them out.

  42. X, agree about the numbers. It would be an interesting comparison to look at force density between the green zone and Belfast

    We might also reflect on tooth to tail ratios and how contractors have influenced those ratios over a longer period

    I agree with your last para as well, its nauseating, I mean, they are not even our girls :)

  43. Not a fair comparison really when you factor in that we were on our own in Belfast. We never were in Afghanistan. We were not on a UK mission, we were making a contribution to a NATO mission.

  44. @ Topman

    I am realist. We realists don’t really go for subtexts, contexts, or text’ing of any type really especially of the tweeting variety. We tend to go for black and white, spade is spade sort of talking.

    I see a PM in a tank a few years on from her country pulling off a remarkable military mostly by its own efforts.

    I see another PM on a sofa after his country though not defeated failed to do much as part of a large coalition.

    Apart from perhaps trying to capture the mood of the moment all I see is opposites.

    All over the world there humanities, literature, and philosophy departments in universities hunting for hidden meanings and new angles. Inventing meanings more like. Depressing really.

  45. Not really Phil, we decided our force density for the AO we operated in. We could have increased or decreased as we saw fit.

  46. @ Think Defence

    I am very sympathetic to the plight of those poor girls and their families

    If this had happened during the 19th century and they had our mobility there would already be something a little more solid than electrons transmitting our anger.

  47. That’s simply not true. With TELIC on going there was very little to send to such a large AO. Afghan was meant to be a backwater, it wasn’t and the shit hit the fan. Main effort was Iraq until 2009 when you see a proper force structure (allied force structure) being out into place. So it’s complete myth to say we could have upscaled in Afghan as we pleased at the start.

  48. @x
    So I am, I see 2 politicians on a PR stunt both trying to look good both for a political end.

  49. might not be fair but it would be an interesting exercise, maybe comparisons with other similar times and locations

    I also thought personnel number were fixed very firmly by the Government, not the MoD, thats what makes the tooth tail ratios interesting, because you have a fixed number on theatre so every single person counts

  50. @Phil

    We could have pulled out like the Canadians and Dutch, if we did not have the resources to do both. And it still does not mean that NATO controlled our force density.

  51. @ TD re Ulster

    There was well in excess of division in Ulster during the Troubles and that isn’t counting the RUC. Shall we say about 3 times the number that were in Afghanistan. Remember that apart from the RM, FAA, and the small Northern Ireland Squadron there was little input from the RN. According to their webpage the RAF Regiment replace one commando once and did mostly security patrols around the province’s airfields. So perhaps it would be better to say the Army actually deployed 4.5 times as many soldiers to Ulster as to Helmand?

  52. @ Topman

    Ok. I see one PM (scientist, barristar) in a tank and Dave Cameron (um) sitting on a sofa. :)

  53. @X
    I see a photograph taken during the cold war in a total failure of a tank mind and another taken during the 21st century taking advantage of the world explosion of social media.

    We could deploy 3 armoured Divisions and not find these girls. The best chance is that world opinion influences someone enough to break and give us the lead which we can exploit using technology, speed, fire power and training.

  54. Sir H,

    Of courses planes break down all of the time. They are probably more expensive in maintenance terms than either polo ponies or teenage daughters, which I have found as equally unreliable and ruinous. To say nothing of lawyers.

    To quote a great man, “speak softly and carry a big stick”, but to add my own words to that “and don’t brag about it until you have clubbed OPFOR to death”. In other words, don’t have a big press release about sending Sentinel to Nigeria until the ruddy thing has actually got there, and as it’s important national PR stuff, send twice the spares, just in case.

    To be fair to the MoD, I suspect the pre-publicity was a Number 10 idea, not 6th Floor.

  55. RT – giving up is becoming an ever more pressing option, being propelled by the unwillingness to spend what’s left of life in abject poverty while fat MOD cats retire on fat pensions congratulating themselves for jobs well done.

    Ref waterbombs – funnily enough I asked the same sort of question about putting water filled bladders between spaced armour. It was a while back, but if I remember right the opinions of those that ought to know were that it wasn’t a good idea for blast protection because 1) bags leak and pack down so there’s no guarantee of the quality of barrier across the entire area, 2) blast fronts move so fast that water is as hard as iron, 3) water is much heavier than the airgap it fills and for many situations probably less effective. Apart from that it was good. Maybe in a thinner sandwich of closed-cell honeycomb sheeting it would be a better option*. You need an armour specialist to advise. Interestingly the use of diesel fuel tanks as additional protection has been considered – apparently diesel slows ballistic projectiles just fine, and unless a lot of spray/vapour is generated in the vicinity of an ignition source its pretty inert. Self-sealing fuel tanks help obviously (unless the sealant is the one they just found out is as volatile as rocket fuel).

    * But probably not for IEDs and related nasties. To defeat some of the nastier related nasties the armour becomes hideously heavy and must include some serious materials science; I’d guess if water was effective and lighter the armour specialists might have seized upon it already?

  56. We did Dave. We pulled out. Or as the Americans like to say, we ran away. Ran away to another war in another place. Fact is when we went in to afghan in 2006 we were already trying desperately to leave Iraq as soon as possible.

    In hindsight we should have never looked twice at Iraq and concentrated all effort on Afghanistan. Iraq was certainly a mistake and not much good seem to have come from it in the decade since the war.


    I’m dubious about how rigid the government manpower limits were. Having stared intently at spreadsheets detailing every last LSN on HERRICK 12/13/14 the numbers didn’t seem particularly skewed or unbalanced like someone had tried to shoe horn a force into a set number of slots. Certainly I imagine any troop increases would be and were very political but what was out there seemed balanced and all units seemed to have what I would think was a normal strength

  57. Different times and different places don’t always make for meaningful comparison leading to insight but there is still interest value in the contrast.

    APATS, Maggie was not doing that to showcase the value of armoured vehicles, symbology and the visual are everything, and just because we have Twitter and Facebook don’t make that any different, he might as well written ‘pretty please’ on that paper

    Phil, there may have been some degree of variance to account for various short term factors but have read in multiple places that, taking that into account, the force level was fixed

  58. @TD

    Actually it does, Cameron was pictured doing something useful that may lead to finding these girls, he could have course gone and had his picture taken at Poole or Hereford but that would be F all use until we have a location would it not.

    Indeed and the sooner we get 21st century symbology the better, the 5 Chinese Military Officers being charged by the US are not guilty of driving a tank anywhere.

  59. APATS – best you don’t tell RTR you think Challenger is a ‘total failure of a tank’ else they might feel like demonstrating to you personally that it can be quite effective…

  60. ‘I’m dubious about how rigid the government manpower limits were’

    I think they definitely have a bearing on force composition. Just before my last tour we lost a Sqn about 4 weeks before we deployed, due to a cap on numbers (allegedly).

  61. @phil manpower limits were very much controlled by the tresury. trying to get any small increase was like blood from a stone.

  62. @ Chris

    Please do not mistake me calling Challenger a failure and having total respect for Challenger 2. Challenger 1 had a horrible FCS and more than one army friend has told me the 2 is such an updated and improved Tank they think it should have had a separate name.

  63. Disagree with you APATS, he might have just kept a dignified silience, he might have done something at a press conference or he might have made a statement to the house. Each would have given the response some gravitas. We are probably going to disagree but I don’t subscribe to the any publicity is good publicity when it comes to matters of state and deploying service personnel. It debases the whole thing, maybe its an age thing

    Perhaps he should have done a selfie as well, or spelt out #bringbackourgirls with matelots on the deck of HMS Ocean :)

  64. @TD

    It is not any publicity is good publicity it is the Pm taking part in something that has an actual chance of giving us an intel break. Compare how many people would have seen him and look at that on social media compared to how many old boring gits would have seen it on BBC parliament or dear god read Hansard.
    Gravitas without exposure is about as much use all the SF in the western world waiting to go with nothing to go on.

    Serious question, how many people in Nigeria do you think follow BBC parliament compared to following that hash tag?

    # whatever it takes to get the job done :)

  65. I’m not denying manpower was controlled by money and political considerations. It’s been such since time immemorial and happened even in WWI. I’m just thinking that I don’t think the cap was a glass ceiling because the force structure seemed logical and numbers were about right for that force element. For example the Engineer Group had 520 pax on H15 not including CIED and other elements (a RHQ, 3x CS sqns, a talisman Sqn and a support Sqn). So I don’t think the caps were on manpower per se.

  66. The Twitter campaign is of little relevance in Nigeria, David Camoeron doing it it all seems to fickle and shallow to me

    Is there any bandwagon he won’t jump on

    Let me clarify what I meant by location, just because they don’t watch BBC Parliament in Abuja, it does not mean Parliament is not an appropriate location for any announcement, that being the power of the visual

  67. @TD

    If you think a twitter campaign looking for a break and influencing people in the 21st century and a situation like this is shallow and fickle and would prefer the Pm to uselessly beat a dispatch box then yes we are going to disagree and probably is an age thing.

    technology, flexibility, speed, surprise and violence matter an awful lot more than a speech you can watch at 1300 on a Thursday trying to reneact some speech more suited to the 1940s where it took weeks to plan and execute anything anyway.

  68. @ APATS

    If the West’s collected humint resource on the ground in Africa is that small that it takes a Twitter campaign to stir up something we might as well give up and expunge everything south of Timbuktu from our atlases, both digital and those printed on dead trees.

    I always thought drawing as much attention as possible to terrorists acts was what terrorists wanted? Way to go Mrs Obama……..

    What makes the wavering change their mind in these situations is a sense of security not Beyonce Knowles selfie. And that sense of security will only come when those on the ground see the terrorists being dealt with in a harsh manner.

    I googled “21st century symbology”, I got…….

    Wasn’t their a Twitter campaign a year or two back? #Knoy2012 or something? Didn’t that turn out to be utter custard?

    All this Twitter campaign is doing is trivializing a complex situation. These groups have been killing large number of innocents for nearly a decade.

    I mean it is great being down with the kids and all. But let’s keep some perspective. The Tweet is a digital placebo. It cures the non-1st world problem of how to be seen to be doing something with the minimum of effort; all with the added benefit of attracting some attention to yourself. Fire up the outrage private jet……….

    IT is such a powerful tool. Social media has it uses; mostly to do with collecting market data and generating sales. But I am confused as to why some think that generating noise is the same as generating signal…..

  69. For example the Engineer Group had 520 pax on H15 not including CIED and other elements (a RHQ, 3x CS sqns, a talisman Sqn and a support Sqn).So I don’t think the caps were on manpower per se.’

    That does not show that numbers were not capped, it was probably the right composition of the Engr Gp to support the number of troops in the field. It does not mean the number as a whole were not capped.

  70. @X

    You generate a lot of noise but you only need one signal to generate a response, i sense a slightly older generation on here who thinks people still listen to and respect Politicians from the old school. Beyonce and Michelle Obamas appeals have far more chance of generating a spark or a response in this particular situation than Cameron at the ballot box who would simply generate memories of UK Colonialism.

    You cannot deal with terrorists in harsh manner if you cannot even find them. As for western HUMINT, you are not naive enough to really think we have penetrated these sort of organisations?

    We need to learn to exploit the media not mock it because you can bet the bad guys are doing it.

  71. As a side note, didn’t Rumsfield cap the numbers the US could use for the invasion of Iraq despite advice that a larger force would be needed.

  72. @TD

    Most of them have a twitter account. probably the highest profile in this case is Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton and David Cameron.
    Of course yourself and X would prefer the French and western African Leaders method of going to Paris staying in 5 star hotels, eating in Michelin starred restaurants, enjoying the usual side benefits and deciding to declare “war” on Boko haram.

    far more dignified and visual but lacking any impact or assets.

  73. Come on APATS, that is not what I said or would prefer but seeing something as superficial and not effective at tackling the real issue is not saying I would like Goodluck to indulge in some French polishing either

    Can you remember the Kony thing from a few years ago, that went well

    The real tragedy of all of this is increasing instability in Africa has many of its roots in our intervention in Libya, that’s what Twitter and feckless short term superficiality, as completely characterised by Dave, gets you

  74. @TD

    Of course we should have let Gadaffi murder every man woman and child in Benghazi should we not have? The roots of this issue in Nigeria have been brewing for decades and speeches in parliament may satisfy you cold war warriors but they are pretty dam useless out in the real world. sometimes there is not a simple enemy to take notice or punish.

    The twitter account thing may be superficial in your opinion but it could be that you just do not get it at all? You cite one example which being totally unrelated and already 2 years old is totally irrelevant.

  75. APATS,

    Correct. CR1 was nothing but a Chieftain with a body kit. Same FCS.

    CR2 was a CR1 with some new physical metal doodads but nothing much to write home about, but a whole new digital brain and new eyes.

    If Chieftain was the 50% solution, CR1 was the 60% solution, and CR2 the 95% solution.

  76. I don’t understand that, the shit we have turned a blind eye to in that continent is breathtaking, Gadaffi was a rank amateur compared to other African leaders. Atrocities, murders and rapes are just business as usual in Africa and have been for decades but we don’t intervene everywhere and nor should we. Was just pointing out that our remote control intervention in Libya has had many third order effects, none of them particularly beneficial

    The Kony thing is completely relevant to the discussion of the efficacy of social media and security, it is a great example where, as X says, more heat than light

    Accusing me of not getting Twitter because I disagree with you, ever considered you might be wrong and I do actually understand social media :)

    Did you know I have over two and a half thousand followers, do you bloody well know who I am!!

  77. @TD

    As for Libya just because you do not intervene everywhere does not mean you should not when you can and if you want to use that as an excuse to have allowed what was going to happen in Benghazi well, that shocks me. The French intervened and we had a UN resolution to uphold, remember?

    if you think an overnight 2 year old twitter sensation campaign has relevance to a current twitter campaign designed to develop either a HUMINT break or an electronic foot print then you both show a dramatic lack of understanding of cause and effect as well as modern intelligence gathering methods.

  78. Hold on, am struggling with this now.

    Two lines of discussion

    Libya, intervention and consequences of such


    The Kony 2012 social media campaign, its relevance/similarities to Nigeria and whether the whole #bringourgirlsback is actually an intelligence led master plan designed to to develop an electronic footprint. Now I am always willing to keep an open mind but that is a bit of a stretch, so can you confirm your point, are you saying that the hash tag twitter thing is designed to actually bring them home, I thought it was an awareness thing

    Confused of Tunbridge Wells, off to bed :)

  79. The Libyan intervention is a no brainer, either you agree that Gadaffi gets to kill the people in Benghazi or you do not.

    The relevance to Kony is also extremely debatable, lessons were learnt 2012 is not 2014 and there are multiple reasons behind this campaign, it may or may not be designed to make somebody give up a lead or even create a digital clue via a footprint etc etc, the methodology and means of tracking and monitoring digital comms mean that making them increase on a certain subject offer multiple possibilities.

    None of which are offered by muffled applause from the opposition benches.

  80. ….APATS, to follow on from above, but the iThingy ran out of juice while editing.

    The CR2 being the 95% solution to a question that the world stopped asking in 1989.

    May I be deliberately controversial? As opposed to my normal self, being controversial merely by existence but being unaware of such. ;)

    I think we (UK) could have won GW 1 and GW 2 without heavy armour, or at least our bit of it. There may have been some extra casualties, but in the tens, not an order of magnitude. I base that on what I observed personally in GW 1, while serving with a recce Regiment. We killed far more Iraqi AFVs with indirect fire than either 4 or 7 Armd Bdes did with direct fire, we took more square kilometres of terrain, we took more prisoners. That is no fault of either armoured Brigade, merely that they were concentrated onto compact targets, we were allowed to roam relatively free in the enemy rear area. I was not in GW2, but again the existence of CR2 did not by itself seem to make a critical difference, although if was always useful and perhaps shortened engagements.

  81. I may get shot down here but changing the focus and composition of our military in going to be the key point in the 2015 SDSR, post Afghanistan. There are those who believe we need to return to the good old days of an Army made up of heavy armoured formations in order to conbat a threat that has not existed for decades and will probably never again. There are also those who feels that operations in Iraq post GWII and in Afghanistan were/are an aboration and should not be taken as how future conflicts may have to be fought. To them COIN is a dirty idea and prevents planning to fight REAL wars against conventional enemies.

    The facts are when one tries to add a little realism in to future ideas is that we and our allies are going to be far less likely to actually send ground troops into harms way, and when we do it will be to put out fires rather than prevent them, and we will n ot stay around to rebuild thing after. More importantly these operations are goiung to be against third tier or at worst second tier opposition. Nearly everybody in these4 catagories has learnt the lessons from GWI, GWII and Afghanistan, the foremost of which is that you cannot take on first tier opposition by conventional means which means we need flexible forces that can adapt, and have greater in theater mobility and smaller logistical footprints. We need some formations that can get in theater fast, but the follow up need to arrive in a more timely fashion.

    To this end the Army needs to evolve into a regular force of medium and light formations with a smaller number of heavy formation mainly made up of reservists with a small regular core. Current FF2020 is still stuck in the past, with its current form made to fit available equipment rather than planning for the future.

    We should have no more than two heavy/armoured brigades total. The teeth of these should comprise of a total of 4 Armoured Regiments, 4 Armoured Infantry Regiments and a single enlarged artillery Regiment, all of which should have one regular squadron/company/battery with the remainder manned by reserves.

    We already have the two light brigades in the form of 3 Cmdo and 16 Airmobile though both need additional material to reach their true potential. The former need additional BV210s in existing and new variants whilst the latter needs to be equipped with a number of Foxhound variants. In neither case am I advocating equipping both formations fully with the relevant platforms but both need a protected mobility capability in addtions to airmobility and in the former amphibious mobility.

    So what is the rest of the Army doing, well they need to evolve into medium cavalry formations, and yes these need to formed around a wheeled platform. This needed to be the best we can afford in the number required and that is going to mean compromise. Therefore no bespoke designs but a platform bought off the shelf with initially MINIMUM modification. Once we have the platforms in the numbers required, additional improvements can be incorporated incrementally over time, this there neccessitates that any platform chosen must have growth potential which logically means a newer design and really precludes the LAV/Striker platform as it is already maxed out. This still leaves a number of very capable platforms available. Mobility and protection need to be the main initial main drivers, but again there is going to have to be a compromise. Any platform impervious to RPGs and IEDs is going to be too heavy and too costly. As for firepower well again I am going to upset some people buy initially nothing heavier than a 12.7mm and/or 40mm AGL should be considered. Airpower is going to be the main tool against opposition AFVs, but an eventual platforms mounting a large calibre auto-cannon will eventually provide enhanced direct fire capability. Until then the Infantry will have to rely on their integral anti-armour/structure capabilities together with their organic indirect fire assets.

    Speaking of indirect fire, the Artillery is going to go through a major evolution. It will need to have both far greater in theatre mobility and strategic mobility. The AS90 and GMLRS are not suited to this role. The 105mm Light Gun is a great piece of kit but nowadays its accuracy cannot compete with GPS enahnced munitiona available to 155mm guns and so the Army and Royal Marines need to be equipped with the M777. Whether towed or portee it is a game changer and it is the only platform with the mobility, range and firepower to meet our requirements. Saying that there is an alternative, sort of and that is the introduction of a 120mm mortar and an associated guided muntition such as the Swedish Stryx laser guided mortar projectile. This could be further enhanced by using a UAV to designate targets. With Watchkeeper and Reaper the UK is fairly well equipped in this area both now and inthe near future which is one of the few bright spots.

    So far I have concentrated on the Army as this is the service that will need to under go the most radial change. But I will now move on to the RAF. The RAF’s equipment plan is pretty much set for the next decade or so. It is rightly trying to bring its five Typhoon squadrons on line and enhancing them. With Meteor and Storm Shadow integrated and the fleet brought to a common standard, that being T3 it will have reached its realistic potential. The F-35C though must be its main priority. Together with the Navy’s new carriers they will be on of the cornerstones of the UK’s future defence and we must purchase suffient airframes to meet our actual needs and not those of the Treasury. In my mind this means being able to surge both carriers each carry no fewer that 32 aircraft or a total of 64 or 4 deployable squadrons. This means the UK will have to purchase a quantity nearer to 100 over time to maintain a force similar in size to the Typhoon fleets. Of course savings could be realised by not having a national OCU , but rather use the US system as other nations are planning to do. An independant OEU is also not neccessary. Instead 3 to 4 airframes can remain in the US working with them and other nations. The lack of code access also points towards this. Picking up additional A400 is also a sound idea, whether we intend to use them in the traditional role or as has been mentioned in other threads used as a hybrid MPA or Tanker. I often wonder if the RAF’s curretn PFI for AAR covers rotary platforms. I would be surprised if it did as this was not a capability requested by the MoD. We must also ensure that the E3D fleet is kept current. There is a great danger of this not happening with the need falling throughthe cracks as other programmes remain in the spotlight. On the rotary side, the retention of numbers is going to become an issue with the Chinook fleet. Some of the original airframes are now over 30 years old. Additional airrames are going to be needed sooner rather than later to avoid a shrinking fleet.

    And now the Navy. It obvious priority must be bring both CVFs into service fully capable even if one is moved into reserve almost immediately. Its next two priorities must be CROWSNEST and like the RAF the F-35C. The T-26 may have to take a back seat as it is a much lower priority with new auxilaries to support the CVFs hight up the ladder. This mean the faithful T-23 will have to soldier on for longer but any new kit purchased to allow this will probably be able to be moved to the T-26 in time. Regarding the T-26, it needs to be more a GP platform than one keyed to ASW. This role should be the domain of the new Astute SSNs comming into service and the Navy’s Merlins and Wildcats. Like the Army the Navy appears to plan based on the good old days where the fleet was designed for ASW operations in the Atlantic, with other capabilities gained through chance rather than planning. I am not saying the T-26 should not be capable of ASW operations, but it should not be a driving force behind its design. I would prefer to see a modular option for this allow for a number of the force to carry a Towed Array when needed for operations and training. Since the Falklands war has any Navy surface vessel actively pursued a hostile submarine? Turning to amphibious lift the current two platforms are sufficient to carry out the foreseeable limited amphibious operations. What is needed is sufficient RFA vessels to carry an entire medium brigade and support in one lift, and if neccessary land them at a location where modern facilities are lacking. This does not mean a fleet of LSTs but rather the vessels must be able to off load my themselves in any port with what they bring with them.

    Fianlly the glue that will hold all this together. We must have sufficient logistics and other support assets to carry out operations without relying on other nations to bail us out. We need to retain greater stocks of spares and other consumables rather than rely on last minute UORs to fill holes, and we need sufficient to allow units to train effectively. We also need in increase the size and number of exercises that are conducted annually, ensuring the troops train with the kit they will fight with. The last minute dash for kit prior the GWII should never be repeated, nor should the constant UORs issued for equipment needed for Afghanistan. When we do next intervene onthe ground we should at least have the right basic kit on hand, with UORs begin used to optimise this rather that buying whole new platforms. This again support the wheeled medium AFV plan.

    Is all of the above going to require additional funding, well obviously yes but if the 2015 SDSR mandates we maintain the ability to deploy and fight then this time the Treasury is going to have to open its wallet. If it cannot be pursuaded to then the Government is going to have to acknowledge that we cann do what we would like and lower its sights. Our Armed Forces must evolve to meet the realistic threats of the future and capabilities must be matched by capacity through the allocation of additional resources.

    As a passing shot if the replacements of the Vanguard SSBNs has to come from the core budget then those plans should be scrapped. If Politicians what a political weapon then the MoD is not the department who should be made to pay for it.

  82. @ Lord Jim

    Interesting read, but you mean the F-35B?

    Indeed, seems a lot of people believe we should go straight back to ‘peer/near peer’ war training, which of course is a good move, but we shouldn’t forget the COIN lessons learned in blood.

    Issue is, how to you get that balance right? Of ‘war’ training and low intensity/COIN training? Easier with the Junior and senior services, but with the Army? and with a reducing budget… and manpower pool. Maybe, tieing in with police force and wider issues than simply the military option (look at Afghan).

    As I see it, 2 ways ’15 can go; either we resume trying to do everything, and thus have thin resources and capability, or we focus more on particular threat areas – both have pros and cons, both would leave us unprepared in some way for one contingency or the other… I dont envy the people making the decision DX

    My 2 pennies worth would be go expeditionary, ala pre 1914, increase RAF exped capability (transport and ISTAR) for the quick reaction, and increase RN amphibious capability for the reinforcement – an actual Ocean replacement rather than pretending a great sodding carrier can do the same job as a purpose built amphib :)

  83. That’s what I was getting at Dave. Whatever limits there were I don’t think they were necessarily unreasonable and no unit seems to have been a silly size because there wasn’t enough slots to properly deploy an engineer regiment for example. The scalings all seemed to me to be broadly appropriate for the level of operation. Although I am sure there were local shortages and there’s never enough blokes anyway.

    HERRICK 13 had

    A signals regiment
    5 battleground
    An AI Coy
    Recce Sqn
    Armoured group
    Ops Coy
    A BAG
    Police support
    Close logistics regiment
    Force logistics regiment
    Engineer regiment
    Provost coy
    Artillery regiment
    Reme battalion
    Medical regiment

    Etc all what you’d expect to see for a strong brigade.

  84. I’m not saying we were short, I’m saying that caps on manpower exist. Whether it was capped at a Brigade or Company is immaterial you adjust your force structure within the given constraints of manpower, tasks and threats.

    You yourself implied that our manpower was dictated by ISAF, which it was not. We were the sole decision makers in what we wanted to add or not to the operation, ISAF worked with what they could get.

    But I will add that if there was no cap on manpower why did we ask the Tongans to help with Bastion security? which we equipped with our money, we have reserves after all.

  85. I don’t think we should head back to traditional peer v peer war footing because I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s probably going to be I don’t know what to call it but a mix of peer and coin all rolled into one all at the same time. And as I would agree with mike Istar, transport priority.

  86. Traditional peer-to-peer is an interesting concept. I’m using the broad-stroke 80’s and early 90’s stances as a reference point.

    Can we return to traditional peer-to-peer?

    Should we return to traditional peer-to-peer?

    Have we been performing, and by extension focussing, on Counter Insurgency, Raiding and 2nd/3rd Tier warfare too much over the last twenty years to “revert”? Do we retain the skills, training and manufacturing to return to competing with peers and/or “near-peers” any more?

    Assuming we desire to act globally from a civilian viewpoint, we will rub up against other factions.

    This considered, should we be looking to compete peer-to-peer traditionally? Using Russia and China (but can also point to India, Brazil, etc, in the future) as a template, their manpower and manufacturing of basic equipment far outstrips the West (Does it?). In a total war scenario, could we shift our industry to a competitive head-to-head war footing again?

    Do we need a new way of fighting? A means of rapidly generating local superiority globally? A means to shift that superiority within and between theatres within a time-frame that cannot be competed with? A means to control territory without large single static bases? A means to deny territory without presence? A means to look through the targets concealment and penetrate their cover without exposure to resistance or retaliation?

    What advantages does the UK and Allies have that potential opponents do not? How can that be leveraged?

    The UK armed forces are small. This makes reorganisation, retraining and re-equipping both simpler to orchestrate and cheaper to pay for than if we had a significantly larger force.

    Lots of storm clouds over the UK (literally) in the last 48 hours. I’ve seen lots of flashes of silver linings. Carrying on average 500 megajoules of energy each…

  87. Social media really gets my blood up. Great loads of people have signed up to a fracking twitter campaign but how many are ready to jump in the back of armoured vehicles and #bringbackthegirls. The answer is naff all of them. Its just to easy to hit your like button or whatever the hell it is on twitter. So when people scroll down theyre feed and stop cooing at that lovely kitty they click a button to ‘show their support.’

    The fact that governments, the only people who can really change this situation just click retweet show they are just as bone idle as the general populace.

    The next publicity article I want to read from the MoD will declare that: 10 helicopters (preferably puma), 4 typhoon and some RPAS have deployed to an airfield in Nigeria along with a large number of paras backed up by associated C130.

    Stop faffing around with twitter and actually do something.

    No… ok now watch this video of a budgie on a skateboard :(

  88. @ APATS

    I am not that much older than you. I have been online one way or another since the earlier 80s. I lived in the era of Miitnick’s and Roberts’. I was :) and :( probably before some here had been born. So please forgive me if I see things slightly different from you because I have points of reference that you don’t. The sort of knowledge you allude to when I say something profoundly stupid about naval matters. Actions speak louder than words all social media for the most part (beyond the data collection and convenient web presence because many of today’s supposedly digitally adept youth are anything but adept and can’t produce web pages) is words.

    As for terrorists not being treated harshly doesn’t the US have some chaps incarcerated in Cuba without trial? Doesn’t the US like to launch missiles here there and everywhere? When is Bin Laden’s trial again? Whoops! There won’t be one he was shot not captured. Do you think the First World’s SF go out into the night with lucky bags not firearms? Seems to me that terrorists are already treated harshly. Or are you alluding to not trampling on their human rights? Many of those tweeting about those poor girls would be the first ones tweeting about any perceived human rights violation committed by the West’s military. Probably tweeting on prima facie evidence with a dollop of left wing bias without the merest hint of what life is like at the sharp end. What would you think about tweeting then as social media promulgates a false view of your colleagues worldwide? One of the biggest coups pulled off by the West’s political spin doctors is that they have convinced much of Western society that we live in soundbite information culture. What is said today is either spun away tomorrow or forgotten. Hard to pin blame to a moving target. Tweeting is a manifestation of that pernicious idea. Personally I think society is made up of souls who are little a bit deeper than that, even if their cares and joys are purely domestic in scale.

  89. Lack of sleep can really mess up you r perseption. Youare right I did mean the F-35B.

    Regarding manpower issues, I strongly believe we should do all that is possible to refrain from conducting persistent operations in the future. Our armed forces will be too stretched if we do and it is not what we should be doing. I have said it many times before but there are many other nations who whilst no having the hi-tech toys we and other western nations have do have manpower. We and other could still provide support with ISTAR assets for example, but many lower tier nations are realising the value of these assets and the costs are comming down.

    As to the future, well more so than ever who controls the sky has the decisive advantage and this is one area the west should retain dominance for quite a while to come against reasonably likely opposition. Control of the air dictates that any opposition cannot fight in a conventional manner against western intervention forces. With modern technology it isn’t really a numbers game any more when talking about airpower. One platform, manned or unmanned over friendly forces will deter most opposition. Airpower has already supplanted heavy armour as the support tool of choice for the infantry. So the planned 5 Typhoon squadrons together with 3 to 4 F-35B squadrons and the two Apache Regiments should meet our nations requirements in this field.

    With the Army, as I stated above I would reduce it to 2 mainly reserve Armoured Brigades, the 2 rapidly deployable Light Brigades and 3 to 4 Medium Brigades. In infantry terms that is a total of 22 regular and reserve infantry battalions plus Special Forces. It will leave us with only 2 Armoured Regiments but each of the 3 Infantry Battalions with have a close support company added equipped with a direct fire variant of whatever wheeled AFV is chosen. They will also have organic Recce, Indirect Fire, ATGW and ISTAR assets.

    Digitisation needs to be moved forward. Air,land and Sea based assets need to be on the same net and able to see what each other sees and communicate effectively. I am not advocating a return to the grand ideas behind the US Army’s defunct FCS programme, but for example if a SF patrol observes and enemy patrol, this information need to go out to all who need to know and they need to be able to either hand of the action or be able to directly control other assets to directly engage. We could reach a situation where all units operating in the field have a “Guardian Angel” LO UCAV allocated to them. Technology advances mean the cost of such platforms is going to drop year on year as long as they are built to do the job and not keep pushing the envelope. Weapons such as DM Brimstone and the recently introduced guides rockets are ideal for this, being light weight, highly accurate and reletively cheap, especially the latter.

    Pier to pier I believe is a thing of the past. GW1 was probably be its last case and that is borderline. Globalisation has meant most countries are too interlinked to conduct major conventional wars against each other. More like is a return to proxys such as we have seen in Ukraine. The world economy is too fragile to survive a major pier on pier war with out a major impact not just on those immediately involved. Look how commodity price rises can reduce growth in GDP to zero or worse.

    When talking of comodities, Africa is going to be key and here China is buy influence and proxys rapidly. It has to because it has not means of effectively putting boots on the ground on this continent, but it is rapidly gaining the ability to control vital commodities and cause disruption if needed. It has literally bought Governments and ensured the survival of said Governments through investment in infrastructure and jobs, bringing the locals on side. Like the French we need to be able to support our friends in Africa and if neccessary deploy military forces rapidly and decisively. This is where our overseas aid should be spent. Together with France we could have a more than adequate intervention capability to meet future obligations in Africa. We have the tools to help African nations improve their security and economies without resorting to Neo-colonialism. Being invited in to help rather than kicking in the front door should be our aim, but we will retain the ability to do so theie are humanitarian issues of a critical nature. Plans should be made as how we and the French could intervene to prevent another Ruanda for example with aggreements in advance as to access and basing for such operations.

    WWIII and similar fantasy conflicts should really be left to the fiction writers. The Neo-conservative thinking especially in the US needs to be consigned to the scrapheap. Iran is not a threat even if it did develope the bomb. How would it use it? Against Isreal would lead to its own distruction. In fact against any other country it would lead to its destruction by one means or another. If it gave a device to a terrorist organisation the results would be the same. No the bomb to Iran is a political tool and an exercise in seld-esteeme.

    Finally looking into a “Crystal Ball” can anyone come up with a reasonable threat senario where we might have to fight a peer to peer conflict and against who, and therefore blow my opinion out of the water?

  90. “Pier to pier I believe is a thing of the past”

    So true. No one has tried to move Australia in the last few decades. :P

    As for peer to peer, I don’t know, China’s been getting very aggressive these few days. Won’t be surprised if someone pops off a round soon, either Vietnam or the Philippines.

    BTW Lord J regarding 120mm mortars as artillery, are you familiar with the range of a 120mm mortar vs a 155mm 39 cal or 53 cal? I do see some utility in retaining some army artillery and not having to rely totally on air support. For one, the response time is shorter, for another, if airspace is contested, aircraft might not be able to range freely, so no air support for you.

    I really would prefer the UK having the ability to fight a near peer. It’s easier for a traditional army to learn COIN than for a COIN army to learn peer to peer warfare. And less fatal.

    RT, I get your point on CR2s but please remember the GWs were situations where the allies gained total air supremacy, they could go nearly anywhere they wanted to. We can’t really take that for granted.

  91. I don’t think we should head back to traditional peer v peer war footing because I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s probably going to be I don’t know what to call it but a mix of peer and coin all rolled into one all at the same time. And as I would agree with mike Istar, transport priority.

    If we refocused our forces for COIN then we would no longer have a credible defence.

    If we concentrate on a credible (and effective) defence we will, almost by definition, not be very good at COIN warfare which seems to require a numeric advantage.

    If we bend towards this kind of conflict, those who fund the insurgents will have won by wearing down our traditional skill set and equipment base leaving us open to conventional attack.

    Under no circumstances should our traditional capabilities be compromised.

  92. Simon

    The funny thing about traditional capabilities is they are in a constant process of change because the threats they are supposed to counter continually changes.

  93. Mark,

    I agree, it’s just that Russia (for example) still have nuclear weapons, nuclear subs, jet fighters, bombs, ships, a large army and lots and lots of tanks ;-)

    I wouldn’t for one minute expect us to go against them alone, but if the whole of Europe concentrated on COIN and lightweight mobility we wouldn’t stand a cat in hells chance if Putin decided to have a crack at our eastern flanks.

    I just see heavy and light/agile as mutually exclusive if you’re trying to cut costs and use the same kit/personnel for both.

  94. We keep coming back to the same issue, do you plan for an increasingly unlikely clash of the titans or the most likely.

    Difficult to balance out the needs of both and in a world of finite budgets not sure you can have both.

    Who would be in the position of making those choices eh

  95. I am with Lord Jim with his suggestion of a reserve-heavy armour formation.

    I’d formalise it, and move the {three} armoured brigades out of the reaction force and into the adaptable force, at the same time as moving the light-cav in the opposite direction.

    @ Martin – “If we are going to have three rapid reaction brigades would it be worth organising them into a light Division with a deployable HQ?”

    I’d defer to someone with actual military experience, but my first thought would be; don’t we already spend a fortune on HQ-ARRC?

  96. I think you go medium weight for the majority with a small core of heavy that can be built on. Medium is good for near peer and COIN, with useful utility in a peer conflict, it’s easier to move up to heavy from medium than from light as well.

    So I suppose the Italians are on the right track.

  97. Dave I never said there was not a cap. I was disputing the nature of the cap. I don’t believe it was a case of 9,500 pax and that is your lot. It is far more likely to have been a broadly consensual and negotiated cap which fits in with the finding that units were operating at or above normal establishment strengths – ie there wasn’t an engineer regiment running around with 350 people or an infantry battalion fighting with 400 and two companies.

    And nowhere do I believe I have implied that ISAF dictated force structure and manpower.

  98. Should we return to traditional peer-to-peer?

    You imply a choice where none exists! Hostile peers decide if we need to fight them. We can’t just blast the UK off into space.

  99. Will have to dig it out but I read a very interesting Canadian journal paper on their experience with Italian medium weight wheeled vehicles in the Balkans, it was far from favourable.

    Basically, they said they were good for poncing around and looking ally but when the enemy rock up with a T72 or even T55, Mr Gucci Wheeled 8×8 had to be excused games with a note from his mum, leaving the Canadian Leo’s to do the heavy lifting.

    Phi, I still think there was a force (or probably personnel expenditure) limit. It might not have been a rigidly enforces hard limit of, for example, 9.276 personnel, but it would have been ‘in the order of…’

    Once you have your rough top limit everything would flow down, so within that, the engineer elements would be proportional to the particular cycle requirements.

    So an extra couple of dozen here or there, no problem, but asking for an additional couple of thousand, probably not. I guess the question would not have been asked if the answer was known in advance

  100. Globalisation has meant most countries are too interlinked to conduct major conventional wars against each other.

    Where have we heard that before?

    Armed forces must offer a remedy to the possibility of being conquered. Conquest requires high end warfare capabilities. If our Armed forces do not offer the remotest remedy to this then they are of no use. Our Armed forces must at their core retain high end warfare capabilities but they can do so in smaller numbers and in virtual cadre form if necessary which reflects the CURRENT low threat. There is no peer enemy at the moment, but then there wasn’t in 1925 either. Since regenerating such forces needs a lead time longer than the threat can develop then the argument for retaining them is a no brainer.

    At the same time we exist in a tumultuous world with many interests and agendas (international, domestic, political etc). To help preserve our way of life and our position in the world we need to engage with it and that requires military expeditionary capabilities. And despite the naysayers much of the kit that does well in high end warfare serves very well in COIN.

    We’re getting it right. As much of a bloody heresy as that is on this site, we’re broadly speaking getting it right. We have cadres of all but one high end warfare capability (MPA). Around this core we have forces suitable for light to medium engagement in complex operations.

  101. @TD

    I agree. It seems to me that a Task Force centred around a Brigade (+) was agreed upon. So it was a bottom up calculation based on some scrap or semblance of reality and requirement on the ground and not a top down 9,234 man limit and see what you can get out of that.

    I’d bet that the process was that the services were asked what they needed, they thought about it and decided that the plan called for at least a balanced Brigade (+) and this came to roughly 9,500 and so this was settled upon. I know there was some “headroom” but I don’t know if that was over and beyond what was in theatre (ie the pursers were prepared to fund a small contingency increase over original estimates) or if peter needed less men then paul got some.

  102. @Phil
    ‘We were not on a UK mission, we were making a contribution to a NATO mission.’

    I’m sorry if I misunderstood, but that’s how I read it.

    ‘I don’t believe it was a case of 9,500 pax and that is your lot’

    Of course it was, those caps have been placed on armed forces the world over since their creation. What was the reason for drawing down so quickly after the invasion of Iraq, job done or political will and money?

  103. It is very very rarely that force composition is based on pure numbers. It is based upon mission capability and requirements and then what is required to achieve this. Certain formations offer a similar effect in different ways and with different numbers.

  104. Yes we sent a UK contingent on a mission entrusted as it were, to NATO. We weren’t dragging NATO along on a UK whim.

    The 9,500 figure would have had some basis in reality – nobody just pulled it out of their arse (or if they did the figure would have been pulled out of a defence arse and not a bean-counter arse).

  105. @TD

    I had the pleasure of working with Canadians with their Cougar’s on Glamoc ranges, they said their mobility was hindered but they seemed willing to go up against BMP’s and BTR’s, although tanks are a very different matter.

  106. ‘The 9,500 figure would have had some basis in reality’

    Yes it would have, but the bean counters would have said you can a have a Brigade and that’s your lot after consideration to military advice, the services would have configured said brigade as they saw fit.

  107. @ david Niven

    It started at NATO council and 4 star level with the mission and country being divided into blocks and countries effectively deciding how much they could afford to contribute. That decides whether countries are assigned individual responsibilities or joint within the “mini AORs”. Required min force levesl for each AOR were decided at NATO level.

  108. ‘effectively deciding how much they could afford to contribute’

    I rest my case. We could have offered 500 or 20000 there was a reason we stopped at a brigade, don’t forget the Americans sent 20000 Marines into Helmand.

  109. @DN

    “I rest my case”

    Yes but within a framework of required force levels set elsewhere. So it was not 9,500 or 11,00 as once our “AOR” reached required manning levels extra units may at least initially have been farmed out to mult national manned “AORs”.

    NATO decides what levels it requires where, with a little but in my experience of the organisation not a lot of flexibility.

  110. Yes it would have, but the bean counters would have said you can a have a Brigade and that’s your lot after consideration to military advice, the services would have configured said brigade as they saw fit.

    Dave we’re not disagreeing. Every force that has ever flown or sailed from our country has had similar political and economic factors shaping it. Such is how these things work.

  111. @APATS

    Are you saying that NATO are to blame for our initial assessment of 4500 personnel required for Helmand? or did they rubber stamp our plan?


    ‘we’re not disagreeing’ fair enough

  112. @DN

    I could not possibly comment but required force levels were agreed at multi national level :(

  113. Re Force levels

    My experiences tell me there was a hard limit controlled outside the MoD. One example, we were tasked with a (very) modest increase in numbers. Less than 40 people, this wasn’t some thought of a SO3, it was brought about and agreed quickly at the very highest levels (in a meeting measured in minutes) however trying to get the ok from HM Treasury took many months. This was despite an OK for the very modest uplift at the very top. Second example, another section wanted an extra person (yes an increase of 1), nowhere near the level of effort from the chain of command yet to get the extra post into Afghan took 12 months. The idea an extra couple of dozen people in theatre and no-one would bat an eyelid is totally at odds with my experiences.

  114. @ TD

    Yeah maybe our (online) legendary ability to click our fingers and have the treasury come running was somewhat lacking then ;)

    Although just back to original point in hand, it was the army that asked for the increase in my first example.

  115. @Topman

    I can believe it, just an extra 30 bods is a lot of money and logistics. So I can’t see the services being allowed to add blokes here and there when it suited them.

  116. @ DN

    Yes an extra 30 hotel rooms in Afghan isn’t cheap ;)

    More seriously, I believe a lot of the control came through the op allowance. It was paid from the Treasury reserve and attached to each post and needed them to ok it as it came from their budget.

  117. ‘Yes an extra 30 hotel rooms in Afghan isn’t cheap’

    Not when it comes with room service! :-)

  118. Surely the interesting thing would be the release (in 25 years or so) of the initial assesment on the ground in Helmand by the SF team sent in before the initial Herrick 1 deployment was authorised.

    Anecdotally a few retired people seemed to hint that they said not to deploy with numbers into Helmand at all but just to up the SF and advisor elements without creating a target for the Taliban and various local drug lords (who would see us as a threat to opium production) to latch on to. If that was the case I do wonder who pushed for the deployment, I don’t think it was necessarily a political choice.

  119. More seriously, I believe a lot of the control came through the op allowance. It was paid from the Treasury reserve and attached to each post and needed them to ok it as it came from their budget.

    That’s the sort of bureaucratic bullshit I can believe.

    And I can readily believe the Treasury realising they had a back door means of controlling force levels above and beyond previously agreed.

    I bet that one person uplift sat on someone’s desk for months.

    But to play devil’s advocate, you can’t give blank cheques to organisations either.

  120. Whilst i don’t know the full nature of why forces for Herrick seemed to reach a ceiling height of 9500 i can only guess it was a combination of multiple considerations that brought about an agreement on the maximum number we could sustain indefinitely, from the deployment/training/rest cycle, to the annual budget for a large overseas deployment, the need to factor in several smaller commitments (Cyprus, Falklands, Brunei, public duties, civil assistance stuff etc) and so on.

    What does seem very clear is that 1. The idea that a light brigade of 4000 men could effectively control an area the size of Helmand on it’s own was farcical from the off and 2. Even a 9500 strong reinforced brigade never really managed to do the job without significant support from other ISAF forces.

  121. @ Phil

    ‘But to play devil’s advocate, you can’t give blank cheques to organisations either.’

    True, but this went beyond making sure no-one was taking the piss. Well beyond.

  122. Phil

    A cap very definitely existed and was in place for very good reasons. As much to force the mil to think about what they NEEDED versus what they WANTED. My experience of dealing with HERRICK (as opposed to my time on HERRICK) was that there was a lot of ‘if we don’t get on this party our cap badge is doomed’ mentality from some quarters. The cap helped ,make people think sensibly about what they could bring to the party.

    My other experience was that the Cap wasn’t a case of HMT going ‘nope you’ve got 8200 infantry so game over’ but a case of going ‘guys we couldnt care less what your laydown looks like, but there is only sufficient in the budget to pay for X amount’ so don’t breach that, but put what you want in as long as it doesnt breach it.’

    Having worked with HMT during this period, they were incredibly supportive of ensuring resources were allocated when required. They also genuinely gave a damn about supporting the troops (their Defence Team was perhaps more pro military than some of the military at times). Where they differed was that they had an obligation to ensure public funds were spent properly and with reason, and I have to say that my experiences of HM Forces was that a lot of people who should have known better though HERRICK was OP BLANK CHEQUE and acted as such. We may be ‘our brave boys’ but that doesnt give us carte blance to act as if the sweet shop can be raided without consequences.

  123. @ Sir H

    ” to ensure public funds were spent properly and with reason, ” ” that doesnt give us carte blance to act as if the sweet shop can be raided without consequences.”

    In two sentences you really sum up why so many members of the forces dislike civil servants.

    1. You have never written a letter that was a direct consequence of of with holding money and people.
    2. Read those sentences again and look at the way they are written, they are straight from the faceless grey man phrase book, zero empathy, zero sympathy and zero consideration for the people affected. Your point is entirely valid, the manner in which you put it sucks.

  124. Have to disagree with you there SirH, when you commit forces there should be no practical financial limit on the achievement of your objectives. I suppose that is the difference between being at war and being on operations.

    Once you are in, you should go all out, anything less is shortchanging both the mission and the people you have asked to do it.

    I do however agree that because of decades of financial mismanagement the UOR Crutch was used to paper over holes that should not have been there and I can well imagine that being abused

  125. Sorry Simon but Russia isn’t a peer threat such a conflict would never be conventional. It’s the only reason we keep trident, Russia is a political war with a weapon of last resort the only place were it ends.

    We will face I think high end threats in an unconventional way and in much more limited numbers than in the past but from more actors and possibly while conducting a coin operation. So a return to Cold War forces structures and numbers ain’t going to happen or be that useful.

  126. SirH. Again not arguing there was a cap, just that the cap had some semblance of sanity surrounding it and a reasonably sensible force structure was laid down.

    And topmans statement about uplifts confirms my view that never attribute to malice what is easily explained by incompetence and bureaucracy.

  127. TD, Sir Humphrey

    it seems to me that your both right on this. Short of an existential war (eg 39-45) there’s always going to be some form of “cap” whether its expressed in terms of $$s or numbers of troops we can practically put in the field.

    The question is surely better expressed as “Did we take on more military responsibility in Iraq/Afghanistan than we could afford to pay the price of ?”

    For example, assuming there was no $ cap, could we actually have put another (say) 5,000 soldiers into Helman plus the additional RAF support (Helicopters, FJ numbers etc) in country and would that actually have made the difference to the outcome ?


  128. Ref 12omm Mortars vs 155mm.

    Of course I know the difference in performance between the two unlike peir to pier or rather peer to peer?! The point I was making was that we need a precision munition for the Artillery and that the current 105mm Light Gun does not have this capability. With the 155mm you have the option of the Exclaiber GPS munition and with the 120mm you have hte laser guided Stryx munition. The former has far greater range but the latter has more flexibiity on being able to hit moving targets for example and could allow the use of UAVs as designators.

    As far as force levels committed to operations/war you have to look no further than the US force levels during GWI and GWII. In the first the US followed what I believe was called the Weinberger doctrine where you commit overwelming force to ensure the job is done. In GWII they followed the Rumsfeld doctrine where technology would allow minimum force levels to be used. Guess which one works the best?

    My opinion has alway been that military action should be the last resort and the decision to commit is down to the Politicians. Once the decision is made however authority switches to the Military who should have all means and resources at their dispoal to get the job done. However persistent operations cause problems with this and that is why I have an adversion to them.

    Back to force structure and I still believe that the bulk of our Army should be configured as Medium formations. This would also mean increasing weight of both 3 Commando and 16 Airmobile to a limited degree and giving them more organic AFVs though obviously lighter than those on the Infnatry brigades, do additional BV210s for the former and Foxhound for the latter.

    Regarding the question, “Did we take on more military responsibility in Iraq/Afghanistan than we could afford to pay the price of ?” I think the answer is yes. We lacked the resourses but more inportant the intelligence as to what the threat was going to be. I remember the press praising the way that the Army removed its helmets and put on its berrets when the war was declared over. That was a major miscalculation and they soon put their helmets back on. One of the problems we fact in the COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan is that our play book has usually had a local police force available that could be used with the Army in support. This was not he case in either recent operation. We tried using the RMP but they are too small in number and it is simply not their role.

    Hopefully both Iraq and Afghanistan will be core evidence in the next SDSR when it is decided what our role is to be in the world and what force levels and resources are needed to attain them.

  129. Let the Chinese sort it out. Kill two birds with one stone; let them bleed in Africa and allow the consequences to reverberate back into China leading to a collapse of the Chicom and the Chinese state. Sorted. They can even accept the refugees too (see how that goes down in downtown Shanghai). Now that is what I call “grand strategy”

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