Thursday, 24 January 2013

Defence cuts and reshaping

Lions led by Donkeys - as always
The British armed forces have always been badly treated by the Governments who sent them to war. The sailors who fought of Phillip II of Spain's armada were left in port to die from disease unpaid, the infamous redcoat of the 1770s was poorly paid in comparison to other less dangerous jobs in the motherland, battalions were sent to garrison forts in the Caribbean and decimated by yellow fever. The Boer war saw poorly trained troops massacred for financial gain and the First World War repeated the same mistakes for no gain at all.

Now occupation forces from Afghanistan are returning to redundancy and uncertainty on civy street- Thanks for all you've done guys!

Whilst I remain horrified at the human cost and the treatment of the heroes by the Ministry I can also see the motives, however cold, and insensitive they are.

Warfare is a fluidic and evolutionary creature that needs to be kept up with, something we failed to do in 1914.

Although the teachings of Guderian in Achtung Panzer and the Blitzkrieg showed that the day of the Infantry and Cavalry were well and truly over for successful offensives but it soon became evident that vast swathes of infantry still had to be used for garrisons and policing roles. Some seventy years on and we're in a similar boat. In fact things have moved backwards as aircraft design has accelerated. Modern fighter jets are too noisy and fast for photo reconnaissance and satellites too expensive to move. Moreover in a war against insurgents who hit and fade into the countryside rather than fight as a division it is hard to spot them, especially when you're travelling at 600mph and filling the area with noise sending people running for the hills. So who has to go on patrol and see what's what? The infantry.

Unmanned drones are silent, hard to spot on radar and visually, they're also slower as well as more fuel efficient. For recon purposes they are the pinnacle and they save lives. No one will be put in danger of attack and the drone can coordinate an artillery barrage, air strike or missile strike.

Once the occupation is started it is difficult to mount strikes with infantry ales time. Helicopter infantry is very dicey these days as any untrained fool can take down a helicopter with a one shot rocket launcher. Also the time needed to mobilise infantry, who aren't trained for surgical strikes, takes time. Modern warfare against plain clothed terrorist insurgents requires time and effort that is watched. If an incident happens around the world , and let's face it it is happening now in Mali, Algeria, Somalia - an armed response can be a logistical nightmare to organise and deploy.

Small teams of highly mobile elite squads is much more preferable for special operations. SAS and SBS teams can be mobilised and dropped into a combat zone within 48 hours rather than 48 days plus. They're harder to find and combat too. You can also arm and equip small teams with the best equipment for a lot less than outfitting a regiment and it's support staff with standard equip. It is thus very understandable, from an operational point of view, to why the MoD are scaling back and moving to a more fluidic form of warfare that will be more effective at combating terror and insurgents than sending our boys enmasse into a situation they're not equipped or trained to deal with properly.

If this scale back is to occur though, it is the duty of this government to thank the troops for their return and help get them jobs, homes in the same way demobbed troops were received after World War Two.

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