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What Kind of Military Do We Want in the 21st Century?

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posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 03:27 AM
I thought this was one of the most revealing speeches Blair has done. In it he wanted to kick of a national debate on this threads very subject.
You can read the full thing direct from the Governments propaganda centre…

Anyway I thought it would be interesting to divide the speeches key quotes into the following categories and add my own comments. Hearing yours would obviously be great too (especially on the wider subject).

My Interpretation…

What we have been up to…

“Britain has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism”

“We have suffered casualties, each one of which represents not just a life lost, but a family bereaved, a unit of comrades mourning their loss; and a nation, concerned and questioning the cost.”

“the morale of those carrying out their assignment has been high; their sense of mission, strong; their pride, palpable and contagious.”

(Clearly he hasn’t seen the latest figures on army recruitment)

What’s needed…

“the combination of hard and soft power is still the right course for our country, indeed more so than ever;”

They can't be defeated by conventional means. This is the enemy our Armed Forces face today.

The State of the National Service(s)…
if we want our Armed Forces to be confident of their place in that future, we, all of us, Government, military and public, need to know what is expected of us.

The covenant between Armed Forces, Government and people has to be renewed. For our part, in Government, it will mean increased expenditure on equipment, personnel and the conditions of our Armed Forces; not in the short run but for the long term.

the Government was left with little choice but to reintroduce conscription in 1946. In 1948, there were 1.5 million military serving personnel.

On the part of the military, they need to accept that in a volunteer armed force, conflict and therefore casualty may be part of what they are called upon to face.

What difference does an armed or voluntary armed services make to this?

A New World Order…

The post Cold War threat is now clear. The world has changed again. We must change with it.

Put simply, September 11 2001 changed everything. Three thousand people died on the streets of New York.

(And over 3000 American lives have been lost in the Iraq war which followed).

In the months after 7/7, we had a debate in Britain as to whether foreign policy in Iraq or Afghanistan had "caused" the terrorism by inflaming Muslim opinion.
Did you win?

Yet to retreat in the face of this threat would be a catastrophe. It would strengthen this global terrorism; proliferate it; expand its circle of sympathisers.
But maybe occupying other countries strengthens this global terrorism; proliferates it, and certainly expands its circle of sympathisers.

Taking the battle to the enemy….

"war on terror" may last a generation but to retreat would be a "catastrophe".
Is that because you’re strategy is working?

Our Armed Forces will be deployed in the lands of other nations far from home, with no immediate threat to our territory, in environments and in ways unfamiliar to them.

Holy ****!!! This is your idea of the future is it? And if there’s no immediate threat to our territory will we be relying on doggy intelligence reports to post forces to other countries? Could we in fact be giving the terrorists the perfect reason to fight? I.e. that since our forces are in their country; their forces need to be in our streets?

The Threat Within…
Public opinion will be divided, feel that the cost is too great, the campaign too long, and be unnerved by the absence of "victory" in the normal way they would reckon it.
That, in turn, impacts on the feelings of our Armed Forces. They want public opinion not just behind them but behind their mission. They want the "people back home" to understand their value not just their courage.
The risk here - and in the US where the future danger is one of isolationism not adventurism - is that the politicians decide it's all too difficult and default to an unstated, passive disengagement, that doing the right thing slips almost unconsciously into doing the easy thing.

You mean there’s a risk politicians on both sides of the pond will do what their people want? Democracy; some risk.
Before we know it and without anyone ever really deciding it, in a strategic way, the "hard" part of British foreign policy could be put to one side;
Well yes it could. But what you define as the “hard part” of British foreign policy has made the situation worse. Therefore putting it to one side could in fact make it better.

There is a case for Britain in the early 21st Century, with its imperial strength behind it, to slip quietly, even graciously into a different role. We become leaders in the fight against climate change, against global poverty, for peace and reconciliation; and leave the demonstration of "hard" power to others. I do not share that case but there is quite a large part of our opinion that does.
Do you think many terrorists would attack us for focussing on things like these?

The Enemy…

Terrorism destroys progress. Terrorism can't be defeated by military means alone. But it can't be defeated without it.
Did we use many cruise missiles against the IRA? Did not nearly every single year of that conflict kill more of our people than the suicide bombers to date? See IRA terrorists are reusable; suicide ones are not. Their potential may be greater; but your leadership has aggravated this prospect.

In truth, this is a hearts and minds battle as much as military one.
But in Baghdad peoples minds are in tombs; and their hearts are beating with rage.

Reconstruction and reconciliation, development and governance are every bit as crucial in Iraq or Afghanistan as military might.
Except that “the Resistance” usually makes a point of destroying whatever we have just built up. And because different groups seem to almost take it in turns to do it to different peoples they exacerbate a conflict which we are not involved in, but which we get blame the for; because of presence has indeed made the situation worse.

This terrorism is an attack on our values.

To date every person who has supported terrorism in the West has blamed our foreign policy. In other countries who knows what the attack is on? Depends on the country, depends on the reason; doesn’t it? And if other countries abroad cannot be victoryness
against a bunch of fanatics, then I would sooner support giving them a successful dictator who is pro us; than I would support using our troops to do what we have done to Iraq (pre-1991 once a western country with western living standards under an authoritarian; but socially stable government).

Democracy in the wrong parts of the world (i.e. tribally and ethnically fragmented societies) is not one of my values.
Saddam also fought the terrorists in Iraq for 30 years; and did a damn good job.
He caused us trouble back in 1991 partly because someone had sold him so many weapons; he had plenty to spare.

The parody of people in my position is of leaders who, gung-ho, launch their nations into ill-advised adventures without a thought for the consequences.
Reference to George Bush?

There has been a lot of publicity about reported cuts to the Royal Navy.

We did, of course, need to modernise the Navy.

Twenty-five years ago, media reports came back from the Falklands irregularly, heavily controlled. During the first Gulf war, the media had restricted access

The good old days?

Take a website like Live Leak which has become popular with soldiers from both sides of the divide in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Operational documentary material, from their mobile phones or laptops, is posted on the site. These sometimes gruesome images are the unmediated reality of war. They provide a new source of evidence for journalists and commentators, by-passing the official accounts and records.
It’s a crime against warfare isn’t it?

The combination of all these different dimensions, as I said earlier, transforms the context within which the military, politics and public opinion interact.
Ah; so it’s a crime against politics?

The Great War Leader also blamed the media for the anti-war feeling
So much of what is written distorts the truth or greatly embellishes it.
However I believe this applies more to his speech.

Anyway if the truth is distorted, surely Blair need only tell us it?

I thought the media bits of Blair’s speech were pathetic moans for sympathy as Chinese Whispers (the only credible alternative to the media) would hardly be doing him very many favours ether. Besides as research into the facts will tell you, Western media still tends to be very pro-government.

[edit on 090705 by Liberal1984]

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 04:31 AM
What do we need? Some general thoughts:

1) Retain our technological superiority - things like the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 Lightning III, Chobham armour, the new Type 45 destroyers and Astute-class submarines... we don't have a big military, but technology does help to make up for this.

2) Training. This plays a key part in the success of our forces - they are arguably the best trained military on the planet. The men and women of the British Armed Forces really do put their hearts and souls into their training, and we should continue to train our forces to an extremely high standard. These people are willing to put their lives on the line for their country, so we should be willing to invest heavily in showing them how best to stay alive in a battle.

3) The new aircraft carriers - we need them, frankly. The two we have now (plus the Invincible, which has been mothballed) are primarily anti-submarine. The Falklands showed that we need something designed to attack both land and sea based targets...

4) There were reports of the Royal Navy being downsized quite considerably. This is a big mistake - we're an island nation! Remember what happened in World War II? U-boats sinking supply ships? Also, big powers like China require constant shipments of oil, coal etc. Stopping these shipments with the Navy is one key way of bringing them to their knees if we ever had to fight them - but we do need a Navy to do it

5) An increase in numbers (across the Army, Navy and Air Force) - Perhaps difficult, since people have many more opportunities for jobs these days, and so a career in the military probably isn't at the top of the list. But still, an increase of 15,000 - 20,000 over a decade or two would be a good idea.

I don't begrudge defence expenditure at all - as I said before, these people put their lives on the line and so deserve the best equipment money can buy to protect them.

There are other points, but I'll let other people contribute

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 08:45 AM
Whilst one can criticise aspects of Gov policy and detail it is IMO quite wrong to insist that there is no extremist Islamist-based terrorist threat out there.

Petty local politicking aside, Blair is hardly alone in his view of this threat (and no that doesn't just mean he and Bush alone agree on this).

You can run up the white flag and run away from this if you like.
You can play both ends against the middle and make as much as you can out of any inconsistencies you might find.
You can snipe at those who say what you disagree with.

But the truth still remains that there is (however 'we' got here') a loose grouping of fanatics gathered around a minority and extremist version of Islam and yes they really would attempt to cause indiscriminate civilian deaths on as large a scale as they could, even at the cost of their own lives.

Neither Bush nor Blair invented them nor that.

In some ways it's similar to Ireland.

One can look for as much history or reason giving rise to 'the others' (whatever terrorist side) to feel justice in their 'cause' but that doesnt negate the fact that they really were out to kill as many as they could in terrorist attacks.

If this is to be a part of 'the future' then we would be better off recognising it for what it is and facing it honestly instead of pretending that we can just avoid it by pretending 'it's all our fault'.

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 12:16 PM
Smink, there's a small group of fanatics in the West who want to kill as many civilians as they can, rob their countries of their natural wealth and force their way of life on that given populace(and there doing it as I type). Do you think that could be the reason for these terrorist attacks.

Its a pity that all the trillions spent on weapons could not be used to give those who have nothing a life worth living. We only fight for religion, natural wealth or to just murder those who we see as inferior.

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 07:08 PM
magicmushroom, if only we weren't starting out from here, huh?

of course I'd prefer a world that was less militarised and with a hell of a lot less spent on weaponry and people fed and on and on the wish list goes, whos' doesn't?

Nevertheless you can pretend the world is a simplistic case of 'all or mostly our fault' if you like, you can even publicly claim that 'it's all our own fault' in each and every instance if you want, but count yourself lucky you live somewhere where you have that freedom cos it sure as hell isn't universal.

'We're' not blameless and at times 'we' have used a kind of short-sighted and short-term pragmatism and not humanism and compassion in those cases where 'we' have chosen sides and involved ourselves in the affairs of others in pursuit of what 'we' saw as our own best interests.

'We're' not perfect.

We have indeed helped create the world we live in with all it's horrors and faults and all.

But to ignore the various threats around us and indulge in a rather selfish, self-centred and one-sided view of the world that always insists - with the full aid, of course, of 20/20 hindsight - that 'we' are wrong in everything and everything wrong is down to 'us' is, IMO, absurd and plain wrong.

To go beyond that and insist our society is simply all about the murder of

as many civilians as they can
is just paranoid delusion IMO.

I don't think it's anything like as simple as just saying 'it's all our fault'.

I don't see how anybody could seriously claim that the only people responsible for their own actions are 'us' in the west and everybody else involved in anything get a free pass or a buye cos everything revolves around 'us'.

To return to topic.

So, like it or not Blair is probably quite right that a mix of the ultra high-tech (submarine based nuclear deterrent) and a fairly low tech (anti-terrorist) warfare capacity is what is going to be required for our armed services in future.

[edit on 21-1-2007 by sminkeypinkey]

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 09:17 PM
First off, I’m in favor of the US of A having an Armed Forces about the size we had in early 1940. 140,000 Army, 15,000 Army Air Force, 80,000 Navy and 25,000 USMC. With such a reduced military, our State Department would grow from 15,000 to maybe 50,000. Over time. Like soldiering, it takes time to “grow” diplomats.

The US exerts power and influence overseas through the AID - Agency for International Development - and the WB - World Bank - and the IMF. International Monetary Fund. There are also various regional groups, the OAS, Organization of American States- now mostly moribund - but it’s there to work through if we wanted. But I digress.

The US Army currently has 507,000. Our new Sec Def Gates wants to raise that number by 60,000 or so. The USMC has 240,000, to be raised by 20,000. That’s a 3-6 years project. I do not know the USAF or the USN numbers. I’d guess 350,000 for each. Our state’s National Guard has about 1.5 million and the Ready Reserves - men released from active service in the past 8 years - maybe an equal number. Three million citizen soldiers.

We have 2 more super carriers under construction, and have contracted for 1 or 2 nuclear subs a year, for the next five years. Some of the new vessels will replace older ones, so it is not necessarily an enlargement but more of a force upgrade. As you may know, the 2nd largest contingent of “forces” in Iraq is not the Brits, but the hired mercenaries employed by contract with the DoD. About 10,000 “hired” guns. Mostly ex-Special Forces and black Ops types. “Black” used here referring to unlawful. I do not know if there are any limits imposed on the Ops those fellows will carry out. We have assassinated so many leaders around the world since WW2 that I’m not sure who to blame in the Ukraine president’s poisoning. Putin or Bush43. If Rumsfeld, Cheney or Gonzales were in charge, then you can be sure there were no limits.

We - over here - have learned a valuable lesson: if you have power, you will use it. We have also learned that decision makers tend to go with the lowest level of difficulty. We have domestic problems facing us, we have infrastructure that is wearing out or worn out - our Interstate highway system was “finished” in the late 1960s. Water and sewer treatment plans need upgrading. 90% of US electricity is from oil or coal fired plants. Both need much improved smokestack emissions control. In other words, we could put to good use half the $455 b. annual defense budget here at home.

I’m hoping we will, after January 20, 2009. Presidential Inauguration Day.

posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 09:50 PM
The unit I belong to does not use the SA80 we do not need to swap gear with the patrol that we're swapping with. I thank god have all the tools and training I will ever need. saying that the British army against the US army is 10 years behind on standard issue equipment. The 1 thing we have is our training and quality of officers.

War turns men into animals, without good guidance these animalistic qualities make sure we are hated by the native people of the land we occupy. I have been trained to use the local populace as the most powerful weapon in my arsenal.

Unfortuantly the US army instills in its troops that it is invincable and the personal discipline in the US trooper is terrible.

The UK should invest more in it's regular army but boost spening in it's specialist army, The forces beyond the BBC camera do an awful lot more than is known, but the soldiers in these branches of the UK military are not there for fame. We do our job VERY well!

The way forward is a very well trained small army. trained specifically in urban warfare.

For the poor blokes that must everyday go out and show a presence without the proper equipment I feel sorry for!

Be safe

posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 10:00 PM
Of course Sminkeypinky is right that “we are where regarding fanatics” but I think Blair’s (or Cameron’s if he supports it) whole military approach to the problem really is the sort of response you should expect to a new super power on the world stage; not the sort of response we should be giving to bunch a cavemen whose objectives are often unpopular (even with their own people’s).

My Vision of a British Anti Terrorist Military (In Brief)

1. A fit, and able MI5 at home
2. Lot’s of arms contracts (epically the lighter-arm ones)
3. A medium large, to large MI6 abroad to co-ordinate those arms contracts, and to deliver them to those sides we deem need them, and to inform, co-ordinate and possibly even (to some large degree) to dictate the objectives of the Foreign Office.
4. Foreign aid to friendly regional leaders: But also to help prevent trouble before it starts.
For example I believe a few things like e.g. bridges built in foreign cities with nothing more in exchange than a placard saying “A Gift from the British people to the People of…) could do infinitely more good for our image abroad than any typical militarized troop presence. (Especially if there has never been a British militarized presence there (at least in living memory).
Sadly (as Afghanistan and Iraq shows) these things tend to be nothing more than easy priority target for those we’ve just been fighting against.


No matter how much the world may hate us they can only commit acts of terrorism here if they have terrorists within our own borders.
Therefore I agree with the government’s escalation in MI5 spending; but its pretty much all I am in agreement with. I am not willing to loose more lives (than the terrorists can kill civilians) through having our troop engaged in almost perpetual warfare in far away places abroad, possibly for the next 20-30 years at least.

I am opposed to it…
1. On moral grounds because it’s not just the loose of our troops that counts; but also the 100 or times (or sometimes even) more lives each one of their deaths seems to represent.
2. Because if I lost a close member of my family I wouldn’t be all that far away from looking to death as revenge. Nevermind then; if they were people called “infidels” who are an alien people so different that even their skin colour is different.
That through (apparently their religiously descendant lifestyles) they live in comparative luxury in big cities in far away lands. That it was these people who raised an army so that they could “visit” my country.
3. The fact we are fighting an ideology (more than an enemy) coupled with the fact we are doing so within a foreign country with a “visiting” army; seems to breed more of this ideology than we can kill it. In Afghanistan I have been virtually vindicated; in Iraq there is no doubt about it; I have been.

Blair can go on all he likes about this being an unconventional war we must fight with unconventional means. The truth is that so far Britain has fought it almost with nothing but conventional means.

How I Would Deal With the Taliban…
Before we had even put a soldiers foot on Afghani ground there was something called the Northern Alliance which had been fighting the Taliban for about 30 years.
I would have just given them the weapons they needed; and (to ensure a favourable victory) I would give money to the leaders within their ranks I most supported. Had ether the quantities (or quality) of equipment been right the Taliban wouldn’t have stood a chance. They were already struggling to deal with this “rag tag” army; and that’s why in 2001 they failed to control whole chunks of Afghanistan.
The Northern alliances ranks were well filled with men who did not like living under the Taliban’s “Holy Dictatorship” and so would always have been filled as long as their existed a large authoritarian and Muslim Fundamentalist dictatorship dominating peoples lives and territories.
Strategically: I would (at least initially) hold back on the advanced quality of weapons we posses; so that if (or when) someone within the Northern alliance turns against us; and if their armies are big; then we would have an advantage (besides cash) to give to our remaining allies. In fact you could have a whole set of steps of (in waiting) technology issues.

I'm not making it up when I tell you that this was the approach I favoured when I heard about Afghanistan, its Taliban and the Northern Alliance (even before this Afghan war had started).

I reckon that even in (a hypothetical) event of absolutely no American support whatsoever Britain could not only have conquered the whole of Afghanistan, and installed a series of favourable regional governments, that (even without American support) we could have done it at about the same financial cost; and possibly smaller (definitely in terms of troop lives used up).

But we have had America’s support (lots of it); but neither country has dedicated themselves to the strategy I’ve put forward. (Cynically) this might have been better for defence budgets and arms sales; but it hasn’t been good for much else.
And as for our Afghan policy it looks as though the most we can hope for is standing off medium time scale defeat (but only as long as we keep pouring our lives and sacrifices in their).
In the end I believe that (if we are to have anything we could come anywhere near calling victory) then it will be a series of local militias all pro us (exactly what we would now have got, if we had done what I wanted-supported in the first place).

How I Would Have Iraq…

Well firstly I wouldn’t have. I believe that Saddam is as good as any leader we could hope to have for this country. And when the Shiites-Iraqi people elect the next Iraqi government I stand to be wholly vindicated; not to mention (according to just about every indicator conceivable).

1. We only needed a troop build up to convince Saddam that we were serious about what we wanted (Saddam was not particularly suicidal, nor too believing in God; therefore he would have co-operated). So we could have had…

a. A return “of the understanding” against supporting ether suicide bombers or Palestinians.
b. A return “of the understanding” against spreading Ba’thism outside of Iraq (though I personally think it’s spread would still be an extremely good thing (not least in comparison to the spread of anti Israeli, (and somewhat irrational) Muslim Fundamentalist Islam.
c. A share of Iraq’s oil wealth. Ether without it, the rest would produce a price reducing pressure on the global market. Plus an end to the terrible U.N sanctions; (yet still easily maintaining the international consensus against selling Iraq weapons (not least because of his past record; not least because the need to deny him ever doing what he did to Kuwait again).
d. A Iraq which in the year 2007 would be almost identical to the one pre 1991. I.e. an economically prosperous, social stable, religiously secular country. No doubt with the same free education and healthcare system it had pre-1991 (which even according to the U.N was one of the best anywhere in the Middle East).

This is the exact course of action my mother was campaigning for from the beginning, and wrote frequently to the government about (so many letters that there is literally a folder bursting full with photocopies of these letters).
At the time I 100% disagreed with her, because I believed the propaganda about Iraq being a threat, about Saddam being an almost clinically evil madman, and because I had next to zero knowledge about what Iraq was pre-1991, or indeed what the Ba’th party political ideology was about. (I.e. I supported the war but changed almost instantly, after the first time I met an Iraqi; and had spoken at great length with him).

2. Say (for some reason) there had been no way of avoiding this war; then…
A. I would have put soldiers in front of the doors of every government ministry (not just the Iraqi Oil Ministry which infamously was the only ministry the Americans bothered to demand soldiers protect from the flames of looters).
Anyway after day 1 or 2 of occupation there is no reason why Iraqi troops could not have been used to protect these buildings (hence preventing anyone taking pop shots of our troops protecting these places) (and also preventing literally hundreds of millions of pounds-dollars worth of extremely difficult to repair damage)
B. I would have left all the Ba’th party administrators in place; accept those Iraqi administrator leaders I needed-wanted to trial for “crimes against humanity” for political ends (in the same way Saddam had to be trialled for political ends).
C. I would not ban former members of the Ba’th party from working-government. Even now this cruel law persists. Iraq was a dictatorship for Christ’s sake, if this had happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union is it any wonder nearly just about everything conceivable would surely have fallen into a state of disrepair? Anybody who was anybody was a member of the Ba’th party (even irrespective of their political beliefs)-it’s just something you do under a dictatorship, and in no way should be punished-denied work for this, alone when its no longer in government.
D. Propaganda-Public Information: Having invaded Iraq I would conduct a series of public opinion polls to find out what normal Iraqis think about “civilised life”. I would look forward to asking (especially the Shiites who make up 60% of the Iraqi population) how they feel about e.g. Sharia Law (which prescribes stoning women to death for adultery, cutting off hands for theft ect).
Basically I would spend time working out the right questions to demonstrate that general Iraqi society make Iraq not fit for democracy, to show it never was, and therefore (at least as far as the next few decades are concerned never will be).
I would use this to justify an apparent “u-turn” against being 100% pro-democratic system. Local democracy does have a place in Iraq; it’s just when it becomes national; or even international we have a problem (well from a Western point of view anyway).

As it is we are still into “there isn’t a place in the world where democracy is a bad idea”. This is Moron of Washington and Pioneer of Propaganda thinking; however even these two must be at least sympatric to my Ba’thist view that it wouldn’t be that bad a idea if Palestine was a dictatorship (not least because they elected terrorists to government) (even if they are well meaning terrorists!).

Currently our leaders seem to be completely unable-unwilling to support any other type of warfare than the one that can be expected against super-powers and unified nation states. Maybe they are maybe they are unable, maybe they are unoriginal. But ether way their current policy is not working; in fact all factors taken into consideration it may even be counter productive.
If so logic would dictate that if our leaders wish to hang onto their current political ideology they would be better abandoning putting it into policy; and retreating into isolationism, because at least less harm than good would be done. However I continue to propose something which is quite different, but at the same time does not necessitate the deployment or troops merely weapons, money, and government agents. If “only” in this way it is politically superior because it avoids the conveyer belt of troop life lost, and therefore also coming democratic backlash.
And (as the Arabs say) “God willing” hopefully it was also avoid the continues conveyer belt of failure; which so far conventional super power warfare, unconventional, ideology, driven fighting has produced.

What do you make ATS? Could my vision work, and would my approach bare more fruit?
Is it in fact “worth a shot”?

[edit on 090705 by Liberal1984]

posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 10:46 AM
Regarding your strategy for Afghanistan, that's more or less what happened in 2001. The majority of forces were provided by the Northern Alliance who were given support (arms, equipment, provisions and so on... though I think by this time the US had learnt its lesson from supporting the anti-Soviet groups which had ushered in the Taliban after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989) from the West and a number of nations (including the US and UK) sent special forces in to carry out operations to deplete the effectiveness of the Taliban's forces. The air support and cruise missile strikes was also provided by these nations. But support from the US and its allies was the decisive factor - the Northern Alliance didn't have the capacity to launch air attacks and so forth, and the Taliban had no experience of fighting a well-equipped, well-trained modern military head on. They were used to prolonged guerilla warfare (as we are seeing now) and sporadic fighting, not a big push with a superior enemy.

The casualties and difficulties came in after the invasion itself. I'm not sure whether the Afghan government would have been able to support itself if our forces hadn't gone in to help prop it up and help stave off the Taliban's counter-attacks. And that's the primary reason why so many NATO troops are currently deployed there. So it's likely they'd have had to go in eventually anyway, otherwise we'd go back to a situation similar to pre-2001 except the roles are reversed... the Taliban control a small portion of the country (probably in the south, though, as opposed to the north where the Northern Alliance was based) and the Northern Alliance controls the rest but they'd be constantly at war.

posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 02:08 AM
Ste2652 They did not stick to the strategy I’ve long put forward because if they had we would not have an army on the ground.
It is the army that is making up almost all the casualties, it’s the army that reminds Afghan’s that we are foreigners invading their country, because our vehicles cross their territory. It is the army which (above all) is therefore most counter productive as it feeds terrorist ideology faster than we can kill those who follow it.
That said: I was never against giving the Northern alliance a few missiles from the sky to destroy heavily fortified enemy positions. But the idea of troops on the grounds is in fact the Soviet mistake after many years it led to their withdraw-defeat. Trouble for the poor Soviets is that what they wanted was so horrible nobody would be prepared to fight for them (so unlike us) maybe they never really had much choice.

I think providing air strikes (after a certain deadline) would (if they happened often) would also be politically counter productive; but nothing like as much as the daily presence tanks-land rovers of foreigners crossing another populations private lands.

In fact the only reason why providing the Afghans military equipment turned out to be a mistake (with hindsight) is because 13 years later we ended up being “stupid enough” to send our boys to die on their ground.

I do not deny that coalition has used some of my strategy but only bits of it, and is it a coincidence that where they have deviated is also exactly where we are now struggling to starve of defeat?

The other thing that is stupid is this political idea of an Afghan national government. We don’t like it; (but in the end) we are going to have an Afghanistan ruled by local governments of different provinces. None of them outside Kabul maybe what we Westerners call democratic, but they will be the kind of tribal power culture the Afghan people have been used to for centuries. And even within Kabul there are questions about just how far the Afghan government governs.

Had the coalition stuck to what I propose not only would the war be a fraction of the cost (especially in lives spent) but this folly of pushing western democracy at the of a barrel of gun would not be failing, because it would never have been on the agenda in the first place.
There would be fighting in Afghanistan but it would be other people fighting amongst themselves; and not us and hating us. In fact we would almost be quite popular because we would be instrumental to the victory or defeat of almost any local leader. Things might actually be more stable, the position we would have accomplished would be as long lasting as willingness to give out some ammunition, and cash.

And best of all the public would not be asking “what we have accomplished at what cost to ourselves?”
The accomplishment would be obvious: Defeat of Taliban, and the permanent favouring of more secular local regimes (hence its probably still a victory for human rights-religious choice as well as a blow against those who hate us).
It's much the same as what we claim to have achieved, but less body bags, less concerns about political stability (particularly at home).

posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 04:05 AM
But without ground troops it could have backfired spectacularly... the Northern Alliance takes over, and then becomes the new Taliban. We're back where we started.

Also, you can't go handing out missiles to people... you'd need to give them the means and the training to fire them (and cruise missiles in the Afghan campaign were launched from submarines and ships, which the Northern Alliance had no access to... they certainly didn't have the ability to construct and maintain ground-based missile launchers either).

The cruise missile strikes and air campaign throughout the offensive were decisive in the downfall of the Taliban. I think the conflict would have gone on a great deal longer and there would have been many more casualties had there been no air support or special forces mission. And then how would that make us look? We want to defeat the Taliban but are unwilling to support the Northern Alliance. Instead, we're prepared to sit back and watch thousands of them die for our own convenience. That'd feed terrorism just as much, if not more... pitting Muslims against other Muslims.

As for the ground war, the General in charge of the NATO troops, David Richards, has said that it is a winnable battle.

Instead, the Nato forces "should and can win in Afghanistan".

He does say that it's going to be difficult and it needs more input, and I agree. But I also agree with him when he says we can win this fight - the prospect looks much better than Iraq. I imagine a strategy similar to yours had been considered, and - as you say - big chunks of it were used. But for a number of reasons it was decided that it would be best if NATO ground troops were deployed.

posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 07:54 AM

posted by Jimmy1880

A telephone conversation between Hitler and Churchill
Hitler: "You do realise we have got the Italians on our side?"
Churchill: "It's ok we had them last time" [Edited by Don W]

I recall having read that Italy was first aligned with Germanyand Austria-Hungary at the beginning of WW1. Not too long into the war, 1915 I believe, the Italians changed sides, joining the Western Allies. I think this was related to a long standing dispute over Italy’s northeastern border shared with Austria. Somewhat later, the Ottoman Turks took Italy’s place with the Central Powers. Which brings us to Iraq.

I am old enough to recall (vaguely) the newsreels shown in our movie theaters, of the great and historic surrender of the Afrika Korps, in Tunisia,I believe. Hitler had recalled Rommel to Germany, and Bernard Law Montgomery was exuberant. The Suez as well as the Persian Gulf oil stocks had been rescued from the Axis Powers. Anti-Bolshevik and non-Russian loving commentators rate this decisive German defeat as the turning point of War 2, rather than Stalingrad as most historians suggest and Russians urge.

I write this in defense of the Italians soldiers who were doomed from the start by Mussolini’s interference in the Italian war machine. Fascism means to me the control of the state by private corporate interests. Yes, it means other unwelcome aspects, too, but that is the criteria I look for when throwing about the label “fascist.”

Italy was then a kingdom, with a large, petulant and spoiled nobility. Most of the Italian General Staff held their positions by birth and not by talent. Italian weapons of war were designed and built in a non-competitive environment, which meant mediocrity was the rule of the day. Italian equipment looked good on parade in Rome or Naples but not so good in Egypt or Lybia. Soldiers cannot fight better than their generals can lead them.

Finally, although the Italian contingent in the Afrika Korps was much larger in numbers than the Germans, it looked as if the Italian units were used carelessly by German field commanders. Italians suffered the same fate on the Eastern Front. I have high regard for the Italian soldier, but no regard for the Italian High Command.

[edit on 1/23/2007 by donwhite]

posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 07:57 AM
I think at anytime it's only prudent that the UK needs to maintain a strong and efficient military presence but at times as uncertain and dangerous as these it's even more urgent.

We can get caught up in the why's and wherefores of how the current world situation came about but the the fact that it exists means it's folly not to take heed and keep the UK as strong as it can be.

posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 02:27 PM

Also, you can't go handing out missiles to people...

Ste2652 I'm not suggesting we give the Northern Alliance (or today the tribes of them) long range missiles. I'm suggesting that we give radios (like those people had in Vietnam) so that they can call in our support, and so that we can drop the 500 pound bombs from the safety of 20,00 feet (for them). Or so that we can indeed order the firing of long range missiles to defined targets.
This prevents the risk that these “special weapons” can fall into the wrong hands, and leaves us fully in control in case a tribal alliance may break down, or become corrupted.

the Northern Alliance takes over, and then becomes the new Taliban.

As for the fear that the Northern Alliance (or today just the tribes of them) could take over and become the new Taliban I’ve outlined the solution to that…
A tribe, or groups of tribes, may indeed try to start imposing the anti western, authoritarian religiously fanatic, doctrine of the Taliban. But as long as we have agents on the ground, or communicating with native people working for us on the ground, we can get a pretty good idea what is going week to week, month to month.
If someone is backstabbing us it is only question of a few gold bars, U.S dollars, and light weapons; as well as adequate knowledge of local tribal politics (obtained through our spy-networks) to select the right tribes to eliminate whoever is causing us the problems.

The point is that we can have other people doing everything our troops do; but at a much, much lower cost in terms of both lives and finance. True they may not be as well trained as our boys but that in a way is a good thing; because it means in an exceptional emergency we have more of an advantage to eliminate them, as well as ensuring the training does not leak out to our enemies in Afghanistan or indeed worldwide.
Besides one thing any knowledge of the Afghan tribal warrior class will tell you, is that what they lack in training, they make up in both numbers and willingness to die. (So be it for their tribal structures).

I stick to my point that we are fools to be using troops in places like Afghanistan; that not only is it the same mistake of the Soviet Union, but that it is also not politically sustainable at home (in the long or medium term).

I did say I was against giving tribal people long range missiles, and I am. But things similar to RPG’s aren’t so bad, because although there is still a risk of them moving to abroad; you have to remember that places like Afghanistan are full of them; and that no matter what you say about it, it is (pragmatically) too late to undo this legacy of the past. That said I'm not supportive of tempting fate by flooding Afghanistan with them; but I am certainly in favour of policies like exchanging the spent launchers for new ones (as a spent one is of course proof of a used one), as well as rationed input into the numbers in circulation.

The point is that any agent who can supply both weapons and money will be nothing but an asset to those acting as the pawns of our foreign policy, and foreign office.
As for those who fight both as these, sure our agents are their enemies. The problem is our western agents will (99% of the time) be too far away from them to be targeted. And that when danger is close, it is only fellow Afghanis (working for us) they can have any chance of killing (if they can identify them).
Therefore apart from a few massively unfortunate individuals (wrong place, wrong time, sort of thing) the number of Western lives lost in Afghanistan will be limited to several western year (and that’s probably at absolute most).
And the cost would so cheap. Providing we do not abandon Afghanistan like we did last time (i.e. withdraw our agents, cut funding for our knowledge of Afghanistan local politics, as well as for it’s manipulation in favour of pro-western, western-neutral outcomes) we cannot fail.
Unlike now there will be a lot less mums and dads in the U.K and United States wondering what became of their brave sons and daughters.

The policy I'm putting forward is politically sustainable, cheap, and will put us in as powerful (if not more powerful) position to manipulate-control Afghan on a very local level, with its door wide open to both our mercy and wrath.

donwhite Seriously that was a very good history lesson, but what was your point in relation to Afghanistan-Iraq, our future?
ubermunche I agree about having a strong and efficient military; it’s just that in order for it to be efficient, and not open to defeat abroad and politically at home (something our militarily may currently be defeated by both of these) then we need to stop behaving like a superpower confronting another super power. Instead we need to behave like a super power confronting a: splintered, backward, un centrally organised, and highly undermine able, enemy; which is exactly what we are fighting.
We are not using the security services for abroad (MI6) nearly enough to tackle what is essentially a security problem. We make the features of our enemy I’ve just listed seem like advantages, because they are advantages as long as we aren’t exploiting them using the right tools.
Blair and Bush have behaved like people confronting another superpower, and though (maybe) well intentioned, it has led us to the brink of defeat; is already showing itself to be overall counter productive as far as kicking up the sands. There is no way the gold, silver, bullets and blood spent would be counter productive if we were using a more traditionalist effective-approach.
Mine is one to address the political questions at home, and financial, productivity questions occurring from abroad.


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