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Army Caught Short

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posted on Jul, 22 2007 @ 07:12 AM
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UK troop reserves 'almost gone'


The head of the Army has warned that British troops are so stretched that the nation's military reserves are "almost non-existent".

In the memo, leaked to the Daily Telegraph, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt said the Army was undermanned because of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also said vital equipment was being used "at the edge of sustainability".


With word there are only 500 soldiers ready for rapid deployment and vital equipment "at the edge of sustainability" are we over stretching our military to a dangerous point?

The cause of the situation is tied to both the size of current deployments in Iraq (5000 by the end of 2007)and Afghanistan (increasing to 7,700 over 2007) and the shortage of soldiers (2,000 short of needed levels) which is tied in with those leaving the army due to poor risk to pay ratio and how the soldiers feel they are being treated. Though of course others leave for different reasons.

How can this situation be averted, is it a matter of wait it out and struggle on as we can for a while till the situation solves itself more or less or make some serious changes?

From a personal point of view I think there's no need to drastically increase the size of our military, however what needs doing is increasing the basic pay and living conditions of military personnel and their families, these people put their lives on the line and in order to retain those who currently serve and interest those who are considering enlisting we need to improve the incentive to do so.

Stage by stage withdrawal from Iraq with a time line of when Britain will leave and shifting our military focus in the region onto Afghanistan.

What we have to remember is that we are no longer the super power who maintains an Empire, though our military forces have some of the best men and women in the world we are only an Island of 60 million (still forged that Empire though
).

Maybe we need to envisage a future of even greater military cooperation with our allied nations, maybe its time to step up and expand the EU Rapid Reaction Force and consider it a replacement for NATO.

[edit on 22-7-2007 by UK Wizard]




posted on Jul, 22 2007 @ 12:06 PM
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I agree that sharing the burden is a worthwhile exercise .

Sadly there are plenty in the British political arena who day-dream that this means the others should have either no say or only a say that agrees with the UK view.....it's really a case of wanting it both ways; they say 'we' must refuse suggestions of further military cooperation because it might make 'us' subordinate to a collective view democratically taken amongst the member states but nevertheless we continue to expect others to come in and support 'us' and 'our' view(s).
Strange.

As for what the military have to say on there resources?

Well they're always flying kites pretending that everything is either on it's last legs or completely clapped out and there's never enough to go around.

In fact defence spending under this Gov has been boosted substantially since 2000 (and the benefits of this continue to be seen in brand new kit for our armed forces whether it be C17 transport aircraft, Nimrod MR4s, Eurofighters, Type 45 naval ship or the new aircraft carriers).

But there is never enough for those guys and despite all the noises they make the fact is that we are in 'peacetime' (despite some of the international problems) and there are bigger calls on resources.

One might argue about whether those arms bought are suited to the present need or current 'defense reality' but of course the military are not saying that themselves anyways
(no good little 'empire builder' wants to give away the biggest and best toys afterall).

But try telling this month's (and probably next month's) flooding victims that we should be snubbing and denying them much-needed help & aid because some military guy says we 'need' to spend an even bigger budget on defence.

Those guys love to play statistical games tho (they're no slouches at 'spin' themselves).
Not so long ago our some of the more er, predictable of our 'newspapers' were full of tales of how UK defence spending was now as low a % of GDP as it was in the early 1930's (and of course any parallel you draw about the 1930's - despite no suitable ' might be a new Hitler' character - is entirely intended and not in the least bit coincidental).

Of course they don't go into how our economy is so much more productive, vastly wealthier and so much bigger than it was in 1931 (which IIRC was the specific date some used) that it makes such a comparison ludicrous (not to mention deliberately manipulative & misleading).

In fact British troop deployments in several areas are greatly reduced from previous recent levels and I am really having trouble working out where the troop numbers went.

In Northern Ireland for instance the numbers will have soon reduced to just under 5,000 (down from a peak of around 21,000).
The Iraqi deployment is in the process of being 'drawn-down' and is also below the peak levels.
They certainly have not boosted numbers in Afghanistan by more than 2,000.

This BBC image is out of date but interesting never the less
(22,000 non-operational soldiers still in Germany? What for?) -




posted on Jul, 22 2007 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
In fact defence spending under this Gov has been boosted substantially since 2000 (and the benefits of this continue to be seen in brand new kit for our armed forces whether it be C17 transport aircraft, Nimrod MR4s, Eurofighters, Type 45 naval ship or the new aircraft carriers).


I suspect Generals just want more cash to play with, soldiers complaints used to stem from a lack of equipment but now it seems to be the quality of equipment they are provided with, on the BBC website they have a short series of blog like posts with experiences concerning shortages within the military.

Soldiers seem to be getting the equipment but are preferring to spend their own money and buy their own non-standard issue equipment due to quality issues, examples being army field cookers and boots.

Frontline tales of forces shortages: Tom, Serving in Afghanistan


Most people buy new boots, these cost upwards of £100. We buy our own because the eyelets break on the army issue boots and they are very hot to wear for long periods of time.

We also buy our own cookers. We do get issued mess tins and a cooker but to cook a "boil in the bag" takes 10 to 15 minutes. On our own cookers, it takes two minutes.


So while there has been an increase in funding for the Armed Forces I suspect a lot of it has gone towards projects you mentioned such as the Eurofighter and new naval vessels and not towards improving the standard of equipment for soldiers in the field, or even the quality of housing for soldiers and their families.


Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
In fact British troop deployments in several areas are greatly reduced from previous recent levels and I am really having trouble working out where the troop numbers went.


From what I understand soldiers returning from Iraq, Afghanistan etc need a certain amount of time on leave with their families, then time to train and prepare before another deployment, this turn around time means though there are troops they can't be deployed.

Of course this "turn around time" can't be reduced as soldiers deserve time to be with their families and need time to retrain, as you mentioned troops in Northern Island are being reduced, "the Armed Forces' mission in Northern Ireland will end on 31 July" along with the majority of troops being withdrawn from Bosnia-Herzegovina as well.

Whether these troops will be plugging a potential shortfall of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq I don't know, maybe we won't have a shortfall this time next year due to a troop reduction in Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
(22,000 non-operational soldiers still in Germany? What for?)


I believe its cheaper to maintain current bases in Germany than to create new bases in Britain or expand current British bases in order to accommodate a change of troop stationing. Then there's the local economy that is based off the British bases in Germany.

However, perhaps these bases could be adapted to base troops serving in the EU rapid reaction force.



posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 09:03 AM
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Is this more a question of the defense budget being spent on the high profile items such as Eurofighter, Type 45 and the like, rather than the essentials? (Frontline troops)

UK Wizard's external source "Tom, serving in Afghanistan" is to be believed, then we have every right to be up in arms.



posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 12:35 PM
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I think the Eurofighters, F-35s, Type 45s, Astutes, aircraft carriers etc. are all essential - we're right to be spending money on them.

But surely the Ministry of Defence can scrape together a few million (literally... camping stoves and boots aren't like new fighters or submarines at the cutting edge of technology... we're talking in the millions, not the billions) from somewhere and buy some decent boots (amongst other things) for our brave men and women out in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the globe.

The government should put forward some extra money for this type of thing (since the problems have been reported for years now), outlining it in the pre-budget report in the autumn and stipulating that this cash will go directly to the front line troops and it will be spent solely on them. No renovations of the MoD building or anything like that. If soldiers can go out and buy decent cookers and boots themselves then there's no reason why the government can't place a bulk order (and probably get them cheaper as a result). The Conservatives and Lib Dems should keep a close eye on this, too, to make sure it actually happens and push the government to make sure the money gets to where it's supposed to go.



posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by Ste2652
I think the Eurofighters, F-35s, Type 45s, Astutes, aircraft carriers etc. are all essential - we're right to be spending money on them.


- I agree.


Originally posted by Ste2652
But surely the Ministry of Defence can scrape together a few million (literally... camping stoves and boots aren't like new fighters or submarines at the cutting edge of technology... we're talking in the millions, not the billions) from somewhere and buy some decent boots (amongst other things) for our brave men and women out in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the globe.


- Yeah I probably wouldn't generally disagree there either
(but coming from a military family and knowing a fair few recent ex-service people anyone who tries telling you the forces are not riddled with some of the grossest mis-spending and waste - not to mention complete & outright fraud in the stores etc......ok not everywhere all the time but it really does go on, still - are having you on)
......but that is almost never the tone or approach of the kind of stories we see on this topic.

The top brass types never air a budget story in terms of
'we just need another few million £ for the more simple things & to make things tollerable and as they should be for the guys on the ground'.
Oh no.
They prefer a 'the sky's falling in' approach and use every tame journo they can find to air that kind of nonsense thereby politicising what ought not to have been a political story
(particularly, as I said, in view of the track recond on spending since 2000).


[edit on 23-7-2007 by sminkeypinkey]



posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 04:45 PM
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Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
They prefer a 'the sky's falling in' approach and use every tame journo they can find to air that kind of nonsense thereby politicising what ought not to have been a political story


I understand that, but the average soldier is complaining about the state of pieces of his/her equipment - the top brass tend to whine about big projects such as the one I mentioned in my previous post ("We need more Astutes/Type 45s/Eurofighters"). When the average soldier complains, I think it's less likely that the reason is to get increased defence spending and more likely that there are some genuine problems in the system that need solving.



posted on Jul, 23 2007 @ 11:30 PM
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Originally posted by Sminkeypinky

But try telling this month's (and probably next month's) flooding victims that we should be snubbing and denying them much-needed help & aid because some military guy says we 'need' to spend an even bigger budget on defence.


The fact is if you go spending lots of time in places like Iraq and Afghanistan it gets expensive. Like it or not we still behave like super power and the fault of that lies with poodles like Blair and Brown.
Too much of the extra spending has gone into major projects (the independent Trident replacement being the next) and not enough in the troops pockets.
Then again who cares? They join the army to fight immoral wars which they must know seriously lack public support at home.
Also: Soldiers do not protect us against the threat of land invasion, nuclear weapons to do that, and have (and will) for many years.

Soldiers are mere pawns of Westminster to be shown of on the international stage; and it’s a sign of skilful shrewdness if these politicians can get people to face extreme danger for they’re policies whilst they give them boots so bad, they prefer to buy them from they’re own wages.
This shrewdness ought to continue if we are too be the superpower that doesn’t spend much (because its policies lack a great deal of popular support). If the shrewdness didn’t continue, then sminkey’s public discontentment point would begin to come into play.
So if only we’d stuck to Afghanistan, things might be different!!

[edit on 090705 by Liberal1984]



posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 09:59 AM
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Re the 'draw-down' of troop numbers in Iraq -

According to PMQs today the current level of the British army's troop deployment in Iraq is 5,500, down from 44,000.

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posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 05:48 PM
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This problem will vanish in 12 months. It's out of date already. The only reason why "reserves are depleted" is because troops that have been drawn down out of Iraq and elsewhere have a turnaround time.

We have plenty of men and women available, but adhering to deployment rules means many will not be available for action for some months yet.

What these bods are saying is that, if Argentina for example, takes advantage AND if we adhere to deployment rules, we will have no one to send.

In the real world, we would deploy the buggers anyway, regardless of how little time they spent at home.



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