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British Military Current Events

FJAG

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New article in UK Land Power.


Some interesting comments on the British Army:

The Army has been fighting a battle to renew itself, but it has constantly changed its mind about where its priorities lie. It is now clear that it must move away from counter-insurgency roles towards countering renewed peer adversary threats. However, it has so far failed to develop a compelling future plan. The Army’s Integrated Review strategy is a train wreck. It was told that its previous aspirations, to field two Strike Brigades and two Armoured infantry Brigades were unaffordable. Consequently, the Warrior IFV capability sustainment programme was cancelled and the fleet will be retired by 2025. The Challenger 2 MBT fleet will be upgraded, but only 148 tanks will be modernised out of 227. To a certain extent, the Boxer MIV programme will offset the loss of Warrior, but if Army wishes to conduct high intensity operations against peer adversaries in northern Europe in winter it will need a fleet of medium tracked platforms including an IFV.

To make matters worse, the Army’s image has been further eroded by the mismanagement of its modernisation programmes, several of which are late or have failed to deliver. The Government’s Independent Projects Authority reported in April 2021 that the new Ajax reconnaissance vehicle is undeliverable due to noise and vibration problems. It has since emerged that 310 soldiers suffered health issues during trials. If Ajax is genuinely undeliverable and needs to be cancelled, an alternative will need to be found.

If the Army had to fight tonight, it is unlikely that it could deploy a single brigade let alone two to counter peer threats. The only deployable vehicles the Army has at the moment are its “Dogs of War,’ the protected mobility fleet. None of these are ideal for high intensity warfare against peer adversaries. The belief that heavy armour is redundant needs to be challenged. Potential adversaries are investing substantial resources to build their MBT and IFV fleets. Britain cannot be an effective coalition partner to our NATO allies without rebuilding in this area. Though heavy tracked vehicles are difficult to deploy and vulnerable to UAVs and loitering munitions, nothing else can provide the mix of firepower, protection and mobility to seize and hold contested territory.

The Army’s artillery systems also need a fundamental recapitalisation to ensure it can bring a credible weight of fire to any future conflict. It also needs a new communications and information system (CIS). However, a further programme to replace its existing Bowman CIS, LEtacCIS / Morpheus, is also in trouble with the contractor needing more time and money to deliver what has already been agreed and paid for.

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The Army’s emerging post-Integrated Review structure lacks mass across all areas with too many different unit types. It appears to be a structure driven more by the budget, than actual UK defence priorities. There is a lack of strategic focus. Instead of dedicated light, medium and heavy brigades, the force risks being configured around the light capabilities we have, not the heavier, more resilient capabilities we need.
The Army’s contribution to the Defence Command Paper was so poor that a further initiative to reconfigure it was undertaken, Project Embankment
. The aim was to make sense of its high level strategy, but months later, the revised Army 2030 plan still hasn’t been published. Instead of focusing on rebuilding a war fighting capability to counter peer adversaries, the Army intends to generate a larger number of special forces units, including a new Ranger Regiment. It is almost as if it has abandoned high end war fighting because it is incapable of managing programmes that would deliver the relevant capabilities.

Sounds horribly familiar.

KevinB - note the Theatre Sustainment Brigade and Operational Sustainment Brigade. 😉

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daftandbarmy

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New article in UK Land Power.

From last March:


Defense panel rips into British Army over ‘deplorable’ state of armored vehicles​


“Were the British Army to have to fight a peer adversary — a euphemism for Russia — in Eastern Europe in the next few years, whilst our soldiers undoubtedly remain amongst the finest in the world, they would, disgracefully, be forced to go into battle in a combination of obsolescent or even obsolete armoured vehicles, most of them at least 30 years old or more, with poor mechanical reliability, very heavily outgunned by more modern missile and artillery systems and chronically lacking in adequate air defense,” the committee said.

“We are astonished that between 1997 and late 2020 (with the exception of a small number of armoured engineering and Viking protected mobility vehicles) the Department had not delivered a single new armoured vehicle from the core procurement program into operational service with the Army.”

 

CBH99

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From last March:


Defense panel rips into British Army over ‘deplorable’ state of armored vehicles​


“Were the British Army to have to fight a peer adversary — a euphemism for Russia — in Eastern Europe in the next few years, whilst our soldiers undoubtedly remain amongst the finest in the world, they would, disgracefully, be forced to go into battle in a combination of obsolescent or even obsolete armoured vehicles, most of them at least 30 years old or more, with poor mechanical reliability, very heavily outgunned by more modern missile and artillery systems and chronically lacking in adequate air defense,” the committee said.

“We are astonished that between 1997 and late 2020 (with the exception of a small number of armoured engineering and Viking protected mobility vehicles) the Department had not delivered a single new armoured vehicle from the core procurement program into operational service with the Army.”

It seems to me that the British army wants to replace the warrior with the warrior AFV.

They run various competitions only to have them go nowhere. Or when they finally do select a vehicle, it’s not a well proven machine with a solid track record.

Not bringing into service a single new vehicle from the plan over 20+ years is bad. But the needs of the British army are not overly unique. There are plenty of good options on the market with proven track records.

Pick one. Drop capabilities that aren’t truly needed (does it HAVE to be amphibious?).

Or just be honest and say you want a newer, modern version of what you already have. The warrior is a beast, and a modernized version could very well be a great choice.

Put ‘Challenger 3’ on hold, and focus on the vehicles that actually get deployed on a regular basis first.


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FJAG

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The Army needs 'laddish culture' because its soldiers need to be 'good at winning on battlefields', says armed forces head General Sir Nick Carter​

  • General came under fire after giving evidence to Commons Defence Committee
  • He said he has never personally referred to himself as a he/him and that it was difficult to be a public figure in the world of modern media
  • It comes after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace summoned senior commanders for a discussion on the treatment of women in the service
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medicineman

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Bayonet training, of course ;)

Best part was the dude that could barely speak English...that could have been added to the Army scene in The Meaning of Life.

Any truth to the rumour I've heard about the RM playing "Human Space Invaders" with their FNG's? Or the USMC...see "Meanwhile in the Barracks" on VET TV.

 
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FJAG

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The moment SAS soldiers raided 'suspected terrorist's home' in wake of Liverpool bombing after being called in because they are trained to make split-second decisions to shoot suicide bombers​

  • Elite SAS troops helped lead Liverpool anti-terror raid after Poppy Day attack
  • Pictures show heavily-armed operatives from regiment's counter-terror unit
  • Squad's searches focused on drains and toilet pipes to find evidence of IED parts
  • Military insiders say elite team were called upon because of 'specialised training'


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daftandbarmy

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Whoa... only 50? Not trying hard enough ;)

Parents call for British army college to be shut down after abuse claims​

Letter challenges Ofsted on why it recently rated Army Foundation College in Harrogate as ‘outstanding’

The parents of three teenagers who complained of mistreatment at the army’s foundation college have called for it to be shut down, listing a catalogue of alleged abuse and claiming their children were prevented from leaving the military.

They include the mother of a teen who died last year while serving in the army, whose alleged abuse is to be examined as part of an inquiry into his death.

The testimonies of the parents, which have been seen by the Guardian, are to be raised by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) in a letter challenging Ofsted on why last month it rated the foundation college as “outstanding”.

Staff at the Army Foundation College (AFC) were accused in 50 cases of assaulting or mistreating teenage recruits between 2014 and 2017, the Guardian reported in 2018. Subsequent papers released under the Freedom of Information Act and in parliament have revealed that recruits and their parents made 60 complaints of violent behaviour by staff at AFC between 2014 and 2020.

Last Thursday an instructor at the college was demoted at a court martial after being convicted of punching two teenage soldiers. Cpl Kimberley Hey was acquitted of six other charges of battery relating to three other soldiers.

The parents have spoken out about their children’s involvement with the college as part of wider calls to end recruitment of under-18s by the British army – one of the few militaries in the developed world to allow it – and as peers seek to amend a bill making its way through parliament to raise the recruitment age to 18.

Alison Blackwell, who is waiting for an MoD inquiry into her son Nathan Worner’s death to report back next year, said he went from being a confident and resilient person to being withdrawn and desperate to leave the army.

He alleged having been hit, slapped, pushed, kicked and verbally abused by staff during the first phase of his training at the AFC, and at 17 handed in a letter saying he wanted to leave. She said it was ripped up in his face.

“He said he didn’t expect to be faced with the disgusting way they were mistreated at Harrogate. He described the staff as animals that got off on hurting and humiliating people and that Harrogate should be shut down,” she said of her son, who was found dead at his army barracks in May last year.

Charlotte Poad, the mother of a young soldier who has said three friends who trained with him at the college took their own lives, said her son returned from Harrogate a “completely different person” and was discharged from the army on mental health grounds just over a year ago after a long struggle.

She said her son struggled to talk about what happened at the AFC, but she and her husband believed that staff bullied and abused young recruits and encouraged fighting among them. Recruits were also made to spend many hours alone on guard duty, which affected their mental health, she said.

“I strongly believe that the Army Foundation College does not look after children’s mental health or wellbeing. It is an outdated institution where bullies thrive and adults seek pleasure in seeing children broken,” Poad said.

Another parent, Kevin, who does not want to identified by his full name, said his son came home “broken and exhausted” shortly after enlisting at 16. He says what followed was a struggle to get him out.

“In our conversations, we had to constantly remind officers that he was only 16 and in our care, even though he had sworn an oath to the British army. [A] major conceded in the end, but then another officer indicated that our son would be charged with going awol, and said that he would never get a job or go to another college or university. Again, we were incensed – more phone calls.”

Charlotte Cooper, the campaigns coordinator at CRIN, said: “AFC has a long record of formal complaints of violent abuse by its staff against the young people in its care, including 10 such allegations since 2017, and Ofsted inspectors don’t think it worth mentioning. I think teenagers and their parents would be shocked to know that an institution rated ‘outstanding’ had AFC’s record of violence against children by instructors.”

An army spokesperson said: “We have a very strong duty of care and safeguarding mechanisms at AFC Harrogate to ensure junior soldiers have the right support structure and welfare provision, including confidential support lines. AFC Harrogate, alongside all phase 1 and phase 2 training organisations, are subject to Ofsted inspection on a routine basis.”

The college was awarded an overall grade of “outstanding” after an inspection in May as part of the 2020/21 inspection cycle into welfare and duty of care in armed forces initial training.

An Ofsted spokesperson said it inspected the welfare of recruits and trainees against the criteria set out in an inspection handbook for armed forces training establishments.

“The inspection team were aware of the concerns raised by CRIN. However, we do not investigate individual complaints, but we will always take onboard any received as part of our inspection,” they said.

“Our inspectors met with recruits at different stages of training to discuss their experiences of care, welfare and training. And, at the time, all recruits were highly positive about their training, as well as the treatment and support they received from staff.”


 

FJAG

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... accused in 50 cases of assaulting or mistreating teenage recruits between 2014 and 2017 ...
You'd think that after 4 years there would be statistics on how many of those accusations were substantiated ... or is the number too small for sensationalist reporting?

It's a wonder this made it into the article: “Our inspectors met with recruits at different stages of training to discuss their experiences of care, welfare and training. And, at the time, all recruits were highly positive about their training, as well as the treatment and support they received from staff.”

:unsure:
 

daftandbarmy

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You'd think that after 4 years there would be statistics on how many of those accusations were substantiated ... or is the number too small for sensationalist reporting?

It's a wonder this made it into the article: “Our inspectors met with recruits at different stages of training to discuss their experiences of care, welfare and training. And, at the time, all recruits were highly positive about their training, as well as the treatment and support they received from staff.”

:unsure:

It seems like alot of complaints.

This is a program for Junior Soldiers... school leavers aged 16 years old. AFC Harrogate

I trained platoons of Junior Soldiers at Depot PARA for awhile. It's a challenging program, but somewhat different from the adult soldier training they enter later at the age of 17 years.

There were alot of checks and balances to make sure that soldiers, who were essentially very young kids, were looked after properly. Having said that, some kids would go home and tell their parents and friends about the training we put them through, which would horrify the occasional mom and dad who would 'go spare' as they say.
 

FJAG

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It seems like alot of complaints.

This is a program for Junior Soldiers... school leavers aged 16 years old. AFC Harrogate

I trained platoons of Junior Soldiers at Depot PARA for awhile. It's a challenging program, but somewhat different from the adult soldier training they enter later at the age of 17 years.

There were alot of checks and balances to make sure that soldiers, who were essentially very young kids, were looked after properly. Having said that, some kids would go home and tell their parents and friends about the training we put them through, which would horrify the occasional mom and dad who would 'go spare' as they say.
One year, 3 RCHA was kept behind in Wainwright for six weeks after a brigade concentration to run a battalion's worth of young kids through the Summer Student Employment Program which we ran like a mini recruit course but without the small arms training. It was actually quite enjoyable for the majority of the regiment as well as the kids.

One key point was that the kids could quit and go home rather easily (I think it might have had an effect on whatever remuneration they received but that wasn't our bailiwick). As it was few did. I assume that there were many tall tales floating around about their instructors and the training once they got home. One thing I recall as standing out in my mind was that the kids were all issued a cheap sleeping bag which had cost the program $4.00 each at the time. At the end of the program they were allowed to them home which thrilled them. Sometimes it's the smallest things that make the biggest impact.

Over the next few years I ran into several young gunners in reserve units who had been on that program and transitioned to the Forces.

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daftandbarmy

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One year, 3 RCHA was kept behind in Wainwright for six weeks after a brigade concentration to run a battalion's worth of young kids through the Summer Student Employment Program which we ran like a mini recruit course but without the small arms training. It was actually quite enjoyable for the majority of the regiment as well as the kids.

One key point was that the kids could quit and go home rather easily (I think it might have had an effect on whatever remuneration they received but that wasn't our bailiwick). As it was few did. I assume that there were many tall tales floating around about their instructors and the training once they got home. One thing I recall as standing out in my mind was that the kids were all issued a cheap sleeping bag which had cost the program $4.00 each at the time. At the end of the program they were allowed to them home which thrilled them. Sometimes it's the smallest things that make the biggest impact.

Over the next few years I ran into several young gunners in reserve units who had been on that program and transitioned to the Forces.

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I thought the program, in general, was excellent and a god mix of outdoor education (think Outward Bound), GCSEs as alot of the kids had left school at the equivalent of our Grade 10, regular recruit type training with our own emphasis on fitness and navigation, and a really well developed sports program.

Some of those kids were smart as a whip. They were impressive when they arrived in battalion at a later date. Quite a few of our Junior Soldiers went on the become outstanding SNCOs in the Regiment.

I often wonder if you could start a school like that now, maybe without the live firing & drill of course, that would help kids who don't take well to a traditional school system.
 

daftandbarmy

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Good move... fewer fundamentalists in Oman ;)


British army to abandon Alberta base for Oman location closer to global hotspots

Defence sources said the shift to the Gulf would enable British forces to position hardware closer to allies such as Ukraine and Bahrain, and to potential adversaries such as Iran

The British Army Training Unit Suffield (Batus) in Alberta has been in operation since 1972, training thousands of soldiers in live firing exercises.

More than 1,000 vehicles, including tanks and helicopters, are used by regiments for weeks at a time at the 1,600-square-mile base.

However, Ben Wallace, the U.K. defence secretary, is expected to announce this week that plans to modernize the army will include developing a training area in Oman. The decision to use the Omani desert near Duqm airbase and port as the main training ground for tanks and other armoured vehicles will mean that Batus, home to more than 400 permanent British staff, and the smaller Wainwright training area nearby, will close.

Defence sources said the shift to the Gulf would enable British forces to position hardware closer to allies such as Ukraine and Bahrain, and to potential adversaries such as Iran.

“If you only have 148 tanks and 22 of them are stuck in Canada, that’s 22 tanks that are not at readiness and not available to do anything operational,” a defence source told The Daily Telegraph.

“If they are training in Poland or Duqm the logic is that they are having a more operational and deterrent effect.”

British forces are stationed in Poland as part of NATO’s mission to deter Russia, and training with tanks already takes place there. The announcement of the Oman move comes as tensions with the Kremlin rise amid the migrant crisis on the Polish border with Belarus.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Batus would not close before 2023, as big tank exercises are planned over the next two years. Small numbers of military personnel will still be located in Canada, as defence attaches, liaison officers and on exchange with Canadian units.

The announcement will form part of a broader plan outlining how the army will adapt to take advantage of digital technology.

Soldiers have been told to expect an announcement imminently about new structures and unit roles. It will include an update on the Ranger Regiment detailing which units will form the new force and the selection and training courses required to join.

The Rangers were announced in March and will be formed from four existing battalions before wider recruitment takes place. Ben Barry, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the Rangers would be seen as a special operations brigade and modelled on the U.S. Green Berets.

They will be supported by a security force assistance brigade, another new formation to be made up of existing units and designed to train and advise but not to put itself in harm’s way to the same degree.

However, Barry said there was a risk in shrinking the army and making it more specialized at the same time.

“If this special operations brigade becomes another elite organization requiring people to compete to be selected into it like airborne forces and the army component of 3 Commando Brigade, this becomes yet another elite force which, by definition, will compete against the other elite forces for highly motivated self-starting people in an army that’s getting smaller.”

The army plans to reorganize itself to enable it to fight a major war, after decades in which it became specialized in fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.


British army to abandon Alberta base for Oman location closer to global hotspots
 

daftandbarmy

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Raincoats on, raincoats off...

BATUS: Army's Canada training base to see 'change' but won't close, Wallace says​


Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has responded to reports that soldiers will leave the huge training area to move to the Middle East.


The British Army's training base in Canada will see "change" but will not be closing, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace dismissed reports that troops would be completely leaving British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta, Canada, the service's largest battleground in the world, to move to the Middle East.

British soldiers have been training at BATUS since 1972.

He said "BATUS is not being closed" but added: "Of course, we'll change what we do there because some of those forces we might use elsewhere but no we're not closing BATUS."
When pressed on whether there was a shift of focus towards the Middle East, Mr Wallace said: "We are being present where it matters, and the Middle East matters.
"We're also going to be forward and present in places like Kenya because Africa matters to our security and matters to our interests as well."
The former Army officer recently said he wants British personnel to "see the world", with training set to be increased around the globe.

Oman is tipped to be one of five of the UK's 'land hubs', which, Mr Wallace said "are about us increasing our training – Oman is one – Kenya another and there'll be others".
Mr Wallace reiterated that on Wednesday, saying: "There's no good sitting back in a British base - if you want influence, if you want to deter, if you want to provide resilience, you need to be out and around in parts of the world that matters.
"The Middle East is one of those parts of the world, Oman and Qatar, for example, would be one of those areas."
The Ministry of Defence earlier said: "Canada is one of the UK's oldest and closest allies.
"Contrary to reports today, we are not closing BATUS.
"It will continue to be a vital training base for the British Army."


 
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