Monday, October 16, 2006

Drayson Says Troops Must Wait Until May 2007 for More Chinooks

Did anyone hear Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson on Radio 4 yesterday evening? He was apparently asked about the Prime Minister's promise to give 'our boys' all the equipment they need to complete their missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Drayson was specificall asked about the extra Chinook helicopters requested by the Army. His response was less than illuminating. He said "it is our hope that they will have them by the next rotation of troops." He was then asked when that would be. "Er, next May." So our troops have to wait another 8 months to get the equipment they need now. Well done, Prime Minister!


The Druid said...

Another meaningless "pledge" from the Celestial Navigator Tone. Blair is like a crow with half his arse shot off - full of jabber and shite.

What are our chaps to do then? Flag down Taiban Taxis?

Seriously I suspect that we could rent some Chinooks from the Yanks assuming we still have the pilots. To send an army to fight the toughest war since Korea without proper equipment is really disgraceful. I find it really amazing that no one is bothered about this. Even the BEF in 1940 was well equipped. What the hell is happening to this country?

Anonymous said...

To be fair, we'll probably need to order them, fit them out and test them first.
That's not to say the Government's justified though - they should never have made the 'whatever you need, whenever you need it' promise in the first place.
And that's not to say that our troops are making unreasonable demands - they've clearly been sent in under-resourced and over-stretched.
If it weren't for Suez- I mean Iraq we'd be winning in Afghanistan instead of vastly increasing the supply of heroin onto our streets.
Well done Tony. You cretin.

Anonymous said...

The Yanks have already refused to assist with 'additional lift capability'. Any chance of the Conservatives laying a vote of no confidence in this misbegotten Government ?, half of the Labour MP's would vote in favour if their actions matched there rhetoric. I think not. Until Cameron and Campbell start opposing this Government effectively, we are all whistling in the wind.

Jeff said...

If a private company sent it's employees to do a job of work with out the adequate protection or tools, and as a result they suffered injury or death then the directors of that company would face corporate manslaughter charges.

Tony Blair and the Labour government have sent the army into Iraq and Afghanistan under resourced and il equiped.

As a result servicemen have been killed.

Surley he should face the same charges as a company director, his position as PM should not absolve him from blame or consequence.

If this country came under direct attack or invasion, would the army still have to wait eight months for equipment?

Tony can drive around in his bullet proof limo whilst our troops have to make do with soft top landrovers, who is under more direct threat?

As usual with this government self preservation comes first.

Anonymous said...

What the troops really want is some large wide bodied airliners to bring them all home so that the loonies who live there can get on with their civil war.

Peter from Putney said...

Well done Iain for picking up on this story - it should provide Dave with a useful question for PMQs on Wednesday.

The Druid said...

I understand Guthrum that the Yanks have lent us choppers already but we pilot them. Might be wrong. I have seen with my own eyes two of our own Chinooks airborne in the UK a couple of weeks ago. One wonders why these birds aren't in theatre where they are needed.

For me this affair goes deeper than just a logistical cock up. It raises fundamental questions about our wider military strategy for which HMG is responsible. It seems that we have the wrong kit to fight fourth generation war with. We order kit not for operational reasons but for political. Look at the dreadfully expensive Euro-fighter Typhoon, the farce of the SA 80 rifle, the crappy Bowman radio system and so on. And no specialised medical support. Serious questions really do need to be asked.

Anonymous said...

For a start, troop rotations are 6 months, and one happend last week, so where did the extra 2 months creep in??

Secondly, unfortunatly we can't fly yank choppers as we take the base version, and send it to UK companies to have incompatible equipment fitted!

Thirdly, there are at least 8 chinooks that are sitting in hangars here in the UK due to an upgrade that went wrong & has grounded them!!!

Anonymous said...

Do we have the pilots? Do we have the groundcrews? Or will we have to recruit and train them too?

The Hitch said...

the russians had plenty of helicopter transport, and tanks and gunships , 100,000 men on the ground , wheredi it get them? nowhere , Afghans dont want to live in a liberal democracy eat muesli or read the guardian, they just want to get on with what they have ben doing for centuries , grow opium and shoot each other for sport.

Tim Worstall said...

What is so stupid about this delay is that there's an open market out there. You could have leased (with crews) helis in theatre in 6 weeks.
I even know the bloke who could organize it.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the main reason for transferring operational control to NATO was so that we could get access to their stockpiles of ammunition and equipment (and thus avoid the embarrassment of having the MOD go back to Parliament to admit that we'd run out of money).

Have I missed something?

Anonymous said...

Pull the toops out, agent orange the crops.

The Hitch said...

maybe somebody could pass this link on to tony
they sell chinooks

Anonymous said...

As I said is there any chance of a vote of no confidence? Blairs promises of money for school meals improvements to Jamie Oliver are £45m short because he failed to ask the lottery for the cash, and it now turns out that the troops can have what they want turns out to be a situation of 'but I did not say when'. This is a question of national importance, we already have a constitutional problem with the Chief of the General Staff speaking out on Foreign policy. We must have an opposition that is going to rise to the challenge and stop pussing footing around whilst our troops are being killed because of lack of equipment.

Vlad the Impala said...

As the sister of a serving officer I am surprised that people are not protesting more strongly or consistently on this topic. What has to happen for people to demand accountability and a change of government? I thought the general was moving quite close to the line, and wondered, briefly, if we were going to see a parliamentary changeover, Bangkok style. Instead it appears we are releasing people from Iraq to join our underequipped and seriously military challenged forces in Afghanistan. If democracies get the governments they deserve, whatever did we do to deserve this?

Man in a Shed said...

How long will it be before some of these Chinooks get shot down ? I was speaking to a recently ex-RAF officer who thought it just a matter of time, and not that much time.

Has nobody stopped to think about what is actually being achieved ? The independent info coming back suggests nothing except emptying villages and killing people. (Under this government pronouncements from official sources have to be labelled as just fanciful propaganda.)

Anonymous said...

One of the principal problems in holding Blair to account for Iraq and Afghanistan is the lack of a robust holding to account in parliament. This is because the myopic Tories cannot sort out their 'position' on the matter. Until they do it is down to the press and bloggers. The Independent to its credit has consistently questioned all aspects of operations. Dansatt out of sheer frustration has been forced to ask the questions that Cameron should be asking. Shame on Blair. Shame on Cameron. Advice to Cameron - it is not anti Army to hold Govt to account for their blunders in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is your duty.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, it is no shame for Cameron to say, that backing the Government in attacking Iraq was not a sensible move by the Conservatives, especially if the forces were ill equipped and there was no exit strategy. My copy of State of Denial has just arrived- so I will be bleating on about this on the blogoshere for a bit longer. Courage, Mr Cameron, its time to do your duty.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget, before we get misty eyed over having to procure, test and find pilots, that the army was deployed by this Government to Afghanistan more than five years ago.

That's five years to make the pledge by Bliar, and what...another five to honour it?

No doubt there will be various mongs turn up to defend Bliar and the Government in this most indefensible position. It's only the odd squaddie getting bumped off afterall..and Bliar and Cherie are safely ensconced in thier new pad and don;t have to worry about the mortgage too much.

Anonymous said...

Need to charter a chopper? Where's Mark Thatcher when his country needs him...

That said, I live near RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, where they seem to have a limitless supply of the new Merlin choppers available for training runs over my bloody house. Why aren't they being sent to Afghanistan?

Anonymous said...

It's a bloody disgrace.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why General Dannatt spoke out and exactly why a British Armed Forces Federation is required. Lives have been lost because of cutbacks, as the bereaved wife of Flt Sgt Beattie - who died in the Nimrod crash - has pointed out.

RAF widow hits out at 'cutbacks'

Flight Sergeant Beattie was highly regarded

Widow speaks out

The widow of one of 14 men killed when an RAF Nimrod aircraft crashed in Afghanistan believes defence cutbacks are putting lives at risk.
Flt Sgt Stephen Beattie, a father-of-two from Moray, died when the aircraft exploded in September.

His wife Shona said he could not remember the last time he flew a plane "with all the parts working".

The MoD said Nimrods were maintained to highest standards and the maintenance budget had risen by 50% in two years.

Mrs Beattie claimed cutbacks had been particularly felt among ground crew.

I find it very difficult to accept I have lost all, and my children have lost a father, because of a technical fault

Twelve Kinloss-based airmen, a Royal Marine and a soldier died after a suspected technical fault.

Inquests into the deaths are to be held by the Oxford Coroner under English law.

Flt Sgt Beattie, who was born in Dundee and brought up in Perthshire, was the only Scot aboard the Nimrod surveillance aircraft.

Mrs Beattie and their children, Bethany and Cameron, live in Forres, Moray, a few miles from where he was stationed at RAF Kinloss.

She told the BBC: "I find it very difficult to accept I have lost all, and my children have lost a father, because of a technical fault."

The bodies were flown to RAF Kinloss for a ceremony

Mrs Beattie said cutting back on the armed forces was a mistake.

"The ministerial powers-that-be make these decisions especially on safety terms, but there is something seriously wrong here," she said.

"All I can remember is Steve coming in in the summer-time and saying 'I cannot remember Shona the last time I have taken off on a plane with all the parts working'.

"They have cut back, cut back, ground crew especially and, you know, they've got to listen to this.

"Obviously if you have 10 men on a job as opposed to 20 you are going to have different outcome."

Air Vice-Marshal Ian McNicoll said the loss of the Nimrod MR2 was desperately sad news and the RAF's priority was to support the families and loved ones of the aircrew who lost their lives.

He added: "At this stage, the indications are that the accident was caused by a technical failure, but we must wait for the Board of Inquiry to report.

"The Nimrod MR2 has been a very successful aircraft, with an excellent safety record. It is maintained to the highest standards by dedicated RAF ground crews.

"Over the past two years, we have increased the amount spent on Nimrod aircraft maintenance by 50%, from £2m to £3m per aircraft per year."

Flt Sgt Beattie joined the RAF in July 1982 and had served as an air electronics operator, instructor and in the intelligence section.

A tribute written for a ceremony at RAF Kinloss described him as "fiercely committed", "courageous" and "highly respected".

The 13 other victims were: Flt Lt Steven Johnson, Flt Lt Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, Flt Lt Gareth Rodney Nicholas, Flt Lt Allan James Squires, Flt Lt Steven Swarbrick, Flt Sgt Gary Wayne Andrews, Flt Sgt Gerard Martin Bell, Flt Sgt Adrian Davies, Sgt Benjamin James Knight, Sgt John Joseph Langton and Sgt Gary Paul Quilliam.

Anonymous said...

Just like buses these Chinooks. Wait eight months for one and three come along at once. mind you most of those who finally crawl onto the number 47 haven't been blown to pieces.

Def Con One said...

This thread seems to assume that the military are idiots and just go off and do what they are told by the government with whatever level of resources they are given. No commander worth his salt would accept a mission without securing the force levels required to carry it out. The difficulty in Afghanistan seems to be that the resolve of the enemy, and hence the resources needed to complete the mission, have been under-estimated. The military are not idiots and deserve a bit more credit for what they do and how well they do it.

Anonymous said...

Someone else has already bemoaned the lack of military historical knowledge in our political/bureaucratic class by quoting Kipling's poem in full. I merely repeat the last two verses:

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

I understand that at least two French soliders have been disembowelled alive (not sure of the source for that - probably Little Green Footballs or Gates of Vienna).

Have we learned nothing in 100 years?

Anonymous said...

The military have not been given the resources they required to do this job; nobody here is blaming the military for the quagmire. It is quite clear that the government will not, and has not since the beginning, supply the troops or resources that are required to establish and maintain order in the area.

Vanity Fair has reported that in 1920 British forces in Iraq successfully put down an uprising: they numbered 135,000. That's about as many troops as the US currently has there. So, with the help of the British, why are they still having such problems? Because in 1920 the population of Iraq was just over 3 million, as compared with 26 million today, giving troop:Iraqi ratios of 1:23 and 1:210.

If you're going to understaff that much, you're going to underarm and underprotect as well. Surely you know about the American plan whereby loved ones back home can chip in to buy body's like a bridal registry, only morbid.

It is not the military that declares war. It is not the military that decides where they're going, worldwide. It is the government, and it is the government's responsibility to see that the military is not deployed futilely.

Anonymous said...

I don't usually come here....Dale land that is......but I wish someone would stick a rifle barrel into Tony Blair's awareness space and squeeze hard.....

Anonymous said...

In Afghanistan we are busy killing people who are mainly known for very long memories and an addiction to revenge. The Army says it is killing hundreds of them. Each one will have a family that will want a payment in blood.

How many years I wonder does Mr Blair think we are going to be doing this?

Def Con One said...

I am not disputing that the military are deployed by the government and that there is a very strong case for more resources in Afghanistan. Indeed, more resources are required for the Armed Forces in general. The point I was trying to make is that the government does not decide what missions to undertake or what force package to send in isolation from the military. The government has a responsibility to set out the task it requires the military to achieve and the military then assess what force package is required to achieve that task. Senior military commanders have a responsibility to those under their command to very carefully assess the task and the resources required. For very obvious reasons, this planning is something that the military take very seriously. In my experience, the military can stand up for themselves and would not needlessly risk the lives of those under their command by accepting a mission with grossly inadequate resources. There will always be things at the edges that are not available or not in sufficient numbers but the core of the forces package has to be what is required for the task at hand. If it isn't, then the mission should not be accepted.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time such a mission was refused? And we're not talking about a skirmish or patrol here or there, I'm talking about an invasion. When was the last time a major military action such as Gulf War II was ordered up by the government and refused by the military? It doesn't happen.

Look at Colin Powell's Powell Doctrine. It essentially got him exiled for a time, the White House ignored it anyway and sent what they wanted where they wanted. And now look at the mess, all because they didn't listen to the generals (and as the child of an enlisted man it's rare that I give any credit to generals, believe me).

Def Con One said...

There are a couple that spring to mind. It is widely rumoured that Colin Powell refused to "carry on to Baghdad" once Saddam's forces were removed from Kuwait. Had neither the resources nor the mandate for the mission. Also during Kosovo Mike Jackson refused a stupid request - albeit from Wesley Clark - to get into Pristina airfield and hold it before the Russians. He had the airlift to get there but not the manpower to hold it if things got ugly. There was also the issue about not wishing to start World War III. Neither are particularly good examples but you rarely get to hear about the missions that didn't happen or happened in a different way because of lack of resources. The military are a very "can do" organisation so will always try to find a way. But they are not wreckless with the lives of their men.

Am also the child of an enlisted man (national service corporal) but got more time for the senior military who fight their corner. Gordon Brown's question "You don't think I know anything about defence, do you?" was met by General Guthrie's famous retort "No I bloody well don't!" shows that even the smoothest general can have very hard edges and will stand their corner and not be bullied by politicians.