24 April SWJ Roundup
3 hours ago
... we also knew before we deployed that we had something in the order of a 45 percent on average shortfall of vehicles. We had already identified that Snatch was not an appropriate vehicle for the desert. We wanted WMIKs and Pinzgauers, logistical vehicles, DROPS, container vehicles, equipment support vehicles, the small Scimitar CVRTs.Butler is highly regarded in some quarters, but his comments here show a profound and alarming ignorance, and especially in respect of the WIMIKS, which were death traps, and the Pinzguaers (type pictured below), which could not have been more unsuitable if they tried.
The tactics and equipment required in any campaign are to some extent dictated by the methods of the enemy. General Jackson (p42) explained that the Taliban had moved from direct fighting to the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which had changed the need for equipment:The response to this, of course, is that it was possible to be "one foot ahead". Once again, we have to recall that, in June 2006 – over five years ago – Ann Winterton asked the defence secretary:
[...] If you recall, in the first two summers the Taliban took us on, basically using fire and manoeuvre—small arms, basically—and each and every time, they were defeated tactically. We can discuss whether any operational-level progress had been made, but they were defeated tactically.
It took them rather longer, looking back, than one might have expected, but they obviously thought very hard, particularly after the second summer, 2007, and said, "We're not going to get anywhere taking on the British soldiers at what they do best; ergo we will find another way".
That brings us to the IED. That changes priorities on our side. Armoured vehicles suddenly go right up in terms of priority, because that is the way you protect the force. As I've already touched on, the dispersion put a greater premium on helicopters. Tactics and equipment will vary according to the operational circumstances. One has to respond. Ideally, you need to be one foot ahead, but that's not always possible.
As our forces appear to be winning the firefights in Afghanistan, does he expect those who oppose our troops there and in other theatres to revert to the use of improvised explosive devices? If so, what vehicles are our forces to be equipped with to counter the threat?The answer then was a classic in studied complacency. Defence minister Adam Ingram responded:
We have been very effective in Afghanistan. We have a potent force in the Apache attack helicopters. We are up against intelligent and capable enemies, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, and we know that they will continue to look for ways to attack land-based vehicles or air-based platforms. We have a lot of measures in place. The hon. Lady will understand that it is not appropriate to discuss all the detail, but where we identify a threat - be it a new or technological threat - we identify a quick way to deal with it. Sometimes that takes time as we come to understand the threat before developing the technical response. Our focus at all times is the protection of our personnel, whether it involves fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, land-based systems or maritime systems.It is thus not as if our fears and concerns were not known in parliament at the time, but as Ann Winterton constantly brought them up in the House, they were just as constantly ignored. Had they been noted and addressed earlier, many lives could have been saved. Why then, we ask, is it only now that we are seeing "a precise and shocking exposé" from the Defence Committee, and one which still seems incapable of getting to grips with some of the detail?