Why the British Army Wins
As the high-tech centric Royal Navy and Royal Air Force snipe at one another for a bigger slice of the Budget pie, the Army might be the spoiler. The following editorial in the UK Telegraph by Christopher Booker criticizes outgoing Army Chief General Sir Richard Dannatt for belatedly ending that service’s very costly new armored vehicles, but in fact the General may have picked the perfect moment:
Last week, at a conference on land warfare, he slipped out in coded form that the Army’s £16 billion Future Rapid Effects System (FRES), planned as the centrepiece of Britain’s contribution to the European Army (aka the European Rapid Reaction Force) is a dead duck.
Sir Richard used to be a big fan of FRES, but he has now belatedly realised that one reason why our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan turned out to be such abject failures was the Ministry of Defence’s obsession with spending billions on projects like FRES to fight imaginary wars of the future, rather than properly equipping our forces for the wars they were actually having to fight.
By asking for less, then, the Army might just win all. There is a prevailing spirit within the British public that something must be done to redress the failures of the Army as seen in the less than stellar performance in Iraq recently, followed by a humiliating withdrawal. The new head of the Army is already calling for a renewal of the service’s fighting spirit. Again from the Telegraph here is Gen Sir David Richards:
“We cannot go back to the fighting that we might have done 10 years ago when it was still tanks, fast jets, fleet escorts that dominated the doctrine of the three Services,” he told the Royal United Services Institute in a keynote address.
“Our Armed Forces will try with inadequate resources to be all things in all conflicts and perhaps fail to succeed properly in any. The risk is such that it’s too serious any longer to be accepted.”
More solders were needed on the ground to retain security “without which the population will not turn away from insurgency”.
A sensible strategy, a reasonably priced one, without the promised miracles from high tech wonder weapons. Traditional large warships, planes, and tanks are becoming more expensive and fewer in number. While the more costly proposals of the Navy and Air Force promise to defend against future, imaginary wars which we never seem to fight, the Generals propose to contend with wars we are fighting today, and do so cost-effectively. We see the Army winning this fight, with rationale on its side.