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Subject: Armed Forces Overstretch
Forest    6/27/2006 7:38:47 PM
The impact of Army "overstretch" has emerged after the Government admitted that it is struggling to fight wars on two fronts. Thousands of troops in Iraq have had their tour of duty extended from six to seven and a half months because the RAF does not have enough transport aircraft to move troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time. The RAF has fewer than five Tristar troop transporters The revelation undermines the claim that Operation Herrick - the deployment of 3,300 troops in Afghanistan - would not affect troops in Iraq. The crisis follows previous warnings by former defence chiefs who have claimed that soldiers' lives would be lost if the Army was constantly asked to "do more with less". The problem has arisen because the troops serving in Afghanistan were due to be replaced after six months on operations at the same time that 7,500 troops are serving in Iraq. The troops facing an extended tour come from 20 Armoured Brigade, normally based in Germany. The unit began arriving in southern Iraq last month and could under normal conditions have expected to return home in October. It is understood, however, that the RAF has fewer than five Tristar troop transporters - each capable of carrying 266 passengers - fitted with the necessary equipment to protect them against missile attack. Although the Government has leased three C17 transports from the United States, the RAF was unable to give assurances that it would be able to cope with transporting more than 20,000 troops over two weeks. It is understood that the transport problem was first identified by military planners earlier this year after the deployment to Afghanistan was delayed because the British and Dutch governments could not agree on the exact role of a multinational force being sent into the country. It can also be revealed that 1Bn Grenadier Guards, which is serving with 20 Armoured Brigade in Iraq, will come home early to begin training for operations in Afghanistan from March next year. The Ministry of Defence's own rules state that for reasons of morale and operational effectiveness all units should, whenever possible, have at least a 24-month gap between deployments so soldiers can rest, train and be with their families. Under routine deployments troops spend about six months in Iraq. The start of the tour is usually staggered so that fresh troops can serve and patrol alongside those who have been there for several months - a practice known as a "hand-over take-over". In February, The Sunday Telegraph revealed growing frustration between defence chiefs and the Government after senior officers argued that the force being sent to Iraq was not big enough to deal with the threat. Earlier this year Lord Guthrie, a former chief of the defence staff, gave a warning that the Government would face difficulties maintaining operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Referring to Afghanistan, Lord Guthrie, who is also Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service, said: "The British Army is already dangerously overstretched and maintaining a force even of this size over the years will be difficult." Patrick Mercer, the shadow minister for homeland security, described the policy of launching two large-scale operations at the same time as a disaster. He said: "This shows the foolhardiness of Labour's foreign policy and military planning. There simply are not enough troops or resources to mount two operations of this size simultaneously and the people who end up paying the price is the ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen in our Armed Forces and their families who see less and less of them." The MoD confirmed that a shortage of aircraft meant troops would spend longer in Iraq. Britsh troops are fighting the Taleben on a daily basis. There are already calls for major reinforcements of front line troops in Afghanistan. So what is Blair's answer to all this - 5,000 less troops in the British army.
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Lawman    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   8/10/2006 4:45:16 PM
That is exactly the point - the Cougar may not be perfect, but it offers the right level of protection and mobility. The UK could and should have placed an urgent order for at least 1000 Cougars four years ago, so that troops would not have to ride round in the Snatch LRs, which are hopelessly poorly suited to Iraq/Afghanistan. Not much will stop a large weapon, but a Cougar will stop most of what the troops face. As for FRES, I agree, it will be useful - if memory serves, it is reasonably on-track now, with the Swedish SEP being the basis, though I may be wrong. I just hope they design it with enough margin to be up-armoured, i.e. 20 tons as the base weight, but at least 30 tons when fully armoured.
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ArtyEngineer    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch - FRES   8/10/2006 5:03:49 PM
Is the SEP goin to be the basis of FRES?, if so which one, band tracked or wheeled? Any links to this would be welcome. Personally I think it is a very sensible decision. The SEP looks the way to go.
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Forest    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   8/12/2006 9:45:56 PM
The language is cold and bureaucratic, but the message is crystal clear - the Army is running out of cash and Britain's troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are paying the price. In a confidential document, defence chiefs talk of "high impact" cost-cutting measures that will cause "some pain" and result "in severe impediment to the delivery of operational capability". Gen Sir Richard Dannatt It is a far cry from the pledge made by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, just four months ago, when he boasted that he was going to make an extra £1 billion available. The money, which came from a "special reserve", was meant to help the military to conduct peacekeeping operations around the world. Now it seems that defence chiefs are being forced to pay for the Chancellor's unusual generosity by slashing military spending, closing bases and withdrawing equipment from service. All of this is, according to some senior officers, "putting the lives of British servicemen at risk". The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that the Land Command, the organisation responsible for ensuring that British troops are properly equipped and trained to fight anywhere in the world, has been ordered to cut more than £40 million from its budget in the next eight months. Cuts to other departments in the Army, in addition to the Royal Navy and the RAF, are now expected, as the annual £1.3 billion costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to bite into the defence budget. Dishfort air base: its future is under review The report, which is in the form of a "loose minute" with three annexes and is entitled "Financial Management 2006/07", reveals that: • Repair budgets for Army tanks and artillery pieces will be slashed. • Bases will be closed, "severely impeding" combat operations. • Military exercises in Kenya and Canada will be cancelled or scaled down, leading to problems with training and morale. • Funding for the Army's only multiple-launched rocket systems will cease, creating a 30-month capability gap. • Missile systems will be withdrawn from service early, creating a 24-month capability gap. • The stockpiling of ammunition for deployable brigades such as 16 Air Assault Brigade, currently in Afghanistan, and Apache helicopters, will be reduced. • Recruitment to the Territorial Army will be "slowed". • The money available to train University Officer Training Cadets will be capped. The financial report was drawn up for Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the commander-in-chief of Land Command. The general is responsible for more than 70,000 servicemen and women, all of the Army's tanks, artillery and Apache attack helicopters, and has a budget of more than £3 billion - the largest in the Army. Gen Dannatt, who is due to succeed Gen Sir Mike Jackson as chief of the general staff in the next few weeks, ordered the cuts to prevent further budget restrictions in the future. In the most damaging disclosure, the report states that the Army Base Repair Organisation, which is responsible for repairing the Army's tanks, missiles systems and artillery pieces, will also have its budget slashed. The report describes this as a "high impact" measure. The document also states that the predicted rise in the cost of utilities, such as fuel, water and electricity, will mean that several military facilities will have to close, resulting in a "severe impediment to the delivery of operational capability". The funding crisis is now so severe that senior commanders across the Army have been ordered to organise meetings so that they can travel using "saver tickets". The document reveals that the building of a security fence at the Army's Dishforth air base, which is the home of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, where Apache attack helicopters are based, has been cancelled because of the cash crisis. The document goes on to say that the future of the base, in North Yorkshire, is now under review. Funding will also cease for the Army's sophisticated Multiple Launched Rocket System, which can hit a target with an accuracy of 10 feet from a distance of 43 miles. The document states that this will mean that, in an emergency, the Army could not deploy the weapon to either Iraq or Afghanistan. In a recent article in a Ministry of Defence house magazine, Defence Logistics Organisation News, Gen Dannatt appeared to criticise Treasury policy when he compared the demand placed on the Army with the level of Government funding. He said that both Afghanistan and Iraq were proving to be "demanding" theatres and admitted that all the assumptions made about withdrawing troops from Iraq "had not been substantiated". He went on: "[The Army] has huge demands placed upon us. We are finding ourselves quite finely balanced and taut, added to which is the problem that defence is not financially over-resourced at the moment." Defence spending has long been a running sore with many senior officers, who believe that the
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