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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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perfectgeneral    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   6/28/2006 2:19:34 PM
1% of working population should increase to 1.2% in armed forces. 2.2% of GDP should increase to 3% of GDP spent on defence. Never fight a land war in asia. Never fight a war on two fronts. Yadda yadda.... The will is lacking, not the answers.
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Lawman    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   6/28/2006 5:35:44 PM
A lot of manning problems could be solved by getting rid of all the anti-war people - UK troops coming home to a bunch of protestors is not a great way to treat the troops. As PG and I have both advocated, a shift to 3% GDP defence budget would dramatically change the situation. Personally, I suspect the solution to the whole airlifting troops home issue would be to fly ones in Afghanistan to Diego, and the ones in Iraq to Kuwait or Turkey. If they were there, you can then simply use chartered airliners, with military airlift only being used for moving troops out of the immediate combat zone.
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Forest    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   6/29/2006 2:10:34 PM
"A lot of manning problems could be solved by getting rid of all the anti-war people - UK troops coming home to a bunch of protestors is not a great way to treat the troops." You make it sound like GI's returning at the end of Vietnam. I'm not aware that this is prevalent. Anyway, returning servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan are not bothered by the loony-lefties from Galloway's mob and such-like.
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Forest    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   6/30/2006 9:14:04 PM
"BRITAIN’S top generals appealed for the deployment of more planes and helicopters to Afghanistan yesterday, amid deepening alarm over the predicament of British troops there.",,3-2251664,00.html
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Forest    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   6/30/2006 9:18:45 PM
“We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years’ time without firing a shot because our job is to protect reconstruction” John Reid, Defence Secretary, April 23 Was this more New-Labour spin or are they as cluless and incompetant as they sound?
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Lawman    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   7/1/2006 4:27:08 AM
It is, unfortunately, a sign of clueless leadership (think in terms of the captain being drunk at the wheel). The problem is that with the anti-war protestors in control of much of the media, he needed to appease them by claiming that the troops would not be going out looking for trouble. The sad thing is that John Reid actually made a good DefSec, since he had the ability to stand up to Gordon Brown, and get some more money for defence.
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Norvicension    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   7/11/2006 11:00:07 AM
Des Browne (according to Private Eye) 'Fat, sleek, smug and every inch a New Labour apparatchik'
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Forest    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   8/10/2006 3:56:17 PM
No doubt most of you have seen this article today, but I’m going to post it for the record regardless: Troops in Iraq 'under-equipped' British troops fighting in Iraq are under-equipped and overstretched, a group of MPs has warned. The all-party defence committee said the soldiers needed more helicopters and better-protected patrol vehicles to shield them from roadside bombs. Committee members visited Iraq in June and also say operations in Afghanistan are being done on a "shoe string". Defence Secretary Des Browne insisted that British forces in the country were "stretched, but not overstretched". And he claimed that many of the equipment problems were being dealt with. Committee chairman James Arbuthnot, a Conservative MP, said the troops now faced a "significantly higher threat" in southern Iraq. "We cannot send them on operations without giving them the tools they need to do the job. The MoD must address equipment shortages and capability gaps as a matter of urgency." Mr Arbuthnot told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his committee had also recently visited British troops in Afghanistan and had similar concerns there. "There was a feeling that the whole thing was being done on a shoe string and that we are not spending enough money on the troops we are putting into danger, and that we are asking [them] to do extremely difficult things on our behalf," he said. 'Courage and dedication' The MPs said their research had raised fundamental questions over whether the armed forces were structured, trained and equipped to fulfil their role. They promised to return to those questions in the future. BBC security and defence correspondent Rob Watson labelled it a "remarkably critical report" from a "usually constrained" committee. Mr Browne said he welcomed the scrutiny, adding: "I am glad the committee recognises the professionalism, courage and dedication of our people in Iraq. "On helicopters, we have a long-term programme to increase operational availability levels - and we continue to explore ways of meeting short-term needs." 'Appalling' The MPs were particularly concerned with the use of Snatch Land Rovers, which have been deemed "ineffective" against the more sophisticated roadside bombs. They said the Land Rovers were originally designed for use in Northern Ireland and offered "far too little protection" against the increasingly sophisticated roadside bombs seen in Iraq. Mr Browne ordered an urgent review of them after a number of soldiers were killed. And the Ministry of Defence is sending extra Cougar vehicles. Mr Arbuthnot said this was good news but they were not ideal and the government had not acted quickly enough. Colonel Bob Stewart, who was a British commander with the UN forces during the civil war in Bosnia, agreed with the committee about the Land Rovers. "It's been appalling that so many of our soldiers have suffered as a result of roadside bombs and these Snatch Land Rovers," he said. "The Land Rovers were not designed for the job they're doing now." Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said equipment and capability shortages in Iraq could "prove fatal and must be urgently addressed". "The government's reckless decision to cut the size of the Army is having obvious consequences," he said. "With major operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a reassessment of whether our capabilities are sufficient to meet our commitments is long overdue."
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Lawman    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   8/10/2006 4:04:53 PM
"urgent review", just SOP for the MoD. "On helicopters, we have a long-term programme to increase operational availability levels - and we continue to explore ways of meeting short-term needs." This is the usual nonsense, instead of dealing with the total lack of capacity, they say they will increase the availability of the existing (and inadequate) kit. It really is time they stopped constantly saying forces are only stretched, not overstretched. UK forces went well beyong stretched many years ago - the Army has a higher burden now than fifteen years ago, but a much smaller force.
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flamingknives    RE:Armed Forces Overstretch   8/10/2006 4:35:47 PM
What would be sufficient to stop a large EFP? Those things will take out a Warrior, much less a Cougar or a Snatch. What would be more suitable than a Cougar? If the politicians know the answer, they should say. If they don't, they should keep their yap shut. I see less concern for the troops and more political point-scoring from the same people who sent them in there at half-c-ck and half-baked in the first place. More helicopters are needed though and the option of more heavily-armoured vehicles would probably be good. However, what would be better than the current situation would be if FRES was on schedule to give medium-weight capability and more advanced protection systems. Unfortunately, that wasn't a good place to score political brownie-points a few years ago - hence a capability gap.
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