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Subject: A serious thread concerning the aftermath of the Iranian waters saga
Yimmy    4/8/2007 2:10:02 PM
What action do you think will now be taken, if any? Will Royal Naval procedure change at all in the short or long term? Will our behaviour towards Iran change at all? Will the instance be put to the government as reason to raise funding to the Royal Navy for equipment which could have helped in this instance? Any thoughts?
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Yimmy       4/8/2007 5:18:18 PM
In addition, what are your thoughs on our allowing the sailors to sell their stories for 6 figure sums?

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tjkhan    Response   4/8/2007 6:32:42 PM

What action do you think will now be taken, if any?

Will Royal Naval procedure change at all in the short or long term?

Will our behaviour towards Iran change at all?

Will the instance be put to the government as reason to raise funding to the Royal Navy for equipment which could have helped in this instance?

Any thoughts?

Sorry to be a bit of an interloper, but I agree with you, it is time to get serious about the potentially impacts upon Australian personnel as much as British.
So in answer to your questions I respond as follows:
1) More equipment must be available to do the job. As I said on another thread, two helicopters must be available at all times, one must be available to monitor these style of operations. That would allow one on board, another in the air at all time. Additionally, there needs to be a reasonable sized PB in the area to assit/support/protect the boarding parties. As I suggest perhaps some of Australia's Fremantle or Armidale Class PBs could be put to work.
2) Procedures/ROEs must change. It seems pretty clear this was a well planned ambush. Whether it involved orders from the top, or was planned at a lower level doesn't matter, having got away with it once the prospects of it happening again are probably heightened.
3) It should not, excepting that Iran should be left in no doubt that if they were to attempt seize personnel again it would lead to an iommediate and deadly response....that means the equipment must be on display.
4) The answer to this is yes and no....there is a limited defence budget and this issue should not be politicised. To try and leverage the government risks delaying the making of important decisions. At the same time the Govt must be prepared to provide some supplementary funding to ensure enough helicopters etc are on station to do the job.
The final question you raise relates to personnel selling their stories. IMV there should be a prohibition on such activity whilst they remain in the armed forces.
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PlatypusMaximus       4/8/2007 6:33:42 PM
I have no problem with selling the saga, they put up for its production...'be nice to see most, if not all, proceeds go to wounded and fallen vets, though.
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neutralizer       4/9/2007 3:01:13 AM
I don't think there's any need to change the RoE, and in any case as I understand it they are UN agreed.  Since there is no conflict with Iran then armed Iranians cannot be deemed to be a threat to the life of allied forces, unless they start shooting. 
However, I do think boarding party precedures need review and have no doubt that the RN BoI will make recommendations.  The difficult bit is shallow waters when a frigate has to stand-off the boarded vessel by several km.  However, this may only be a problem right at the north end off the Gulf.  There's been some talk about using mine sweepers.  This might work if they had a shadowing frigate or operated in pairs.  Smaller ships operating alone would not be immune to a well planned episode involving several small well armed boats.  Navies may be a bit blase about RPGs, given that naval vessels have little or no armour and the damage done to an Argentine MEKO by a single 84mm HEAT round in 1982.
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EssexBoy    Just a thought   4/10/2007 1:04:12 PM
How about an emergency purchase of the three OPVs that Brunei won't accept and are currently lying idle in BAe's docks:
Not sure of their draught but I'd guess they could operate in shallower waters than a frigate. A 76mm super rapid gun and two 30mm guns would be pretty useful against Iranian gun boats (assuming the crew would be allowed to fire them).
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Yimmy       4/10/2007 2:14:09 PM
I am tempted to say, "don't be stupid, that would mean spending money".  I haven't read about this though - why arn't the ships being accepted?

The RN is seriously in need of more hulls, of that I am certain.  Perhaps we should do as we did in the old days, and hire privateers?

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EssexBoy    Yimmy   4/10/2007 2:28:20 PM
The Brunei government are claiming that the ships don't do meet all the specifications per the contract. I'm not sure in what areas they are claiming that the OPVs don't make the grade but this has been dragging on for a while now.
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sofa    Equipment was not the issue   4/30/2007 8:55:12 AM
Men, perspective, definition of the mission, attitude, the culture of this navy is broke. Administrators on a cruise - Not warriors. When in Britain's Naval past could a samll band of pirates take them and humiliate them? Never before.
Why have ships at all, if this is the culture...?
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sofa    Sometimes, you need to change a culture to get results   4/30/2007 8:56:28 AM
Royal Navy's Shame" align=right vspace=2>
The command of HMS Cornwall failed to foresee that it's boarding party might encounter trouble.
by William S. Lind
UPI Commentator
Washington (UPI) April 13, 2007
The row over maritime boundaries in the Shatt-al-Arab between Iran and Britain seems to be over, with the British sailors and marines released and returned home. I continue to suspect a deal was made regarding the five Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers held by the United States in Iraq. If they go home in a few weeks or months, it will be a quid pro quo, regardless of how much Washington and London deny it.

For Britain, and especially for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the incident ended in utter disgrace. The initial surrender of the British boarding party to what appears to have been a much larger Iranian force is the only defensible British action in the whole sorry business. Even in Horatio Hornblower's Royal Navy, a British frigate captain was not disgraced if he struck to a French or Spanish ship of the line. Force majeure remains a valid excuse.

But everything else that was said or done would have given Hornblower, the fictional creation of novelist C.S. Forester, or Jack Aubrey, the captain created by Patrick O'Brien, an apoplexy. The failure of HMS Cornwall to foresee such an event and be in a position to protect her people; the cowardice -- there is no other word for it -- of the boarding party, including two officers, once captured; their kissing the Iranian's backsides in return for their release; and perhaps most un-British, their selling their disgraceful stories to the British press for money on their return -- all this departs from Royal Navy traditions in ways that would have appalled the tars who fought at Trafalgar in 1805.

Yet that is not the worst of it. The worst of it is the reaction of the Navy's higher-ups. According to a story in the April 7 Washington Times, the Royal Navy's top commander, Admiral Jonathon Band, leapt to the boarding party's defense with virtually Jerry Springer-esque words:

"He told the British Broadcasting Corp. he believed the crew behaved with 'considerable dignity and a lot of courage' during their 13 days in Iranian captivity.

"He also said the so-called confessions made by some of them and their broadcast on Iranian state television appear to have been made under 'a certain amount of psychological pressure.'...

"'I would not agree at all that it was not our finest hour. I think our people have reacted extremely well in some very difficult circumstances,'" he said."

Had the captives been 10-year old girls from Miss Marples' Finishing School, Band's words might make some sense. But these were supposed to be fighting men from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines! Yes, I meant men. What Politically Correct imbecile detailed a woman to a boarding party?

To understand just how bad the whole business is, one must first know a bit about Hornblower's navy. In the latter half of the 18th century, the Royal Navy developed and institutionalized what we now call maneuver warfare or Third Generation war. By the Napoleonic Wars, it was all there -- the outward focus, where results counted for more than following orders or the Fighting Instructions; de-centralization -- Nelson was a master of mission-type orders -- prizing initiative above obedience; and dependence on self-discipline, at least at the level of ship commanders and admirals.

It is often personified as the Nelson Touch, but it typified a whole generation of officers, not just Nelson. In the 19th century, the Royal Navy lost it all and went rigid again, for reasons described in a wonderful book, Andrew Gordon's "The Rules of the Game." But Hornblower's and Aubrey's navy was as fast-acting, fluid and flexible at sea as was the Kaiserheer, the later Imperial German Army, on land.

I told Andrew Gordon that I would someday love to write the intellectual history of that first, maritime incarnation of maneuver warfare; he replied that the source material to do that may not exist, since Royal Navy officers of that time were not writing things down. He may be right, but I think one incident holds the key to much of it: the execution by firing squad, on his own poop deck, of Adm. John Byng.

In 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Year's War, the French took the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean from the British. Byng was sent out from London to relieve the island's garrison, then under siege. He arrived, fought a mismanaged battle with the attending French squadron, then retired to Gibraltar. Deprived of

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sofa    execution by firing squad, on his own poop deck, of Adm. John Byng   4/30/2007 9:00:31 AM
View this incident as a warning, and as an opportunity to "Hang a few admirals" and turn this Navy around.
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