Small Wars Journal

Recent News from Across the Pond

Soldiers to Learn Nation-building - Chris Smyth, The Times

The head of the Army will today (Thursday) call for creation of a new class of soldier specialising in nation-building and development to reconstruct the Iraqs and Afghanistans of the future.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, will say that the Army should consider creating "permanent cadres of stabilisation specialists" so that soldiers can deliver "civil as well as military effects within areas as diverse as governance, town administration, finance and banking, law and order and sanitation".

This could mean placing soldiers under the command of the Foreign Office or the Department for International Development, General Dannatt will tell the centre-left Progress pressure group in a speech in Westminster tonight. This would have a radical effect on military career-paths, which could see "an officer spending a tour with indigenous forces, followed perhaps by an attachment to DfiD overseas, or a local council at home or a police force in Africa or elsewhere", he will suggest...

Troops Should be Trained as Nation-builders - James Kirkup, Telegraph

British soldiers should be trained to rebuild war-torn countries and not just fight conflicts, Britain's top soldier is expected to say. Military training should be broadened so that service personnel spend time working for local councils to learn how to establish democratic governments in developing countries. General Sir Richard Dannatt will say.

Sir Richard, the Chief of the General Staff, will use a Westminster speech to propose a shake-up of the way the Army trains its personnel and runs its operations, to put more focus on reconstruction and development work.

His suggestion comes amid concern in Whitehall about the way the British military mission in Afghanistan is fitting into the wider Western effort to develop that country's government and economy...

Government 'Careless' with the Military - David Byers, The Times

A former senior Army officer today accused ministers of being "very careless" with the military and of having "lacked interest" in improving resources.

Major-General Arthur Denaro, who has now retired, said that the country had also failed to play its part in backing the under-resourced Armed Forces due to the unpopularity of the war in Iraq.

His comments come as General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, was set to claim in a speech tonight that soldiers were finding that they had to add civilian skills - from town hall administration to banking - to their traditional combat capabilities.

The Head of the Army will demand that soldiers are in future assisted by a new squad of "stabilisation specialists" who spend their careers assisting the military in working to rebuild countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan...

Troops to Have Long-term Iraq Role - Deborah Haynes, The Times

The British military is likely to have a long-term role in Iraq, a top commander said today.

Major-General Barney White-Spunner, who is in charge of British forces in southern Iraq, said current troop levels will only be reassessed once the job of training Iraqi soldiers and setting up a new security framework in Basra is complete.

But he said that the transformation of Iraq's second city, which was wrested from militia control by the Iraqi security forces in April, had vindicated Britain's often-criticised military approach in the south.

The focus for Britain's 4,000-strong force, based at an airport outside the oil-rich, port city, is to conclude the training of the 14th Iraqi Army division, he added...

Sir Richard Dannatt: A" Great Service" - Allan Mallinson, Telegraph opinion

When the Duke of Wellington died, in 1852, his reputation in the Army was tarnished. As commander-in-chief, he had done next to nothing to prepare for modern war, or to ameliorate the conditions of the common soldier.

Three years later, the Crimean War exposed the extent of that neglect to a shocked public, in large part thanks to the war correspondent William Howard Russell. The surge of public sympathy brought material benefits to the men still in the trenches at Sebastopol, and the knowledge that the public was behind them has sustained many a later campaign in parts of the world where British soldiers still battle today.

There may be no need of a modern Florence Nightingale to sort out the field hospitals in Bagram and Basra, or an Alexis Soyer to take his patent stove and cooking skills into Helmand, but the extent of the shortcomings revealed by the Government's paper The Nation's Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces is of the same order.

The paper's recommendations are to be welcomed, as the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, has done. But it cannot be allowed to become just another government announcement. As Sir Richard said yesterday: "Twenty per cent is about getting the strategy right, but 80 per cent is about delivery."...

Dannatt's willingness to speak the truth aloud has reawakened that same public support that the scandals of the Crimea aroused, yet that had been dormant of late. And the extraordinary thing about his call for public recognition of the job that soldiers (and, indeed, sailors, marines and airmen) do in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it has decoupled opposition to the war from the business of honouring the Serviceman. In this, Dannatt has done Brown the greatest favour: the sting of anti-war rhetoric has largely been drawn (for the time being at least).

By speaking publicly, too, he has steadied the Army and its families. Two years ago, there was a palpable feeling among soldiers that no one was battling for them - not just for better pay, but for the right equipment and decent treatment, especially for the wounded - or if senior officers were battling, behind the usual closed doors, they were losing hands down...

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt - SWJ Blog

Remarks at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Future Land Warfare Conference on 12 June 2008.

... We must also make the assumption that the British Army -- indeed all elements of Defence - of the future must remain relevant. By relevant I mean several things. I mean that we must have capabilities that are highly likely to be needed and used in the foreseeable future. We need relevant capabilities so that we can both intervene, and contribute to stabilisation. I also mean that we must be relevant to our Allies, and bring the kind of capabilities that they need. Our primary ally is, of course, the US with whom we have a bond forged through the blood spilled together in the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan -- a bond which is stronger than any policy guidance -- but we must focus on operating with the US, and not necessarily as the US. It is my belief that the US looks to us to do two principal things in a Coalition of the Willing -- to bring a manoeuvre capability of some size under a Divisional Headquarters -- and to put boots on the ground until overall success in the Campaign is achieved! However, in addition to allies and partners, we must remain relevant to the needs of our own Government and across Whitehall. We, the military, do not own the Comprehensive Approach, we are but one element and we must ensure that we are organised to be able to help Other Government Departments deliver overall success. This, again, places a particular premium on the relevance of our Land capabilities...

Ahead of the Game? - Richard, Defence of the Realm

It would be entertaining to take a sarcastic view of the much-trailed speech to be given by General Sir Richard Dannatt this evening on the importance of reconstruction in the armoury of the modern soldier. We could so easily offer the jibe, "nice of you to catch up", remarking that we have been banging this drum for some little time, the work based on the gradual realisation that the war in Afghanistan will be won or lost not by the force of arms but by the success of the reconstruction effort. However, to do so would not only be unfair, but facile. As one of the pieces which trails the speech -- this one in The Daily Telegraph - points out, there has already been some "friction" between the military and civilian reconstruction teams, and there is and has been a genuine concern in the corridors of power about the lack of progress in this department -- an issue we highlighted yesterday.

Archive for the 'British Military' - Kings of War Blog

Analysis and opinion from the good folks at the Department of War Studies, King's College London.

Army Rumour Service - British Army Discussion Group

The Army Rumour Service is the British Army's unofficial community. A vast collection of information, humour and bullshit with forums, wiki, image library, blogs, kit shop, chat, jokes and more...