Armed Forces | SAS or Government?

6 03 2010

More groans from those stepping down.  I understand the insubordination law in place that makes them wait so long to voice their concerns, but surely we are long overdue a coup if it has come to this?  Or is Sir Graeme just another Officer of the Old Guard hopping on the Tory Express to Lordship?

With so many players in the Establishment, no wonder we’re up to our necks in debt, supporting this vast kingdom of officialdom surely isn’t cheap.  Still, they have to make it realistic I suppose.

Army denied vital equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan, claims former SAS head

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent, 04 Mar 2010

British troops were deprived of the right equipment to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were still being hampered by a lack of resources, the former head of special forces has claimed.

In a withering assessment of the “doomed” state of the military, the recently retired Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb said that the SAS had been denied even Vietnam-era equipment that could have saved lives.

Resources remained insufficient to fight current and future conflicts, with much of the Army’s equipment “either broken or lacking”, he warned.

Sir Graeme’s attack, in a speech to senior officers, is disclosed as Gordon Brown faces questions at the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war.

The inquiry has been told that the Armed Forces were forced to cope without a wide range of equipment because of a lack of funds from the Treasury when Mr Brown was chancellor.

Senior defence sources sought to limit the damage caused by Sir Graeme’s comments.

They claimed that Sir Graeme’s views were “outdated” and did not reflect the “dramatic” changes that had taken place since General Sir David Richards took over as Chief of the General Staff in August.

Sir Graeme accepted that, under Sir David, Afghanistan had been pushed to the top of the agenda and he had forced “the pace of change”.

The former director of special forces is regarded as one of the Army’s most influential officers. During a distinguished career, he was in charge of both the SAS and the Special Boat Service before retiring three months ago to take up a post with the American General Stanley McChrystal as head of the counter-insurgency effort in Afghanistan.

In his speech, Sir Graeme said that politicians and the Civil Service bore “considerable blame” for the decline of the military. He said that the Iraq conflict had “tarnished” Britain’s standing and, until recently, Afghanistan had been “stumbling towards failure”.

The Armed Forces were “pretty much doomed on our current course and thinking” and would become the “dumpster of irrelevancy” unless they changed direction radically and gained the right equipment to fight today’s wars, he said. The focus on investing in ships, aircraft and tanks had endangered lives because it had left forces such as the SAS inadequately equipped with basic equipment, he claimed.

He warned that the Armed Forces were “clearly in decline” and were increasingly seen as “irrelevant” by the public and politicians. Sir Graeme disclosed that the lack of equipment had compromised the Bravo Two Zero SAS raid into Iraq in 1991, which included the soldier-turned-author Andy McNab. Helicopters were not equipped with a basic infra-red device to allow pilots to see at night — a piece of Vietnam-era kit — which meant that the eight-man patrol was left on the ground at the mercy of Saddam Hussein’s army. Three men died. A decade later, helicopters were still not equipped with the infra-red equipment, which almost led to the loss of two Chinooks as special forces tried to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. This was an example of a military that could do nothing more than “band-aid prevention”, said Sir Graeme.

The Ministry of Defence was buying equipment “we probably do not need” and unless it “mothball, cancel or break our procurement overdraft or sit down and reshape the force we so desperately need, we are unlikely to do anything”, he warned.

The future is bloody grim either way,” he said, “and the Reaper, unless you are prepared to prevent him, is probably going to join us for dinner.” Sir Graeme said that the military had to share the blame for the situation. The officer, known for his straight-talking, said that the Army’s leadership needed to “look no further than the mirror to identify the guilty party”.

Sir Graeme, who has been credited by the American General David Petraeus as a key architect in defeating the Iraqi insurgency, said that the Army’s leadership was at a “crossroads” where either “you play safe and join us old blokes or cry havoc and do your duty”. “We in uniform, the Armed Forces of this nation, are at fault for failing to recognise the changing character of the threats we face and then to do our duty and to set our store by the defence of this realm: all in all a somewhat damning indictment,” he said.

He added: “What you face is simply a moral challenge, a test of will and commitment that if you believe that all is not well – change it; do not wrestle with the sum of your fears; but embrace the course you believe to be right and charge down it; forge the trail and drag the rest with you.

Sir Graeme’s speech comes at a time of intense debate into how the Armed Forces should be structured to face tomorrow’s threats.

The Army, which has done the majority of the fighting over the past decade, is at loggerheads with the Navy and RAF who want to retain the expensive warship, submarine and aircraft programmes.

The Army says it requires much greater investment in land forces to fight wars that will be similar to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sir Graeme later said that because the personnel in all three services were “exceptional” they deserved to get “what they need to meet both the challenges we face and will face”.

Defence sources said last night that the Army would undergo a major overhaul if Sir David won the argument for more of the defence budget to be diverted to land forces.

Responding to Sir Graeme’s comments, Sir David said: “The views expressed by Lt Gen Lamb reflect those of a distinguished but retired general speaking at a private, off-the-record gathering with the aim of causing controversy and provoking debate. In that he was successful though his comments were not supported. I would like to make it clear that, as I saw in Afghanistan recently, the Army is fit, equipped, motivated and ready for any challenge.

“Furthermore, it is clear from support for military events and charities throughout the country that the people have never held the Army, or indeed the wider Armed Forces, in higher regard.”

The bodies of four British servicemen killed within six days in Afghanistan were flown home on Thursday.

Sgt Paul Fox, 34, of 28 Engineer Regiment, Rfn Martin Kinggett, 19, of 4 Rifles, SAC Luke Southgate, 20, of II Squadron RAF Regiment, and Rfn Carlo Apolis, 28, also of 4 Rifles, were repatriated to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

The MoD named a British soldier shot dead on patrol in Afghanistan on Tuesday as Cpl Richard Green, 23, of 3 Rifles Recce Platoon.

I do believe Sir Graeme, after all, he isn’t the only one who has spoken of the lack of attention paid by the MOD when it comes to equipping the troops.  To think even our very best troops suffer due to the worst government ever infliceted upon these isles.

SAS chief says MoD has ‘blood on its hands’

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent, 07 Mar 2009

The commander of SAS troops in Afghanistan Major Sebastian Morley who resigned over “unsafe” Snatch Land Rovers has accused the Government of having “blood on its hands“.

How can we expect to give our opposition hell when even our elite troops in the SAS are criticising our Government’s procurement practices.  To send our troops to war with lies and deceit is one thing, to deprive them of the best tools available is criminal.  So many lives lost due to Government incompetence and Corporate greed.

Soldiers sign up to protect their Homeland and Her interests, not to guard pipelines, opium and despot regimes.  They travel the world to conquer enemies no matter how distant and then come home, not become sitting targets for eight years while the mad mullahs armies of doom take pot-shots.

Is this all worth it so a select bunch of corporations thousands of miles away from the fighting gains a few extra points on the NASDAQ?

Not right is it?

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