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 Post subject: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:18 am 
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One of the things I particularly enjoyed about Overlord, Max Hasting's book about the 1944 Normandy landings, is the way he interweaves the narrative with short dissertations about the equipment used in the campaign, including analyses of the many shortcomings.

There, I though, was a man who understood (to a degree) the relationship between the fighting performance of armies, and the equipment with which the were provided – issues especially relevant in Normandy where the Allies had failed to produce a tank which could match German armour or deal with the much-feared 88mm flak/anti-tank gun.

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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:59 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:36 am
Posts: 66
Quote:
Hastings's cri de coeur rests in turn on Gen Peter Wall, the current CGS, who last week "hit out" at the "zero-risk culture" which, he said, had "fuelled unrealistic demands that no British blood should be shed on battlefields".

If that zero-risk view is held, them let them defend it. In battle. Try not to get hurt. Mind your step.

Quote:
Human rights lawyers, Wall asserted, were among those who had created an "expectation" that troops should not come to harm in war zones. The spotlight shone on the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan had exposed "a variety of awkward ethical, legal, human rights and equipment issues".

Those skilled lawyer should be sent to negotiate with the Taliban and other opportunistic warlords to conduct warfare more humanely. To clear mark landmines and explosive devices with a safety perimeter. To only use pain-ball weapons against those with protective equipment and not to make any British people cry.

When those lawyers return from the mountains, carrying the signed stone tablets in their hand, beckoning to the British troops; FIRE!

The lawyers will have sold out the values that we all hold dear to people who don't regard us as having equal rights to exist peacefully on this planet.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:15 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:25 pm
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An excellent destruction of Max Hastings on this subject.He thoroughly deserves it.He deals in myths and would be well advised to read your work,had he done so he would never have written that piece, I am sure of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:59 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:12 pm
Posts: 1441
Why were British troops kept in Afghanistan after the original and semi successful 'regime change' US backed up by the Aussies/Brits led 2001 lightning raid to boot out the Taliban.... and then a cock up in the Tora Bora cave complex bin-laden sweep?

No one, not the Army, politicians, strategists can provide even half a satisfactory explanation.

I can, the Americans...........er....Bush wanted them to stay.

Bliar lackey, lickspittle and fawning dick-head [with an eye to future speaking tours on the American circuit] said yes and the half ar88d excuses abounded; war on drugs, empire building....sorry building democratic institutions in Afghanistan [that's so funny but Max probably believed it], education, women's rights, amusement parks, drive in cinemas, Dunkin donuts franchises - et bloody cetera.

The rest, as they say was a fekkin disaster in Afghanistan. Is it not though, anything but surprising, nope it's the same old 3***.

The Army, haven't/didn't/were incapable of....... learnt/learn/learning the lessons of the Boer War, or other 'dirty little wars' [it's not like we haven't had any 'practice'].
Practice, like in Malaya [a pretty successful campaign btw], set against 'wars' with the Mau Mau, in Crete, Aden, Northern Ireland - where the provos were happy to demonstrate just how vulnerable Army transport was to road culvert bombs..... and/ or the British Army which is so proud of tradition and pomp and regimental history and honours - it the RA: doesn't read its own history.

The British Army; good, bad, indifferent, occasionally brilliant, too many chiefs in Whitehall, no clear directive, no effective or long term strategy , not enough boots on the ground and with crap equipment but still there and with shed loads of bottle, with some good lads.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:08 am 

Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:56 am
Posts: 97
My view (going to be unkind here) is that modern general officers are little more than politicians. This switch from competence to obedience a direct result of the role of the armed forces being usurped from its constitutional mandate of defence of the realm to that of corporate dogs bodies.

"There, I have no truck with this "lessons learned" culture, which seems to be the military (and official) response to the supposed "elf'n'safety and busybody culture". Any number of mistakes are permissible, it seems, as long as the lessons are duly learned, and the mistakes are not repeated … until the next time, when lessons have to be learned all over again."...Dr N.

Quite so. The "lessons learned" meme has been gladly included into Gov's NLP vocabulary.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:22 am 
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I am no longer surprised by the cock ups, military or otherwise, I sort of enjoy speculating as to the form they might take.

As to our failure to generate and adequate response to German armour in ww2 (Tiger vs Sherman ?) I understand that the Sherman was easily mass produced and that it would fit on a railway wagon for rapid transportation.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:30 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:50 pm
Posts: 906
Peter Uhm, Why I chose the gun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjAsM1vAhW0

Don't send us into battle with crappy equipment.
Just give us the tools to do our job safely.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:16 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:27 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Oxford, UK
By the end of the war in Europe in 1945, most of our casualties were generated by mines and, for vehicles, RPG ambush. Most of the wars since have been the same. Mine resistance was a requirement in the 40s, but was rapidly forgotten post-war, because getting blown up by surprise just does not fit in with romantic ideas about combat. Compromising top-line brochure features like gun calibre and armour thickness with boring old mine resistance was not on the agenda.

Now, an old bugbear about weapons and equipment. Your weapon has in most cases to be good enough. If our 25pdr had less explosive than the german 33lb 105mm, it didn't matter much. It mattered whether your system could put shells on target. It really didn't matter if each of 50,000 Shermans could not go one to one against 1300 tigers. Tanks are not there primarily to fight tank-vs-tank. Maybe your fighter plane (or more accurately your fighter arm, training and C&C) has to be the best but mostly weapons just have to be good enough. And fit for purpose, of course. What good is that shiny 5.56mm assault rifle if the enemy is out of range and shooting back with the ten-rupee jezail?


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:02 pm 
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Mosquito wrote:
By the end of the war in Europe in 1945, most of our casualties were generated by mines and, for vehicles, RPG ambush. Most of the wars since have been the same. Mine resistance was a requirement in the 40s, but was rapidly forgotten post-war, because getting blown up by surprise just does not fit in with romantic ideas about combat. Compromising top-line brochure features like gun calibre and armour thickness with boring old mine resistance was not on the agenda.

Now, an old bugbear about weapons and equipment. Your weapon has in most cases to be good enough. If our 25pdr had less explosive than the german 33lb 105mm, it didn't matter much. It mattered whether your system could put shells on target. It really didn't matter if each of 50,000 Shermans could not go one to one against 1300 tigers. Tanks are not there primarily to fight tank-vs-tank. Maybe your fighter plane (or more accurately your fighter arm, training and C&C) has to be the best but mostly weapons just have to be good enough. And fit for purpose, of course. What good is that shiny 5.56mm assault rifle if the enemy is out of range and shooting back with the ten-rupee jezail?


I did a piece showing some of the results of mines on Bren Gun Carriers. I was never able to give figures though.

http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/2 ... cruel.html

As to our tank inadequacies, I beg to differ. The lack of capability led to a reluctance to fight, and a major degree of over-caution - arguably costing us many more months of combat. And, of course, there were the tank crew losses. The tanks could be replaced ... but British soldiers were being unnecessarily killed.

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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:28 am
Posts: 805
Actually, the British Army did learn from its full spectrum deficiencies in the Boer War and by the start of WWI was the best trained, equipped and supplied professional British army ever to set off for war. Unfortunately, the intensity of fighting in 1914 meant that it had lost over 80% of its regulars by the end of the year.

It is unlikely that similar reforms will take place given the distorted prominence the media and politicos give the courage of recovering wounded servicemen. Due to the British preference for Dunkirks over Dresdens, public opinion has scabbed over the mistakes instead of examinining and treating the injury. There doesn't appear to be a similar concentration in Israel on their injured soldiers, probably because they put crew protection first in their vehicle designs, thus enabling better results.

The attitude of the generals and Hastings is akin to those RFC generals who denied pilots and observers parachutes, even when German aircrew had them, because they would degrade their fighting spirit. Oddly, kite balloon observers were always provided with parachutes and were not expected to fight off attacks from enemy aircraft.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:27 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Oxford, UK
Well, you can't look at Sherman vs Tiger as an example to prove anything. Tiger was a specialist vehicle operated by specialist formations. But when it came on against allied defences, it did not do much better than the Shermans against theirs. Caution, reluctance to advance, yes, all in evidence. But not directly linked to German tank superiorty. Half their tanks were Pz IVs, not much better than Sherman, Panthers are a better example, but the reality is that allied tank casualties were inflicted mostly by anti-tank guns and sturmgescheutze. I have no idea if the operational research was ever done, but my own conjecture is that if we had armoured to a four-inch 100mm basis, we would have had a good chance of keeping out 75mm L/48 rounds from Stug II, Pz IV and pak40 at combat ranges. Which might have made the enemy's problem more difficult. (That's the best you can ever hope for, make the other guy work harder, make him replace his gear, or shorten the range).

This is a hobby-horse of mine. Can you tell?


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:27 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Oxford, UK
And right on topic:
http://mallinsonblog.dailymail.co.uk/20 ... ekins.html


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:23 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:55 pm
Posts: 519
Location: USA
Quote:
Demanding that troops are better equipped to deal with predictable threats, before they go into theatre is not "claptrap". Nor is demanding emerging threats to be quickly recognised, with countermeasures rapidly supplied, unreasonable. It is common and military sense.


One question honestly asked. Given the aphorism that you go to war with the army you've got. How long is reasonable to delay going on the basis of inferior equipment of this order? How long do you delay fighting?

Given the legal and 'elf an' safety culture in which the logistics train operates today how long are quickly and rapidly?

Having followed EUR since just about day 1 I appreciate where you're coming from on these issues but I'm not sure that your demands are reasonable given the time frames to develop and deploy new kit in this politico/cultural environment. re: the politicians there are way too many lamp posts going under used.

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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:25 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 9:17 pm
Posts: 1384
Mosquito wrote:
Well, you can't look at Sherman vs Tiger as an example to prove anything. Tiger was a specialist vehicle operated by specialist formations. But when it came on against allied defences, it did not do much better than the Shermans against theirs. Caution, reluctance to advance, yes, all in evidence. But not directly linked to German tank superiorty. Half their tanks were Pz IVs, not much better than Sherman, Panthers are a better example, but the reality is that allied tank casualties were inflicted mostly by anti-tank guns and sturmgescheutze. I have no idea if the operational research was ever done, but my own conjecture is that if we had armoured to a four-inch 100mm basis, we would have had a good chance of keeping out 75mm L/48 rounds from Stug II, Pz IV and pak40 at combat ranges. Which might have made the enemy's problem more difficult. (That's the best you can ever hope for, make the other guy work harder, make him replace his gear, or shorten the range).

This is a hobby-horse of mine. Can you tell?


There's a temptation to make comparisons in terms of tank duels. There's a lot more to it. A more usual role for tanks was infantry support. A design consideration for the Sherman was to be shipped across the Atlantic. A tank which is too heavy to cross a lot of bridges is at a disadvantage. There's the question of field maintenance as well as the cost of building the tank. Include factors such as the enemy having total air superiority and effective ground attack aircraft which can make life hard for the tank if only in destroying fuel supplies.

At the start of the war, the British 2 pounder was a very formidable anti tank gun. Things developed very fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons unlearned
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:28 am
Posts: 805
AlanC wrote:
Quote:
Demanding that troops are better equipped to deal with predictable threats, before they go into theatre is not "claptrap". Nor is demanding emerging threats to be quickly recognised, with countermeasures rapidly supplied, unreasonable. It is common and military sense.


One question honestly asked. Given the aphorism that you go to war with the army you've got. How long is reasonable to delay going on the basis of inferior equipment of this order? How long do you delay fighting?

Given the legal and 'elf an' safety culture in which the logistics train operates today how long are quickly and rapidly?

Having followed EUR since just about day 1 I appreciate where you're coming from on these issues but I'm not sure that your demands are reasonable given the time frames to develop and deploy new kit in this politico/cultural environment. re: the politicians there are way too many lamp posts going under used.


Aren't there people in the Army paid to keep up to date with other people's technology and develop counter-tactics and equipment specifications? Don't those same people (let's call them experts) have access to secret reports and histories to give them a fair idea of the sort of threat that is most likely to be met by the army? Isn't that why research and development and equipment was directed to producing vehicles to counter the predicted Warsaw Pact attack into West Germany? As the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, exactly how much time is needed to reassess the threats and re-equip where necessary?


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