Category Archives: Iraq

Labour let down British Troops

It’s been a claim levelled at the Labour government for years, and a claim that they have always denied, but successive coroners can’t be wrong can they? The government is failing British troops.

We’re not talking about fighting the Nazi’s war machine here, just a bunch of rebels and terrorists hiding in rural Afghanistan. Yet are we really to believe that they are better armed and better equipped than the British Army? Of course not, they aren’t that well equipped, it it just that the British Army is woefully under equipped.

Taliban Fighters

It is bad enough that we put such a low price on the risks that our servicemen take, without making them do their job lacking the basic equipment required to do it. Of course during the Cold War governments could get away with paying a poor wage, after all few were likely to see action, other than Northern Ireland, the Falklands and the Gulf War, but for the majority of the army, there was little risk the majority of the time. Since the break up of Yugoslavia there has been one dangerous peacekeeping mission after another, and it is an extremely treacherous time to be a British soldier, as is evident from the falling enlistments. A typical soldier earns just £13,000 a year to put his life on the line. A policeman earns about £23,000 a year and a fireman about £27,000.

Hardly fair is it? Particularly when you think that soldiers have a far tougher job than the other two anyway, let alone the extra risk that they take. What incentive is there other than doing it for Queen and Country? It must have been quite insulting for the soldiers to hear about police officers once again protesting over pay. Of course soldiers can’t strike either, moreover they don’t even have a union, they aren’t allowed to have one and so have no one to whinge on their behalf.

Capt James Philippson, 29, of St Albans, Herts, was the first British soldier to be killed in Helmand province. He and his colleagues were sent to fight the Taliban without night vision goggles and without adequate machine guns or grenade launchers.

Capt James PhilippsonIt goes without saying that night sight goggles are invaluable during night time engagements.
The difference, quite literally is night and day. What did the commanders who sent them out there, sharing three pairs between 20 men, expect them to do? Take it in turns to shoot? Hope that the Taliban would wait whilst they swap over?

Still, British troops managed without night vision goggles in WWII, and even in the Falklands, so they were surely trained to fight without them and as far as I know, the Taliban that they engaged didn’t have any. That does not, however, excuse the lack of other equipment. Capt Philippson’s company were also without adequate machine guns, despite requesting them and grenade launchers.

A separate inquest in Trowbridge, Wilts, heard how L/Sgt Casey, 27, from Aldershot, Hants, and L/Cpl Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, died when their Snatch Armoured Land Rover was hit north of the Rumaylah oilfields last August. The inquest heard that the platoon commander had asked for the more heavily protected Mastiff vehicles to be used that day but they were all being used elsewhere.

It is a standard part of army life that there isn’t always enough of the best equipment to go around, this is nothing new and it has always been this way. However we are hearing about these inadequacies more and more frequently, and they are leading to more and more deaths. Most worrying is that often these deaths aren’t caused by a lack of the best or most expensive equipment, but by a lack of basic equipment. This shows a systemic failure of the MoD to provide it, and the fault lies squarely at the feet of Gordon Brown.

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Thank God the Nazi’s didn’t have bloggers on their side

If there were an award for appeasers this blog would surely get this years award. According to that blog’s author:

…the British army have butchered innocent civilians by indiscriminate fire, like they did in Basra…

People like Osama Bin Laden must be jumping for joy, as ‘Steph’ from http://stephiblog.wordpress.com/ and her ilk are doing their propaganda work for them. It is almost inconceivable to think that people like this are taking the side of murderers and terrorists, rather than their own people. How long before they are applauding terrorists attacks on British soil saying that we got what we deserve? It is a shame that treason is no longer considered a real crime.

These liberals do gooders seems to be up in arms over the killing of a few civilians in a war. Unfortunately that is the way war is, less than 60 years ago it was considered the norm to bomb or even annihilate whole civilian cities during times of war, just because they were on the wrong side.

These unnatural and frankly restrictive modern rules further endanger our troops, who are there at our behest, not because they are bloody thirsty bastards. Remember we (and I use the term we because they aren’t fighting for themselves, they are fighting for us – whether we agree with the war or not) are dealing with people that purposely hide amongst the civilian population, knowing that our misplaced sense of morals will protect them. They dress as women, hide in amongst families and fire from children’s bedrooms.

What choice do our brothers, fathers, cousins or daughters have? Decide not to return fire through fear of harming the civilians that these people are cowering behind and risk burning alive when one of them fires an RPG at the Warrior. Do they allow mortar teams to fire at them indiscriminately because they are firing from a suburban area? Or do they bomb the area, just as they would in a conventional war, to try to save the lives of their comrades?

These liberals discuss this topic as if what the British troops are doing is the same as common criminals at home, as if they have a choice but are purposely being bloodthirsty murderers. They seem to forget that these soldiers could be an 18 year old lad down the road from them, could be people who went to the same school as them and who were brought up with the same morals and standards as them. Judging them in this way makes me sick, unlike ‘Steph’ whose single daily concern is black shoes or brown shoes or ‘does my bum look big in this’, they have to worry about killing someone before they themselves, or their friends, are killed. Wondering everyday whether the smiling Iraqi man is going to pull an RPG from his car and leave them horrifically burnt, or an amputee.

At the end of the day war is about trying to kill as many of the enemy as possible whilst losing as few men of your own. You can’t blame the British troops for taking the opportunity to kill people who are trying to kill them, not to do so would be stupid as that missed opportunity is going to do everything that it can to deprive Mr and Mrs Smith from Battersea of their son. All that the soldiers of the British Army have done, is try to stay alive and unless you have faced what they have faced, you cannot judge them.

These liberals talk about choice, the Iraqi’s are sheltering these people, allowing them to take refuge in their homes and worse allowing them to attack and kill our troops from within that refuge. They made the choice, they want blood and unfortunately part of that means that sometimes it will be some of their own.

Gordon wants a part time army

BBC NEWS | Politics | Brown hits back on forces funding

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rejected criticism from five former military chiefs about the treatment of and funding for the armed forces.

It comes to something when the Prime Minister is criticised by not one, but FIVE (and today a sixth as well) former military chiefs. One or two could, perhaps, have had an axe to grind but six shows that he really has been failing the army.

We’ve been hearing complaints left right and centre for years now, both from the army itself and also from experts and reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The army is under funded and under equipped and typical political remarks such as Des Browne saying that our defence budget was second only to that of America, only highlight the inadequacies.

Actually the UK’s defence budget is not the second highest in the world after the US, that would be China, however our military commitments around the world are the second highest in the world, thanks to, and after the US. But let’s put this in perspective, the US spends £260 billion a year on defence; Britain has the same commitments in the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan and also others around the world, but spends just £30 billion a year on defence out of a possible tax budget of approximately £290 billion. Incidentally China spends £40 billion a year, even Japan spends about £25 billion a year, about the same as France.  

Therefore stating, incorrectly, that ours is the second highest defence budget in the world doesn’t really mean anything, even if it were true, it should be anyway as thanks to this Government we have more overseas committments than during the cold war.

Besides the important figure when calculating defence spending is the percentage of GDP that is spent on defence. In the 1980s 4.4% of GDP was spent on defence. Today that is just 2.3%, this graphic from the BBC illustrates this better.

Again some perspective is needed the US spends 3.7% of its GDP on defence, France 2.6%. So the UK’s spending is not all that impressive.

Just when will Britain aid Zimbabwe?

BBC News – Zimbabwe launches $200,000 note

“Zimbabwe is to start circulating a new 200,000 Zimbabwe dollar note, in a bid to tackle the country’s inflation, the highest in the world.”

A 200,000 dollar note? It is incredible how far the state of Zimbabwe has declined. They were once one of the richest countries in Africa and when the British left had the potential to become one of the richest countries in the world. Now they are the poorest. Their inflation is spiralling out of control and is reminiscent of 1920s Germany or Yugoslavia in the 1990s where a 500 billion dinar note was produced.

500 Billion Dinar note

Zimbabweans now have it far worse than they ever did in colonial times, abject poverty and starvation thanks to Mugabe’s land reform, there just isn’t enough food to go around. By kicking the white land owners and their black workers off their lands, and replacing them with Mugabe cronies with absolutely no knowledge of farming, Mugabe has made his people go hungry. He blamed the country’s problems on the white minority and is now paying for that foolishness, or at least the average Zimbabwean is. In 1990 the life expectancy for a Zimbabwean man was 60 years, just 17 years later it has dropped by 23 years to just 37. Life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe is even less, just 34 years. Incidentally, Robert Mugabe is 83 and pretty sprightly for his age, clearly living well.

Not only has Mugabe plunged his country into starvation and poverty, he has also killed thousands of his own people. As yet Britain has done very little to help it’s former colony other than imposing sanctions, in fact it could be argued that by ending the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ land reform programme in 1997 (that admittedly Mugabe was just milking for his own benefit), Britain has caused some of the problems in Zimbabwe. I am sure that Tony Blair had his reasons for doing it but by just cutting off the Zimbabweans and labelling it an SEP he has helped create the mess that Zimbabwe is now in.

If the USA can invade a country to remove a tyrant purely on humanitarian grounds, why can’t Britain do the same in Zimbabwe? It would certainly be simpler for the British and of more immediate benefit to Zimbabweans than Iraq or Afghanistan, and as a former British colony Zimbabwe already has the required educational, judicial and parliamentary institutions in place; no ‘nation building’ would be required. Zimbabwe also has the highest adult literacy rate in Africa, the same rate as China ( at 90%), compared with 74% in Iraq and just 28% in Afghanistan.

Of course there isn’t any oil in Zimbabwe and certainly no WMD’s (not that there was in Iraq either), so no motivation to intervene.

Royal Navy receives belated boost

Go-ahead for £4bn aircraft carriers – Times Online

“The go-ahead was given yesterday for the construction of two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers as big as the QE2, but the Royal Navy will have to wait until 2014 for the first one – two years behind previous projections.”

This is undoubtedly the best news that the Royal Navy, and in my opinion Britain, has had in many years. World War II proved that the age of the Battleship was dead and that this was the age of the aircraft carrier. Sixty years later the Royal Navy is finally catching up.

In 1960 Britain had nine aircraft carriers (more than it had at the start of WWII) but the Royal Navy began phasing out the large aircraft carriers because they were too expensive to run and by 1978 the last one was decommissioned; leaving just three smaller aircraft carriers. These smaller craft could only carry about ten aircraft each. Excellent for air shows and looking shiny on deck, not much good for anything else. It was two of these three that served in the Falklands War and meant that while Argentina had a couple of hundred fighter planes, Britain could only send 20 (a further 8 came later) on two aircraft carriers. Fortunately the Harrier proved its worth and shot down 21 Argentinean aircraft with no losses.

For some reason the decision to build these new aircraft carriers has been criticised in some quarters even though our current carriers are 30 years old. Apparently it is a waste of money and not needed. In this day and age, it seems that some people believe we don’t need things like submarines and aircraft carriers or perhaps even an army. Perhaps I am missing something, maybe there was some international convention that I missed where it was decided that all future wars would be fought on the Xbox. If not then we definitely do need them, now more than ever.

The Falklands War proved that we needed bigger and better aircraft carriers as we only just managed to cobble together the Task Force that retook the islands. Since then the US has proven time and again that large and modern aircraft carriers are invaluable in everything from pre-emptive strikes to peace keeping. America is able to gain air superiority over almost any nation, just by sending aircraft carriers to the region. If Britain were to send her full complement of aircraft carriers, we’d only be able to gain air superiority over nations like Nepal.

A US aircraft carrier and a British Carrier (HMS Illustrious)

The recent problems with Iran showed that we need a navy that can project its power, that can pose a threat and that has ships that can be used like the battleships of old. The two smaller aircraft carriers that the Royal Navy has at the moment can only carry ten aircraft. During the recent sailor incident with Iran the USA moved three carriers into the waters near Iran, placing almost 300 aircraft within striking distance of key Iranian targets. Britain placed one of her aircraft carriers with ten aircraft just outside Iranian waters (Iran has an air force almost 1000 strong), admittedly there were other aircraft in neighbouring Iraq but the actions of the Royal Navy were hardly likely to instil fear into the Iranian regime.

Many Americans believe that moving the three aircraft carriers into the Persian Gulf is what brought an end to this embarrassing episode. Personally I’d like to think that the ten sub sonic Sea Harriers were the straw that broke the camel’s back. But I think that it was highly unlikely to have made a difference. The once proud Royal Navy is, in many ways, a shell of its former self.

In 1960, Britain no longer ruled the waves having been surpassed by first the USA navy and then the navy of the Soviet Union, however it was still a formidable force with over 200 fighting ships (including 48 subs, 9 carriers, 6 cruisers, 55 destroyers and 85 frigates). Today the story is very different, in fact it is shameful. Britain has half the number of fighting ships that she had during the Falklands War, with just 82 (14 subs, 2 carriers, 0 cruisers, 8 destroyers, 17 frigates and 38 other smaller vessels) yet the Royal Navy is still expected to patrol the world’s oceans, protect British interests abroad, patrol Iraqi waters and when needed launch strikes against rogue states.

Most people in Britain are unaware that although the Empire is gone, there are vestiges remaining. Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are all still British territories that need protection.

For people to say that these carriers aren’t needed is laughable. They are sorely needed. Were the Argies to retake the Falklands today we would still only be able to send 20 aircraft and this time the Task Force would consist of almost the entire Royal Navy. When these new carriers enter service we will at last be able to provide air cover to our troops and our ships. But these new ships will also need protection and eight Destroyers just isn’t enough.

I hope that this is just the start of a long line of improvements to the Royal Navy, which has been badly neglected since WWII, but I doubt it will be. If the trend that started at the end of the last century, continues into this one, the Royal Navy will become a simple coastal defence force. If Britain wants to remain a power in the 21st Century, have her share of global trade and ensure that her overseas territories are protected, then the Royal Navy needs modern ships , lots of them and fast.

Australians having none of it

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran ‘unable to take Australians’

Iranian naval forces in the Gulf tried to capture an Australian Navy boarding team but were vigorously repelled, the BBC has learned.

Well, further evidence as if it were needed that the Iranians had been planning to take some sailors, I really don’t think that they cared whose sailors, for their propaganda purposes. Clearly they had perfected it by the time that they took the British sailors. These Australians had time to clamber back aboard the ship they were searching. The British sailors were caught in the middle of the ocean.

The question is why didn’t the Royal Navy take more care after hearing about this incident?

US use Afghans Police as target practice

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | US strike ‘kills Afghan police’
Seven Afghan policemen have been killed by US forces in a “friendly fire” incident in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghan officials say.

Good to see that the US is still ensuring maximum disruption and that the Afghans are unable to look after themselves. Heaven forbid after almost six years that the international forces will be able to pull out anytime soon.