Monday, 21 April 2014

The 2014 Afghan Presedential Election

This week the people of Afghanistan are going to the polls to elect a new President now that the term of Hamid Karzai is finally up. In terms of the importance for the future of Afghanistan and the success of the ISAF mission, this election couldn't be more critical. And potentially it marks a turning point in the campaign against the insurgency.

Karzai was initially voted in by a council and not a general election of the populace. His second election in 2004, the first proper test of his popularity with voters, was mired in controversy and accusations of corruption and electoral fraud. A simlar story played out in 2009, to such an extent that his main opponent refused to compete in a run-off election, believing that the process was already inherently rigged against him.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Refining Procurement

Originally the current government planned on selling off the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation to the private sector, which I'm sure was absolutely because they felt this was the best way to proceed, and had absolutely nothing to do with ideological opinions or generating profit for party donors and old chums. But when it became apparent that only one consortium would bid for the contract the government was forced into the latest of many U-turns.

Now ever since the first announcement that privatisation was being considered I - being the cynic that I am - have been convinced that the government had already made up its mind that privatisation would go ahead. It was essentially just buying time to work out the details and giving the private sector time to calculate its profit margins. I was told originally by one friend that I was just being morbid and defeatist, and that in fact a proper and fair investigation would take place.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The draw down from Germany

The time is almost up for UK forces in Germany. But is this a wise choice?

Two incidents spring to mind immediately, those being the operations over Libya in 2011 and the recent hoo-ha in the Ukraine. These two incidents, both occurring effectively on the borders of NATO, have demonstrated that not all the future uses of the UK armed forces will be on the other side of the world. Some may be very close to home indeed.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Syria and the Ukraine

Or more specifically, has the wests reaction to Syria had an influence on Russias response to the evolving situation in Ukraine?

When the British parliament voted to reject military action in Syria, which subsequently caused a pause for thought in the US, this gave Russia the breathing space to negotiate a deal which allowed Assad to remain untouched in Syria while agreeing to dispose of his chemical weapons.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Quick Update

Just occured to me to check the spam folder. Found a comment by Repulse on the recent return of the original frigate article and an anonymous comment on the article about Independent air forces. Both have been restored to their proper place in the comments. 

The war against genuine spam continues.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

News and Stuff

So I haven't been on twitter (@defencewithac) in a while, except to post links to articles, but having had the chance to sit down and go through it I saw some interesting links that I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Ukraine

The rapidly unfolding events in Crimea and the Ukraine have certainly given people lots to talk about, especially in the defence community. What's intriguing for me is how yet another government strategic review has essentially been proven redundant before the parliament that produced it has even finished.

You could argue this happened back in 2011 with Libya. Having removed aircraft carriers from the Royal Navy, it took just a few months for a situation to arise in which they would have been quite handy. And now we have the Ukraine, which casts a shadow over the governments decision to withdraw British forces from Germany and reduce the size of the armies armoured component.

Now am I suggesting that Britain should be gearing up to fight world war three on the North European plains? Erm, no. But what the incident in Ukraine has shown is that Russia is not afraid to exert its muscle when it comes to nations along its borders, or what it views effectively as former Russian territories. It's shown that the UK and NATO needs to maintain the ability to employ conventional deterrence just as much as a nuclear component. And I think it's shown that the British withdrawl from the continent, as if the UK has no interest in continental matters, is pre-mature.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The argument in favour of the Independent Air Force

The other day over at Think Defence a tired old issue was raised in one of the comments; the argument against independent air forces.

Now that's an argument that has been done to death multiple times, but it occurred to me in the moment that one of my original intentions for setting up this blog was to provide a repository for what were essentially long comments that could be quick referenced. And so today I'm going to do just that and write a sort of extended comment on independent air forces.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Critical Thinking

With the budget tightening over the last few years (I feel like every post seems to start like that) decisions have been made over which capabilities to axe and which to keep, which to enhance and which to keep static or allow to fade. Understandably this has driven much discussion in the defence community, which in turn has led to a number of varying solutions being offered up.

But one of the things that plays on my mind when I read these various suggestions is "are we preparing for/thinking about, the right challenges?".

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Concentration of Effort

I've had an idea on paper for a few months now that was stirred again while reading Heinz Guderians book "Achtung - Panzer!", which I picked up second hand for the princely sum of 1 British penny. If I get time in the future I might start doing reviews of the military books on my shelf, but that's for another day.

The thing that reignited my earlier idea was when Guderian mentioned that tanks should not be dealt out in penny packets to support other arms, but instead should be concentrated together to deliver a decisive blow. It's the "concentration of effort" that I'm interested in here, but on a slightly grander scale.

With the UK's defence budget gradually dwindling and the size of the armed forces subsequently contracting, might more be achieved by a concentration of effort across the armed forces, as opposed to the penny packeting that occurs now? Allow me to explain.