Saturday, 22 October 2016

A Tribute to Think Defence

So last night I found out that Think Defence is hanging up his keyboard, at least as far as blogging is concerned. 

I've known TD since about 2010ish I believe, maybe earlier, when I first stumbled across his blog. I started out just reading the articles and the fascinating discussions that accompanied them in the comments section, something which I think has always been a great strength of Think Defence; the quality and diversity of the comments it attracted and the debates that sprung from them. Eventually I joined in the discussions and from there started contributing guest articles. It was Think Defence that ultimately got me into the blogging game, so in the end analysis you can blame all my ramblings on him!

It's a sad day for UK defence commentary to see him go. Not only did his articles attract an unmatched level of discussion from civilians and military personnel alike, but the breadth of the topics - particularly those not normally covered on defence blogs - guaranteed that Think Defence was at the forefront of UK defence blogging. 

I owe him a lot and it's a debt I'll never really be able to repay. The UK defence community is certainly losing one of its best assets, but blogging is a lot harder than it looks, especially if you want to produce decent quality material. I can't argue with anyone that wants to put their blog to bed and spend more time with the family. 

All we can do then is wish him well and I hope that whatever he turns to next will be a success. Probably building bridges out of shipping containers.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Big Picture on UK strategy

So I've been rambling a lot lately about a lack of strategic thinking for the UK. The question that follows that is simple; "Ok smarty pants, what's your plan? Hmm?"

Good question.

Friday, 30 September 2016

The British Dilemma

I've talked recently about strategy, how it relates to the UK and the lack of a seemingly coherent UK strategy in the sense of having an armed forces that are shaped to meet some very specific strategic goals. But one thing I haven't talked about yet, one thing we always seem to forget, is what I like to call the "British Dilemma".

Friday, 9 September 2016

Does the UK really have a strategy?

Today I want to talk about something that has bugged me for a long time; Strategy. Or more pertinently, the UK's seeming lack of one.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Army 2021?

Recently I assessed both some of the lessons that could be taken from the Chilcot enquiry into the UK's contribution to the Iraq campaign, and also some of the lessons that have come out of the fighting in Ukraine. During the process of this it occurred to me that British land forces as currently structured seem ill prepared to meet some of the challenges raised, such as some of the logistic issues raised by Chilcot and certainly some of the emerging challenges that have appeared in Ukraine. A leaked British army report would seem to agree with that position.

The trouble is what to do about it? Today I'm going to dip my toe into waters that I normally try and avoid, that of the so-called "fantasy fleets/fantasy orbats" etc, and look at a possible restructuring of the British Army to meet these new challenges. But in order to do this with any kind of sanity and an intention to produce something that is at least workable in reality - in broad terms if not in detail - then it needs to be somewhat grounded and adhere to a few basic rules. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Latest chemical weapons use in Syria

Apologies for those who've been waiting for my latest post. One of the downsides of being a blogger is that it will naturally have to come below a number of other things on the pecking order, not unless someone wants to start financing me for this?

No takers? No?

Sod 'ya then. In that case I better start producing more content in the ever elusive pursuit of some meagre ad revenue. And today I just want to touch quickly on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

1970 Case Study of the M-16

While I finish up work on my latest full post, just thought I'd share something with you which I found interesting (and which has contributed to the delay of my next post...)

The other day I came across a pdf version of an M-16 case study, written in 1970 by then retired Colonel Richard R. Hallock. The document is quite a detailed report of the history of the M-16 development with respects to the US army's perspective and represents a catalogue of failures and outright malicious attempts to kill the rifle off despite the strong evidence that developed to support it.

I find this document interesting because it shows the extent of just how resistant to change an organisation can be when it is stuck in its own way of doing things, and how easy it can be to subtley manipulate test data, impeding the progress of more advantageous solutions at the expense of the people at the business end who have to deal with such failures, in what amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence. 

It also highlights that while large defence contractors hardly have a saintly record of helping their end users acquire the correct systems at the correct price, sometimes the procurement wounds inflicted on military organisations are almost entirely self-inflicted, either for institutional reasons, or for the benefit of individuals personal careers. Even military officers with distinguished careers and a life time of service to a cause greater than themselves can be coaxed into making choices that are personal in nature, to the detriment of their service and their fellow professionals. 

There are two caveats that I will throw out though.

The first is that I can't find much about Col. Hallock's history, beyond a brief a biography. There doesn't seem to be any commercial connections to someone like Colt, or anyone else involved in the M-16 program, but you never know. I always find this an intersting starting point with a document like this, to figure out who the person writing it is and what connections they may or may not have to the subject matter. Secondly, for time reasons, I've not checked any of the reports and materials referenced in the document. It is taken as written that they say what Hallock says they do, which is always a somewhat risky thing to do. 

Just keep those two things in mind if you fancy a read. And if you do, the link is here.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Lessons from Ukraine

A while back I came across this pdf document about the war in Ukraine over at Think Defence (sorry TD, couldn't remember the exact page!). Written by Dr. Phillip A. Karber of The Potomac Foundation, the paper offers insights into the nature of the conflict, specifically from the military perspective and with a strong focus on the front line aspects of what is happening, with the intention of trying to draw out information that might be of use to future US and allied leaders in a conventional style conflict, possibly with Russia. Most of the information is drawn from the authors personal experience and observations, plus his interviews with Ukrainian officers and troops. One of the stated aims of the paper is to; "stimulate a dialogue on the military aspects of the Russo-­Ukrainian War with a focus on emerging trends".

So today we're going to review some of its contents and try to stimulate a dialogue about possible emerging trends.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Update 22/07/16

I'm going to be busy this weekend and into next week, so next post will probably appear, all things permitting, at some point towards the end of next week.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Notes from Chilcot

Having poured through many of the elements of the Chilcot report (but certainly not the entire thing) I thought I'd take a pause to comment on some of the issues thrown up by it. One thing I don't intend to do is to go into the legal minefield of whether or not the war was justified under international law, nor do I want to get bogged down in the moral (or otherwise) arguments about whether or not the war was a good idea, and whether or not it achieved its aims. Rather there are some very specific points that I want to pick out.