Monday, 29 April 2013

A Quick Apology

To 'The Securocrat', who left a comment on the article "Change of Plan. Or Strategy". Your comment was originally eaten by the spam filter, for reasons I can't explain, especially as genuine spam often manages to find its way onto the blog with ease. I've only just checked the spam folder today and found the comment, which has now been uploaded. Sorry about that!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Filling time

Some people say Twitter is a pointless waste of time, good for nothing. I disagree. Largely on account of the fact that when my own posts get delayed, I can always fall back on the MoD, Army, Navy and RAF twitter feeds to throw up something interesting. And they've come up trumps once again.

As you probably already know, Exercise Joint Warrior is ongoing in and around Scotland right now. And 16 Air Assault Brigade has been getting in on the act, joining French airborne troops to practice a number of techniques including parachuting, a helicopter assault and follow on air landings.

Two links for you then. The first is just a picture, showing the parachute stage of the exercise. The other is a link to a more in depth news piece from the government website.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


As you can see, the background has changed. And as you can see, it's gone very sombre. That's because today is ANZAC day, a day on which we remember those from New Zealand and Australia who have fought and died on behalf of those nations, and the suffering and privation endured by those who served and survived.

Traditionally you don't hear much about ANZAC day here in the UK, but this year I wanted to stop and recognise it. Lest we forget the number of Australian and New Zealand service personnel who have fought alongside our own forces and contributed greatly to our own success in many theatres, indeed, to our very security and survival here at home, as did many of our Commonwealth partners.

We remember them.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Update 24/4/13

Nearly May already? Jesus. 

Just to let thee know (because today we art in ye olde times mode) that I'm nearly finished on the next article, which might be up as early as tonight. Or it might not. We'll see.

Till then, erm, talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

More of an overview of Exercise Joint Warrior

Can't believe I didn't think to do this earlier, but for those who are wondering the Royal Navy site has a much more comprehensive overview of just what Exercise Joint Warrior involves and what kind of things can be practised on it. This even includes a mock media crew who put commanders through their media paces!

Friday, 19 April 2013

QE and Jam

For those who perhaps haven't seen it yet, I wrote a guest piece for Think Defence, which you can find by following this link. Something a little different, a bit of Devil's advocacy for the Carrier supporters, proposing a method to go about generating a third carrier.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A quick update about Joint Warrior

Just thought I'd follow yesterdays post about Joint Warrior by sharing a link from the Royal Navy. The Royal Marine's Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) has done a parachute drop as part of the exercise, getting back to practising their core role as a lead element of 3 Commando Brigade, providing on the spot Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) before amphibious landings go in. The link includes some pictures of the men making the drop.

Err, link here.

On an additional note, the RAF's 1 (Fighter) Squadron has been brushing up on its Close Air Support skills in Malaysia, with RAF Regiment gunners acting as their Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTAC). The Typhoons have also had the chance to engage in a bit of Dissimilar Air Combat Training with Malaysian F-18's and MiG-29's. 

The Typhoons will be staying in Malaysia for Exercise Bersama Shield, working with forces from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand as part of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA). This exercise typically brings together a wide range of air, naval and land forces. For example, last year Australia deployed its Wedgetail Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) as well as fighters and Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), King Air aircraft and two frigates.

Even smaller exercises like this are an excellent chance for UK forces to work with a variety of allies and in this case with allies we don't get round to seeing as much as our more local partners. Good stuff.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Just some links for now

While I kill time between posts... I mean, while I work exceptionally hard on my next post, I thought I'd share some links. This post wont be long enough to justify a page jump, so those of you who have come to main site can stop looking for the "Read More" button now.

First, the RAF's Tranche 2 Typhoons (whatever happened to the work "batch"?) have now achieved multi-role capability as six Squadron became the first to drop Paveway bombs from the upgraded aircraft. Link to full article here.

The other three links are all related to Exercise Joint Warrior which is taking place off the coast of Northern Scotland. Joint Warrior is a major exercise involving over 12,000 personnel from various countries, with nearly half the count being made up by UK forces.

This is something that I'd like to see the UK do more of and have written about in the past; Britain taking the lead in a major International exercise, with limited American presence, which helps to develop our ability to conduct and lead operations that the US may not be so invested in.

The exercise will combine naval, air and ground assets. Link one. Link two. Link three.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A quick video about something different

Defence blogs are replete with videos and articles about equipment, formations, strategy, tactics, technology and economics. This blog is really no different. But for one day I just want to show something different that I came across. 

As I'm sure you're all aware, wars leave behind scars. Some of these are very visible. We see soldiers returning home with legs or arms missing. We see coffins brought back on C-17s. We see the physical damage done to countries and we understand the economic damage done to them when we look at detailed reports of their economies.

One set of scars that remain hidden though, but are carried by almost every service person who has been to a warzone, are the mental scars. Luckily this is an issue which is receiving increasing amounts of attention both here in the UK and in other countries that have contributed forces to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

To get something of a better idea of how this issue affects service personnel and what they go through, please just take 13 minutes of your time to watch the video below.

Friday, 5 April 2013

The hidden cost of cost savings?

Yesterday the Prime Minister delivered yet another hammer blow to defence in the UK by announcing that the defence budget would not be off limits if further cuts were needed after 2015. Such is the nature of coalition politics that the Conservative party must give some leeway to Liberal Democrat views, which is probably the most likely explanation as to why health and education have been ring fenced for the time being. Perfectly valid arguments about the law of diminishing returns and the danger that the Conservatives are alienating their political base (by continuing with what will hopefully be the last occurrence of coalition politics in my lifetime) have been cast aside in favour of appeasing Nick Clegg and co. 

This comes on the back of deep cuts already made in the defence budget over the course of this parliament. It's obvious then in this climate that the MoD needs to find ways to save cash, not least because the more it can save by removing wasteful expense then the less money it will have to be cut from genuinely highly capable and useful areas.

This has been the back drop to defence discourse for the last five or more years now, and so inevitably every discussion about new pieces of equipment or current formations eventually comes back around to the question of cost. And as each year passes and the treasury applies yet more pressure, the discussion surrounding cost becomes more acute and takes up more and more of our time.

But I have a new question today, one which I've been trying to ask for about the last week or two, before I kept getting pulled in other directions; is money really the main thing we should be concerned about when making decisions about defence?