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Tuesday, 16 October 2012


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Well David, now that you've been introduced to Harry Tunnel - allow me to introduce you to Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley.

Don't know "for certain" Colonels Tunnel and dooly actually know each other but, I have the suspicion they may have passed as "ships in the night."

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with your final two paragraphs (strategically, tactically, culturally, geographically... it's the biggest Cluster**** since, dare I say it, Vietnam) I take some issue with the 'statements' by Col. Tunnel.

Perhaps comparing and contrasting Vietnam and Malaysia would be a useful learning experience for the good Colonel? (I could list a few other conflicts but surely he hasn't just read about American forces?). Perhaps considering the facts that incidents and attacks are much reduced in areas controlled and patrolled by British (and almost any other countries, for that matter) troops would be useful too.

This has more to do with an American officer who has 'issues'. American military doctrine has always leant towards 'if in doubt bring more firepower' (as well as 'kill them all, let God sort them out' - I suspect it is cultural considering their law-enforcement actions at home, and even something as tangential such as supercars, don't deal with details, just put a bigger engine in it). Having both been there (and having a size XL T-shirt) I can confirm that even to the lowliest of ranks Americans absolutely abhor the idea that they are not in charge - American right or wrong (look at how they view Montgomery for an idea).

We are there because America decided to, both tactical and strategic aims are set by American politicians, the overall rules of engagement are set by the Americans - but that's not enough.

So Col. Tunnel , in areas where overall command is by Gen. Carter (brave, skilled and honourable) American troops (we'll just gloss over the British, Dutch, etc. - they don't count) are being killed in engaging the enemy. Well, in areas controlled by American generals, more of those self same troops are dying - Think about it!

The American military is the biggest and most powerful but 'there are more boy-scouts than members of the SAS, who would you call if the Sh*t hit the fan?'. Being biggest doesn't mean best.

Just sayin'

Returning to Richard North. Some years ago he had an American commenter who wrote under the pseudonym "General Le May" (sorry about mine). General Le Mays policy was "rinse and rinse again". You bombed them till they stopped annoying you and then did it every time they got uppity.

Of course the problem with the Americans is that they have the idea that it is their duty to tell rest of us how to do things.

"The American military is the biggest and most powerful but 'there are more boy-scouts than members of the SAS, who would you call if the Sh*t hit the fan?'. Being biggest doesn't mean best."

In a "Best of all Worlds" choice - I think my preference would be to give command to the fellows with the most lengthy record of experience - admitting the US is pretty much the infant on the world stage when it comes to this sort of thing.

A "hard sell" though when my countrymen are figured into the equation. The consensus pretty much summed up as, "Well look who has to provide all the missiles and bullets when NATO or somesuch, decides to take out some tinpot North African maniac... if the other nations can't see to investing in their own offensive forces and we're [the US] gonna have to pay for most of it - why don't we get the say-so."

Of course it's a given we [the US] don't have the centuries of experience formulating the endgame scenarios - if we did, we'd almost certainly lower our expectations - still, too often it comes down to, "s'long as we're gonna be paying for it, we surely deserve to be leading it!"

Haven't time to read the whole link, JK, but Dooley is surely right that High Commands have the duty to examine all and every scenario that might arise against potential enemies. However, to pick one of them under the influence of religious prejudice is imbecilic.

Yes, Able, the Americans do have a 'Gung Ho' approach to warfare. It was clearly illustrated in an excellent programme last night on BBC4 which ran over that old 'minefield' of the different strategic aims on the part of Marshall and Brooke from 1942 onwards. *Almost certainly* the Brits were right to concentrate in the Med before attempting a Channel crossing which, if it had taken place in 1943, would probably have been a disaster. Marshall's notion that the quickest way from London to Berlin was by the shortest route was almost childlike in its naivitee. On the other hand, by 1944 the time had come and British foot-dragging was wrong. It is interesting to note that part of the British reluctance was due to the severe doubts both Churchill and Brooke had concerning the competence and fighting qualities of their own army!!

If the Americans need to learn a little more subtlety, then we need to learn a lot more humility, not least because we are now weaker than we have been for centuries. To be blunt, we are no longer a serious player! And JK makes an entirely valid point by saying, in effect, he who pays the piper picks the tune. Of course, it is then up to our (less than) glorious leaders to decide whether we join the parade or not! We stayed out of Vietnam and we could do the same on a case by case basis.


True, and a reasonable expectation I would say.

The issues arise in that (eg, decision to force 7.62, then 5.56) when you aren't paying you still want to command, and examining WW 11 (Montgomery - Patton, Simpson, Bradley?). That's totally ignoring the blatant disrespect apparent in his report (something I'd guarantee he would have been considerably more circumspect about if his superior had been American).

I was involved with a discussion on weapons used in current theatre (SA 80, M4) and an American officer who had been instructing (in American methods of CQB and FIBUA) after finding out that some basic methods did not 'fit' with an altered weapon (since they had been developed purely for M4) descended not only into a 'slagging' of the SA 80 (which data shows is performing considerably better than M4) but into a 'hissy-fit' against those in command (who picked and chose parts that worked to develop our own protocols), basically stating that the officers were unfit, unlike American ones. This attitude seems all too prevalent, a fact that should worry you? That's not to tar all officers with the same brush, but the meme exists there that 'American is best in all things', and anyone (even us) are just ignorant wogs.

Not the way to go about things?

Inspired final paragraph.

XX "The American military is the biggest and most powerful but 'there are more boy-scouts than members of the SAS, who would you call if the Sh*t hit the fan?'. XX


They may be crap at storming schools, but in a REAL battle, you don't feck around with THESE Laddies.

Afghanistan could have been sorted in weeks, if they had not confused the army with the job of the village copper.

I wasn't really "up" for the debates SA 80 v M-4 Able (and besides, that's not the trenches I usually "hang out" in) but as I recall didn't that squabble have something to do with the "usually to be expected ranges + the necessary optics? And, something to do with the expected weight to be brought to firefights?"

But as I understand it - in competent hands the SA was "generally accepted as superior"? Keep in mind - I'm a nominally Nav/centric sort.

I suspect however 'he would almost certainly have been more circumspect had his superior been American' - but my feeling in that regard comes back (perhaps obliquely) to we Americans being a sort of "spoiled infant" when it comes to considering all that should be considered prior to embarking on adventures. And yes Able - it worries me.


Indeed! I once had the 'privilege' of falling out of a Polish plane (on a friendly exchange visit, to gain wings) and had the 'good fortune' to accidentally bump into some of theirs. Definitely not a bunch of gentlemen (or ladies) to ignore. (I won't mention the drinking sessions with some other gentlemen of Finnish extraction - because I can't remember most of it).


Sorry, not having a go. It's just that if we 'other ranks' in a nation with so much in common have these' concerns', what about everywhere else.

"that's not the trenches I usually "hang out" in"

Ah yes, I keep forgetting, if it's not powered, crew-served, weighs less than a ton and you have to come within 3 nautical miles to an enemy to use it - it's not a weapon to you, right? lol

Well Able, strictly speaking - just for myself mind - powered of course, but as long as there's a lock an enemy could be further out.

But, most importantly, after the trap and shower - a reasonably good mattress - and a honest-to-god pillow. Pillows if I wanted.

Doesn't matter much anymore and currently though - all I usually gets asked to do is give my opinion - not that I believe, anyone's taking notes. David maybe. But I don't think our JCS takes his calls.

Plainly the sensible strategy in Afghanistan was to go in, break the furniture and get out, leaving a nasty note pinned to the door. However Rumsfeld could see there was little political mileage in that (not much to blow up and OBL doing a runner) and turned his attention to Iraq - a much more telegenic operation.

If you have an expensive military sitting on its arse and then give it a job it will find good reasons to keep on doing that job however pointless. The job of the politicos is to control that instinct which is where the in-bustup-out strategy fails. It leaves the 'job' undone - a political failure. I have sympathy for both officers - they had mission-impossible both in theatre and back home. As my old military friend said 'you can't fart against thunder'.

You are so right about Afghanistan.

The Imperial British army in its pomp could not subdue the place; the Red Army in ITS pomp could not: both ran away with their tails between their legs.

"There will be no peace in that unhappy country until the military steamroller has passed over it from one end to the other".

And yes, before any pedant corrects me, I know that was not said about Afghanistan, but the comment is true there as well.

Since we're not about to unleash any steamrollers, the best thing we can do is leave, NOW. We've lost anyway (again!), why prolong the agony and lose a few more young lives? It's pointless.

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