Deleted member 675
HMS Dauntless, the 2nd Type-45 destroyer, launched yesterday (23rd Feb).
You can read all about it
You can read all about it
IF ONLY half the current stories
about the UK government's plans
for the reduction of the Royal Navy
are true, a very large number of
trained naval officers will be appearing
in the job market before long.
The relegation of this arm of defence
into a sort of up-market offshore patrol
force, armed with a handful of frigates
and (improbably) a flotilla of nuclear
submarines, is causing serious ructions
in the service. There are now serious
doubts as to whether steel will
even be cut for the two planned aircraft
carriers, and huge implications
for the UK's naval shipbuilders.
There are strong hints that Portsmouth
Dockyard, spiritual home to the navy,
will be closed down, a current review
noting that the anticipated fleet could
be accommodated in Plymouth, and (if
the Scots continue to permit it) Rosyth
and Faslane. Great opportunities for
developers in an expensive part of the
It is all about money, with the commitments
in Iraq and Afghanistan seen to
be long term and increasingly expensive,
with the need of the Army an obvious
priority. It is about the failure to
properly align ideas of sea power and
realpolitik with the practical issues of
the post-cold war world, with very different
enemies and a great deal of unsuitable
equipment left as a legacy. It
is also about the baleful influence of
Europe, with its anti-Americanism
and lack of enthusiasm for Nato aims
Some might suggest that this is all part
of a much-needed and enforced sense
of reality, in which the ability of the
UK to pay for expensive armed forces
is increasingly focused upon what it
The role of the Royal Navy as some sort
of global police force, patrolling off the
Horn of Africa and chasing drug smugglers
in the Caribbean, is no longer appropriate
for a small European country
struggling to pay for public
services, and engaged in land wars on
two fronts. After all, Belgium and
Sweden are not rushing around in this
sort of distant maritime mission. We
should "get real". Such a view permeates
a great deal of the government's
The principal enemies of Her Majesty's
armed forces are traditionally located
in Whitehall, but the danger for the
Royal Navy is that scepticism about its
modern mission is now accompanied
by a great deal of political cynicism
and public apathy. Naval procurement
costs are not seen as an investment in
national security, but as an appalling
diversion of funds from social programmes.
The "listed" price of new
warships is similarly regarded as a
luxury which the country cannot afford,
with the cynicism over probable
cost overruns well entrenched. Warships,
like Eurofighters and a great
deal of other hardware, are seen as
having limited utility in the fight
against our terrorist enemies which,
the government seems perpetually
anxious to assure us, are just one step
away from some frightful outrage. The
messages are, to say the least, confusing,
to those manning, planning and
I wonder what really happened, if it was so risky to send a repair party or remove sensitive equipment before instead of blowing it up?The C-130 had just touched down at an airstrip in Maysan province when it was damaged by an explosion of unknown origin, said a ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.
Another C-130 in the area quickly landed at the same strip and rescued the crew, the spokesman said.
"The site was secured and, after a thorough assessment of the damage, it was concluded that the aircraft could not be recovered without exposing our personnel to undue risk," the spokesman said.
"There was also a potential risk that anti-Iraqi forces might obtain information on specialist equipment. The aircraft was therefore safely destroyed by multinational forces."
I wonder what really happened, if it was so risky to send a repair party or remove sensitive equipment before instead of blowing it up?
Blair to Draw Down British Troops
This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Sadr-controlled Maysan province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.
Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come.
This is an exellent example of how to read between the lines:
Blair announces withdrawal of some British troops from Iraq
By David Stringer
7:33 a.m. February 21, 2007
LONDON – Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months and aims to further cut its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer if Iraqi forces can secure the country's south, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday.
An expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies says he is not surprised by reports Prime Minister Tony Blair is releasing a new timetable to pull British troops out of Iraq.
The announcement, which came as Denmark said it would withdraw its 460 troops and Lithuania said it was considering pulling out its small contingent, comes as the U.S. is implementing an increase of 21,000 more troops for Iraq – putting Washington on an opposite track as its main coalition allies.
Analysts say there is little point in boosting forces in largely Shiite southern Iraq, where most non-U.S. coalition troops are concentrated. Yet as more countries draw down or pull out, it could create a security vacuum if radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stirs up trouble.
Blair told the House of Commons that British troops will stay in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border and maintain supply routes to U.S. and coalition troops. He told lawmakers that “increasingly our role will be support and training, and our numbers will be able to reduce accordingly.”
“The actual reduction in forces will be from the present 7,100 – itself down from over 9,000 two years ago and 40,000 at the time of the conflict – to roughly 5,500,” Blair said.
If Iraqi forces are judged ready to assume more responsibility for security in southern Iraq, Britain could further reduce its force level to below 5,000 once a base at Basra Palace is transferred to Iraqi control in late summer, Blair said.
Blair said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had agreed to the plan.
“What all of this means is not that Basra is how we want it to be. But it does mean that the next chapter in Basra's history can be written by Iraqis,” Blair said.
Denmark said it would withdraw its troops from southern Iraq by August. The decision had been made with the Iraqi government and Britain, under whose command the Danish forces are serving near Basra, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
He added that Denmark would replace the troops with surveillance helicopters and civilian advisers. He said he spoke Tuesday with Bush who expressed “both understanding and satisfaction that the situation in Iraq makes it possible for Denmark and Britain to reduce their numbers of troops.”
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman in Lithuania, Ruta Apeikyte, said the Baltic nation is also “seriously considering” withdrawing its 53 troops from Iraq in August. The Lithuanian platoon serves with a Danish battalion near Basra.
The major effect of the British and Danish withdrawals will likely be political, coming on the heels of Bush's decision to boost U.S. troop levels. Democratic leaders could use the announcements to pressure Bush to put forth his own timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played down the British pullback, saying it is consistent with the U.S. plan to turn over more control to Iraqi forces.
“The British have done what is really the plan for the country as a whole, which is to transfer security responsibility to the Iraqis as the situation permits,” Rice said in Germany, where she is meeting with the German foreign minister.
“The coalition remains intact and, in fact, the British still have thousands of troops deployed in Iraq.”
Blair and Bush talked by secure video link Tuesday about Britain's proposed withdrawal, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. He also said that Bush views Britain's troop cutbacks as “a sign of success” in Iraq.
“While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis,” Johndroe said.
The British have faced problems recently in the south. Since January 2005, Basra and Maysan provinces have both fallen under the sway of Shiite militias, which have resisted British efforts to uproot them. Relations with the Basra provincial government have also deteriorated.
Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said though the British and American strategies appear to be opposite, they will achieve the same end: a consolidation of Shiite power in Iraq.
The British have already acquiesced to a “situation of quiet sectarian cleansing” in the south, and their decision to pull out of Basra simply marks “acceptance of a political reality” of Shiite control in the region. He noted, for instance, that southeastern Iraq has been “a no-go zone” for some time.
“If the Shiites continue to stand down (in Baghdad), the U.S. is fighting the Sunni insurgents for them,” he said, further cementing Shiite control of the country.
Blair acknowledged that “the situation in Basra is very different from Baghdad – there is no Sunni insurgency, no al-Qaeda base, little Sunni on Shia violence,” adding that the southern city is nothing like “the challenge of Baghdad.”
The Iraqi capital has suffered from what Blair called an “orgy of terrorism unleashed upon it in order to crush any possibility of it functioning.”
“If Baghdad cannot be secured, the future of the country is in peril. The enemies of Iraq understand that. We understand it,” Blair said.
But opposition Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell said Blair's plan fell a long way short of a promise to leave Iraq as a “beacon of democracy” for the region.
“The unpalatable truth is this ... we will leave behind a country on the brink of civil war, where reconstruction has stalled, where corruption is endemic and a region which is a lot less stable than it was in 2003,” Campbell said.
Besides the United States, Britain and Denmark, the major partners in the coalition include South Korea (2,300 troops), Poland (900), Australia and Georgia (both 800) and Romania (600), according to the Brookings Institution.
South Korea plans to halve its 2,300-member contingent in the northern city of Irbil by April, and is under pressure from parliament to devise a plan for a complete withdrawal by year's end. Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said that his country's troops would stay no longer than December.
Blair, who has said he will step down by September after a decade in power, has seen his foreign-policy record overshadowed by his role as Bush's leading ally in the unpopular war. As recently as last month, Blair rejected opposition calls to withdraw British troops by October, calling such a plan irresponsible.
Call it what you want, but a "phased withdrawal" of UK troops while there is a "surge" or phased increase of US troops (who are "advancing in another direction", to use Gen. McCartur words from the time of the Korean War) looks fishy and goofy, if you know what I mean!