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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Pride goeth…

When I was ten years old, I was informed that:

  1. The National Health Service is the finest in the World
  2. The Comprehensive School system was the envy of the World
  3. The Welfare State was the envy of the World
  4. The Royal Navy was the finest in the World
  5. The British Army was the finest in the World

When I was twenty, some British politicians still asserted each of these statements, although none seemed to believe all of them anymore. There seemed to be an equal number of politicians claiming that each of these thing was ‘a National disgrace’, which given this was the public sector, was no doubt true.

The elite forces of the British Army are no doubt excellent. Some bits of British military design are excellent. But this does not mean that the British armed forces are fit for combat. In May 1940 the French Army had as many tanks as the Germans. The French Air Force in aerial battle shot down more German planes than the Germans did of theirs. The French tanks were certainly good enough for use by the Germans in other parts of Europe… but even good equipment can be misused, and the finest army in the world can be run into the ground by bad management.

Since 1991, the British Army has recruited according to the whims of political correctness. The rifle only works if assembled in a tent and cleaned before and after each use. The boots melt in the Middle East. The troops have not enough sleeping bags, clothes, soap, tents or fuel for their vehicles. Their communications equipment does not work, last time they saw action in Europe they were able to use their mobile phones, this time these are unlikely to work. The new British tank breaks down. The British Army version of the Apache apears to be less reliable than the version used by the US in 1991. There is not enough ammunition for any of the weapons. There is no medical service worth talking about to save money and because of staff shortages: casualties will queue and die on trolleys in the National Health Service if they are unfortunate enough to be flown home. Obviously the best scenario for a British wounded soldier is to be picked up and treated by one of the other allies (except perhaps Turkey). This may sound like the Crimea in 1854-56. On that occasion the Times decribed the British Army as it left as ‘the finest army that has ever left these shores’. Less than ten per cent of the British casualties of the Crimean War came from combat.

It may be that the US is capable of defeating Iraq rapidly and without considerable losses. But the British Army is not properly equipped, the logistics are very poor and the medical facilities inadequate. I would rather air these points now, than wait for a report from a modern Scutari.

10 comments to Pride goeth…

  • The British Armed Forces are the best trained and most professional in the world. They are often terribly equipped, but that aside, I think the last two are true.

  • I responded here to this post, with a query about where one can find good, objective sources of information about the true current state of the British military.

  • Sad to say but seen from over here in the US that sounds just about right.

    Recently, I’ve been spending time with American and a few European senior officers. The British Army has a few excellent bits of hardware. The Warrior IFV may be the best in the world. On the whole the quality of the Britsh Armed Forces is not what it was 10 or 15 years ago. (Even then there were problems with the Tanks.)

    The SAS the Paras and the Royal Marines are among the best light Infantry and Special Forces in the world, In the US Only the Ranger Regiment and a few other Special Operations Forces come up to their standards. The rest of the British Army is better than anything on the continent but still it is simply not up to the US level.

    While Europeans have been talking about battlefield digitalization the US has gone and done it. The 4th Infantry Division waiting to unload at the Turkish Ports is the most Advanced Integrated Ground Force on the planet.

    The US has its weaknesses no doubt ,but its too bad that our best allies who have the capability to be very very good have just not put the effort into their forces that is needed to play in our league.

    If what you say about the British military medical services is true, I’m horrified. I saw the Hospital ship Mercy sail from Baltimore earlier this month . It should be able to handle any overflow , but even so … I can only shake my head.

    Good Luck to us all . we’re going to need it.

  • Walter E. Wallis

    Sounds about the way we were in ’50. 20% of our vehicles had to be towed to the dock in Seattle. My 2nd Infantry Division had the advantage of recent training, but those poor souls who had to go from Garritrooper duty in Japan to combat payed a dear price for their on-the-job training.
    We need to dust off Kipling every once in a while.

  • nick mallory

    Just a fraction of the vast sums being thrown the black holes of the NHS and the failed education system would have been much better spent in boosting our defence capability.

    The Americans are two generations ahead of us, we can’t develop weapons to match theirs of our own or even afford to buy theirs. In another decade we wont be able to fight alongside them anymore than archers can fight alongside machinegunners.

    Our men are beyond comparison, though often shabbily treated, but our kit is ever more primitive in comparison. The new carriers will help but they won’t be here in a decade. The Typhoon’s a good airframe but is taking so long to develop and our version won’t even have a gun – a mistake that keeps being made again and again. Our lack of smart weapons is shamefull.

    Let’s hope that when the armed forces have helped make Tony Blair a hero in a few weeks time that he’ll boost the budgets and equip them properly for the tasks to come.

  • Bill

    It has been said (amongst knowledgeable gun owners) that in WWI the Germans had the best hunting rifle (The 98 Mauser), the Americans the best target rifle (the Springfield), the French the rifle most suitable for converting into a floor lamp (Gotta love that one!), and the British the best battle rifle, the SMLE. I own a No. 4 MK II*, and must concur. It is one of the guns I will always keep.

    With such an illustrious background in fielding an excellent rifle, one must wonder what the Hell happened after WWII? Granted, the theory of war has changed somewhat, but the fundamentals are basically the same. The fighting soldier needs an accurate, reliable weapon that is serviceable in field conditions.

    I will add this, however: When I was in the military back in the late 1980’s, I sadly never had the opportunity to work with the Brits. However, my brother did when he was a marine in the early 1990’s, and my youngest brother (currently in the Army) did a couple of years ago. The are both of the opinion that the only European military worthy of the name is the British Army. High praise indeed, coming from those two.

  • Paul Platou

    I think in close urban combat, the British SAS/Paras are the world’s elite as they have had the right experience.

    It would make sense for the Americans to equip them and let them to hold Bagdad.

  • Shaun Bourke

    Errr…..are there any remaining questions as to why Master Griffin’s BNP continues to amass votes in ever increasing quantities ????

  • Antoine Clarke

    About this comment:
    “Errr…..are there any remaining questions as to why Master Griffin’s BNP continues to amass votes in ever increasing quantities ????”

    I don’t see any connection. People who vote for the British National Party either do so out of racial determinism, which I do not believe to have any relevant truth in philosophy, politics or economics, or as a protest against the Labour Party’s policies on immigration or asylum. I favour the abolition of the welfare state and then an open door to immigration (which would then be mostly of people seeking to make money). This does not prevent me from preferring to see well equipped British troops sent into combat than “lions led by donkeys”.

  • For current resources on the SAS Regiments, including the Australian SAS Regiment, see http://www.survivalistskills.com/sas.htm.

    There is also a substantial archive of fascinating and invaluable ‘New World Order Intelligence Update’ articles on the New World Order at http://www.survivalistskills.com/sect22.htm and archived also at http://www.rarehistorybooks.com/NWOLINKS.HTM. The ‘NWOIU’ site itself is currently being substantially re-constructed, but these archived articles are well worth reading.