Monday, 22 October 2012

Military needs to equip for COIN

From a speech by General Sir David Richards at the IISS (back in 2010):

3. Defence must respond to the new strategic, and indeed economic, environment by ensuring much more ruthlessly that our armed forces are appropriate and relevant to the context in which they will operate rather than the one they might have expected to fight in in previous eras. Too much emphasis is still placed on what Secretary Gates calls ‘exquisite’ and hugely expensive equipment. 4. - Our Defence establishment has not yet fully adapted to the security realities of the post-Cold War world and this complex and dangerous new century. US defence analyst David Wood recently described the US defence budget as encrusted with an "we've always done it this way'' convention and strategic choices attuned to the last century. - Operating among, understanding and effectively influencing people requires mass - numbers - whether this is ‘boots on the ground’, riverine and high speed littoral warships, or UAVs, transport aircraft and helicopters. They have to be able to fight but this is no longer sufficient. No nation is any better than the US in this respect and nearly all are far worse. 5. If one equips more for this type of conflict while significantly reducing investment in higher-end war-fighting capability, suddenly one can buy an impressive amount of ‘kit’. Whilst, as you will hear, I am emphatically not advocating getting rid of all such equipment, one can buy a lot of UAVs or Tucano aircraft for the cost of a few JSF and heavy tanks. 6.  - Can we take the risk? Well we have to take risk somewhere or run the far greater one of trying with inadequate resources to be all things to all conflicts and failing to succeed in any. Why this area of traditional state on state war though? - Having learnt the lessons taught by AQ, the Taliban and many other non-state actors, and thought how to exploit them perhaps on an ‘industrial’ scale, why would even a major belligerent state choose to achieve our downfall though high risk, high cost traditional means when they can plausibly achieve their aims, much more cheaply and semi-anonymously, using proxies, guerrillas, economic subterfuge and cyber warfare?

Even the generals are saying it.

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