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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

02 Aug 07. It takes a canny Scot and a son of the Manse to change the tactics in Iraq to suit the exchequer! Sources suggest that following his visit to Iraq, Premier Gordon Brown, no doubt in consultation with military commanders, concocted a ‘cunning plan’ on the aircraft home; confine all British troops in Iraq to barracks. Result, let the barracks take the strain not the vehicles and less casualties but more violence ouside?

Hopefully for those troops those barracks will not be the current location at the end of ‘sniper alley’ where UK forces were reputed to have taken 50 casualties two weeks ago, but at the airport where the Army has wanted to go for some time. Locating there will enable the Army to build a Green Zone and give the troops a good viewpoint to locate hostiles and hopefully not have to resort to Beau Geste tactics when withdrawal eventually happens.

Prior to pulling out in total, the troops in Basra anre going to have to grin and bear it, facing mortar and rocket attacks whilst the Politicians decide what to do. The troops know that they cannot pull out of Basra in entirety because that is the ‘Point of Exit’ from the conflict for the British Army and probably it has been slated as an exit point for some US Units when the pull-out begins in earnest around 2009.

Confining troops to barracks will also nullify the need to buy anymore expensive vehicles and to lengthen the lives of those already in service. BATTLESPACE had assumed given the bullish nature of the Times article stating that there would be a £30bn pot of money.(See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 29, 20 July 2007, DEFENCE BUDGET ‘RISING’ – ELECTION RUMBLINGS?, By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE) Sadly we were mistaken to believe that woven into this announcement was the fact that the SUV IOPT had plundered the FRES Budget for the MPPV Requirement(See: DVD SHOWCASES OFFERINGS FOR U.K. MINE PROTECTED PATROL VEHICLE REQUIREMENT, By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE). Procurement supreme Lord Drayson told BATTLESPACE on Tuesday that the MPPV Requirement was not funded. This lack of funding may explain the sale of the Carlyle NP Aerospace (See BUSINESS NEWS below) to Morgan Crucible. Has Carlyle ‘called the end of the armour boom’ by this sale? Certainly NPs offering based on the IVECO MMV chassis was seen as one of the best offerings to win the MPPV Requirement. Also, the failure by the MoD to allow ABRO to show off its 250th Bulldog at the FRES briefing may also point the way to a possible slow-down in this Project.

In our BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 21, 24 May 2007, BULLDOG+WLIP+MMPV=FRES/(-CVF)?, we stated that:

‘As the heated debate over the British Army FRES requirement spreads to the highest echelons of the military; the tussle over the FRES funding is believed to have caused a confrontation between the Navy and the Army with the Army arguing that FRES should take preference over CVF. But, the Navy has staked its future, as has BAE Systems Surface Ship Division on CVF, so we can see the sparks flying for some time to come as Lord Drayson attempts to deliver Shipco to the MoD before CVF is signed. One can understand the reluctance not to sign as there would be little left for Shipco after the Type 45 contract is finished and FSC comes on stream.’

After the CVF and Trident announcements, coupled to the rumoured extra Astutes and two more Type 45s, the Army appears to have lost out big time which is a worrying situation as that Service is facing the brunt of casualties and equipment wear. Reports suggest that Brigade losses of killed and wounded are now up to 17% and these are not being replaced on rotation. In addition the numbers of Territorials has gone up to 17% of troop totals. There is no reserve left at a time when Gordon Brown made an expansive speech about a UN-led initiative to Darfur which no doubt he will commit non-existent reserves to.

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