Monday, 31 August 2009

An Army Without Ammunition

Yesterday's news, to be sure (literally), but interesting none the less. From time to time, it's worth paying a visit to the Army Rumour Service ("Arrse") to try to infer the mood of our servicemen, currently tasked with dealing with the most difficult enemy in the world: incompetent political leadership. This was the report:
From The Sunday Times
August 30, 2009
British soldiers banned from using live bullets to save money

Michael Smith

British soldiers are being forced to train with blanks rather than live rounds to save money.

The entire Territorial Army (TA) and a number of nonfrontline regular army units will be affected by the ban on the use of real bullets in personal weapons, according to defence sources.

Soldiers bound for Afghanistan will be spared the restrictions, but even they will start training with live rounds only in the last three months before departure. Those learning to shoot as part of basic training will also be allowed to use real bullets.

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and a former infantry commanding officer, said: “The idea that our frontline reserves should not be able to use live rounds is quite extraordinary..."
Only a government that has no idea what it's doing - and has made some determined enemies within the civil service - would allow a story of this sort to leak when our moron Prime Minister has decided to pay the troops a morale boosting sapping visit on - or near(ish) - the front line.

But it was a bit of a non-story, in reality. I know from (limited) experience that the only time reservists use live ammunition is on the range, but finding time for that kind of training is not always easy for the part timers. Also, because of the way the war's going in Afghanistan, all live ammunition has probably been prioritised for the battlefield. Even so, it gives you some idea of the sort of pressure our supply chains are now under, and that there are some serious replenishment and supply problems brewing (not least over food and water, would you believe).

Thanks to this twit government - and twit-Brown in particular - trying to fight the war on the cheap, it's quite possible we'll be throwing rocks at the Taliban pretty soon. But 'twas ever thus!

So, why post this? Well, some of the reactions of people on that chat forum (quite a lot of whom are either current or former soldiers) are quite telling, in terms of the mood of people who are actually in or around the thick of it.
Have we, as a nation, really been reduced to this?
When will someone grow a spine and arrest brown and darling for criminal negligence, or at least misconduct in public office?
...writes "Skycarver". While "Diripio" says:
It is funny how things have gone full circle. I can remember in the 70's when I was in Sennelager and the last Liarbour government were in power, tankies being reduced to a maximum of 25 road miles a year and no live firing, no ranges due to a lack of 9mm and 7.62.

The sooner this government are put to sleep the better, but will the alternative make any difference?
Good question. We'll get to find out soon enough, though. I wonder if Bonkers Brown actually realises that yet.

Another "Arrser" comments:
Look at all that crap Indian 9mil we bought & had to dump because it was pants!
What's next? The RAF dropping grenades out of Cessnas? The Navy going to sea in canal boats?
I wonder if all this penny-pinching woul've beenthought up if the Gov & MP's had'nt been cought out fiddling expenses....
Harsh and fair. But "Auld-Yin" reckons this is nothing new. It happened the last time the Labourists were busy trashing the country:
Very remininscent of the 60's early 70's where you were lucky to get a range day in between APWTs.
Several times doing your annual weapon test was the only time that live rounds were used - and I was Infantry FFS.
"Jeagar" spoils the party somewhat with a caution to err on the side of moderation (it's a pretty good post, though, so I've included it here):
Whenever I read something like this, which serves to confuse more than it illuminates, I'm reminded of the old adage about newspaper reporters, "first simplify, then exaggerate". I'm no fan of Brown or his utterly useless, discredited Goverment of course, but what exactly is being cut here? I've read the article and I'm none the wiser. Is it simply a reduction in ammo available for range days?,has BATUS gone completely blank?, are recruits not going to do any Stage 5 Live firing at all? What's happenig at Brecon, Warminster, Sandhurst etc?As for ammo only being available for training in the 3 months prior to deployment to Afghan, no big deal, theres lot's of other things to be getting on with in the meantime, I'm sure there will be sh*t-loads available then at least. Fact is, just how often, apart from in the run-up to APWT, do Infantry Units for example, actually go on the ranges? not THAT much in my experience.

There might be some point here in sticking your hand out for the Outrage-Bus, but not on the info. so far received and not on the basis of this tedious article in The Times.
True enough, but fails to nail the main point: as more and more of these types of story filter out, and the "utterly useless, discredited" government limps on, staggering from one crisis to another as the full scale of its incompetence and dishonesty becomes ever clearer, morale in the army will drain away. Only a change of government can reverse this because only a new government will have a mandate to change policy and fix the problems. It's pointless having a go at the press, (unless it's to make it damn clear that the MSM is partly responsible for putting these idiots in power in the first place).

Comments of the day go to "OldTimer":
How come we can't afford live ammunition but the taliban seem to have an abundant amount available. Perhaps they have a better government . Thinking of it it certainly couldn't be any worse than ours.
and to "HE117"(!), who makes this perceptive observation:
Actually I think we are looking at a shell crisis situation in the offing...

See any similarities?
Yes, and a couple of differences: Asquith was honest, honourable - and elected!

(PS: Hat tip to Anna Raccoon, who wrote an interesting piece on this latest Labourist fiasco earlier today, and who's a much better writer than me anyway ;)

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