Saturday 16 June 2012

Trooping The Culandar

Needing a cup of tea and to check the news on text I realised that Trooping The Colour was on TV and thought to watch. 

Luckily, it was not long before  the marches “The Garryowen” followed by “Hieland Laddie” came up.  Later there was “Blaydon Races”, so that’s Newcastle United relegated next season

How many people spotted “Prussian Glory”, featured on this blog a while back referring the King Frederick The Great of Prussia?  Was this a secret message declaring to Angel Merkel von Mecklenburg support for her version of the Euro project?

It has been announced that the Army will be reduced to a target total of 82,000 troops together with other Defence “management” arrangements.  If this is correct then the Diamond Jubilee parade signals the end of the UK Army as an effective striking or defence force in any long term context.

An Army consists of those who are either in action or immediately available, equipped and organised to be deployed.  Then there are the units who have been in action or are being stood down for remanning, retraining and equipping.  If the Army has been seeing real action this latter group will be larger.

Before all that there are those who are in training and preparation for future deployment.  Today, this takes a lot longer than in the past because of the highly technical nature of much of the Army’s work and the complexity of the systems in use. 

Another group will be those doing and managing the training and equipping and beyond that yet another group doing a number of other tasks essential to the functioning of the whole.

Quite how many should be in each category is difficult to calculate and there is often a fine and variable balance.  Managing this successfully is a real challenge and accounts for the long chains of command and extensive needs. 

Additionally, an Army cannot be maintained on a “just in time” basis, so spare capacity is necessary at each level to cope with the potential and actual challenges.

So at the 82,000 level predicated by the Government the actual size of the active element will be only a small part of the whole.  During World War 2 it was common to suggest that for every seven men only one would be at the front.

Even allowing for out sourcing and some handing over of duties to civilians it means perhaps only ten to fifteen thousand active front line troops at any stage. 

This is not enough to defend the UK, especially if any are engaged in overseas missions of one kind or another.  Additionally, it means that in any venture abroad even relatively small numbers used will constitute a major commitment.

All this refers to outside action and commitments.  We forget history and that the Army once had a major internal commitment to maintain order in support of local police and volunteers.  We are assuming that there is not likely to be any problem when it is becoming clear in some districts that the armed gangs are taking over.

There are signs that this is not the case and in many areas police cover is not and cannot be enough to do the job if it really does get bad.  Some are calling for “armed police”, but these effectively are just an Army by another name.

Politically, however it is very difficult to either arm the police or admit that the situation in some districts may become so bad that force may be necessary to restore law and order.  I will not say protect property because the government has already given up on that objective.

A culandar is a word for a kitchen item that is essential for straining certain kinds of food and is more substantial than what is called a strainer.  The UK Army will soon become a useful but small and limited item in our system of government, with a limited function and unable to do the big jobs.

The picture above is “The Retreat To Corunna” which occurred in late 1808 and early 1809, the number of soldiers you see would now be a high proportion of the active numbers envisaged by the present government.

In the case of Corunna however, the British were soon back in Portugal and Spain with a much larger force under Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington.  In the 21st Century as things stand the British will not return  anywhere.

Even in their own back yard.

1 comment:

  1. History has not been taught in ordinary schools properly for many many years. My teenage grandchildren's knowledge is abysmal. My children's (despite our efforts) not much better. Living for the moment prevails. In older people I know in ALL sections of society I find concerns at the present world situation, and feelings of helplessness, except to try to preserve individual integrity. Oh well back to the garden - I'll have plenty to eat, but of course it could get stolen. Thanks for your writings. Cassandra.