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Britain and its armed forces: the desire to conform to the realities
Material posted: -Publication date: 15-11-2011

Lately in the media resumed discussion on the ability of UK armed forces to conduct effective military operations in the conditions of modern military conflicts. The positions of the experts observed two opposite approaches: from harsh criticism of the armed forces of great Britain and stating their inadequacy to the contemporary reality, to recognition of their high level of development as a kind of role model in the construction of armies of other countries.

Seeing no reason to take one side or another in disputes, we note several important points.

In the first place. Sun the UK has one indisputable advantage: they involved significant numbers of troops in almost all NATO operations in various hot spots of the world. And thus gain combat experience, which can not boast of many other countries. In this regard, it is appropriate to recall the dictum that the army, which for twenty years with no one to fight, loses fighting properties and is transformed into the bureaucratic structure of peace time, from what the British military is insured under modern conditions. Of course, the existing problems and disadvantages have an impact on the combat potential and effectiveness of armed forces, but in any case sun allow the UK to be minimally adequate level, which is defined for them by the leadership of the state and of NATO.

Secondly. The UK armed forces are developing in terms of the contradictions between the realities of the world, demanding new approaches in the field of military security on the one hand and the negative impact of the global financial and economic crisis on the other. This led to the fact that recently came to power the coalition government has embarked on the reduction of budget expenditures, the reform of all ministries and agencies, including the military, as well as tight control over efficiency of expenditure of resources in the military sphere. Sun UK identified tight time frame to conduct the reform in a significant reduction in their numbers.

Thirdly, the UK is considering the issues of its national security in the context of collective security system, primarily in the framework of NATO. That allows it to always count on the support of the bloc partners in the event of various crises. In turn, this allows you to have a relatively small number of armed forces of the country in peacetime.

Below are impressions from a recent trip author in the UK and explore its armed forces. In the annexes to the article, the data from primary sources on the status and prospects of the armed forces of the United Kingdom.

1. General impressions about the country

There is no sense to describe their own numerous experience of visiting historical and other famous places of London and its environs, as at the relevant sites on the Internet and in the brochures of travel agencies is made more colorful and informative. Will advise only to those who love to travel, to include in your travel plan a visit to the UK, as it is better to see for yourself.

But some personal observations deserve to share with readers. First of all, the UK, like any country in the world, and today it has a number of problems. Numerous signs on the houses of the streets of London "for Sale" or "for rent" are reminiscent of the recent world financial and economic crisis. And the government is very much concerned with the problem how to reduce the expenditure side of the budget, which led to significant reductions in government agencies, including the armed forces.

Also indigenous Brits are very concerned about the continuous flow of migrants from countries of the so-called "third world". On the streets their numbers becomes very noticeable, and entire areas of the capital and other cities in the majority of the already settled immigrants from other countries. This means the increasing problems of unemployment, crime, social security, etc.

The above, of course, affects the relationship between people and at the household level. In this regard, the memory is still not erased the episode, when upon arrival at one of the capital's airports employee, carrying out passport control, rude tone asked my colleague "Why are you here and what are you doing here?". It was strange to hear, as mentioned before that the clerk may examine the service passport of the guest and to read that he was dealing with an official representative of the government of another country. But instead, he demonstrated his contempt for a foreign citizen... And just a question, if we're rushing to voluntary cancel unilaterally the visa regime for EU countries?

Favorable impression on the guests of great Britain produces the careful attitude of the British to their history and traditions. Central streets of the city are staggering with an abundance of monuments and preserve historic places. We probably to some extent should learn from the British tolerance to the different historical events and figures.

At the household level struck by law-abiding citizens. This is clearly seen on their compliance with the rules of the road. Though, probably, when the level of traffic control in the form of video cameras at every step and the high fees amazing this is nothing.

Despite the fact that London is one of the business capitals of the world, among the successful and wealthy people don't show their level of income and security. One of the characteristic manifestations of this is the vast majority of inexpensive small cars on the streets and a limited number of vehicles of luxury brands. For all the time managed to see only one SUV with the calling tuning, loud music and annoying style of riding, and that it was the Russian room. But a lot of people in the capital prefer to travel on bikes, the benefit of Parking spaces are provided for them in sufficient quantity. Given the traffic jams on the roads, very likely to get to work faster by bike than by car.

Opposite the Parliament building in the Park at the foot of the monument to Winston Churchill the tent camp of protesters who oppose the war in Afghanistan and calling the soldiers back home. During our visit they were joined protesters against the undeclared war against Libya. Similar actions were observed and in front of the Ministry of defence of the United Kingdom.

2. Army

To some extent the UK armed forces are experiencing problems similar to armies in the former Soviet Union. Last year's elections and came to power in the Parliament, the new political power today pursues a policy of speedy liquidation of consequences of the global crisis. To reduce the burden on the budget decided to reduce defense spending and reduce the size of the armed forces. Moreover, the event reductions are implemented rapidly.

Currently, the UK armed forces are at the stage of significant transformations with the aim to acquire new capabilities, which are due to recently adopted an updated "national security Strategy of the United Kingdom" and the results of the Strategic review of defense and security."

An important component of the changes will be significant cuts that will be among the military staff of 17 000 people (including the Royal Navy - 5 000 people, the army - 7,000, the Royal air force - 5 000) and among the civil - 25 000 people for the period until 2015.

The British during the communication with us has drawn attention to the strategic context of change and transformation. First of all, terrorism (both international and in connection with the situation in Northern Ireland); the continuously changing nature of modern conflicts; the growth trends in the world towards multi-polarity; the modern scientific and technological innovations, social and demographic trends, as well as climate change and limited natural resources. Accordingly, the response to the new challenges the British see in achieving two major and interrelated strategic objectives: "Safe and protected by UK and building a stable peace".

While the army will be transformed how to execute traditional tasks (e.g., protection of territory and the Falkland Islands) and in the direction of the creation of specialized forces of light for short interventions" and "multipurpose forces for large complex interventions or long-term stabilization operations." It is planned that in 2020 they will include up to 5 multi-purpose brigades and 16th assault airborne brigade. Is expected to decrease by about 1/3 heavy armor with the simultaneous acquisition of specialized and conventional models of military vehicles on the "future forces". The number of land forces will be approximately 95 000 people in 2015 and about 94 000 in the period up to 2020.

On air force will be the responsibility of tasks of air defense of Britain, the Falkland Islands and forces involved in operations; implementation of a credible and efficient air presence; developing their expeditionary capabilities, including strategic and tactical air transport; reconnaissance, etc.
The based aircraft fleet will be multirole Typhoon fighters and assault fighters, transport aircraft C-17, A-400M, Airbus A330, helicopters "Chinook", "Puma", "Merlin", aircraft reconnaissance and control E-3D, "Rivet Joint", unmanned aerial vehicles. The number of air force will be approximately 33,000 employees in 2015 and about 31500 for the period up to 2020.

Naval forces will protect the sea borders of the UK and the overseas territories, nuclear deterrence at sea, the presence in priority regions. The basis of their strike force will be aircraft carriers and submarines (PL) with missiles to destroy ground targets. Operational and it is planned to have one carrier in a state of operational readiness and a single carrier to build up strength, 4 nuclear SUBMARINES "Vanguard" and 7 atomic SUBMARINE "Astute", 19 destroyers/frigates, 14 minesweepers, supply vessels, etc. the Number of personnel will amount to approximately 30 000 people by 2015 and 29 000 people until 2020.

3. Examples worthy of attention

Despite the openness of the host country, it was hard for us to judge the current real level of combat readiness of the armed forces of the United Kingdom. But some of its elements were visible to the naked eye. In particular, a matter of respect of the fact that virtually every officer with whom we had to begovat, was behind on a number of missions abroad in "hot spots": Afghanistan, Iraq, Cyprus, the Balkans, etc. And it already means a lot to the army maintained and passed on military traditions and military experience. Moreover, the few officers, mostly young, who have not had a chance to become the participant of military operations, talked about it and dejectedly in their voice could be heard notes of genuine regret. For example, among others, our delegation was accompanied by two female officers. They both suggested that I wanted to serve in Afghanistan or other missions as they internally feel uncomfortable among colleagues who has already been there.

We were able to repeatedly observe these or other examples of practical implementation issues of creation of proper conditions for service and life of servicemen and members of their families, especially in terms of social welfare. On the territory of those military camps, where we happened to be struck by the abundance of objects of housing and social infrastructure. First of all, this is a residential building with apartments, dormitories, clubs (who perform in our understanding of the function of officers ' meetings), sports facilities, etc.

It is logical to assume that the main material criterion of the level of social security for the British soldier is the level of remuneration. Much to ask on such a sensitive topic was uncomfortable, but managed to learn that, for example, the commander of an artillery battery receives annually about 50 thousand pounds. This is roughly comparable to the wages of American troops. During his stay in foreign missions oplachivaetsya allowances to the extent that allows, for example, after 6 months tour in Afghanistan to buy a new car or make another major purchase. At the time of military service relies for housing. Given that it is not always consistent with accepted UK standards of comfort, there is the opportunity to rent housing on their own, and the military takes part in the payment. But it should be noted that at the time of his discharge the soldier must take care of where and how he will live, removing the straps.

Particularly noteworthy are accepted in the armed forces of the UK standards of work with the military, especially "contractors". For example, in the 19th regiment Royal artillery, numbering just over 600 people, several staffing agencies provide assistance to commanders in matters of what we have called moral-psychological support and personnel training for military service. Among them: the chaplain; the unit responsible for professional growth of personnel (including them allows the passage of various education programs); the office responsible for the moral well-being (for English military terminology). The latter deserves special attention. First of all, it leads, as a rule, people at Mature age and with considerable life experience. He has assistants in the ranks of officer, Sergeant and civilian employee. Common efforts together with their colleagues directly from the departments they monitor the situation in the team and contribute to the fact that it contributed to solving part of the task.

About the volume of their load evidenced by the numbers: about 40% of soldiers are married. About ten people in the shelf – divorced and alone raising children. Approximately the same number of families in which both spouses are military personnel. This means a number of important aspects in the work. Primarily, the regiment was preparing for a rotation to Afghanistan. Accordingly, in the families of the soldiers of the regiment was at that time not the most joyous situation that demanded the displacement of certain emphases in the work of helping and supporting families.

The second important problem stems from the fact that in the armed forces of the United Kingdom can serve the citizens of the countries of the British Commonwealth. It's kind of a "loophole" for the legal recruitment of foreigners, as British youth is not much to aspire to serve in low-paid positions of soldiers and sergeants, at the same time while having a more than real possibility to visit the "hot spots". At the same time, for foreigners applying for military service is advantageous because you can obtain UK citizenship for themselves and their families. But for professionals working with staff this is a significant load, as they promote the issues of moving the families of its military personnel from other countries to England and their placement. And the struggle with immigration and other bureaucratic structures takes a lot of time and nerves.

Of course, in one publication it is hard to cover all aspects of the operations of the army of a foreign state. But in any case, the experience of others is always valuable to us in the choice of directions of development of own armed forces.

Tags: NATO

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