Con Coughlin and boots on the ground

Finally, our political classes have finally woken up to reality of what needs to be done to tackle the threat posed by Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq.

Having stuck to the ludicrous mantra that, whatever action was authorised against the fanatical supporters of the self-styled Islamic State, there would be “no boots on the ground”, it now appears the Government is facing up to the reality that the campaign cannot prevail without at least some military presence on the ground.

Yes, that’s right, fresh, this week in fact, from insisting that Britain should have “boots on the ground” in Eastern Ukraine he’s now insisting that we should also have them in Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq.

How big does he think the British Army is?

Newsflash: it’s rather smaller than it used to be Mr. Coughlin.

25 thoughts on “Con Coughlin and boots on the ground”

  1. It’s big enough to provide SF, OMLTs and JTACs, maybe some guns at the back, though whether that’s a good idea is another question.

  2. The hypocrisy of the “political classes” is staggering. Who spent the last 20 years promoting the migration of Muslims to the UK, complete with the inevitable cohort of wanabe Jihadists? The political classes. If members of the “political classes” want to know who’s to blame when some pro-ISIS does a terrorist act in this country (or who’s to blame for the London bombings) they should look in the mirror.

  3. What “threat”? They’re going to do the same murderous things as the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and Ak-Bakr to the people of Iraq? End up running a bit of it that is corrupt as the government of Al-Maliki?

    They’re all bastards. Throwing British money and bodies at trying to get rid of one bunch of bastards will just mean another bunch of bastards taking over. The Iraq experiment of imposing democracy has been a collossal disaster, kicking out a fairly sane, competent bastard for a Fred Karno’s Army government that pissed off a large part of the country and ran away when ISIL came along.

  4. Con Coughlin a silly old peacock. Special forces ops are only part of the answer, as are drone strikes, battlefield nukes, Apaches by the dozen etc etc. Most difficult will be getting an Islamic world solution so that these miscreants, who threaten everyone, are stopped from within. That could only happen when sectarianism and self interest are put aside but there may well be a backlash in the end, as there has been with Taliban and AQ. Meanwhile, it seems Brits fighting in Syria are looking for a way out. See The Times this morning. Nutella stocks running low, no doubt.

  5. The Great Redacto – “it seems Brits fighting in Syria are looking for a way out”

    I wonder if our Ali G-hadis will learn anything from the experience (other than how to behead people).

    Or if, like the Spanish Civil War volunteers, “true socialism/Islam” will have “never been tried”.

  6. The best protection the UK could provide itself with is to require each citizen to adhere to the following principles: freedom of speech(and offend), freedom of conscience(gay, apostate, Jedi Knight) and equality before the law( UK law the only law). Any serious follower of the RoP would find the UK uncongenial, so at least there would be fewer fifth columnists then we could examine our selfinterest in the wider world.

  7. In Con-land, Boots On The Ground is the solution to every problem, including the common cold and high seas piracy. And when BOTG doesn’t work, you need More Boots On The Ground.

  8. The Iraqi army ran away, abandoning its new US heavy equipment to a bunch of lightly armed irregulars. If they won’t fight for their country why should we?

  9. To be fair to Con, you can’t always achieve much just from the air.

    It’s not true (depending on objectives) you can never win by air power alone, though, and in this particular case – as opposed to say a war in a city or a mountain forest – there isn’t always a lot of cover to take as the Apaches and A10s appear.

    The problem then becomes distinguishing the ISIS wankers from the local civvies they will scuttle to hide amongst, which is not easy. It’s very asymetric.

    One purpose of having troops on the ground is as a come-on, to stop them scuttling, bring them forwards to contact, and then annihilate them from the air/via indirect fire.

    It only works for a while, though; once you’ve killed the stupid ones, Darwinism stops the rest from rushing at you. Harder too in a social media world, with some professional soldiers doubtless advising them.

    Anyway, if you do wipe out a few thou, the next (though less-than-ideal) move is probably to lock them all in a very big room together, throw away the key and come back in a couple of years to find out who won. You hope you have degraded ISIS enough with stage one to help the Kurds/others to deal with them.

    To do that, we’d probably have to shut down our media too.

    It’s probably literally bereft of a solution.

  10. It’s not true (depending on objectives) you can never win by air power alone, though, and in this particular case – as opposed to say a war in a city or a mountain forest – there isn’t always a lot of cover to take as the Apaches and A10s appear.

    I wasn’t even thinking we had to win, not in the conventional sense. If the head-loppers have to worry about an A10 showing up every time they venture out of the cities into open space (plenty of that in Iraq and Syria) then they’ll be less efficient at head-lopping. The differentiation between ISIS and innocents is a difficult one though, but thus far their visibility has been used as a tool of their repression. Forcing them to abandon their special appearance will make it harder for them to intimidate the population.

  11. What Unity said – plus, everybody loves the idea of sending in the SAS to slot some ragheads, and Cameron is keen for distractions just at present.

  12. Why not just let Iran deal with it. Would be a useful distraction from their nuclear enrichment. In fact I wish we were doing more nuclear enrichment than cultural enrichment.

  13. bloke (not) in spain

    There’s a great deal of similarity between the military community & the medical community.
    Both do undeniably good work. But both also are a source of income for their members.
    With the medical community, irrespective of need, there’s always a tendency to intervention because that’s where pay-packets come from. Hence the continual health “advice”, new fields to be explored, initiatives etc. There is nothing the medical community doesn’t concern itself with in pursuit of dosh.
    Similarly with the military community. There is nowhere in the world wouldn’t benefit from military intervention.

  14. Frederick,

    Heard an interesting dit recently that, while they aren’t formally collaborating, US Special Forces and Iranian Qods Force have found themselves as allies on a few occasions when “the mob we’re helping” and “the mob they’re helping” were fighting in the same vicinity.

    I’ve been flying the kite for a few years that, actually, Iran is a logical strategic partner for us in the region…

  15. @BNIS

    True, but then there’s not much point being a plumber unless you can find some plumbing to do, is there?

    I take your point but actually you’re talking more about governments and senior officers, who get bored without a sandbox to play in.

    Not too many people at the sharp end, who have experienced proper war fighting, are all that keen to give it another go.

    Witness the Royal Marine Corps having 1,000 people stick their chits in after Herrick 12. (Not that they all left, but that is a very significant number of soldiers in a very professional organisation.)

    When you factor in impossible ROE (McChrystal’s so-called ‘courageous restraint’ was largely behind the above chitting), the difficulty in telling friend from foe with the embedded Guardian reporters/freelance nutcases licking their lips behind you, IEDs, a thorough-going absence of the Geneva Conventions on the part of those you’re against, a (likely) very unclear mission, a bad recent history in hot sandy places, crap/not enough kit, a confused chain of command, the knowledge that if you lose one Chinook it’s all over, and a feeling that the country won’t really be very much behind you, it’s easy to see why not everyone would agree with your contention that ‘There is nowhere in the world wouldn’t benefit from military intervention.’

  16. Troops on the ground ends up with our expensively-trained blokes being dismembered by IEDs and prevented by their RoI from slaughtering the locals.
    The lesson of Afghanistan is that drones do the surveillance/attack job much better & cheaper.
    You just need many more than deployed at present – the US has mounted less than 400 Predator/Reaper strikes to date. Make that, say, 100 a day, and the Jihadis will soon be gone.
    (Yes, drones need trained operators, but the US has been training more of them than fighter pilots in recent years).

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    @ Interested
    I take your point about the lower orders in the military but you can’t get round senior officers were once junior officers. It’s the entire mindset of the military. I cherish the notion, the politicians & the conniving bastards with the super-abundance of gold braid will one day advance one of their daring endevours, to be greeted by a resounding fuck off. But it ain’t going to happen.
    I gather the current thinking is air intervention rather than “boots on the ground”. In practice that’s a couple of guys in a temperamental assembly of aerodynamics & avionics headed off over the badlands, with little hope of SAR if the rubber band breaks or the ragheads have unexpected things in their toybox. So we might well be treated to the entertainment of watching a couple of RAF officer types being shortened on YouTube. Or remember Mogadishu?
    But they’ll still fly, won’t they? Honour of the service, doncha’know. For what? Stupid cunts.

  18. JeremyT – seriously. You cannot fight a war like this with drones. They’re not of no use, they’re of limited use. Drones would be excellent if ever ISIS put together all those stolen tanks and APCs and start rolling forward in formation.

  19. @BNIS

    ‘I cherish the notion, the politicians & the conniving bastards with the super-abundance of gold braid will one day advance one of their daring endevours, to be greeted by a resounding fuck off. But it ain’t going to happen.’

    Actually I think that is what would have happened by default had we stayed in Afghan much longer. The number of company commanders, (to a lesser extent) their 2ICs and experienced NCOs who have quit the army in recent years is astonishing. Very hard to replace those people quickly, and indeed they haven’t all been properly replaced. A lot of squaddies who did one or two tours also left.

    This isn’t a matter of cowardice, by the way – it’s happened as people finally got fed up of fighting an unwinnable war.

    Unwinnable because of ROE drawn up by people who are more interested in what the Guardian and the NY Times think than the blokes on the ground; it’s very hard at the best of times to defeat an enemy whom you cannot differentiate from the civilian population and who is using now very sophisticated IEDs with assistance from Iran and others.

    A RM friend of mine with three tours of Helmand, who served with distinction and was involved in the Mathew Ford incident, was invited to join the SFSG.

    He did six months but then jacked it in because he didn’t feel he was able to defend himself on operations.

    A couple of hundred of him on the ground vs ISIS would cause serious problems if properly supplied and supported, with the right vehicles etc, and they would be raring to go, too. But who wants to risk the headlines or the RMP when ISIS tweets pictures of dead Abdul and says he was a student, and not one of theirs? The social media war – and our left’s credulousness – is perhaps the real asymmetry.

    By the way, there will be QRF in place to (attempt to) recover any downed pilots – they wouldn’t fly without that in place.

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