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Russian army can outgun British, leaked report warns

The Russian army can outgun British troops on the battlefield after Armyrats © military advances by the Kremlin, a leaked report suggests.

The assessment by the British army s warfare branch, seen by the Times[1], warned that Russian weapons, including rocket launchers and air defence systems, were more powerful than their British equivalents. The report added that UK and its Nato allies were scrambling to catch up with Russia s ability to use electronic means to hijack enemy drones and disrupt other Armyrats © military transmissions. The publication was produced in March under the direction of Gen Sir Nick Carter, the head of the army, the newspaper said. It is understood the report is based on one training exercise carried out in Ukraine. An army spokeswoman said: The British army conducts regular reviews of potential scenarios in order to improve its readiness to both protect UK influence and protect our people.

Related: UK to increase troops in Afghanistan from 450 to 500[2]

The report also recommended that soldiers be made more aware of manipulative online tactics used on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and that they should leave electrical devices at home while on exercises. The publication, Insights to Training Smarter Against a Hybrid Adversary, concluded that one of Russia s goals in Ukraine was to practise new methods of warfare as well as testing modern and prohibited weapons , the Times said. It set out how the UK could counter Russia s new hybrid strategy of electronic warfare, drones, propaganda and artillery.

Gen Sir Richard Shirreff, Britain s former top officer in Nato[3], told the Times: What we get from successive governments has been that it is all fine and dandy and aren t we doing well . Actually, the reality is that our capability has been dramatically hollowed out.

References

  1. ^ seen by the Times (www.thetimes.co.uk)
  2. ^ UK to increase troops in Afghanistan from 450 to 500 (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Nato (www.theguardian.com)

Pictures appear to show British special forces on Syrian frontline

The first images of what appear to be British special forces operating on the ground in Syria have emerged, showing vehicles patrolling near the scene of an attack by Islamic State[1]. The pictures were taken in June and were first published by the BBC[2].

Related: Battles rage across Aleppo as Assad regime fights to quell rebels[3]

It is believed to be the first time British forces have been photographed operating inside Syria[4], where they are engaged in relatively small numbers in wide-ranging roles that include surveillance, advisory and combat. The images depict British special forces sitting on Thalab long-range patrol vehicles as they move around the perimeter of a rebel base close to the Syria-Iraq border.

The Thalab (Fox) vehicles are essentially modified, militarised and upgraded Toyota 4x4s used for long distance reconnaissance and surveillance missions, which were developed jointly in the middle of the last decade by a state-backed defence company in Jordan and the UK company Jankel. The vehicle, which has mounted weaponry and is often used for border patrols, has been primarily used by Jordanian special forces. Al-Tanf, where the vehicles were reportedly photographed, is a border crossing between Syria and Iraq that had been under Isis control, and is also not far from the Jordanian border. It is unclear how many Nato countries have deployed the modified trucks, though Belgium ordered a shipment of modified Fox vehicles earlier this year.

The images seem to show British forces securing the perimeter of the rebel base following an attack by Isis, according to the BBC. The soldiers can be seen carrying anti-tank missiles, sniper rifles and other heavy artillery.

Quentin Sommerville (@sommervillebbc) August 8, 2016[5]

WATCH Exclusive – Britain’s secretive and lethal force in Syria https://t.co/WwxbBi6bAT[6]

The BBC reported the soldiers were working at the base in a defensive role and a spokesman for the New Syrian Army acknowledged that British special forces had provided training, weapons and other equipment. The Ministry of Defence, as is standard with special forces, declined to comment on the photographs. But an independent source confirmed they were UK special forces, which are operating against Isis in Syria, Iraq and Libya. They prefer to operate in secrecy, at least until sufficient time has passed for the publication of memoirs. But, with cameras commonplace and the forces they operate alongside not feeling bound to respect that secrecy, it is becoming increasingly more difficult.

The UK has about 300 conventional forces operating in Iraq mainly in and around Baghdad, restricted to training and advisory roles, operating from behind the relative safety of secure bases. Britain has also promised to provide between 800-1,200 troops to an Italian-led international force to support the Libyan government, though there is little sign of these being deployed. The special forces have a free-ranging role, operating in the border areas between the Isis stronghold of Raqqa in Syria and the towns and villages linking it to its northern Iraqi bastion, Mosul. The US special forces established a base in the Syrian desert between Raqqa and the Iraqi border aimed both at achieving this and in support of Syrian rebel forces trying to squeeze Raqqa. The UK parliament approved an air campaign against Isis in Syria but not ground troops. Special forces, though, have always been treated differently. The government mantra is that special forces can be deployed wherever there is judged to be a threat to the UK.

The convention is that special forces are never mentioned on the floor of the British parliament but they are subject to oversight through the parliamentary intelligence committee. Defence ministers argue that it is illogical to expect special forces engaged against Isis to stop at the Iraqi border, given that the terror group does not recognise any border between Iraq and Syria. The New Syrian Army was established with American backing in 2015 as a moderate rebel force to primarily fight against Isis in Deir ez-Zor province, which is almost entirely under the control of the militants.

The American training programmes for rebel forces have been widely seen as failures, primarily because few rebel fighters are willing to exclusively fight Isis while ignoring the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The US has had more success when it closely coordinated with fighters on the ground and backed them up with airstrikes, the modus operandi it has adopted with the mostly Kurdish fighters in northern Syria known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are on the verge of taking back the city of Manbij in northern Aleppo from Islamic State, and have conquered vast tracts of land over the past few months. The US also has special forces troops operating on the ground with the Kurds. The New Syrian Army has had a halting and uninspiring track record. Their most significant operation occurred in June this year, when the group launched an attack on Al-Bukamal, a town on the Iraqi border that has long been a crossing point for foreign jihadis during the American occupation, and which is now held by Isis. The attack failed, apparently due to the lack of sufficient air power backing by its western allies.

One report in the Washington Post[7] suggested American warplanes that were supposed to assist in the battle had to be diverted to Falluja, where they bombed a convoy of Isis vehicles fleeing the city.

References

  1. ^ Islamic State (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ published by the BBC (www.bbc.com)
  3. ^ Battles rage across Aleppo as Assad regime fights to quell rebels (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Syria (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ August 8, 2016 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ https://t.co/WwxbBi6bAT (t.co)
  7. ^ Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)

Broadcast engineer for British armed forces brings show about helping troops with music to Edinburgh Fringe

AS a broadcast engineer with British Forces Broadcasting Services, David Ramsay thought he d heard it all.

He d spent a considerable length of time in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan but, one day, he received a phone call.

This guy said we d have to send up another satellite dish, because the one we d just sent up had fallen out the back of a lorry, recalls David (49).

When I asked how much damage it could have sustained falling all of five feet I was told it had fallen from a lot higher than that 2,000 feet.

It was difficult to get kit to the forward operating bases and we did it whichever way we could.

So the dish had been put into the back of a vehicle which was then slung under a Chinook helicopter, and during the flight, severe buffeting meant the doors had opened and all the equipment had been scattered over a hillside.

Some of it was Armyrats © military equipment and rather than send in a team to recover it, they did what any sensible person would have done and called in an airstrike so two US jets came in and flattened the place with a couple of 500lb bombs! This is just one of the tales David has moulded into Extreme Broadcasting, a one-man show he s performing at the Edinburgh Fringe telling the amazing story of working for BFBS in hazardous places.

I talk about all the extremes like the varying weather in Helmand province, how hot it is and how we deal with things like that, he reveals.

We had really good cabins that kept us cool even in the height of summer, but maybe they worked too well, because when we went to the remote forward operating bases the guys would use them as fridges for Coke and milk, turning our cabins into tuck shops!

There was also the danger. We had to wear body armour and work behind protective barriers, and were rocketed in Iraq. BFBS is vital for the morale of British armed forces, as David explains: In one of the bases, in Nawzad, the mud huts had been razed to the ground, so a digger was brought in to scrape out a shelter which was given a protective cover the troops were basically living in a hole in the ground.

When you re in that sort of situation, to be able to lose yourself in a football match or film or just shut your eyes and listen to the radio for that time, you re not where you think you are, you re mentally somewhere where everything s far more normal.

We set up a station in one of the first camps in Kuwait when the guys were getting ready to push into Iraq, and late in the afternoon we finally had a frequency.

We went into the canteen and they already had the radio on. We asked how they knew what frequency we were on and they said: We ve been watching you set up what took you so long?

David also claims credit for BFBS ending the siege of Basra in 2003.

The British Army was camped outside Basra, and they wanted the city to hear BFBS loud and proud, he adds.

Having held out against overwhelming coalition forces for weeks, after less than 24 hours of being subjected to our version of Smashie and Nicey the Iraqi army fled the city!

David s Extreme Broadcasting . . . or how I helped liberate Iraq with Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue, is on at the Edinburgh Fringe from August 4-18. Visit www.spotlites.co.uk[1] for information.


READ MORE

Edinburgh Fringe chiller is Coronation Street villain Sean Ward s biggest test yet[2]

The Commonwealth Games were a game changer for Des Clarke[3]

References

  1. ^ www.spotlites.co.uk (www.spotlites.co.uk)
  2. ^ Edinburgh Fringe chiller is Coronation Street villain Sean Ward s biggest test yet (www.sundaypost.com)
  3. ^ The Commonwealth Games were a game changer for Des Clarke (www.sundaypost.com)
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