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Denis Fowler18 December 2017 at 05:21
Recent reports have suggested that the Government is considering changes to the amphibious capability of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines as part of the ongoing National Security Capability Review. The House of Commons Defence Committee are inviting members of the public to share their views on the potential impact of these changes. Views are particularly welcome from communities where Royal Marines, Army Commando units and amphibious ships are based, given that they would be most directly affected by any major decisions on reconfiguration. The Defence Committee welcomes your answers to the following: • How important is the amphibious capability provided by the Royal Marines and Albion class ships to the UK? Since 1945 this entry capability has been used over 10 times including Korea, Suez, Kuwait (1962) pre-empting Iraqi planned invasion, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Sierra Leone and the Al Faw. And the Royal Marines have been in almost continuous operations consisting of 30 different campaigns.” I am absolutely opposed to the United Kingdom acting unilaterally—for example, by announcing the end of our effective amphibious capability. I do not believe that the QE2 class carriers—they are brilliant ships and I am proud to see them serving in the Royal Navy—have the equivalent capability. Neither do the Bay class ships. They are incapable of supporting and mounting large-scale amphibious operations with the fighting vehicles that the Army now has. • What is the likely impact on unit morale and satisfaction with Service life if the reported changes and reductions are implemented? The @RoyalNavy's Corps of @RoyalMarines has an enviable reputation for professional excellence, versatility and operational effectiveness. • What is the likely impact on the communities where these capabilities are based if the reported changes and reductions are implemented In the words of her operators, the Royal Navy, the role of the HMS Bulwark and HMSAlbion, is to ‘deliver the punch of the Royal Marines ashore by air and by sea, with boats from the landing dock in the belly of the ship and by assault helicopter from the two-spot flight deck’. The LPDs can carry 256 troops, with their vehicles and combat supplies, and this can be swollen up to 405 troops. The ships act as the afloat command platform for the Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Force and Landing Force Commanders when embarked. Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led us, rightly, to conclude that they needed to be better protected: they needed to be stronger, heavier vehicles. We need “Bulwark” and “Albion” to retain that capability. So we must tread pretty carefully. I am all in favour of the defence industry co-operating with government in the efficiency review: I think they should. I am certainly in favour of our thinking carefully about how we use the overseas aid and defence budgets together to secure greater security results.
Ben Wilson17 December 2017 at 21:46
Having served on HMS Bulwark in 2014 and since have worked alongside the Royal Marines in Norway and the Middle East, as a Royal Navy Commando combat medic currently at 42CDO, I think that losing the Albian class ship will be a huge loss to the strength of the Navy. As an island nation to lose its amphibious capability is a joke. The new QE class cannot do every thing, it was not built with RM in mind and it cannot be in two places at once. The loss of Bulwalk, Albian and Ocean will leave a gaping hole in the UK's defensive and offensive capability. If the Falklands were to be attacked again, for instance, we would not be able to mount a rapid and effective response. If the Navy needs to make cuts may I suggest losing some of the admarials positions as we have 38 admarials to 19 ships.
Mark Holyoake17 December 2017 at 18:45
The Royal Navy has suffered enough cuts over the years, whilst we have enjoyed a peace dividend since the end of the cold war the world has changed. China is becoming more powerful and is now a real challenge to the US, Russia is rearming fast we have had major conflicts in IRAQ, Afghanistan and Libya in recent years. The draft proposals to reduce the Royal Marines and the possible removal from service of HMS Albion and Bulwark (as well as the retirement of HMS Ocean without replacement) is bordering on the criminal, this country has some of the best most professional service personnel in the world. We have invested over many years in the assault capabilities of the RM’s, ships like Albion and Bulwark (as well as Ocean) were part of a balanced plan to support the northern flank of NATO, why are we contemplating throwing this investment away in men and equipment when other nations are maintaining this capability and other nations have aspirations to obtain it? Surely parliament must realise that you cannot do this assault by air (even if we have sufficient resources to do so) look at the Falkland’s and the D-Day landings! These ships are essential for humanitarian relief work as has been demonstrated over the years, all of these ships have sophisticated command and control systems (Bulwark and Ocean both used for the London Olympics).The new Aircraft Carriers are far too valuable to operate close in shore in the assault role this is not a good use for them and seems to show a complete lack of understanding of how warships should be used. As we have discovered after the disastrous 2010 Defence review when axing the carrier Ark Royal and the Harrier fleet it is extremely hard and costly to get these capability’s back once they are gone. I understand the financial pressures the MOD is under but this is solely due to underfunding by the government and the poor procurement processes employed by the MOD, it is very short sighted that the government says a ship costs say £1bn it conveniently forgets to mention that this figure is going back into British manufacturing, it employs staff who along with the company pay Tax back to the treasury (the building of the 2 new aircraft carriers has cost a reported £6bn but has supported 100’s of company’s around the UK employing 10,000’s of people over many years all paying tax and putting money back into the economy)The new Aircraft Carriers are far too valuable to operate close in shore in the assault role this is not a good use for them and seems to show a complete lack of understanding of how warships should be used. As we have discovered after the disastrous 2010 Defence review when axing the carrier Ark Royal and the Harrier fleet it is extremely hard and costly to get these capability’s back once they are gone. My view of a balanced fleet would be- 2 Aircraft Carriers 2 LPD’s 1 LPH (this can be built along the same lines as the current HMS Ocean) 6 Type 45 Destroyers 10 Type 26 Frigates 10 Type 31 Frigates 10 SSN 10 Diesel Subs 4 SSBN Whilst we build the new Frigates we should look to extend the life of the current Type 23’s by say 5 years each this would give the manufacturing base time to construct these new vessels. We also urgently need to address the manpower shortage
Andrew Crawford17 December 2017 at 18:15
As a member of Amphibious Warfare branch in the Maritime Reserve, I know the importance that the amphibious capability brings to not only the Royal Navy but also the UK. The ability to project power from sea to influence events ashore is a capability that the UK needs and will continue to need in our uncertain world. Over 80% of the worlds population live with 100 miles of the coast and the majority of economic activity around the world takes place in this littoral region. An amphibious capability allows the UK to influence events in this region either by putting troops ashore or by displays of power to prevent situations deteriorating. Whilst amphibious landings and subsequent actions by the Royal Marines such as D-Day and the Falklands are often quoted as reasons for the UK having such a capability, I believe that we must also remember that there will be many disastrous events that have not taken place because we have an amphibious capability. The ability to send troops into action from the sea with support from other ships and aircraft acts a strong deterrent to those wanting pursue agendas that do not following the values of peace and freedom that we strive for. The loss of the Albion class ships would impact the service and in particular morale would suffer. In an continually changing Navy where shortages of manpower and fully operational equipment is making things difficult, amphibious operations (alongside submarines and the surface fleet) are something we (the UK) do well and in the Royal Marines we have a service with a decorated history and a prestige to be proud. To reduce this would cause us to lose one of key strengths and with that a feeling of pride and belief in that we are a service that can make a difference. Furthermore, through numerous campaigns and extensive training over the years we have a built a knowledge and understanding of amphibious operations that will be lost if we are not careful. Once lost, it will take a long time to get back and will make us reliant on our allies to provide training when we need to carry out amphibious operations again. One only has to look at the knowledge gap in aircraft carrier operations caused by the UK not operating an aircraft carrier for several years to understand the importance of keeping personal up to date with the latest developments, doctrine and understanding. It is a unfortunate fact of life that war and conflict continue to exist, the UK must accept this and by ready to deliver fighting capability to ensure a safe and secure world that meets our best interests. The ability to influence events from the sea is a key component of this capability, especially as we are an island nation. The Albion Class ships and Royal Marines allow us to do this and more and I hope the UK Government sees the value they bring to the UK.
Martin Rains17 December 2017 at 09:55
Most cuts to any services are mainly driven by cost, yet the government contributes to driverless vehicles (especially LGV's) where there is high potential for more people out of jobs, that contribution could be better spent on our defence of the country, helping to maintain jobs not only in the Royal Marines and Royal Navy but also in other areas of Military employment, along with the drivers that will contribute to the jobless dole que's. The question being asked is why do we need driverless vehicles at all when that cost could be re-applied to a more effective end. More people out of work, more cost to the government, more damage to communities, more pressure on other areas such as NHS, councils, other support facilities that are having funds cut or reduced, a vicious circle that by not cutting 1,000 or any number of Royal Marines and not cutting back the Royal Navy fleet, will be far more productive than driverless vehicles investment and other miss spent investments that really are not required. Plymouth has seen almost all its Royal Navy and Royal Marine fleet and units moved out of the city and surrounding area, with large numbers of manpower and families removed from the military system, creating a military life that is now mostly short lived as people do not stay in the military system like they previously did as a career, this is due to previous cuts leaving the units short on manpower to fulfil the obligations the government have committed the military system to, forcing the system to move manpower from one unit to another after they have just returned from one task, to make up the manpower numbers required for another unit to take on another task, a scenario that is becoming more and more common place leaving the manpower no time for any family life or any other pursuits thereby destroying the moral and motivation of a highly skilled force that has proved its self to be the top of the tree across the world, both RM and RN. The Royal Marines and Royal Navy manpower should be increased to cater for the damage done by previous defence cuts and allow are military system to do its job without all the worries that potential cuts bring as that brings uncertainties into every day life which leads to mistakes in what is already a dangerous and hazardous role. Leave the Military system alone. Invest some of the savings from leaving the EU into the military system.
Vern Guest17 December 2017 at 09:07
Our armed forces are at an all time low. We no longer have an army but rather a militia and our navy and Air Force are woefully inadequate. As usual our politicians think that our forces can be reduced and reduced and a reliance can be made in NATO plug all and any gaps in our forces. NATO didn't do us much good in the falklands war and should the Americans ever have a major conflict of their own we may. It be able to rely on them for support. Our forces should be able to stand on their own and independently carry out any operations that are necessary. The aroyal Marines have already been reduced too far (as have the army and Air Force) and any further reductions will further undermine our ability to defend ourselves. In my opinion there is nothing left to cut back on, our forces are inadequate and we are only able to carry any weight and defend ourselves because we have a nuclear deterrent. All of our potential enemies have huge armies/air forces/navies and we are still cutting back. There is no peace dividend. We are not without enemies and we are rapidly moving towards a defenceless position. Our armed forces should be increased to at least 1980's levels and the answer hibious ability of the Royal Navy and Maribes should be increased from its current levels; not reduced.
PR Coley16 December 2017 at 22:30
Absolutely disgusting that the government is even thinking of reducing the country's amphibious capability in any way and if possible the number of Royal Marines should be increased. For your information I am ex-RN and former member of various commando helicopter squadrons.
David Cooper16 December 2017 at 16:23
I have used some of the suggested questions to shape my thoughts on this matter. I desperately hope that sense will prevail here. When you have a successful formula, build on, don't dismantle it and start again. - How important are the Royal Marines and Albion class ships to the UK? Vitally. They are the only means available of landing specialist UK military force across the beach. - How do you think that having fewer Royal Marines since 2010 and more recent changes in numbers have affected the Corps? Fewer numbers inevitably cut into the military effect that they can create. But the number that we have now still enables them – just – to generate a credible amphibious landing force with the necessary (vital) logistic support. - Do you think that further changes will affect supporting units within 3 Commando Brigade? That depends on decision made by the MoD. Supporting units need to be proportionate in size and capability to the supported units. - What do you think the impact has been of having one of the two Albion class ships at extended readiness, so that only one is available for deployment? Its not ideal, but it is a lot better than having none! - What could UK Armed Forces do to match the capabilities that might be lost? Are the alternatives good enough? There is no ‘standby’ UK amphibious military force. So the answer is ‘nothing’. Related to this, and as General Sir Richard Barrons (an Army officer, not a Royal Marine) said to the H o C Defence Select Committee recently “The Royal Marines are regarded around the world as the very best and most highly trained trained and most proficient infantry soldiers. Why would you want to get rid of them?” Added to which through history, and even in recent year, the Corps has acquitted itself with great distinction is a very wide range of military activities – Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arctic (they are all trained to a high level in Arctic warfare) the jungle, the desert, amphibious warfare as well as life-saving operations in support of refugees and natural disasters. Although only about 4% of the nation’s military forces they provide about 45% of UK Special Forces. A reduction in the size of the Corps will have a disastrous effect on the size of Special Forces. - Are there enough exercises and training to keep amphibious capability at high readiness? There have been until recently, but thse too have been cut. This could have disastrous consequences as the expertise to deal with the complexities of amphibious operations - What do you think will happen to unit morale and satisfaction with Service life if the reported changes and reductions happen? Morale and satisfaction will inevitably suffer. Men (and women in the near future) join the RM to be part of a very long tradition of Excellence in all things, and particularly in amphibious warfare. - What do you think will happen to the communities where these capabilities are based if the reported changes and reductions happen? They will inevitably, suffer from a loss of jobs, and income, and satisfaction in knowing that they contribute to a unique military capability that is respected very highly respected around the world. Yours sincerely, David Cooper
Julian Weston16 December 2017 at 11:12
I served as a junior officer in the Royal Marines throughout the 1960's. It was a relatively quiet decade, encompassing: Indonesian confrontation, the withdrawal from Aden and the commencement of the recently concluded troubles in Northern Ireland. The Royal Marines played a conspicuous role in each theatre of operations and was supported by the amphibious capabilities of the Royal Navy. Too often the lessons of history are forgotten or never learnt. The unexpected can occur at any time. The Falklands war is a classic example. It was a remarkable military, naval and logistic triumph, which would have been unachieveable without the 3rd Commando Brigade and the Navy's amphibious shipping, which were then available to implement the Nation's will. Peace is bought by having well trained and sufficient forces immediately available to fulfil government policy. A lack of preparedness has always resulted in an enormous cost to the Nation, both financially and in lives lost. To pare Britain's forces further flies in the face of history. The Royal Marine motto "per mare per terram" is as relevant today as it was when first conceived. Britain needs now and always will a capability to land forces from the sea to face a foe or give assistance in a humanitarian crisis. Parliament should be voting for an increase in expenditure rather than a decrease.
Marian Dixon15 December 2017 at 18:07
How important are the Royal Marines and Albion class ships to the UK? Very important. Why train the best and then get rid of them in favour of lesser qualified armed forces? The Marines have shown they are not just the amphibious force but have served in very land based areas such as Afghanistan and Iran and taken on the more difficult roles whilst they were there. - How do you think that having fewer Royal Marines since 2010 and more recent changes in numbers have affected the Corps? Dramatic effects. My relative joined in 2009 and has found his workload getting heavier and heavier to a point where he has 54 days leave which can’t be taken because he is too busy to take it. Some are leaving because it seriously affects family life being away so often and not getting leave on their return. - What do you think the impact has been of having one of the two Albion class ships at extended readiness, so that only one is available for deployment? Not good – getting ready for deployment is not a quick thing. Troops need months of preparation and training to do this work and it cant be done at short notice. - What could UK Armed Forces do to match the capabilities that might be lost? Are the alternatives good enough? There are no alternatives! Marines could do any other job/task in any other situation as they are highly trained to be adaptable and more trained than any other part of the armed forces. My relative is a highly trained specialist with his parachute wings and marksmans badge. - Are there enough exercises and training to keep amphibious capability at high readiness? My relative is constantly training, to a point where he has no free time. How much more could he do? See comments re morale and holidays due. - What do you think will happen to unit morale and satisfaction with Service life if the reported changes and reductions happen? My relative for one would leave as he couldn’t do any more than he does already. He is frequently stressed by the hours he must put in and the length of time he has been on short notice to move (2 years on 24 hours or 2 hours to move).