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Old 18th Jan 2007, 20:20
  #53 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: East Anglia
Posts: 349
So What If?

I think it is a great achievement - do not get me wrong - and I do not know the crews/Marines but I am sure that they all had massive balls - and it is re-assuring to know that all of the stops were pulled out in an attempt to recover what was belived to be a live comrade.
But.....and sadly it is a big but
What if we had woken to the news that 2 AH plus crews, and some marines strapped onto to the sides had been lost trying to attempt this desperate mission (and further lives had been lost in the recovery of those downed crews).
I say desperate because despite all of the bravery and superior flying skills I have to ask the question where were the SH, what was the Combat Recovery plan, are we in UK training incorrectly for JPR if this is the way that it is done for real?
Now if the Chinnie boys were unserviceable or on another job or out of crew duty or whatever then this post belongs in the wrong thread as yet again despite NAO reports and all of the advice to the Lords and Masters, there is still a huge shortage of lift capability.
In this case, so short of lift that what looks like a deliberate assault by the Royal Marines did not have adequate SH assets or a trained ground party to effect an immediate combat recovery if/when required.
Someone high up knows all of this and has elected to take it on risk. Actually it is not the Public or the Politicians or the Generals or Squadron Commander that physically/mentally takes the risk - it is the crews doing the actual mission. Not only the risk of the actual recovery (being shot at, brownout etc) but also being forced to break rules and regulations (we all know the very good DASC article on operational Flight Safety).
I am not an AH driver and I am not too sure if this action falls into JSP, FOB, Training Manual or RTS (and quite frankly I really don't care as the job was done) - but one thing I am pretty sure about is that if it had gone wrong there would have been people at all levels, behind all desks looking for their sh!t deflectors and going through every rule and regulation to cover their risk averse arses. Another sure thing - it most certainly would have got Big Brother off the number one news slot (UK public hate good news/success - much prefer a bit of negative spin, acutely embarrassed about the Prime Ministers war (nothing to do with them you see)).
My point is SH orientated and I really wonder what will it take to get the rumoured Chinnies procured or the HC3s out of the shed or NH90 at the rush - does someone really have to get put on the spot (as these crews did) to take such risks to do something that we are supposedly able to do and supposedly have resourced and supposedly have trained for? If the CH47 is too big for this kind of scenario (and lets be honest it was only a matter of time before a JPR op was going to be required in theatre), then lets get a Merlin/Sea King to do it. Surely, anything (dare I say Lynx?) must be better than the situation of an AH flying back into the fire fight with the so called 'Ground Protection Party' strapped to the wings? Those AH boys should have been doing what they do very well indeed - escort/rescort and not troop 'lifting'.
Forgive me if this sounds jealous or bitter - I am not. Although RAF I have worked with Teeney Weenies before on Ops and especially with AH I am really impressed all round (and although we would never admit in public all of us are impressed with how the whole AH programme has gone for you lot - and there is no doubt that the actions of this thread leave me feeling very humble. It really does show true fighting ethos.
My rather long winded point is that if we are going to do these kind of high tempo, high risk ground ops then lets support them correctly and not on a shoe string transferring the known risk to the operators on the ground that are already taking significant risk - lives will be lost unless firstly we procure more SH and secondly take the whole CSAR/Combat Recovery/JPR (whatever todays term is) seriously.
Well done boys.

Last edited by MaroonMan4; 18th Jan 2007 at 20:32.
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