Friday, 22 January 2016

Teeth of the Hydra - Untune the string, and see what discord follows.

The alternative history of Teeth of the Hydra, is hopefully more than just missing a taxi when you cross the road.


If you believe the idea that the universe has an infinite number of possibilities, then Teeth of the Hydra has already happened, and the consequences are playing out as I write this, realising their potentiality in the Multiverse. Somewhere in a South Atlantic, the turbines on the Sea Kings are starting to whine, as the Commando's do final check before load up.


Teeth of the Hydra is my excuse for a geo-politico romp around the globe, armed with the nascent 'Thatcher Doctrine', a revitalised post Falkland Great Britain takes the place in the world Lord Palmerston would have wished for it. 


This series of post's - I hope there will be more, have the Senior Service leading the way. The Commando Brigade, has become the Naval Division, still with a Dutch component, one of the two brigades acting as strategic reserve, the other with its three Commando's committed to Artic, Jungle and Special Operations. This allows for a more integrated command and homogenous force compliment, than the addition of 5 Brigade to the Commando's and Para's did in the Falklands. However, I see the Commando's operating with the Gurkha's or Para's as a regular force deployment.


One of the most fascinating things of the Falklands, was the impact of STUFT on the logistics and support operations of the armed forces. STUFT is the Navy acronym of  Ships Taken Up From Trade. The Atlantic Causeway and Conveyor, show what can be done in 8 days in a Naval Dockyard with a clear plan and determination.


The above picture shows what you can not do. Amongst many things, the ships needed close in protection,  but perhaps more importantly, a robust fire main and emergency power system. Part of the difference in cost with a Navy ship, compared to a Merchant ship for example, is the water mains - being able to draw on salt water for hoses, which can ruin a mains system. Duplication and redundancy built into the spec, means cost.


Close in protection could have been provided by Phalanx systems, available as surplus from the US Army in Europe, as well as chaff projectors for terminal defence against missiles. A number of ships received 20mm Oerlikons. The 20mm are too large and slow to do anything other than scare the bejessus out of trawlers and their like.


Two of the ships to sail, ex Soviet container ships able to handle heavy military equipment, were equipped with armoured cables for power line protection and a damage control centre built as standard specification. These were the MV Laertes and MV Lycaon, built at the Kherson yard in the USSR.


One of the problems with regard to Stuft at the time of the Falklands was, for the MOD, the legal definition apparently. Armed Merchant Men or not however, this does not preclude you from being a target. 


Designs for container ships that could be used are not that difficult to adapt to the dual demands of merchant marine requirements and that of the navy. The main requirements are for good seaway and seakeeping, space and structure for helicopter operations  and the efficient operation of the stores in the container spaces. And built in resilience and redundancy. These are key points raised in the Falklands aftermath analysis.


Its not that I have a fascination with Stuft, to the detriment of other, clearly defined units of force. They are  a cheap alternative for naval platforms to project force, a makeshift though effective unit. They are not able to operate in an environment where they would face up enemy fleet units. They are really over the horizon force projectors. They are there, until the regular, RN equivalents, are built and in service. Or not.

            A Sea Harrier takes off from HMS HERMES, crowded with helicopters and weapons stores, during the Falklands War,

 A clear focus on strategy, and the wherewithal to do it, with efficiency savings, would mean that a 2 brigade Naval Division is within reach, as well as the infrastructure to support it. It also allows for a more active foreign policy that is more than words and good intentions. I would see this supporting Commonwealth and UK policy, the 'Thatcher Doctrine' . Intervention against anti British forces in Africa, following on from action in the Falklands, where, in Teeth of the Hydra, the Soviets flew reconnaissance out of Angola for the Argentines ( as did the US satellites for the Brits, but what is 
the point of having a special relationship, if you can't use it)

                                           Everylittle action.wordpress

The 'Thatcher Doctrine' sees Britain involved with medical, emergency and infrastructure support for former colonies of Great Britain, now part of the Commonwealth, as well as police activities against post colonial insurgency, again lead by the Commonwealth. There is also a part of this that is receptive to appeals from the UN, but is essentially distrustful of such an organisation. The spearhead for this are the Commonwealth Overseas Service Volunteer's. National Service, certainly not, but everyone under 25 has to do 18 months, or join the armed forces. 

                   Navy News

COSV allows entitlement to benefits and housing. This is the core of the Doctrine, public service, for the greater good is its own reward, but is recognised by the government with access to welfare payments, training, free higher education and housing. 


This is enough of the 'politics', the echo box that holds our string. I think I can see it happening, a soak for the unemployment that the industrial realignment brought. an ideal to be harnessed to the energy of youth. Could it have avoided a racist, colonial smell? Could it promote British values, a small c conservative nature, with a small l liberal morality, without becoming neo fascist. What it can do is provide the basis of wargaming the British Army of the 1980's. 

Cheers and thanks for looking. I have written the attribution of the photo's to the right of the photo. Some of the photo's have more than one source., I have merely plundered the image from the interweb thingy. Thanks and acknowledgement to the listed source.

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