Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Miner points

I had never really known much about Chile until the news came out of the miners who had been trapped underground. I recall a heavy earthquake earlier in the year but it fell into that category "major incident - not many British killed" that The Times used for problems in 'foreign' far away places. I resorted to my old Q & A resource of Wiki and it reveals a success story in which the colonising Brits went somewhere and did not decimate the locals with exotic diseases or put them to the sword if they refused to kiss the Bible.

It would be nice to think that it was the start and our continuing presence which led to the rescue of all the trapped men. I suspect that we had little part. It all seems to have gone so swimmingly from step to step. The first thing I expected was that any opposition party would weigh in and castigate everything that was being done. The party in power would then riposte that it was all the fault of the previous government and it would all fall into the Punch and Judy politics we do so well. It seems that this is yet to arise or, even, whether such time and energy wasting debate will surface at all. The President may be the factor of change. He appears to have decamped to the makeshift village at the well head and then made sure that all concerned knew he was there. Not by interfering or indulging in micro-management. Reports from hard-bitten reporters used to creating a negative spin are all favourable, He just walks about without a mass entourage and willingly answers in English or Spanish any questions put to him. I do not detect any Press or Media Office with their insistence on controlling and regimenting everything. There are, obviously, effective controls. The cameramen have been provided with good opportunities without the rucks and mauls we see all too often. The plans for action have all been freely released well in advance of execution.

All in all, a fine job. I suggest we could learn quite a bit from it; and not just in the area of mine rescues.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Right men for the job

The Special Air Service has many unorthodox talents.All 'badged' members of The Special Air Service are parachute trained; however, there is a need for members of The Regiment to be trained in military free-fall techniques in order that operational tasks such as covert insertion by parachute into hostile territory, from high altitude, can be employed as and when needed.

Note the term 'covert insertion' i.e. landing troops into somewhere without making a lot of noise or otherwise attracting attention. I am sure that we all know the noise levels of military helicopters. Having one hover whilst attack forces deploy down a rope, in a remote area where such noise is rarely heard, cannot be described as 'covert'. The advance on foot to the compound where a hostage might be held would allow ample time for the dissidents to get into defensive positions and plan their tactics.

American special forces were within "seconds" of rescuing the kidnapped British aid worker Linda Norgrove when she was fatally wounded by a suicidal explosion triggered by one of her captors. We cannot know how long it took for the rescuers to get to the compound from their landing spot but one has to wonder why the silence of a HALO insertion was not used. The training of SF allows almost pin-point accuracy of landing; certainly all in the middle of a compound.