Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Give us tools?

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the "army legend" hits out in The Sun today, with the newspaper doing its own version of the dance of the seven veils. The interview is deliberately not on-line. You are told to go out and buy a copy of the newspaper, if you want to read what he has to say.

For 20p, it was just worth it ... but only just. Like a cracked gramophone record, Dannatt is still repeating the same mantra ... "not enough troops". We are fighting with one arm tied round our back, says the general. "If you're going to conduct an operation, you're doing it for one reason – to succeed," he says.

One does not expect subtlety from The Sun but what Dannatt does not tell us is what he means by success. And it is that very concept which has eluded strategists and planners.

This is not a war, where there is a clean "win", defined in terms of territory gained, enemy troops killed or captured, and materiel seized. It is a counter-insurgency, where even progress is difficult to define, with major differences of opinion on the most suitable metrics.

Yet, if you can't define success, it makes it very difficult to define the nature of your operation. Without that, the "resources" issue becomes equally difficult to define. And there, Dannatt offers no illumination. Give us the tools, he says, but what is the job?