Send helicopters to Darfur


by Sunny
14th December, 2007 at 9:40 pm    

Steve M writes in to say: “I am shocked to read that no country has contributed any of the helicopters that the UN need to send their troops to Darfur. I have started a petition to Gordon Brown for Britain to set an example by contributing 5 of the required helicopters, in the hope that this might at least stir things up a bit. It must be worth a try.”

Read more on his blog and sign the 10 Downing St petition. We need a peace-keeping force in Darfur.


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  1. halima — on 15th December, 2007 at 6:39 am  

    I was talking last night to a friend who was in Darfur a few months ago as part of some conflict reduction mission.. It seems that the international mission is finding it hard to know how to function in a country where basic logistics are sparse – so for example for the hundreds of rookies that were stationed in Darfur there was no access to water to give to them, so they had to tap into the same water supply that the locals use and access to resources is one of the main factors fuelling the crisis – so the situation becomes a logistical and ethical nightmare, and is ever so complicated. Any peace keeping mission would need to ensure that they do no harm when they arrive – an international principle that is ever so important to observe in emergencies.

  2. Bert Preast — on 15th December, 2007 at 12:15 pm  

    FFS no. Every helicopter we have and then some is needed in Afghanistan, our people are dying for the lack of them.

    Petition the rest of the EU to do something useful for a change.

  3. Steve M — on 15th December, 2007 at 12:37 pm  

    The rest of the EU should be petitioned to help in Afghanistan. Something must be done in Darfur.

  4. Bert Preast — on 15th December, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    Indeed. But WE can’t do it right now. Until the European part of NATO begins fulfilling it’s obligations in Afghanistan, Darfur is not something we can spare helicopters for.

  5. douglas clark — on 15th December, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    Bert,

    Yes. We do seem to be a bit short of helicopters. I agree with you that the UK Government should be pressing all those fellow EU governments that are sitting on their hands over Afghanistan to provide the kit.

    It’d be interesting to know what the UK government is doing about it’s shortage, right enough.

  6. Bert Preast — on 15th December, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    They’re wondering if they can get away with giving the contract to Westland again, meaning it’ll be a decade before we get any new helicopters. I think the most recent conclusion they’ve reached is that yep, they can.

  7. Bert Preast — on 15th December, 2007 at 1:30 pm  

    Here we are:

    http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/People/Speeches/MinDES/20070424RoyalAeronauticalSocietyAnnualConference24April2007.htm

    Note that Lord Drayson resigned a couple of months back. As an industrialist he couldn’t work with the MOD, because they’re just crap. Now we’re back with the usual career politico in charge, just as the government like it.

  8. douglas clark — on 15th December, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    Thanks Bert. Seems availability is nearly as big an issue as numbers.

  9. Kesara — on 15th December, 2007 at 2:56 pm  

    I agree with Bert – the UK is stretched in this department as is – there are plenty of governments out there that can supply the resources and arn’t embroiled in dual conflict zones.

  10. Bert Preast — on 16th December, 2007 at 12:09 am  

    Steve – I do respect what you’re trying to do, and I’m sorry you got savaged for it. But before you get arrsey with the blokes who savaged you, remember that they or men like them are those that your proposal will send away from their families and into the Sudanese desert for a fair few months. They do deserve listening to, even if subtlety ain’t their strong suit.

    Not saying you should as it’s horses for courses, but had you just returned from 6 months there you’d have found them a lot less dismissive of your idea. When you’ve just come back from some massive desert goatfuck on the whims of the clueless, you’re not too benevolently inclined when someone else with the best of intentions but the least of experience suggests you hotfoot it straight back in again. The army is under plenty of stain as it is these days.

  11. Steve M — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:12 am  

    Bert, I’m not going to get arsey with anyone. I didn’t have to post there and probably shouldn’t have. Interesting though.

    Our agendas are different is all. I suppose that my image of peacekeeping forces is that they’re not in the same kind of danger as our troops would be in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan. Perhaps I’m wrong. I understand that our forces are massively under equipped and can sympathise with that. I didn’t cause it of course and perhaps that can be the subject of a future campaign.

    Now though, I just look at the photos and film footage of women and children in Darfur. God knows what makes one set of circumstances trigger the campaigner in me, while I’ll admit I can just walk away from another. Anyway, in those photos, in those eyes, I see unimaginable hell. Except that I can imagine it and I just want it to stop.

    If I can find a more effective way of campaigning, maybe pressing for French or German helicopters, I’ll certainly use it. Suggestions anyone?

  12. sonia — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:18 am  

    yes good intentions Steve M, and of course “something has to be done” (what though? hav armed forces actually good ‘peacekeepers’? but Halima has a good point. can’t just be doing something blindly because we feel there is a moral imperative/soldiers aren’t the best people to send in anyway is my thinking.

  13. Steve M — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:31 am  

    Pressuring China is the other strategy. Using their sensitivity over the 2008 Olympics and using the ‘Darfur 2008 banner’. You know China is Sudan’s main sponsor and takes 70% of their exports.

    Back to the peacekeeping thing and yes, I think that the soldiers would do more good than harm. The people of Darfur seem to want them too – even if only as witnesses.

    Who would you send in, Sonia?

  14. sonia — on 16th December, 2007 at 3:12 am  

    i dont know that i would “send” anyone in Steve, i dont know that there is a simple solution ‘from the outside’ – do you? Much as i would like there to be. But its not my conscience Steve you need to be worrying about – spend your time thinking, if you’re interested in Sudan, go out there yourself and check it out – ask some people who have been to Sudan – why dont you – rather than arguing with me, i’m not here to distract you. Its just pretty obvious that just cos we always rely on soldiers – we should do so in this case = isn’t going to equal the solution you want. if you’re mature enough, instead of wanting some debate for the heck of it, for some political reason, i’m sure you’d realise that was simply my point. Don’t take it so personally mate.

  15. Steve M — on 16th December, 2007 at 8:55 am  

    Sonia, what on earth makes you think I’m concerned in any way with your conscience?

    After many debates and previous resolutions, the UN unanimously passed resolution 1769 – to send a peacekeeping force into Darfur. The Sudanese I have communicated with, the Westerners with whom I’m in contact who deal academically with the Darfur conflict, Unesco and ‘Save The Children’, all think it’s necessary.

    While all the countries stand around twiddling their thumbs instead of supporting that mission, they are conspiring to destroy the last vestiges of credibility that the UN has.

  16. Bert Preast — on 16th December, 2007 at 12:36 pm  

    “The army is under plenty of stain as it is these days.”

    One of my better freudian slips, that.

    Steve – If you think our troops would not be in the same level of danger as in Iraq and Afghanistan then I think you may be wrong. We’d be trying to play policemen in a place where the government is infiltrated at all levels with those sympathetic to the criminals, and bin Laden has already made it very clear that he’ll view any EU force in Sudan as yet another crusade against islam, and he’s quite an influential chap out there. On top of that the civil war with the south is like to spark up again at any moment. I can see it all getting very messy.

    Looking at it cynically, this is exactly why our EU allies are again failing to step up to the bar. They’ll send soldiers overseas, yes – but only if the chances of their having to do any of that vote-losing killing and dying are minimalised. Preferably by letting someone else do the dirty work while they send a token force to dig a well and build a school, voters just love that.

    You’ll have noticed that no one on Arrse was against sorting Sudan out, the objections were due to us having other stuff to sort out first and currently lacking the kit and people even for that. So keep at it, I do like the China angle – not that it’ll get any quick results but it’s good to show people it’s not just US imperialism out there, and that the Chinese are even less choosy about who they deal with. China wants very much to be seen and more importantly respected as a great country, so a poke in the eye now and them will do them no harm at all.

  17. douglas clark — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    SteveM @ 15,

    The UN resolution meets all reasonable criteria. I don’t personally see why Western Governments aren’t providing the resources needed to make it happen. That is a disgrace.

    France has around 250 military helos and Germany around 200. And I don’t see why India, say, couldn’t provide some too. They’ve got nearly 400. Or China, they’ve got circa 550, including a fleet of 200 Mi – 17 transport helos. I think I am right in saying that none of these countries are fighting on two fronts right now.

    There is absolutely no point in a unanimous resolution if folk won’t stand up to the plate afterwards.

  18. Steve M — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    I agree with you both. This UN force should be an international effort, not just UK or UN. Let Bin Laden know who he’s fighting.

    I don’t know how much killing & fighting and how much school building & well digging there would be. One important thing is witnessing, so that the criminals know that they won’t escape justice. Sooner or later they’ll be prosecuted.

  19. Bert Preast — on 16th December, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

    They’ll offer up some token junior commanders perhaps, but the movers and shakers will get away with it. Unless the idea is regime change, maybe.

    Perhaps each UN member should second a quantity of troops or double what the troops would cost in lieu, and that becomes the UN force. They’d be under UN orders, and their own governments would have no say in where they were sent or what they were tasked with. Can’t see many governments agreeing to hand over control of a part of their militaries though, especially when it might even end up being used against their own interests.

  20. douglas clark — on 16th December, 2007 at 2:02 pm  

    Bert,

    I’m doing this off the top of my head, but my understanding was that the troops on the ground were to be provided by the Organisation of African Unity, or some such. What they don’t have is the heavy lift capacity to move these folks around. I’m not saying that other troops wouldn’t be at risk, but they would not be expected, or actually wanted, in the front line, or policing, operations.

    Of course, it could all go horribly wrong.

  21. Steve M — on 16th December, 2007 at 2:44 pm  

    Of course it’s all horribly wrong now.

  22. douglas clark — on 16th December, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    Steve M,

    Yup.

    One of the key points in favour of ‘doing something’ in Darfur is that it passes the test on whether or not the intervention would make the situation for the inhabitants worse. It isn’t a high hurdle in this particular case.

  23. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 12:38 am  

    Douglas – I think you’ll find confidence is not high in AU troops’ ability to protect any airbases we set up there. Losing the helicopters to a Janjaweed raid is probable and would be rather embarrassing. It’s a warzone, if we arrive we’ll be the main target, so whatever force goes in will need proper protection.

  24. douglas clark — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:14 am  

    Bert,

    What you say is one truth. I think we need to ensure that the AU’s troops do protect their airbases. And I’d assume that, whoever deploys, deploys with the equivalent of their RAF Regiment. It is not, exactly a warzone, it is apparently, a disaster zone.

    Whomsoever actually deploys might be the targets you say, but I’d assume the front line folk would be more at risk.

    It is why I said it might go horribly wrong. I’d like to think that we considered the outcomes for once.

    That said, lets get on with it.

  25. ww — on 17th December, 2007 at 5:59 am  
  26. douglas clark — on 17th December, 2007 at 9:16 am  

    ww,

    That is some link you provide! Even I cannot attempt to translate that.

  27. Steve M — on 17th December, 2007 at 10:17 am  

    I’m reconsidering the campaign.

    The MOD doesn’t properly equip our armed forces to deal with their existing theatres, Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, any involvement in Darfur would clearly be extremely unpopular with the forces themselves.

    Gordon Brown pushed hard for UN Resolution 1769 (to send in the Peacekeepers). He should be asked to finish the job he started by pushing our allies to act on the resolution that they were unanimous in signing. Clearly, they’re F-all use in Afghanistan.

    Anyway, I’m working on how best to take this thing further. Meanwhile, Bert, thanks for your rearguard action at the army site. Please don’t tell the lovies there that I’m changing my plan. I’ll go back, all guns blazing, when I’m ready and equipped with the necessary ammunition of a revised campaign.

  28. douglas clark — on 17th December, 2007 at 11:23 am  

    Steve M,

    Best wishes. Your heart is in the right place, and frankly, your head is too. That is an extremely rare combination ;-)

  29. Steve M — on 17th December, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    Gosh

  30. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

    Steve – good luck when you go back with all guns blazing. Take a lot of guns. Really bastard big ones. :D

    They’re a good bunch of blokes but it’s no place for the faint hearted or thin skinned, I’ll admit. You know Richard North who blogs for declaring war on Europe and better kit for the army? Every time he goes on there he gets a right pasting too, but he keeps at it as he knows that deep inside every rufty-tufty soldier there’s a lovely fluffy bunny struggling to get out. Er, maybe.

    For incredibly unreliable information on our current helo fleet, a visit to the Arrsepedia is a must. The page on the Lynx is worth a read:

    http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Lynx

    “Old Lynx pilots proverb ‘If something hasnt broken/fallen off/caught fire/exploded/failed/destroyed itself into oblivion/eaten itself/generally stopped functioning….its either just about to or its sat in the hangar’.”

    Also note that the proposed replacement, whenever it finally arrives, will be substantially less useful. No wonder Drayson jacked it, the only thing of importance in defence procurement is to try to keep a couple of hundred British workers in hopelessly outdated factories off the dole queue. I can only assume the resulting dead soldiers are looked on as another part of the plan, as they need replacing thus cutting the dole queue still further.

  31. The Common Humanist — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:23 pm  

    In reality NATO only has six useful members – the US, UK, Turkey and Canada with honorable mentions for The Netherlands and France.

    The rest appear to be there for window dressing only.

    The average European…ahem….soldier (in the loosest sense of the word) is good for parades and keeping official unemployment down and apparently not for peacekeeping, peacemaking and generally saving lives.

    Why does Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Sweden have armed forces for?
    (And am looking at you ‘our soldiers can’t see action when in Afghanistan’ Germany in particular?

    Given that the majority of the Aghan poppy crop ends up on our streets and the next time AQ/Taliban want to reach out it may well be in Europe, why aren’t the EU / NATO nations serious about their obligations?

  32. The Common Humanist — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

    Darfur
    The overriding problem in Darfor is too many people chasing too little water and stable grazinbg land who come from too distinct socio-economic groups – nomadic arab muslim farmers vs sedentiary african muslim livestock farmers.

    Too many people, too little resources = intractable conflict.

    Get used to ‘Darfurs’ happening in Africa (including The Maghreb) and Western Asia. Given the rates of population growth in these areas, often in areas eminently unsuitable (i.e. not temperate), we can expect such conflicts to simmer on and cause much suffering.

    What Darfur needs most is birth control and hydrologists. Populations have to match the carrying capacity of their lands. If they don’t the result will be conflict and migration, leading to more misery and conflict.

  33. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

    You’re forgetting the Poles and the Danes there. Also the Romanians are starting to get their heads round it.

    I’m not for the EU Army idea, but maybe those nations who don’t mind having a bit of a ruck now and then should be compensated heavily by those who prefer not to, that way we get more efficient and motivated forces and everyone should be happy.

  34. The Common Humanist — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    Doh.

    Apologies for the spelling and punctuation in those posts!

  35. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    TCH – I agree, but it’s catch-22. While the countries are unstable people will keep having 8 kids, making sure the country remains unstable.

  36. The Common Humanist — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

    Bert,

    I’d settle for accepting say, 40% of non useful members defence budgets and then the precious darlings can go home and put their feet up!

    TCH

  37. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 3:46 pm  

    Marcel’s been defended by the Foreign Legion this last half century anyway, makes sense to expand on the theme a little.

  38. Dave Cole — on 17th December, 2007 at 9:14 pm  

    The ultimate answer, IMHO, is to give NATO a helicopter capability alongside its strategic lift 707s and AWACS aircraft. The EU is, I’d venture, not the best vehicle; for one thing, there are NATO members who could contribute who are not in the EU and not all EU members would be politically able to contribute. The proposal is practical, but it would kick up such a hornets’ nest that it would probably not be implemented until the Darfur conflict was resolved anyway.

    The Common Humanist – I wouldn’t be so critical of the Norwegian and Swedish militaries, particularly their special forces units. The answer on Germany is obvious – sensitivities around rearmament. Still. That having been said, they are in the process of buying some new kit. While the other armed forces mentioned might not be quite as high on an index of martial potency, they are not to be so lightly sneered at.

    Bert Preast – I’m going to start by declaring a relevant interest (my Dad works for AgustaWestland) before warning that ARRSEpedia is very funny but not really based on reality.

  39. Bert Preast — on 17th December, 2007 at 11:45 pm  

    I did specify “For incredibly unreliable information”

    Poke yer dad in the eye for me, will you?

  40. Dave Cole — on 18th December, 2007 at 11:11 am  

    I know… just wanted to make sure everyone knew that :)

  41. Slartibartfast — on 18th December, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

    Steve – you misguided idiot.

    Bert Preast – you are a traitor to ARRSE. Don’t bother coming back you foul cunt.

  42. The Common Humanist — on 18th December, 2007 at 5:14 pm  

    “The Common Humanist – I wouldn’t be so critical of the Norwegian and Swedish militaries, particularly their special forces units. The answer on Germany is obvious – sensitivities around rearmament”

    Dave, you are right about the Scandanavians. I would like to see a combat brigade or equivalent from every NATO member.

    Until the end of the Cold War the Bundeswher was the finest army in NATO IMHO, beautifully design ed to kill large numbers of russians in a short space of time. Now, I know the German defence budget is now reletively small but 5000 German airmobile troops or, better still, mountain troops would go an awful long way in Afghanistan. Add another 5000 France and 3000 Spanish and it would suddenly look there some sort of atlantic treaty organisation or something…….

  43. Rumbold — on 18th December, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

    Slartibartfast:

    “Bert Preast – you are a traitor to ARRSE. Don’t bother coming back.”

    Bert can defend himself, but I would just like to point out that Bert is always sticking up for the army on here, as well as educating people about what life in the army is like. You owe him your thanks, not your contempt.

  44. Bert Preast — on 18th December, 2007 at 8:12 pm  

    There’s no Slartibartfast on ARRSE.

    Just a walt I expect.

  45. Steve M — on 19th December, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    A ‘walt’?

  46. Don — on 19th December, 2007 at 2:14 pm  

    Mitty

  47. Steve M — on 19th December, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    Ah. I was thinking Disney.

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