Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-134)|
TEBBIT KCB, CMG, MAJOR
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
120. What I am asking is whether that information
which is going forward and your concern which you have shown us
affects what you are doing operationally now on the ground or
not? It sounds as though you have not factored it in at all.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) May I make a further point? Depleted
uranium has been shown to be the most effective way of attacking
tanks and getting through armour, which is my point about a military
effect on the battlefield. I do not myself feel that depleted
uranium is particularly central to this issue of combat ID.
121. Do you think that the increased probability
of friendly fire deaths from having different nations working
together with different services at the same time in complex scenarios
is a good reason to avoid entangling different armies and the
like because of the cost of friendly fire?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, I do not. It has made some
of the work more complicated and more complex than would otherwise
be the case, but coalition operations are a reality now and indeed
we are learning to work together and better together. That is
one of the reasons it has taken some time to get our battlefield
target identification agreement established, which we finally
got in June 2000, because it did require us to get six different
countries together on what the standard should be.
122. In terms of the United States and us, do
you feel their propensity to want to provide the bombing cover
and not the military personnel on the ground in various scenarios
illustrates that they put more value than we do on combat ID and
loss of our own people?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, I do not think that is fair.
It is certainly the case that the US has engaged in a great deal
of air bombing. They are certainly using much more precise systems
than ever before in order to do so. Precision is an important
element in the way in which we are looking to go. If you look
at what has been going on in Afghanistan and as a result of 11
September, there is a much greater resolve by the United States
to deal with problems by whatever means necessary.
123. So they do not value their soldiers more
than we value ours.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is a value judgement which
would be very difficult to discuss.
124. Thank you very much for those questions.
Two or three from me to wrap things up. Please turn to page 20
and paragraph 2.37 where it says, "Whilst the Department
knows that it is currently spending £398 million in total
on Combat Identification . . . it is unable to identify all of
its Combat Identification-related expenditure". How do you
assess whether you have a balance of investment at the correct
level for any one discrete capability if you do not know how much
you are currently spending on a capability such as combat identification?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Combat identification is not a
capability: it is an enabler which crosses a large number of different
capabilities. We measure our balance of investment issues according
to four major capability areas as the General knows only too well.
One of them is manoeuvre, another is strategic deployment, another
is strike, another is information superiority and combat ID cuts
across all of those areas. Combat ID is not an output. Combat
ID is an enabler to deliver military effectiveness, neither is
it an input, so we do not capture it in that form in the budget.
The second point is that it also cuts across things like information
systems, training effort, doctrine, techniques and procedures
and therefore again it is hard to capture a specific figure. For
example, we train soldiers to do many things, part of that will
be identifying a T72 tank as distinct from a British tank. I cannot
say how much money we are putting into that. The fact that we
cannot identify in balance of investment terms combat ID as such
is not in my view a weakness in our budgeting procedures.
125. Combat ID is not a capability?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It is not a capability.
126. May I ask Sir John about that because this
is an agreed report? If you read paragraph 2.37 it does seem to
be suggesting that it is a capability or have I misunderstood
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It is not a discrete capability.
You can use the word loosely: I am using it in a specific sense.
The way we budget our capabilities, the way we do trade-offs,
is in four main areas. It is a capability, yes, but I was talking
about it in the way in which we budget in the Ministry of Defence,
according to the way the equipment is looked at for balance of
investment and outputs.
(Sir John Bourn) It is not a capability in the sense
that Sir Kevin is using the word "capability" but, as
he has said, it is a capability in another sense.
127. It strikes me that it is rather like saying
signalling on the railways is not a capability, it does not deliver
passengers on time and so on. It is an enabler, it actually enables
you to get passengers from A to B. We would think it a pretty
poor railway if we did not know how much we were spending on signals,
particularly in the light of certain events with recent disastrous
consequences. I should have thought that you would have regarded
this in exactly the same way as that. I think the Chairman is
absolutely right: it is something you should know. You should
know how much you are spending on it because it actually is the
thing which is enabling you to deliver what you want in the battlefield
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I do agree with you. All I am saying
is that we would have to gather that information from various
strands. It is not just the signals, it is all sorts of other
elements in this particular area. For example, the Bowman system
is costing us £2.2 billion. Within that will be ingredients
which will make a huge difference in terms of combat ID but it
is not as specific as the SIFF programme which are very specific
combat ID indicators. That is really the only point I am making.
I am not disagreeing with you. The importance of understanding
how much one is spending on enablers is important. What I am saying
is that they are not outputs as such.
128. The best disguise for an enemy would be
to mimic your uniforms, your equipment, your radar signatures
so as to take advantage of your procedures to avoid fratricide.
How do you guard against this?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) There are all sorts of interesting
ways to deal with it.
(Major General Fulton) We talked quite a lot this
afternoon about situational awareness. The key thing with situational
awareness is building up the blue picture and building up a picture
of other entities on the battlefield; there are opposition entities
and there are also potentially neutral entities, but actually
the higher the intensity of the conflict, the less likely that
is. The composition of the blue picture is absolutely vital and
that is why it is so important that one picture is shared between
everybody else and a lot of investmentthe Permanent Secretary
has mentioned Bowmanand the value from that investment
will be understanding exactly where our own forces are. The airborne
stand-off radar which I identified earlier will also identify
movements on the battlefield, build up a picture of the battlefield.
We know where our own people are. What that leaves then is a number
of unidentifieds, so that cues other sensors that we have to focus
on those. That still does not solve the problem. We will still
have to come back to what it is doing, whether it is behaving
in a hostile manner and a whole series of questions like that.
Deception has been with us as long as warfare has been with us
and it is one of the issues which will ensure that there will
never be a point at which we have solved the combat identification
problem. We will never reach a point at which the problem is solved.
This will always go on because there will be measures and counter
measures as long as we go. That is why we have come to the conclusion
that target identification, which in 1991 was seen as the solution,
through the 1990s was seen as not being sufficient on its own
and why situational awareness and tactics, techniques and procedures,
about which we have talked a lot this afternoon, are important.
Commodore Nance's story about the Kuwaiti fast patrol boats and
the conclusion of it might actually go some way towards answering
(Commodore Nance) We have to and every commander wishes
to preserve his forces from being killed by himself and therefore
adopt such tactics, techniques and procedures and other equipment
measures to protect his forces. Obviously it is part of his concern
for his command. Not only does he wish to take them into combat
and do so effectively, he also wishes to bring them back. He wishes
therefore to make sure that he can identify them and one of his
highest concerns will be to make sure that his opponent cannot
exploit those mechanisms that he uses, whether they be equipment,
whether they be situational awareness or by knowledge of tactics,
techniques and procedures. The simple one of daily changing code
words and passwords is one that is enshrined in history and it
is an indication and an expression of how a commander would wish
to protect his forces under those circumstances. It is a genuine
concern and unfortunately it is something about which you have
to take risks. You cannot always change the passwords just for
the sake of argument, because you spend more time with your troops
wondering whether they have heard the new password and you create
more problems. Assurance is really important and how to deliver
that requires all three pillars of what we have been talking about,
not just one. I hope that helps understand that.
129. You mentioned the 13 things the Department
had done over the last 10 years to improve combat identification.
I shall not ask you what they are now, but could you do a note
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I should be happy to. It was my
own personal note as I prepared for this. I simply jotted down
the various elements in terms of what we have done. I am ashamed
or almost embarrassed to give you a note of my own personal jottings
but perhaps I could write to you personally, Chairman, say this
was the note I made and then you can decide whether it is worthy
to show to your colleagues. 
130. In all the incidents of friendly fire resulting
in fratricide, which forces killed whom, that is did the Americans
kill Americans or UK forces or vice-versa? Can you answer that
or would you like to do a note on it for us?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) In which scenario?
131. In the Gulf for example. That was the example
you gave us. Who actually killed whom? Did the Americans kill
the UK soldiers or did we kill our own soldiers?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Mostly we both killed
Iraqis, you will be pleased to hear. That was not just a facetious
point, I am just trying to make the basic point about why we do
these things. My information is that the US killed 35 of their
own people and we lost nine from friendly fire incidents. I think
that probably helps to some extent.
132. Not in the slightest because you have not
told us who killed them. You have not told us who killed the nine.
You just said friendly fire. Did the Americans kill them or did
we kill them?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am not clear whether all of those
were killed by the United States or whether we had some of our
own. I am not sure whether it all relates to that one particular
much publicised incident, I think it does. Yes, it was all US.
133. One last question about the Rapier system.
I understand that the Rapier system cost £2 billion and it
can only operate at 25 per cent. What would actually happen at
100 per cent operation? Because we can only operate at 25 per
cent is it the case that there is a sense in which we wasted £1.5
billion of the value of that system in not designing out the problems
of friendly injury and with hindsight you should have spent more
money earlier on trying to design out some of the problems so
that you could have used it at a higher percentage of operation
than 25 per cent?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am sorry if we have had a dialogue
of the deaf. I was trying to explain that this related to one
particular operational mode in one particular campaign in Kosovo.
It does not relate to the generality of operational use of the
Rapier system. I should be very happy to give you a note about
how we use Rapier and its role and its value and what it does
in general. It would be misleading for me to try to explain Rapier's
cost effectiveness related to this one particular incident.
134. So you are saying you can use it 100 per
cent in certain scenarios.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes; indeed.
Chairman: Thank you very much for what has been
a very interesting session. I have just flown in from China so
for me it is quarter to one in the morning and I still found it
very interesting indeed. It is a very important subject. May I
just say that this year I am doing a Parliamentary Armed Forces
scheme with the Royal Navy and although we have had to ask some
very difficult questions today, I know all my colleagues who do
the scheme are enormously impressed with the sheer professionalism
of the Armed Forces and the steps you take to keep your casualties
to an absolute minimum. We are very grateful for all you do. Thank
you very much for coming here this afternoon; we are very grateful.
7 Ev 18, Appendix 1. Back
Note by Witness: Ref footnote to Q 78.