Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
TEBBIT KCB, CMG, MAJOR
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
60. I very much appreciated your line just nowI
am not sure whether it was intentionalthat on the battlefield
we are all in the same boat. It struck me as a nice way of mixing
your metaphors. I hope it was intentional, but it may not have
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It was not intentional; it was
61. It was a good line anyway. I am not quite
clear and just want to make it absolutely clear whether what you
are saying to us is that however a casualty is created, whether
by fraternal forces or by the enemy, it is just as much of a problem
to you and that therefore you would want to put precisely equal
weight on doing whatever you could to avoid any form of casualty
whatever the source of the original weapon.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I did not say it was exactly equal
weight. I did say that the policy is to achieve military objectives
with the minimum casualties from whatever reason and that the
policies we are pursuing are ones designed to do that by increased
operational effectiveness with longer range systems, with greater
precision at longer range and greater agility as a result of better
communications and things like that, and that all of these policies
together helped to reduce the risk of casualties and thereby own
goals, to come back to these dangerous metaphors. I did not say
they were equal value. There is a very high importance attached
to minimising casualties from friendly fire.
62. Are you saying that you would put more effort
then into reducing casualties from friendly fire than you would
put into reducing casualties from the enemy?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, I do not think that would be
right. The objective is to secure the military objective, preferably
with minimum casualties, but it has to be a military objective.
There is no point going into battle if we are not prepared to
have some casualties but minimising casualties is an objective.
I am not quite sure where your question is leading. I am finding
it difficult to help you.
63. We are talking here about trying to reduce
casualties from friendly fire and the ways of doing that. Obviously
to do that you have to spend some money, you have procedures,
you have a policy paper, you are trying to expend resources in
order to minimise casualties from friendly fire. You are also
spending other bits of money to try to minimise casualties from
the enemy. What I am trying to ask you, and I am not clear from
your answer, is whether these two are of exactly equal value to
you or you feel that there is some sense in trying to put more
money per casualty saved into trying to save friendly fire casualties
as opposed to enemy casualties?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) The reason I am having difficulty
in answering your question is because you seem to pose a tension,
a trade-off, between minimising casualties through friendly fire
and minimising casualties as a whole. There is no trade-off; they
are part of the same process. That is what operational effectiveness,
military effectiveness, is. It is achieving objectives with the
lowest level of casualties all round. I see it as part of the
64. If that is your only objective, what you
are actually saying is that you want to put equal effort into
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am saying they are the same.
65. It is the absolute overall level which is
important and therefore, as I understand you now, what you are
saying is that you are just as keen to spend one pound on reducing
one casualty caused by friendly fire as you are to do that with
a casualty caused by enemy fire and vice-versa. It is exactly
equal: you are just trying to reduce the casualties overall as
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It is still not quite right because
in our balance of investment we do not see them as separate blocks.
They are both contributing towards the same objective.
66. But they are separate blocks. Here you are
spending money which is specifically to reduce casualties from
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, we are spending money in order
to improve combat identification, which is hitting the enemy.
Situational awareness is about knowing where everything is on
the battlefield so you strike the enemy and do not strike yourselves.
67. You are saying that none of this is aimed
at reducing the number of casualties we incur as a result of our
own friendly fire.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, I am not saying that at all.
I am saying that a pound spent is achieving both things.
68. I do not think I am going to get any further
with this line of questioning unfortunately. I feel very unsatisfied
with the answer but I would rather move on to other things. What
thought has been given to the need to identify not just which
are our own troops and which are enemy troops, but also amongst
those who are not our own troops which are civilians and which
are enemy troops?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) To go back to the very simple point,
combat identification has three elements: the identifying friend
and foe, make sure we know it is not one of our own, however there
is an ambiguity as to whether it could be a tractor as opposed
to a tank and clearly it would be deeply preferable to engage
a tank rather than a tractor. That is why situational awareness
is also important because it gives you a picture of what is going
on which can help you do that as well. Also some of the new modifications
which we are bringing in under this Successor Identification,
Friend or Foe programme, which is beginning this year and will
go on to 2007, will also include an element which enables one
to establish in the air environment whether it is a civilian aircraft,
which obviously is a very important aspect of this. The programmes
we have in place will increasingly help us not just to identify
whether it is a friendly platform or false element but also whether
it is a civilian target or enemy forces. 
69. That sounds like a slightly nebulous way
of saying you are putting some effort into working out whether
it is civilian or forces.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes; indeed.
70. But you have no further detail for me as
to the level.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes, there are more details. There
is an element of the Successor Identification, Friend or Foe plan
which will automatically do that.
(Major General Fulton) May I give you two examples?
The Bowman programme, of which I am proud because it will deliver,
will be very important in this area. What Bowman will give us
is situational awareness in that we shall be able to track all
of the blue forces on the battlefield and therefore we shall be
able to tell where any of the 20,000 vehicles equipped with Bowman
or the 45,000 radios are on the battlefield. There will be a picture
of our blue force. But you are right, what that will not do is
tell us whether something we detect on the battlefield which is
not one of those is either opposition or neutral. Another programme
is a programme called the airborne stand-off radar programme which
is coming into service in 2005 which will give us a radar picture
of the battlefield but through two sorts of radar, a moving target
indicator and a synthetic aperture radar. The combination of those
two will give us a picture of what is going on on the battlefield
and in particular will, for example, give tracks of what a vehicle
is doing on the battlefield. This is where tactics, techniques
and procedures come in because this is why you have to combine
the two. From the pattern of behaviour of that track you would
determine whether it was likely to be hostile or neutral but once
again you still have to make a judgement. It is a combination
of the ability to identify positively, work out those other tracks
and then use other sources in order to determine the likelihood
of it being hostile or neutral. The real trick and where the Americans
are going and we are intending to go as well, is to bring this
together because the more you can synthesise tracks or data from
multiple sources the better the picture you can build and thereby
the better judgement you can make on what it actually is and under
certain circumstances it will give you enough detail to positively
identify the difference between the tractor and the tank.
71. What you seem to be saying to us is that
you are going to try to identify the difference between a civilian
and a military target on the basis of what it is doing and how
it is moving around. Are you not looking at any potential systems
which could enable you to identify whether the target is carrying
any form of weapon, which I would have thought is the obvious
way in which you might identify somebody who was taking part in
(Major General Fulton) It depends whether we are talking
about a target which is close enough to identify a person with
a weapon or whether we are talking about a fast-moving target
such as an aircraft or a vehicle. They all present unique problems.
Clearly for some time now we have been engaged in peace support
or low intensity operations where from day to day soldiers have
to make exactly that sort of decision. If, however, you come onto
the battlefield it becomes much more difficult because this target
we are trying to engage at range, and on occasions in the case
of the airborne stand-off radar we are talking about 150 miles,
this therefore becomes very much more difficult, but it is at
that range that we are increasingly having to make those sorts
of decisions against technically capable enemies. Where do we
go from there? We cannot do it at the moment at that range and
we cannot necessarily identify whether it is carrying a weapon.
What we are trying to do through the research programmeand
we have a number of programmes which are looking at non-cooperative
target identificationis to look at the sort of signatures
that either the radar on that aeroplane might have, its engine
characteristics, those sorts of things which, set against a databank,
would then enable us to assess whether that was a hostile target
or not, but we are not at that stage yet.
72. What efforts are being made to make our
troops more easily identifiable? You talked about Bowman and I
quite understand that is part of it, but obviously not everybody
is going to have a Bowman system. I am thinking particularly perhaps
of where we have special forces involved who may be some way away
from the rest of our troops and may have to be fairly careful
about use of things like the radio systems and so on. How can
we make those more easily identifiable so that if we have special
forces operating to some extent behind enemy lines or amongst
the enemy we can identify how not to bomb them or fire whatever
weapons we have against them?
(Major General Fulton) There you have a special set
of circumstances and that is when you would have to use tactics,
techniques and procedures to identify. The chances are that the
bombing which was likely to be done would have been called in
as part of that operation and therefore might well have been called
in by those special forces themselves and therefore the mission
would be under their control. Once again we think there is probably
more technically in the future that you can do. There are programmes
which we conduct with our allies to see what more we can do.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) There is obviously a real issue
here as of today. We have taken great care in the deployment that
the Government announced in Afghanistan which is just about to
happen which will involve 45 Commando to minimise the risk of
those sorts of issues you have raised by a very careful dialogue
with the United States on tactics, procedures, training, involving
liaison at all sorts of levels throughout the two nations' command
chains, involving definitions of areas of operational activity,
involving how things like the GPS system will be employed. There
is a whole range of very detailed and very specific procedures
which come into play in those sorts of circumstances. I will not
go further than that for obvious reasons but I wanted to assure
the Committee that there was a very thorough process underway
in relation to the deployment in Afghanistan.
73. The one worry I have with a number of the
responses you have given so far today is that there does not seem
at present to be a very clear identification of the concerns I
have and a number of civilians in this country have of the difficulty
in fighting a modern war in terms of the morale of the people
back home and indeed of the troops on the ground. This was in
a sense what I was getting at in my original questions about whether
there is a greater degree of urgency to try to avoid deaths by
or indeed injury by one's own forces and whether there are things
you could do to identify our own forces more carefully and indeed
whether there are things you can do to identify civilians in the
enemy from forces in the enemy, all of which are things which
can have a very major effect on the morale both of the forces
and of the people back home and which could make very considerable
difference. Therefore there is a sense in which it seems to me
you have not, from your answers so far, properly identified the
need to give that extra concentration on some of these more psychological
aspects of warfare than the actual straightforwardand I
can understand military people thinking this way to some extentquestion
of minimising casualties as a whole, particularly in our own forces.
I can understand the need for that, but that seems to me to reduce
below its real importance the psychological part of it.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I must say I am very concerned
by what you say because nothing could be further from the truth
in terms of what we are doing and I am sure the Committee is not
implying that we are not concerned for the morale of our troops
that we are about to send into an operational situation. I come
back to the point I made. What we are doing to minimise casualties
in general is also minimising casualties from the risk of friendly
fire, it is the same objective. In terms of the very detailed
operational methods which are involved, yes, indeed, there are
very many things which are done and will be done to minimise those
risks of mistaken identity involving a whole host of very small
practical measures which I do not want to get into but I have
talked about command liaison, I have talked about officers in
each other's command chains knowing exactly where people are.
I talked about communications, using GPS systems and the way in
which people have areas of operation. There is a huge amount of
work which goes on and is going on which is not necessarily related
to very high tech capability other than GPS but which makes a
huge difference in terms of operational confidence.
(Commodore Nance) The issue of situational awareness
needs to be understood. There is a limited amount of time for
any individual operator inside the battle spaceand it goes
back to your question also, to spend time looking at and trying
to identify targets in a very high tempo battle space which is
the picture that the Permanent Under-Secretary painted at the
beginning. If we can focus that time by knowing where our own
forces are through better situational awareness, everybody benefits.
Our own forces benefit because we can trust to a very high degree
of confidence the identity that is being represented through the
Bowman system, the civilians benefit because more time can be
dedicated to telling the difference between them and the enemy
and our own forces benefit because more time can be spent involving
themselves in the tactics which ensure their own survival, not
only from enemy fire but also they know where their friends are
and can therefore see whether they are likely to be misunderstood
as being potential enemy targets reducing the risk of fratricide
at the same time. In trying to present to the Committee with all
honesty the situational awareness benefits all those three things
apply and that allows our troops to concentrate more on their
own survival, reducing the risk of fratricide, the survival of
civilians in the battle space, which gets back to one of your
questions, and also on making sure that they achieve the objective
in the fastest way possible, thereby unhinging the enemy. It is
one of the reasons why I agree firmly with what the Permanent
Under-Secretary has said about wanting to maximise tempo so we
can use our time much more effectively in the battle space and
also support fully time much more effectively in the battle space
and also support fully General Fulton's comment that we are proud
of the Bowman system because it will help us do all of those things.
74. May I just say I have admired your straight
bat today? Let me see if I can hurl a few balls which may get
round it. How much did the Rapier system cost?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I do not think I have the figure
75. More than £10 million?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Much more than £10 million.
76. Is £2 billion more the sort of ballpark?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is the sort of ballpark because
there are a many Rapier systems.
77. I have been fascinated to listen today to
the military details and the scenarios on the battlefield but
I take a very old fashioned view about these things. I think that
is a matter for the Defence Select Committee. Our job here as
the Committee of Public Accounts, as you will appreciate, is to
look at cost effectiveness, value for money. What I want to know
is how it can be that you create a £2 billion system, that
you reduce by 75 per cent its effectiveness and all you spend
to sort that out is £7 million in 10 years? That strikes
me in terms of cost effectiveness as absolutely staggeringly incompetent.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) The answer is that the Rapier system
obviously is deployed in all sorts of different scenarios and
different situations. You are talking about one particular incident
in Kosovo when a judgement was made that it was not necessary
to put the system on free fire because the air was clear.
78. I do not want to go back over that.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) But it is important, because you
are making a generalisation about the utility of a complete weapons
system based on one tiny specific operational situation in Kosovo.
The Rapier system is used in many more situations. 
79. The reason that systems was put on "weapons
hold", was it not, was because to have used it in that contextand
you could have used it, as you explained to the Committee earlier;
you could have used it even had there been enemy planes up there,
you could have used that but the risk had become too great . .
. The point is yes, you could have used it, but because you did
not have the systems of identification in place in that whole
Rapier system, if you had used it in that scenario there would
have been a far greater risk of killing some of our own service
personnel. What that means is that to operate that system in precisely
the scenarios you are talking about, the battlefield scenarios
you are talking about, not the ones in Kosovo, would have been
to increase the risk of killing our own personnel. It seems to
me that if you seriously think that it is only worth spending
£7 million in 10 years to make a system that cost £2
billion more effective, in stopping it killing our own men, I
think that is a very, very bad way to spend the Department's money,
do you not?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) If that were the case it would
be, but it is not the case and so it is not an accurate equation,
if I may say so. We are indeed equipping our ground based air
defence systems with the capability to identify friend and foe.
3 Note by witness: The Successor Identification,
Friend or Foe (SIFF) programme is expected to continue until 2008. Back
Note by witness: For the avoidance of any misunderstanding,
Rapier was not deployed in Kosovo. The C&AG's Report makes
clear in paragraph 1.27 that: "The High Velocity Missile
and the Javelin ground-based air defence systems were deployed
in Kosovo in 1999." Back