Breaking the Military Covenant – why British Servicemen are dying unnecessarily

Breaking the Military Covenant – why British Servicemen are dying unnecessarily

David Hill
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
David Hill has written previously on this huge subject, in Their Greatest Disgrace – the campaign to clear the Chinook ZD576 pilots, and has another book titled Red 5 – an injustice, in the works. He has been a prominent campaigner since his retirement from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for improvements in military aviation safety.

In this book, Hill takes a number of accidents that have involved military fatalities and dissects the circumstances surrounding them. This book, in particular, looks at the mid-air collision between two Sea King ASaC7 on 22 March 2003; it also has a number of case studies which appear to be a result of the same kind of disregard on the part of the MoD for maintaining military aviation safety. The case studies cover a Chinook accident in the Falkland Islands in 1987, a recap of the Mull of Kintyre Chinook crash; Tornado GR4A in March 2003; the death of Corporal Wright GC 2006; Hercules XV179 in January 2005; the grounding of the Air Cadet Glider fleet (2014-17 ) and the Red Arrows Hawk inadvertent ejection in November 2011.

Central to his assertion that avoidable actions are impinging on safety is that the MoD has consistently lied, obfuscated and covered up, at a very senior level, its misdeeds. Hill produces evidence for each of these studies in often great detail. In some of these cases he has produced in evidence MoD papers that the MoD says do not exist! He also details how his refusal to make a false declaration was a disciplinary offence but the “unlawful” order to do so was not!

For me, it was a disturbing read. Hill makes the case soundly that, due to cost cutting, organisational issues, the wrong sort of people in post and an inability on the part of the MoD to put its hands up and say that we got that wrong, means that safety was and in some cases still is compromised. That said it is an easy read, although some of the technical sections needed a second read to ensure that I had understood it correctly. The arrangement of the book into a main thesis on the Sea Kings and supplemental case studies means that it is a book that can be dipped into, rather than read all at once.

I would recommend this to anyone that wants to understand how MoD gets things wrong and what it does about it.

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