Max Hastings. Excellent journalist whom I have respect for (unlike the majority of journalists). Some of the text from his piece, which really does bring it home to you the state the UK Armed Forces are in:
"You mustn't quote me anywhere that might be sourced," a close associate of the Prime Minister said to me coyly a few weeks ago, "but you should know that Tony would love to increase the size of the Army. It's just that Gordon won't let him."
Who's wearing the shoes?
The Ministry of Defence is doing a rotten job of looking after its most precious commodity - its people. Barracks, both at home and abroad, are a disgrace to this country, yet no politician seems to care. How can soldiers be expected to inhabit quarters deemed unfit for asylum-seekers? Yes, really. When the Army recently surrendered some barracks for conversion to Home Office use, senior Army officers noted bitterly that the buildings were deemed to need an expensive upgrade before they would be acceptable to Kosovans or Afghans.
No shiit Sherlock.
The services command greater admiration than any other British institution. I remember Raymond Seitz, when he was US Ambassador in London in the early 1990s, expressing astonishment at the Government's parsimony: "Your Armed Forces really can enable Britain to punch above its weight," he said. "They are by far your most cost-effective means of exercising influence in the world."
Amazing that other countries have pride for our forces.
With these cut backs, and the length of time it takes to instigate new technology, I despair as to the state of the Army in the next ten years.
Thing is Gunny, most of the decent folk around the UK feel the same - we're just led around by a few cretins with their own agendas and a deeply unpopular political game to play. An excellent piece, in a similar vein was written by Dominic Lawson in the FT a while ago (1995?). Basically he said that we had sold most of our institutions down the river many moons ago - but our Forces remained intact.
and we've known for years that Britain has 2 governments Blair who deals with foreign issues and Brown who deals with domestic issues.
Max hastings does hit the nail on the head though. Old Labour has no love for the armed forces and see us as a waste of resources. Has anyone the figures on how many MP's have military service? and how many Labour MP's have military service? I know they've Nurses, Doctors, Social workers and professional politicians.
I find it hard, sometimes to reconcile this "Old Labour" hate the Military thing.
Much as I detest the whole cabal, it is of note, that Denis Healey believed in strong armed forces , and even the Viscount Stansgate , sorry Tony Benn. very anti-Nuke, and pissing billions to have our own deterrent, when the final launch say so , had to come from the Yanks. But a believer in strong defence forces just the same.
Mind you, they are both combat veterans. I saw the interview with Denis Healey the other night, over the Indonesian confrontation , and he left me in no doubt, as to what his feelings were. Was also surprised about Harold Wilsons feelings on Vietnam ."No, it's a quagmire, I won't lose British troops over it"
Of course, there was the cancellation of TSR 2 , and the RAF Hercules replacement, but then again, which political party started "The Strategic Defence Review?"
GAH! Politicians, whatever hue, they're all just bloated runnning dogs, until they prove otherwise, as far as we are concerned.
was it not healey who cancelled (thankfuly) CVA01 HMS Queen Elizabeth & HMS Duke of Edinburgh the replacement for Eagle and Ark Royal IV and scrapped our last big carriers, V bomber Fleet, Retired the Belfast (that we've had to hire every year since) Re oerintated our forces to NATO only. Ordered the waste of money Nimrod AEW3 need i go on.
we've not had much luck with ministers of defence since.
Mid life update? Would this be like Baldricks broom (6 new heads and 14 new handles - but still the same broom), or would it be having some desk walla say that in his opinion we should stop winging and accept that it is the best we're going to get?
And so we come to the real reason for Tone's enthusiasm for going into Iraq as second violin to the US. Any future conflict will be beyond the capability of our Forces, but he can always pull in a favour...........
Yes, judging by the way USAID has fallen over itself, to make sure British companies got their share of important contracts in Iraq, the cousins know full well, Britains value to them, as a coalition partner
It's actually true that HMF have fared much better under Labour Govts than Tory. The Hastings' article above does describe some of the great work undertaken by the spineless and philandering John Major in continuing the motion started by none other than Maggie. Yes folks, unpalatable as it may seem, the Thatch began the undoing of the modern Army post 1982. However, and to balance things out here, it was her Govt who sorted out the mess which was the military salary in 1979. So, and as m'learned friend observes above, most politicians regard the military as a huge drain on resources - an easy target for (unoticeable) cuts, sure in the knowledge that we'll 'make do' come the crunch. Cynical? Moi?
It was also the much loved Thatcher who instigated the Yellowlees Report and Lean Look which resulted in the destruction of the military medical services, closure of the military hospitals, privatisation of catering so those late back from training didn't get fed and all this before the dust had settled on The Falklands conflict.
Oh, not forgetting the abolition of a rail warrant entitlement & forces railcard, the introduction of those good quality "Boots, combat, high leg" that crippled a third of those who wore them, SA80 because they were too patriotic to buy M16, the loss of the old style combat kit to be replaced with that lightweight 85 pattern crap with velcro cuffs for collecting twigs because it was cheaper.
Yes, Thatcher and the conservatives looked after the military unlike labour (like hell!)
Don't be suprised when this lot shaft the military in the wake of Iraq.
Sunday Express Article on Manning Control 14, 12, 03
"The Sunday Express has obtained evidence that it will be soldiers
who are sacrificed to fill the black hole.Mr Hoon was ominously
silent about the future to slash manpower, yet documents prove the
MOD is planning to use a device called Manning Control to lay off
soldiers rather than allow them to leave with full pensions.
Letters written to the Commanding Officers of some of the Army's
elite units have already given the names who will be forced out of
the army in 12 or 18 months time.
Liberal Democrats Defence Spokesman Paul Ketch said "these defence
estimates show that the MOD's troubles could be only just beginning"
what i dont understand is they so keen to throw armed forces into any
scrap going .Bosnia,kosovo sierria leaonne ,afganistian,iraq,congo ,
but wont fund it properly till we lose one I cant see it changing
It's actually true that HMF have fared much better under Labour Govts than Tory. The Hastings' article above does describe some of the great work undertaken by the spineless and philandering John Major in continuing the motion started by none other than Maggie. Yes folks, unpalatable as it may seem, the Thatch began the undoing of the modern Army post 1982. However, and to balance things out here, it was her Govt who sorted out the mess which was the military salary in 1979. So, and as m'learned friend observes above, most politicians regard the military as a huge drain on resources - an easy target for (unnoticeable) cuts, sure in the knowledge that we'll 'make do' come the crunch. Cynical? Moi?
As someone old enough to remember all of Maggie's Prime Minister-ship, I believe there is a little bit of the old 'selective memory' syndrome here.
Yes, Maggie did reduce the size of the 'Forces but did so at the same time as reducing our overseas commitments. There was only NI and the Falklands as 'rough' tours during her tenure. She ensured we were brought in line with our civvy counterparts salary-wise and then took us past them. The previous years of Labour Govt between '74 and '79 had seen them bring many of our members' living standards down to below the poverty line, whilst at the same time making many others 'redundant'. Maggie put us back where she believed we belonged and had Armed Forces sufficient to meet the Government of the day's commitments. I cannot and would not even try to justify John Major's atrocious treatment of us.
This Labour Govt of today is following Major's lead of cutting us back whilst committing us to more and more operations. However Major only committed us to the Balkans (which was a right and just cause - we can never stand back whilst women are being raped and kids slaughtered). He also committed us to Rwanda and Angola for the same reason, however these were only short-term ops. Bluppet on the other hand seems intent on committing us to every thing GWB thinks is a good idea, whilst looking to reduce our numbers. Overstretch has been recognised since before SDR, New Chapter did nothing to address it, and now mobilisation and FTRS are to be reduced concurrent with slashing Regulars' numbers. So perleeze don't try and make out that this government to be better than Maggie's; the facts don't support it.
Oh, yes I am still a serving member, so I have a very vested interest in this just like everyone else wearing our fine uniform.