A Truce with the Playstation Generation?

Yesterday, a soldier from the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters was killed by an IED near Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan. He was the 61st British serviceperson to be killed in Afghanistan. So far this year, 17 servicepeople have fallen in Afgahnistan and 26 in Iraq - a total of 43 dead with the year not even half gone. The total death toll for the twin operations of Afghanistan and Iraq now stands at 214 with many, many more wounded.

On while ago on arrse (the specific thread escapes me) someone wondered whether the Britain of 2007 would have the backbone to live through a repeat of 1972, when over 100 servicemen were killed during the bloodiest year of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. As we approach the halfway point of the year, with the fatality rate not unadjacent to that of '72, it appears that the country at large feels exactly the same way now as it did then - i.e it couldn't give a shit.

We, however, as serving and former members of the Armed Forces, most definitely do give a shit, as evidenced by the 'RIP' threads on arrse and the elegant eulogies afforded to the fallen by COs, Platoon Leaders and muckers. In one of these recent statements, the CO of 4 RIFLES movingly wrote of his respect for Maj Paul Harding, describing how Maj Harding had been ''forged in the tough school of Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s''. That era is one that the vast majority of us, young and old, look back on with awe.

Those of us too young to have been there look back with that awe because the monochrome images of moustachio-ed, mutton chopped squaddies carrying SLRs represented our army's recent past - one that few of us felt we could aspire to. For those of us who stradled the era between such warriors and the 'playstation generation', our own deeds in a relatively peaceful NI and even in the Balkans, although worthy, hardly seemed comparable to the deeds of those who went before us and died in their hundreds during the 1970s. If the truth be told, we felt deserving of being looked down upon and, in turn, have looked down upon those - born in the mid-1980s and after - who have come after us.

But should it be this way, given what is now happening in Iraq and Afghanistan? The generation that we and our parents despised as the first generation without any kind of moral compass, without and drive or vigour, are now dying in their hundreds. The slow drip-drip-drip of casualties, coupled with the utter apathy of the nation at large, recalls perfectly the atmosphere of operations of the past.

And the generation that has been despised by us are now fighting and falling just as well as any other generation. So perhaps we should retain our contempt for the civilian youngster but bury our animosity towards the 'sprog'. It wasn't really any harder or tougher in our day - 214 corpses bear testament to that.



War Hero
I don't think any one would disagree with your comments wedge. My contempt isn't reserved for the civvy though. It's reserved for that generation of politicians who have never served will never serve and are not fit to serve, yet they see fit to systematically dismantle the Armed Forces. The civvies of today don't know because they don't need to know it's not their war. They are not dying, their families aren't suffering. That's the fundamental difference between us and our Grandfathers. They fought for their kith and kin and against a direct threat to the Nation. We are fighting for unclear objectives and political posturing. The nation really couldn't give a fu*k.

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