Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Random_Task, Feb 14, 2007.
The heart of the site is the forum area, including:
'Armed Forces this country's greatest asset'
Times Online Link
good article there
This is a message of despair. We need to make every effort to change that view and the MOD needs to get to it now.
Where do you guys get the idea that this is what the British public think of our armed forces?
As far as I am aware, 90% of the British people stand solidly behind our troops, irrespective of what the papers say.
They are not so stupid that they don't realise who is responsible for making the decision to start wars. It's not the armed forces.
I'm getting the impression from this thread that you guys don't believe they stand behind us.
3 British soldiers were killed the day before the horse Desert Orchid died. Ask yourself, who got the most sympathy?
There is a general malaise in the country which needs to be addressed and is best summed up from an from an article in the Times below. This issue needs to be addressed in short order. This erosion of the services will has been going on for too long now and senior service officers and above all politicians need to grip it and say exactly what they propose to do if they wish to continue to send them on expeditionary wars in the future.
'Times' article - 'God help our poor bloody soldiers'
Posted: 2020 26/01/06
The Sunday Times
December 10, 2006
God help our poor bloody soldiers
In China under Mao Tse-tung the families of condemned men were forced to pay for the bullet that would kill their father or their son. I was reminded of that exquisite little cruelty by the governmentâs confession last Monday that the bereaved families of troops killed in Iraq have been forced to pay hundreds of pounds to get access to the official records of their childrenâs deaths.
These documents are freely available to the army and to the coroner, but shocked and grieving families had to find the money. Apparently these large sums were to cover the cost of photocopying done by the coronerâs officials; one man had to pay Â£600. It is not enough, clearly, to sacrifice oneâs husband or child: one has to pay to learn about their deaths. Harriet Harman said she was âsurprisedâ.
It would be nice to think that this was an unusual error â a bureaucratic blip â and that the armed forces and their families are normally treated with the respect and gratitude they deserve. Not so. In fact the way that servicemen and women are treated is almost an object lesson in how to mismanage and demoralise what was once one of the greatest military forces in the world. This has been obvious for a long time but we seem to have reached some sort of tipping point.
The newly retired General Sir Mike Jackson emerged from years of discretion to say on Wednesday in his Dimbleby lecture that our armed forces are underpaid, under-equipped and poorly housed; they are shabbily treated and absurdly overstretched, attempting impossible tasks with inadequate means. We do not offer enough of our treasure for their blood.
Many people think he should have said this while he was still in charge of the army; the internet is awash with comments from angry soldiers. âShame he didnât remember this stuff before he started drawing his pension,â said one. âToo late to go grubbing about for credibility â now weâre four infantry battalions down . . . and have lost the regimental system for the infantry . . . you hypocritical old wino,â said another.
One could argue that despite his duty of discretion he should in extreme circumstances have spoken out, as has Sir Richard Dannatt, his brave successor. For these are extreme circumstances. Even though this country is involved in two difficult wars, there seems to be a cultural agreement in Whitehall that our troops can be fobbed off with second or third best. According to John Keegan, the military historian, there is an anti-military clique in the Treasury.
Gordon Brown must answer for this; it was the chancellor who personally took part in cutting the armyâs infantry battalions at a time when infantry was urgently needed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But generally, too, there seems to be a remarkable lack of understanding or sympathy for the armed forces.
If the government had deliberately set out to demoralise them and undermine recruitment it could hardly have done a better job. Only a couple of weeks ago the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had to admit that it had supplied British soldiers in Afghanistan with duff ammo. Shortly after our charming prime minister had been out to schmooze the troops fighting the Taliban, it emerged that they had been sent cheap and defective machinegun bullets made in Pakistan or the Czech Republic instead of the usual more expensive stuff. These cheap bullets kept jamming their machineguns during heavy fighting. British soldiers had to scrounge rounds from the Canadians and Americans. It was only when the Paras kicked up a fuss that anything was done.
Then there was the body armour scandal of 2003. The government sent troops into Iraq without enough enhanced body armour, having ignored requests from the army for two months. Sergeant Steven Roberts was killed by bullets on the fifth day of the invasion; he had selflessly given his own body armour to a colleague because there was not enough for everyone in his regiment. With body armour he would have survived. It has taken three years for the MoD to accept liability. Such prevarication only adds insult to bereavement.
The same goes for the delay in holding inquests into army deaths. There is, incredibly, a backlog going back to 2003, meaning that families have to wait years for an account of what happened.
One hardly knows where to begin with the substandard treatment offered to the armed forces. Dannatt has been bold enough to speak about this. So many military hospitals have been closed (largely under the Conservatives) that servicemen and women have to go into civilian wards and take their chances. One wounded paratrooper in uniform was screamed at by a Muslim visiting a patient. âYou have been killing my Muslim brothers in Afghanistan,â he shrieked at a man who should have been enjoying a heroâs welcome. Another wounded soldier was told to remove his uniform for fear of âoffendingâ anyone.
Lord Bramall, former chief of the defence staff, has reported claims that wounded soldiers face long delays on general National Health Service waiting lists and poor aftercare. This lack of respect is astonishing. If anyone has been brave enough to risk death and injury in the service of our country, the least we could do is to provide top-quality specialised hospital care in dedicated military hospitals or wards, as the Americans do. We donât.
As for what servicemen and women are paid, it is pitiful: Â£1,000 a month is hardly an incentive to risk your life in Iraq. And it is pointless perhaps to compare the derisory Â£2,400 bonuses offered to combat troops with the Â£41m paid to MoD civil servants over the past four years. As for what service families live in, it can in many cases only be called slum housing â âfrankly shamingâ as Jackson said. Our government â and our society â cannot seriously be bothered with our armed forces.
This is not just wrong. It is decadent. For if we lack the will to defend ourselves, or rather to defend those who are there to defend us and to fight for us, then we are simply rolling over to display the soft underbelly of decadence to the worldâs predators and scavengers. Those who think that our armed forces donât matter will soon discover that other peopleâs do.
"Apparently this country's biggest asset is actually money. Next is photocopier paper...armed forces came 9th..."
(with apologies to Scott Adams)
So, why aren't they standing three deep at the recruiting booths? Most people in this country couldn't give a stuff! Try walking around some towns and cities in uniform and see the response.
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