Copyright 2006 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
All Rights Reserved
DAILY MAIL (London)
December 8, 2006 Friday
LENGTH: 662 words
HEADLINE: 'HYPOCRITICAL OLD WINO'
BYLINE: By Matthew Hickley Defence Correspondent
THE former head of the Army was branded a ' hypocritical old wino' yesterday after he criticised the Government for failing to give soldiers proper pay and equipment.
General Sir Mike Jackson, who retired in August after three years as Chief of the General Staff, faced a fierce backlash from servicemen who demanded to know why he waited until he left his post to speak out.
Sir Mike used the BBC Dimbleby lecture on Wednesday night to attack the Government's poor treatment of the armed forces.
He criticised the pay and living conditions of junior soldiers, and highlighted the ' mismatch' between the tasks demanded of the military and the money available to them.
But far from winning support from the troops, his outburst was greeted with scorn.
Soldiers used anonymous military chatrooms to accuse Sir Mike, 62, of being 'a poodle' while he was in office and claim his comments lack any credibility.
Many contrasted his behaviour with that of his successor, General-Sir Richard Dannatt, who caused uproar by publicly criticising the treatment of injured British soldiers and Labour's foreign policy.
Sir Richard also said UK troops are making Iraq's security problems worse.
One angry soldier dubbed Sir Mike a 'hypocritical old wino' Ã± an apparent reference to his hard-drinking reputation.
Others vented their fury over controversial Army reforms which he pushed through before his retirement, such as scrapping three infantry battalions and merging dozens of ancient regiments.
One commented on the Army Rumour Service website: 'During his service he never once put his own head above the parapet.
'To be honest whilst it may cause minor embarrassment to his chums in Government, now is too late.
Another said: 'Jackson has lost ALL credibility. Dannatt got in first and showed more courage by saying it while in office. And to think Jackson used to have a fearsome reputation.'
Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon also responded, claiming Sir Mike had been involved in drawing up military policy 'at every stage' before he retired, and accusing him of criticising with the 'benefit of hindsight'.
Britain's top military chiefs have traditionally avoided open criticism of Government policy, restricting themselves to carefully-worded parting shots on retirement or occasional comments from the Lords.
But General Dannatt's devastating outburst while still serving won him widespread praise Ã± particularly among the forces themselves Ã± and left many asking why senior officers fail to speak out in the same way.
Sir Mike served as Chief of the General Staff for three and half years, capping a 45-year career.
But while he was a colourful and high-profile figure with a tough reputation, he studiously avoided criticising the Government before he retired.
Despite grave concerns surrounding overstretched forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he insisted last year the Army was 'more or less in balance', and there was 'no doubt' they could cope with both operations at once.
But troops in Afghanistan have complained of dangerous shortages of manpower and equipment Ã± including helicopters, armoured vehicles and thermal imaging sights.
In the lecture, Sir Mike appeared to share those concerns.
He accused the Ministry of Defence of failing to pay enough attention to the needs and ethos of front line forces, and not giving the forces enough resources Ã± referring to 'a mismatch between what we do and the resources we are given with which to do it'.
Yesterday, the former Army chief defended himself against accusations that he had kept quiet during his years in office.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'It's not a question of whether I said things or not, it's a question of whether I said something publicly or not. I'm now a civilian.'
However, his explanation cut little ice in military chatrooms. In one, a poster told the retired general he should have spoken up earlier and 'dared the Government to sack you for stating what is wrong'.
ABrighter2006 said:seanbean said:
wot youz sayin? is you makin' out that someof hour bezt jounolists are plague an risin' wot you writ, lurkin and lurnin bout the armee throu thees hal allowed pages, wen thez shood be down in the 'shot gettin it furst and.
(the new anti-quote filter)
OldSnowy said:The Indy is notorious for having sacked most of its journalists, which means that it now has to gets its 'news' from the wire services (Reuters, AP, etc) or steal it from the Web. Which is where ARRSE comes in. We are 'authentic', 'genuine', up-to-the-minute, and of course, absolutely free. The Indy - avoid at all costs.
We also got a mention here in a Guardian blogger's report:
Makes you wonder just how many civvies read ARRSE after seeing it in the paper or have even signed up.jest265 said:Arrse may not be the most reliable sourse due to the annonimity but how else are the press meant to find out a soldiers view? Can't see many soldiers wanting to speak out in person and as has been shown the MOD don't exactly do it well.
The media could abuse arrse ie threads from the Naafi but they tend to leave that well alone. The papers tend to use arrse in a balanced manner, I think it is a good thing. Using Arrse in this way shows the public a different side of the arguement instead of just listening to people who probably just want to release a book.