It might be interesting to look at the relationship between the % unfit for deployment and the discipline record of the unit. A happy well disciplined unit probably has an enhanced moral component to their fighting power. I suspect well led and well motivated soldiers/footballers/rugby players/morris dancing sides have lower injury rates.
Was it Slim who said " There are no bad units only bad officers"?
2 YORKS is my former regiment and I can well remember on OP BANNER deployments fielding 'compassionate' requests from the families officer on Rear Party that individuals should be returned to 'Rear Party' to look after some distressed wife who was threatening to leave her husband or to slash her wrists etc ad nauseum. Usually the same soldiers every time! I would certainly agree therefore that morale as well as family factors have much to do with finding and weeding out the sick, lame and lazy!
One Company Commander who will remain nameless had a habit of carrying out his own medical assessment of individuals and I have seen him throw out members of his Company from the medical centre and charge them for malingering! The difdficulty with his somewhat extreme approach was that genuine injuries were exacerbated and became long term medical problems, sometimes leading to discharge.
The pressure on MOs and medical orderlies must be pretty intense in undermanned units!
Patrick Mercer MP raises an issue that I am sure the government would like to take off the front pages as quickly as possible. Whilst we see the problem clearly and understand the consequences, MP's and Government are blissfully ignorant of the operational impact.
The government "plays" with numbers where the armed forces are concerned like no other data. It is sickening to hear any criticism of military manning, deflected by the MOD and Cabinet Ministers, by referring to recruitment / retention / procurement / investment in forces housing, etc. in order to detract from injured pers. The same injured pers that the government is happy to have swept under the carpet/
Is it not time that an agreed set of reporting metrics were produced that provides the government / the army / the tax payer, just what our operational manning capability is? Possibly a clear of "x able to deploy" read out in Parliament on the first of each month, would bring sufficient focus and be a good catalyst for some real government accountabilty.
If the figure of 7000 is accurate - and I personally do not doubt that the impacts discussed on ARRSE and in the barracks are based on this scale of manpower shortage, when did we pass the 1000, 2500, 5000 points?
For the MOD, this is just another "bad news story" to be stifled. The "bugging" of a Labour MP and Northern Rock will lead for the next 48 hours - the chances of senior cabinet ministers listening to Patrick Mercer's concerns and recognising the risks to military pers are next to nothing, actioning solutions to bring this number back to zero even less.
It is worth pointing out that to the best of our knowledge, the "bugging" of the MP and "treasury fiasco" that is Northern Rock, have not led directly or indirectly to the killing or injury of a single British citizen. Sadly, these pages are full of examples of the government's failure to properly support its armed forces.
Predictions on when we will pass the 10,000 point?
This is, in no small part, due to the loss of the miltary hopitals in the UK. Once upon a time, if someone was hurt/sick etc, then they would have entered the system at Wroughton/Eley/Halton etc...Now, they just join the queue at the local NHS dump.
Yet again, this is an example of successive governments knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing!
Just listened to the BBC radio on this and Im not sure I like the tone of the media spin that is being put on this issue, the Army being portrayed as being full of long term or work shy soldiers.
I get the feeling the MOD have drilled down into the manning figures and are treating this as a standard (civvy) HR issue, not appreciating the physical fitness requirements for soldiers.
It may be a tin foil comment but I cant help feeling that it suits the MOD and the current administration to have this in the public domain without considering the potential negative effect on moral, not that they would care.
It seemed to me the 7000 figure was an extrapolation based on the false premise every soldier was in the infantry. (A typical BBC/press blunder). The basic figure came from 10 Infantry Battalions being a total of 400 men short due to ill health.