Foreign Office need a longer break after Ops

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by wooger, Nov 12, 2008.

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  1. Saw this in the Daily Telegraph. I know the DFiD and FO guys work hard and I really cannot begrudge all their leave and high pay - after all they have earned it :x

    "Civil servants in Iraq and Afghanistan given more time to recover than troops" Civil servants posted to Iraq and Afghanistan are granted more time to recover from the ordeal of working in a warzone than frontline troops, it has been claimed.

    Soldiers are given an average of just 24 hours to adjust between combat and leave after completing their six month tour of duty. But Foreign Office staff are ordered to take "decompression breaks outside of the operational theatre after every six to seven weeks" in order to safeguard their "health and welfare". These breaks can last for up to two weeks.

    Decompression is the term used by the Ministry of Defence for bringing personnel out of the battlefield and placing them in a monitored environment to allow them to "wind down" before they go on leave. At British bases in Cyprus, or at Al-Udeid in Qatar, military doctors are given the chance to identify and treat traumatised troops who might suffer post-operational stress disorder. In Parliamentary answers, Government ministers said giving troops one day of decompression "struck the right balance" and allowed troops to be reunited with their families quickly.

    But Liam Fox, defence spokesman for the Conservatives, demanded a review of the policy. "At a time when our armed forces already feel under siege this will only reinforce the view that they are being treated as second-class citizens," he told the Daily Mail.

    A Foreign Office spokesman was unable to comment last night.

    Daily Telegraph Article
  2. Reform the Civil service rifles
  3. But Foreign Office staff are ordered to take "decompression breaks outside of the operational theatre after every six to seven weeks" in order to safeguard their "health and welfare". These breaks can last for up to two weeks.

    That roughly about the amount of sick leave they would take over here in the same working period.
  4. Get the wagon ready this could be a busy day!
  5. Well it's out of order iff penpushers a treated better tha the squads, Mind you nothing will ever surprise me with Cyclops gang of dyks
  6. We should feel proud that by definition our soldiers are simply a cut above the men on the street.
  7. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    If the FO don't allow them these "breaks", then they don't get the volunteers to do the jobs - simple.
  8. yeah but no but yeah but...

    the whole decompression thing has to be handled carefully, and probably needs more thought..

    The last thing you need at the end of a busy tour is to be told - right, EVERYBODY is going to spend 3 "Extra" days in Cyprus playing handball and being stared at by the shrinks before going home. As is usual these days, decompression is being managed on a shoestring and is often seen as a bit cr@p (even if it isn't..)

    The emphasis is on the "extra" bit.. The way decompression seems to have been handled in the past is that it has been tagged on as an afterthought and therefore seen as embu&&eration. Perhaps if decompression was properly built in as part of the RIP then it would be easier.

    .. lets face it, in days gone by folk would have had a nice slow cruise back to Southampton from the canal zone to "decompress". In many ways the C17/Tristar is a bit of a double edged sword in that it dumps you from "lunacy" back to "normality" almost instantly...

    ... my own experience is that I managed to avoid decompression as an individual reinforcement on my last couple of deployments, and that it was probably not that clever. In retrospect I went back to work a bit too quickly and should have taken more time to wind down..

    In earlier times, I was on an NI Op tour when No 1 son appeared. I was "allowed" to take my R & R early to come back and see him and my wife, but there were no other concessions as it was considered in those days to be a "self inflicted injury"! As a result I really did not get a break when I actually needed it. I was then sent off on a course almost immediately I came back (and was then posted). I really did not get back to normality for months and months later..

    On reflection, I am quite surprised that both my head and my marriage survived this choice bit of man management...

    So, this is quite a subtle problem! I know that trying to slow a soldier down getting home at the end of tour is a bit like getting between a Rottweiler and his food bowl, but sometimes the sensible thing would be to take it a bit steadier from the outset. Is a soldier coming out of the line in a fit state to make these judgement calls, and are we presenting the solution in the right way...?

    Any views on this from people that have been through the pipeline?
  9. Please consider this sentence my purchase of a ticket for the bus :evil:

    Interestingly, we were discussing decompression recently and a colleague mentioned the experience of the RAF in the Balkans. Apparently, pilots were flying operational missions from their home bases in Germany and this was causing significant issues. They were having breakfast with their families, reporting for duty, dropping bombs on anything other than the target (in best traditions of the service), and back in time for dinner.

    It was the dichotomy between the normal pad existence and the operational job that was the issue - apparently the DS solution was going to be moving everybody to an American airbase in Italy.
  10. Decompression? As its every 6 to 7 weeks it sounds more like a very sneaky way of getting extra R&R in to me. Cynical Moi?
  11. WhenI was in Bally Kelly it was like that we shared a hanger with the FAA 824 sqn and on a friday i could be flying over Derry at lunchtime and in my Mums pub by 5.30 due to the fact the Jollys ran a Seaking back to Hms Heron most weekends and it just about passed over my house. it was realy strange no body iat home could understand
  12. Then make going on these jobs a part of their contract - even simpler! :twisted:

    Don't like it? Then they can be shown the door; I wish them the best of luck finding another job in the current climate. :twisted:
  13. I spent some time with the FCO last year and saw first hand their deployment issues. As usual with DT reporting, its not quite as clear cut as made out.

    Yes the FCO tend to come home every 6-8 weeks for 2 weeks leave. Of this leave, a lot of it is spent in the office in London playing catch up, attending meetings and ensuring that their normal business is done. This is a rule imposed by FCO HR who are concerned about the retention rates of getting people to volunteer for operations.

    The second important point. Most Military and MOD go for 6 months at a time and get 2 weeks leave. The FCO will be in post for a minimum of a year, often 2 years. Do you really want to spend 2 years in Lash Kargar? Thats what the FCO is asking its people to do - spend 2 years in an operational theatre, not 6 months. I know how I felt after 6 months in theatre with 10 days leave, god knows how I'd feel after 2 years!

    Also these posts are not left absent in these peoples leave. Arrangements are made to send out other FCO staff from a leave pool to provide 2 weeks cover at a time. This is useful as it gives more staff exposure to working in hazardous environments, and in an organisation that is often highly suspicious of the MOD, means we can show them that we aren't all baby killers. So there is some knock on benefit for us.

    Finally, the military personnel I spoke to who knew of the FCO policy thought it very sensible as it meant that you generally had people who were much more active towards the end of their tour, when very tired military personnel had got to the point of utter fatigue. Many said they would favour a similar system for the MOD, but accepted it would never happen due to the numbers game - we have too many people that need rotating, they need only 50 or so.

    I'm sure we'll get lots of people boarding the outrage bus today because an article has been written which says that a totally different government department, which has a very small (less than 50 people) number of people in theatre at any one time, has different leave arrangements to the military because its staff work on very different Terms and conditions of employment. I'm not outraged as I think this is a total non story.
  14. Seeing what a civilian typist gets awarded for a wrist injury (no jokes please) compared to a soldier who is all broken, it is a good thing they do what they can to avoid stress injuries.
  15. Civil Service need longer breaks? What, are they the RAF or something? :x