Hoon: Iraq sports injuries

#1
From the Independent:

Hoon attacked for citing 'sports' injuries in Iraq
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
21 January 2005


Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, was criticised yesterday after playing down the extent of injuries suffered by some of the British servicemen hurt in Iraq during and since the war.

Mr Hoon angered critics of the conflict by saying that some of the 790 personnel evacuated from Iraq suffered their injuries while playing sport or in road accidents. He was accused of covering up the scale of casualties suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein's forces and rebels.

The Defence Secretary said: "The 790 service personnel evacuated from Iraq have a full range of injuries, from relatively minor shrapnel wounds and sprained ankles through broken limbs to the more serious injuries caused by enemy action. It is also worth noting that some of the injuries resulted from road traffic accidents and sport."

The ministry was unable to provide any figures on the number of injuries resulting from sport and road accidents, saying statistics were being compiled.

Peter Kilfoyle, a former defence minister, said: "Mr Hoon's statement could upset the families of servicemen seriously injured by enemy fire. It seems to denigrate what they have done and their role. It is all of a piece with the failure to come clean on how many Iraqis have been killed or injured."
 
#2
I am no huge fan of Hoon or Blair or Labour (I am of the Independent) - but what is the point of this article?

I am going to put forward a general theory, feel free to blow it out the water if you wish - that there seems to be a tendency that has crept in over the last few decadesfor people to believe that everything bad that happens to them has GOT to be somebody's fault!

(lack of soap and toilet rolls in Iraq - well meaning but misguided parents trying to sue the MOD for the deaths of their sons - und so weiter)

Hoon is quite correct in describing that these statistics cover a variety of injuries. Any large deployment of soldiers is going to produce a variety of injuries (I remember some senior officer telling me that if they didn't get at least two RTA fatalities a year on exercise in Germany then they weren't working us hard enough).

I know that there is real anger that those seriously injured in action in Iraq don't seem to have any public recognition for their sacrifice - but I'm afraid 'twas ever thus - anyone remember the anger when the wheel chair bound were shoved to the back of Westminster Abbey at the Falklands War memorial service?!

This blaming of the "Hoon/Blair" Ugly Sisters for all ills that strike the military makes me feel slightly nauseous - it smacks of soldiers who have grown soft - do you really think that this Government and this era of British society is treating the British military any worse than it ever did? Soldiers have been treated like disposable razors for millenium, but it is also acknowledged that they do a job that no-one else in the rest of society can do because they aren't good enough.

I leave you with a final thought - do you want the papers filled with pictures and stories of soldiers in Basra in desperate pain, suffering horrible injuries, grieving wives/children/parents - images of frightened and war torn troops .......... or do you want the current image of British soldiers in Basra coping in their usual calm, humorous and stoic manner with all the shit being thrown at them, chatting with grinning kids, listening to local shopkeepers and showing the rest of the world that the young men and women of your nation are professional, hardened troops?

You can't have it both ways people.
 
#3
The Defence Secretary said: "The 790 service personnel evacuated from Iraq have a full range of injuries, from relatively minor shrapnel wounds and sprained ankles through broken limbs to the more serious injuries caused by enemy action. It is also worth noting that some of the injuries resulted from road traffic accidents and sport."

The ministry was unable to provide any figures on the number of injuries resulting from sport and road accidents, saying statistics were being compiled.
now me being cynical, I would have thought that when you have all the numbers of injuries, you would also have the reasons for those injuries, if you want to defend yourself in a press statement etc. I doubt any service person who is injured, and then gets some sort of medical treatment, the reason is not recorded as well.
I think the Ministry could be getting forgetful on who and how many injuries figures are kept. if it was a case of a 'tom' suing them for compensation they always seem to have all the facts at hand then :!:
 
#4
You can't have it both ways people.
I wish to see recognition of the "blood price" rather than these rats of politicians scurrying in every direction that allows them to avoid witnessing the consequenses of their decisions.

Bliar and TCH are happy to use HM Forces for photocalls in the desert...perhaps the reason for this avoidance is because Bliar was ambushed by an angry voter at a hospital in 2001... :twisted:
 
#5
I wish to see recognition of the "blood price"
And what form do you want that to take exactly? Praise in Parliament? Visists to troops? Speeches describing how grateful the nation is to our brave men and women? We get that - quite rightly! Just what else is needed? IMHO cries of "how badly treated we are because we don't get lots and lots more recognition" is protesting too much - we're still a volunteer Army remember, and today young people can hardly say they joined up because of the rampant and vicious unemployment that has existed in the past.....
 
#6
Prodigal, If I may be so bold, I believe you may be missing the point. The fact is that 790- odd serious cas have been reported. We all know that these are a fact of life and don't want any pity, compensation, etc. However, rather than just admitting that wars create casualties, TCH felt it necessary to put a 'positive spin' on the situation by trying to reduce the perceived seriousness of the figures. THIS is what gets my goat. In our organisation, we are used to commanders saying: "You have to do this, I know it's sh*t, but just get on with it." This could not be more different to the current crop of politicians who would never make such a clear statement. Hence, weasle- words from politicians don't go down well.
 
#7
OK, but you are assuming that politicians are your commanders - they are not - they are POLITICIANS!! They don't come out with this crap for your benefit!! They are not talking to you

They are talking to CivPop who feel undecided about whether you guys should be out there or not, they are talking to the parents of kids the Govt needs to join up in a few years and they are talking to the millions of floating voters who will stop floating in 4 months time.

Why do you persist in thinking that politicians have ANY bearing on the quality of your experiences of leadership as a soldier? That is not their job - their job is to manage UK Plc, and the Army is only one small department in that very big organisation. You will NEVER get a warm fuzzy feeling from your political masters, never in a hundred years, so why do you keep expecting it? Soldiers, for thousands of years, have been used and abused by their political leaders - and will be for ever more!

Put politicians where they should be - at the end of all your curses - but for crying out loud, stop treating them as though they were part of your normal existence - their existence and yours is at diametrically opposite ends of Society's human spectrum. The ONLY influence you have over them is your vote, the same as everyone else.
 
#8
There has been a concerted campaign to suppress details of casualty figures and to misinform the public. The only reason the figures have now been released is because it would have been more damaging to have them dragged out under FOI. This has a direct bearing on the lack of ministerial visits to the wounded. If the Iraq conflict was a more "popular" war (in the Falklands sense) then the t0ssers would be at bedsides on a weekly basis.

This is why I am angry, not because I feel that such visits would make everyone feel better or something along those lines. I used a clumsy phrase earlier when I was speaking of the "blood price": the point is that the rats are trying to keep the public from knowing the "blood price" to try and avoid losing votes.
:evil:
 
#9
There has been a concerted campaign to suppress details of casualty figures and to misinform the public.
What's your evidence?

As far as I know the Govt has never tried to suppress footage of coffins being returned to UK. The antipathy towards the war wasn't because of the potential loss of soldiers' lives, it was seemed to be because people were afraid of being dragged into GWB's personal power struggle, and then the pretext turning out to be just that - a pretext. But I don't think anyone believes that Joe Public will start demanding we pull out of Iraq because soldiers are being injured and killed - and I don't think they will, the British are just too pragmatic. There was no huge movement deidicated to pulling troops out of NI was there? (well, apart from well meaning lefties, but who listens to them!)

I'm afraid the lack of info in the media about soldiers being injured in Iraq is probably more to do with the media having more interesting stories to publish.........
 
#10
I recall that not long ago MoD were claiming that they were unable to provide details of the type of injuries suffered on Op Telic, on the basis that such data was not recorded. Curious, then, that TCH seems to have the details to hand when it suits him.
 
#11
Well of course they're recorded! I suspect not in any file held within Hoon's office but were retrieved from Army Medic records in the mean time.

The point is, I just keep getting this sense of hurt indignation from various posts about Hoon and Blair behaving in some kind of contemptuous manner, as if this was a) unique to them and b) unique to this Government - I can't help thinking this viewpoint is either incredibly naive or is whinging to excess.
 
#12
ViroBono said:
I recall that not long ago MoD were claiming that they were unable to provide details of the type of injuries suffered on Op Telic, on the basis that such data was not recorded. Curious, then, that TCH seems to have the details to hand when it suits him.
The cause of injuries mentioned in the first post seem to be J97 categories (recorded on AP3 throughout Telic?). Also a large number of PHCIS/SPE went on the initial Telic and remained there, so how can they say they couldn't get the data?
 
#13
Prodigal said:
Well of course they're recorded! I suspect not in any file held within Hoon's office but were retrieved from Army Medic records in the mean time.
You miss the point, which is that MoD (which TCH is responsible for), were claiming that the data was not recorded.

There is a thread somewhere which referred to it and demonstrated why MoD's claims were palpable nonsense for the reasons Polar gives, and others.

As to whether some of us are naive or excessive whingers, this is surely a matter of individual perception. I happen to feel that this government is by far the worst we have seen for many years, and that Bliar and TCH's treatment of the military has often been contemptuous. However, I am aware that there are some people who think that they have done well; I would consider them to be the naive whingers, but it's just my opinion.

If you want to see real naivety and excessive whinging, I suggest a subscription to the Sun.
 
#14
What's your evidence?
As far as I know the Govt has never tried to suppress footage of coffins being returned to UK. The antipathy towards the war wasn't because of the potential loss of soldiers' lives, it was seemed to be because people were afraid of being dragged into GWB's personal power struggle, and then the pretext turning out to be just that - a pretext. But I don't think anyone believes that Joe Public will start demanding we pull out of Iraq because soldiers are being injured and killed - and I don't think they will, the British are just too pragmatic.
My opinion is based on my recollection of questions being asked in the House regarding injuries over the course of last year. The answer trotted out was that "no figures are avaoilable". A trawl through Hansard (when I have time) will back this up. Now the figures are available. What has changed? FoI!

The war is more unpopular now than it was at the height of the protests. I think the Times ran this article a few weeks ago.

It is not only Messrs BLiar and TCH who are avoiding the issue of the injured. As pointed out, in the US it is not permitted to film or photograph returning coffins for reproduction in the media. I haven't seen Dubya visit the injured and Rummy made a hospital visit in a controlled environment in-theatre.

It stinks!
 
#15
I have found the relevant thread, and correct myself slightly; MoD did not claim that the data was not recorded, but that it was not collated. Either way, it was nonsense, as anyone working in health care would know.

This was from the Independent:

"The MoD claims releasing casualty data - even rounded-up figures on the type or cause of injuries - breaches patient confidentiality.
and

A spokesman added: "As there is, therefore, no need to collate this information centrally, this is not done."
Until, it seems, the SofS wants to refute criticism.

Incidentally, the figure of 800 injured is misleading. These are the seriously injured. The actual figures (Dec 2004):

2,754 - The number of troops medically evacuated to Britain up to 18 November. By 31 August, 79 soldiers had been medically retired, including 19 with mental illness and 27 with accidental injuries.

461 - The official figure for British personnel in Iraq diagnosed with mental health problems, including 52 with post-traumatic stress disorder. But that was only up until February; welfare organisations estimate the total is now at least 800.
 
#16
2,754 - The number of troops medically evacuated to Britain up to 18 November. By 31 August, 79 soldiers had been medically retired, including 19 with mental illness and 27 with accidental injuries.

461 - The official figure for British personnel in Iraq diagnosed with mental health problems, including 52 with post-traumatic stress disorder. But that was only up until February; welfare organisations estimate the total is now at least 800.
OK, so roughly out of 2754-odd troops evacuated to GB 800 have been seriously injured and welfare orgs estimate another perhaps 100 (double 52) of those were medically retired with mental illness.

Place these fiures in context - do you think these are excessively high for an intense period of combat operations followed by an active insurgency offensive? How do they compare with US casualities (on a pro rate basis) and how do they compare to other conflicts, both by UK forces and others?

Incidentally I mentioned the US reaction to returning coffins as an example of a Govt who I think does try to hide it's dead and injured.

I voted for 24 years now (and I have never had a party of my choice voted in.... talk about triumph of hope over experience.... :roll: ) and frankly I don't discern any one regime being much worse than any other in their attitiude to HM Forces - perhaps you forget which colour party brought in cuts pre-Falklands and Options for Change?
 
#17
Just how much playing of "sport" is going on in Iraq that injury from sport could play a significant part in cas figures?
 
#18
My dear Prodigal,

Keen to know how you've voted for 24 years - I got the vote in 1980 and have only voted in maybe 4 of those years.....a small point.

In another life are you infact Alistair Campbell?

While I'm picking on you, TCH, presumably an old chum so don't take it too personally, said "..minor Shrapnel injuries...". Surely most such injuries occur as a result of enemy action?

All this, however, doesn't alter the fact that the Iraq affair is a stain on this nation's history. The invasion was illegal and is the present occupation. Instead of picking on a few half witted fusiliers guilty of taking happy snaps, PoD and the chain of command should be in the dock for carrying out an illegal order: Many years ago whilst trying to stay awake in Military Law lectures, I was given to understand that it was a crime to carry out an illegal order just as much as was to issue one. If PoD had refused to accept this illegal mission and send young men and women to their deaths and risk of injury on behalf of TBLiar's political toadying to GWB and his sense of trying to fix his place in history , we wouldn't be happy this squabble in the first place.
 
#19
Queensman, don't you vote in local elections? (I have never voted Labour either...) - and stop being pedantic, you know I mean.

While I'm picking on you, TCH, presumably an old chum so don't take it too personally,
I won't.


PoD and the chain of command should be in the dock for carrying out an illegal order
... and presumably every serving soldier in Iraq for following the same "illegal orders"?

This thread isn't about the legality of the war in Iraq. it's about the allegation that Hoon and the Govt are trying to hide the casualty figures in Iraq and by doing so, insulting the people who serve out there and carrying out a campaign of deliberate misinformation. Well, that certainly wouldn't be above them, they're politicians and every politician since they were created has done that. But if that's what they are doing here, they're being pretty half hearted about it and not doing a terribly good job of it.
 
#20
Prodigal

I do not disagree with much of what you say. I too have voted at every General Election since I have been able to vote, and I have also been an elected representative at local level. I do believe, as I said before, that the current government is the worst we have had for many years (certainly the worst in all the years I have voted), fo a variety of reasons.

I am well aware of which party was responsible for Options for Change and other cuts but I do not think that the current government's behaviour can be excused on the basis that 'they're all as bad as one another'.

I have never claimed that the Govt attempted to hide coffins returning from Iraq, but they did attempt to mislead on the numbers and types of injuries. They have also been responsible of behaving with contempt towards the injured, both in their failure to take an interest, and also in failing to adequately fund the welfare and other support the wounded need.

Would another party have behaved similarly if it was in power? Possibly. Would I condemn them in the same way? Absolutely.
 

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