Independent: Are British troops at breaking point in Iraq?

From the article:

The incidents are symptomatic of a general malaise.
If they had interviewed soldiers in UK or Germany or Bosnia or anywhere else, would the responses have been similar? And that's not to say that the malaise is as widespread as suggested or that it is affecting Operational Effectiveness, just that - as an organisation - our specialist subject is having a right good moan when given the chance to do so.

Click here for a site which contains thousands of examples of soldiers and officers moaning about their lot (and as many others arguing back for the positives)
abacus said:
Click here for a site which contains thousands of examples of soldiers and officers moaning about their lot (and as many others arguing back for the positives)
So it's 50:50 is it? Sounds like part of the 98% of statistics that have been made up.
I've been out for 15 years but I don't beleive Tom has changed in his attitute.
Guys getting out of the service is nothing knew. Everyone, myself included, had had enough on occasions.
Combat Stress a chairity for Troops welfare, strange we never seems to have heard from them here before, on this board.
Tom will in my opinion continue duing his duty. Most will find the internal streangth required from the Disicpline install during training and service along side his comrades. What the British Regimental System is all about, is it not ?
What a load of crap. Anything to sell some extra papers.....thought the Independant was above that sort of thing.

Look forward to reading it over coffee, rather think that their editor has again allowed his editorial line to dictate the arrangement of the facts.

Am happy to say that most of our boys would laugh at it, then carry on wiping.....
To be honest without access to the figures it's very difficult to tell. Squaddies have always moaned, the question is whether or not they choose to do stay in the Army and continue moaning. I have my own opinions but they apply only to what I see, which is a small part of the whole.

So what the journos should be asking to see is recruitment and retention figures vs targets for same. What are the planned gaps between tours for soldiers and how many soldiers get less time because of operational pressures. Referring to unit deployments doesn't address the company of attachments they need to get up to strength (actually, when was the last time an inf bn fielded a full team without last minute TA or other reinforcement ?). And how about those in Corps who get tours as and when ?

Trouble is, I've never come across a journalist who actually understood how the military worked in enough detail to be able to ask questions that would reveal the true picture.
The Independent have to support their star journalist, Robert Fisk, who nailed his flag firmly to the anti flagpole some time ago. As far as Middle Eastern coverage goes, the Independent has become a sandy version of the Daily Mail, constantly drip feeding bad news stories.
In the absence of any other headline news who is a favourite target for the press ?
When they stop moaning thats when you know something is wrong.
slim_shandy said:
The Independent have to support their star journalist, Robert Fisk, who nailed his flag firmly to the anti flagpole some time ago. As far as Middle Eastern coverage goes, the Independent has become a sandy version of the Daily Mail, constantly drip feeding bad news stories.

Bang on there slim_shandy. Although it appears he didn't actually write this piece, 'Fisky' has a reputation among his peers. In squaddy-speak, you could say he's wired to the fcuking moon. It seems to be rubbing off on his colleagues now.
All this talk of stress, am I wrong in thinking that during the 1950's troops would not see home for two years? bit of a comparison ehh?
Vonshot said:
All this talk of stress, am I wrong in thinking that during the 1950's troops would not see home for two years? bit of a comparison ehh?
we are a very different people to those of the 1950s, I dont think even the roughiest toughiest super warrior is as hardy as your average squaddie back then, the world has changed a fair bit since then too.
The Independant, nice pictures and they normally have the word "fcuk" (spelt correctly) written in the first 10 pages somewhere, which pretty much sums up its puerile editorial attitude. I want to like it, I really do - it strives admirably to be different - but it's like getting your news from a stroppy 14 year old girl with dyed-purple hair.

This could have been an interesting and important investigative report on what HMF feel about operations at the moment. If our papers still did journalism rather than politics, the heads of shed would have thought: "Hmm, interesting, look into this. Iraq's not going anywhere and we could do a far reaching piece on this." Instead they speak to a few 'sources' (ie some bloke they know) over the phone then print an empty vehicle for Short. But it pays the bills eh guys? And you were a little naive to hold all those ideals when you started out I suppose.

As for the 'content' (I crack myself up sometimes): we all get a bit peeved when we're doing tour after tour, people were signing off left, right and centre when it was Bosnia, a quicky at BATUS, maybe a Grand Prix then Afghanistan or Falklands or NI or Bos (again). Now add a proper high tempo op where our wives read "The horror, the horror" in the papers and see the oh-so balanced reportage on Sky. Stir in some soldiers who have graduated from a training system where rights have overtaken responsibility; one that is prevented at every turn from turning skinny spotty and sometimes indifferent young adults into the kind of soldier we've had a blueprint for since 1645 (and which became inexplicably obsolete on 1st Oct 2000). Mix all that together and you will get some guys who leave, a whole bunch who moan and pretty much 103 thousand (or whatever we're on now) who get on with their job. Sorry, I didn't mention any de rigeur politicos, so you probably got bored as soon as you reached " 'content.' "
Wha the article fails to mention is that the pressure of the operation comitment is not the only factor in the current levels of signing off in some units. The high tempo of operations combined with the on-going high tempo of exercises and training has to some extent eroded the moral of the army. We all know that it is good to be busy, but we do need to be alive to the real danger of over-stretch.

A tour interval of 18 months like that which is facing 1 PWRR is not unusual. However, it is not merely the six month tour that has a detrimental effect. All the pre-trg and other exercise commitments means that certain units are spending considerable time away from home between tours. This is the pressure that is often ignored by the media and not fully appreciated by those whom it does not affect.

The simple answer is either less operations or less trg exercises. Neither of these are viable options at this time and I suggest that the situation will go from bad to worse. We are asking more and more from the troops and there is no end in sight. We hust have a carrot to dangle but all we see is the stick.


Book Reviewer
I am pretty sure that a post-Op-Tour exodus is nothing new either. I certainly remember it happening after CORPORATE, and wouldn't be surprised if it had happened after GRANBY as well. There are many reasons for this, ranging from "I've had my war, someone else's turn next" all the way to the fact that the troops have managed to save up enough to do something else, or the simple fact that no-one wants to leave during an Op Tour and let their mates down, so there is a build-up of 'normal' discharges after a long period such as this.

Given that, as mentioned earlier, a six month Op really means nine months if you include training and leave, it would be interesting to see what the 'normal' turnover rate from an Inf Bn would be in this sort of time period anyway - not far off that mentioned by the 'Indesribablyboring' would be my guess.
Old_Snowy, yup people will up and leave after then end of tours no question. Thing is, is it our involvement in Iraq and various other exotic locations as well as the short times between tours that is causing people to leave? I served for 12 years and did when I left I worked out that I spent 7 years AWAY from home on ops, on exercise, on courses etc. This didnt cause me to leave the forces.....

What we seem to be forgetting is the very important view of the 'other half' / partner / family etc. hey have a huge voice in whether the soldier stays or leaves.

Whilst I can agree that when you 'sign on' you do so with the full knowledge that you may have to go to war (especially if you signed on with TB in power..) this doesnt mean anything to the civvie wife etc until the shit starts flying in the media...and then the wifey starts to nag and said soldier in my case. Fair enough the bitch left me when I became a civvie, but that is another topic altogether!
I was going to post some erudite thoughts but RTFQ did it much better. It could have been an enlightening and interesting article, but they had to staple it firmly to the Iraq issue.
Dear Idle,

I refer:

Re: Support the support services
Date: 2 June 2003

Sir - In your leading article (May 31) you ask, "Why should a country whose armed forces are already overstretched deploy in yet another theatre?" adding that "it should not be difficult for the Army to send, at most, a battalion to Congo at a time when it is withdrawing far greater forces from Iraq".

A battalion of infantry could be sent quite easily, given that so many did not take part in the war against Iraq, though infantry battalions were, and indeed still are, committed in a number of other theatres: Kosovo, Bosnia et al. It is not the infantry where overstretch is hitting hardest; it is in the support services, and most especially in the medical services.

I am a combat medical technician with the Royal Army Medical Corps. I returned from Iraq just over three weeks ago. I managed two weeks of leave before finding myself, along with other members of my undermanned squadron, on a Spearhead commitment, which places us on 24-48 hours' notice to move anywhere in the world. Those individuals who escaped this commitment have now found themselves packing their bags to redeploy to Iraq as reinforcements for another under-strength medical unit.

I am not whining. I am a soldier and I accept it as part of my duty. But as I sit contemplating the likelihood of a trip to Africa, I ask that you remember in future to look beyond the infantry and ask what effect a deployment will have on the support services.

Overstretch is a word too often applied to the infantry, who more often than not have gaps of 18 months between deployments. However, its very real effects on the support services, and especially the medical services, should be of major concern to the Government. In the future, the Ministry of Defence may not be able to rely on doctors, nurses and paramedics from the Territorial Army, especially those who do not like to do the job for real, as opposed to collecting the bounty and kudos attached to being an army officer.

Name and address supplied

C'est moi 8)

Edited to add: That comment highlighted was aimed at a specific group of individuals who had whinged in the paper two days before about how their Private Practices were suffering. It was/is not a reflection of how I feel generally about the TA. :D

My Letter to the Telegraph June 2 2003

Mr Happy

Letterwritingman said:
Re: Support the support services
Date: 2 June 2003
I remember well in Ops Grapple, Resolute & Lode Star that the RLC Tank Transporter chappies were six months on, six months off for about three years - maybe even longer..

Learn to drive a truck son, get yourself a trade..... HAHAHAHA
About the two year tours of times (50s) gone by, of course in thoses days trooping was done MAINLY by troopships. Even in my day the short leaves given to troops in NI where only possible due to movement by air, private civil flights even, a concept that would have been inconcevable for the Nation Service man.
Mr Happy said:
get yourself a trade.....
Ive been saying that to him for years!!

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