Never, ever, believe anyone who tells you what a great operational welfare package you are going to receive. We have been here two weeks and after being promised a serviceable if not wonderful internet service to keep in touch with friends and loved ones we find that 1) It is frequently down and 2) (just to keep morale high for the Christmas Season), the contract runs out tomorrow and they haven't managed to get anyone to provide a replacement service. A case of Arrse inks. If anyone would like to raise this issue on our behalf with the press, we shall be very grateful. Obviously pressure needs to be exerted from elsewhere as we poor people on tour are not allowed to grumble in case it upsets Mr Hoon and our careers end as spectacularly as the CDS's. Why is it that other countries have so much better welfare provision than us? Irish troops down the road get two loads of R&R of two weeks in the six months, they get UN pay (about $50 a day extra) and they have 30 days off after the tour. They have an internet connection that works and they get a 90 minute welfare phone card to ring home for six, yes folks, count them, six Euros, and they can buy as many as they like. Obviously I would love to be able to read people's views on this, but I won't be able to because we get cut off tomorrow. And before anyone starts saying 'We didn't have internet in the trenches in my day!', neither did I for either of my two previous Balkans tours, but when you are promised it and have organised your contacts, banking and futher education on the basis that you will have access to it for your six months away, it really es you off to find that you were lied to!! And it is not just us it affects, it is the wives and children who use it to keep their family life with those who are deployed together in some sense who suffer as well. So, less morale, more welfare problems for commanders and another rubbish Christmas on tour, thanks to our beancounting friends.