"MoD : Regrettable that soldiers are passing views to media"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Mr_Bridger, Sep 25, 2006.

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  1. This appeared an hour or two ago on the Beeb website


    'The Ministry of Defence has denied that a British soldier died in Afghanistan because the helicopter rescuing him accidentally set off landmines.

    An MoD spokesman said: "It is regrettable when soldiers take their view of an incident - especially one involving a death - to the media rather than their own chain of command." '

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on this... (As anyone who has served will know the MoD loathes people going off message or declaring "UDI" - Tim Collins book gave some disturbing insight into this in the way he was treated).

    I'm sure deaths in whitehall are a common place thing, and they are made of sterner stuff. That said - why are the boys on the ground giving fodder to the media? Is there a wider issue here?

    Yours Quizzically...

    (Edited for typo's!)
  2. I am a bit ambivalent about this issue. I believe in the chain of command but I also believe that when you no longer trust it some soldiers will use any means they can to get the views across. This is not new - what is different are the circumstances under which they now turn to the media. Operational issues tended to be off limits - obviously this is no longer the case.
  3. When a soldier feels he has nowhere else to turn to vent his spleen, there will always be a willing journo available to listen. The problem the MOD have is that they are trying to conduct the political will, with to few resourses. The gaps are showing and mistakes are now costing people their lives. Its time for the hierachy to get some brass ones and tell it like it is.
  4. The trouble with going directly to the media is that actually what is said may be total boll*cks and in fact creates needless alarm and despondency.
  5. See highlighted.

    Probably was taken to CoC first, and was told to shut-up!

    Squaddies faith in the CoC to be 'on their side' - the CoC beyond the coy level that is - has been sorely eroded. If you want an example of why this is so, just look at CGSs comments regarding Major Loden's emails!!!
  6. I think it is a step to far.

    It's up to the coroner's court/BOI to determine the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate deaths of the personnel concerned.
    This serves no purpose other than to raise the possibility that an individual may be to blame and in some way culpable for the resultant deaths.

    The Media's current obsession with using any and all means to beat the MOD and Government is starting to get a tad weary. There needs to be a free flow of relevant, pertinant information, but a balance should be struck.

    I would suggest this is not one of those times that balance has been maintained.
  7. The MOD will not counter a story as a matter of course, because it leads to "he said/she said" arguments and counter-arguments. The trouble with that approach is that the general public will then tend to believe what the papers say because MOD will not counter-attack. The MOD, in the best traditions of the Civil Service, would rather keep their heads down and hope it all just goes away (which invariably it does, when Posh Spice gets her anorexic body out, or Charlotte Church voms on the pavement).

    Having seen Major Loden's emails, plus some other stuff from in-country, I feel that the job that they guys are doing should be made as public as possible - some of the heroics are unbelievable. There are also lots of "lessons learned" coming out in what he says, and the press have ignored the commendations for some of the kit to concentrate on the downsides and problems.

    I think that getting a story out is counter-productive, and will eventually lead to censoring of communications or removal of lines of communication - and we all know how important it is to keep in touch with home when you are away for any length of time, particularly in their conditions.

    Apportioning blame based on an email is not the way ahead, and whilst the D-Notice committee has absolutely no legal ability to suppress stories, some of the newspapers should be advised of their ability to restrict access to official sources, and of how life can be made just a little more difficult for the gutter newspapers who persist in trying to drive a wedge between the three Services for that sake of a front page.
  8. How do we know that this complaint was not taken to the CoC?

    In any event, what this means is that MoD would rather not have complaints voiced in anything other than its own (controlled) system. That's a recipe for all sorts of devious moves - much like the MoD official response to this incident.

    I am tired of hearing MoD (and some others) addressing the issue of the way things are raised rather than actually dealing with the complaint itself. This is a first class example of the politicisation of MoD.

    If these guys in Whitehall are so certain of their position they would not have any qualms about public scrutiny.

    It's notable also that the apparatchiks have not issued a denial as to the actual circumstances of the incident. Yet another example of providing answers to questions entirely different to those which have been asked....
  9. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    I think it's regrettable that MOD feel the need to lie and spin so much. What's the CoC doing about it?
  10. ITV News for much of last week were asking for views on the situation in Afghanistan, whether it ws family, friends or someone who had served there, they wanted an opinion.....
  11. From the recent emails leaked to this new development, it's obvious that both resentment and frustration are growing. The current ease of communication will just make the jop of censorship more difficult. From laptops to mobiles, every squaddie has one or access to one and will use it. They've learnt they have got a voice and are quite happy to use it, regardless of the perceptions of fall out. However much the MOD tries to stop this, it'll continue. Some stories we may benefit from, others we won't. The MOD will suffer either way due to their political stance.
  13. Is this not just the media taking yet another line on the Afghan/Iraq conflict. Having pursued the politicians regarding the rationale of going to war, had a go at procurement (soft skinned LRs) they are now turning their gaze on the poor squaddie on the ground. Call me a bluff old traditionalist, but there was a time where we would never even consider talking to the press. General Sir Somebody-or-another summed it up nicely during the Balkans stating that the actions of the lowest ranking soldier could now have strategic effect. Driving a wedge (or should that be increasing the size of the wedge) between the Services is easy pickings. Find me a member of any service who will not take the opportunity to have a pop at one of the other two. I'm not saying that things are rosy and that they shouldn't, I'm just highlighting that an morsel of criticism will appear in 2 inch tall letters on the front of the Redtops. This begs the question as to what is the media agenda? Personally, I don't think for one second that they really care about the troops on the ground. Don't believe me - just wait for the frenzy over the current courts martial.
  14. I think we all know that when we sign up we park some of our rights to free speech, particularly those related to communicating with the media and political activism. However when you are intensely frustrated it must be hard to maintain that control over your free speech and consequently revert to the democratic right default position! Hence some of the stuff now coming out of Afghanistan.

    Talking to the media can mean they present b@llocks you tell them as truth, it also means they may well present b@llocks of their own as your testimony. It is indeed true that truth is the first casualty, whether by confusion's virtue or due to pointed or agenda driven journalism.

    I think if I were someone who has had to put up with poor support and equipment in say, Bosnia, Kosovo and then on Telics without number, then Helmand would indeed motivate me to violate my side of the service contract - taking my lead from the CofC who appear to have done similar...