Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Modfather, Jun 6, 2007.
The heart of the site is the forum area, including:
In depth piece about low morale in the Army.
Above link goes to the email mentioned in the piece.
Watching it at the moment - Sir Menzies Campbell is being interviewed.
Now I've never been a massive fan of the Lib Dems, but I don't recall seeing a Conservative or Labour Leader on a progamme about the Armed Forces recently...
Number One item and 15 minutes on the BBC's flagship doesn't get much better in news terms!
However, to base the premise that "morale is falling because of Iraq" on an email from a "serving Captain" is a little daft, IMHO. LCpl Blackadder has been at it again - impersonating the Adjutant! I'll swing for the bugger, I will.....
They took several bits of information and tried to stitch them together to make a story and it didn't add up. They even said that they "had trawled a couple of websites for information and had not received any information (to support their story)". Sorry, Guys, but the Army isn't like that. If it's one thing we hate more than a politician, it's a journalist!
And they never mentioned the Navy, the Royals or the Crabs! I find that strange when some of the worst morale stories are on their side!
However, 15 minutes of "it's all going to end in tears for the Army" will resonate with the general public and, with luck, Gordon. That's where the impact must be.
Pretty impressive email though litotes.
Iraq: British officer's email
6 Jun 07, 10:06 PM
Newsnight received the following email from a serving British Army captain with experience in various theatres including Iraq. We know his identity but have withheld it at his request.
"That the invasion was 'illegal, immoral and unwinnable', and the 'greatest foreign policy blunder since Suez' - to paraphrase the Liberal Democrats - is the overwhelming feeling of many of my peers, and they speak of loathsome six-month tours, during which they led patrols with dread and fear, reluctantly providing target practice for insurgents, senselessly haemorrhaging casualties, and squandering soldiers' lives, as part of Bush's vain attempt to delay the inevitable Anglo-US rout until after the next US election. Given a free choice most of us would never have invaded Iraq, and certainly would have withdrawn long ago. Hopefully, Tony Blairs's handover to Gordon Brown will herald a change of policy, and rapid withdrawal, but skewed pro-US coverage inhibits proper public debate, and is deeply unhealthy; lethally-so to many of us deployed to Iraq."
Pro US coverage? Where?!?! I must have missed it.
Personally I thought this was a complete non-story. Obviously nobody can be entirely (or even slightly) happy about the way Iraq's turned out, but to stretch this to collapsing morale across the British Army on the basis of a few emails and interviews is stretching it a bit, to say the least!
The question is- is the mission in Iraq achievable? The answer is- yes, but not with the current level of resources and manpower. Therefore the Government should either stump up more cash for men and equipment or cancel the mission and get out. Right now it is simply prolonging the agony, and men are dying as a result. I sure as hell don't want to die just so Mr Blair can avoid embarassment at his next meeting with President Bush.
Just make the call to get out and then do it fast. Being a leader means taking unpopular decisions. Unfortunately Mr. Blair has failed us by not taking any decisions following the failure to find WMD.
Is the mission in Afghanistan achievable? The answer is that there were no clear objectives set by the politicians at the outset of UK forces involvement. Thus there was never any likelyhood of achieving success. Again with appropriate level of troops and funding anything can be achieved. However the current action to supress the Taliban with little intelligence, inadequate helicopter support and too few troops to dominate the ground is doomed to fail.
We do the best we can of course. All the free cash is rightly going to support those on operations while at home the infrastructure which supports the forces is utterly neglected due to lack of funds.
I look around at my current employer and I dont see a winning organisation- I see a cash starved make-do and-mend culture, even to the point where lives and limbs are lost as a result. I see money wasted on pointless jobs and ineffective projects which could have been spent to great effect elsewhere. I see an organisation which neglects its duty of care to its staff and then lies to cover up its failings and those of its allies. I see an organisation which loses interest in you the moment that you are injured or unable to work. I see an organisation which will ruthlessly bully and purge those who tell the truth about its failings. An organisation which conducts witch-hunts and pushes out those who have served loyally in the past.
I see an organisation which has disappeared so far up its doctrinal backside that it hamstrings effective junior officers and soldiers at the coal face, and actively prevents them from doing an effective job.
I see an organisation which has a reputation externally as the "best in the world". Internally, I can tell you it can't even pay my soldiers their wages correctly 3 times out of 4.
What it boils down to is that the British Army has changed from being an winning organisation that winners want to join. It is now a loser organisation run by losers, those who stayed in the longest because they could find no other talent or skill. We lose every budget battle. We lost the political battle when we acquiesced to an illegal war. We have lost Iraq. We are losing in Afganistan.
We have to face it. The present Army is for losers. That is the reason that my morale is through the floor. I would love to have talked to Newsnight but sadly I fear that I would be the victim of the MoD's witch-hunt team simply for pointing out the blindingly obvious.
PS. Before you all shoot me down with witty comments like "how come you are still in...that make you a loser too hur hur". I have loyalty to my Corps. I have made a commitment to my colleagues to serve for a period. I have given the best I can during my service and tried to improve my own little piece of this failing house of cards. When that period is up I will leave, with my honour upheld and my promise kept. I have kept my promises to the MoD. I question whether the MoD is keeping its promises to me, or any other serving soldiers.
Wasn't the objective "to leave without a shot being fired..."?
John Reid was the politician who uttered those immortal words....
As for the rest of your post, I can see your point but I don't see a collapse in morale; instead, I see a lot of hard working people struggling to achieve their aims within an inadequately funded organisation. This is a political problem; not a military one.
The Government has persistently underfunded the Services and the cupboard is now bare, IMHO.
I entirely agree Litotes. More funding is just the beginning of solving the problem. We currently work in a culture which accepts that the roof of the building will leak because there isn't the money to fix it, or that the contractor will fail to provide a service because the civil servant monitoring the contract is away on long term leave. I recently discovered that for 6 months my QM has been paying a contractor to provide a service. He didn't know anything about the contract, my department didn't realise there was a contract in place to enforce because we have all been freshly posted in and there wasn't a handover/takeover due to lack of staff, operational tempo etc. Net result: days of wasted time and a shedload of taxpayers money wasted.
The horrible thing about it was that I realised that I wasn't even shocked at the oversight. I have come to have such low expectations of the "system" that when something goes only hideously wrong rather than completely FUBAR I am happy.
I now expect and accept underperformance in all areas that my life is touched by the bigger Army. That depresses me. I want to work in a culture of excellence and pride. But in reality the culture of the Army is now that of the Civil Service: Political correctness, doing as little work as possible, avoiding responsibility, and keeping your head down.
That is why in addition to more cash we need a real rethink about our internal culture. Why is excellence not possible within our system? What needs to change?
Could it be lack of pride amongst those in the administrative areas?
ap8889, my advice to you would be to leave and leave now. Trust me, you will never look back.
The MoD is rotten to the core. Adam Ingram defines overstretch as the point at which the task cannot be done. He is happy to accept endless operational tours for his soldiers in arduous and extremely dangerous conditions regardless of mental health and time for family.
If that is what he thinks then stuff him. Leave, it is not worth it. Iraq and Afg are totally remote to the British people. Your loyalty to your men is laudable, but don't let that keep you. I still see my old buddies they will still be there.
Good luck to you whatever you do.
I have to agree with Nigeglib - I left in 97 because I thought the whole thing was falling apart then, with complete disdain by the CoC for troops on the ground. In the last ten years its clearly got worse. I always said it will take a significant military defeat to open peoples eyes and its clearly coming. The patrol houses in Afghanistan which were isolated last year because of insufficient resources to re-supply them was nearly it. Had one of those been over run - well its just not worth thinking about.
The fact the military make do and manage to get by is the reason they keep paring bits off. At some point the rope will snap and the whole thing will come tumbling down. We really do get by by the skin of our teach on most occasions. Some days it goes wrong - remember the six RMP! A lot of deaths are preventable with more money and resources. One or two killed at a time does not concern those making the decisions. 20 or 30 will shock the country to the core.
Litotes your misplaced trust that morale is ok is wrong I fear. Troops on their first tour will probably largely enjoy the excitement and danger. Guys on their second tour will not be to happy. Especially considering in 4 years Iraq has been a complete failure with troops there simply target practice for the enemy. Soldiers going on their third tour are likely to bin it afterwards. The loss of an experienced and useful soldier because he's been pushed just that little bit too far because of the lack of resources is crazy. Add in the appalling accommodation, pay and conditions - what moral is there is quickly worn away by the system. Thats just the toms - throw NCOs with families into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. They've already tried to take up the slack with soldiers on the cheap - the TA. But they are running out too. Great idea to bin those 4 battalions wasnt it!!
And the sweet irony is a significant defeat and loss off life will cause the fall of the government. But by then the damage to the military will take years to fix. The lunatics are running the asylum.
Mate get out as soon as you can - your honour, loyalty and possible sacrifice is worthless. Your country and leaders as well as senior commanders couldn't give a toss. A recent friendly fire case and numerous injured soldiers left to fend for themselves proves the point. I mean they can't even be bothered to have a hospital dedicated to soldiers while we are at war.
I'm still joining though, if I'm driven away by the above issues then that's a different matter - I certainly don't intend to be.
I don't believe it is enough to stop new people joining, but it seems that the loss of many more experienced soldiers could be more crippling to the fighting capability of the army than the previous layers of overstretch have been.
AP, further to OS's excellent and knowing post, the decision to leave is an individual one and normally takes a number of years to reach, during which resentment gradually builds up. Op tempo must be for-shortening this time period. Reading your post again, in a very short time you have come to realise the true nature of your relationship with the upper echelons and the MoD. By remaining in the Army your angst and unhappiness will only worsen.
Leave it behind fella. UK Armed Forces are going to take years to fix after the battering of recent years. It certainly will not get better in your remaining time. I doubt a change of Govt will improve things either.
Sorry to sound so down beat, but I now work in civil aviation and it is so refreshing to feel valued by your employer. Working for a profit seems to have more morality than being asked to risk your life for dodgy reasons with sub-standard equipment and little support from CoC.
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