OK, So Whats The Answer Then?

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
More and more we, the British Armed Forces, and especially the Army, are getting slagged off left, right and centre. The media concentrate on the tiny, tiny minority that get filmed/photographed doing 'bad stuff'. They blame us for the violence in the world, the public (or at least the vocal part) hate us, they don't want us dating their sons and daughters, they make a big deal about gay 'weddings', they criticies the way we do business, the way we train and nurture our recruits and probably for global warming as well. In short, nothing we do is right.

So, fellow ARRSErs, what can we do to make them see that most of us are human, and doing a damn fine job, despite what the politicians do and journos say. Can we turn around the tide of hate that is slowly swallowing us up, or will we have to accept that we will never be wanted (until the next fire/ambulance/bin strike, foot and Mouth outbreak or flood).

I have heard it suggested that service personnel should be seen in uniform more often, but would this help? Would you want to be in uniform any more than you have to?

Over to ARRSELand for ideas....
 
#2
A small tactical nuclear strike on Fleet Street might be a good starting point.
 
#3
I wonder what would happen if the millitary didn't turn up tommorow? If there was no military for say 12 months, sabattical everyone? I think that might make them change their mind about our worth.
 
#4
I don't think that Joe Public seeing Billoddies in uniform in pubs, on Railway platforms and in Motorway service stations is going to help with the media's portrayal of us, unfortunately. Kipling had it right, I'm afraid.
 
#5
Legs said:
More and more we, the British Armed Forces, and especially the Army, are getting slagged off left, right and centre. The media concentrate on the tiny, tiny minority that get filmed/photographed doing 'bad stuff'. They blame us for the violence in the world, the public (or at least the vocal part) hate us, they don't want us dating their sons and daughters, they make a big deal about gay 'weddings', they criticies the way we do business, the way we train and nurture our recruits and probably for global warming as well. In short, nothing we do is right.

So, fellow ARRSErs, what can we do to make them see that most of us are human, and doing a damn fine job, despite what the politicians do and journos say. Can we turn around the tide of hate that is slowly swallowing us up, or will we have to accept that we will never be wanted (until the next fire/ambulance/bin strike, foot and Mouth outbreak or flood).

I have heard it suggested that service personnel should be seen in uniform more often, but would this help? Would you want to be in uniform any more than you have to?

Over to ARRSELand for ideas....
Read post by our dear moderator Part Time Pongo - STANDARDS- THIS AFFECTS YOU AND ARRSE.

Don't use flourished expressions, use state of art English, prhases like

It would be very kind of you to explain me sir..
I dare to disagree with you sir...
Wholeheartedly support your intention sir but with my respect I couldn't...

I would play a role of a typical bumpkin that uses Benny-style vocabulary to highlight image of gentlmen in British military uniforms, noble warriors, highly intelligent polite persons, true soldiers.

Next time then this dirty piece of paper Guardian would reprint costless thoughts of our friends these pinko-left devillish Graunidad-readers would be impressed by good manners and thus image of British armed forces would be boosted.
 
#6
Not one person I have spoken to has expressed any negative views on the armed forces. But then I live among real people, not the metropolitan chattering idiots who make more noise than they are entitled to.

Negative comments get news coverage, but I bet if there were a properly run poll on attitides to HM forces we'd see a far better picture than the one we perceive now.

Edited for typo.
 
#7
Don't just blame fleet street for this one, I think this may have Mr Alistair Campbells fingerprints smudged on it as well. It diverted attention from a disastrous by-election result, and eased Tony and Gordon away from the issues raised at this last weekends rally. Funny how the film came to be in the BBC's hands, and they managed to find the preceding scenes last evening!

There is more to this than is at first visible!
 
#8
I would suggest in our defence having our own embedded press units from said popular press agencies and a revamp in the Army press relations department.

They would get access to events as they happen and military commentary to put the story straight.

An example would be a denial of access to military events for journalist and press agencies who are found to be constantly giving out a neg vibe. Also denial of access to events such as Trooping the colour, Medal parades etc.

All in all though it is a shame to see once again it would appear that there is going to be a witchhunt by the Goverment, MOD and the press against soldiers serving or having served in Iraq.

What saddens me even more with the latest pile of sh ite doing the rounds is that just as the goverment caved into demands for compensation for the destruction of the Al Jameat Police Station in Basra even though that was a rescue and had to be put in due to the soldiers not being handed over. Said Unit and men involved in the latest claims i believe do not stand a chance.

I wonder, if i check my civilian liability insurance prior to the next time im due to go back to Iraq, will it still cover me against this sort of stuff?
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#9
This is not a new problem.

You just need to read Kipling's poem Tommy to see that.

Mind you one of McGonagall's best is not great but the sentiment is there!

Lines in Praise of Tommy Atkins
Success to Tommy Atkins, he's a very brave man,
And to deny it there's few people can;
And to face his foreign foes he's never afraid,
Therefore he's not a beggar, as Rudyard Kipling has said.

No, he's paid by our Government, and is worthy of his hire;
And from our shores in time of war he makes our foes retire,
He doesn't need to beg; no, nothing so low;
No, he considers it more honourable to face a foreign foe.

No, he's not a beggar, he's a more useful man,
And, as Shakespeare has said, his life's but a span;
And at the cannon's mouth he seeks for reputation,
He doesn't go from door to door seeking a donation.

Oh, think of Tommy Atkins when from home far away,
Lying on the battlefield, earth's cold clay;
And a stone or his knapsack pillowing his head,
And his comrades lying near by him wounded and dead.

And while lying there, poor fellow, he thinks of his wife at home,
And his heart bleeds at the thought, and he does moan;
And down his cheek flows many a silent tear,
When he thinks of his friends and children dear.

Kind Christians, think of him when far, far away,
Fighting for his Queen and Country without dismay;
May God protect him wherever he goes,
And give him strength to conqner his foes.

To call a soldier a beggar is a very degrading name,
And in my opinion it's a very great shame;
And the man that calls him a beggar is not the soldier's friend,
And no sensible soldier should on him depend.

A soldier is a man that ought to be respected,
And by his country shouldn't be neglected;
For he fights our foreign foes, and in danger of his life,
Leaving behind him his relatives and his dear wife.

Then hurrah for Tommy Atkins, he's the people's friend,
Because when foreign foes assail us he does us defend;
He is not a beggar, as Rudyard Kipling has said,
No, he doesn't need to beg, he lives by his trade.

And in conclusion I will say,
Don't forget his wife and children when he's far away;
But try and help them all you can,
For remember Tommy Atkins is a very useful man.
 
#10
I would advocate media and info ops of a dramatically more effective and aggresive style than now in evidence. We have been criticised for relying on Soldier magazine to get the good news out. Mobilisation of the local media (as seen by DWR this week in making sure the local Chronicle knows that Dukes weren't assoicated with the most recent video) and national media has to be at the forefront of evryone's mind.

Human interest sells stories. We do not sell ourselves. The counter argument is, of course, that by courting media attention tehy will bite us - to this I say testicles because they will bite regardless of whether we give them good news or no news. We must be proactive. How else did the story of the tallest guardsman get into the Sun? because it was put there by the Army, not because someone sold the story... (!)

How I am going to hate myself for saying this... we must be as steel-minded when dealing with the media as Katie Price has proven to be. She knows how to manipulate the media to good effect and when there is a bad story about her it is then flooded out by good news and new images.

This weekend showed in good effect how appalling we are at it. We were quick to get our story out to the tv media, but didn't capitalise on the radio or press interest. Our internet sites were next to useless - the MOD news site was effective eventually, but the Army website was late in the extreme in getting our line out there.

Where does the problem lie?

1. Senior Civil Servants running MOD news and not servicemen.
2. Fear of the media because it is unknown to us.
3. Reticence to engage with good news.
4. Being pompous in defence of our people.
5. Neglecting local media on a large scale.
6. Failing to be proactive.
7. Not taking media ops seriously and failing to understand that there is an info ops campaign to be fought at home, on ops and in the homes of our potential enemies.
 
#12
Be seen in uniform as often as possible. That doesn't mean you walt it in premark or Sainsburys of a weekend! Ensure your kit is emaculate. If it's after an exercise ensure you look dog tired and filthy (you have been grafting!). Be as polite as possible in shops and service stations, nod at the old lady as you pass her and wink at the good looking chicks (they secretly love a guy in uniform). Hold the door open for people and generally be as polite and civilised as possible.

All of the above is what I'm sure most soldiers do anyway.
 
#13
In light of the parallel treads about the Times and Guardian...

Rather than letting ‘centre’ and the media ops people enable journo's do the gucci stuff with Eurofighter and alike we should just throw open the Military to these people. Invite them on no-frills work-shadow placements for a few days at a time. Randomly (and i mean randomly) pick appointments for them to shadow (subject to Sy sensitive ones) and trust the Toms to do us proud. I think that they would be shocked to find that life in the forces is relative banal 9-5 work but with espirte de coup than you get in the average office or company in the UK. In fact this is such a good idea I think MPs should do it as well!

It would only work if they do a reasonable length of time on their placement and that the Media Ops people and CO’s and OC’s stayed well clear.
 
#14
devilish said:
Be seen in uniform as often as possible. That doesn't mean you walt it in premark or Sainsburys of a weekend! Ensure your kit is emaculate. If it's after an exercise ensure you look dog tired and filthy (you have been grafting!). Be as polite as possible in shops and service stations, nod at the old lady as you pass her and wink at the good looking chicks (they secretly love a guy in uniform). Hold the door open for people and generally be as polite and civilised as possible.

All of the above is what I'm sure most soldiers do anyway.
I've thought along those lines for a while. The only way to reverse the current trend is to make the army look more "fasionable". And how do you do that? Exactly what devilish said. The Army needs to get back into the public eye. We need to re-instill a sense of pride and 'comunity spirit' that the Forces used to mean.

T C
 
#16
There were some good points raised on this thread which also discussed public perception of the military. I too believe that making the Armed Forces more visible in everyday life would help as for the most part you live and work away from society, thus you are judged by people who are fed their information by a largely antagonistic media.

Aside the odd mention of members of the Armed Forces taking part in sporting / endurance events (and as previously noted the use of the Army during the Foot and Mouth crisis and strikes by the Fire Brigade) the Armed Forces get little good press.

I don't have any statistics, but going on what is publicised by the in-house media such as The Sixth Sense, I would wager that the Military takes part in more charitable events than any other section of society as grouped by industry, thus it would benefit you if a friendly member of the press ran some kind of human interest story. Additionally, more needs to be made about the humanitarian work you do, such as physically re-building and helping to put in place the civic structures that we take for granted. You definitely need "good news" stories up your sleeves to be put out when the "all soldiers are violent, indiscriminate bullies and psychopaths" stories run.
 
#18
I'm convinced that the negative press that seems to have increased in the last few years is a deliberate act by Fleet Street. You may remember a run of surveys of which institutions the British public respected most that came out in the late nineties. The Army can top by a mile with Parliament and the press down at the bottom. Mistakenly, we crowed a bit about our image at the time.

The press loves to build you up in order to knock you down. So our standing in the public's eyes was just gravy to them. They've had it in for us ever since.
 
#19
Barbs,

Outstanding post. I can only assume you were present for one of my rants at RHQ :D

Media OPs Gentlemen , that's where it is at. We wouldn't move on an entrenched position in depth without stonking it hard first, so why are we moving against this objective with light weapons only?

I looked at joining MediaOps , as I had a fair bit of experience in it, but noted you had to have a commission first. Why? Do they still believe journos are impressed by pips and crowns and believe with utter faith the words uttered by the Officer in front of them , because they are Officers? I am way past the age for pipping up as an Infantry subbie , but I haven't lost my powers of presentation , speech, analysis and reasoning.

The media can smell BS a mile off, and when the get fed it on a regular basis, they tend to go find their own stories, and that's when the problems start.

In this information and media intensive age, we need to be briefing and training our troops right down to Pte on effective portrayal to the media. Uttering the usual lines to a jaded journalist, because you don't want to be the forgotten man of OP.13 isn't going to cut it.

Enthusiasm from young Tpr Smith aged 19 , because "he drives a wicked set of wheels wiv a gun innit" may raise a smile, but it is a human interest. Regurgitating the party line does not. Remember how we all laughed as that young future Stag King BW soldier said "Well Tony Blair tells lies doesn't he?"

We need to present the very best of all our people , not just the toadying bottom kissing psycophants at all levels looking at their next CR


Journos, feel free to comment on what you'd like to see from us. What is it you need from us , to present stories that accurately reflect our pride and enthusiasm for the job we do. What is it you need from us , to get this message across to the British people, so they can feel the same prde and enthusiasm too?
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
#20
A number of the posts in this thread have mentioned Media Ops. Most Media Ops personnel that I have met are actually double or triple hatted Ops Officers, RSOs or AGC(ETS) instructors. Is it possible that we should do as the US forces do, and have personnel trained in the art of journolism. They could be associated with the RLC Phots who run the MNTs and actually creat a small, dedicated Media Ops team whose sole job is to publicise the forces and all the good they do.

Maybe a bone idea, but is it worth considering?

Also:

Open days - they don't seem to happen as often (overstretch/lack of finances?), but did/do they help, not just as a recruiting tool, but as a PR exercise?
 

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