Risk Averse Britain may lose the war (The Times)

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Exwing, Jan 14, 2010.

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  1. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6987136.ece

    This is an article from The Times following The Armed Forces Minister; Bill Rammell's speech yesterday.

    It's quite an interesting comment to make, and it's been slated on The Times by all the Bring the Boys home brigade who seem to read nothing and always post the same comment.

    It raises the question of, as the % of the population who have served in the armed forces decreases, does this seperation between military & civilian become dangerously risky when it comes to difficult wars?

    edit: typo
  2. Not as quickly as the separation between military and politician or civil servant does. We note Rammell's extensive experience of service life, or his boss's.
  3. I think he's spot on though - you can't have your cake and eat it, either we project global power or we don't, and if we do, it take tough decisions, tough men and casualties.

    The chaps who commented below are obviously mostly insane though.
  4. http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47095000/jpg/_47095539_canalcar466.jpg
    Who says the Brits are becoming risk averse? Or perhaps its just those English fellas.

  5. As seen from the continent, calling the UK "risk adverse" when it has lost almost 250 of its soldiers in Afghanistan sounds incredible.
  6. I think that the insinuation was that Rammel thinks that negative public opinion about the casualty rate in Afghanistan is a big problem.
    It would apper to be away of suggesting that the government is moving mountains to make victory possible but they are being undermined by negative feeling from the public.

    In my view its a complete mis-understanding of public opinion (and probably deliberate)
  7. The problem is that the government of the last decade has been comprised of former left wing activists who have absolutely no empathy with or understanding of the armed forces. Politicians like that are the deadliest adversaries of military success.
  8. They are only worried in so much that there is an election coming up and as usual the politicians are playing for votes.As has been said you cant play world politics and sit at the top table without putting your armed forces at risk.Unfortunately the liberal elite are driving all debate both political and financial hence the mess we find ourselves in today.

    Fair trade coffee anyone.
  9. Public opinion is whatever Ministers say it is. Human beings are 'pack animals' whose 'opinion' is formed, shaped and manipulated by the managed release of information through the 24-hour media. The 'opinion' he claims is 'held' dovetails neatly into into government policy which purports to respond to it.

    When did any government actually managed to accurately guage public opinion and respond to it? John Major's government did not which is why so many of them were in traumatised shock when they had to be dragged out of their Westminster Offices when they lost the 1997 election. New Labour in power have been hopeless at measuring public opinion throughout their term of office, let alone responding to it.

    Ministers will pray in aid of the legitimacy of a non-existent consensus to carry forward a Treasury-based policy of reducing defence spending which is what the Minister's speech is actually all about.
  10. We are incredibly risk averse in this country, I'm a Health & Safety Officer (insert all insults here!), and the whole country is geared to be over protective. When something goes wrong it's always someones elses fault.

    I'm aiming this particularly at the military, but people love to blame others. e.g. Someone slipping on the ice would blame the council for not gritting, the weather man for getting it wrong, the met for not giving a warning, the shop the ice was outside for not putting up a sign...etc etc... If you slip on the ice, it was you that slipped!

    We live in this care bear state that wraps everyone up in cotton wool!
  11. And there in lies the problem,indecently did you become a risk assessment guru as a result of a resettlement course.
  12. My bold, just how badly do you have to spell incidentally for Spellcheck to offer indecently as an alternative, or did he do his resettlement in the buff?
  13. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer


    THIS I totally agree with:
    “My great fear is that we as a nation will become so risk-averse, cynical and introverted that we will find ourselves in inglorious and impotent isolation by default.”

    THIS on the other hand is dodgy:
    “Military operations and the money required to pay for defence rely on the willingness of the public to support the policies of the Government ...

    Why yes Minister, we do still live in a democracy. Which means it is up to the policy makers to explain their policies to the electorate and garner the buy-in necessary. And if the electorate does not like it, but you, the experts believe you are doing the right thing - then have the courage of your convictions and press on anyway.

    Churchill knew this; Thatcher knew it; and I suspect Blair did, too.

    Now THIS makes me quite angry:
    In counter-insurgency warfare, as in Afghanistan, you have to get out of the Chinooks and the Mastiffs, sometimes patrolling on foot and among the people ...

    Thank you, Minister, any 7-year old knows that soldiers have to get out of vehicles.

    More germanely, permit me to ask:
    - How many of our troops have been killed by IEDs that destroyed soft-skinned or badly designed vehicles?
    - And how many of those road trips would have been better made by air, if the government had actually provided the army - which is supposed to field an airborne brigade (!) - with the appropriate heli-lift capability?

    Right now, public support for the Armed Forces is high. That is not the problem. The problems are:
    - The government quails every time a soldier is killed for fear of a so-far imaginary public backlash;
    - The public does not support the war as it has not been well communicated to them;
    - Oh, and just what the hell is our strategy in Afghan anyway?

    Given all the above, a smart and responsible government would realise that while the stakes are high, it actually has quite a few cards in hand. The trouble is, this government has proven to be very poor player of the game, and although it bet heavily, it now gives every appearance of regretting that placement.
  14. The full text of his speech is here It's worth a read and a lot of his conclusions are spot on. I think he hits the nail on the head when he says that the British public have a great respect for the armed forces, but respect is different from understanding. I agree with him on this and think that the gulf between the general public's perceptions of the armed forces and how they should operate in an operational theatre and the reality will only widen as those members of the public with direct experience of military service become more of a minority.