Simon Jenkins - The soldiers lot in the 21st century

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by caubeen, Mar 11, 2007.

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  1. Not for the first time, Times journalist (and former editor) Simon Jenkins has written a brilliantly reasoned appeal for support for the serving British soldier (and UK services personnel in general).

    A quick extract :

    "Who would be a soldier these days? You must die for countries that pose no threat to your home and hearth. The people you protect are trying to kill you. You shoot the wrong target and must face a public inquiry. You go to battle with a lawyer on one shoulder and a journalist on the other. Meanwhile your ministry leaves you underequipped because it is still buying ships to fight the Germans and planes to fight the Russians."

    Read the full screed at :
  2. Purely an article 'for today' and with little foresight.

    Although I like the comment " Most of this equipment could be bought more cheaply off the shelf."

    And when that went wrong, he'd be the first to write an article saying how the Government bought our troops cheap kit!
  3. Perhaps in some ways, but he has some good points. Why not buy second hand warships from the USN? Why not US aircraft and helos? Let the Yanks struggle with an all powerful defence industry and tell BAE to shove it?

    I reckon we still need our own nukes and the subs to carry them, but for the rest of it we could have more and better kit buying off the shelf as he proposes. If it's a non-nuclear war then the be all and end all is the infantry, who should have the best kit available and of their choosing. I'll never grasp this "British jobs are more important than British lives" concept - especially when you have BAE painting itself as the last manufacturer and employer of the working classes then visit their site to find they take on only about 100 apprentices a year and all the other jobs are for graduates. If you're worried about making these people unemployed, well they could always join the army.

    The RN is there for transport, and that's not likely to change any time soon. They need to get used to it. From the RAF we need transport and air support, leave the air superiority to the US.
  4. Sounds good till it all goes wrong - and then we would be right up sh1t creek! Spot on about BAe though!
  5. I don't think there's any harm in the fact that Jenkins' piece focusses on the situation as it is now. If he'd wanted to look into the future, he'd have written a different piece. The impact of this article lies in what he reveals of the present situation.

    Every soldier in recent history has had to contend with the fact that all his kit has been made by the lowest bidder. So long as procurement is done on the basis of competitive tendering, it's inevitable.

    We could and should have bought a load of M16 assault rifles from the Americans, when it came time to replace the SLR. Think what could have been done with all the hundred of millions spent on developing the SA80 and making it fit for service (though some still reckon it isn't)! But some massive egos in Whitehall had to be indulged . . .