Soldiers betrayed after Helmand medal U-turn

#1
Article in the Daily Telegraph

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent

31/12/2007



Veterans of the most ferocious fighting in Afghanistan are said to feel betrayed following an apparent about-turn by Army top brass over the promise of a special award.

After a Daily Telegraph campaign, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, said troops who fought in Helmand and Kandahar provinces would receive a Southern Afghanistan clasp to recognise their courage and the harsh conditions.

British troops in Helmand and Kandahar provinces have experienced some of the fiercest fighting in Afghanistan

But the plan, backed by ministers and civil servants, has stalled amid opposition from high-ranking officers.

In particular, Gen Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman, the vice-chief of the defence staff, is said to have made clear his view that the present medals system was adequate.

Other officers expressed concern that the bravery of troops elsewhere in Afghanistan could be devalued if the fighting in the south was singled out for recognition.

The Ministry of Defence says the decision remains under consideration, but morale among troops from the Parachute Regiment, Royal Marines and 12 Mechanised Brigade, units which experienced some of the fiercest fighting in the summer, has been damaged.

One Marines officer who has served two tours in Afghanistan said the process had "ground to a halt" with some senior officers "hoping it will all go away".

"It's not great for morale and it won't go down well for those just back from the fighting who are expected to return next year," he said.

When Gen Dannatt visited Helmand last year he told troops there should be a clasp to the Afghanistan medal because, "That would be proper recognition of the very difficult circumstances and the fighting that's going on here".

Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, said troops had been engaged in "toe-to-toe" combat.

"Anyone who has commanded troops in action understands how important medals are for morale. But perhaps the main opponents of the Helmand clasp and the wounded medal have not commanded forces in battle."

Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former infantry officer, said it was, "extraordinary that senior officers would stand in the way of this award".

An MoD spokesman said: "There is no truth in the allegation that [Gen Granville-Chapman] is standing in the way of any change. The decision to make the award, or not, will involve all of the chiefs."
 
#3
There is a recent precedent with the South Atlantic Medal.

This is taken from the MOD's own website:

The Medal with distinguishing rosette was awarded for 1 days' service in the Falkland Islands or their dependencies or in the South Atlantic, south of 35° South and north of 60° South, or for 1 operational sortie south of Ascension Island, between 2 April and 14 June 1982.

The Medal alone was awarded for 30 days continuous or accumulated service in the South Atlantic, south of 7° South and north of 60° South, commencing between 2 April and 14 June 1982 and completing no later than 12 July 1982.


Why is service in Helmand any different?
 
#4
Service in the North of the country is peacekeeping and moderately quiet. Service in Helmand and Kandahar provinces is war fighting although no politician would admit to this. Bayonets are fixed and it is face to face with Terry Taleban. While I wouln't want to de-value the bravery of the soldiers serving operational tours in the North of the country, it is simply a different kettle of fish and positively kushy.
I firmly believe there should be a clasp awarded for serving in Southern Afghanistan and thought the deal was already done. I also believe we should be allowed to wear the non-article 5 ISAF medal that we have all been awarded. (just because my chest would look better).
 
#5
as usual, the mod using different rules when it comes to medals,
take korea for example, 2 gongs issued and worn, so why not the isaf and osm, after all we are serving with nato, if we cant wear the isaf medal then why do we wear the bos,kosovo stuff????
 
#6
Weissbier said:
There is a recent precedent with the South Atlantic Medal.

This is taken from the MOD's own website:

The Medal with distinguishing rosette was awarded for 1 days' service in the Falkland Islands or their dependencies or in the South Atlantic, south of 35° South and north of 60° South, or for 1 operational sortie south of Ascension Island, between 2 April and 14 June 1982.

The Medal alone was awarded for 30 days continuous or accumulated service in the South Atlantic, south of 7° South and north of 60° South, commencing between 2 April and 14 June 1982 and completing no later than 12 July 1982.


Why is service in Helmand any different?
Because in the Falklands, it was very easy to distinguish those who had been in serious danger from those who had been relatively safe.

In Helmand, it's a very different story. I'm sure the lads on the ground have a much tougher time in Helmand than, for example, Kabul. However, Kabul is not without its 'moments' (see below) and the lads who serve there surely deserve this medal more than the REMF's in Bastion.



And what about Iraq? Some spent their tours relaxing outside the EFI with a milkshake. Others, a few miles down the road, were ambushed daily and spent most of their tour on their belt buckle. Why don't city-based troops receive a different medal from those based at BAS?

Overall, it seems to me that the system is fair as it is. By giving some a 'special' award, you only risk sh.tting on the sacrifices of others.

As for a wound medal, it seems a lot like getting a medal for being in a car crash. If two lads take a risk, but only one of them is shot, what makes him more deserving of a medal than his mucker? Aside from which, with the number of casualties currently being generated, you risk creating a noticeable divide in Infantry battalions.
 
#7
Crafty990 said:
Service in the North of the country is peacekeeping and moderately quiet. Service in Helmand and Kandahar provinces is war fighting although no politician would admit to this. Bayonets are fixed and it is face to face with Terry Taleban. While I wouln't want to de-value the bravery of the soldiers serving operational tours in the North of the country, it is simply a different kettle of fish and positively kushy.
I firmly believe there should be a clasp awarded for serving in Southern Afghanistan and thought the deal was already done. I also believe we should be allowed to wear the non-article 5 ISAF medal that we have all been awarded. (just because my chest would look better).
I (and loads of other British soldiers) spent 6 months in khandahar sat on our arses and raising the share price of burgerking, pizza hut and subway with the occasional mortar to deal with. I had friends in camp Bastion who didn't even have to put up with mortars.
The infantry may have been going toe to toe with the taliban but there was quite a few of us in very little danger at all. There will always be an argument over who deserve an extra award and who doesn't.
 
#8
There's a simple answer - Re-issue the Indian General Service Medal (service in Afghanistan attacted the IGSM) with the Queen's head on the obverse and issue a clasp for each region served.
That way, all those serving get the medal and clasp (the 'value' of the clasp being in the eye of the beholder).

W
 
#9
As a civvy doesn't really apply to me but suffice to say that during my first six months at Kandahar Airfield we took at least one rocket strike a day.

In Kabul my main concern was which one of the dozen or so bars was I going to get wasted in.

Oh, Helmand makes Kandahar look like Gran Canaria.

If the guys want a special clasp, best of luck to them, they deserve it.

MOD maps show most of Afghanistan a green or orange colour (Don't think it refers to Provos & Prots). The only provinces shown in red are Kandahar & Helmand.
 
#10
u_didnt_c_me_i_wasnt_ther said:
as usual, the mod using different rules when it comes to medals,
take korea for example, 2 gongs issued and worn, so why not the isaf and osm, after all we are serving with nato, if we cant wear the isaf medal then why do we wear the bos,kosovo stuff????
Because there was no British medal issued for Bosnia or Kosovo therfore you can wear the NATO ones.
 
#11
MAybe an award like the americans get, combat infantry badge or something i think, it's like a long musket with a reef around it I think, to distuingish those who did and those who didn't frankly.
 
#12
307 said:
MAybe an award like the americans get, combat infantry badge or something i think, it's like a long musket with a reef around it I think, to distuingish those who did and those who didn't frankly.
Again what counts as did and didn't, Two of our lads (4LSR) drove over a mine and were injured do they deserve anything? Where as some infantry lads might of had a quiet tour. Do the bomb doctors deserve an award? Unfortunly there will alway be someone who does more than rest and dosen't get recognised.
 
#13
stacker1 said:
307 said:
MAybe an award like the americans get, combat infantry badge or something i think, it's like a long musket with a reef around it I think, to distuingish those who did and those who didn't frankly.
Again what counts as did and didn't, Two of our lads (4LSR) drove over a mine and were injured do they deserve anything? Where as some infantry lads might of had a quiet tour. Do the bomb doctors deserve an award? Unfortunly there will alway be someone who does more than rest and dosen't get recognised.
And that's exactly the point. You can't give extra credit to one group, without taking something away from another. The system is already as fair as it can ever be.
 
Z

Zarathustra

Guest
#15
My OSM had a clasp it says "AFGHANISTAN" i also got a rosette.

Why have a new clasp or medal so show you went to Helmand? No one will see it unless your in two's etc and even then the people you work with will know what you did/did not do.

It's the same as getting a medal for getting injured, the only people who'll see it and know what it means are the people you work for and they'll already know you'veen injured so why wear one
 
#16
An emotive subject for sure. A clasp would seem to be the obvious solution with minimal qualifying period of 28 consecutive days in the area of concern (Helmand). This would stop the 'REMFs' popping down for a few days just to have a look and get the award.

Kandahar is a sticky one as some forces do not leave the 'relatively' safe environment of the Air Base.

The only other way of truly recognising the efforts is by ensuring that those who did perform above what was expected are nominated for Bravery Awards and that is a whole different forum!

The Top Brass need to look at this one closely whilst reflecting on the medals on their chests. It seems that Knighthoods, OBEs, CBEs etc are just dispensed 'willy nilly' once they reach a certain rank.
 
Z

Zarathustra

Guest
#17
afghanman said:
An emotive subject for sure. A clasp would seem to be the obvious solution with minimal qualifying period of 28 consecutive days in the area of concern (Helmand). This would stop the 'REMFs' popping down for a few days just to have a look and get the award.

Kandahar is a sticky one as some forces do not leave the 'relatively' safe environment of the Air Base.


The only other way of truly recognising the efforts is by ensuring that those who did perform above what was expected are nominated for Bravery Awards and that is a whole different forum!

The Top Brass need to look at this one closely whilst reflecting on the medals on their chests. It seems that Knighthoods, OBEs, CBEs etc are just dispensed 'willy nilly' once they reach a certain rank.
There are also a great number of people in Bastion who never leave the camp. If a medal or clasp were to be introduced to recognise the nature of the work in Helmand, it could be argued that why should a storeman who's never left camp get the same medal or bar as someone who's been in multiple contacts etc.
 
#18
crow_bag said:
afghanman said:
An emotive subject for sure. A clasp would seem to be the obvious solution with minimal qualifying period of 28 consecutive days in the area of concern (Helmand). This would stop the 'REMFs' popping down for a few days just to have a look and get the award.

Kandahar is a sticky one as some forces do not leave the 'relatively' safe environment of the Air Base.


The only other way of truly recognising the efforts is by ensuring that those who did perform above what was expected are nominated for Bravery Awards and that is a whole different forum!

The Top Brass need to look at this one closely whilst reflecting on the medals on their chests. It seems that Knighthoods, OBEs, CBEs etc are just dispensed 'willy nilly' once they reach a certain rank.
There are also a great number of people in Bastion who never leave the camp. If a medal or clasp were to be introduced to recognise the nature of the work in Helmand, it could be argued that why should a storeman who's never left camp get the same medal or bar as someone who's been in multiple contacts etc.
Totally agree and as I also mentioned the only real way of recognising performance above what is expected is by ensuring that those individuals are nominated for Bravery Awards. Not everyone can get one but it will help unit morale if their collective efforts do not go unrecognised.
 
#19
A clasp or ribbon for those that have been in contact could work. If you define a contact as being in direct confrontation with the enermy. The Para Cpl might get one on a busy tour or not on a quite one. The RLC driver getting ambushed in Karbul and defending himself and his wagon might get one as well. It shouldn't go by area but by action. It would not be a bravery award but an indicator of action.

The problem would come from silly young officers going out looking for trouble so they can up-bling their number twos.
 
#20
crow_bag said:
afghanman said:
An emotive subject for sure. A clasp would seem to be the obvious solution with minimal qualifying period of 28 consecutive days in the area of concern (Helmand). This would stop the 'REMFs' popping down for a few days just to have a look and get the award.

Kandahar is a sticky one as some forces do not leave the 'relatively' safe environment of the Air Base.


The only other way of truly recognising the efforts is by ensuring that those who did perform above what was expected are nominated for Bravery Awards and that is a whole different forum!

The Top Brass need to look at this one closely whilst reflecting on the medals on their chests. It seems that Knighthoods, OBEs, CBEs etc are just dispensed 'willy nilly' once they reach a certain rank.
There are also a great number of people in Bastion who never leave the camp. If a medal or clasp were to be introduced to recognise the nature of the work in Helmand, it could be argued that why should a storeman who's never left camp get the same medal or bar as someone who's been in multiple contacts etc.
Totally agree and as I also mentioned the only real way of recognising performance above what is expected is by ensuring that those individuals are nominated for Bravery Awards. Not everyone can get one but it will help unit morale if their collective efforts do not go unrecognised.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads