Much as it grieves this ex-Regular to defend the TA, in this case, I think 3 MI Bn are the victims of preemptive spin, perhaps from a political adviser to Saint Geoffrey Hoon.
From sources close to the Bn, it appears that 140 were in fact mobilised, at short notice, but that 60 or so were informed that they would not be required. A cynical man might suspect an excess of enthusiasm, followed shortly afterwards by a cry from DIS or whoever "My God, what are we going to do with 140 of them?".
My sources know of no refusals - in fact, the contrary, a number of Volunteers made very expensive arrangements to cover their absence on a comparative pittance and were then, inside a week, in the position of going back to empoyers or clients and saying "Sorry, wrong, after all".
If this is the case I completly withdraw my comments.
But yet again the govt mucking TA & our employers and they wonder why there is problems with employers when we want to go to camp or on deployment etc.
I appear for the first time as an "informed voice" from the centre (if there is such a thing!) here at the Mystery of Defence.
The press took the 3MI thing well during the opening volleys but have recently lost the plot. Bottom line is that "up to 140" were potentially required and the unit in question then headed off to tell all and sundry to get ready to pack. Very much a case of "send three and fourpence..."!!
Only when the final totting up was done and the paperwork prised out of Glasgow were the numbers reduced (a good thing, surely?) and of those actually being called out only four have kicked up a fuss, with two of those being let off the hook.
The really interesting time will come when the second "tranche" is required later in the year!!
I spoke to a mate last night who is being mobilised with 3 MI. Apparantly the numbers required has decreased 3 times since the original request for troops.
I suspect this whole episode has been the usual escapade of politics driving the MOD, and then the MOD finally stating what really is possible.
Very few have changed their minds.
As a note. As good a paper as the Telegraph is not that worried about getting the facts wrong.
The CO of 1RWF wrote to the Editor of the Telegraph to correct some facts in a Telegraph article during the time 1RWF was getting a hard time in Bosnia. The Editor replied thanking the CO for his contribution but caveating by saying that the Telegraphs primarily role was to entertain the reader, even if that does mean distorting the facts.
If the Telegraph follows this policy one can only imagine how little the Tabloids care about getting the facts right. The important thing is to sell papers.
For those who may have missed it, the following was a letter in the Telegraph yesterday
Re: Not an expression of unwillingness
Date: 29 January 2002
SIR - More than 270 officers and soldiers of the 3 (Volunteer) Military Intelligence Battalion were trained and available for mobilisation on Sept. 11, 2001.
Following discussions with the MoD, 100 officers and soldiers were made available on Jan. 14, and 150 others remain available for subsequent operations. A tiny minority - seven - have resigned because their personal circumstances meant they could no longer accommodate 27 days of annual training and the mobilisation liability that comprise the terms of TA service.
All of this met the requirements of the Defence Secretary, who announced that he would mobilise "up to" 140, not 140. It is true that the battalion has been advised that fewer than 140 are now required, but to suggest, as you did, that this is a result of any action or expression of unwillingness by any member of this battalion is inaccurate (report, Jan. 21).
The battalion's officers and non-commissioned officers accept the personal, financial and professional disruption that attends mobilisation willingly and with good grace. The vast majority of volunteer soldiers in this battalion are still today very ready, willing, able and well-prepared to make their own personal commitment to the defence of the realm and its core values, both in the international and the national arena.
Roger Kaye QC, Honorary Colonel, 3rd (Volunteer) Military Intelligence Battalion