Tell it like it is.

If this has been seen or discussed before, then I appologise. If not then it is worth an airing.

I received this in an email

"You may have seen retired Lt Cdr Rob H's letter in the Telegraph a couple of
day's ago. You may wish to read the full text of his submission which was,
for obvious reasons, too long for publication (it should have been an
Editorial or full page article).

I dedicated 32 years to the Royal Navy and left just over four years ago
after becoming increasingly despondent about the erosion of service ethos,
under-funding, dispiriting tail-chasing paperwork, reduced standards, and
the destruction of a way of life. Our armed forces, once treasured as the
finest on earth, now reflect much of the tawdry reputation and incompetence
of our national leadership and the social engineering imposed by a
succession of meddling governments and senior civil servants. There was a
time when the Royal Navy's announcement that the boarding party incident had
occurred in Iraqi waters would have been unquestioned because it was held in
such high esteem. Now, its word is even disputed by many of our own
countrymen and women, not to mention the national media.

By and large, service personnel are still the salt of the earth but many of
the younger members no longer have the unshakeable commitment, pride and
belief of their forebears. Their values and priorities lie elsewhere. Such
people regard the armed forces as just another job and a useful step towards
a more rewarding career in civilian life, so why take risks? Not least is
the more general feeling that they, and their profession, are misunderstood
by the decision-makers and unappreciated by the public whose more
comfortable way of life they risk their own lives to defend. Much has been
made of the supposed covenant between the nation and its armed forces. In my
view, the nation has not only broken this but has ground it underfoot.
Sailors, soldiers and airmen on minimum wage are expected to achieve the
impossible with shrinking resources, inappropriate tools, inadequate
training and grudging political and public support. Soldiers in particular
are trained to kill but are expected to behave with impeccable discretion
and forbearance despite the worst provocation. If they shoot someone in the
heat of the moment or make a wrong tactical decision amid the fog of war,
they know they will be hung out to dry, usually after an agonisingly long
period of uncertainty, by a Government populated by lawyers, party political
apparatchiks, ex-trade union officials and spin-doctors who know nothing and
seem to care even less about such split-second life-or-death situations.

The services have been deprived of their dedicated medical facilities and
veterans are given little priority with respect to housing or social after
care. There was a time when the 'Cornwall 15' would have taken it for
granted that their government would move heaven and earth to secure their
release and that the general public would be 100% behind them. Those days
are gone as we have seen from the pathetic response of our Foreign Secretary
and the many antipathetic views expressed on internet message boards and in
the press. What type of culture does this exploitation engender? And what
message does our submissiveness send about the next time our service
personnel are kidnapped and held hostage? With no discernible sign of any
deterrent or retribution following this episode, or the previous one for
that matter, be in no doubt that there will be a next time. In short, our
service people feel increasingly abandoned by those they are expected to
serve without question.

There were occasions when I would have done my job for peanuts because,
perhaps naively, I felt such a strong (and dare I say altruistic) sense of
purpose. Now, individual service people have become pawns in games of
political expediency and spin, aided and abetted by the media. The services
reflect the society they serve (and are actively encouraged to do so) so an
increasing number of youngsters value money and celebrity far higher than
any sense of public duty; hardly surprising when one looks at some of the
sleazy role models in Parliament. Even our cynical Prime Minister shows more
interest in arranging photo opportunities with so-called football heroes,
pop stars and TV personalities than in visiting the returning wounded where
he might risk the ordure of 'bad publicity'. The proud heritage that once
provided service people with an anchor in times of adversity has been
derided and dismantled by a succession of 'Year Zero' politicians and
appointed lackeys who despise anything that happened before their time and
demonstrate no accountability or remorse for the gravest of errors. Even the
symbol of our former maritime pre-eminence has been usurped and turned into
'Kool Britannia'. Discipline, aggression and elitism are taboo words in the
modern lexicon but they are essential qualities for successful war-fighters.
As for patriotism, honour, dignity and self-sacrifice, they're for 'losers'
in today's free-for-all society where self-aggrandisement is prized as a
virtue, rights are more important than responsibilities and image is more
valid than substance. Small wonder that new recruits are imbued with a
touchy-feely, Health & Safety fixated, risk-averse, compensation culture,
instant gratification 'wannabe' attitude that sits uneasily with a selfless
sense of duty and the need to sacrifice one's normal freedoms, safety and,
when necessary, one's life for the greater good.

The anti-submarine frigate HMS Cornwall probably did her best with the
resources she had available; most of our 'fit-for-purpose' patrol vessels
have been sold, scrapped or mothballed. Despite being involved in two major
conflicts (most of the UK personnel serving in Afghanistan are Royal Marines
or Fleet Air Arm) and having other worldwide commitments, the Royal Navy has
to make do with a dwindling number of ships and aircraft, many of which are
inappropriate for current tasks. Owing to the criminally reckless political
decision to scrap the Sea Harrier before ordering its replacement, the Navy
even lacks the organic airpower to protect its ships and the troops,
ammunition, fuel, food, spares and other materiel needed to execute and
sustain operations in the absence of host nation support. Adequate training
is a luxury as successive defence reviews have cut personnel and equipment,
increased administrative paperwork, extended tours of duty, civilianised
shore-based posts that previously provided some manpower flexibility, and
closed down or contracted out training facilities and moved them to ever
more remote parts of the country.

Granting permission for serving personnel to sell their stories to the
tabloids was the next logical step on the road to transforming Britain's
wars into reality TV shows where the lack of proper resources is the
equivalent of a 'Bush-Tucker Trial'. I was embarrassed enough by the
excruciating performance of members of the 'Cornwall 15' in the Iranian 'Big
Brother House' but it took the tacky sale of stories, sanctioned at the
highest level, to complete my shame. Apparently, this was condoned because
Britain's 'official' word is no longer trusted and individuals' own accounts
would prove more credible. What does that say about our country? The
subsequent rescinding of this decision only made us, and our leadership,
look even more ridiculous. Combine this with our participation in an
unpopular war and it will take many years for us to regain our self-respect,
if ever.

During the Second World War, the Royal Navy evacuated 16,500 troops from
Crete while losing many ships to the Luftwaffe owing to the lack of organic
air protection. They carried on because, as Admiral Cunningham said at the
time, "It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to
build a tradition". It has taken this government a little over two weeks to
destroy this hard-won tradition, but it has been busy eroding the
foundations for years."

Full marks say I.
Agree with most of what he says, however would challenge his comment

"but many of the younger members no longer have the unshakeable commitment, pride and belief of their forebears. Their values and priorities lie elsewhere"

Too easy to go for the knee-jerk criticism of young generation of servicemen (non-PC but includes gals!!). Most fine young-ish WOs/SNCOs of today were criticised by previous generations in similar terms.

Newer generation are no better or worse - just a bit different. Give them the challenge and they face it with same courage and dedication. Just look at actions overseas at present.

Wish same could be said of our political leaders - spineless, greedy, self serving, weak, PC and always, always, always blameless when all goes T*ts up
How many more people have to say it before Bliar and his cronies start taking notice? What will it take to make them sit and think 'If I continue along the path that I have sent our forces along, the path will fall out from under them'?

I heartly agree with Lt Cdr Rob H's comments. I only wish they didn't fall on deaf ears.



Book Reviewer
Top bloke - another one to join the ranks of people with the courage to say their bit, albeit after he's retired.
Well said. I thought it was just me getting older and more bitter.

Shame the people that could do something about it won't read it or don't care.
Mostly right, the training is still the best in the world, we just can't do enough of it.

You only have to look at Helmand, or Al Amahra to see the quality of the young poeple in the forces. The Playstation generation can still do it if it has to.
Biped said:
Top bloke - another one to join the ranks of people with the courage to say their bit, albeit after he's retired.
I agree with your sentiment 'Biped', but I get a tiny little feeling that this officer might have had the courage to say all this whilst he was still serving.
I said that sort of thing - is that why I felt obliged to retire!!
It's remarkably similar to a letter I'm drafting for when I leave the RAF. Mine is intended for the RAF News, however, rather than an organ of the standing of the Torygraph.
Well written... and I have to agree that the youth have proven themselves to be made of stern material when the chips are down. They might not of been in the same physical condition as previous generations when reporting for duty but that is easily overcome by effective training.
Struck a cord with me, i couldnt sum it up any better, albeit my young toms are worth their salt (once trained).
Exactly the feelings that will make it easy for me to refuse VENG or continuance.
BAT-CRAB. I know how you feel, I think, but work on your denouement, and please let us have a copy.

I was so lucky to have left he 'mob' less than 30 days before Bliar took over.
Have to agree with every word, Our youngsters however are showing they have it everyday, and to be fair I feel for them. Think its bad now? think how it will be when our young guys are the old and bitter SNCOs
Quite so...I agree with the gent's letter. I might take exception to the constant harping from certain quarter's about "if only he had had said something when he was in a position to do something about it". That phrase could well apply to all of us in the hierachy. Not always the easiest thing to do...preaching counter-doctrine is it??

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