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.