The Armed Services are paying with lives for Labour rivalry

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by armchair_jihad, Mar 12, 2007.

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  1. The British Army could draw up an indictment against the British Government. It would not be based on the decisions to go to war in Afghanistan or Iraq. Both were the subjects of national and parliamentary debate at the time that the decisions were made. The indictment would be that the Government failed to back the troops with adequate funding. Whether one is talking about pay and allowances, about equipment, about the numbers of men, about military hospitals, about the shortage of aftercare for the sick, the Government has failed to find the money. It has not honoured its side of the defence covenant.

    Two ministers are responsible. Forget the grey ghosts who have held the post of secretary for defence. None has resigned rather than accept his responsibility for running the Armed Services, in a war on two fronts, without securing adequate financial support. It was the Prime Minister who decided the policy; it was the Chancellor who controlled the funding. If there has been a mismatch between commitments and funding, they must take the responsibility.

    Tony Blair had several reasons for his decision to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq; I found them convincing at the time, whatever errors may have been made since. He wanted to maintain the Anglo-American alliance for defence; he was right to think that the United States is both the most advanced defence power and the most reliable ally. The European powers of Nato have been reluctant to accept their fighting responsibilities in Afghanistan. That supports Mr Blair’s judgment that he should rely on the United States rather than them.

    Mr Blair wanted to drive al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan; he was convinced that Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace throughout the region. The strengths of the post-Saddam insurgency tend to confirm that judgment. Presumably, Mr Blair was also concerned about the future of oil supplies from the Middle East, which is a permanent economic interest for the United Kingdom. He believed that Saddam was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction; he may have used that argument as propaganda, but there is no reason to doubt that he believed it at the time — almost everyone else did, even President Chirac of France.

    The more closely one considers the original arguments for supporting US policy, the more weight they seem to have. At the very least, these were reasons for going to war that could have been accepted in good faith by a responsible and rational statesman. That is all the justification that the Army expects, or can ever expect. What was inexcusable was that defence expenditure, in all its forms, including the pay and welfare of soldiers, was allowed to fall so far behind events.

    The peace dividend, which was composed of defence cuts made after the end of the Cold War, coincided with the outbreak of war in the Middle East. The policy should then have been reconsidered. Defence spending should have been doubled — or thereabouts — after the decisions to go to war that were made in 2002 and 2003. As a share of the national income, defence spending continued to fall, despite the protests of senior officers, made at first privately and then publicly. The Government cannot claim that it was not given warning by the professionals.

    Gordon Brown never quite made clear his attitude to the decision to go to war. He gave sufficient public support to the war to be able to remain a member of the Cabinet. At the same time he allowed people in the Labour Party who opposed the war to believe that his public position did not represent his real opinion, and that he had a considerable sympathy with their point of view. Silence is ambiguity, and he was silent most of the time. Mr Brown’s attitude to defence spending has not changed subsequently. He wants it to be reduced in proportion to the national income, even though British forces are at war.

    Throughout the period of the war, the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor has been deplorable. They were fighting a third war, for the leadership of the Labour Party. The division between them meant that the war was Mr Blair’s business, but paying for the war was Mr Brown’s business. We do not know whether the Prime Minister tried to persuade the Chancellor to increase spending. He could have sacked Mr Brown if he refused to finance the war which was government policy. He did not do so.

    Whereever one looks, the Armed Forces are underfunded. Patrols in Basra are still using vulnerable snatch vehicles in which several soldiers have been killed. The RAF has not yet fitted foam retardant to all its Hercules aircraft, as has been routine in the US Air Force since the 1960s, and as has become universal in Australia and with most other allies. The Hercules has cost lives. The only regiment in the Army that is fully up to strength is the Gurkhas. Even after a 9 per cent rise for privates, recruits to the Army will be paid £10,000 a year less than those to the Metropolitan Police. Half the accommodation for the Army in the United Kingdom is “below standard”. The only 1,000 reservists are engaged in the Middle East, often on work for which they have not been fully trained. By the end of this month there will be no military hospital left in Britain to treat the wounded. Put a finger anywhere into the military pie and it will touch the damage done by ten years of budget cuts. The Americans laugh at the way that the Brits rely on hand-me-downs of US equipment.

    The Army is seriously overstretched in both Afghanistan and in Iraq. This has done serious strategic damage to its morale and future capacity. Soldiers are given extraordinarily little time to spend with their families and the break-up of marriages is common. There is a pathetic group of unsupported ex-servicemen, who may be suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, who are homeless, jobless and wifeless.

    Money alone would not solve these problems, but they certainly cannot be solved without money. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown opted for war on the cheap; British soldiers have to pay the cost.

    Posted in full because I agree with every word.
  2. What a good article. Im impressed
    Im also glad that they are not only bringing Blairs name into it, but Brown aswell. The more these 'pro' forces articles come out, lets hope it starts to ruffle feathers and things start to change.
    Somehow though, I doubt it.
  3. I am getting the slight feeling that the 'abuse' of HM armed forces by Blair and Brown, is about to really bite them on the arrse. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let it be so. There does seem to be gathering momentum.

    I suppose they did at least provide enough helicopters to move troops around afganistan, oh 'ang on a mo. Oh right, well at least there was enough suitable ammunition in theater that we didn't need to go begging to our allies, er well, At least the medical facilities for treating wounded soldiers .... Oh i give up... no wait , at least they preserved our maritime capabilities ... doh, foiled again! I know, at least the people in the MoD have comfy chairs. Sorted, I found one aspect of MoD spending not in decline - office furniture.

  4. All part of Blairs rich legacy...and an almost certainty his successor will be as bad - nice!
  5. Thank you for posting that AJ, living here there was no other way I would have had the chance to read it.

    Last night I was looking at some pictures of Maggie Thatcher visiting a regiment I was attached to (4th/7th RDG) and thinking to myself; "Neither Blair or Brown could do that, y'know".

    Meanwhile, a generation of troops are offering their life to satisfy the whim of the two above named puppets.
  6. I thank you too A J for posting the article.

    I have been whining and whingeing for the best part of ten years about the Blair - Brown 'carve-up' of Great Britain. My problem is that I cannot write like the author of the post, neither do I possess the detailed knowledge. I rely mainly on press reports and wireless and my own 'gut' instinct'.

    In effect, due to the vanities of two flawed and light-weight individuals, we have had TWO Prime Ministers for ten years.

    One of them, " me Tony..", pranced about the world stage acting the great statesman or 'wannabee' war-leader. He appeared on television acting the part of a third rate 'Hugh Grant lookalike' - "look, I'm just an ordinary guy" sort of thing. In short, a third rate, intellectually challenged 'chancer' - more pop-star than politician

    The second 'prime minister', a morose, sour faced, tunnel-visioned, overly Scottish*, grasping, micro-managing, Marxist leaning, 'look at me I wear a crumpled suit when everyone else is in white tie', anchorite with the charisma of an empty crisp packet.

    These two are responsible for all the unsatisfactory aspects of life in Great Britain and in particular the OVERALL STATE OF THE ARMED FORCES.

    History will judge them both, jointly and severally, to be the worst leaders of our once great nation in modern history. Meanwhile we have to pay their pensions and watch while doubtless they will be showered with honours**.

    PS * I am not anti-Scottish at all. I am Welsh and was having similar thoughts about Kinnock but luckily Mr. Major beat him in 1992.

    PPS ** Remember when Blair was all over 'I'm Scottish' at the beginning of his 'reign'? Wonder if, like Sir Alec Douglas-Home, he'll accept the 'Thistle' instead of the 'Garter'. Probably not, as he won't be able to show off at Windsor Castle every year.
  7. You fight tomorrow mornings war with what you had in the locker end of play, evening before.
    If you do not have the correct equipemnt or material/manpower then in a national emergency the Armed Forces will willingly pay the price in blood, guts and broken bodies. Always did always will.
    Its part of the contract that TOM signs and it's what he has done since before Parliment lopped off the head of the Old King and formed The Parlimentry Army that we have today.
    We are now 4 years into Britians latest adventure, plenty of time to have found the money and organised the kit required.
    That this does not seem to have happened. That the Nue Labour Governemnt cannot/willnot provied for the warriors who fight in combat, let alone the wounded troops who have fought in their overseas adventures says so much for the Squeaky Clean who came in 97 to Save the cuntry from Tory sleaze.
  8. Swampy when were u at 4/7 dRAGOON BABOONS ? Detmold 89 - 90 ?
  9. In 2001, an august body called the Defence Scientific Advisory Council, reporting directly to the Secretary of State for Defence, submitted an unclassified report “Equipping Dismounted Soldiers to fulfil their Roles”.

    It started by saying (something like) “the common denominator is dismounted close combat, the man, the section etc moving on its feet to close, engage with and defeat the enemy”.

    Obvious you would say, but it then went on to completely trash the process by which the MoD, and by extension the Government, fulfilled its obligation to equip soldiers to fulfil their task. Anyone reading it, especially at Ministerial level, would be left in no doubt whatsoever that they (MoD/Government) had failed, and were continuing to fail, in their Duty of Care.

    Much of the report concentrated on the inescapable fact that the soldier remains an unsophisticated essential in modern warfare, and the MoD’s task, nay obligation, is to ensure he can survive and continue to excel in an increasingly sophisticated (e.g. digitised) battlespace.

    And then they signed the BOWMAN contract, cut the number of Infantry Battalions, slashed the budget and sent the country to war.

  10. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Give them inadequate rifles, inadequate armour, inadequate radios, inadequate top-cover, inadequate food, inadequate water, inadequate ammunition, inadequate vehicles, inadequate money and ship them both out to the hottest part of Afghan from their inadequate accomodation in the UK as punishment.

    When they get back, don't provide them them with proper PTSD support and then dump them on the streets.

    After a year of this, allow them back into power and see what they do.
  11. Saddle us with another term of inadequate government, perhaps?
  12. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Oh yeah, I forgot, for them to learn the error of their ways, they a: need a concience and b: can't be sociopaths.

    I retract my point, and apologise.
  13. Nah mate, it was 10 years previous in a misty place where no birds sing (Fally).

    My reference to Maggy visiting the regiment (probably Detmold 89/90?) relates to pictures on one of the lads' websites, the purpose of my reference being that neither B or B could do that. :thumright:
  14. The country doesn't care about the military, unless the fire/bin men go on strike then its the military to the rescue and we are loved again, the government use us to sort out their dirty work on the cheap and dont really support the front line.