The army’s been hit by Brown’s unfriendly fire

From The Sunday Times
July 26, 2009
The army’s been hit by Brown’s unfriendly fire
Michael Portillo
Britain’s military forces are characterised by self-discipline. They submit to a code of conduct which includes the cheerful acceptance of orders from above. Generals are no exception and cope uncomplainingly with the demands placed on them by ministers.

The public criticisms of the resources provided by the government for the Afghan campaign, voiced by Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of the defence staff, and Sir Richard Dannatt, the chief of the general staff, are extremely unusual. That the two most senior officers in the chain of command have broken with the restraints of a service culture imbued in them since they enlisted as young men suggests an unprecedented level of exasperation.
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It isn't a generals job to simply submit to orders from above - Hitlers generals tried that as a defence at the Nuremberg trials after WW2. Part of his job is to advise the govt (and HMQ) on matters appertaining to the military and the conduct of war(s). The general (any general) has a duty to avoid unnecessary waste of lives and to ensure a speedy and successfull end to the campaign. However, where the govt doesnt listen to him and if he is convinced that govt intransigence is costing lives or needlessly prolonging the campaign, he is entitled to put his case elsewhere.

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