The Armys profile and the deaths in Basra

#1
Watching the BBC news last night and hearing the outline details of two more deaths in Basra, it brought home to me the difficulties which we, the military, face in terms of our public profile. Can there be any more graphic example of this than the fact that when two men die fighting for their country the national braodcaster cannot even get the name of their regiment right? The two dead men being, apparently, from The Second Battalion, The Royal Anglican Regiment.

There has been a huge amount of discussion on ARRSE about recruiting and retention problems; media and popular misconceptions of what it is to be a soldier; all the things which make us different to society at large. Disparities of expectation - '5% of sqaddies test positive for drugs...' with not a hint of acknowledgment that 70% of the civilian population spend their every weekend as high as kites. What can we do about it, or ought we simply to be resigned to the fact that the uncaring masses don't deserve us any more than the politicans who use and abuse us for their own sordid ends?





Anyone who's first thought involves the letters K.A.P.E.: have another go.
 
#2
I agree with your sentiment; too expand slightly; I am not sure how many taxpayers realise that they have the best soldiers in the world, at a very low cost, who are on a par with, or outperform, every other nation's soldiers. Their actions in the most difficult of environments and situations are, almost exclusively, professional and humane. Our soldiers are outstanding national diplomats who should be cherished and resourced by the Govt who uses them as a political tool.

Politicians' paltry words do not constitute support - real, hard cash, spent on the best eqpt and resources for soldiers is support. There are too many politicians who take soldiers for granted and who seldom vote for an increase in the defence budget or for additional resources to be alocated to the hard-pressed forces.

So - no answer, just an echo of fas-et-gloria's comments.
 
#3
The Anglican bit is an unfortunate, bit I believe it was just a slip of the tongue. IIRC the Queen Mother did the same when naming a locomotive on the Liv ST - Colchester line.

I'd be more impressed with the BBC if they had a link on their main page for defence matters.

World
UK
England
Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Business
Politics
Health
Education
Science/Nature
Technology
Entertainment FFS !

What do the BBC show on a regular basis - Trooping the Colour, and about 30% of what they say is wrong.
 
#4
This is nothing new. I remember my Dad making exactly the same point back in the 70s.

Showed me a daily newspaper, front page was some shite about the latest goings on with some celebrity or other and buried on the bottom of page 6 was a story about a soldier being killed in NI.

Nothing that has been tried to raise public awareness of what the troops actually do ever seems to work for long.

Might be worth trying a bit of what the Spams do?

Troops in uniform whilst out of camp shopping, travelling etc. The public would then start to actually SEE some soldiers and realise that these people are part of the local community.

Of course this means that the troops in question would have to behave impeccably.
 
#5
tattybadger said:
real, hard cash, spent on the best eqpt and resources for soldiers is support. .

[irony]
There is a problem with this......You! All of you!

You go out and do a top job with the "below par" equipment you are issued. And then go on about needing better equipment. You then have the penny pinchers say - "why, you don't need it, your doing a good job already with what you have already got!" It then goes on the back burner until the said piece of equipment is a deperate need so it is then rushed through and badly done!

So, stop doing such a good job and you might get the kit you need!!!!
[/irony]

OS
 
#6
I think the majority of joe public hold the armed forces in high esteem.However they realise that we are a volunteer force,and in that respect we go into it with our eye's wide open,knowing the pitfalls and what may befall us.Police/Paramedics/Nurses are held in the same view,probably not so high for the old bill,but in the main they believe we entered into our chosen service knowing the dangers.We have always been a tool of the Government of the day,as in any country,we can't expect anything different. Better to be used by a democratic body than to be our own masters and do what we perceive to be best for the country/world.Funding has always been an issue,one which will never be satisfied.I for one think our submarine(nuclear)force is funding that can be best utilised somewhere else,in to-days conflicts/peacekeeping et al, do we really require such an expensive second/third option. Still it keeps our seat at the Security Council I suppose.

Fas,keep your chin up mate,there are more people that admire what the military does,than dislike it,of that I'm sure.
 
#7
Steven said:
This is nothing new. I remember my Dad making exactly the same point back in the 70s...
Interesting point, Steven.

But "Things were the same in the Seventies" not necessarily the same thing as "Things have always been like this".
 
#8
I'm grateful.

The uniform outside camp idea is a good one, in my civilian opinion.
 
#9
I spent from 0830-0930 flicking from BBC1-news24-sky waiting to see the report on the mortar attack. Apart from the 3 injured in mortar attack running along the bottom of news 24 and a 10 second bit on sky mortar attack at Amara that’s the lot. On radio 2 at 9 it was the top storey and a long peace with more info.

It is down to the news editors and their lack of interest.
 
#12
The uniform outside camp idea is a good one, in my civilian opinion

I totally agree, I once saw someone in DPM trousers and a scottish infantry fleese standing at central station and it made me look him up and down a few times... i'd say lookin in admiration is slightly too big a word but I certainly held him in high regard.

The press reports:

Bullying
Deaths in Iraq and the very occasional suicide
X amount wounded
Deepcut deaths
Violent initiation ceremonies
Etc

No bloody wonder my generation don't want to join up hearing all that negative malarkey, they're far too content with the big tv's, comfy seats, central heating and action computer games...


[edit] - the americans have the right idea, although slightly far fetched possibly... watch the video

American TV advert for the military
 
#13
Outstanding - the point is that was how it was spelt in the news reports. The 2 posters, fas and whiffler, were quoting it to make their points.

Edited for mlar grammar.
 
#14
hackle said:
Steven said:
This is nothing new. I remember my Dad making exactly the same point back in the 70s...
Interesting point, Steven.

But "Things were the same in the Seventies" not necessarily the same thing as "Things have always been like this".
True but you have to go back to the days of national service to see any difference in public attitudes and awareness.

Still think it is down to the general unwashed not seeing squaddies in uniform out and about and behaving themselves.

We hide away in some barracks miles from anywhere or disguise ourselves as civies when out and about, it might * have made some sense when we were the target of choice but not anymore.

*Still not 100% convinced that it ever made the slightest difference.
 
#15
I have a perfect example of why the army is having recruiting problems.

I was speaking to my cousin, a typical civvie. Although im a civvie, im a military inclined civvie, hes just a typical civvie.

Our conversation went something like this (i can't remember my exact words, but i can remember his):

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

me "... and one of the guys killed in Iraq the other day was 19, our age, which is shocking"

him "fair, but he wants to risk his life, i dont"

me "he doesnt WANT to risk his life, hes doing a job, and he's doing it for us"

him "nah, he's doing it for the government"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a typical attitude towards what the military do and it's this attitude that has to be changed before anything will improve in terms of recruitment... IMO
 
#16
Sadly this all has a familiar ring to it. As far as having our Army properly represented to the British public, vie the media etc, I think we are beset by two problems:

a) an almost universal ignorance on the part of the public (and, by extension, the media) of the modern British Army and what it actually means to be a soldier in it.
b) a similarly significant detachment of every politician in the country from the military (and by that I mean previous service, family connection etc).

As I travel around the People's Republic I find that the Army is held by most folks in extremely high regard. There are those of course who are indifferent (mostly the young) and a small minority who are openly hostile. On balance though I think we still enjoy the unqualified support of a large percentage of the British public for what we are trying to do around the world. However, what undermines this most is unblanced reporting of what we get up to, largely I suspect because of the 2 problems above. Throughout the Troubles in NI and elsewhere in subsequent ops we have often fallen foul of the careless (and at times vindictive) pen of the journalist. I'm afraid the maxim has always been sort of 'do ten things well and one badly and guess which one you will be called to account for'. Even when articles are positive or casualties are being reported, facts are often mangled and this just narks soldiers and upsets their families.

Over the past 3 decades or so I have sadly become resigned to seeing the Army poorly reported in the media. Those stories that would be guaranteed to reinforce all the positive messages about us tend to be short, inaccurate or buried in the depths of the papers. Those that seek to sensationalise or vilify the Army always enjoy prime position at the head of the news or on page 1. What doesn't help is that the thirst for instant news often means that facts are not properly verified before they are published and we all know that first impressions are pretty hard to budge.

Perhaps we ought to have our own Press Corps?
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#17
Steven said:
hackle said:
Steven said:
This is nothing new. I remember my Dad making exactly the same point back in the 70s...
Interesting point, Steven.

But "Things were the same in the Seventies" not necessarily the same thing as "Things have always been like this".
True but you have to go back to the days of national service to see any difference in public attitudes and awareness.

Still think it is down to the general unwashed not seeing squaddies in uniform out and about and behaving themselves.

We hide away in some barracks miles from anywhere or disguise ourselves as civies when out and about, it might * have made some sense when we were the target of choice but not anymore.

*Still not 100% convinced that it ever made the slightest difference.
I used to work in the Barracky bit of HQ LAND ....and there was a a fair amount of debate about this continued " Ghetto-ising " of the military. One fairly radical idea was to put new build accom for soldiers in the town centre.....

Siting Army barracks away from centres of population is not an Irish War era phenomenon...it goes back to Victorian times, when the Tommy eulogised in Kipling's poem was all too often involved in drunken antics in town.....the Navy recognised in 1999 that seeing people in uniform on our streets and railway stations was an important factor in keeping the military in the public mind and had an impact on recruitment too.

RN experimented with allowing naval Pers to travel in uniform, attend public events etc...it was NOT mandatory and RM pers were left to do their own thing in light of their NI involvement.....not sure if they still do or that the Army has had direction FROM AG and followed suit ?

In Garrison towns like Andover and Amesbury you quite often see lads in rig in supermarkets etc......but London is a different kettle of fish.....I walked down Shepherd's Bush High Street wearing CS95 and boots with a civvy fleece on top about two years ago( yeah mixed rig, mea culpa) and collected for Combat Stress wearing deserts and a CS tee on May 6th around Waterloo........given the kind of clothes you see people wearing in London it is quite astonishing the looks you get....

Le Chevre
 
#18
Oneshot said:
tattybadger said:
real, hard cash, spent on the best eqpt and resources for soldiers is support. .

[irony]
There is a problem with this......You! All of you!

You go out and do a top job with the "below par" equipment you are issued. And then go on about needing better equipment. You then have the penny pinchers say - "why, you don't need it, your doing a good job already with what you have already got!" It then goes on the back burner until the said piece of equipment is a deperate need so it is then rushed through and badly done!

So, stop doing such a good job and you might get the kit you need!!!!
[/irony]

OS
This really deserves another thread of its own.

On the other hand, there is mileage in the 'wearing uniform in public' argument - arguably the most significant and lasting damage PIRA ever inflicted on the army was forcing us to withdraw from our wider society. Forty years ago, even where there was wire around camps, it certainly wasn't hesian-ed/ mortar screened.

The significant lack of a senior presence at MoD in Media relations has hurt us badly - but its removal reflects political concerns about the government's ability to spin stories when the army was telling the world the naked truth. :roll:

Many people - to the extent that they ever see anyone in uniform at all - see cadets walking to their drill halls [sic].

How many ACIOs are there left in the UK? That's the only other possibility, unless you happen to be up late on a Saturday night in November and stagger home through a bunch of old blokes in MacIntoshes and funny hats standing in the morning drizzle.
 
#19
Horridlittleman said:
Outstanding - the point is that was how it was spelt in the news reports. The 2 posters, fas and whiffler, were quoting it to make their points.

Edited for mlar grammar.
Apologies to all concerned, as an ex Poacher 1973 - 74 (still serving but no longer Inf) It is such pain in the ARRSE to see the Regimental Name misspelt, it really does insult to injury.
 
#20
There now appaers no good reason why all ranks should not be required to wear military uniforma at all times when on duty and wnem travelling to or from duty.

The profile of the British Services is particularly low in the Public eye, and this may be attributed in part to the fact that we are seen so infrequently. So why not wear uniform more and be proud of it!?
 

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