I started a small hare in the recent thread about a parachuting acident at Weston on the Green. It sems a bit inappropriate to pursue it in that thread, so I thought I'd start a new one. My concern is the extent to which the armed forces are losing their traditional distinct identity within society. Here are some examples: * Loss of crown immunity * Disappearance of military hospitals * Erosion of the system of military discipline (not, as yet, of discipline itself) * Contractorisation * Influence of civilian agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive When I started wearing khaki, more years ago than I care to remember, military service put you in a distinct and separate category - it was not just another job. Commitment to military service was widely recognised as something special. There was an unspoken - and probably largely unformed - understanding that the military virtues were important for the nation and that inculcating them required military people to do things differently. That, it seems to me, has been eroded. Military service is now seen as just another job, just another public service to be provided at minimum cost and subjected to the same rules as all other public services. Centuries of tradition and experience are being thrown away in favour of performance targets and management fashions. Now, please note, I am most definitely not suggesting that the military services should be a law unto themselves. The supremacy of the civil power is a vital aspect of the way this country works. And there should be proper checks and balances to prevent abuse and to detect and punish it should it occur. However, I feel that our armed forces should be independent, self-sufficient organisations, suffering a minimum of civil administrative and political influence. So, military systems for such things as boards of enquiry should be at least as good as their civilian equivalents but separate from them. The highest standards of health and safety should be maintained, but consonant with the demands of military service. Military accounting should be transparent and effective, but not involve civilian auditors. Military instrument flying and air traffic ratings should be valid for civilian appointments. And so on. I supose the essence of what I am saying is that military service makes us different and we should be treated differently. The danger, I suppose, is that the difference might boil down to being treated worse, as was so often the case in the past. Attend any presentation by the Services Pensions Society to see what I mean. What do you all think?