This silence on the Army speaks volumes

#1
In full

General Sir Richard Dannatt must seem an increasingly turbulent priest. Warning of a growing gulf between the nation and its Army, and calling for an outward and visible sign of public esteem in homecoming parades, he risks the sword. But he does so through hard-headed professionalism. Recall what he said when he became Chief of the General Staff: "I want an Army in five years' time." The words of Churchill, who was first a soldier of exceptional bravery, best explain: "The Army is not like a limited liability company, to be reconstructed, remodelled, liquidated and refloated from week to week as the money market fluctuates.

It is not an inanimate thing, like a house, to be pulled down or enlarged or structurally altered at the caprice of the tenant or owner; it is a living thing. If it is bullied, it sulks; if it is unhappy, it pines; if it is harried, it gets feverish." Churchill might have added "if it is not understood, it gets anxious". But then, how could he have imagined a government that did not understand the Forces?

Des Browne claims he does understand. In his speech at Bournemouth on Tuesday he complained that it had been fashionable for decades to say that Labour doesn't get defence: "But nothing can be further from the truth. We understand defence and our Armed Forces' contribution to it. We understand them." He went on to reveal there would be no more money for them. Des Browne has blown his only excuse for the state of the Armed Forces: not understanding them. But what minister who understands the Forces could cut manpower and force an infantry reorganisation in the middle of two bloody campaigns like Iraq and Afghanistan?

His inability to wrest money from the Chancellor is not surprising. When the Prime Minister spoke the day before, there were not two complete sentences on the Forces. It made the usually taciturn former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie say that with the nation at war in two countries he found the silence extraordinary. And where was the Defence Secretary sitting during the speech? In the second row of ministers. It speaks volumes.

Another former CDS, Lord Inge, believes the situation is as bad as in the late 1970s, when morale in the uncherished Forces was dangerously low, if for different reasons. But at that time there was at least the prospect of a Conservative government with an informed commitment to defence.

Will David Cameron be able to say anything in Blackpool next week to reassure the nation, its soldiers, sailors and airmen, and their families, that there is a party which truly understands and is prepared to do what it takes?

Eighteen months ago he set up a National and International Security Policy Study Group, co-chaired by the FCO's former political director, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, and Lord King of Bridgwater. Since the rot began with Tom King's disastrous Options for Change a decade and a half ago, it seems only fair that he should be asked to "show again".

Their report, Security in an Unquiet World, identifies a shortfall of 25 to 30 per cent in the procurement programme and is worried about the "climate of complaint", blaming senior officers for not getting their message across to ministers. It makes many technical suggestions and recommends "a Defence Review once in every Parliament to ensure our Armed Forces are provided with the right capabilities in adequate quantity".

This is all very well, but it is hardly the gut feeling for defence that set Margaret Thatcher's government on the course of rescuing the Armed Forces. What more is there to review? Even if the Army were to come out of Iraq tomorrow, says Lord Guthrie, the demands on it would not reduce. Gordon Brown is already talking about intervention in Darfur.

Churchill identified one more stage after sulking, pining and feverishness. If the Army is sufficiently disturbed (and this is also true of the Navy and RAF), "it will wither and dwindle and almost die; when it comes to this last, serious condition, it is only revived by lots of time and lots of money".

Boris Johnson urged the nation in these pages yesterday to dig into its pockets for Service charities such as Help for Heroes. Let him also urge his party to commit itself unequivocally at Blackpool to dig deep into a Conservative government's budget to rescue the Armed Forces from, in Churchill's words, "this last, serious condition".
# Allan Mallinson, the author and military historian, was a soldier for 35 years

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/09/28/do2806.xml
 
#2
Not bad for a cavalry officer...
 
#3
Wise words indeed, unfortunately they fall on deaf ears
 
#4
General Sir Richard Dannatt must seem an increasingly turbulent priest. Warning of a growing gulf between the nation and its Army, and calling for an outward and visible sign of public esteem in homecoming parades, he risks the sword.
When the Prime Minister spoke the day before, there were not two complete sentences on the Forces. It made the usually taciturn former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie say that with the nation at war in two countries he found the silence extraordinary. And where was the Defence Secretary sitting during the speech? In the second row of ministers. It speaks volumes.
The silence is understandable, with politicians simply reflecting the public mood (as they should). British involvement in Iraq was, and is, highly unpopular and few understand why British troops are in Afghanistan. Many people – of all political persuasions – hate the close British collaboration with Bush. They see it as a national humiliation:



*Yo Blair!*

In these circumstances, home-coming parades would be absurd, and probably counter-productive. It would be reasonable for the millions who opposed British involvement in Iraq, and opposed British linkage with Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ to boycott the parades, or turn up and demonstrate against them.

I’ve no problem making the distinction between politicians who make stupid mistakes and entirely honourable troops who then suffer because of them. But when political mistakes are made involving the military you can’t expect the public to wave flags when the troops come home.

What’s needed are vigorous grassroots organisations campaigning on behalf of the military, putting the views of ordinary soldiers on the front line, those suffering directly because of the mistakes of politicians. The word ‘BAFF’ springs to mind. You can’t expect the top brass to make all the running.
 
#5
I am sure that I am not the only ex military person to watch the likes of Des Browne on TV, and think to themselves "this person has no idea what he is talking about" should it not be a requirement of the job as minister for the armed forces that he has at least limited time in one of the services. It always make me laugh when he is telling the press how the man on the ground feels!!!
 
#6
annakey said:
General Sir Richard Dannatt must seem an increasingly turbulent priest. Warning of a growing gulf between the nation and its Army, and calling for an outward and visible sign of public esteem in homecoming parades, he risks the sword.
When the Prime Minister spoke the day before, there were not two complete sentences on the Forces. It made the usually taciturn former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie say that with the nation at war in two countries he found the silence extraordinary. And where was the Defence Secretary sitting during the speech? In the second row of ministers. It speaks volumes.
The silence is understandable, with politicians simply reflecting the public mood (as they should). British involvement in Iraq was, and is, highly unpopular and few understand why British troops are in Afghanistan. Many people – of all political persuasions – hate the close British collaboration with Bush. They see it as a national humiliation:...
Oh FFS wake up. Labour sent the forces on those "unpoular" missions. They should be shouting to the rafters the reasons and objectives. They are supposed to be our elected leaders. Silence on this is despicable.
 
#7
Des Browne claims he does understand. In his speech at Bournemouth on Tuesday he complained that it had been fashionable for decades to say that Labour doesn't get defence: "But nothing can be further from the truth. We understand defence and our Armed Forces' contribution to it. We understand them." He went on to reveal there would be no more money for them. Des Browne has blown his only excuse for the state of the Armed Forces: not understanding them.
So if he and the government understand defence, as claimed, the only logical conclusion is that they really do hold the Armed Forces in contempt. I hope that gives you all a warm and fuzzy feeling... :x
 
#9
DozyBint said:
Des Browne claims he does understand. In his speech at Bournemouth on Tuesday he complained that it had been fashionable for decades to say that Labour doesn't get defence: "But nothing can be further from the truth. We understand defence and our Armed Forces' contribution to it. We understand them." He went on to reveal there would be no more money for them. Des Browne has blown his only excuse for the state of the Armed Forces: not understanding them.
So if he and the government understand defence, as claimed, the only logical conclusion is that they really do hold the Armed Forces in contempt. I hope that gives you all a warm and fuzzy feeling... :x
you only have to remember what tony was up to during the falklands to understand his and Gordons current attempts at populism. He was decrying the army and trying to detract attention from the boys by pushing forward his own mandate (education, education, education) then prmptly comes to power and starts six wars. :x

des brown has no idea what so ever i know both him and his family....nuff said
 
#10
annakey said:
In these circumstances, home-coming parades would be absurd, and probably counter-productive. It would be reasonable for the millions who opposed British involvement in Iraq, and opposed British linkage with Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ to boycott the parades, or turn up and demonstrate against them.
I’ve no problem making the distinction between politicians who make stupid mistakes and entirely honourable troops who then suffer because of them. But when political mistakes are made involving the military you can’t expect the public to wave flags when the troops come home.
I realise that by disagreeing with you I'm putting myself in your "sh1t-thick" squaddie bracket - nice touch for an arrogant crusty - but clearly you DO have a problem making the distinction between the politicians who make the decisions and the Armed Forces who carry them out.

If you were able to do so you would not be suggesting that the Armed Forces should be held accountable for politicians actions and punished by public rejection or even demonstrations against them!

You post some cack Annarkey but the above is poor even by your standards.
 
#11
DozyBint said:
Des Browne claims he does understand. In his speech at Bournemouth on Tuesday he complained that it had been fashionable for decades to say that Labour doesn't get defence: "But nothing can be further from the truth. We understand defence and our Armed Forces' contribution to it. We understand them." He went on to reveal there would be no more money for them. Des Browne has blown his only excuse for the state of the Armed Forces: not understanding them.
So if he and the government understand defence, as claimed, the only logical conclusion is that they really do hold the Armed Forces in contempt. I hope that gives you all a warm and fuzzy feeling... :x
Folks,

This is no more than what we have been saying, with no visible reaction from HMG, for some time now. This is no more than another nail in the coffin that is HM Forces.

Does this story really surprise anyone? It shouldn't. We have all known the comtempt that Brown has for us from before he even took post as Chancellor.

How long until the lid closes?

PS Does anyone have the real figures for recruitment and leavers within the Army. I'd love to see them.
 
#12
Perturbed said:
annakey said:
General Sir Richard Dannatt must seem an increasingly turbulent priest. Warning of a growing gulf between the nation and its Army, and calling for an outward and visible sign of public esteem in homecoming parades, he risks the sword.
When the Prime Minister spoke the day before, there were not two complete sentences on the Forces. It made the usually taciturn former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie say that with the nation at war in two countries he found the silence extraordinary. And where was the Defence Secretary sitting during the speech? In the second row of ministers. It speaks volumes.
The silence is understandable, with politicians simply reflecting the public mood (as they should). British involvement in Iraq was, and is, highly unpopular and few understand why British troops are in Afghanistan. Many people – of all political persuasions – hate the close British collaboration with Bush. They see it as a national humiliation:...
Oh FFS wake up. Labour sent the forces on those "unpoular" missions. They should be shouting to the rafters the reasons and objectives. They are supposed to be our elected leaders. Silence on this is despicable.
I agree they should be, but they won't, for venal political reasons. You know what a dirty business politics is, and Iraq was Blair's poll tax. He made a massive mistake and the rest of his crew are running for cover. I admire Dannatt for speaking out - all power to his elbow. But each time an eighteen year old is killed (whilst occupying a trench dug by the Taliban to fight the Soviets while missiles provided by Ronald Reagan streak up at British helicopters) the soldiers themselves should also be putting their case, in their own way, in their own language, through organisations which they control. It's too important to be left to Dannatt.
 
#13
Strait_Jacket said:
annakey said:
In these circumstances, home-coming parades would be absurd, and probably counter-productive. It would be reasonable for the millions who opposed British involvement in Iraq, and opposed British linkage with Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ to boycott the parades, or turn up and demonstrate against them.
I’ve no problem making the distinction between politicians who make stupid mistakes and entirely honourable troops who then suffer because of them. But when political mistakes are made involving the military you can’t expect the public to wave flags when the troops come home.
I realise that by disagreeing with you I'm putting myself in your "sh1t-thick" squaddie bracket - nice touch for an arrogant crusty
Follow the link... :D


but clearly you DO have a problem making the distinction between the politicians who make the decisions and the Armed Forces who carry them out.

If you were able to do so you would not be suggesting that the Armed Forces should be held accountable for politicians actions and punished by public rejection or even demonstrations against them!

You post some cack Annarkey but the above is poor even by your standards.
I've not suggested that. I've suggested that Dannatt's propaganda exercise is insufficient. The British public should be informed of the effects of their politcial choices, of the mistakes made in their names by the politicians they elected. Who better to do so than those actually getting it in the neck?
 
#14
annakey said:
Strait_Jacket said:
annakey said:
In these circumstances, home-coming parades would be absurd, and probably counter-productive. It would be reasonable for the millions who opposed British involvement in Iraq, and opposed British linkage with Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ to boycott the parades, or turn up and demonstrate against them.
I’ve no problem making the distinction between politicians who make stupid mistakes and entirely honourable troops who then suffer because of them. But when political mistakes are made involving the military you can’t expect the public to wave flags when the troops come home.
I realise that by disagreeing with you I'm putting myself in your "sh1t-thick" squaddie bracket - nice touch for an arrogant crusty
Follow the link... :D
Fair do's.

annakey said:
but clearly you DO have a problem making the distinction between the politicians who make the decisions and the Armed Forces who carry them out.

If you were able to do so you would not be suggesting that the Armed Forces should be held accountable for politicians actions and punished by public rejection or even demonstrations against them!

You post some cack Annarkey but the above is poor even by your standards.
I've not suggested that. I've suggested that Dannatt's propaganda exercise is insufficient. The British public should be informed of the effects of their politcial choices, of the mistakes made in their names by the politicians they elected. Who better to do so than those actually getting it in the neck?
You may not even have realised it but that is exactly what you suggest. political mistakes involving the deployment of the Armed Forces could justifiably lead to the public rejecting those forces or actively protesting against them should they be offered a welcome home parade That is how I would paraphrase the general thrust of your posts.

Back tracking and saying the public need to hear that the government is crap from us is botox, if they can't figure it out for themselves why would they listen to anyone else?
 
#15
Can we drop the "P" word? Gen Dannatt's words are anything but an exercise in what this Government excels.
 
#16
Face facts. Defence spending is at the bottom of the heap as far as Labour is concerned and that is not going to change, judging by Brown's speech.

Ergo, we end up with a "broken" Army or reduced commitments. My guess is no more than a BG in Iraq and Afghan's in the balance as soon as they can get away with it.

Themanwho said:
Not bad for a cavalry officer...
Started off as Kings Own Border, I think.
 
#17
Strait_Jacket said:
annakey said:
Strait_Jacket said:
annakey said:
In these circumstances, home-coming parades would be absurd, and probably counter-productive. It would be reasonable for the millions who opposed British involvement in Iraq, and opposed British linkage with Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ to boycott the parades, or turn up and demonstrate against them.
I’ve no problem making the distinction between politicians who make stupid mistakes and entirely honourable troops who then suffer because of them. But when political mistakes are made involving the military you can’t expect the public to wave flags when the troops come home.
I realise that by disagreeing with you I'm putting myself in your "sh1t-thick" squaddie bracket - nice touch for an arrogant crusty
Follow the link... :D
Fair do's.

annakey said:
but clearly you DO have a problem making the distinction between the politicians who make the decisions and the Armed Forces who carry them out.

If you were able to do so you would not be suggesting that the Armed Forces should be held accountable for politicians actions and punished by public rejection or even demonstrations against them!

You post some cack Annarkey but the above is poor even by your standards.
I've not suggested that. I've suggested that Dannatt's propaganda exercise is insufficient. The British public should be informed of the effects of their political choices, of the mistakes made in their names by the politicians they elected. Who better to do so than those actually getting it in the neck?
You may not even have realised it but that is exactly what you suggest. political mistakes involving the deployment of the Armed Forces could justifiably lead to the public rejecting those forces or actively protesting against them should they be offered a welcome home parade That is how I would paraphrase the general thrust of your posts.

Back tracking and saying the public need to hear that the government is crap from us is botox, if they can't figure it out for themselves why would they listen to anyone else?
I remember Vietnam and the breast beating that went on, and still goes on, about how returning troops didn't get ticker-tape parades, how politicians tried to sweep them under the carpet, how high levels of mental illness among veterans were ignored etc etc. It's unreasonable imv to expect the British public to line Whitehall cheering for veterans of a war which a large proportion of that public said, actively, they didn't want. And then, to add insult to injury, were ignored and lied to by the politicians.

When soldiers are made by politicians to fight unpopular, mistaken, wars one thing you can do is educate the public so (a) they don't elect those politicians again (b) they pressure them to disengage the troops and (c) spread propaganda showing the precise human cost amongst the troops of the politicians' mistakes.

The best people to do (c) are the troops themselves. They're at the sharp end so they speak with authority. Which is why, of course, the gov has tightened up the disclosure regs and are nervous of forums such as this.

But it's asking too much for 'homecoming parades'. It won't be VE Day.
 
#18
AnnaKey,
Are you suggesting we all write books, BLOGs or go on strike?

One Word (which is actually an abbreviation):

[align=center]DIN[/align]

Are you SVEN?
 
#20
hellfyyr said:
AnnaKey,
Are you suggesting we all write books, BLOGs or go on strike?
No. I'm suggesting you tell the simple, unvarnished truth. I know it's hard because of the legal environment (designed, in part, to prevent it being told) and accept that security comes first, but much of the Iraq and Afghan action is hidden away from the British public. It does you no good imo.

Are you SVEN?
:?

 

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