Time for public perception to take a dive for the Army?

MrBane

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#1
So we've had:

1. Some Paras shooting at a poster

2. Allegations of sexual assault

3. A big ******* rant by CGS, effectively making it look like the Army is full of rapists, criminals and general bad bastards.

We all know that the public perception and popularity of the Army (We don't count the Navy and RAF 'cos Joe Public don't give a shit about them) comes and goes with the passing of the tide. Best summed up by Kipling with the poem 'Tommy'.

In recent times, we've had the full support of the country as we went through Telic and Herrick. Yes, there may have been lots of opposition to us being in Iraq in the first place, but most of them were Vegans so their opinion didn't matter.

2007 saw not only the end of major hostilities in Iraq after the JAM were brought onside and they stopped rocketing the shit out of us, but also the founding of Help for Heroes which, whilst it seems intent on helping people with convictions for rape and sexual assault get houses, did a powerhouse of PR work and really brought the country behind us. You couldn't ******* fart without having a H4H Sponsorship sheet for it (though by being so saturated, H4H in itself started to cause damage to our reputation because it made people frankly sick of the ******* concept of H4H and the 'poor soldiers who need our help.).

Herrick helped our cause as well, mainly because of the kinetic nature and the losses sustained. People again disagreed with us being there, but regardless how and why we were there, this nation struggles to be anything other than supportive and full of kindness when its boys are coming back in boxes - because we know that the lads and lassies out fighting are just that, lads and lassies and someone's son or daughter.

With the draw down from Herrick, the public lost interest as it does in these scenarios, and the Army was more or less forgot about. Many people didn't even know until the latest one about the Para's that we actually still had troops out there.

We've also had the latest round of radio and news exposure about Bloody Sunday and calls to revisit it all over again as well, which stirs lots of old and painful memories.

So is it time for public perception to swing against us? Certainly there's enough here to start some key groups thinking about how they perceive us and as I've mentioned elsewhere, the CGS rant, because let's be honest, that's what it is, is not only embarrassing, it also gives the impression (as people who have no connection to the forces have told me) that the army is full of horrible bastards who need to be publicly reprimanded, and I think to be fair, the CGS video does more reputational damage, than the first two incidents put together.

A good marker for how we're currently being viewed is The Sun newspaper. If it's screaming about us, then it's tough times ahead. As it is, these stories only got minimal exposure on their site.

So, thoughts? Having gone from supportive, to a lull, can we see there being a subtle change in attitude towards the Army again, as we've seen time and time before?

Note, this isn't a place to discuss the Paras or the allegation of sexual assault, other threads are out there for that. The CGS rant is fair game though, because I do truly believe it completely skews the public perception of us.
 
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#2
Memories fade quickly. Squaddies will revert to becoming parasites/unwanted. With the new flexible terms of service we seem to be going back to majors on half-pay. Soldiers from Banner are scum, Telic and Herrick heroes, provided they can prove it. The rest of the lads and lasses will leave and get on with it. Some will make it, some survive. Some will thrive.
Plus ca change?
 
#3
the CGS rant, because let's be honest, that's what it is, is not only embarrassing, it also gives the impression (as people who have no connection to the forces have told me) that the army is full of horrible bastards who need to be publicly reprimanded, and I think to be fair, the CGS video does more reputational damage, than the first two incidents put together.
Sadly, I think you're right there. Although Williamson may well have told CGS to broadcast the message, I get the impression that it was a reflexive action which should have been considered for a lot longer than it clearly has, particularly as the sex case has only appeared in the press in the past 24 hours, with no detail at all. That reflects on both Williamson for thinking it was politically necessary and CGS for complying (if he did so without argument, which could have happened).
 
#4
the CGS video does more reputational damage, than the first two incidents put together.
I agree, to make a video and then put it on youtube , not a good idea the CGS should have known better, it just made the issues more prominent in the public eye
I wonder how many takes to get the final result ?
 

MrBane

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#5
Memories fade quickly. Squaddies will revert to becoming parasites/unwanted. With the new flexible terms of service we seem to be going back to majors on half-pay. Soldiers from Banner are scum, Telic and Herrick heroes, provided they can prove it. The rest of the lads and lasses will leave and get on with it. Some will make it, some survive. Some will thrive.
Plus ca change?
Forgot about Banner, it's been everywhere in the radio and news lately. Edited to add that in as another burden.

@wheelchairwarrier For all the speed with which it came out, I suspect at least an hour was lost trying to decide if hands over belt, under belt, behind back, folded, one folded one cupping chin, one foot up on chair, etc. :D

Totally agree though, and I'd suspect as @Whiskybreath may be right in that whilst it was probably a snap order from higher up, CGS if he was told to do it, should've gone, 'Hang on a minute... Let's see what comes out first before we more or less accuse them of being guilty by proxy'.
 

StBob072

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
My thoughts, for what they're worth, are this -

How much part does the media play, for good or bad?

Good, possibly, if things are more transparent.

Bad, possibly, if things which threaten national security, or simply don't need to be pedalled to the general public.
 
#8
So we've had:

1. Some Paras shooting at a poster

2. Allegations of sexual assault

3. A big ******* rant by CGS, effectively making it look like the Army is full of rapists, criminals and general bad bastards.

We all know that the public perception and popularity of the Army (We don't count the Navy and RAF 'cos Joe Public don't give a shit about them) comes and goes with the passing of the tide. Best summed up by Kipling with the poem 'Tommy'.

In recent times, we've had the full support of the country as we went through Telic and Herrick. Yes, there may have been lots of opposition to us being in Iraq in the first place, but most of them were Vegans so their opinion didn't matter.

2007 saw not only the end of major hostilities in Iraq after the JAM were brought onside and they stopped rocketing the shit out of us, but also the founding of Help for Heroes which, whilst it seems intent on helping people with convictions for rape and sexual assault get houses, did a powerhouse of PR work and really brought the country behind us. You couldn't ******* fart without having a H4H Sponsorship sheet for it (though by being so saturated, H4H in itself started to cause damage to our reputation because it made people frankly sick of the ******* concept of H4H and the 'poor soldiers who need our help.).

Herrick helped our cause as well, mainly because of the kinetic nature and the losses sustained. People again disagreed with us being there, but regardless how and why we were there, this nation struggles to be anything other than supportive and full of kindness when its boys are coming back in boxes - because we know that the lads and lassies out fighting are just that, lads and lassies and someone's son or daughter.

With the draw down from Herrick, the public lost interest as it does in these scenarios, and the Army was more or less forgot about. Many people didn't even know until the latest one about the Para's that we actually still had troops out there.

We've also had the latest round of radio and news exposure about Bloody Sunday and calls to revisit it all over again as well, which stirs lots of old and painful memories.

So is it time for public perception to swing against us? Certainly there's enough here to start some key groups thinking about how they perceive us and as I've mentioned elsewhere, the CGS rant, because let's be honest, that's what it is, is not only embarrassing, it also gives the impression (as people who have no connection to the forces have told me) that the army is full of horrible bastards who need to be publicly reprimanded, and I think to be fair, the CGS video does more reputational damage, than the first two incidents put together.

A good marker for how we're currently being viewed is The Sun newspaper. If it's screaming about us, then it's tough times ahead. As it is, these stories only got minimal exposure on their site.

So, thoughts? Having gone from supportive, to a lull, can we see there being a subtle change in attitude towards the Army again, as we've seen time and time before?

Note, this isn't a place to discuss the Paras or the allegation of sexual assault, other threads are out there for that. The CGS rant is fair game though, because I do truly believe it completely skews the public perception of us.
An army of PC angels couldn't win a pillow fight.
 

Auld-Yin

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#9
The six suspects were arrested a week ago. I suspect that this video has been well discussed in the past week and released only after this became public news.
 
#10
I take your point MrBane about Banner. Last year I attended the passing out parade of my nephew at ITC. For a young person who had been through some trouble with the law it was grand to see. How times have changed: a multi-regiment squad, not very big. Half were Rifles, which made for an odd parade with the drill. Lots of older geezers there in the LI/RGJ blazers and ties.
Lots of those old men (apologies if you were there) will have been through the old times which are still going on, and proud as punch to see younger family go on. My granddad came to my passing out parade and he served in WW2.
It’s a continuity. The army and I suppose, regimental system, is built to endure. And although they **** up from time to time, the military we have now will hopefully always do us proud with what they are given.
 

MrBane

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#11
The six suspects were arrested a week ago. I suspect that this video has been well discussed in the past week and released only after this became public news.
I'm not so sure of that. It's such an extraordinary leap to take, that it screams knee-jerk reaction. When they held the meeting to discuss the media impact, it wouldn't surprise me if it was a case of,

"Let's just see what happens and downplay it as ongoing investigations."

Add on the JC incident however, and I think they genuinely shit their pants about it when it came out. I cannot see any sane mind with a weeks worth of thinking time, deciding a Youtube video which humiliates unfairly, 99.9% of the Army as being a good thing,
 

Auld-Yin

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#12
I'm not so sure of that. It's such an extraordinary leap to take, that it screams knee-jerk reaction. When they held the meeting to discuss the media impact, it wouldn't surprise me if it was a case of,

"Let's just see what happens and downplay it as ongoing investigations."

Add on the JC incident however, and I think they genuinely shit their pants about it when it came out. I cannot see any sane mind with a weeks worth of thinking time, deciding a Youtube video which humiliates unfairly, 99.9% of the Army as being a good thing,
Looks like they picked the wrong guy for the top job then!
 
#13
Does this finally mean the end of that mawkish festival of emotional incontinence, "The Millies"?
You mean that event where the non sex offending, politician offending, face of the military is seen?
I hope not.
 
#14
Honestly brethren/sisters, do any of us who are worth a short piss give a feck? We are hated, we are loved, we are heroes, we are a waste of rations. To those that have served and those that are busy serving now, we know the score, civvies and politicians never will, so feck ‘em. If we did/do what what did/do for public recognition and glory none of us would have lasted more than a month, so be proud, be fair, but be alert, coz the army needs lerts!
 
#18
.... Reflecting civvy life or some such bollux from the Blair years was the start of all this. The politicalisation of the Military with PC yes men being put into the top positions, resembling the greasy-pole merchants that put them there was only going to go one way.
 

StBob072

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Book Reviewer
#19
Honestly brethren/sisters, do any of us who are worth a short piss give a feck? We are hated, we are loved, we are heroes, we are a waste of rations. To those that have served and those that are busy serving now, we know the score, civvies and politicians never will, so feck ‘em. If we did/do what what did/do for public recognition and glory none of us would have lasted more than a month, so be proud, be fair, but be alert, coz the army needs lerts!

Yep that's how most old farts feel, but we also have a duty to those younger generations who will hopefully pick up the reins, to present Her Majesty's Armed Forces in a positive light.
 

Sarastro

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#20
The CGS rant is fair game though, because I do truly believe it completely skews the public perception of us.
Agree. Been talking with people about it tonight, both ex-, current and unconnected. All thought it was embarrassingly bad. Those in the mob thought it a poorly done and unconvincing photocopy of the more heartfelt Aussie version from Morrison a few years back (check it out on Youtube).

I think it's probably been a double fault.

First, to the external audience. As you say, it creates an impression which inaccurate, but had been set up by the past 3-4 years of virtue signalling and hand-wringing from Andover. Namely, that the Army has invested a lot of £ and media time into claiming it has turned on a penny to become a super woke organisation within no time at all. Meanwhile, the reality on the ground (for any organisation) is that it takes a lot longer to implement those kind and scale of changes, and the Army - for obvious reasons that the majority of sensible people understand - did not start from a position of right-on politics to begin with. This disparity was always going to break publicly at some point, and so it has. So to cover the fact that the slower adoption of attitudes by soldiers has not matched the unrealistic idea presented by senior officers and politicians, the latter now panic into a kneejerk overreaction to any suggestion that things are not entirely as their as campaign has said. The reality, I suspect, is that the significant majority of the Army are not representative of this (the sexual assault) behaviour, but there is a dedicated minority who still hold pretty backward attitudes. It is going to take time to get them out. That was always going to be the case. The only reason this is remotely a surprise is because of unrealistic expectations created from on high.

Second, the internal audience. The major problem here, I think, is how unconvincing Mark CS looks. However you want to break that down: stance, voice, writing, bizarre mid-90s news anchor bluescreen background. Compare it with the Aussie version. Simple, easy, effective. Morrison clearly means it. Mark CS looks like he's saying someone else's words under duress, in a bad corporate video parody. I mean that quite specifically: he looks like a POW being forced to give a political speech. I doubt anyone inside the Army is convinced by this. There's a reason for that. Who actually believes that in the past 20+ years in the Guards, SF, and 16AA, any infantry officer could have come through and been clubbable enough to get promoted to CGS without, at a minimum, standing silent while lots of other blokes in those units made (even in private) reams of disparaging remarks about women, lizards, clunge, gays, whatever, and displayed bags of unwoke attitudes which are incompatible with what he describes in that video. Making jokes about slotting an unpopular left-wing politician. We are meant to believe this never happened in his earshot without him giving a moral lecture about how it's contrary to V&S?

Anyone?

Bullshit. It's impossible to imagine to anyone who has known those environments. So he is, flat out, being a hypocrite. That is a massive problem when you are taking a moral stance as a leader. What's worse is he is so transparently unconvincing. He doesn't even sound like HE believes it. That is one problem with this new breed of senior officer hyper-focused on the political and presentational: they are incredibly bad at it. They act as if the only audience that matters is the one above them, or outside the Army. In fact, most of the people listening are their subordinates inside the tent: and to those people the message is completely tone deaf. It's an excrably bad strategy. Every time a senior officer makes a move like this where much of the Army think it is quite likely he/she is being hypocritical, dishonest or politically motivated, it strikes a huge blow to the moral component of the entire Army. It tars the entire leadership cadre and officer corps by association, and thus every decision or order they ever make.

CS would have done vastly better if he had released an honest, personalised video, saying: I've not always been perfect in my career. I've not always lived up to this ideal. Times change. This behaviour is not ok. I've changed. lf this is you, you need to change too. Whatever has happened before, this does not happen from now on. This is your warning shot. There will not be another.

Humility. Pursuit of excellence. Treating your soldiers as people, adults and professionals with a brain, rather than children defined by rank or class. I'm sure I've heard of those ideas somewhere before. Not much of them on display in that video.

Organisations change because real leaders get their hands dirty to make them change. It takes time, effort, inspiration, persuasion, purpose and patience. They don't change because the boss says they have changed, and then gets annoyed a year or two later after finding out that not everyone read the memo. Sad but unsurprising that modern British Army officers chronically don't seem to get this.
 

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