Have just read some of the blather elsewhere on this forum over Tim Collins' comments to Torygraph re Civil Service jealously toward the forces and further bitter comments on how he is now building a career in the "media." (Quick tip for the good colonel: Instead of using the politician's practice of speaking in broad and vague generalities, how about buttressing your contention with some concrete examples? Just a thought.) Anyway that leads to this question for the forum. Given that the forces are having their money and manpower slashed to the bone, who can or should speak on their behalf and in their defense? I can tell you who can't or won't. - The defence sec and the MOD bureaucracy will fight their corners only so hard (they are part of the government); - Serving troops are obviously tongue tied (and for good reason, the UK being a democracy); - High-profile ex-servicemen such as Dannet, Collins, McNab et al have little or no training in the dark arts of spin-doctoring and so are reactive rather than proactive in their communications (ie they write books and answer phone calls from hacks, but are only tactical, not stratetic: they don't have an overall campaign) - Moreover, they are not allied with or partnering with each other; - Nobody else apart from a couple of (from where I am sitting) ineffective and possibly self-interested/self-serving NGOs is picking up the baton. I am NOT a soldier, but having worked at a PR multinational (before turning to the more honest but financially precarious professions of hackhood and authordom), it seems to me that there is nobody who is effecitvely fighting the forces' corner. What is needed, I'd suggest, is: (1) A formed group of high-profile public figures - ideally consisting of both ex-forces (for credibility's sake) and NOT ex-forces ("third party endorsement" in PR-sprach) who can speak, write and debate in public fora, or simply act as figureheads or fund raisers; (2) A planned, strategic communications campaign that would raise a debate in society as to whether the forces should be so drastically chopped down. A planned campaign would mean the endorsing group (a) have clear strategic aims and set tactical tasks; (b) sing from the same songsheet; and (e) have research resources available for effective and consistent messaging; (3) A full-service marketing agency (research, PR, advertising, media buying) that will plan and support aforesaid in the public/media landscape (speaking opps, column and quote opps, etc), as well as undertaking research and producing and placing ads. Agency would also gather allies (from the media, academic, NGO, etc, communities) to support the campaign; (4) A lobbying agency who will support all the aforesaid in the behind-closed-doors/government space (5) A VERY rich, pro-forces person/persons to pay the agency fees (unless an interested agency can be convinced to do it pro-bono out of patriotic duty or as a corporate social responsibilty project, which in my experience is not wise: agencies work better when they are being paid, duh.) Etc, etc, etc It seems to me a tremendous irony to me that Britain's forces today are: - Engaged in one shooting war, with another one possibly warming up; - Enjoying tremendous public (if not official) respect and support; yet - Are now facing the largest defence cuts in recent history. This situation is logically skewed, yet the the forces (especially the navy) seem to be going down without a fight. The obvious questions re all the above are: "Who takes the initiative? "Who takes charge?" "Who sets agenda and goals?" And "To whom is the group answerable?" but I think that with a bit of planning it would be feasible for a pretty muscular interest group to be formed, and to speak up more effectively than is being done at present. Ends waffle.