Britain’s armed forces are under siege from every side. And I’m not talking about the war roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. As always, this task is done with the usual degree of professional the forces expect of themselves.
Notice, I said what the ‘forces’ expect of themselves. I say this specifically because it seems the general public doesn’t expect much of them at all. Rather, they are perceived as occupiers, fighting an illegal war.
How has it got to this?
I think the main reason is that people are mixing up politics with matters military. Soldiers do not start wars. Politicians do. The vitriol should therefore be directed at them, not the forces.
You could say that, if the forces disagree with what politicians are making them do, then they should refuse. But this is to give soldiers the right to opinions and options. Believe me, you don’t want soldiers with opinions. They’d go on to impose them on you.
And this is only half of the sad story.
Defence chiefs have again advised that the forces are under-funded and over-stretched. And this is absolutely true. Most of their equipment is becoming antiquated, and far too many are actively involved in a theatre of war, training, or preparing for it.
No more than a 3rd of an army should ever be in this position. If they are, they slowly begin to crack under the pressure.
But of course, I’m wrong when I say they’re under siege from all sides. The only direction of siege is the present government, dirtying the name of a proud institution, and starving it of funds and life, whilst expecting them to do miracles.
Good job there’s a forces mantra which says: The impossible we do at once. Miracles take a little longer.
© Anthony North, November 2007
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