Friday, September 7

Would you join up?

Last nights Newsnight reports that we are having difficulty holding on to experienced troops. No surprises there. They are being asked to fight harder for longer in increasing perilous parts of the world with very little support from the public and even less political support.

When I ask members of the public with regard to the complete inadequacy of army vehicles they say "Send people into stupid situations and they'll die." When I ask my MP I get the usual brush off... "I have raised this with the Secretary of State for Defence but to no avail". Hardly surprising then, that soldiers would defect to private organisations who equip properly and pay properly.

There is still every reason to join the armed forces in terms of the opportunities in and after service. All the best aviation and technical jobs prefer some exposure to armed forces because of the training and experience it offers. But balance that with the very real possibility of being blown to smithereeens in one of these contraptions for no reason other than MOD arrogance and indifference. It's a no-brainer.

I see remarks along the lines of "You have to accept there will be casualties if you send young men out to fight". These come from the public and generals alike. Why do I have to accept that soldiers die needlessly? Blind acceptance of the way things are is the mentality of dumb beasts. You might as well say "You have to accept if you do not have wings you will never take to the skies." It shows a distinct lack of imagination, ambition and care. Thankfully the Wright Brothers never shared this view.

You could expect this kind of nihilism from those with no stake in our society. Those who lack the will to see it succeed in it's mission to bring stability and prosperity to the forgotten regions of the world. Also from those who care for nothing just so long as the cheap Chinese imports keep rolling in; But when our top brass shares this same attitude and compounds it by sending our troops out in unarmored death traps, ignoring the vast design experience of the Israelis and South Africans in favour of their pet toys, one is hardly surprised that those who would be inclined to join up take a boring, but safe job in a call centre instead.

As with all things political in this age, apathy wins. If the government is not willing to take its wars seriously, if our brass accepts the death of troops so freely, if the public cares so little, why should anyone be asked to put their lives on the line? Furthermore, what is the point if we are going to surrender just for the want of some half decent trucks?

Soldiers are leaving because they feel the public no longer believes in their mission and that "society no longer recognizes their sacrifices". They are right. The prevailing view being that troops are "government troops" not "our troops".

In effect the government is no longer seen as acting on behalf of the nation and by proxy, the armed forces are not either. Someone-elses' government, someone elses' army, someone elses' war. When we lost our democracy we lost our country too.

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