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Friday, 27 June 2014

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We have many like him in the US too. "Clusterflops" to avoid the less delicate word.

Delicately put, Whitewall, I would have expected nothing less from you!

Under military law it is unlawful for a serving soldier, sailor or airman/woman, irrespective of rank, to take an active part in politics. This includes making a public statement about Government policy. I served with David Richards when he was a more junior officer. He did not suffer fools gladly and often made his views known, however unpopular and contrary to those of more senior officers they were, using logic and common sense. I have no doubt that he used that same logic and common sense to advise the nincompoops in office. The problem is that politicians think they know better than those with the knowledge and expertise. Only a fool, having earned the promotions to his high office, would risk the ignomy of being not only sacked but possibly court marshalled, for making his views known when still serving. He should not be judged so harshly.

I forgot to add that all Service personnel take an oath swearing allegiance to the Crown. The Government of the day is the representative of the Crown and to take any action, verbal or physical, against that Government is an offence (still) punishable by life imprisonment. Still think he's an arse-licker?

Penseivat, congratulations on mounting a stout defence of your former colleague. I take your point concerning the legal niceties of serving officers in dispute with their government. I would not encourage senior officers to flounce out each and every time they find themselves in disagreement with their political masters - and it is right and proper that politicians are their masters!

However, that said, the ex-Chief of the Defence Staff is now, after the event, telling us that the nation in is in peril because of government policy. It was his job to safeguard the nation and if he believed that to be true he should have had the guts to resign and go public - or at least, quietly threaten first to see if that had any effect.

He swore an oath to the Queen not to David Cameron! Where, oh, where are the Jackie Fishers of yesteryear?

I should add that I think the cuts to our army are probably right. We are no longer a global power and we have neither the means or the morale to take on foreign adventures. And anyway, in this modern era the money would be better spent on anti-missile defences and what I call e-warfare techniques.

All of the above comes with the full expertise and authority of an ex-corporal, er, substantive, mind, not acting!

David,
Having held the best rank in the British Army (substantive, mind, not acting) - at least I hope it was in the British Army - you must surely agree that the days of military officers being the safeguard of a nation are long gone, burned on the pyre of political advancement. I did mention that the government is the representative of the Crown and so physical or verbal action against the Government is, by definition, also against the Crown. The role of the CDS today, and which has been for many a year is, using his knowledge and experience, not only of military matters, but also of current world affairs, to advise whichever political nincompoop holds the chair of Prime Minister. Added to that is the responsibility of formulating operational plans for any military action deemed appropriate by that political nincompoop, whether or not he agrees with it, short of all out World War. In such cases, those plans will include possible and probable casualties as well as long term effects in the theatre of operations. Military advisors protested at action in both Iraq and Afghanistan but were overruled by mediocre barristers, ex ferry waiters, accountants, and postmen. They could have resigned, it's true, but all that would have happened is that the nincompoops would have promoted those loyal to their views way above their capabilities and, possibly, this could have led to even more deaths and injuries in order that the political masters be placated. Anyway, good soldiers don't quit just because their political masters disagree with them or ignore their advice. They look at the bigger picture, realise it will all end badly, and formulate plans to try and reduce casualties as best they can. Unlike politicians, good soldiers count people, not pounds or publicity, and this makes them see things through. This may be something foreign to you, I know, but then I have never ever seen a Cpl (substantive, mind, not acting) lose an argument! :-)

Well, Penseivat, I never won an argument with a WO1 for the simple reason that I would never have dared to start one!

I agree that the orders for action in Iraq and Afghanistan came from the political pinnacle but I am not sure exactly how much protest there was from our top brass - we will have to wait for the histories to be written. However, that said, it is painfully obvious that the conduct of these actions *from the top* was abysmal! The sad fact is that we lost in Basra and we lost in Helmand - see "Losing Small Wars" by Frank Ledwidge - and the top brass were clueless. It was the likes of David Richards who allowed *units* to rotate in Helmand on a six month basis which was bad enough because just as they got the hang of things it was time to go home, but they also allowed Brigade HQs to rotate so that, again, just as Int and Ops began to get the feel of their area, off they went and a new lot had to learn the same lessons all over again! Of course, it meant that lots of Brigadiers earned a campaign medal and a step up the promotion ladder but it was a ridiculous way to run a war.

And incidentally, as Sir Richard bemoans the cuts in the army I would like to know exactly how many generals from Brigadier and upwards have been laid off? As far as I can judge via the media the army is copying the navy who have more admirals than ships!

None of the above should be taken as criticism of the 'Toms' who, as always, soldiered on *despite* the efforts of the enemy - most of whom had their fat arses on chairs in Whitehall!

"the army is copying the navy who have more admirals than ships!"

The army stats I remember are that there are more horses and generals in the army than main battle tanks. And that's not the total horses and generals, the total of each exceeds those of challenger 2 main battle tanks.

I remember my section only had 6 blokes, two of whom were corporals (and another who was a private aspiring to be a corporal, who was bossier than the other two put together).

50% commanders before you even look up the hierarchy above the lowly section. It was part of the reason I left, too many chiefs and not enough indians. And that was 20 years ago.

It's public sector bloat, with the results that go with it.

SoD

Happily, on this occasion, SoD, I can agree with you.

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