War Reporting Links: The ‘state’ of the British military
1. Standpoint have published an article by a Ministry of Defence insider claiming that the department is ‘unfit for purpose’. Though I’ll be glad to see the back of the clichÃ©, there’s some interesting observations here. Too many civil servants and consultants, not enough military understanding the insider claims:
“I once attended a meeting of MOD civil servants about â€œoutsourcingâ€ parts of the military. I was out of uniform…I asked the people around the table, â€œWho actually loves the military in all this?â€ There was an awkward silence. So I repeated the question in different form: â€œWho is putting the military requirement first?â€ One of the civil servants, a woman on the â€œfast trackâ€, actually giggled. I reiterated that this was a serious question and noted that I was the only service person present. There was then great embarrassment as no one in the room had realised beforehand that I was a serving military officer. I probably wouldnâ€™t have been invited if they had known.”
I was also struck by this paragraph towards the end which appeared to contradict Des Browne’s reassurances in January about military equipment for forces on the ground:
“Because the services havenâ€™t had the budget increases they need to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is running out of everything. Weâ€™re running out of trucks, for instance. And when things break they arenâ€™t being replaced. Increasingly one gets the impression that the civil servants donâ€™t care if the forces are broken â€” their careers will not be affected.”
There’s further comment on this article at the Kings of War blog.
2. Talking of which, here’s another post on the same blog wondering what the British Army’s next move in Afghanistan should be.
3. At the back end of last week the family of Baha Mousa received nearly Â£3 million in compensation after the 26 year old Iraqi was allegedly abused by British soldiers. In reaction, John Pilger has written about the British military’s use of ‘torture’ and ‘barbaric practices’ in a typically combative piece for the New Statesman.
4. The Independent on Sunday claims it has found more evidence to support Pilger’s argument.
5. In the name of a bit of balance in all this, the MoD say:
“All but a handful of the more than 120,000 British troops who have served in Iraq have conducted themselves to the highest standards of behaviour, displaying integrity and selfless commitment.”
“All allegations of abuse are investigated thoroughly and – where proven â€“ those responsible are punished and the abused are compensated. The Army has done a great deal since cases of abuse related to the death of Baha Mousa in 2003. Procedures and training have been improved. But we are not complacent and continue to demand the very highest standards of conduct from all our troops.”