The need for change.
The idea of a one size fits all MoD to replace the various Services own departments has been running now for many years and of late, some queries have emerged as to how well it has functioned in this role. Judging by the shortfalls in ships for the Navy or methods of shutting down Nuclear Subs safely, planes for the RAF and viable modern equipment for the Army, its performance has fallen well short of expectations. These queries and protests have emanated from many sources but most alarmingly, a goodly number have come from people within the MoD itself as well as from high ranking senior Officers.
It would appear that instead of seeing to it that the necessary requirements to maintain a credible deterrent for any likely threat to the UK have been fulfilled, the function of the MoD has been to oversee the downsizing and dismemberment of much of the vital infrastructure that a properly organised defence set up would find absolutely essential in any future conflict. Effectively it has provided the current Government with a placid and easily plundered resource that can be cut to any dimension in order to show economies of scale. Land has been sold off to developers, dedicated hospitals disposed of, ordered warships deferred or cancelled and the number of planes on order decimated again and again. With aftercare for the long term wounded or traumatised placed within the already overburdened NHS. At every turn, the ‘milking’ has continued remorselessly until nothing now works as it should.
The number of troops that the UK can field is down to an all time low in this modern era and the re-supply/maintenance organisation is now barely able to cope with keeping essential supplies flowing to a Division sized force in Afghanistan. Insufficient transport planes, insufficient helicopters, Nimrod surveillance planes whose airframes are based on the old ‘Comet’ Airliner of the 1950’s sees the RAF struggling to fulfil its obligations. The Army having problems with such basics as the standard infantry weapon, as well as with vehicles pressed into service that are entirely unsuited to the terrain and unable to withstand the IED’s that are taking so high a toll of their number. The Royal Navy so short of men that it cannot crew the ships it has, let alone those few still left in the pipeline.
So what has the MoD managed to do while its real remit has been allowed to atrophy and wither to the point that it is virtually ineffective in real terms? Well it has been very active in keeping the money coming for the black hole known as ‘Welfare’, because every quid saved on Defence has been able to be thrown into this ever hungry maw that is bleeding the UK white. Never mind the third World conditions of many married quarters for those in the Armed Forces, as long as those in the dole queues are looked after first. Seeing the Defence Ministry as 21st out of 26 on a list of priorities for the despatch of information is indicative of the importance now shown to this portfolio and all that it represents.
Now belatedly, those in power are desperately trying to paper over the cracks that have appeared and which are tied in with the high casualty rates being sustained in Afghanistan, because in the end, it is the men and women at the sharp end who lose out, when what they need is simply not available. It is however, quite plain to those that have had to contact the MoD and the Government on matters pertaining to duty of care, that such matters are not given any sort of priority, with empty rhetoric being seen as more cost effective than actually doing something that might just alleviate the problems arising from years of deliberate and calculated neglect.
There has been a catastrophic failure of the machinery supposedly set up to oversee the needs and critical requirements of all branches of the Armed Services, in no area can it be said that a satisfactory state of affairs has been reached. The only bright spot in an otherwise dismal display of crass ineptitude is the continued ability of the ordinary Briton to face front and do his or her duty with unflagging courage and fortitude. Not because of those that stand well to the rear and direct them but all too often, in spite of them!
As I have said before and will continue to say, the British Serviceman or woman is second to none and the supposed covenant that is said to exist between Government and Armed Forces is now totally extinct, if it ever truly existed outside of popular myth in the first place! One is certainly needed however and that is because the sort of situation we now see in respect of the failings that have put so many of our finest at risk, needs to be curtailed once and for all. To that end, a National Defence Medal is needed to make all aware of the need to see to it that our Armed Forces have the resources they need to do the jobs asked of them. They need to know that their families will not be disadvantaged and that they themselves will be given the support they need if they succumb to the wounds and traumas that may befall them in carrying out the tasks allotted to them.
The medal should carry the words ‘To honour the covenant.’ This would ensure that never again will those who have served, be ignored and disrespected by those who are simply self serving.
As the next election approaches it is more important than ever to lobby our respective MPs, no matter what they have said previously. Best wishes to all, TM