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HomeReaders CommentsReader’s Comment: The cult of individual rights has eroded our armed forces

Reader’s Comment: The cult of individual rights has eroded our armed forces


In response to Patrick Benham-Crosswell: The Army skirts round its challenge of being feared not inclusive, Callumity wrote:

Speaking from first-hand knowledge but not having reached the very top of the greasy pole, a lot of comment about Top Brass, moral courage etc., is misinformed. Since Lady T, we have had a succession of PMs and administrations convinced the armed forces should be equal opportunities employers reflective of the society from which they recruit…only more so.

Hence we had ethnic targets of 15+ per cent, but Foreign and Commonwealth recruits did not count…UK nationals only. Wider female employment has been pushed through against a doomed delaying action and the LGBT angle needs no comment.

All of this derives from wilfully applying entirely the wrong frame of reference. The only proper measure of a military force is its combat effectiveness and sustainability – how well it does its primary job (the application of force) and for how long.

The Industrial Society used to illustrate an optimal balance with a Venn diagram of equal intersecting circles. Forces are different. The Task is the higgest circle – winning. The Team is next. The Individual is of necessity the smallest being subordinated to Task and Team. As Patton observed, you do not have the right to die for your country. The objective is to get some poor, pusillanimous b*****d to die for his. Anything that detracts from the Team imperils the Task. The cult of individual rights has done exactly that.

The Services operated ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ for generations and the gay question was not too problematic because it was always a minority sport; not so heterosexuality. I was commanding an Army subunit when my first draft of girls arrived. I had no particular preconceptions but was unprepared for the raft of new problems that otherwise simply did not exist.

They were compounded on operations with girls getting pregnant to go home, NCOs risking careers and families for misguided favouritism and/or favours that eroded their authority. The occasional amazon in no way compensated. Now? The PC response is all that will be allowed and too few have any real understanding of what they have lost….but they know.

Meanwhile, the basic grasp of strategy at Downing Street has truly been of Eton CCF quality. Military chiefs have been faced with ‘if I can’t use it, you lose it’ scenarios and everything has been built to a price not to a specification. Now even the shop window has bare shelves and it is pretended TA soldiers pooled together provide the same capability as a worked up unit. Handfuls of clubs have been tossed out of the golf bag to make cash savings. You can’t putt with a 7 iron. Resignation is a one shot weapon and the laughable suggestion Richards Barrons’s valedictory memo was ‘sour grapes’ merely illustrates the mendacity of the political machine.

We have wasted blood and treasure for wanton failure to apply the 1st Principle of War – selection and maintenance of an aim achievable through force of arms. We have not seen ‘mission creep’ so much as ‘vacant aspiration’. Swathes of MoD bureaucracy exist to shift paper to no discernible end, while the ‘top heavy’ officer corps looks less so when you see them embedded in overseas embassies flogging second hand kit.

We have skimped on the insurance and watched increasing numbers of undesirables playing with matches close to home. It is time to urgently revisit political priorities. The infinitive is split for very deliberate emphasis as time may not be on our side.

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