Armed Forces Support

  laurie53 08:40 24 Nov 2007

While support for the troops is welcome from whatever quarter it comes, the current crop of criticism from former defence chiefs would have had more credibility if they'd delivered it while they were still in command, before their pensions were secure.

  Forum Editor 08:48 24 Nov 2007

Before lapsing into such cynicism you might have taken time to think about how these things work.

You'll not hear the current defence chiefs voicing similar criticisms because they are the people who have to answer to Ministers, and they aren't able to speak as freely as they might wish. The people who are voicing the criticisms now - rightly in my view - were similarly constrained when they were in post.

Blaming people for being concerned about their pensions is a ludicrous thing to do - I'm sure you would have exactly the same concern, were you in that position.

  laurie53 09:21 24 Nov 2007

I know exactly how these things work.

I have been in that position, and I overcame my "concern".

An old military proverb "No-one ever got promoted for saying No!).

  anskyber 10:07 24 Nov 2007

Well I think we must accept that the chiefs when in their posts were not yes men.

I would be truly amazed if they were and I am sure their cogent views were made known in perhaps a pungent fashion at the time. It does work that way.

This is not a debate about the overall funding of the armed forces, it's about the role they are being asked to play. The armed forces are well funded but not enough to deliver a response in so many places. We must either fund the services as need, we are not, or reduce the impact on the services.

  Forum Editor 10:41 24 Nov 2007

"I think we must accept that the chiefs when in their posts were not yes men."

I think you need to look at what they said then, and what they say now. I also think you need to look at what the current chiefs are saying - or rather what they're not saying.

"their cogent views were made known in perhaps a pungent fashion at the time."

No, they weren't. That may be attributable to the fact that circumstances were different - they may not have felt the dissatisfaction so keenly then. I don't think anyone here has raised the matter of funding, by the way. My point was in response to laurie53's assumption that the reason these men didn't speak out when they were in command was because they were worried about their pensions. I think that's a slight on their integrity, and definitely not the reason they remained silent, but even so, I don't think it's a crime to be concerned about your pension.

People in high command have masters, and those masters are politicians, the military commanders are under a degree of pressure not to speak out in criticism of their government, partly for security reasons - it wouldn't do for an enemy to hear a defence chief telling the world that army morale was low, for instance.

  anskyber 10:56 24 Nov 2007

Well the thrust of my post is none of us know what they said then in private. Senior people in public service who do their job well do so with two persona, the private and the public.

Comments at the time of the second Iraq war were necessarily muted in public for very good reasons not the least of which relates to the need for silence over the real tactical preparedness of our forces to deliver and then maintain a "victory".

We can of course agree to disagree over what may or may not have been said in private, I have little doubt some strong things will have been said, publicly well that is different for rather obvious reasons.

Oddly I think we are in agreement here, I think the men are honourable and from my listening highly intelligent individuals. I think it is extremely regrettable that laurie53 has chosen to question their integrity in such a manner.

  Marko797 13:47 24 Nov 2007

I'm surprised at your comments. Ur being a little naiive here I think, aren't u?

Criticism while 'in-post' is always a 'no-no'. The Forces are there to serve the government of the day, and not there to openly criticise it.

While 'in-post' there is a tendency to be a 'yes man' for fear of repercussions. It's the military & political culture.

Those who choose to speak out/criticise usually 'resign' shortly afterwards.

  jakimo 14:19 24 Nov 2007

Surly the Official secrets act covers anything the government wish it to cover,hense the defense chiefs keeping mum while in office.

As for the funding, the defense budget has been below the rate of inflation for some time.

lastly,My neighbor recently returned from Iraq,and during his tour of duty he never had or was offered a flak jacket

  sunny staines 15:08 24 Nov 2007

the defence minister should be picked from people with military experience to understand the military better.

  Forum Editor 15:12 24 Nov 2007

It's all very well to say that, but you haven't though it through, have you?

Suppose there's nobody in the parliamentary party with military experience, or even if there is, suppose that person isn't suitable to hold a ministerial post?

  sunny staines 17:17 24 Nov 2007

a minister would have to be suitable to be selected, I would have thought a lot of potential ministers in all the parties are ex officers from the forces.

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