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 Post subject: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:43 pm 
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Fine words

"I find it so distressing to hear lavish praise being heaped upon the procurement of vehicles that are potential death-traps and to listen later to expressions of condolence to the families of those who have perished in them." So said Ann Winterton in a debate in the House of Commons on 4 June this year, but her distress might easily apply to the expressions so freely offered (and repeated) every time troops are killed.

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Back in the mincer

It is with great sadness, says the Ministry of Defence, that it must confirm that one soldier from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's) and one soldier from 2nd Battalion The Rifles have been killed in Afghanistan. The soldiers died as a result of an explosion that happened whilst on a routine foot patrol, not connected to election security, near Sangin, northern Helmand province, on the morning of Thursday 20 August 2009.

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 Post subject: Re: Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:19 pm 
It seems that the MoD is quite sanguine about these latest tragedies. Nothing to do with the fabulous free and democratic elections so hunkdory, what?. Despicable, Labour controlspeak.


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 Post subject: Re: Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:32 pm 
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oldrightie wrote:
It seems that the MoD is quite sanguine about these latest tragedies. Nothing to do with the fabulous free and democratic elections so hunkdory, what?. Despicable, Labour controlspeak.


"Labour" does not write the MoD releases ... that is a matter for officials.

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:23 pm 
Would you rather the MoD gleefully announced the deaths of soldiers with a smile on their face then? The soldiers ARE heroes, they do not choose to deploy, the democratically elected British government sent them to war, and like it or not, the British public had their chance to vote, and chose to elect Labour. The army has to live with that decision. The soldiers out there are bigger men than anyone sitting at home knocking their efforts will ever be.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:37 pm 
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George1 wrote:
Would you rather the MoD gleefully announced the deaths of soldiers with a smile on their face then? The soldiers ARE heroes, they do not choose to deploy, the democratically elected British government sent them to war, and like it or not, the British public had their chance to vote, and chose to elect Labour. The army has to live with that decision. The soldiers out there are bigger men than anyone sitting at home knocking their efforts will ever be.


And had the same system applied during the First World War, how would you have dealt with the first battle of the Somme? How long do you think PMQs would have lasted, given the current convention, of reading out the names of the dead before questions proper. And how many people would be engaged in the defence media section, writing up all those eulogies?

So what really is the value of the word-processed sentiments on the MoD website?

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:08 pm 
RAENORTH wrote:
George1 wrote:
Would you rather the MoD gleefully announced the deaths of soldiers with a smile on their face then? The soldiers ARE heroes, they do not choose to deploy, the democratically elected British government sent them to war, and like it or not, the British public had their chance to vote, and chose to elect Labour. The army has to live with that decision. The soldiers out there are bigger men than anyone sitting at home knocking their efforts will ever be.


And had the same system applied during the First World War, how would you have dealt with the first battle of the Somme? How long do you think PMQs would have lasted, given the current convention, of reading out the names of the dead before questions proper. And how many people would be engaged in the defence media section, writing up all those eulogies?

So what really is the value of the word-processed sentiments on the MoD website?

I am afraid that is a fundamentally flawed argument as Britain is not currently in a state of total war with millions of men deployed on the front line. The two conflicts are totally uncomparable.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:26 pm 

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It is not the efforts of the troops at the sharp end that is being knocked. It is the Top Brass, the politicians, the procurement people, the planners and the media. If repeated deaths on routine patrols is the way the campaign is to be fought where are the above making a thorough case for our presence in Afghanistan and why we are not hunting down the Taleban and killing them? Instead we have glib remarks from the lot of them about women's rights, elections and nation building that sometimes defy belief, and soundbites from the Government about the troops having all that they need and how British security would be imperiled if we weren't in Afghanistan.

Are we in this war because we couldn't say no or are we in this war to defeat the Taleban?(Are we even at war? Our politicians appear to have attempted a Malay 'Emergency' wheeze.) Our troops have been in Afghanistan for 8 years. Even when the operations were more low key the shortcomings of the kit were readily known and should have been moving towards being addressed before we stepped up the campaign there. The shortcomings of the NATO organistaion have been painfully apparent from the beginning. The wasteful procurement and Cold War thinking have been issues long before we went into Afghanistan and the politicians failed to address it. The strategies used elsewhere to successfully prosecute counter-insurgency wars appears to have not been applied as fully as it could have. And these aren't so much issues of expense as a matter of priorities - at the MoD, Westminster and in the media.

If people keep seeing such things as criticism of the troops at the frontline when it is not meant as that then we will not move forward. The MoD will continue to waste men and money and get away with being slow to respond to changes on the ground, changes in international relations and appearing to disregard its care of duty to our troops. The politicians will continue to think they are doing a good job. We will continue to lose the best of a generation.

The system, the politics and the lack of direction are a problem. The pace at which the MoD reacts to issues is a problem. Their furtiveness over discussing how the campaign is going is a problem. The vagueness of the mission in Afghanistan and the numerous 'caveats' NATO countries have put on their own forces are hindering the effectiveness of the campaign. The British forces have both hands tied behind their backs because the politicians provide too little direction to the MoD and have not been prepared to give it a kick up the arse over the equipment issues. The might and expertise that our forces have could surely be deployed more effectively had they more helicopters, better vehicles and far more surveillance assets amongst other things.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:15 pm 
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George1 wrote:
RAENORTH wrote:
George1 wrote:
Would you rather the MoD gleefully announced the deaths of soldiers with a smile on their face then? The soldiers ARE heroes, they do not choose to deploy, the democratically elected British government sent them to war, and like it or not, the British public had their chance to vote, and chose to elect Labour. The army has to live with that decision. The soldiers out there are bigger men than anyone sitting at home knocking their efforts will ever be.


And had the same system applied during the First World War, how would you have dealt with the first battle of the Somme? How long do you think PMQs would have lasted, given the current convention, of reading out the names of the dead before questions proper. And how many people would be engaged in the defence media section, writing up all those eulogies?

So what really is the value of the word-processed sentiments on the MoD website?

I am afraid that is a fundamentally flawed argument as Britain is not currently in a state of total war with millions of men deployed on the front line. The two conflicts are totally uncomparable.


OK ...

The MoD website writes up all the deaths of those who die in theatre ... including the non-combat casualties. What about all the soldiers (100 or so each year) who are killed in service each year, out of theatre - many of them in the UK, some of them directly as a result of preparing for ops in theatre, albeit that they are non-combat casualties. Is the MoD only "sad" about people who are killed in theatre ... or does it have graduations of sadness? If there are not, why don't we have the MoD being "sad" about these deaths on its website.

Then, there are a number of discharged servicemen each year who commit suicide, some of them suffering from PSD after service in theatre ... effectively casualties of the war. Why doesn't the MoD express its "sadness" about these people?

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:34 pm 
May I recommend to you the wise words of Nick Gurr, MOD's Director of Media and Communication, blogging today at Defence News (http://www.blogs.mod.uk/).

For every question you raise, he has the pat answer, for every action by MoD, he has the justification, and for every piece of incompetence, he has the excuses.

Quite how our troops in Afghanistan would manage without the herculean efforts of Nick and his team I just don't know. We're obviously very lucky to have him.

The only remaining mystery is how the bastard sleeps at night.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:59 pm 
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Petunia wrote:
May I recommend to you the wise words of Nick Gurr, MOD's Director of Media and Communication, blogging today at Defence News (http://www.blogs.mod.uk/).

For every question you raise, he has the pat answer, for every action by MoD, he has the justification, and for every piece of incompetence, he has the excuses.

Quite how our troops in Afghanistan would manage without the herculean efforts of Nick and his team I just don't know. We're obviously very lucky to have him.

The only remaining mystery is how the bastard sleeps at night.



Quote:
As a result of our forces' efforts, around 80,000 more Afghans in Helmand now live in areas under government control, giving around 20,000 more the chance to vote, with 13 additional polling centres becoming useable. That does not mean that turnout in Helmand will match that in less troubled provinces. Helmand is at the heart of the insurgency and that is bound to have an effect. But more people will be able to exercise their democratic choice than was the case before Panthers Claw.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 804558.ece

Quote:
Panther’s Claw aimed to push back the Taleban and allow people to vote in the area around Nad e-Ali, Helmand’s most populous district with 107,500 residents. Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of British forces in Helmand, said last month the operation had allowed 80,000 more Afghans to vote.

But fewer than 150 people actually cast their ballots in Nad e-Ali out of about 48,000 registered voters, according to Engineer Abdul Hadee, the local head of the Independent Election Commission.


and then ...

Quote:
Mullah Ghulam Mohamamd Akhund, a Taleban commander in the district, said: “Everything was fine. There were no polling centres and no voting. We didn’t face any problems.”


One dreads to think what woild have happened if the voters of Nad e-Ali had not been living in areas under government control.

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:39 am 
'OK ...

The MoD website writes up all the deaths of those who die in theatre ... including the non-combat casualties. What about all the soldiers (100 or so each year) who are killed in service each year, out of theatre - many of them in the UK, some of them directly as a result of preparing for ops in theatre, albeit that they are non-combat casualties. Is the MoD only "sad" about people who are killed in theatre ... or does it have graduations of sadness? If there are not, why don't we have the MoD being "sad" about these deaths on its website.

Then, there are a number of discharged servicemen each year who commit suicide, some of them suffering from PSD after service in theatre ... effectively casualties of the war. Why doesn't the MoD express its "sadness" about these people?'

-------------
I am glad that you raised the above matter, my relative was a non combat death, died through their negligence, no announcement of these boys on the MOD website. Isn't it about time that all 'on duty' deaths were officially announced? I can tell you that as a non-combat death, they are not classed as heroes, they don't get the fine welcome back at Wootton Bassett, and they are soon forgotton, they are more of an embarrassment to the Army and the MOD.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:08 pm 

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Quote:
my relative was a non combat death, died through their negligence,

I imagine the MoD find that opinion 'unhelpful', tell us more?? PDT_Armataz_01_20

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:33 pm 
This whole question of heroic deaths needs to be looked at afresh. The non-combatant death might have been in the service of this country - but then so is every police casualty, and para-medic or fireman. Not every death can be classed as heroic. They are no less tragic for that fact - and indeed an apparently undramatic death in some forgotten backwater of this country is - in my opinion - all the harder to deal with because it seems to go so unnoticed and relatives can feel so forgotten and unsupported.

And not every death in combat is "heroic". We seem to caught the American disease where everything has to be smothered in hyperbole; it is all "awesome" or "heroic".

"Good morning - how are you?" "I'm fine thank you." "Thats awesome" - "Oh, and why is that awesome" - no answer of course.

Service men and women in the US are almost universally referred to as "heroic warrior sons and daughters of this great nation" and so on. And so their deaths have to be heroic of course.

When in fact, as has been stated already on this site, there is nothing that heroic about being blown up whilst out on a routine ration run (I emphasise the word ROUTINE). For if that was a hero's death - then how are we to start talking about the person who might have knowingly chosen to risk death to save a comrade ? The loadmaster on a Hercules who falls off the tailgate and hits his head - is that a heroic death ? There are no words left to differentiate between the two sorts of events for we will have used up all the hyperbole available to us.

Any death is a tragedy to someone somewhere and ought to be recognized as such. And some might die a heroic death. In between, there are soldiers who might die an honourable death - such as might occur away from the frontline. And, let's face it, there are some that might die in circumstances which are less than honourable - someone who picks a fight after a night of drinking and is unlucky.

Of course, there will be many shocked by this approach. In this PC world we are increasingly afraid to be honest and straightforward. But in fact my point is that the tragedy of any death should far outweight the nature of the death. And that we should not go the American way of dramatising every aspect of life and death to the point that the words become meaningless.


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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:55 pm 
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I am glad you have written that ... for some time now I have been becoming more and more uneasy about the ramping up of the hyperbole, turning death and war into an ever-more dramatic soap opera. To your examples, add those where - in a surprising number of cases - soldiers have killed themselves while cleaning their rifles. These deaths are undoubtedly tragic, more so precisely because they are not heroic. How tragic to go all the way to theatre, ready to participate in the great deeds of which history is made, only to die a squalid death in your own billet from your own weapon.

And, of course, here lies the anomaly. A soldier killing himself thus on operations is lauded on the MoD website, given the "heroes funeral", his name added to the memorial, and featured in the picture compositions that the newspapers love to publish. But should he die alone in a barrack room in Germany, he is neither achnowledged publicly nor celebrated publicly.

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 Post subject: Re: Fine words / Back in the mincer
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:28 pm 

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We are not yet in a world of Orwellian doublespeak but somewhere on the way to it.

The gross mawkishness didn't begin with Princess Diana's death but it brought it to the fore. What was once a private matter for the families and colleagues of those killed has become, if the circumstances fit, a major public event. The media and politicians 'celebrate' these deaths because we are not achieving anything truly worth celebrating and it stops people asking awkward questions. Have we destroyed Al-Qaida? No. Have we stemmed the flow of opium? No. Have the Taleban been bested? No. Are we in a position where we can say 'Mission accomplished' with a straight face? No. We can't even equip our forces to do the job which of course would then mean we have no excuses not to. I'm sure the MoD could do it but the Government doesn't seem to have the stomach for it.

To begin with the Government was madly afraid of people seeing the coffins, now they are not. I think they even revel in their presence because they can exploit it. They frame the argument with two options - Continue as we are (which demonstrably isn't working) or leave and they spin leaving as letting the deaths so far be in vain.


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