I am frequently asked if the army has gone soft.
Political correctness has taken a deep root throughout the whole of the so-called “upper tier” of British society. In any position of official capacity, what you can say and do are utterly controlled by a whole new set of rules. On a recent visit to a top university in the U.K., I was instructed that there were three toilets: the usual male and female, and one for those who were not sure. This is what we are dealing with. These people will eventually become the decision makers for the country, yet they somehow cannot even determine their own sex.
In a recent piece, the U.K. press has reported how soldiers are no longer to answer the phone with the greeting “good morning, sir.” I found this to be true and the explanation I was given is that should someone be calling who was not a sir, then he, she or it may become offended. So now callers will receive a straight “hello” instead. Units were also instructed to fly the gay pride flags in replacement of their traditional colours to celebrate gay pride and promote diversity on gay pride day.
Then recently, the Army, which is thousands under strength, launched its advertising campaign. The whole campaign was based around acceptance. It showed soldiers praying to Allah, lads crying and same gender couples merrily going about their business. I have no issue with any race, religion, colour, creed, gender or any other group you may wish to pigeonhole people into. It is soldiers the armed forces need — they should be concentrating on recruiting them, not putting them off.
The armed forces in the U.K. have accepted anyone who wishes to join and accommodated their needs in every way, from eating arrangements and clothing requirements to sleeping conditions. It is no drama; you can be who you want. All you need to be able to do is soldier on.
Society has changed and in general people are softer. We need an army not based on what the politically correct are demanding, but on what the battlefield requires. And unfortunately the battlefield still requires brave men and women who are skilled in violence and prepared to use it. The PC brigade are doing their best to prevent the armed forces from becoming what they need to be, so much so that even the old Army slogan “be the best” is under fire. It is deemed elitist. How dare you want to be part of something which prides itself on being the best? What business have you got wanting to win stuff? I’m afraid for me it has gone too far. We need to be realistic about what it is we want from our armed forces. For me, they should be the country’s number one concern.
Our whole existence as we know it, has and continues to depend on people who are willing and capable of defending our realm. There will be no political correctness should we lower our guard and become prey to our tormentors. Politicians and policy makers would do well to remember the sacrifices that have been made for their liberty which they now abuse. Without the men and women who have given their all for this island, those now well off public figures would be leading totally different lifestyles.
I have spoken to many soldiers who are serving and although conditions have changed, it would be extremely harsh to call them soft. It is a different culture now and there is no denying that. There is still some terrific experience within the ranks, especially at the senior level and some great operational tours available if you are lucky. The world is not a peaceful place and shows no signs of getting any better. Standards of fitness have undeniably gotten easier for the basic tests and in some cases, whilst in the first phases of training, it is acceptable to fail tests and still continue up the ladder. Our special forces come under fire constantly for not lowering their high standards.
The facts are that thanks to technology in some areas, the battlefield becomes a lot harder to operate on. Soldiers’ capabilities and training need to react likewise to keep in touch and not sell our troops short. Watering down core necessities is not going to get more people through the door — it is going to fail them once they are in. Similarly, if someone is physically not capable of carrying out a task, the answer is to lose that person, not lower the standard.
There are three critical components which need a good looking at. I identify them as the three Rs: recruitment, retention and resettlement. All have an effect on each other. For example, recruitment will be effected by what the potential recruits hear from those who are leaving or serving. Retention is affected but what comes through the door and what leaves. Resettlement should be taken care of by those who have been retained. If all areas are good, then in theory there is no problem. That said, if there is a weakness in any single area there will be repercussions for all three.
A lot of the problems faced are down to two failings. Not enough money invested into the system being one, and incorrect advice being given to the key decision and policy makers being the other. In this case, a lack of funds can be made worse by poor advice as this leads to a waste of the monies available. 1.6 million pounds on an advert which attracts nothing but bad press is a waste of money. There was poor advice taken in regards to what was needed to attract soldiers to the service, so recruiting is still a problem — and now there is even less money to throw at it.
There definitely seems to be a disconnect from the powers that be and the factory floor. There has always been that divide, but now it is proving to be an obstacle. If the armed forces are to progress and attract new recruits, everyone needs to be listened to and not just those who are out of touch and feathering their own nests from within ivory towers.
Civvy street has gone soft, not our brave men and women who give up their youth to defend us. If the government voted in by the people of this country does not get a grip and spend where required and leave the military to do what it does best (defend us all), then I can see a day when our Army will be nowhere near the best — and then we are in trouble.