Deserving British Soldiers.
News 24 10 2009: Soldier blasts leaders over trust. A serving soldier has accused politicians of abusing the trust of the Army and serving soldiers. Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who is facing a court martial for refusing to return to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Afghanistan, made his comments before an anti-war demonstration in central London. He released a statement before the rally which read: "It is distressing to disobey orders but when Britain follows America in continuing to wage war against one of the world's poorest countries I feel I have no choice. "Politicians have abused the trust of the army and the soldiers who serve, that's why I am compelled and proud to march with the Stop The War Coalition today."
Given past news surrounding the Gov and Soldiers I decided to paste a Timeline on it, as is presented below. Although cost-cutting certainly does underline the failures on equipment what I found startling was that there appears to be an hidden Army within UK Prisons with some suffering post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as a result of their wartime experiences on active service (news 24 09 2009 ) while on the 30 08 2009 the News carried an MoD cost-cutting story of which ruled out the use of Live ammo costing some 30p while blanks cost some 10p. Tory MP Patrick Mercer likened such cost-cutting to Dads Army-style training. Of course besides that one has Health and Safety (H&S) issues to consider too.
20 03 2003 IRAQ WAR begins.
14 08 2005 Prison figures reach record high. Prison numbers have reached an all-time high, with more than half the jails in England and Wales now officially overcrowded, according to a leading penal reform group. With the prison population standing at 76,897, figures from the Prison Reform Trust show that 74 of 142 jails are operating at over the government's certified occupancy level. And the trust claims that prisons are currently coping with 10,000 more prisoners than they were designed to hold and that in 15 cases, jails have too many inmates. Trust director, Juliet Lyon, said the Government had become complacent about the problem of prison overcrowding and was now "breaching its own final buffer". "This level of overcrowding poses a real and serious danger to prison and public safety," she said. A Home Office spokeswoman said that no prison operated at above safe population limits and that the figures were misleading.
10 12 1998 MoD spending under fire - wastes millions of pounds when it upgrades its weapons and equipment, according to an official report. It took four years to rectify a fault that crashed five Tornados. Sir John Bourn [ The head of the National Audit Office ] qualified in his report that responsibility for handling defence equipment modifications was often shared between many organisations leading to "delay and a failure to achieve best value for money". It said the MoD buys 163 kits to let Tornado pilots use night vision goggles - costing up to ?0,000 each - when only 119 Tornados which needed the equipment were in service with the RAF. The MoD had underestimated upgrade costs for the Chinook helicopter by ?3.6m because of the lack of centrally-held information. For Invincible-class aircraft carriers, confusion over who should pay for new aircraft lifts led to a four-year delay in installation and an increase in costs of ?00,000 per ship.
16 02 2008 Government criticised at inquests. Two coroners criticised the Government after hearing that the deaths of three British soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq could have been prevented if they were better equipped. Andrew Walker, assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, accused the Ministry of Defence of an unforgivable breach of soldiers' trust over the death of Captain James Philippson in Afghanistan. An Oxford inquest heard of 7 Para soldiers complaining repeatedly about a lack of proper equipment - chiefly standard night vision kits and weaponry. A Mr Walker said: "They (the soldiers) were defeated not by the terrorists but by the lack of basic equipment. To send soldiers into a combat zone without basic equipment is unforgivable, inexcusable and a breach of trust between the soldiers and those who govern them."
21 02 2008 Defence cuts - threatening security. Cuts to major defence equipment projects are putting national security, economic stability and the future of thousands of jobs at risk, manufacturers have warned. The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), representing more than 2,600 firms, said the industry was facing the prospect of having to lay off workers while the armed forces would be left short of vital equipment. The warning came after the MoD defence management board met on Tuesday to consider proposals to cut or delay equipment projects in order to balance the books. However, the Chief of Defence Material, General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue, told the Commons Defence Committee last month that all 19 major equipment projects could be affected as a result of the review. He said that the last time he could remember spending constraints on the forces being so tight was in the late 1970s when the Government was struggling under restrictions imposed by the International Monetary Fund [ IMF ]. SBAC chief executive Ian Godden expressed concern that decisions taken now could have long term consequences for both the forces and industry. Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said that the problems were the result of Gordon Brown's neglect of the forces.
10 03 2008 Afghan and Iraq costs top £3bn.
19 03 2008 Gurkhas hand back medals in protest. Thousands of retired Gurkha soldiers are to gather outside Parliament to campaign for justice and fair treatment. In a symbolic gesture of protest, 50 pensioners will hand back their precious Long Service and Good Conduct medals to the Government. Gurkhas - soldiers from Nepal - have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years!. Currently only those that retired after 1997 have the right to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the country.
12 04 2008 Judge warns MoD on troops equipment. Senior judge Mr Justice Collins declared that it could breach British soldiers' human rights to send troops out on patrol or into battle with defective equipment. But Defence Secretary Des Browne and the Ministry of Defence believes the judge has got the law wrong and are to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said: "This shattering ruling for Des Browne will hopefully at last wake the Government up to equipment shortages on the frontline which threaten the lives of our troops.". MoD lawyers had argued that it was "impossible to afford to soldiers who were on active service outside their bases the benefits of the Human Rights Act". The judge also rejected the Defence Secretary's bid to ban coroners from using phrases such as "serious failure" - implying criticism of the Ministry of Defence and its agents - in verdicts on soldiers who have died on active service.
12 04 2008 Soldiers take out private insurance. Increasing numbers of soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking out private life and accident insurance. Conservative MP Keith Simpson, who represents Mid Norfolk, said many people would be surprised. "I think they would be," he said. "It reinforces the impression that many people have that a duty of care is not being given.". In November, a report leaked to a newspaper said soldiers could pay nearly £1,000 a year for policies.
11 05 2008 Hard up soldiers need food vouchers. Some soldiers are so hard up they are having to be issued with food vouchers to pay for their meals, an internal Army report has revealed. The briefing paper, drawn up for the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, warned that increasing numbers of soldiers are now close to the Government's definition of poverty. It highlighted the way that some soldiers had been running into financial difficulties since the introduction of a Pay As You Dine (PAYD) scheme. Under the new system soldiers who are not on active duty now pay for each meal they eat in the mess rather than a flat rate covering all their meals. The Ministry of Defence insisted that it was only a "small number of individuals" who had "failed to manage their finances properly" who needed to apply for food vouchers.
04 06 2008 MPs angered by Chinook 'cock-up'. eight Chinook helicopters - cost had now almost doubled to some £500 million - have yet to be put into service almost seven years later after they were delivered – Kept in climate-controlled, de-humidified hangars at Boscombe Down [cost some £560,000]. . The saga began in 1995 when the MoD ordered the eight helicopters from Boeing for some £259 million. To cut costs, the MoD ordered a one-off "hybrid" digital-analogue cockpit computer system that did not work properly.
10 07 2008 Armed forces 'consider quitting'. The Ministry of Defence research, which involved more than 24,000 military personnel, found 47% of soldiers and army officers periodically considered handing in their resignation.
10 09 2008 Call for review of defence funding. General Sir Mike Jackson said "It is 10 years since the last defence review and we need a new, hard look at our arrangements for the future. We won't get a review between now and the next election, so whoever forms the next government should make a study of where Britain's defences are and where they need to be.". As regards some soldiers he said "It is outrageous that some soldiers are living in grotty accommodation and that could be solved quite easily,". A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are in the longest period of sustained real growth in the defence budget for over 20 years. However, it should be remembered that the Treasury provides significant amounts of new money, over and above the core defence budget, to pay for current operations - around £9.5 billion since 2001 for Iraq and Afghanistan
27 09 2008 Files on RAF staff stolen from base. Thieves have stolen files containing the personal records of thousands of serving and former RAF staff, the Ministry of Defence said. Another embarrassment for the Government Earlier this week, a disc containing the names and addresses of almost 11,500 teachers went missing in the post.
01 11 2008 SAS chief quits in equipment row. The SAS commander in Afghanistan has resigned it has been disclosed, amid fresh controversy over the equipment available to British troops fighting the Taliban. In his resignation letter, Major Morley, the commander of D Squadron, 23 SAS, was said to have blamed "chronic under investment" in equipment by the Ministry of Defence for their deaths. The paper said that he believed the MoD was guilty of "gross negligence" and that its failure to supply better equipment was "cavalier at best, criminal at worst".
26 11 2008 MoD condemned over 'cost-saving' Brigadier Bill Kincaid, a retired former MoD director of operational requirements, said that the department's acquisition programmes were wasteful, delay-inclined, anti-innovation and lacking in firm leadership. equipment arrived months - if not years - after it was needed by troops on the ground. "'Accountants logic' too often takes precedent over military logic and the financial bottom line is the overriding factor," he said. "Even if this may 'save' a relatively small sum of money. Resignation last month of Major Sebastian Morley, the commander of D Squadron, 23 SAS in Afghanistan, who reportedly cited "chronic underinvestment" by the MoD. Brig Kincaid said much of the impetus for change within the MoD had gone with the departure last year of the Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Drayson, who left to pursue his motor racing ambitions. "Under Drayson the pace was hot." Brig Kincaid wrote. "He has now gone.
12 12 2008 UK Defence Secretary John Hutton in MoD cash-saving review. Delays - Army's Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) armoured vehicle programme. Delays - Provision of fleet tankers under the MARS (Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability) project. Delays – 1 to 2 years: Commencement to a £4 billion aircraft carrier project entering service in 2014 and 2016 built at shipyards in Portsmouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Glasgow and Rosyth. Timetabling put back to be in line with 150 NEW Joint Combat Aircraft in a £1.3 billion deal with US aerospace giants Lockheed Martin. New Spending announced - £70 million of new spending on Lynx helicopter upgrades which he said would provide significant extra capability to commanders in Afghanistan.
28 02 2009 Veteran mental care 'a disgrace'. Britain's most decorated serving soldier has criticised the Government for failing to help military personnel with mental health problems. Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry said it is disgraceful some struggle to get treatment for trauma from their time in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 29-year-old said: "These are people who have served this country. Why can't they get treatment? I don't think the Government is doing enough for soldiers." He continued: "I think it is disgraceful that an ex-serviceman or woman has to go to the NHS.
08 04 2009 Seven in ten burglars avoid prison. The alarming figures are a set-back for ministers just a day after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced fresh support for victims of break-ins to secure their homes. Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said: "Victims are being denied justice, and ministers are sending out the message that the onus is on the householder to protect their home but not on the criminal justice system to enforce the law." The Home Office revealed plans to provide money off discounts at B&Q for members of the public to better protect their homes from burglars. A separate advice pack, available for victims and their neighbours, also offered discounts at Focus DIY. Last year, a leaked memo to Gordon Brown exposed the Government's fears that the downturn would lead to more crime, especially acquisitive offences such as theft and burglary.
23 08 2009 Report accuses MoD of incompetence. Procurement at the Ministry of Defence is incompetent, with administrative failures at the top level putting soldiers lives at risk, according to an unpublished internal report commissioned by the ministry. The 296-page report, commissioned by former defence secretary John Hutton and not yet published, says MoD projects are 35 BILLION POUNDS OVER BUDGET AND BEING DELIVERED FIVE YEARS LATE, according to the Sunday Times newspaper. The report, by Bernard Gray, a businessman and former adviser to Labour defence ministers, blames "political fudge" and incompetence for the problems, which have left soldiers on the frontlines in Afghanistan lacking some equipment. "How can it be that it takes 20 years to buy a ship, or aircraft, or tank?" the report's author writes. "Why does it always seem to cost at least twice what was thought? Even worse, at the end of the wait, why does it never quite seem to do what it was supposed to?" "The problems, and the sums involved, have almost lost their power to shock so endemic is the issue," he writes. The government insists that soldiers have all the kit they need AND HAS DISMISSED THE HELICOPTER SHORTAGE, saying it is getting more airlift to Afghanistan as it withdraws from Iraq.
12 07 2009 Soldiers 'needing vital equipment'. The British Army is having to fight in Afghanistan with a "serious shortage" of helicopters and soldiers, a former Cabinet minister warned. Lord King, who was at the Ministry of Defence in John Major's government during the first Gulf War, threw his weight behind calls for better equipment for British forces. The peer claimed "serious political mistakes" had been made by the Government and the duty of ministers now was to make everything available that commanders asked for. Lord King claimed US forces in Helmand province had "eight times as many helicopters for the number of troops they have out there" and said British forces were having to "borrow" US helicopters.
16 07 2009 Pressure on PM over troop resources. Tory leader David Cameron - who has denounced the shortage of helicopters as a "scandal" - returned to the subject on Wednesday at Prime Minister's Questions, accusing Mr Brown of slashing the helicopter budget when he was Chancellor.
18 07 2009 MoD troop surveillance 'insulting'. Campaigners have criticised the Ministry of Defence for "insulting" soldiers claiming damages for injuries by spying on them. The MoD admitted it used surveillance tactics to investigate potentially fraudulent claims and since April 2000, 284 compensation claims - less than 1% of those brought against the MoD - have been the subject of surveillance. DIANE DERNIE, MOTHER OF PARATROOPER BEN PARKINSON, 25, WHO SUFFERED HORRIFIC INJURIES IN AFGHANISTAN, SAID SHE WAS "SURPRISED AND HEARTBROKEN" TO LEARN OF THE TACTICS BEING USED.
03 08 2009 Call to drop compensation appeal. An aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has urged him to drop his appeal against compensation awards to two injured servicemen. Labour MP Eric Joyce said that while the Ministry of Defence stood a good chance of winning its court challenge, success would amount to "a victory for bureaucracy over bravery". His comments came as the former chief of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, branded the MoD's attempt to reduce the compensation award "virtually incredible".
30 08 2009 MoD cuts rule out using 'live' ammo. Soldiers who are not being deployed to Afghanistan are having to train with blank rounds because it is cheaper, it has been claimed. The ban on live ammunition will affect the entire Territorial Army (TA) and a number of non-frontline regular army units, according to The Sunday Times. The move is the result of a £700m cutback in spending to run the Army in the UK, the newspaper reported. Each live round for the standard issue service rifle, the SA80, costs about 30p, while a blank costs 10p. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the "ever-improving quality" of computer simulation had reduced the need for live fire exercises for some units. But Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who was a former commanding officer in the infantry, said: "The idea that our frontline reserves should not be able to use live rounds is quite extraordinary. "We can't have a popgun army. The next thing you know we'll be reduced to DAD’S ARMY-STYLE TRAINING, shouting 'bang bang'."
24 09 2009 Hidden army in UK prisons. The number of former servicemen in prison or on probation or parole is now more than double the total British deployment in Afghanistan, according to a new survey. An estimated 20,000 veterans are in the criminal justice system, with 8,500 behind bars, almost one in 10 of the prison population. The proportion of those in prison who are veterans has risen by more than 30% in the last five years. A study by the probation officers' union Napo of 90 probation case histories of convicted veterans shows a majority with chronic alcohol or drug problems, and nearly half suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as a result of their wartime experiences on active service. Harry Fletcher, Napo's assistant general secretary, said the high numbers of former soldiers in prison was unacceptable: "There is overwhelming evidence that support is not available of sufficient calibre when soldiers leave the service The preponderance of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression is also alarming."”. Those involved had served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Probation staff in 62 offices across England and Wales say the vast majority of former soldiers referred by the courts for criminal justice supervision did not receive adequate support or counselling on leaving the armed forces. NAPO ALSO SAYS THEIR MILITARY EXPERIENCE AND BACKGROUND IS NOT BEING ROUTINELY IDENTIFIED WHEN THEY ARE ARRESTED OR CONVICTED IN THE COURTS.
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence have so far taken more than a year to complete a basic survey of the number of veterans in prison. At one point the exercise was hindered by claims it contravened the Data Protection Act. A Ministry of Justice spokesman insisted they took their duty of care for all offenders very seriously, irrespective of background. "Our first priority is protecting the public. The shadow justice secretary, Dominic Grieve, said it was a disgrace that so many who served their country were in jail.
22 10 2009 Crime - wrongly classified. Denis O'Connor Chief Inspector of constabulary found that more than a third of the cases from the sample of 479 incidents had been wrongly categorised as not warranting further investigation. He said a major review would be launched NEXT YEAR to establish whether the findings from the small study have serious national implications!. Mr O'Connor called on ministers TO SIMPLIFY the COMPLEX and 150-years-old classifications of violence. He said the various categories made it difficult for the police to categorise incidents - but also harder for the public to understand the true extent of crime. The study was launched after FLAWS in figures emerged last year but based on the HMIC's own figures, a repeat of the flaw across all forces could mean that police in England and Wales annually FAILING TO RECORD up to 6,000 acts of violence resulting in injury. The review of violence comes as quarterly figures for April to June 2009 showed that overall crime in England and Wales fell 4% compared to the same period of 2008.
24 10 2009 Number of criminals 'up 410,000'. The number of active criminals in Britain has increased by around 30% over the past eight years to 1.6 million, a think-tank claims. Policy Exchange cited unpublished Home Office research, which suggested that the number of offenders has risen by 410,000 since Lord Birt's Reducing Crime Review in 2001. Max Chambers, a research fellow in Policy Exchange's Crime and Justice Unit, said: "These figures are a terrible indictment of the failure of promises to crack down on the crime that blights so many of our communities. The Home Office said the figures were no more than estimates.