British Army Concerns

Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK

I found this article on the BBC site and agree with the Generals comments as we should respect those people who go and undertake the governments policies at a risk to their lives.  The problem is that the constant wars around the globe are not as important as what Paris Hilton is wearing.

Army chief’s concern over public

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt

Gen Dannatt said soldiers wanted respect for their commitment

The head of the British Army says he is becoming increasingly concerned about “the growing gulf between the Army and the nation”.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt said soldiers were sometimes greeted with indifference on returning from service.

A “willingness to serve in such an atmosphere again” could be sapped, he said in a speech in London.

The warning follows Royal British Legion concerns the UK is failing in its duty of care to the armed forces.

The Legion claims the Military Covenant – the obligation to support people who fight for their country – is not being honoured.

When a young soldier has been fighting in Basra or Helmand, he wants to know that the people in their local pub know and understand what he has been doing and why

Gen Dannatt

Gen Dannatt told the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London: “Soldiers want to be understood and they want to be respected for their commitment.

“When a young soldier has been fighting in Basra or Helmand, he wants to know that the people in their local pub know and understand what he has been doing and why.”

“Soldiers are genuinely concerned when they come back from Iraq to hear the population that sent them being occasionally dismissive or indifferent about their achievements,” he added.

Gen Dannatt compared the situations in the UK and the US, where firms offer discounts to serving soldiers and people shake the hand of those in uniform.

He said that, in the UK, “we still have a nation that, at times, seems immune to homeless and psychologically-damaged soldiers”.

“As operational commitments have become more intense, so has the need for support from the nation,” he said.

“We must move from being a society that uses the military as a political and media football and more towards seeing the military for what it is.”

That was “the instrument of foreign policy conducted by a democratically-elected government acting in the name of the people”.

Campaign support

Gen Dannatt also called for a radical rethink on the equipment used in the British Army.

He said that “too often we have been seduced by high technology”.

He called for more money to be spent on “getting the very lowest level right”.

This involved “equipping the man first and building the system around him”, Gen Dannatt added.

Last week, Gen Dannatt’s predecessor, Gen Sir Mike Jackson, gave his support to the Legion campaign for better treatment of Britain’s armed forces.

Wounded soldiers and their families deserved to be treated “fairly and decently”, he said.

But the most important thing was to acknowledge the value of the armed forces, he added.