Thursday, January 04, 2007

As a veteran of the National Service era, I wonder about the army of today. They are sent out to war zones and some of them get shot. So they want to sue the government for putting them in danger. They are supposed to be professionals, their whole job is to kill and to be killed. Didn't anybody tell them that?
During World War II conscripts, poorly paid, were sent out to die for their country, and they did. No doubt they complained about their lot but nobody listened. They were followed by National Servicemen, sent out to sweat and suffer, and sometimes to die, in some fly-blown or leech -ridden corner of the empire. When they lost their lives in the service of their country they were buried where they fell. If their parents or wives wanted them buried at home they had to pay for their bodies to be flown home.
Did those conscripts complain about their lot? Damn right! And with good reason. Did anybody listen. Of course not. Who gave a rat's arse about conscripts? Korea, the forgotten war, one the Yanks dragged us into. How many national servicemen were killed and wounded out there? Not to mention the men who were captured and imprisoned, and had their health ruined as a result.
Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, the Suez d├ębacle; the list goes on. Not forgetting those poor bastards sent out to Christmas Island to be exposed to atomic radiation. I don't suppose they even got a General Service Medal for seeing active service.
Another trend that I find disturbing is this business of generals getting up on their hind legs and publicly bollocking politicians. We all know these people are lower than snakes, and they don't care who dies for the advancement of their personal ambitions. We don't need the military to step in.
One of the first things we learned when we started our basic training was that the British Army doesn't get involved in politics. This was stated as a matter of pride. It was a mark of the United Kingdom's superiority to some South American and Middle Eastern countries. So what has changed?
Fifty years ago nobody listened to the military, now the Prime Minister has to agree when some general tells him he's a dick.

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