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Saturday, November 12, 2005

How to neuter an army

To destroy the ability of your armed forces, first make sure that they believe that no one is there to support them, in fact it is more like the Red Army of WW2 with commissars watching for the opportunity for a summary executiontrial...

Senior army doctors have warned that troops in Iraq are suffering levels of battle stress not experienced since the second world war because of fears that if they shoot an insurgent, they will end up in court. The two senior Royal Army Medical Corps officers, one of whom is a psychologist, have recently returned from Basra, where they said they counselled young soldiers who feared a military police investigation as much as they did the insurgents.

The revelations follow the collapse last week of the court martial of seven paratroopers accused of murdering an Iraqi who died near al- Amarah just after the war and amid signs of a dramatic drop in morale among frontline infantry soldiers. The doctors' warnings came in post-operational reports submitted by senior officers to their formation commanders after serving in a battle zone. They are exceptional because of their content. One source said: "There doesn't appear to be any overt consideration or understanding of the pressures that our soldiers are under. "The unpopularity of the war at home and a belief that firing their rifles in virtually any circumstances is likely to see them end up in court are sapping morale."

One corporal said that troops arriving in Basra were confronted by warnings from the Royal Military Police. "They make it clear that any and every incident will be investigated. It is also made clear that if you shoot someone, you will face an inquiry that could take up to a year. "The faces of the young lads straight out of training drop as the fear of being investigated strikes home and many ask whose side the RMP are on."

Although the levels of fighting in Iraq are nowhere near those of some of the bloodiest battles of the second world war, such as the battle of the bulge or Kohima, the much more complex situation that the British troops face is pushing up stress levels just as far. The combination of knowing that death might come at any time from a roadside bomb and that shooting back at Iraqis who attack them might result in their being court-martialled is putting immense pressure on young soldiers. The doctors described morale in some units as very low with soldiers cynically suggesting they needed a solicitor with them before they shot back at any Iraqi who attacked them. Many frontline infantry soldiers were in survival mode and had the impression that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not supporting them and nobody in the UK cares about what is happening in Iraq, the officers said.
Of course, doing it like this means all the moonbats can turn around and cite low morale numbers as evidence of the folly of war or somesuch nonsense. Then, when you have accomplished that, they can turn around and sue command, government and others for lack of support...
Dutch UN peacekeepers, or Dutchbat, were supposed to be protecting the Bosnian Muslim enclave, which was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces.

The court ruled that the soldier's employer did not take care of him properly during the Serb attack.

The defence ministry says it will appeal against the decision.

An official report in the Netherlands in 2002, said the Dutch government and the UN must share responsibility for what happened in Srebrenica.

The ex-soldier claimed that the defence ministry was responsible for the post-traumatic stress he suffered after Srebrenica - where about 7,000 Muslim men were killed after Serb forces took over.

The judge agreed that his employer did not take care of him properly and gave him false hope that the UN would provide air support, supplies and an exit strategy.
Ordering me into battle sir? Sir, may I see the exit strategy please sir? Still, it'd be a scream if these soldiers took the UN to the ICC. Oh the joy, one dopey UN organisation trying the dopey UN itself and everyone laughing at the stupid fools.
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Posted by Chefen | 11/12/2005 05:18:00 am


Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Good post Chefen. We sort of forgot about the Brits, but indeed, I suppose their soldiers are seen as the enemy and traitors at home. Must be horrible.

11/12/2005 07:37:00 am  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Yes it must be pretty horrible to invade a country only to discover the natives want you gone or dead. Human nature is such a strange beast.

11/12/2005 08:44:00 am  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Yet again Ackers fails basic reading comprehension. Stay. On. Topic.

11/12/2005 11:47:00 am  
Blogger Lucia Maria said...

He knows what he's doing, AL. And now Ackers1, you know I know. Though I bet you already knew, therefore now everyone knows.

11/12/2005 01:16:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I'm hoping two PHP types will offer to write a comments moderation module for Drupal.

I'll enjoy seeing a big fat "OFF-TOPIC" next to Ackers comments when he doesn't stay on the topic under discussion.

11/12/2005 01:22:00 pm  
Blogger Lucia Maria said...

Actually, he's being quite clever here. He appears to be on topic to the cursory reader. Talking about fighting in Iraq and what that might be like is in line with the topic. Except he's using it as a vehicle to take a pot shot. Rather than addressing the intent of Chefen's post on the litigation of solidiers and their actions, he stays at a surface level for the surface reader.

I don't know if I could really call him off topic as such, more like taking advantage of the topic to further his point of view.

I don't think there is much we can do except for pointing it out each tim. Aand we have to, otherwise the cursory reader will just go, "huh"?

11/12/2005 01:56:00 pm  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

I would have thought it was perfectly on topic actually. Yes it was a cheap shot at Berend but how can you resist. It's fairly obvious that solidiers of an occupying army stationed in a country where their presence is actively opposed by a significant proportion of the population (and no I'm not making that up, British and US army polling has found this to be the case) will clearly be subject to extraordinary levels of stress and be dealing with complex and contradictory feelings about themselves vis a vis the population they are interacting with. Couple that with a loss of popular support at home which is exactly the case here and you have a recipe for disaster. It's not rocket science and I would suggest you are deluding yourselves if you think it's going to be otherwise.

11/12/2005 02:56:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Oh crackers, so arse-about-face as usual. Maybe if you ask a local farmer nicely you can learn how to build strawmen better. How does the attitude of Iraqis relate to the British Army telling soldiers that they are guaranteed to face an inquiry, or soldiers suggesting they need lawyers in combat? Oh yeah, it doesn't. It is British Army *policy*, not the war in Iraq, that is the issue. You might have noticed the other half, about Bosnia with a command system so screwed up that soldiers can legitimately talk about sueing the UN because of a lack of exit strategy? Still it wouldn't be like you to deliberately miss the point eh, after all it's in Iraq so therefore anything that cripples the effectiveness of those nasty invaders is good, nevermind that in the next war they'll not have an army left but plenty of lawyers waiting to conduct inquiries just like in Bosnia.

11/13/2005 05:22:00 am  

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