Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
The comment on how US service personnel are treated by comparison speaks volumes about the attitude of SOME people in the UK. I personally witnessed this in Atlanta airport when a group of soldiers arriving home from Afghanistan were welcomed with a standing ovation by everyone present in the area. It was truly uplifting and impossible not to join in the applause. As ex RAF it really puzzles me how our boys and girls can be treated so disrespectfully by the people they are protecting at such cost to themselves.
I note nothing said about ethnicity/colour/religion of the abusers ......... an example of poloitical correctness by the newspaper, or am I wrong with my assumption?
What's important is the reported refusal of service in pubs, shops, hotels and comments from school jobsworths to our service personnel. I don't think that in this report ethnicity,colour or religion have any bearing. I would class it as ignorance more than anything else, a very worrying indication of where our society is heading. Hopefully the kind of people mentioned are still very much in the minority.
As ex RAF it really puzzles me how our boys and girls can be treated so disrespectfully by the people they are protecting at such cost to themselves.
Shack, I rather think that a majority of the population of this country have no idea what we are doing in Afghanistan, nor are they convinced that the continuing presence of British troops there is going to have any long term affect on that country. Thus to use the phrase "people they are protecting" is contentious to say the least. I would suspect that even on this forum, populated as it is by mainly miltary and ex-military, there will be a sizeable proportion who will be heartily glad when the last British serviceman leaves the country to the tender mercies of its own police and armed forces.
Certainly service personnel deserve our respect, but I rather doubt if anybody really feels safer in their beds as a result of the allied intervention in Afghanistan, a fact that makes the continuing loss of our servicemen's lives in theatre even more poignant.
I would say certainly part of this mind set is the fall out from over 30 yrs of Irish terrorism; I recall even as a space cadet in the late 80's/early 90's we were really restricted on when and where we could wear our uniform. I had a few years in the RAF by the time the Good Friday Agreement was signed. I readilly recall the insistance of civvy jackets when commuting; checking under your car every day; varying your route to/from work; keeping quiet about what you do when someone asks; sharkwatch etc...then it was quite tough to turn around these attitudes.
We also have quite a diverse social mix in the UK. I'm not just talking different ethinicities; we have quite a vocal anti-war section, and also quite a lot of people who support the troops but not the mission.
The americans haven't always been so openly appreciative of their boys and girls though. Look back to Vietnam for examples. Indeed, they were loathe to support their fellow countrymen who got involved in WW2 prior to the US reluctantly joining after the events at Pearl Harbour.
Maybe society has just changed though. I recall we used to get discounts at Burger Kind and McDonalds etc...think thats been stopped now though. The attitude many people have though is 'why'? Why do forces personnel need discounts for appreciation to be shown? The pay is quite reasonable compared to the average joe of their age and qualification; and they often have a fair bit of disposable income.
I recall suggesting to my local football team once (only 5 yrs ago) to offer free tickets for one match to the RAF and Army personnel at their local bases. It would have boosted attendance; and maybe would have attracted more regular fans. The response from the commercial director was along the lines of 'Why? Why should they be treated differently to anyone else? We don;t give discounts to anyone else other than students and OAPs'...
At the risk of thread creep, there are two separate issues surely:
1. should we be involved in Afghanistan?
2. should members of armed forces be subject to abuse?
No, and No.
Winston Churchill in his Malakand Field Force, written c. 1900, told us all we needed to know about fighting in the NW Frontier, and, since then, the lessons of history have been ignored, or perhaps not even read by our current crop of thick but expensively educated leaders. I would leave the inhabitants to their festering country and tighten our border security: a smaller perimeter to defend for starters.
As for abuse, perhaps it is not an offence to abuse our service people. After all, swearing at policemen is officially OK now [recent judgement].
I would suspect that even on this forum, populated as it is by mainly miltary and ex-military, there will be a sizeable proportion who will be heartily glad when the last British serviceman leaves the country to the tender mercies of its own police and armed forces.
and so say all of us although can't help feeling for the ordinary decent Afghans, there must be some.
"I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer, The publican 'e up an' sez, 'We serve no red-coats 'ere'. The girls be'hind the bar they laughed and giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again, an' to myself sez I: Oh, it's Tommy this, an Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, go away'; But it's 'Thank you Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play- The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, Oh, it's 'Thank you Mr Atkins,' when the band begins to play.
I want to offer my sincere condolences to the families of these brave men.
I myself am recently retired but keep in regular close contact with ex mates still involved and cant help but admire the courage of all our men and women in any arm of the services out there.
Like some other trades, the RAF Police, in various roles, SOCO's, Search Dog Handlers, Policemen and women serve every day on the front line, embedded with mentoring, infantry and RM units. The tempo is unrelenting and the turn round comes along all too soon for some in a small trade group.
The tributes online to these two lads are absolutely glowing and I have to admit I shed a tear reading them.
I know we as a trade have had a few close scrapes in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we have never lost anyone in a contact till now. It sticks in my craw to hear green on blue. And to all you guys and gals out there...whoever and where ever you are, come home safe.
Well said Skyguard, and yes it was always going to happen at some point. Although we had some close scrapes / serious injuries through contacts, we'd not lost a whitecap in the current conflict until the other day.
Firstly, condolences to the family and friends of the two SP killed in Afghanistan. I recently attended a workshop on the ‘insider threat’; the prognosis was not particularly encouraging.
On the second issue of how SP and ex SP are treated, let's not get too dewy-eyed about how US personnel are treated in the US. A week or two ago I was reading 'Stars and Stripes' and was surprised to read several letters from the families of ex US personnel decrying the lack of public support - and lack of employer sympathy for 'Vets'. With a tough job market in the US (as in the UK) ex SP appear to be having a hard time getting good jobs - partly because of the inadvertent victim culture that has emerged from 10 years of continuous warfare. Getting a discount at Universal Studios or a free cup of coffee at Walmart doesn’t equate to a post-Service career and family stability. As identified in the Ashcroft report, some employers are reticent to take on ex Servicemen because they feel they might be injured/suffering from PTSD/violent/heavy drinkers/wife abusers etc. Now we know that is generally not the case. The same goes for the reportedly high level of ex SP who are homeless – analysis shows that these are generally personnel who were released from the Services for being unsuitable in the first place – but it’s easy to label ex SP.
US personnel I have worked with recently have been amazed at the level of ‘transition’ support we get at the end of our careers or if we are made redundant; ‘early retirement’ in the US Forces, at least for officers, is considerably more brutal compared with us and immeasurably more bureaucratic.
Now I’m not saying that British personnel should not be more widely appreciated and ‘favoured’ (as in the US) but I would welcome ideas of how to get the message across to the wider public that we are no all damaged or brutalised by our Service careers.