Shivan sends this article about the poor treatment that the UK military - both at home and in Iraq - receive from their citizens:
The Army's deadliest enemy is at home
By Max Hastings
Last week's court-martial proceedings against a Royal Navy submarine captain accused of bullying his officers made bleak reading. I have no opinion about the merits of the case, and no sympathy with bullies. Like most people who care about the Armed Forces, however, I felt my heart sink at yet another public embarrassment. Their via dolorosa seems endless.
There are high-profile prosecutions (many of which collapse) resulting from alleged misdeeds in Iraq; fears about the impending deployment in Afghanistan; regiments disbanded and recruitment ailing; controversy about the treatment of recruits. The Sunday Telegraph reported last week on despondency at Catterick's Infantry Training Centre, where instructors live in fear of accusations of abuse.
The other night, I met a friend who has a son in the US Army in Iraq. Like every American soldier there, he told me, he finds himself knee-deep in "comfort boxes" and goodwill messages from unknown admirers at home. "Do British soldiers in Iraq get the same sort of stuff?" he asked. Not nearly as much, I said.
Right now the Services are feeling unloved. We should try to change that. Anybody who wants to write or send a parcel to a serviceman in Iraq or Afghanistan can find addresses on the net through BFPO.org.uk. The Armed Forces are among Britain's finest institutions. It is shameful that they are taking so much of the pain for this Government's deceits and failures.
I've been trying to figure out how to send some British soldiers an email or letter or care package through the British Forces Post Office site, but since I'm in the US, I don't think that it'll work. Any ideas are welcome. We should send them thanks.
The rest of the Telegraph article is interesting in a few ways. One, the author tries to say that America has been (mostly) successful in separating the support of the soldier from the support of the (unpopular) war. I think this is grossly incorrect - besides the point that I don't think that very many people support the troops (like you all here reading are doing). And I doubt that someone can truly support the troops and not support the war. Leave the politicians out of this argument as they all have motives for one or the other. I'm talking about your neighbors and friends and coworkers.
Second, the author goes on to describe the various legal problems that the military has in maintaining discipline and recruiting - legal problems caused by European Human Rights Laws that may make the upkeep of a military force impossible:
...Today, politicians and lawyers have thrust upon the Armed Forces restrictions and legal burdens designed to drive them into line with modern civilian practice. This is madness. Those who administer the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick are scarcely allowed to impose discipline on new recruits, lest they quit or sue.
Many line battalions have to run their own training programmes for alleged trained soldiers from the ITC, to render them fit to serve. Faced with the most rudimentary discipline - punctuality, kit inspections, morning runs, obedience to orders - many young men literally pack up and go home.
The excesses of European Human Rights law are bad enough in civil life, but disastrous when imposed upon the Services. The current issue of British Army Review carries a letter from a veteran warrant officer, suggesting that young soldiers no longer find it acceptable to give "casual salutes" to officers. The First Sea Lord, Sir Alan West, said this month that the Armed Forces face "legal encirclement" from human rights. Every officer knows what he means. Circumstance and misguided policy unite against discipline, confidence and morale.
The Armed Forces exist to do an extraordinarily tough job in harsh circumstances. Unless men can be conditioned for the tests every warrior faces on the battlefield, how can they meet these? Almost all military operations are carried out in heat, cold or wet, often in the dark watches of the night, by men who must risk their lives when tired and hungry, far from home.
One of the oldest military maxims is "train hard, fight easy". If Britain's Armed Forces are obliged to conform to the social and legal standards now prevailing in civil life, their future is bleak indeed, because these will render them unconvincing warriors.
A retired general tells me of conversations with several officers who have left the Services: "They say they find civilian life a breath of fresh air, because they no longer have to work with all the taboos and restrictions that are making uniformed life fantastically difficult. It's becoming easier to give an order in a civilian business than in a service unit."
Most of us have always taken pride in the fact that Britain's Armed Forces may not be the biggest, but man for man are the best. This will no longer be true, unless we change course. It is vital to get politicians and lawyers off the soldiers' backs. Political correctness may be a cliché, but for the services it has become a curse...
We could be in danger of the same thing.