Monday, May 22, 2006

Killing in the name of...

I'm no fan of the Army, but tonight's episode of Dispatches, entitled Battle Fatigue, on Channel 4 was long overdue. It essentially looked at young British soldiers who had been seriously injured (limbs blown off) while on duty in Iraq, and put forward a compelling case that neither the Army nor the government is lifting a finger to assist with their recovery, rehabilitation and physiotherapy once they've been returned to the UK.

Woefully inadequate military funding given the scope of the "Iraq operation" is obviously the main culprit here, and lucky new Defence Secretary Des Browne (who?) is likely to face some stiff questioning over the next few days. The gist of which will be, presumably, if these people risk their lives in the name of your government, why is your government doing so little in return to protect their lives?

Hosted by Andrew "Sexed Up" Gilligan, this was a solid piece of reporting, but one that I felt could have gone much further in light of the issues it brings up. From the earliest days of the war in Iraq, it was common knowledge that the US soldiers referred to the Brits as "the borrowers", due to their lack of the most basic of supplies. More recently, the widow of at least one British soldier killed in Iraq has made much of the fact that her husband's death could possibly have been prevented had he been given the correct protective gear to wear. Why do the Brits seem to be so terminally ill-prepared? Much was made in the Canadian media in 2001/2, when they entered the sandy brown plains of Afghanistan with a choice of olive green khakis or bright white snow camouflage fatigues.... but for Britain, which has a much bigger Army, the problem is rather less funny, and somehow a lot more disturbing.


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