British Armed Forces and Historic Allegations – Morale and Operational Effectiveness Under Threat
The term ‘Historic Enquiry’ is now infamously etched into the minds of our servicemen. Perhaps, except in the abode of the accusers, the British public are equally sickened by this perpetual ‘witch hunt’ and ‘fishing expedition’ designed it seems to march the guilty bastards in. The guilty in this case seeming to be anyone who ever wore Her Majesty’s uniform and happened to be on duty in the vicinity of any incident – service or police.
DS can accept that former enemies and their British apologists will use every method to relentlessly pursue a hypocritical and pernicious prosecution agenda, but what we cannot stomach is the disingenuous political self-serving stance taken by successive British Governments. It should be borne in mind that it was these same governments that sent our armed forces and police services into harm’s way to protect British interests overseas or life and property at home. Yet, when allegations begin to fly, almost always at middle ranking and junior personnel, our service chiefs and political masters dive for the cover of judicial process.
DS is not condoning criminal behaviour nor is it saying that evidence of wrong doing should be suppressed, but there is a world of difference between following hard evidence indicating that a crime has been committed and trawling through hazy historic records and innuendo to find it. Indeed, the UK has a well-established criminal procedure – the police investigate, assemble evidence, make arrests; the Crown Prosecution Service determines whether there is a case to answer in the public interest; and the courts hear and dispose of the case – with justice delayed being synonymous with justice denied. The latter having equal weight for the victims and the accused.
It is this combination of multiple historic allegations, the passage of time and a feeling that political and service masters will hang serving or retired personnel out to dry that is the morale killer. It may already be affecting recruiting – why join a fighting force that will train you to use weapons but then refuse to support you if you do use them? For serving personnel the effect upon future operational decision making could be stultifying. “If I fire and accidentally kill a non-combatant nobody will believe that it was not deliberate or reckless, best not fire at all.”
There is a growing perception in ‘Service’ communities that the nature of the business of armed force makes them easy targets for inquiries and over the years there seem to have been more of them than in other professions. Could one reason for this be because members of the Armed Forces are prohibited from talking to their politicians and/or the public?