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Question/Comment
10 August: I think what Pete refers to is an example of the Russians in their true colours. While they wax lyrical about respect for territorial integrity, they have form for quite the opposite. Two obvious examples spring to mind: Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 (not forgetting Afghanistan). Mr Putin is playing a dangerous game and the west needs to stand up to him. He is capitalising on the fact that the US has a lame-duck president, with Mr Bush on his way out and not able to make effective foreign policy decisions, while Mr Obama is on his way in and is totally inexperienced in any form of government decision making, let alone foreign affairs. It might have been a different story, of course, if it were Mrs Clinton in the running for president. Anthony
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9 August: kosovo breaks away from serbia and the russians condemn it as illegal. ossetia breaks from gerogia and gets supported by the russians. is this an example of double standards or just the ruskis doing their own thing. pete
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6 August: Will's comments show that politics are a dirty business. I'm not surprised of these accusations against the French. I can still remember their involvement in the Middle East supplying some dodgy countries with weapons and worse. Tess
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6 August: I read Andreas' comments and agreed with them and felt they supported the points I wanted to make in my post. He hit the nail on the head. Anthony
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A few years ago I made a similar point to a meeting I attended with visiting parliamentarians, one of whom had formally held a senior government legal post. When I suggested that article 2 might be considered as giving soldiers the right to life, as the country had not derogated from it, with all the consequences debated here, there were some hushed words subsequently uttered to the senior army officer hosting the meeting. It would be interesting to hear whether the views of that senior lawyer might have changed in the light of the Smith decision.     Aspals
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5 August: The papers today revealed that the French have been involved in assisting the Rwandan genocide. The calls for Karadic blood will no doubt be equalled by cries to put the suspected French politicians on trial for their part in the crimes against humanity carried out in Rwanda.    Will
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5 August: geoff, Karadic is an evil git and the sooner he's put away the better. the evidence against him is massive. pete
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5 August: I've just read Anthony's message of 20 july. I said something similar in my post to Aspals on 19 and 20 June last year. I recall I got a bit of a hard time about it. article 2 does apply to soldiers. There's been no derogation from the article by the government. Soldiers who are not properly provided for through a deliberate government policy or refusals to buy kit which is essential and can save there lives are not under any obligation to expose themselves to a higher risk of death by obeying orders to carry out tasks which would have borne less risk if the right kit was available.    Andreas
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Andreas is right. The Smith case made the same point that he did: "where there is a known risk to life which the State can take steps to avoid or to minimise, such steps should be taken". Quod erat demonstrandum. The court followed his advice!     Aspals
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1 August: Aspals reply to Caius made me think about the balance which needs to be struck in cases like this. In the end my view is that evil must be defeated at all cost and the law must be applied. How else will the families of victims feel that there is any justice.    Will
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1 August: I think that the ICTY decision is a foregone conclusion. Like Caius says, I cannot see how Karadic will get even the appearance of an impartial trial. Whatever the evidence, he is going to be found guilty.    Geoff
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28 July: The Tribunal does have the trappings of bias but the trouble is that in the cases of Karadic and Mladic, the evidence against them is pretty strong. The interesting question is how much other nations were aware of what was going on and still preparewere d to deal with the "evil" regime.   Caius
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I think Caius makes a very interesting point. In the world of international relations, nothing is black and white, despite how the newspapers and media wish to paint them and certainly, in my experience, despite what politicians say publicly. It is what the Germans call, "Realpolitik". According to today's Telegraph, Radovan Karadzic maintains there was a deal with Richard Holbrooke: "that in return for lying low, the United States of America would fulfil their commitments". Mr Holbrooke denies such a thing. But when one contrasts that with what Florence Hartmann, former spokeswoman and adviser to the previous court prosecutor, Carla del Ponte is reported in the same article to have said, that Holbrooke was widely regarded as having failed to deliver Karadzic, together with the fact that he was allowed to wander around quite openly and his motor car was known to NATO forces, one might start to suspect that what Mr Karadzic says has more than a grain of truth to it. Surely, if he had been under any danger of arrest, he would not have been so conspicuous.
Of course, none of this makes a deal, if such did exist, right. After all, the UN mandated the ICTY [Resolution 808 (1993), (adopted 22 February1993) (S/Res/808 (808))] to try persons responsible for serious violations of international law committed in the territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. Mr Karadzic was indicted by them. So, as a matter of law, it does not behove a single member state of the UN, or even several such states, to override the ICTY's authority just because it suits them at the time. I recall from my time in the FRY, that there was a great deal of frustration and anger on the part of the ICTY that NATO members were not living up to their commitments as members of the UN. My advice at the time that we should cooperate with the ICTY was never contradicted. It was never commented upon. But, in fairness, subsequently some arrests were made (of lower level commanders).
For NATO's part, I remember that when I was at HQ ARRC and I was being updated on the negotiations by my US counterpart who was at Dayton , there was some frustration on NATO's part that the ICTY had released news of its indictment against Mr Karadzic just before the Dayton meeting was to take place. The result was that Karadzic didn't go, although he was persuaded to give to Milosevic his authority to negotiate and sign the Dayton accord on his behalf. Which is what happened. I think Mr Milosevic might have raised a similar argument to Mr Karadzic at his own trial, had he lived to do so. Perhaps he did. I recall he was eager to call the US president and other senior figures as witnesses to what he had discussed with them. He died before any of this happened, so we shall never know.
Nevertheless, even were there is a deal, and on the available evidence I think some sort of deal was struck, it really does not cancel out the superior authority of a UN organ to exercise its jurisdiction. The law, as they say, is the law.
The downside in all of this is that, if we live in the real world and want to rid countries of evil leaders to save further suffering and bloodshed, always opting for the pious solution of the law may not be the best approach. Sometimes, doing "a deal" may be the best option. Unfortunately, if such deals are seen to be later reneged on, it hardly encourages tyrants (and I can think of one or two dotted around the world) to peacefully give up power and go into early retirement. While that may not be the pious approach, it probably achieves the desired objective - a cessation to suffering of the indegenous people - more speedily.
Postscript added 1 September: Ms Hartmann has been indicted for contempt by the ICTY for the comments she made. For more information visit the Tribunal's website.     Aspals
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28 July: You have to live in hope, Tess. Prof Osiel's book sounds worth reading.    Will
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28 July: Will shouldn't get his hopes up that an inquiry is going to get at the truth. There are too many vested interests to protect for that to happen. Like with the court martial, some small fry will get hung out to dry but everyone else higher up the ranks will deny responsibility or knowledge. Tess
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An interesting discussion on the topic of command denial of responsibility is to be found in Professor Mark Osiel's book, Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline and the Law of War .    Aspals
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27 July: At last the inquiry into Baha Mousa's death is going to happen. It is very worrying that the references to chain of command approval for what took place in the QLR base haven't been investigated fully. It needs to be clarified how it happened that banned interrogation techniques were not only used but were approved specifically by the lawyers. The inquiry will hopefully get to the bottom of this puzzle and also clarify who knew what in the unit. If people in positions of authority knew that prisoners were being beaten and subjected to stressing, then the inquiry needs to name names. As has been pointed out here, Payne could do this but he hasn't.   Will
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25 July: karadizc is as nutty as a fruitcake. i wouldnt put it past him to argue anything. hes an evil bas**rd and deserves what he gets.pete
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23 July: Anthony. Since when did a civil servant in the treasury let conscience get in the way of policy. None of the mandarins have consciences anyway. Least of all those in the treasury. Tess
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23 July: The next big trial in the Hague, that of Karadic, will be well worth following. I suspect there will be a lot of embarrassing material revealed about the world leaders of the time who were pressing for a deal in the Balkans and who were therefore prepared to turn a blind eye to what is now being labeled as war crimes. Will he argue condonation?   Caius
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22 July: John, you have my sympathy for the terrible way that you and your family were treated. In a strange way it is comforting to hear from fellow sufferers. Like someone said, the fault for military housing is the army's and no one else's. It's a classic example of how they treat their own. When I tried to complain about it, I was warned of the effect it would have on my husband's career. So we succumed to blackmail like so many others.    Jill
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22 July: The arrest of Karadic is tremendous news. The sooner he and his side kick Mladic are brought to trial the better. I can't help feeling though that the reason for his sudden arrest was due to nothing less than Serbia's self interest in becoming a member of the EU. For the same reason, I think its previous posturing over Kosovo will be be forgotten and Kosovo will be sacrificed for what Serbia sees as the huge financial benefits of EU membership.   Will
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22 July: The government owes a duty of care to all of us, especially those who it puts in harms way. The very idea that civilians who have never served in a cadet force let alone the services themselves should play God with the lives of our courageous servicemen is ineffably shameful. I also believe it breaches the article 2 rights of our servicemen. Anthony
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22 July:  Just on the back of my last post, I should have added that a year before I was posted to Germany, I had been diagnosed with a Dilated Cardiomyopathy. I'd picked up a viral infection whilst in Afghanistan on 'Op Fingle' and suffered heart failure on my return to the UK. I was medically downgraded to P7, although the Army had tried to shove me out on a P8. When in discussion about the state of our quarter with the SSO, I actually told him about my own health issue, as well as that of my eldest daughter. He wasn't the slightest interested. I actually felt a bit of a prat for mentioning it as it is something which I prefer not to speak about, but the stress of the whole episode was quite dangerous for me, and having never witnessed my wife so upset, I had only mentioned it in sheer desperation. The man just didn't give a 'monkeys' (pardon the pun as I was actually a WO2 in the SIB at the time), we were not getting a different quarter and that was the end of the matter. At that time, our furniture was in the back of a truck somewhere in Holland en-route Germany, so we were 'over a barrel' and the SSO knew this. I should also add, that we had to clean and paint the place once we had moved in. The carpets were so filthy, that we had to hire and industrial vax to clean them and even then, the end result wasn't exactly gleaming. My unit did reimburse us with most of the money we spent on the paint and cleaning materials.
That aside, there's always someone worse off than yourself. This is quite a sad story being discussed over on ARRSE:   http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=101676.html
After 22 years service, the Ghurka's are still being treated shoddily by this Government, yet they [the Gurkhas] have given so much for us. How very, very sad.    John
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21 July: I think the Services are exempted from prosecution for corporate manslaughter. They can kill their own soldiers without any fear of being brought to account in a criminal court. Tess
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21 July: I fully empathise with what Anthony says about the plight of our servicemen and women. While I would also very much like to see the Treasury official(s) who withold money for vital equipment prosecuted in the event of a soldier's death due to the absence of identified essential equipment they refused to provide funding for, I fear that it would not happen. The main difficulty as I see it is in the absence under the Act of a "relevant duty of care" owed by the Treasury to a member of the Ministry of Defence. All the Treasury does is provide the money. Budgetary allocations are set at the beginning of the fiscal year. How theirs is spent is up to the MoD. I suspect that the remoteness (in more than just the legal sense) of the Treasury will mean its officials can disregard with impunity the wellbeing of soldiers through the restriction of funding. But the government (which, I take it, is responsible for the Treasury) would find itself liable under article 2 for the death of any soldier in those circumstances. I agree that combat immunity would not be applicable. Pegasus
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20 July: Doesn't the nightmare just get worse? The insulting tales of equipment failures and deficiencies have been added to by the refusal of the Treasury to provide funding for an expense which has been acknowledged as necessary to save our soldiers lives: a replacement for the Snatch Landrover. While the government is content to give tax payers' money to foreign governments by way of aid payments, it is not prepared to buy essential vehicles to save the lives of our soldiers. These are recognised risks and have been the source of criticisms by coroners. This contempt for the lives of our soldiers is compounded by the failures within the Service to ensure that soldiers on operations actually receive their pay. And what sort of places do our soldiers and their families or their single colleagues have to live in? The accounts of the sort of squalor of such accommodation, highlighted on theses pages, is very troubling and should make the Services feel deeply ashamed, especially as these are long standing and known issues. Moreover, it is degrading treament. Would we tolerate councils to house their tenants in such conditions? Would we tolerate our prisoners to be housed in such conditions?
That soldiers continue to serve is unbelievable. The failure to provide proper housing is a breach of the military covenant by the army to its own people. The failure to provide pay to soldiers on ops is a breach of the military covenant by the army to its own people. The failure to provide proper and sufficient equipment to engage in combat ops is a breach of the military covenant by both government and the army.
However, the deliberate refusal to provide vehicles that will either eliminate or reduce casualties is not just a breach of the military covenant, it is grossly negligent and if a single soldier is killed as a result of this penny-pinching, the responsible official should be prosecuted. The Treasury is a Crown body listed in Schedule 1 to the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. It is difficult to see how there would be scope for any argument of combat immunity for such decisions. Oh, of course I have forgotten to mention the miserly compensation payments. Although they have been uprated recently, it must never again be the case that a typist with RSI is awarded more than a soldier with serious war injuries. Sir Jock Stirrup and Sir Richard Dannat might have welcomed the new compensation levels but it is very disappointing that they did not press for a fairer deal. There is still the possibility that someone claiming sex discrimination in the civil courts (on appeal from a Tribunal) might be awarded more than the upper compensation level for a soldier badly injured in combat. As for where the money comes from, the answer is simple. It comes from the government. If war is the extension of politics by other means (to paraphrase Clausewitz) and armies do the bidding of their political masters, it is absolutely right that the government picks up the bill for all injuries suffered by soldiers it has put in harm's way through pursuit of its policies.
So, if the Treasury and the government has effectively torn up the military covenant (aided and abetted by elements of the chain of command in its own shabby treatment of soldiers and their families), what sort of impact might this have? Well, first of all, any negligence or wilfulness which causes the loss of life brings into play article 2. Deliberately failing to provide equipment is at least negligent. When such failures are identified by a legal process and nothing is done to address them, then those failures move into the realm of gross negligence/wilfulness. If a soldier is ordered into combat with deficient equipment, where the risk of death or serious injury is clear, is that a legal order? Is his refusal to obey such an order culpable? The government has not derogated from article 2. The soldier's right to life is therefore clear. While through his role as a combat soldier he acknowledges that he will face danger and possible death in fulfilling his duty, he expects to have the best equipment available to him. Where there are identified improvements to that equipment, he is entitled to expect that they are brought into service without delay. So, if the government turns round and says it is not prepared to spend money to save his life, it has failed to minimise the risk to his life and in those circumstances it has breached article 2. He is therefore entitled to say he will not risk his life.
The question of housing for service families (and singletons) is degrading. The sorts of issues which John specifically relates have clearly had an impact upon the health of at least one member of his family. There are article 3 issues here. What the services also need to wake up to is the policy of kicking families out of service accommodation on the posting of the service spouse, even though children may be in a critical stage of their education in local schools. That raises article 8 rights. Anthony
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19 July:  I find the comparison between the allowances afforded to MPs for their housing and the standards of Forces housing (including Single Soldiers Accn) appalling, but let's not lose ourselves in the image that this is a new thing and the sole fault of this current Government.

Soldiers 'housing' has been in a state for decades. Successive governments have treated soldiers like 4th class citizens for years and their families like 'camp followers'. I served nearly 25 yrs in all and although I've only ever lived in 2 Service Quarters, they were both in a right state when we moved into them. The first was in a UK Garrison when we were just married in 1993. We moved into our own home two years later and I went unacompanied on successive tours up until the last tour when I was posted to [Germany] in 2004. Our Quarter in [H] had been taken over for us before we arrived there. It was damp, filthy and stank to the high heavens. There was excrement wiped on the back of the toilet door, all of the light sockets had been pulled out and the carpets contained so much sand and grit, it was apparant that they'd never seen the business end of a hoover for a substantial period of time. That's a brief description.

What needs investigating is the 'Guaranteed March Out Scheme' which operates in Germany, for which soldiers pay out a couple of hundred pounds to have their Quarters cleaned before leaving. There was no way that the quarter I was given had been cleaned, but the previous occupant had paid for it to be so. I have no idea who runs this 'scheme' as the SSO's Office were reluctant to talk to me about it.

The Estate 'Manager' for [H] at that time, and I use the term 'manager' in it's loosest sense, wasn't interested.

We were 'granted' an interview with the SSO who more or less told us to get lost. He made it clear and in no uncertain terms that we were not going to get another quarter and if we didn't like it, we could live in our car. This comment was heard by all, including a Major, who were present. My wife was distraught. Our daughters were 5 & 3 yrs old at the time. We still have the photographs of the damage caused by damp in the kitchen in that quarter (it was black) and in one of the children's bedrooms if anyone is interested, and I can tell you beforehand, that it was worse than that depicted in the BBC image. My eldest had breathing problems at that time, for which she was under treamtent, but even when informed of that issue, the SSO was totally unmoved. His word was most definately not going to be challenged. My daugher is now asthmatic. Even when I took the matter up with my own Chain of Command, they were reluctant to address the matter with the SSO. We were more or less left to fight our own un-winnable battle.

It's not just the attitude of the politicians that needs to change, it is also that of the MoD Civil Servants who are on the 'tax free' gravy train in most of the Continental Garrisons. Rank is not an issue either. At the time of this episode, I was a Warrant Officer. Had I been a 21 yr old Lance Corporal, I dread to think of the sort of reception I would have recieved from those employed to help me.

We were fortunate enough about 10 months later when another of the Estate Managers, went behind the SSO's back (when he was on leave) and moved us into a more habitable Quarter just up the road.

My point in all of this is, that service families are utterly helpless at the hands of people within the organisation, who are former soldiers themselves, who view soldiers as cattle and a buggerence to their day. Combine this with the greed of politicians and you can see why so many soldiers spouses want their other half to leave the service and move home. I for one was so glad to leave the Army. [Edited by Aspals , to protect individuals being identified.]    John
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17 July: The awful condition of army housing was covered by the BBC in an article on their website yesterday. If you want to learn about how military families are treated as opposed to MPs with generous allowances for second homes you should read it. I provided Aspals with the link.    Jill
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17 July: There are several bandwagons rumbling. The MoD is seen as a cash cow by many undeserving claims, although there are a few like the Musa case where clear criminal behaviour by our soliders has to be compensated. On a different note, Anthony's shocking tale of the treatment of soldiers who are in Afghanistan not receiving their pay beggars belief. I can't for the life of me think why anyone does the job.Tess
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13 July: The latest spectacular claim against our troops will doubtless lead to much media squaddie bashing, even though the breadbasket incident happened 5 years ago. I wonder whether the sudden eagerness to complain about the matter was influenced in any way by the recent payouts in the Al Skeini/Musa cases? Do I hear the rumble of an Iraqi bandwagon?   Caius
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12 July: sounds like jill speaks from bitter experience. its not just married quarters that are bad. you should see some of the places single soldiers were billeted.pete
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12 July: It seems Simon Heffer writing in today's Telegraph shares Anthony's views.   Will
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11 July: The attitude of the MoD has been much criticised of late but I have learned of a tale today which shows that the army itself has less than clean hands when it comes to the treatment of its own soldiers. A young soldier recently sent out to Afghanistan has had his salary payments messed up successively by the army. Now he is in Afghan and feels powerelss to get it resolved. All the same, his bills have to be paid, but he has no money to pay them. His bank has just billed him charges for being overdrawn and, with such worries on his mind, he is expected to engage with the enemy. But at times he is left wondering who the enemy is. I have advised that he can redress. It was slightly naive advice, as the process would not be complete before his tour is up and his financial problems are immediate and growing. Additionally, not many soldiers are so eager to be seen as whingers who complain about the system.
The army pay system was introduced several years ago and it is lamentable that it still fails to perform its simple task: to pay soldiers every month. It is even more so when it sends its soldiers in harms way and allows personal financial worries like this to fester and potentialy act as a serious distraction to them at a time when they need to retain their focus on their military tasks. Anthony
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10 July: The MOD payoff was the right thing to do. They didn't have a leg to stand on in terms of liability - our soldiers were responsible for what happened to those poor Iraqis. The cash settlement, which was obviously to the satisfaction of the victims, has brought some form of closure to them for their suffering. I think the MOD and its lawyers deserve some praise for doing the right thing for once.   Caius
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10 July: I don't think anyone is surpirsed by the payout in the musa case. After all, the MOD would never have risked a trial with a lower standard of proof where all the embarrassing questions which the military trial failed to answer could be put without the sort of over protective restrictions a criminal trial places in the way of the truth - all in the name of a fiar trial.Fair to who, I wonder. The payoff also protected individuals from exposure to those embarrassing questions.   Will
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10 July: Reference to Briony. If Payne does write a book he shouldn't be allowed to keep the proceeds and profit from his admitted crimes. Any profits should go to compensate the families of those he was responsible for abusing. Now that MoD has shelled out £2.8 million to Mr Musa Snr and the survivors of the QLR detention centre, I hope they feel that they have received some type of justice even if the criminal court martial failed to do that.Tess
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10 July: The recent announcement of the findings of the attitude survey of members of the armed forces is hardly surprising to anyone – save, that is, the government. On radio 4 this morning, Derek Twigg displayed the oft cited Blackadder command to Baldrick attitude by denying the problem, saying that squaddies were happy with the number of tours and the standard of equipment. I wonder which survey Mr Twigg had read. It certainly wasn't the one that CDS had read. The families of service personnel killed in soft skinned landrovers might also have some thoughts about Mr Twigg's appraisal. However, with a member of the government displaying such a manifest refusal to acknowledge that servicemen are deeply unhappy, is it any wonder that the services and general public have lost all confidence in this government, with its part-time Secretary of State for Defence (after all, the job is so easy that it does not need anyone's full attention) and a cabinet without a single ex-serviceman among it. That is perhaps why the daily dangers faced by servicemen on operations, compounded by the inadequate standard of equipment, are not understood properly and why they continue to be treated with contempt. Anthony
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10 July: So the RAF think that their living conditions are bad. They should see some of the places squaddies and their families have to live in. Although things are a lot better than they used to be (and "better" is a relative term), many houses are still in cr**py order. Some of the places we were quartered in overseas were actually unfit to live in.    Jill
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8 July: I can understand to an extent the resentment of Donal Payne. After all, he is probably regretting is decision to plead guilty. Looking at the way the trial went, he would probably have been acquitted along with the others. Instead, he served jail time when the others walked scot free. I hope he writes a book about it all.    Briony
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8 July: Tess hit the nail on the head with her assessment of the latest developments in the Musa case. It always struck me as odd that Cpl Payne remained quiet. It is hard to figure out why he should do that when like Tess says, he knows what went on and who was in an out of the place when all the abuse was going on. It's time for him to name names. Until he does that, he cannot redeem himself in the eyes of those who still respect principles of justice. Or am I being too idealistic in thinking such noble ideals still exist in our society?   Will
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7 July:  The sad tale of the death of Baha Musa after he and his fellow Iraqi prisoners were beaten and tortured by British soldiers continues along, with the government scoring own goal after own goal and deliberately increasing the anxiety and pain suffered by the survivors and their families. This time, it is the incompetence in handling their UK entry visas. One stands open mouthed in disbelief. Now, interestingly enough, it's revealed that the witnesses at the court-martial were treated, how shall I say, less than considerately by, guess who, the British Army who were looking after them and hosting the court martial which was, wait for it, trying British soldiers for, yes, you know what's coming, torturing those witnesses and killing their friend.
I don't know whether the long awaited inquiry will ever get to the truth. It is the ECHR and the road to Europe that provides hope for these Iraqi men and their families rather than the vagaries of British justice which has seen serious crimes go unpunished and, importantly, the death of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner left unresolved. The military on trial before a military tribunal does not instil confidence in an impartial trial process and it most surely does not look impartial. Because of the potential embarrassment to the UK, the MoD will inevitably pay up huge compensation to avoid having to answer in a court room the sort of difficult questions posed so often on these pages. If it does not, the UK's dirty linen will be most publicly washed in the European Court of Human Rights. The reputation of the British Army, and those in the chain of command of the holding unit, will be truly damned. They will be remembered down through history, for all the wrong reasons. That is a tragedy both for our army and for the members of the QLR who served their regiment and their country with distinction.
As for Donald Payne feeling furious with his treatment by the army and feeling he was made a 'scapegoat', I would say two things. He did plead guilty and, second, he knows what happened and who also knew about or participated in the abuse, yet he has observed a Mafia like code of silence. He should do the decent thing and spill the beans. That would truly make amends for what he admitted to doing. Tess
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5 July:  As a law student who actually buys law books, I had (coincidentally) only just last week, considered buying 'next years' books via Amazon. Not anymore. Best of luck Aspals John
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4 July:  The announcement by Aspals of the severing of links with Amazon is not surprising. They sound as if the behaved despicably. But what I find really scary is the idea that they spy on us and our computers to gather infromation on who buys books from them. Tess
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Thanks for the messages of support. As we are considering legal action, we do not wish to jeopardise it so would ask for your understanding if we do not publish any specific comments about our potential case. We are very sorry that our sponsored authors, in a specialist market, have meanwhile been deprived of an outlet, albeit as modest as we are, for promoting their works to a wider audience.     Aspals
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4 July: Bully boy companies may have chosen the wrong target. Go get em Aspals. Amazon is out for me.Ramon
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4 July: sorry to hear that amazon have behaved like sh**s. i shant buy anymore books from them. pete
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4 July: What an honourable French officer! We need some like him to join our own General Dannatt. What price for standing up to the bully boy pinkos in government who have no idea of what soldiering is about. Instead we end up with a part-time Secretary for Defence . Pongo
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1 July: I am delighted to read that the army is at last reviewing the deployment of soft skinned vehicles. I would like to think, as Roger says, that the life of a serviceman now is recognised as worth more than that of an armoured vehicle. Unfortunately, being the cynic that I am, based upon my experience in dealing with MoD, I suspect that the decision to do the right thing (even though at some time in the future) was prompted more by the fear of financial loss through legal action by families, such as that recently announced, rather than any genuine desire to provide the best kit to our soldiers.
The policy of opting for the cheapest option pervades most MoD thinking, whether it is kit (where they go even further and fail to provide the appropriate items) or housing (such as remains) where overall standards are often appalling, repairs are rudimentary and decoration sporadic, yet rents are still deducted and soldiers families expected to put up with it. I suspect that when soldiers think about the applicability of articles 3 and 8, the MoD might find that it has to dip into its pockets again. Then of course, there is the matter of requiring families to move out of service accommodation and uproot children from schools whenever the service spouse is posted, whether or not they would rather leave them where they are, to provide stability in education. Article 8, once more? Anthony
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24 June: I hesitate to join in the discussion over the applicability of art 2 ECHR as I know that there is likely to be litigation on the point by families of deceased or injured servicemen, but I am going to. I think that Anthony and Roger must be right in their views on article 2. The MoD is likely to be seriously hit by claims. The knowing deployment of soldiers and airmen with defective or deficient kit is not something MoD can just shrug its shoulders about. If any company sent its employees into highly dangerous environments with equipment it knew was defective, insufficient or not appropriate for the tasks ahead, its directors would be taken to the cleaners if not prosecuted for corporate manslaughter. Luckily for the MOD it escapes prosecution under the exemption for the conduct, preparation and support of military operations as well as other hazardous and unpredictable circumstances, including peacekeeping operations and operations dealing with terrorism or serious public disorder. But while they have a get out of gaol card for criminal liability, it is not so straightforward when it comes to civil liability and I doubt they are so confident that the old cases covering combat immunity are still reliable. I think that the Smith case does change things a lot. All I can say to the families suing for compensation is, good luck. They deserve it more than a typist with wrist strain or a transexual, or female with hurt feelings. Pegasus
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24 June: There's no getting away from the fact that it is really sickening that a woman claiming she was badly treated for not getting the same medal as the leader of the military operation she was part of, feels she can sue the army for £650k and isn't even embarrassed to ask for that amount when badly injured soldiers are lucky to get just under half of that. It should not be allowed to happen and I'm not sure I follow Lewis's point here. Saying there should be a free for all for that type of claim but not for horrific injury seems most unfair. I wonder why she felt it necessary to mention her muslim roots? What had that got to do with her complaints about the way she was allegedly treated by the Brigadier who gave her a hug? Tess
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19 June: I was very saddened to read about the deaths of yet more of our servicemen, one of whom was a lovely young woman, in a road side bomb incident which blew apart their soft skinned vehicle. The interviews with her father and mother were very moving. It made me ask myself why are we sending our valuable servicemen out in inadequate vehicles and not equiping them properly. Anthony made the point about the applicability of article 2 and the betrayal of the MoD. These are very pertinent observations but, putting aside legal arguments, I can't understand how morally a government can make a conscious decision based solely on financial grounds, that the life of a serviceman is worth less than the cost of an armoured vehicle. However, as we know, an attack on a soft skinned vehicle is likely to kill everyone inside, not so with an armoured vehicle. Betrayal is too kind a word. Contempt is more apposite.    Roger
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19 June: whether jacko and dannatt got on isnt something i know about but i think they probably didnt cos ive not heard jacko stick up for him and you normally do stick up for your mates in my experience.   pete
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18 June: Pete's right about General Dannatt. He has really stuck his head above the parapet for his soldiers. That was bound to annoy the likes of Brown and Browne. I heard Jacko on radio 4, Even he was not prepared even now he's out of the army to criticise or comment on the decision. Did he and Dannatt get on together I wonder.   Will
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17 June: poor old dannatts been stuffed by browne. punished for sticking up for his service to protect it from the mod. i heard browne deny it this morning. like someone said the balkdrick defense.   pete
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15 June: surprised no one on this sites got anything to say about the lawyer paid off by the cash rich mod when she claimed she didnt get fair treatment. does nayone know if the press reports are accurate as theres some doubt about this on the arrse site.   pete
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12 June: Lewis says I am not comparing like with like. He is probably technically right. Whatever the criteria that claims have to be measured against, and whoever holds the purse strings, or the power to make the key decision, the point ultimately is one of fairness in the manner that the claimant is treated and whether the hurt endured is compensated well enough. I don't see it can ever be right, or fair, that claiming for discrimination or personal injury through eg operating a typewriter or keyboard can be equated with injuries sustained in combat. The problem is that courts/tribunals award too much, and the MOD too little. That's why the huge disparity arises.    Will
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11 June: Will is not comparing like with like.
It is not that the courts should be more strict with claims - if negligence is proved and damages awarded, the amounts will be the normal civilian rate.
The reason the operational compensation is proportionally lower is because they have to be assessed in accordance with a government scheme, which is very specific in allowable amounts.
If you are not comparing like with like, you are going to get these disparities. It would be interesting to see the comparable amounts that would be awarded in the civil courts as criminal injury claims.
I have my own ideas on why the new scheme was introduced. I believe the budget for awards comes from the MOD pot.    Lewis Cherry
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10 June: I happen to agree with Pete. The Tories stuffed the services in the 90s with their policy of drawdown. They took a machete to the army and cut its strength by 40,000. The so called peace dividend. Now our soldiers have more commitments than ever before, have less money committed to them, because treasury allocations have failed to increase at the real rate needed to allow the services to buy necessary equipment and train at the level needed. Consumed by political correctness it's prey to ludicrous claims for compensation at just about every turn. Treating people fairly is something most people probably agree with. But we have to do something about the compensation happy new breed of soldier who runs to the courts at the drop of a hat. What's more, courts should be more robust in their approach to lots of these claims. Like many people I find it lamentable that compensation levels paid by MOD to servicemen with hurt feelings is much greater than what is paid to servicemen seriously injured in combat. I just can't help coming to the conclusion that this government just does not give a toss about the Services.   Will
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8 June: dont kid yourself will that the other lot are any better. des brown hardly knows different. hes never served in the army or any of the other services come to that. as a part time minister of defence his lack of commitment to the job is obvious.    Pete
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7 June: The offensive choice of words of the Defence Secretary really do highlight why it is that there is no confidence in him or MOD to safeguard the interests of our troops. He should be sacked from his part-time job. Thank God that the CGS is not afraid to speak out. Not only do MoD fail to provide life-saving equipment to our troops, they squander a billion pounds on Chinook helicopters, through a monumental cock-up, pay out compensation to RAF typists for a wrist injury in a sum almost twice what they pay to seriously injured servicemen who have served their country selflessly, and they pay huge sums in compensation to women alleging sex discrimination (again almost twice what injured servicemen get) or those with hurt feelings. Throughout all of this Browne slanders our soldiers by telling them they haven't got the qualifications to become parking attendants and thats why they are paid significantly less. Like Tess says, MoD is the enemy of our servicemen.    Will
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25 May: Anthony's item on the Nimrod inquest makes a number of great points and makes them well. It is often difficult to decide whether the MOD is the supporter of the military or its enemy. I agree with Anthony that failing to put right equipment flaws and ensuring proper supply of equipment does reach grossly negligent proportions, as he says. Papers report that 10 Nimrod pilots and crew have had some doubts about the safety of the aircraft and had left the service before the inquest which supports the idea that the Nimrod problem was an open secret.
Anthony made another good point about compensation. Today's papers refer to compensation for a sex change officer being in the sum of a quarter of a million pounds. Discrimination of any sort is wrong, but saying hurt feelings are worth as much as a soldiers combat injuries is morally offensive, yet the MOD has no problem is settling such a claim. Why do soldiers still join up? Tess
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24 May: The recent criticism by the Coroner for Oxford, Mr Andrew Walker, concerning the safety of the Nimrod, due to a fuel pipe passing close to a bare hot air pipe, and the fact that its design flaws were known long ago, should be deeply worrying for the government coming, as it does, so soon after the high court ruled on the applicability of article 2 ECHR to soldiers on active service (Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.) Mr Walker found that the Nimrod design did not comply with the relevant safety standards and was not airworthy even when first cleared for service in 1969. The reaction of the MoD is the predictable head-in-the sand response that we have come to know - a rejection of the findings - typifying the "Baldrick defence" that they rely on so often: Deny everything. The deaths of 14 of our servicemen through the operation of a faulty aircraft, with a known design fault, does not seem to have registered as a matter where there may be official culpability. On the contrary, the MoD response is that they will carry on using these aircraft, in spite of the Coroner's findings on the evidence put before him. They insist that modifications since the incident mean the aircraft is safe. Others are not convinced. Yet more servicemen stand to lose their lives as a result of flying in these aircraft.
The fact that recent decisions show that the application of the ECHR is extra-territorial means that the government - and MoD - should no longer be complacent. It is one thing to say, in a national emergency, everything must be done to fend off an attack from an enemy or to undertake a major external military commitment in the interests of national self preservation, when the state of equipment may not be at its best but the emergency of the situation assumes an overriding importance requiring urgent response, to that of combat which has been ongoing for some time, where the weaknesses of equipment, or shortfalls in it, have been known about and yet nothing done to address them, resulting in the avoidable loss of the lives of our treasured servicemen (and women). That represents a gross breach of the duty of care owed to servicemen.
When flaws in equipment used have been known about for some, that knowledge, or any failure through research and development to address ways of minimising the concomitant risk to life, would amount to negligence of such a dimension that one might consider it to be gross, that is, criminal. The government, of course, remains above the criminal law in this respect, but not out of the reach of article 2 of the ECHR, which guarantees the right to life. It is difficult to see how it has any defence to proceedings on this point, if it knew about the risk. It is made all the more shameful by the way compensation is capped in respect of servicemen and women injured. One is reminded of the comparison with the amount paid to an RAF typist for repetitive strain injury from operating a keyboard.
The constant response of the MoD is deeply troubling and insulting to our military. The simple fact remains that, if we put our service men and women into life threatening situations, in or out of combat, we must ensure as swiftly as possible that they have the best equipment money can buy in order to do the job that the government sent them to do, especially if it is done in pursuance of its foreign policy. Anything less is a betrayal. Anthony
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