The British Army and its ‘Paper Soldiers’

News from Mannin Branch Celtic League:

Nationalists were pretty scathing just over a year ago when the decision was taken to establish a British military presence on the Island via a military reserve force. Both Mec Vannin and the Celtic League campaigned for years to get them out of the Isle of Man so you could be bleeding sure we wouldn’t welcome them back!

Still others including the Manx government and the media were positively in raptures over the plan. Manx Radio was doing a ‘Vera Lynn’ routine daily as the ‘war toys’ display took shape on Douglas promenade.

Periodically there after there were updates but then silence. Like the Ninth Roman Legion the Reserves just disappeared!

We thought we would check how the MODs – so called FR2020 – plan was going.

Even when Manx Radio was blasting out ‘there’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover’ the plan was in trouble. A year earlier in 2014 the Army which had committed itself to increasing the Reserves to 30,000 to counter-balance a decrease in 20,000 in the regular forces was running well behind. The annual run rate target was around 2,200 (+11,000 / 5 years). But in that the size of the Reserve had increased just fractionally. At that (2014) rate the Army would miss its target of adding 11,000 reservists by 2018 by about 535 years (that’s not a typo)!

This led the Army to increase the upper age limit for certain recruits from 45 to 50 and other inducements including enhanced allowances.

It didn’t seem to work however as in June 2015 just a month after the much trailed launch of the campaign here the BBC was reporting the FR2020 plan as unachievable (link):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33279565

Then earlier this year a ‘whistleblower’ revealed that ‘only one in ten were turning up for duty’

This report in the Daily Express said;

‘Over half those who do attend fail their medicals and others cannot even assemble a rifle.

‘Senior sources said many units are padded out with “paper soldiers” who are on the books and get paid but never turn up, and that this was a ploy to satisfy the Government drive to have 30,000 reservists by 2018.

‘One senior military source said one particular unit with 100 reservists on its books was regularly only able to field six men for vital military manoeuvres, with the willing half-dozen having to act out the parts of both the British forces and the enemy.

‘He said its commanders have been told not to process requests by reservists wishing to leave, meaning they continue to be paid even when they do not attend.

‘Another source, this time with the Royal Yeomanry, a light cavalry reservist unit, revealed its commanders were also ignoring bi-annual number checks and stretching them out for a year, allowing reservists who quit to be kept on the books for an extra six months.

‘Even so its recruitment figures are 40 per cent down, from more than 200 to 90, across its bases in London, Croydon, Windsor, Nottingham, Leicester, Dudley and Telford.

‘Describing his reservist unit in the south of England, a senior source said: “We have what we call paper soldiers that are officially accounted for but never attend.’

Full link here:

http://www.express.co.uk/…/British-armed-forces-military-re…

So it’s going well then!

Here’s some music to cheer the Colonel Blimps in our midst up – maybe Manx radio could add it to there play list:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_f5NbPOOGE

BERNARD MOFFATT
Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch

Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.

05/12/16

 

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