Those poor soldiers

Apparently, if you compare the wages of soldiers with traffic wardens the poor old grunts come off worse, according to the head of the armed forces General Sir Richard Dannatt.

Except that’s actually a load of old bollocks. The good General and knight of the realm is being just a little misleading – I’m sure it’s unintentional, him being such a respected state figure and all - when he fails to point out that, unlike the average traffic warden, our boys in khaki also get a number of little perks. Nothing much, just subsidised lodgings and food, training, financial and career advice, medical and dental care, ‘tours’ to what amount to a succession of holiday destinations in peacetime, much more extensive leave than any other profession – you know, the little things.

It feels churlish to even mention it really, except that the army already do so across most of their hugely expensive recruitment literature.

I’d venture to say that our esteemed old commanding officer is actually saying something a bit different than the old chestnut of ‘give us more money, we’re underappreciated’ – something which for a bluff old patriot, proud of British mettle and the ability of the lower orders to come good against Johnny Foreigner must come as a bitter pill to swallow.

Nobody wants to fight. We have on our hands an entire generation of young adults who are asking ‘why the fuck would I want to enter an army which is constantly on a war footing, and where there’s a real chance I’m going to get my head cut off’? Yes it’s good money but what’s that worth if I’ve got no limbs to spend it on?

The fact is the grand victory of Thatcherism, the building of mercenary values across an entire population which destroyed the very concept of solidarity for a higher cause, be it working class pride or the urge to lay down your life “for your country”, is a crippling blow to the military in wartime, when it asks for self-sacrifice in the name of an illusory concept of valour and glory.

Of course to say this directly would be deeply embarrassing for all concerned but inevitably, Brown’s desperate nationalism and attempts to ban anti-soldier sentiment aside, the only way to get around this problem now has to be… more money. Yet more cash diverted from the NHS, education, pensions and services to the dusty, bloody-rusty theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan.

No wonder the treasury is looking a bit threadbare.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Jun 5 2008 14:29



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Jul 10 2008 18:58

Oh, those lucky soldiers with their subsidized baracks-living. Hell, they don't even have to buy their own bullets.

...what the fuck was the point of this, again?

Jul 11 2008 03:24

well if they haven't figured out yet that all they have to do is quit the army and join up with private military contractor corporations to make six figures doing the same shit, i guess they must indeed be clinging to some illusion of honor and valor, which of course is annihilated by the fact of military contractors doing the potato-peeling and bulkhead painting for em...

Jul 11 2008 08:25

antieverything - dude its really not that complicated, read it again

Rob Ray
Jul 11 2008 08:48

You can't get paid six-figure salaries from private military companies without experience which is generally gathered in a regular military posting. And I'm not talking about the troops which are already in, a fair number of whom may well buy this "honour and valour" stuff. I'm talking about the ones which might have been in years gone by and who patently obviously aren't joining up now.

Compare the attitude to 1914, or 1939 - where the British government had no problems getting a mass callup going, at least initially. We're not talking about a few thousand from a population of 60 million here, but a high percentage of the able-bodied young men from entire communities. White feathers being given out to people who didn't sign up, that sort of thing.

That's what I'm getting at when I say that the old tories etc must feel kind of embarrassed, because in their rush to help Thatcher destroy communities/unions resisting exploitation, they also destroyed the motivations for people to fight for Queen and Country in favour of Everyone for Themselves.

Jul 14 2008 11:27

sure, plus the fact that most kids these days just aren't in good enough physical shape for the military; too much junk food, tv, soda, cars and internet. of course getting your ass kicked by drill sergeants and then dying in the desert for no reason seems like it would require a hell of a lot more movtivation than college money, but i guess facing the fact that there's nothing to do in their neighborhood and then figuring they might as well join up does just as good a job of making cannon fodder as does believing the fiction that there's a god country queen etc worth killing and dying for.
as for the white feathers, i guess the idiotic jingoism of the immediate post world trade center times did as good a job making people feel like they had to prove their patriotism by joining the military, but that's ending too.