Spot the difference……
Let me begin by saying that I am very, very proud of British forces, wherever they serve. I am indeed, very proud of my families’ own military record, including the gallantry award of my grandfather who served in the First World War and my uncle’s service in Korea and elsewhere. If life had opened certain other doors to me I may well have entered the service myself. Every man or woman that pulls on the uniform and takes the shilling is a real hero, and, no-one who has not seen battle is fit to comment on those that have.
However, there does seem to be a very different treatment of serving soldiers who criticise the role they have been asked to play, or, the political judgement of those who choose to put them in harm’s way.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton faced a charge of desertion but was sent to jail for nine months in March this year for his refusal to fight the war in Afghanistan and going AWOL (absent without leave) – a war which he believes is unjustified and a senseless loss of life for Afghans and British soldiers alike.
This sentence seemed to ignore many possibly accentuating circumstances such as evidence that Joe had post-traumatic stress disorder, that he had raised concerns about the war with his superiors and been bullied as a result, and that he had voluntarily returned to barracks after going absent without leave. Even the judge at his trial made it clear the sentence was not based on the facts of the case alone but on a desire to deter other members of the military from taking a stand of conscience.
Colonel Bob Seddon, the officer in charge of the Army’s bomb disposal teams, has resigned after voicing concern over the pressure his unit faces on the frontline and stressing the need for reinforcements.
Speaking in a TV documentary made by the wife of one of his bomb disposal experts who was killed last year in Afghanistan, said that the Army was trying to train more people to destroy the buried explosives that litter southern Afghanistan but it would take time. He also said that he was very concerned about the long-term psychological impact on soldiers of the pressure of dealing repeatedly with potentially fatal incidents. Colonel Bob will be allowed to stay in the army until he “retires” next January.
I respect both men enormously, but, there does seem to be a stark difference in the way that they have been treated.
To those that serve – thanks and be careful out there!
RIP Staff Sergeant Schmid…………
- UK soldier: Jail better than Afghan war (indigenist.blogspot.com)
- War hero gets George Cross (thesun.co.uk)