What a surprise

The BBC is reporting that the British Armed Forces are currently struggling with retention of personnel because morale has been damaged by increasing levels of operational commitment:

The strain of operating at full capacity in Afghanistan and Iraq has left the services “deteriorating”, a defence select committee report says.

Personnel do not get enough rest time, and budgets are spiralling out of control, its annual MoD report adds.

Defence minister Bob Ainsworth said the forces were achieving “our highest priority – success on operations”.

Well, what a surprise. Military personnel are feeling overworked and overstretched? You could see this coming from decades ago, back during my early years in the RAF when Options for Change was announced and the defence budgets were slashed. Let’s make our armed forces so small that they can hardly maintain their current commitments, never mind any new campaign that might appear on the horizon.

One of my main reasons for leaving the RAF was entirely down to these sorts of government policy decisions. I was servicing in a tactical unit from RAF Brize Norton (TCW – Tactical Communications Wing) and spent over half the year either abroad on operation or away on exercise. There were not enough people working on too many commitments and when I was offered an extension on my contract (from my current 12 years to 22 years) I declined. Sod that for a game of soldiers.

It’s a shame, because I loved the work that I did but I spent so long away from home that family life was detrimentally affected. There were plenty of others in the same boat as me too, so to see them now complaining about recruitment levels just makes me laugh. You reap what you sow.

Still, if you’re prepared for a lot of travel and enjoy being deployed all over the world at short notice then I could still heartily recommend trying the UK forces as a career option. Just don’t sign on for too long initially, and don’t plan on being married. It really isn’t a career for those wanting to see their other half.

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