Ministry of Defence announcement:
Service personnel and their families are being encouraged to register to vote in this year's upcoming elections.
Ministry of Defence announcement:
Service personnel and their families are being encouraged to register to vote in this year's upcoming elections.
The House of Commons Defence Committee's report of its inquiry into the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces (SCC) will be published at 0001 hrs (BST) on Tuesday 26 March. Written evidence to the inquiry, including a memorandum submitted by BAFF, is already available at the link below.
BAFF called for the SCC's powers and role to be increased to those of a full Armed Forces Ombudsman responsible to Parliament. BAFF also highlighted perceptions - especially in the current atmosphere of redundancy and uncertainty - that submitting a service complaint may not be in the best interests of the potential complainant.
UPDATE 26 Feb 2013: Defence Committee backs BAFF call for Armed Forces Ombudsman.
This is the full text of the ministerial statement by Mark Francois MP released at 10.25 am:
The Defence Internal Brief about the forthcoming Tranche 3 announcement has now been released. The DIB confirms the information reported by the Sunday Telegraph and repeated by BAFF last month. Look out for the Tranche 3 DIN to be published on Tuesday, 22 Jan. The window for applications for redundancy will open on 22 Jan 13 and close on 12 Mar 13.
The Government has now decided the details of the expected Tranche 3 Army redundancies to be announced in January. The Sunday Telegraph reports that redundancy fields, age groups and ranks were finalised at last week's meeting of the National Security Council, when the Prime Minister was briefed by defence chiefs.
Several members have been in touch with BAFF about the case of ex-Lance Corporal Bale Baleiwai, who after serving honourably in the British Army for 13 years, and despite having a British family, was given three weeks to leave the country. The original deadline expired on 9 August. Please sign the petition on his behalf.
Update: Mr Baleiwai has now been given leave to appeal against the Army summary disciplinary finding upon which the UK Border Agency based its decision to refuse him settlement in the UK. The date for the appeal was to be announced later.
Media have been reporting that 80 RAF drivers are being trained to drive oil tankers, because of fears of strike action next month by tanker driver members of the 'Unite' union.
The Labour Party has launched a Shadow Defence Review. BritishForcesNews reports (22 Feb) that:
15th February marks 70 years since the fall of Singapore. ForcesNews reports:
Dr Rhonda Cornum was one of the first generation of women to serve on the frontline in the first Gulf War. Captured by the Iraqi army, it was her ability to withstand that experience that convinced her of the importance of teaching resilience to today's serving soldiers. Less than a week after retiring as assistant US Surgeon General, she's been speaking about resilience training in London. She told Forces News that when she was shot down as part of a rescue mission in 1991 she was certain she was going to die. ForcesNews reports (07 Feb):
Rooms are being developed on the site of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital for the families of injured soldiers. The accommodation in Birmingham is being built to allow service men and women being treated there, to stay close to relatives. They are being modelled on the "Fisher House" scheme in the United States. ForcesNews reported (27 Jan):
In yet another sign that BFG really is closing down, this year's performance of Cinderella could be the last annual panto in Rheindahlen. The Panto Cinderella will be at The Liitle Theatre, JHQ on 19th-22nd January and 26th-28th January. Tickets cost €8, on sale at The Little Theatre. ForcesNews reports (12 Jan):
Many members of the irreverent 'ARRSE' community website have been expressing their concern and good wishes for the early recovery of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh after an emergency hospitalisation. This video report shows HRH on duty earlier this month at RAF Kinloss, where he presented new colours to The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, recently returned from Afghanistan:
Earlier this week Forces News revealed that there has been an alarming rise in the number of service personnel struggling with debt. Today Forces News takes a look at Germany and how the change in overseas allowances and debt is affecting those living in BFG. BritishForcesNews reported (22 Dec):
The Army Welfare Service in Germany has described the number of people approaching the organisation with debt problems as only the tip of an iceberg. AWS's message this Christmas is that, however large the problem, nobody in financial difficulty should fear seeking help and that there are free specialist services available. Some of these help sources are listed at our Web Links page. BritishForcesNews reported (21 Dec):
Logged-in members and supporters can now listen to a recent BBC interview by BAFF spokesman Adrian Weale.
This was a telephone interview at very short notice on BBC Radio Wales's Good Evening Wales programme on 20 Dec. With Sarah Dickins.
Recommended listening for BAFF members and registered supporters. If you are not already registered but are serving or have served in any part of HM Forces including the reserves, you can register free of charge today.
The Ministry of Defence has announced that British troops are to get pelvic protection to protect them from roadside bombs. The special anti-blast underwear consists of a three layered system of clothing and armour, which also includes special armoured trousers. Nearly 350 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan and many more have been injured, often by IED blasts.
BritishForcesNews reports (16 Dec).
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), which was introduced and subsequently reviewed under the previous Labour Government, treats the most seriously wounded personnel more generously than the War Pensions scheme which preceded it. BAFF members who had suffered serious but not catastrophic injuries told us that their claims have been settled promptly and satisfactorily under AFCS. Yet the scheme remains controversial. The Sunday Mirror reports that:
BritishForcesNews reports (21 Sep) that "Gurkha campaigners have condemned the call by a defence minister for Nepalese veterans settling in Britain to be "dispersed" around the country like asylum seekers."
A march planned in Aldershot to protest about the number of Gurkha families has now been called off. Will Inglis of BritishForcesNews interviewed members of the indigenous community, a local GP and the Chairman of the British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS). The report reveals encouraging signs of cooperation in seeking solutions to what the local MP describes as "very considerable burdens" on local communities, with excess pressure on certain services:
British troops serving in Afghanistan could miss out on mail from their loved ones because of the "huge and unmanageable" amount of donations sent by members of the public, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said.
Army chiefs have revealed they are being "overwhelmed" by the volume of parcels and shoeboxes sent to unnamed British service personnel overseas.
They say that makes it more difficult for frontline supplies and post from families to get through. BritishForcesNews reports (16 Sep).
Poles, Czechs and Slovaks fought in British skies, far from home, and helped win the Battle of Britain.
Those service personnel who joined British forces in the skies and on the ground are being honoured in an exhibition at the RAF Museum in north London. BritishForcesNews reports (19 Sep).
On the last day for posting parcels to Camp Bastion, BritishForcesNews reports (02 Dec) that with comedy home movies posted on the internet having become something of a seasonal tradition, first out with their camcorders this year are the men and women of the Royal Logistic Corps's Eighty Postal Courier Squadron bracing themselves for a busy time ahead... Related links below.
The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) has been quoted again in Parliament.
According to an American website, a "British Christian organization" (which we have never heard of) says that our country's military has already seen the "negative effects" of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. This report is from OneNewsNow, an online news site apparently owned by the American Family Association, and much engaged by homosexuality in the military and elsewhere:
The MoD is to suspend work on upgrading lower quality Service Families Accommodation to help reduce the Defence Funding Gap. The programme will stop for three years from April 2013. Some Single Accommodation projects such as 'Project SLAM' will also be put on hold. BritishForcesNews reports (11 Aug).
A former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan has said that bringing in the Army to help quell the riots in London, Manchester and across the country would be a step too far. A report by ForcesNews continues:
Writing in The Times newspaper, Colonel Richard Kemp said: “The last thing we want is for British troops to face rioting mobs on the streets of the UK again.”
Colonel Kemp, who himself experienced rioting firsthand during a tour of Northern Ireland, instead argued that water cannons and plastic bullets might be a feasible option.
“I have seen several situations in the past few days where these weapons would have saved injury and destruction of property,” he said.
So far COBRA, the government’s emergency committee has excluded the possibility of deploying military forces onto the UK’s streets.
Last night saw comparatively less violence and disorder in London, with small skirmishes breaking out only in a few areas such as Canning town.
The Prime Minister David Cameron returned early from his summer holiday in an attempt to regain control over the capital, with an extra 10,000 police officers being deployed on the streets of London last night.
However, there were more serious incidents in the north of the country with rioting and looting occurring in Salford, Manchester and Birmingham.
A woman is to command a frontline warship for the first time in the 500-year history of the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Commander Sarah West, 39, will take control of the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland and a mostly male crew of 185 in April. BritishForcesNews reports (08 Aug).
The local staff safety issue has been coming up again lately, with new reporting by The Times's Deborah Haynes. BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat says that hundreds of Afghan interpreters are worried they'll be killed after British forces leave Afghanistan -
The latest round of cuts to the Army is to bite sooner than expected. 5,000 jobs will go by 2015 on top of the 7,000 already expected in four years time. BritishForcesNews reports (25 Jul).
Being injured by an IED blast will not only change a serviceman's life but could also rob him of the chance to father his own child.
Now steps have been taken to protect troops against the unthinkable. BritishForcesNews reports.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox has announced a £1.5 billion investment in UK reserve forces over the next 10 years as part of a wide-ranging shake-up of the UK's military. Dr Fox told MPs that the Territorial Army would form around 30% of a 120,000-strong Army by 2020. In a statement to MPs Dr Fox announced major changes in the basing of forces, with RAF installations set to be taken over by Army units returning from Germany. BritishForcesNews reports (18.07.2011).
The Prime Minister has announced plans to write the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant into law:
BAFF has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Committee which is considering the Armed Forces Bill 2011. Our three-page memorandum is about Representation of Armed Forces Personnel, the Military Covenant and the External Reference Group, Complaints and Redress, Recruitment of Young People, and Human Rights.
Many commentators have welcomed the outcome of the House of Commons debate on 11 February 2011 about votes for prisoners. Conservative MP Simon Reevell, who voted for the successful motion, made an interesting point in defence of the European Court of Human Rights, without which much-needed improvements to the UK's court martial system would not have taken place.
defencemanagement.com reports that military families are set to benefit from £10m of additional funding for their children's education through the introduction of a special 'pupil premium' as the government looks to 'rebuild' the military covenant.
This is in the Guest section of the website and does not represent an official view from BAFF as a professional staff association, but is a fair reflection of some views we have heard. BAFF's proper concern is the interests of our members in all three services who are affected by the SDSR decisions. This is the text of the letter to Mr Cameron from a serving member of the Royal Air Force:
BBC News Defence Correspondent Caroline Wyatt says that amphibious forces have played a major role in British military operations for centuries. Now there are fears the Royal Navy could lose much of that capability, as the National Security Council meets to review the country's defence strategy.
Wyatt visited assault ship HMS Albion returning from an exercise in Scotland with young Royal Marine commandos aboard. She also interviewed the Commandant General of the Royal Marines and Commander Amphibious Forces, Maj Gen Buster Howes, as 40 Commando RM returned to the UK from Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Following pledges given before the general election, the Government has confirmed that an independent review will be conducted into the 1994 crash of RAF Chinook ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre which killed 25 intelligence staff and the four aircraft crew.
In further reporting of Defence Secretary Liam Fox's speech today (13 Aug 2010), the FT says that "Britain's military top brass is to be thinned out for the first time since the end of the cold war as ministers rebalance services that are more top-heavy with officers than at any time in the 20th century":
The Daily Mirror reports (30 Jun 2010) that according to the British Medical Association, the armed forces have "a chronic shortage of frontline medics with many forced to do repeated tours of duty in Afghanistan."
Following the General Election, the House of Commons Library published on 08 Jun 2010 the latest update of its 20-page 'Standard Note' on Armed Forces voting. It mentions Silence in the Ranks, and notes that the Electoral Commission's report on the General Election is due to be published in July.
BBC News reports (03 Jun 2010) that HM The Queen has been in Devon re-visiting a Royal Navy ship she named in 1998.
With polling day almost upon us, BAFF has received several enquiries about the attitude of the competing political parties to the principle of a representative professional staff association for the armed forces. Based on responses to our representations during the last Parliament about statutory recognition of that principle, we can confirm that it has official support from the following parties:
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of dealing with your postal ballot papers as soon as you get them, following the instructions and getting them back in the post or despatched under local arrangements as quickly as you possibly can." BAFF's Douglas Young, a member of the consultative Service Voting Working Group* established by the Ministry of Justice, updated the unofficial Army Rumour Service website on 21 Apr 2010 about the impact of the volcano ash situation upon voting arrangements for British military voters overseas:
The British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS) were visited on 18 Mar 2010 at their premises in Farnborough by Kevan Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans. BGWS were represented at the BAFF parliamentary reception in May, 2009.
(26 February 2010) Douglas Young, BAFF Executive Chairman and author of Silence in the Ranks, was an early morning guest for BBC Radio Wiltshire (programme presented from a cafe in Tidworth) and BBC Radio Solent (Portsmouth). He also contributed to a TV news package for BFBS. The subject of all three broadcasts was voting arrangements for service personnel and their husbands, wives or civil partners, mainly in the context of the fast approaching General Election 2010, but future arrangements were also touched upon.
Last Friday Plymouth Sutton Linda Gilroy visited the Royal Navy's premier training establishment, HMS Raleigh.
The visit was part of her attachment to the Royal Navy with the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which is designed to give MPs a better understanding of life in the military.
Having no party political affiliation, BAFF conducts its political contacts entirely on a cross-party basis. The Federation's approach to the forthcoming UK Patrliamentary General Election of 2010 is primarily to encourage members of the armed forces to register to vote, and then to exercise their own voting choice when the election comes. While focussing on personnel rather than defence equipment and strategic issues, BAFF has consistently argued for the nation to allocate whatever resources are required in order to achieve its foreign policy and homeland defence aims. The article below is another reminder of the starkness of the crisis, whatever the hue of the next Government may prove to be.
The Tory defence policy will be simple: cut, brutally
Wednesday, 13th January 2010
The British military has been horribly overstretched by the wars of the Labour years, says Max Hastings. But the Tories’ only option will be to cut further still. Hideous decisions lie ahead
Britain’s armed forces sometimes suppose that they get a better break from Conservative governments than Labour ones, but their recent experience suggests otherwise. After 11 years of Margaret Thatcher, it proved necessary to cannibalise the entire armoured resources of the Rhine Army to deploy a weak division for the First Gulf War. Today, the services welcome the prospect of a Tory government after a long period of policy paralysis. But they are also braced for bad news. They know the Tories intend brutally to reduce defence spending.
David Cameron has committed himself to protecting the health and overseas aid budgets, while reducing government expenditure elsewhere by at least 10 per cent. A new defence secretary will take over a department with a huge accumulated deficit. Budget cuts will be rendered more painful because for the past two years the current government has cynically pushed back payment of some big bills until after the election, when they will arrive with ‘final demand’ stickers. The core annual defence budget is around £34 billion. A further £10-20 billion is adrift on programmes authorised but unfunded.
Thus there is a crisis, which cannot possibly be resolved by efficiency savings, salami-slicing or the familiar expedient of distributing pain between all three services. Some very big programmes must be axed. When the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review is complete, and cuts implemented, Britain’s armed forces are certain to look quite different from what they are today. The only issue at stake is where the axe will fall most heavily.
From the same article by Max Hastings:
This week, Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute offered a projection that, if the MoD takes its share of pain in the new world of Britain’s colossal fiscal deficit, numbers of uniformed service personnel might fall by 20 per cent to 142,000 within the space of six years. He also believes the defence budget will fall by between 15 per cent and 20 per cent over the same period. As General Lord Guthrie points out, the armed forces are already so shrunken that further cuts will be imposed upon a perilously low base.
Finally, an interesting statistic from the same article by Sir Max Hastings:
... we have in the field barely a third of the number of soldiers deployed in Northern Ireland in the 1970s ...
Douglas Young writes:
I've been following the Nimrod XV230 scandal from the start, mainly for the obvious BAFF reasons, but also because I've been aware of the Nimrod base at RAF Kinloss for many years and have never forgotten their kindness to me and my family when I managed to hitched a lift home after an operational deployment.
Questions are still being asked about the treatment of Iraqi former local staff:
The Daily Telegraph reports that a lesbian soldier who won nearly £190,000 damages following a campaign of harassment by a male sergeant has had her payout slashed by a third after Army top brass appealed.
(Source: Lib Dem press release 22 May 2006) As the Armed Forces Bill has its final reading in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments to achieve effective representation for British servicemen and women:
The tri-service Armed Forces Act 2006 was due to be implemented in January 2009, but the implementation date has been put back to late October for the reasons explained in this note from the Ministry of Defence:
Armed Forces Act 2006
For the first time in more than fifty years the legislation which underpins Service discipline is being completely re-written. The Armed Forces Act 2006 will harmonise the arrangements for discipline across all three Services so that all personnel are subject to the same system wherever in the world they are serving. This will increase fairness and efficiency, particularly in joint units, and thus support operational effectiveness.
The Armed Forces Act 2006 received Royal Assent in November 2006. Since then work has been underway on implemention. Our original target was to complete this work in January 2009, but Ministers have now agreed to postpone the implementation date.
The key reason for postponement is that the transitional provisions, which will provide the essential bridge between the three current Service Discipline Acts and the 2006 Act, have proven to be much more complex than originally anticipated.
As a result, the work will take longer. The 2006 Act will now be implemented in October 2009. The Service Discipline Acts, which have provided the legal basis for discipline in the Armed Forces since the 1950s, will be repealed in due course.
From The Bolton News, 2 June 2008
A BOLTON MP is backing moves to give soldiers a voice through the creation of an official British Armed Forces Federation. David Crausby wants ordinary servicemen to be recognised by the Government in the same way as police officers through the Police Federation. Mr Crausby, MP for Bolton North east, said: "The controversies surrounding the standard of accommodation, injured personnel and the terrible accidents at Deepcut barracks have increasingly led to ordinary members saying they need an organisation to make their voice heard."
Mr Crausby, who is vice-chairman of the House of Commons defence select committee, said a properly constituted Federation would improve career development; act as a go-between for servicemen and politicians; represent members in disputes over pay, accommodation, medical treatment, welfare provision and resettlement; back anyone facing legal action as a result of their service in the armed forces; bring about improved deals for soldiers in things like insurance. Mr Crausby, who voted against the Iraq War, said he was backing a Private Members' Bill that if passed, would pave the way for an armed forces federation to be recognised in law.