Scottish Referendum: Postal voting has begun

For those registered Scottish voters who have already arranged a postal vote, your postal ballot pack should be posted to you today Tuesday 26 August or tomorrow.

If you want a postal or proxy vote and have not have arranged one, you can still apply until 3 September, which would be leaving it very late. The deadline to register to vote is 2 September. Don't be lastminute.com if you want your vote to count in this historic decision.

Inquiries into deaths of military personnel can now be held in Scotland

Investigations into the deaths of Scottish military personnel killed abroad will be able to take place in Scotland for the first time from later this month.

Up until now inquests into the deaths of servicemen and women have often had to be heard in England, forcing their bereaved families to travel long distances to take part in the hearings.

AFPRB 2014

Armed Forces Pay Review Board (AFPRB) headline recommendations 2014:

1% base rate pay increase, in line with most other public sector workers.

UPDATE: link below to the full AFPRB Report 2014.

New visa rules from 1 December for Foreign & Commonwealth citizens

New rules come into force on 1 December 2013 affecting foreign and commonwealth personnel applying to live in the UK.

BritishForcesNews reports that the changes include a minimum income requirement and all spouses having to take an English language test.

In Cyprus personnel have been urged to apply for their visa before the changes come into force. See this video report from BritishForcesNews:

The Armed Forces and Legal Challenge

The House of Lords is holding a debate on Thursday, 7 November on "Protecting the armed forces from vulnerability to legal challenge". A useful House of Lords background note has been produced as background reading for this debate. The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) has also produced a draft initial response to the 'Fog of law' Policy Exchange paper by Laura Croft and Thomas Tugendhat. We will be monitoring the debate and will comment further in light of what is said.

Judges rulings 'undermining British military operations'

British military operations risk being undermined by human rights laws and health and safety red tape applying to troops in the field, according to the 'Fog of Law' paper issued by the Policy Exchange think tank on 18 October. In addition to favourable newspaper coverage and a more cautious welcome from the BAFF Chairman in a BBC radio interview, the paper was covered in two video reports by BFBS BritishForcesNews. This is the first of their reports:

More on 'Judges undermining military operations': interview with author

British military operations risk being undermined by human rights laws and health and safety red tape applying to troops in the field, according to the 'Fog of Law' paper issued by the Policy Exchange think tank on 18 October. The first of two BFBS video reports is available here. The second video features an interview with one of the paper's authors, Tom Tugendhat:

Where in the UK should I register as a service voter?

Most civilian voters can only register in the place where they are currently living. Members of the regular armed forces and their husbands, wives or civil partners have a wider choice, however.  Depending on individual circumstances, a regular armed forces member may be able to register:

Are you registered to vote? Annual registration drive gets under way

If you have a residential address in the UK, your household should have received recently, or be about to receive, an annual Voter Registration Form.

'Zero tolerance to banned sports supplements'

After 18 members of 7 PARA RHA reportedly tested positive for a banned substance, believed to have come from a supplement, the Army's head of personnel strategy says that soldiers who fail their compulsory drugs test will be kicked out of the Forces.

AGM endorses BAFF plan for Scottish Independence Referendum-related issues

The British Armed Forces Federation AGM on 28 September 2013 endorsed the Federation's published plan for its considered neutral/impartial approach to the 18 Sep 2014 Referendum on Scotland's constitutional future.

Teenage children of service families overseas to vote in Scottish independence referendum

Following a change to the Referendum Bill currently being considered in the Scottish Parliament, the 16 and 17 year old children of relevant service families outwith Scotland WILL be able to vote in the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September, 2014.

The change will apply to eligible teenagers living with a relevant service voter parent in England, Wales or Northern Ireland - not only those overseas.

It appears however that service children will only be allowed to register and vote in the referendum if their service parent is themselves registered to vote in Scotland as a service voter.

New Home Loan Scheme for Forces First Time Buyers

Timed to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference, Mr Hammond, the Secretary of State announced a new ‘Forces Help to Buy’ scheme to help personnel buy their first home. The £200m trial will start from April 2014 for the next 3 years and will offer Regular personnel loans of up to 50% salary, capped at £25,000, interest-free and repayable over a 10-year period.

Defence Committee publishes report on Defence implications of possible Scottish Independence

The House of Commons Defence Committee has just released the findings of its inquiry into the defence implications of Scottish Independence, in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum.

The scope of the Committee's report includes a number of personnel-related issues, such as

  • Interests of serving UK military personnel
  • Future recruitment
  • Participation in the referendum

Lib Dems: 'Give the Armed Forces the right to organise representation'

The Liberal Democrat party at its national conference in Glasgow this week has confirmed its support for organised representation of armed forces personnel.

Army Personnel Recovery Units (PRUs) Hazards of the Command Led Process and PRU Capacity

The British Army Recovery Capability (ARC) is a fantastic capability but it would appear, only PARTIALLY works.  Firstly, demand outstrips the supply, and second, access to Personnel Recovery Units (PRUs) is a ‘Command Led Process’.

SNP to consider right of official representation for personnel of a Scottish Defence Force

The Scottish National Party is to consider a proposal to grant "enhanced terms and conditions" to personnel in an independent Scottish Defence Force, including the official right of representation by a recognised body. UPDATE: The proposals were unanimously approved by the SNP party conference at Perth on Friday 18 Oct. More to follow.

Syria debate live, PM 29 August

The House of Commons Digital Outreach Team has issued this information about live TV coverage of the Syria debate today, Thursday 29 Aug:

BAFF newsletter 15.8.2013

Some members and supporters have informed BAFF that they did not receive the email newsletter which went out in mid-August.. We have identified and are working on the problem and will send the September newsletter shortly. In the meantime, to see the August newsletter please LOG IN then click this link: See latest newsletter

Afghan interpreters: Former officers deliver petition to Number 10

Former Army officers have delivered a 27,500-signature petition to Downing Street demanding the option of UK resettlement for all Afghan interpreters who aided British forces.

Milestone for Danish troops in Afghanistan

With Danish personnel serving robustly alongside our own troops in Afghanistan, BAFF highly values its friendship with EUROMIL member HKKF (Danish Army Private Soldiers and Corporals Association). A BAFF parliamentary reception at Westminster in 2009 included presentations by HKKF, and by a senior serving Danish officer who told parliamentarians about the vital contribution by military representative associations to his command in Helmand.

Lib Dems asked to recognise the right of representation for armed forces personnel

The Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference will be asked to endorse the right of representation by an armed forces federation.

Fair Treatment for WIS Complainants

As the SCC and the MoD get stuck into negotiations as to the form of Armed Forces Ombudsman, we should celebrate that at least the argument as to the need for change has been won. But what arrangements will be made for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) personnel in the new style procedures to handle Service Complaints (SC)?

Morale drop revealed by Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey

With the nation's media focused on our future sovereign, could there be a better day to try to hide bad news? The quote 'Lies, damned lies and statistics' I am sure has been uttered at both the MOD and in the Army HQ in the past few days, but what is BAFF's view of the AFCAS survey published today?

MoD accused of risking soldiers' lives by silencing generals

Fear of reputational damage and political controversy gags senior officers.

Invitation to have your say on the Defence Reform Bill

Parliament has invited views in writing about the Government's new Defence Reform Bill. The Bill (a draft Act of Parliament) contains important proposals about defence procurement and about the reserve forces.

As with previous parliamentary exercises on matters affecting personnel, BAFF encourages individuals with relevant knowledge and expertise to respond constructively to Parliament's "call for evidence". We also welcome views - especially from our own members - to help us prepare this Federation's written evidence on your behalf.

MOD Replies to Service Complaints Commissioner's (SCC) Annual Report Recommendations

Today, the MOD has replied to the Service Complaints Commissioner's (SCC) Annual Report Recommendations, keeping a 'genuinely open mind' to the proposal that an Armed Forces Ombudsman should be established.

'UK dream on hold' for Afghan interpreter who doesn't qualify under new scheme

Published on Jun 25, 2013

A former Afghan interpreter has told British Forces News he has considered killing himself because he feels deserted by the country he put his life on the line for. Video from BritishForcesNews 24.06.13:

Wounded Injured and Sick Personnel

The lot of our wounded, injured and sick (WIS) personnel has changed very little in the last thirty years.  If we are going to change this situation, the first step we must take is to appoint an Armed Forces Ombudsman.  

RIP Drummer Lee Rigby 2 RRF

Drummer Lee Rigby 2 RRF. (Photo copyright MoD)

RIP Drummer Lee Rigby 1987-2013

Debate on Security Implications of an Independent Scotland

BAFF members attended a RUSI Members' Discussion Panel this week to discuss the security implications of Scottish Independence, should that be the outcome of the referendum on Thursday 18 September 2014.

Recruitment of young people: BAFF evidence to Armed Forces Bill Committee 2011

BAFF submitted evidence to the Armed Forces Bill Committee in 2011 on a number of points, including the recruitment of young people into the armed forces. With MoD policy on that issue again coming under attack, below for reference is what the British Armed Forces Federation said at that time in part of our written evidence:

The Ministry of Defence went some way to meet our point, but not far enough in our opinion, by introducing the Armed Forces (Terms of Service) (Amendement) Regulations 2011. These regulations extended entitlement to Discharge as of Right (DAOR) to some trainees who would previously have lost their right to discharge before reaching 18. BAFF's view remains that under-18 enlistment subject to all necessary safeguards should not lightly be withdrawn from young people.

Army Foundation College: 'From civvies to soldiers in 10 months' 29.6.2012

BritishForcesNews reports that the Army Foundation College in Harrogate is the training ground for our junior soldiers; the place where teenagers are turned into troops.

BBC Revealed Extra at Harrogate Army College

In 2011 the BBC Revealed Extra show went to the Army Foundation College (Harrogate) to follow some new recruits through their initial 6 weeks of training. Watch the show to find out how they changed and what Anthony Baxter, the BBC reporter, thought. (20min video).

Army Apprenticeships: New recruits parade at AFC Harrogate 20.2.2012

Hundreds of the Army's newest recruits have finished their first phase of training at The Army Foundation College in Harrogate. They have spent the last six weeks being transformed into junior soldiers. Family and friends joined them for their first military parade marking their passing into the college. Video report from BritishForcesNews Feb 2012:

New Defence Committee Inquiry: Future Army 2020

The Defence Committee has announced a major new inquiry into the future of the Army as envisaged in the Ministry of Defence’s plans for Future Army 2020. The inquiry will examine the rationale behind the plans, the resources required and the achievability of Army 2020. It will not examine decisions on individual regiments and units or specific basing decisions.

2012 Elections: Serving personnel encouraged to register to vote

Ministry of Defence announcement:

Service personnel and their families are being encouraged to register to vote in this year's upcoming elections.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme 'infected' by compensation culture - Response by BAFF Chairman

Today’s Mail on Sunday claims that “Britain’s compensation culture” has now “infected” our armed forces.

A story by respected defence journalist Sean Rayment says that since 2005, more than 16.000 troops have been paid almost £341 million under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

Service complaints system: 'Still inefficient and undermining confidence in the chain of command'

The Armed Forces complaints system is still inefficient and undermines confidence in the chain of command, says the Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC) in her fifth and final Annual Report to Parliament. The report quotes the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF).

Call to compensate personnel hit by Cyprus bank levy

A British Armed Forces Federation spokesman has called for a compensation package for British service personnel and families affected by the one-off levy on personal bank deposits in Cyprus. Banking services in the Sovereign Base Areas are provided by local banks.

Armed forces personnel to be exempt from housing benefit changes

The Government has announced that the families of armed forces personnel are to be exempt from the controversial deductions in housing benefit - the so-called bedroom tax - as part of the Government's effort to clamp down on under-occupied social housing.

Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp: Eligibility criteria and how to apply

The Prime Minister announced on 19 December 2012 that veterans of the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War would be awarded an Arctic Star and that the veterans of Bomber Command would be awarded a clasp to the 1939-1945 Star.The Government has now (26 Mar 2013) announced the eligibility criteria for these awards, along with details of how to apply.

Armed forces personnel and the 'bedroom tax'

BAFF has had a number of enquiries about the impact of the so-called "bedroom tax" on armed forces personnel including mobilised reservists.

Defence Committee backs BAFF call for Armed Forces Ombudsman

The influential House of Commons Defence Committee has backed BAFF's call for the role and powers of the Service Complaints Commissioner to be enhanced to that of a full Armed Forces Ombudsman.

Work of the Service Complaints Commissioner: Conclusions of Defence Committee Inquiry

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.

Are British soldiers ever covered by human rights on operations outside the base?

Supreme Court hearings began today (Mon 18 Feb) in three long legal battles by dead soldiers' families against the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Committee wants your input: Education of Service Personnel and Service Children

The Defence Committee has invited Service personnel and their families to take part in an on-line forum set up for you to contribute to its inquiries into the education of service personnel, and education for service children.

Tranche 3 Redundancy: Ministerial statement 22.1.2013

This is the full text of the ministerial statement by Mark Francois MP released at 10.25 am:

One in three small businesses failing to hire reservists

A new survey published on 17 January by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests one in three (30%) small businesses are failing to hire members of the volunteer reserve forces. The FSB believes a lack of support and investment is to blame and says small and medium enterprises need more Government backing to encourage recruitment and to give reservists the support they need.

Redundancy: Tranche 3 DIB issued - DIN out 22 Jan

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.

Limerick man held over threats to Irish in British army

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Gardai are questioning a man following the Continuity IRA warning that 400 Irish people serving in the British armed forces are 'legitimate targets' for the terrorists:

Ben Parkinson MBE

BAFF congratulates Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson MBE and all service personnel who have been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in the latest New Year Honours List.

Plymouth MP brands cuts to Armed Forces' benefits 'evil'

The Herald (Plymouth) reports that a benefits cut "that could hit the pockets of thousands of frontline troops" has been blasted by a city MP. From the newspaper:

Tranche 3 Army redundancy details decided

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.

New row over MP access to defence personnel

According to the Telegraph, the Defence Secretary has been accused of "control freakery" by trying to ban MPs from military bases and meetings with the Armed Forces.

This seems to be linked to an earlier row when Angus Robertson MP obtained through an FOI request a copy of the Department's DIN on 'Contact with Parliamentarians' which replaced, but allegedly goes further than, the previous 2010DIN05-55 Visits to Defence establishments.

MOD website moves to GOV.UK

On Thursday 13 December 2012 the Ministry of Defence website will close and all content for the Department will be found on the 'Inside Government' section of the new government website GOV.UK

Thank-you message from Baleiwai family

We are honoured to have received this thank-you message from Mrs Kim Baleiwai on behalf of the Baleiwai family:

"We would like to thank BAFF and all those kind people that have supported our case and signed our petition. We have been overwhelmed by the support and the generosity of spirit of others to find time for my family, in what has been a difficult 5 months.

Victory on settlement rules for F&C citizens with minor disciplinary convictions

lance corporal bale baleiwaiThe Home Secretary has now confirmed plans to introduce a "limited leave route" for foreign and Commonwealth ex-Armed Forces personnel who fail to qualify for indefinite leave or citizenship because of a "relatively minor" disciplinary conviction.

Inquiry into the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner - Call for 'root and branch reform' of AGAI 67

The House of Commons Defence Committee has now published the written evidence submitted to its inquiry into the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC). It includes evidence submitted by BAFF.

Soldiers' relatives win right to sue MoD

(From British ForcesNews 19.10.2012)

The Ministry of Defence has lost a legal fight to throw out a key battlefield negligence claim.

The Court of Appeal has ruled the MOD can now be sued by families bereaved in a series of incidents in Iraq, amid claims their loved ones could have been saved by better kit. Two surviving soldiers have also joined the legal action.

Family members though failed to convince the judges that the MOD had breached the soldiers' human rights.

The ruling came after both sides contested a high court ruling opening the door to legal action on grounds of negligence, but not under the Human Rights Act.

The MOD had essentially argued that it is for Parliament and not the courts to hold it responsible for both procurement and battlefield decisions, something The Master of the Rolls Lord Justice Neuberger, sitting with Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Rimer today disagreed with.

The survivors and family members argued that all the incidents in question could have been survivable with better equipment.

Corporal Stephen Allbutt of the Queens Royal Lancers was killed in a so-called "friendly fire" incident in March 2003 when his Challenger 2 was hit by another British tank. Soldiers Dan Twiddy from Stamford and Andy Julien from Bolton were badly hurt in the same incident.

Along with Cpl Allbutt's widow Debi they claim the tank wasn't fitted with vital identification equipment and that the other crew hadn't had adequate recognition training.

Separately, relatives of three soldiers killed in now notorious Snatch Land Rovers had brought legal action which the Appeal Court was considering at the same time.

Private Phillip Hewett of First Battalion the Staffordshire Regiment died in July 2005 when his Snatch Land Rover was blown up.

Similar explosions claimed the lives of Private Lee Ellis of 2 Para, but attached to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath of First Battalion the Irish Guards.

Their families had been arguing that the MOD had breached the Human Rights Act in denying that Article II of the European Convention on Human Rights, a right to life, should apply. That element of the families' legal action was today unsuccessful and the families now intend to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Delivering today's judgement Lord Justice Neuberger said "The duty of care owed by the Ministry of Defence as employer to the members of the armed forces does exist and has been recognised, without demur, by the courts. It includes a duty to provide safe systems of work and safe equipment [...]."

The MOD said "Our thoughts and concerns remain with those that were injured and the families of those that sadly lost their lives.

"We are considering the judgment by the Court of Appeal and as this is likely to be subject to further legal action it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

Rumour mongers at it again: "I've just heard some really shocking news..."

With the approach of the nation's annual period of Remembrance, allegations are again doing the rounds on social networking sites that the Royal British Legion is not selling poppies in certain areas "because it would offend minorities".

An online petition invites the public to support a proposal for the dropping of poppy petals from an aircraft over London on Armistice Day.

Defence Committee publish report on Future Maritime Surveillance

The House of Commons Defence Committee has published the report of its inquiry on Future Maritime Surveillance.

Lance Corporal 'Bale' Baleiwai - last push - please sign petition now if you haven't already

baleThe Baleiwai family have asked us to give this petition 'one last push' as it closes shortly. Please sign it if you haven't already. The petition is at this link:

 

New ministerial team at MoD

Following the recent Government reshuffle the Prime Minister's Office has announced changes to the ministerial team at the Ministry of Defence.

More help for forces personnel and veterans in Scotland

Armed forces commanders and veterans' organisations have welcomed a coordinated approach by the Scottish Government to ensure the wellbeing of Scotland's service personnel and veterans.

The new Armed Forces Commitments Paper sets out what the Scottish Government is doing to address the health, housing, education and justice needs of current and former service men and women. 

Members views requested - Reserve Forces - 'Companies to be banned from asking if potential employees are TA Reservists'

Reservists could be given legal rights "similar to those offered to pregnant women" in an attempt to stop workplace discrimination against members of the reserve forces.

BAFF reactions to reported retention of body parts

BAFF spokespeople Weale and Young gave a number of interviews on 9 August in reaction to the reported retention of a relatively small number of tissue samples and body parts under the responsibility of the Special Investigation Branch (SIB), without the required liaison with the relevant next of kin. Mail: MoD secretly kept body parts of troops killed in Afghanistan from grieving families. Update:

Soldiers' body parts retained (BritishForcesNews)

BritishForcesNews report 09.08.2012. Their article is reproduced below the video:

UK Border Agency 'is ignoring own guidance on Commonwealth soldiers'

Channel 4 News has obtained a UK Border Agency letter stating - contrary to the Agency's actions in the case of L/Cpl Baleiwai - that Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers disciplined by the army without court martial, should not be considered for deportation.

Army captain Heather Stanning gives Team GB its first Olympic gold

Heather Stanning, a Captain in the Royal Artillery from Lossiemouth, Scotland, has taken Great Britain’s first gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games with partner Helen Glover after winning in the final of the women's pair rowing. The pair made history as they also became the first women rowers to win an Olympic gold medal for the UK.

New service pension scheme from April 2015

The MoD has released more details of the new service pension scheme which will operate from April 2015. The Ministry says that the scheme was designed after extensive consultation with over 17,500 personnel, and that there will now be a further period of consultation for personnel to make comments before the new scheme design is finalised.

Sign the petition on behalf of L/Cpl Bale Balewai

Bale BalewaiSeveral 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.

End of an era for RAF Kinloss

The drawdown of RAF Kinloss and its transition to the Army is now complete, with the handover ceremony to 39 Engineer Regiment on 26 July. The Station will now be known as Kinloss Barracks.

From BritishForcesNews:

New Defence Committee Inquiry: The Work of the Service Complaints Commissioner

The House of Commons Defence Committee has announced a short inquiry into the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner. Before taking evidence in the Autumn from the Service Complaints Commissioner, Dr Susan Atkins, the Committee has invited written submissions from interested individuals and organisations, which must be submitted by Friday 7 September 2012. UPDATE: Written evidence was duly submitted on BAFF's behalf, and will be published in due course.

Olympics: '20,000 military personnel could be needed'

Lord Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 Olympic organising committee (Locog), said today that he "could not rule out" asking for the current deployment of 17,000 to be increased. According to the Daily Telegraph, the MoD (unsurprisingly) has contingency plans for additional deployment. Senior military officers told the newspaper this week that they expect "up to 20,000" service personnel to be involved in the Olympic operation.

Olympics: Security firm 'do not underestimate impact on military personnel and families'

G4S, the private security firm which has an estimated £284 million contract for the provision of guards for the Olympic Games, says in a statement tonight that it is "grateful for the additional military support involving at least 3,500 armed forces personnel". It adds that "We do not underestimate the impact on the military personnel and their families and express our appreciation to them."

Scottish independence impact on armed forces

If Scotland became independent there could be wide ranging implications for defence.

A conference at the Royal United Services Institute was held on Wednesday about what the impact would be on the Armed Forces. BritishForcesNews reports (11.07.2012):

British Forces Germany: Facing a future of cuts

Across BFG the countdown to drawdown has left soldiers and families facing an uncertain future, as the issue of rebasing is considered by the Ministry of Defence.

Army Legal: Be wary of loans in Germany

Personnel living in Germany are being urged to exercise caution when taking out loans with German based agents.

BAFF and Army 2020

With the Army 2020 announcement now likely to be made in Parliament this week, what line has BAFF been taking? The BAFF Chairman has given interviews on the subject in recent weeks. He has provided this summary of what he has been saying so far:

Defence Medical Services: Latest review finds 'significant improvements'

A Care Quality Commission review of the Defence Medical Services (DMS) has found high standards of medical care for frontline service personnel, with some concerns about aspects of non-frontline care.

Redundancy: Can I appeal?

Personnel who wish to appeal have 30 calendar days (not working days) from the date of their notification letter to submit a written appeal through the appropriate channels. BAFF understands that:

Continuing criticisms of redundancy selection criteria

There has been further criticism of the selection process in the current redundancy tranche, resulting in some non-volunteers being made redundant a short time away from qualifying for an immediate pension under AFPS.

Queen's Birthday Parade 2012

Soldiers on parade for Her Majesty The QueenBAFF members on and off parade enjoyed a historic Queen's Birthday Parade in Her Majesty's 60th Jubilee Year.

Land Warfare Conference 2020 speeches

The speeches to the RUSI Land Warfare Conference by the Secretary of State, CGS, and the Army 2020 Team Leader, along with the slides from Gen Carter's presentation, are now available to logged-in users following this link:

 

4000 personnel selected for Tranche 2 Redundancy Programme

If you were one of those informed today that you have been selected for redundancy, we hope that it was the outcome you wanted.

Updates about the pre-1975 service pensions injustice

This page is for updates about the veterans' pension issue covered in our main article: The 'Pre-1975 Regular Other Ranks pension injustice'. Click any of the headings below to see the relevant update.

It has emerged (May 2013) that a campaign group has been sending increasingly peremptory correspondence to Her Majesty The Queen, citing "Grigg Recommendation XII". (See earlier update 3/2012 for background about Grigg Recommendation XII.)

Campaigners' letter of 22 April referred the Sovereign to their website, and "since the above was first brought to your attention many months ago now as urgent" requested Her Majesty's reply "by June 1st 2013 at the very latest".

In an attempt to show that "Recommendation XII" had legal force, campaigners presented this statement as having official status:

Parliamentary Command 945 is a prerogative instrument. The Scheme rules are set out in "Prerogative Instruments" that derive their authority from Her Majesty The Queen and are not subject to the approval, annulment or amendment by Parliament. For the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines ...

Part of the quote is from genuine public documents, but the crucial first sentence has been added, and is simply wrong.

The true, non-legislative, status of those Government publications known as "Command Papers" is not difficult to checknot difficult to check. Command Papers are published by Royal Command, but their contents are not commands. The mistake had already been pointed out to campaigners before they started writing to HM The Queen.

Additionally, Command Papers "Cmnd 675 Armed Forces Pensions" (Feb 1959) and "Cmnd 945 Service Pay and Pensions" (Feb 1960) simply reported the outcomes of pay and pensions reviews.

In summary, neither of these publications was a "prerogative instrumentprerogative instrument"; they had no legislative effect; and in any case, neither of them said anything about Grigg Recommendation XII.

The letters in question, addressed to Her Majesty The Queen, are understood to have been from "Combined Armed Forces Federation UK" (CAFFUK/CAFF UK) pre-1975 veterans.

We would like to make it clear that the letters have no connection with BAFF (British Armed Forces Federation), or with either of the following active groups which (unlike BAFF) campaign about the pre-1975 service pensions injustice:

A petition in support of the pre-1975 veterans' pension campaign has been launched on the Government's official e-petition website by EfVA Secretary Mike Smith. Anyone who would like to support this online petition is urged to sign it as soon as possible at this link:

In December 1957 an independent committee headed by Sir James Grigg was appointed to look into factors affecting armed forces recruitment after the phasing out of National Service. During its consideration of resettlement issues, the Committee "gave some thought to" a suggestion that service pension rights be made transferable into civilian employment. It decided not to recommend such a course in advance of a general reform of pension legislation.

The Grigg Committee did, however, make a more limited recommendation - Recommendation XII - that an ex-regular taking up an established job in Government employment should have the option of counting service in the Forces as if it was non-established service for the purpose of Civil Service superannuation. The Committee noted that if the Government accepted this recommendation, it would require specific legislation.

While some campaigners have been continuing to cite non-legislative Government 'Command Papers''Command Papers' (which they mistakenly describe as "Prerogative instrumentsPrerogative instruments" and "Orders in CouncilOrders in Council") associated indirectly with the Grigg Committee, and say that they have written again to HM The Queen on this subject, no evidence has been produced that the Government of the day ever agreed to accept Recommendation XII.

The Report of Sir James Grigg's Advisory Committee on Recruiting was published in October 1958. In the following month the Government accepted many of the Committee's recommendations, notably a new formula for pay reviews. As for Recommendation XII, the Government responded only that the recommendation "is being studiedis being studied".

It was pointed out in a House of Commons debate of 3 March 1959House of Commons debate of 3 March 1959 that an announcement in response to Recommendation XII was still awaited, but Ministers did not reply.

If a representative armed forces federation had existed at the time, the issue would not have been allowed to be swept under the carpet in this way.

Fifty-plus years later, veterans should have been able to make some use, as part of a reasoned case, of the failure of the Government of the day to issue a decision on Grigg Recommendation XII. Unfortunately that line of argument is closed off by mistaken claims that the Recommendation was given force by some kind of Royal Command.

Although it has never been one of our campaigns, BAFF wishes all relevant pre-1975 veterans the best of luck with their pensions grievance. They include a few of our own veteran members and registered supporters.

We strongly recommend to any such BAFF veteran Member, if invited by others to put your name to legal proceedings against HM Government in connection with the pre-1975 pensions grievance, that you first ensure that you have personally seen written professional legal advice recommending the proposed grounds of action. Extra caution is suggested if there are laymen's comments disputing the professional advice or playing down the need to obtain it.

We suggest that before you allow your name to be used as a party to legal proceedings, you should be clear about any possible consequences or liabilities for yourself personally. If the proposed proceedings are based on official documents, you should satisfy yourself that campaigners' interpretation of those documents is supported by the written professional legal advice.

Similar considerations may apply if you are invited to pay a subscription, or make a financial contribution, on the basis of some proposed future legal action.

From The Royal British Legion's Annual Conference in March 2012:

PENSION RIGHTS
Delegates agreed to urge TRBL to approach HM Government to grant pension rights for regular ex-Service personnel who were discharged before 5 April 1975. It was felt that the majority of people who will be assisted are OAPs.

 

 

BAFF and the Scottish independence referendum

Two and a half years ahead of the Scottish constitutional referendum which is expected to be held in the autumn of 2014, the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) is already working on the implications for service personnel.

The membership of the British Armed Forces Federation is drawn from personnel from all three services from across the United Kingdom, as well as those from elsewhere in the Commonwealth. (No referendum vote for citizens of overseas Commonwealth countries, except Malta and Cyprus.)

New electoral legislation 'will help service voters'

The Coalition Government introduced a new Electoral and Administration Bill in the House of Commons in May 2012. The Bill provides for the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain, and a number of changes relating to electoral administration and the conduct of elections.

As we see it, the main benefit to service voters is that the timetable for UK parliamentary elections would be extended from 17 to 25 days.

Scotland independence referendum consultation closes 11 May

The Scottish Government's consultation on arrangements for the independence referendum closes 11 May 2012. Anyone can take part. You can complete the consultation online and you can even take part anonymously, although we do not recommend this.

The separate consultation by the UK Government's Scotland Office has already taken place. BAFF took part in that consultation, and our views were quoted in the UK Government's published summary of the consultation results.

Given that beyond question there are service personnel on both sides of the referendum debate, our focus as with previous elections is to encourage eligible members of the armed forces community to make sure they are properly registered, and then make their own voting choice with confidence that their votes will count.

RAF and Army stand by for possible tanker strike

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.

Army wife's health fears about service accommodation in Windsor

This story about health fears involving sub-standard service accommodation is from the Royal Borough Observer of 27 Jan 2012:

Commonwealth contribution to the British Armed Forces

More than 8000 personnel from Commonwealth countries (other than the UK) serve in the Royal Navy, Brish Army and Royal Air Force.

Among them are 2,200 Fijians who make up one of the largest groups of Commonwealth service men and women to serve in Her Majesty's British Armed Forces.

"Nuclear weapons are perfectly safe" - Veterans lose weapons test compensation bid

Ex-servicemen who had been exposed to radiation in British nuclear weapons tests have lost their Supreme Court bid to launch negligence claims against the Ministry of Defence. BBC News reports that:

Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) report 2012 published

As we predicted a few days ago, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body's 2012 report has now been published. The Government has accepted its recommendations on armed forces pay and charges for 2012-2013.

The report has been published on the Office of Manpower Economics' website but, as members have reported difficulty in opening the document, we are meantime making a copy available to logged-in registered users here:

BAFF calls for fair deal for service voters in the Scotland independence referendum

The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) has responded to the UK Government Scotland Office consultation on arrangements for a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future. The Federation is also responding to the separate consultation by the Scottish Government.

UPDATE: Following the publication of the results of the UK Government's consultation, the BAFF response to that consultation is now available at the link below without the need to log in. The UK's Government's summary includes a quote from the BAFF submission.

New Zealand Defence Force Lateral Recruitment Opportunities

The New Zealand Defence Force is looking for people from the UK with full-time military experience to fill a number of critical roles. It says that "We have a wide range of vacancies, at a variety of rank levels, and are keen to hear from anyone who may fit the bill." The NZDF recruiting team is holding briefings at several UK locations in late March/early April 2012.

British Commonwealth war graves severely damaged by "rogue militia" in Libya

Following earlier reports, video footage has now emerged of the destruction of British gravestones and monuments at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Benghazi, Libya. At least one other Second World War cemetery in the Benghazi area is also reported to have been severely vandalised.

New Employment Model: MoD denies 'Families to lose homes' story

The Ministry of Defence has denied the report in today's Times that married soldiers living in Army accommodation will be forced out of their homes under "cost-cutting proposals" being considered by the MOD, as part of the New Employment Model (NEM). The Ministry does not, however, appear to deny that reducing the entitlement to service housing is one of the "range of options" under consideration.

Labour Party launches Shadow Defence Review

The Labour Party has launched a Shadow Defence Review. BritishForcesNews reports (22 Feb) that:

70th anniversary of Singapore defeat 15.02.12

15th February marks 70 years since the fall of Singapore. ForcesNews reports:

Guardian : 'British tanks to be sent to Germany for storage so army can sell land in UK'

A story in the Guardian claims that with the MoD planning to sell off its 178-acre vehicle complex at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire, in order to raise money, one of the options under consideration is to move some tanks and other armoured vehicles to storage in Germany.

The UK is in the process of withdrawing thousands of troops from Germany, at the same time as thousands of military vehicles could be heading in the opposite direction.

Senior officers still relatively protected from cuts, claims Labour shadow minister

A Labour MP claims that the military's senior officers are being protected from the worst effects of the defence cuts at the expense of lower ranks. From a report in the Guardian:

Thousands of forces voters could again miss out on the chance to vote

A BFBS news report says that thousands of members of the Armed Forces could lose their chance to vote this year if they don't fill out a voter registration form.

Every year service personnel across the UK and away on deployment can't have their say in elections because they don't register to vote in time.

BAFF reported last week that 45% of armed forces voters who think they are registered are not properly registered after all.

'Generals warn that TA is not fit for new role'

The Telegraph says that "senior Army sources" have spoken of their increasing concern that the Territorial Army is "not fit for purpose" and will leave Britain's ability to defend itself hamstrung:

MPs : Nimrod destruction and aircraft carrier delay have cost taxpayers more than £5 billion

In a scathing criticism of defence cuts the Public Account Committee said delaying the building of two aircraft carriers and the Astute class submarines had already increased the Ministry of Defence's costs by more than £5 billion in the long term. A report in the Daily Telegraph continues:

The return of the RGBW memorials to Gorazde

According to the Army Rumour Service website 'ARRSE', there is a plan for a small expedition to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) in June 2012 to reinstall two memorials to soldiers of the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (RGBW) who died during the Regiment's first operational tour in 1994, when Battalion Tactical HQ, A and B Companies were based in Gorazde. Link to full details at the bottom of this article.

Major Scottish veterans' charity having to cut back

Erskine, the famous Scottish veterans' charity, is reportedly having to cut back on part of its commercial operation which provides valuable wotk for veterans. The Daily Record reports that:

Teaching resilience - Top US soldier on being captured in Iraq

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):

Redundancies decided without knowing what is needed, says National Audit Office

The National Audit Office says the MoD had begun sacking thousands of military personnel and civilian staff without knowing how many qualified staff it will need in the future.

The auditors studied MoD plans to cut 25,000 Forces personnel and 29,000 civilian staff by 2015.

Following the recent criticisms by the Defence Select Committee, which were rejected by the Ministry of Defence, the National Audit Office report raises questions about the speed and wisdom of the cuts. The cuts are intended to save £4.10 billion over four years.

Think you are registered to vote? Think again

Three quarters of service personnel believe that they are registered to vote but according to the latest research, 44% of those are not properly registered after all.

Soldier discharged for service-induced hearing injury but it's too trivial for compensation

The Mirror has a story about an infantry soldier who was medically discharged from the Army for service-induced hearing loss. He has received other benefits to which he was entitled, but now his application for compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme has been refused by the SPVA - because the service-induced hearing loss is assessed at less than 20%.

When the 20% threshold was imposed by the Ministry of Defence in the 1990's under the old War Pensions scheme, the justification was that compensation should be targeted more at those with the most serious injuries. The new Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), for injuries on or after 6 April 2005, is thankfully more generous than the old scheme but the 20% hearing loss theshold remains.

The ruling remains controversial, because 20% hearing loss is enough to get in the way of your work, domestic and social activities on every single day of life.

But actually discharging a soldier for service-induced hearing loss, and then dismissing his injury claim as in effect trivial, is straight from the pages of Catch-22. It's time to have another look at this ruling.

Army redundancy speeded up - now 20,000 down by 2018

The army is to speed up its redundancy programme by axing 20,000 posts by 2018, two years earlier than expected.

CGS on The British Army Beyond Afghanistan

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, says that never again will British troops be deployed in operations like Afghanistan. There is neither the political appetite, nor the money.

Instead, they will be involved in more limited counter-terrorism operations, in cooperation with intelligence agencies and indigenous forces.

Family rooms being developed at QEH Birmingham

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):

Cuts in the Army 'creating gaps' and leaving soldiers 'unsettled and frustrated'

The latest feedback to CGS's briefing team, summarised in Soldier magazine, has highlighted concerns about cuts in Army numbers and spending on accommodation, and deep worries about future pension cuts. CGS used an article in the same issue to respond to the concerns raised, saying he sympathised with some of his soldiers’ complaints. From a report in The Daily Telegraph:

Scottish referendum - BAFF's position and how to have your say in the consultations

BAFF's primary interest at this stage is in ensuring the maximum participation in the referendum by those armed forces personnel and their partners who are registered or genuinely entitled to register to vote in Scotland, in order to make their own voting choice when the time comes.

"Maximum participation" raises various issues including publicity, information, ease of registration and, of course, the actual voting process, especially for those entitled service personnel who are away from Scotland at the time of the referndum, and their wives, husbands or civil partners. The franchise for the referendum must not be less than the franchise for Scottish parliamentary and local government elections.

(UPDATED) Scottish Referendum - Debate on participation of Scottish armed forces personnel

UPDATE: The Westminster Hall debate on "Participation of Scottish armed forces personnel in a referendum on Scottish independence" , which was due to be held on Wednesday, 25 January, did not take place as the proposer of the debate was not present. This can often indicate that the Government has managed to persuade the proposer that, for one reason or another, the debate would not be timely.

The cancelled debate and BAFF's stance on the issue is mentioned at:

Reserve liability after redundancy?

Will there be any continuing reserve liability after redundancy?

Although this may seem a rather remote issue to those currently considering their options, the question has been asked, and the answer may be surprising.

This article, originally posted on 18 January, is topical because of a report in today's Daily Telegraph (09 Apr).

T2 redundancy announcements 17 Jan 2012

For those with DII access the relevant documents issued today include:

Sweeping troop cuts on the way

Ahead of the T2 redundancy announcement, the Independent's Defence Correspondent writes that the blueprint for shape of the army will be submitted to the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, in the next two months. The plan will reduce Regular Army numbers to 82,000, and a  number of historic regiments may be merged and bases more dispersed throughout the country.

Army redundancies 'to roll on for many more years' - Regiments to be disbanded

A story in today's Sunday Telegraph says that Tuesday's announcement of the T2 armed forces redundancy details will be followed by "annual rounds of morale-sapping redundancies for the next eight years."

Look behind you - After 60 years, the last Panto at JHQ

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):

MoD puts service accommodation contracts on hold

The MoD's procurement arm is delaying all new infrastructure contract awards pending a spending review. Some contractors fear that the whole programme has slipped by at least a year.

The holdup appears likely to affect single and family service accommodation projects, amongst others. The impact on personnel and families being relocated from Germany or within the United Kingdom is not yet clear.

(UPDATED) T2 Redundancies - Gurkhas 'will be hit again'

While the T2 redundancy details will not be released until Tuesday (17 Jan), both the Guardian and BBC News say that the Gurkhas will again be hit. The MoD says that the Brigade of Gurkhas is still overmanned following the first tranche of redundancies.

The Army is expected to cut between 2,000 and 3,000 posts, the RAF 1,000 and the Royal Navy 500 in this second tranche of armed forces redundancies. UPDATE: For MoD response to this story, see below:

Scottish referendum - Which service voters should be able to take part?

BAFF urgently seeks the views of members and supporters on Question 6 of the published Scotland Office consultation paper -

What are your views on which people should be entitled to vote in a Scottish referendum?

Scottish independence referendum - Implications for service voters?

The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) will be responding to the UK Government's consultation paper on how a "legal, fair and decisive" referendum is to be conducted.

Responses to that paper are due to the Scotland Office (a UK Government Department) by 9th March, 2012.

Similarly, BAFF is likely to respond to the SNP Government's own consultation paper which it intends to publish later this month. UPDATE:  We are now starting to add our comments below as an indication of our likely responses to the consultations, subject to any further views received from BAFF Full Members or Supporters.

Human rights of members of the armed forces - Council of Europe recommendation (Introduction)

In February 2010 the Council of Europe issued detailed recommendations to its member states on the human rights of members of the armed forces.

Human rights of members of the armed forces - Council of Europe recommendation (Text)

Below is the main text of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, about the human rights of armed forces personnel. Our notes in square brackets are not part of the recommendation. Click here for BAFF introduction to this documentClick here for Council of Europe's Explanatory Memorandum to CM Recommendation on human rights of armed forces personnel.

BAFF comments on case of reserve soldier who 'could face murder charge' over Afghan shooting

A Welsh Territorial Army soldier who shot dead an Afghan he believed to be in the act of laying an IED could become the first British soldier to be charged with murder in that theatre. While any charges under military law would be a decision for the independent Service Prosecuting Authority, BAFF has commented on an aspect of the case.

Combat Stress: Afghanistan and Iraq veterans set to pile pressure on health service

According to the armed forces mental health charity Combat Stress, defence cuts could see thousands more combat veterans needing NHS help to cope with a range of mental illnesses

From a story by Nick Hopkins of The Guardian:

Soldier magazine: Criticisms of new Personal Clothing System (PCS)

A soldier in Afghanistan wearing the new camouflage uniformA soldier in Afghanistan wearing the new camouflage pattern. Picture: Corporal Barry Lloyd RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010According to the Army's in-house magazine Soldier, the relatively new PCS field uniform in Multi Terrain Pattern (MCP) camouflage material has been criticised as a "fashion faux pas" which is shapeless, too American and more akin to an Action Man costume.

We havent picked up such strong feelings before, to be honest. What do you think?

Inevitably, the dreaded "jacket v shirt" argument has been resurrected again! That particular argument goes back as far as the Second World War, when the Army supposedly rejected a jacket-type top because of representations from the Brigade of Guards, and the undeniably smarter short battledress jacket was adopted instead for temperate uniform.

Good wishes for Duke of Edinburgh

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:

ForcesNews: Debt woes hit forces pockets in Germany

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):

Forces debt cases 'tip of iceberg' - but help is available

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):

Petraeus represents HM The Queen at Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst

The Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency and former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and NATO forces in Afghanistan represented the Queen at the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. General David H Petraeus saw 252 officer cadets passing out at the Royal Military Academy after completing 44 weeks of intensive training. Among those passing out were 22 overseas cadets, including those from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia and the USA.. BritishForcesNews reported (21 Dec):

BAFF interview about the Military Covenant, pay, and Mr Cameron's pre-Xmas visit to Afghanistan

Interview now available online

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 future's dim - The future's blue?

British Army morale is now claimed to be at an "unprecedented" low ebb. Soldiers interviewed by the official British Army magazine, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, have expressed "previously unheard" views on the state of the Army.

New groin protection system for troops

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).

Military Casualties: Defence Committee Report

The House of Commons Select Committee on Defence has just published the following report:

DWP bereavement benefits review will not affect payments under AFCS or War Pensions Scheme

The Department of Work and Pensions has confirmed that the review of bereavement benefits announced by the Minister for Welfare Reform on 12 Dec does NOT affect payments to service widows or widowers under the War Pensions Scheme or Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme - Tranche 2 to be announced 17 Jan 2012

It has now been confirmed that Tranche 2 of the Armed Forces Redundancy Programme for all three Services will be announced on 17 January 2012 in single Service notifications (DINs).

Women to serve aboard RN submarines from 2013

The Defence Secretary has confirmed, as predicted, that women will be allowed to serve aboard Royal Navy submarines. In a major speech today at the Royal United Services Institute, Mr Hammond said that:

MP calls for armed forces pay rethink

Dudley MP Ian Austin has backed a Parliamentary campaign against "plans to cut pay for members of the Armed Forces". According to the Labour MP's Labour MP's website:

Public sector pay freeze 'will apply to armed forces'

The Chancellor, in yesterday's Autumn Budget Statement, announced that public sector pay rises would be capped at 1 per cent for two years when the current pay freeze ends in 2014. With inflation likely to exceed 1 per cent the pay cap means a pay cut in real terms for public servants, including members of the armed forces.

Unlike earlier announcements by the Coalition government and by their predecessors, there is no mention this time of measures to protect the pay of junior personnel.

While there are unique characteristics of military service which must always be reflected in a fair remuneration package, the armed forces are clearly not exempt from the current public spending situation. The real-terms pay cut should, however, be viewed in the context of ever-increasing charges and diminishing opportunities to save money from allowances.

The perfect present for the walt in your life - The Official ARRSE Guide to the British Army, by Major Des Astor

Irreverent military bullshit website, the Army Rumour Service - ARRSE for short - has now produced what is laughably described as an insider's guide to the British Army. Author Major Des Astor is described by his own literary agent as "one of the most extensively passed-over officers in British military history". Astor told British Forces News what readers could expect. Update: This fine training pamphlet is now available in Kindle format, as well as in handy wipeable hardback.

Sunday Mirror: Minister tells maimed war hero Ben Parkinson: 'You would have got more compensation if you'd been blown up twice'

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:

6,000 forces personnel will help guard Olympics

The Sun reports that volunteer members of the armed forces will be working as security staff at the London Olympics. It appears that, in a similar arrangement as that for forces personnel assisting at Wimbledon, they will be paid by the MoD as normal during the period of duty. Supposedly, one difference from Wimbledon is that they would be wearing civilian security staff uniform. From the newspaper:

Defence Secretary: 'We owe troops honesty and certainty'

Philip Hammond gave his first newspaper interview as Defence Secretary on Friday, during a visit to British troops who have been involved in the Libya campaign from Italy's Gioia del Colle airfield. From MoD Defence NewsMoD Defence News:

Telegraph: Philip Hammond warned that military is 'critically ill'

According to this report by the Daily Telegraph, an adviser to the Ministry of Defence has warned that the Armed Forces remain "critically ill" and recent proposals amount to "little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic":

(Updated) Fleet Ready Escort: 'We are doing the best with what we have got'

(Update 02 Nov: MoD response below). Various media have carried the story that apparently for the first time since the Falklands War in 1982, defence cuts have left the "stretched" Royal Navy unable to provide an emergency standby ship to protect British waters for a month. The Daily Telegraph reported that:

(Updated) Iraqi former local staff who came to UK - BBC radio Fri 28 Oct 11

UPDATE: Aasmah Mir's report, which was in many ways uplifted by the positive approach taken by former Iraqi local staff who were relocated to Glasgow under the UK Government's Iraqi Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme, is now available from the BBC iPlayer at the link shown below.

RN redundancies: 360 compulsory

The Press Association reports that around 350 of the 1,020 Royal Navy tranche 1 redundancies are non-applicants. This proportion is broadly comparable with the Army and RAF redundancies announced on 1st September - 260 non-applicants out of 920 redundant Army personnel, and 490 non-applicants (including students withdrawn from pilot training or weapon system officer training) out of 930 RAF personnel.

810 sailors applied for redundancy but only 670 of them are being allowed to leave.

First round of Royal Navy redundancies imminent

After more than 2,000 soldiers and 1,000 airmen were sacked earlier this monthh, Royal Navy personnel will find out whose jobs are to go on 30 September. About 1,600 navy personnel out of a total force of 31,500 are expected to be laid off during the first tranche of cuts.

Although those who are within six months of deploying for an operation are safe from compulsory redundancy, some sailors who took part in the early stages of the Libya operation are eligible.

Political party courts serving and veteran members

Serving members of the regular forces are not permitted to take an active part in the affairs of political parties, but are allowed to join political parties as ordinary members. Now The Guardian newspaper reports that Labour is to offer cut-price membership of the party to all serving and former members of the armed forces "as part of an ambitious plan to rebrand itself as the defender of the military":

Latest on Gurkha settlement in Aldershot from BritishForcesNews

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:

HMS Astute murder: MoD statement on 'Royal Navy procedures on submarines'

Following the sentencing of Able Seaman Ryan Donovan for the murder of Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux and the attempted murder of others aboard HMS Astute, a Daily Mail article by author and former Army brigadier Allan Mallinson claims that "something is amiss in the Navy". The Ministry of Defence has posted this statement on its news blog:

MoD in Afghanistan Christmas donations plea

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).

Exhibition to honour foreign nationals who served in Battle of Britain

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).

Reported controversies over increased Gurkha settlement in NE Hants

In May 2009 the British Government announced  that all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years service would be allowed to settle in the UK. BAFF was not involved in that campaign, although in 2007 the newly-fledged British Armed Forces Federation had lobbied selected parliamentarians in support of the Tul Bahadur Pun VCTul Bahadur Pun VC campaign.

Ombudsman condemns MoD for 'disgraceful and unfair' treatment of wartime internees

Guardian 14 Sep 2011: "A family who were repeatedly denied compensation for their internment during the second world war were treated disgracefully by the Ministry of Defence, which acted in an "extraordinarily insensitive" way towards them, the parliamentary ombudsman has ruled." The story continues:

Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey 2011

This year's Continuous Attitude Survey was published some days ago, but due to competing armed forces stories has received unusually little media attention. BritishForcesNews reported on the same day as the report was made available on this website for logged-in BAFF Members and BAFF Military Supporters. Now today's Mirror has a story about the survey.

A BAFF spokesman was asked about morale in three recent radio interviews about the tranche 1 redundancy notifications. Talk of "low morale" in the armed forces can be easily misunderstood, so our man made it clear that people generally were "not going about with long faces", and that service personnel were getting on with their jobs as they always do. But

Christmas mail to the troops

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.

BAFF mentioned in Armed Forces Bill debate

The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) has been quoted again in Parliament.

BAFF reactions to Baha Mousa Inquiry

The British Armed Forces Federation takes the view that the Baha Mousa Inquiry chaired by Sir William Gage has made a fair and thorough job of a difficult and painful investigation. In addition to the fullest possible implementation of the recommendations, BAFF regards it as a further test of our system that any further investigation, prosecution or administrative action be conducted fairly, and not in the atmosphere of a witch-hunt or for reasons of political expediency.

While there can be no excuses for the criminal or undisciplined mistreatment of anyone in the custody of British forces, comparatively junior individuals must not be left to take all the blame after what the Inquiry found to be a clear “corporate failure” by the MoD to adopt a proper and consistent doctrine for detainee holding and questioning. Failures to plan and provide adequate resources for the occupation also played their part.

According to a story in the Telegraph (09 Sep), "Nineteen soldiers could face criminal charges for their role in the death of an innocent Iraqi man after a public inquiry found he was the victim of “appalling and cowardly” violence while in British custody":

Baha Mousa inquiry report released

The Report of the Baha Mousa Inquiry can be accessed from the Inquiry's site at the link below, but some may have difficulty accessing the pages, via Google Docs. Our immediate reaction is that the Chairman's statement was impressive, but we will be examining the report in more detail and would welcome comments from logged-in BAFF members and BAFF military supporters.

Baha Mousa inquiry report about to be published

The report of the Baha Mousa inquiry will be released later today, Thursday 08 Sep 2011. The Chairman of the Inquiry will make a short statement at 11.00am "to mark the laying of the Inquiry Report before Parliament later in the day". BBC News reports:

Independent: 'Gurkhas to get lower payoffs in Army cuts'

"One officer facing compulsory redundancy said: 'I have given my whole life to the Army. I feel helpless. There is no morale in the brigade, it is very, very bad'." The Independent stated (02 Sep) that many of the Gurkhas who were told they were being forced out of the Army yesterday will be paid less than their British counterparts:

BritishForcesNews reports: Moving on from redundancy to resettlement

"It is less than 48 hours since 1800 servicemen and women hit by the MOD's first round of Armed Forces redundancies were told their service life will soon be over. The announcement has left them facing a daunting challenge; how to begin again outside the military world that has looked after them for so long. The Ministry of Defence has promised "full support" for those making that transition."  BritishForcesNews reported (02 Sep).

Combat Stress: Half of GPs unaware of official guidelines on how to diagnose veterans' PTSD

A survey carried out on behalf of leading charity Combat Stress has revealed that 49 per cent of GPs are familiar with guidelines on PTSD from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on PTSD. Only 42 per cent were familiar with the guidelines. The Daily Telegraph reports that:

Half of doctors are unaware of official guidelines on how to diagnose mental health trauma because of battle scars from the frontline, a survey has found.

The news will lead to fears that thousands of veterans are not being diagnosed early enough to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A survey carried out by independent pollster ComRes found that just 42 per cent of GPs are familiar with guidelines on PTSD from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on PTSD.

Forty-nine per cent said they were not familiar with them at all. ComRes, which was commissioned by veterans mental health charity Combat Stress, surveyed 1,006 GPs across the UK in July 2011.

The guidelines set out clinical best practice on how medical professional should manage and deal with PTSD sufferers, as well offering ways of treating the mental illness.

Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity which is raising money through its 'Enemy Within' appeal to deal with the problem, said its figures showed that too few doctors were diagnosing PTSD among veterans.

It found that over the past 12 months just 5 per cent of the 1,426 veterans it helped were referred to it by GPs.

Failing to diagnose PTSD early, and take medical action, can lead to the onset of much more serious problems, such as alcoholism and depression.

Walter Busuttil, Combat Stress's medical services director, said: “Our clinical audits tell us that 80 per cent of veterans who come to Combat Stress for clinical treatment have first tried to get help from either their GP or other specialist services, but have not received the support and treatment that they needed.

“This has led to around half the veterans who come to Combat Stress each year essentially self-referring.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, admitted that “inequalities persist surrounding the care of military personnel when they return to the UK”, adding that the college has produced guidance “to help GPs better understand veterans’ particular needs”.

She added: “Veterans pose a unique challenge for GPs, but the role the generalist can play in identifying post traumatic stress disorder, or indeed any other mental health problems that may manifest as a result of the often difficult and dangerous situations that veterans work in around the world, is invaluable.”

More than 180,000 British troops have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

... Last year, Combat Stress launched its “Enemy Within” appeal, supported by The Daily Telegraph, to raise funds for the network of psychiatric nurses to treat veterans.

To contribute to Combat Stress's Enemy Within appeal, send a cheque payable to "Combat Stress" to the charity at Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 0BX.

Or go to www.combatstress.org.uk/telewww.combatstress.org.uk/tele to donate online.

Bishops: Government must not betray its moral duty to troops

According to The Sunday Telegraph (04 Sep), Church of England Bishops are set to warn ministers that plans to care for the armed forces do not go far enough:

BAFF: 'What we cannot condone is a fishing expedition by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) in which service personnel are asked to inform on each other'

The Sunday Telegraph (04 Sep 2011) reports that British troops are being asked to secretly inform on their comrades as part of an investigation into allegations that soldiers systematically abused civilians during the Iraq War. The report, which includes significant comments from the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) spokeman, continues:

Portsmouth News: Navy ready to let female sailors serve in submarines

Portsmouth News reports that the ban on women serving in Royal Navy submarines is "set to be lifted" after medical experts told the Ministry of Defence that female sailors face no greater hazard on boats than their male colleagues. This news is in line with earlier predictions. The News' story continues:

Army and RAF personnel to receive redundancy notices

2,000 or more Army and RAF personnel are about to be told that they are being made redundant. All redundancies are legally compulsory, but it must be hoped that as many as possible of those affected were volunteers to be considered for redundancy. All deserve the armed forces' and the country's best wishes for the future.

Baha Mousa Inquiry report out shortly - 'British Army cleared of systematic abuse'

The Chairman of the Baha Mousa Inquiry has announced that he intends to publish his report on 8 September 2011. The Sunday Telegraph says that the three-year inquiry into how Mr Baha Mousa died while in British custody in Iraq "will clear the Army of operating a systematic regime of torture". There is no room for complacency, because according to the newspaper, the inquiry will instead criticise individual soldiers and failings in the chain of command which led to his mistreatment:

BBC 'Look North' report about the pre-1975 veterans pensions injustice

(Spring 2011) The BBC's Look North programme led with this report in connection with the pre-1975 pensions injustice, featuring interviews with former Labour MP and RAF serviceman Colin Challen, and retired Staff Sergeant Sid West of the Equality for Veterans Association (EFVA).

'The negative effects of gay-friendliness in the British military'

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:

TA soldiers 'at greater risk of mental health problems and alcohol abuse following operations'

Previous studies in both the UK and US have found that, compared with regular troops, reserve military personnel had more mental health issues -- including more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) -- after returning home from operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The latest research at King's College London suggests that difficulty readjusting to civilian life may account for some of that extra risk.

MoneyExpert.com - How service personnel can improve their credit score

Members of the armed forces can be at a disadvantage when they need to borrow after they return from overseas or leave the services, because their itinerant lifestyle and lack of credit history can ruin their chances.

Your borrowing needs in future years could include buying a car, obtaining a mortgage to buy a family home, or even starting your own business.

According to the credit reporting company Experian Interactive:

Your credit status is based on a host of factors, from a track record of repaying what you owe to being on the electoral register.

If you don’t meet the normal criteria because of a military career, you could find it difficult to get credit or have to pay higher interest because lenders don’t know whether you’ll be reliable.

Fortunately, according to an article on MoneyExpert.com, there are a number of things which you can do to improve your credit score:

Telegraph: 'Historic battalions could be lost in cuts, warns general' (Updated)

The Daily Telegraph (Mon 22 Aug) claims that up to a fifth of Britain's infantry battalions, "including some of Army's most historic names", will be abolished under Government defence cuts.  The story represents much the sort of speculation which the Ministry of Defence has earlier criticised as "putting troops at risk", apparently on the basis that personnel in Afghanistan might be dangerously distracted, while on patrol, by concerns about closures and disbandments.

Telegraph: 'Army warns David Cameron on cuts to servicemen's school fees'

According to the Telegraph, the Prime Minister has been "warned" that the Army "will be hit by a damaging wave of resignations" if ministers make fresh cuts in allowances for the school fees of servicemen’s children. Officers, including elite Special Forces commanders, are said to be prepared to quit over the issue:

MPs concerned about military supply chain 'risks'

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has just published the report of its inquiry into "the use of information to manage the logistics supply chain". Media reporting highlights comments in the report that the IT systems used to manage the complex supply chain were "not adequate for the task".

Read More

As a result, the risk of failure of these warehouse inventory systems was considered "extremely high" - and was recently rated as "critical" by the MoD's Defence Logistics Board. The report said: "If these systems fail, then the result could be shortages at the front line within as little as 30 days."

Responding to the report, Defence Minister Peter Luff MP said that "Ensuring our armed forces on the frontline have all they need is a top priority and there are no shortages in Afghanistan."

British Forces News reports on RMAS passing out parade

It's the result of many hours of hard work and the grandest day in the Sandhurst calendar, as friends, family and VIPs gather to watch Officer Cadets take part in their final challenge - the 166th Sovereign's Parade. For the first time all of the cadets currently at Sandhurst were on parade including the junior division, with 242 passing out.  BritishForcesNews reports (12 Aug).

Ministry of Defence 'getting worse at caring for Armed Forces personnel'

The Ministry of Defence has become "more wasteful" and "worse at caring" for Armed Forces personnel since the Coalition took office, military staff and defence officials believe. The Daily Telegraph reports on the results of polling for the MoD's annual report:

Mirror: '8,000 soldiers called up to police next year's London Olympic Games'

According to a report in the Sunday Mirror, Britain will call up 8,000 soldiers to help guard next year's Olympic Games – "putting a serious strain on our already over-stretched Armed Forces". The story continues:

Scotsman: 'Backlash over MOD super-barracks plan'

Today's Scotsman leads with claims by former officers that the Ministry of Defence decision to move the army out of Edinburgh and sell off its historic buildings is financially driven, unpopular and gives the impression of "chaos at the top". BAFF comment: The availability of land for a new major training area is likely to be a major element in this decision, but the needs of personnel and their families also need be taken into account. The Scotsman story continues:

Military accommodation projects put on hold by MoD

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).

More than 5,000 Armed forces pensioners underpaid, admits MoD

The Ministry of Defence has apologised after thousands of recently-retired veterans were underpaid their pensions. The former RN officer who discovered the error has criticised SPVA for "being happy to sit back and not inform them they were being paid incorrectly". The Belfast Telegraph reports that:

BA to recruit ex-forces pilots

British Airways wants to hire 800 new pilots by 2016 using three combined recruitment programmes, including a joint initiative with the armed forces to take on personnel due to leave the service. People Management Magazine reports that:

New information note on policing riots, legal powers of military personnel

The Library of the House of Commons has produced a timely information note for MPs which examines the possible roles of the police and armed forces in controlling riots.

(UPDATED 11.08.2011) Army will not be called in says Met, and Downing Street leaves the decision to police

UPDATE: The Prime Minister stated in the emergency session of Parliament on Thursday 11 Aug that:

It is the government's responsibility to make sure that every future contingency is looked at, including whether there are tasks that the army could undertake that might free up more police for the front line.

Defence Management Journal previously reported that the Metropolitan Police had 'No plans' at that time to bring in the army over riots:

'Bringing in Army to help with riots would be a step too far'

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.

First woman to command major RN warship

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).

London riots: 'Army should be last resort, say experts'

Guardian:  "There would be political and practical difficulties in deploying the army on the streets of London to tackle the riots, say academics." The story continues:

With alcohol being the debate of the week, how much does it affect the forces?

There's been lots of debate in the media about the growing problem of alcohol abuse and the problems associated with it. Interview with Dr Rob Hicks about how big a problem alcohol abuse is within the forces. BritishForcesNews reports (04 Aug).

Armed Forces Muslim chaplain explains how personnel cope during Ramadan

This week is the start of Ramadan, the most holy month in the Muslim calendar. Throughout the month, Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. The only Muslim Chaplain to the Armed Forces explains how Muslim service personnel cope.  BritishForcesNews reports (05 Aug).

Cuts may render armed forces 'unable to deliver'

MPs are warning that cuts to the armed forces may leave them unable to deliver what is asked of them after 2015. In a toughly-worded report, the Defence Select Committee says it rejects the Prime Minister's assurance that Britain retains a "full spectrum" defence capability, and warns that without firm commitments to improved funding in the very near future, Britain's politicians risk "failing" the country's military. BritishForcesNews reports (03 Aug).

Interpreter safety issue has been coming up again

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 -

Former military chiefs call on Government to reconsider cuts to Armed Forces

The Telegraph reports that Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, is facing new calls to reopen the Coalition's controversial defence review and restore military capabilities axed to save money:

Read More

Fifty senior former military commanders, experts, campaigners and politicians have backed an open letter calling on ministers to rethink cuts to Britain's naval and air power.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review last year made cuts that will leave Britain without a working aircraft carrier until 2020, scrapping HMS Ark Royal and all of Britain's Harrier jump jets.

Recent turmoil in Libya has focused attention on those decisions, and ministers are under mounting pressure to revisit the some of the SDSR's cuts.

Some Whitehall officials believe David Cameron will be forced to "review the review" within months.

Dr Fox has insisted that he has no choice but to make deep cuts, blaming a financial deficit he inherited from Labour. New cuts are expected within weeks.

"We accept the need for savings to be made in the defence budget," the commanders' letter says. "However, the Strategic Defence and Security Review seems to have been driven by financial rather than military considerations."

Highlighting recent events in north Africa and the Middle East, the signatories conclude: "The security landscape has radically changed and some of the assumptions on which the review was based should be reconsidered."

The signatories to the letter include General Sir Michael Rose, a former SAS chief who commanded United Nations Forces in Bosnia during the 1990s.

Other signatories include two former RAF chiefs, Sir Michael Graydon and Sir Peter Squire.

Among the military experts supporting the letter was Michael Codner, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute.

Dr Fox rejected the criticism of the review, insisting that ministers had no choice but to cut defence spending.

"Difficult decisions had to be made to get the defence budget onto a stable footing after Labour left the MoD with a £38bn black hole. The previous Government failed to have a defence review for 12 years and presided over financial mismanagement where the MoD were spending more than its budget," he said,

"The SDSR has allowed us to reshape the Armed Forces to face future threats, making our military more adaptable and flexible in the future.

"We have the fourth largest military budget in the world and are investing in modern cutting edge equipment such as the Joint Strike Fighter, new submarines and new Aircraft carriers."

MoD: We are working people harder but there is no overstretch

Interviewed this morning, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey acknowledged that defence personnel were being "worked harder", but he rejected the Defence Committee's claims that cuts will affect the military's capability to fulfil its tasks.

Defence Committee in new criticisms of SDSR

The cross-party House of Commons Defence Committee has issued a hard-hitting report following its inquiry into the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the National Security Strategy. In the report's 46 conclusions and recommendations -

Independent: Ex-soldier James Blunt 'in war of words' with RAF after 'morale-boosting trip' cancelled

The Independent on Sunday reports that James Blunt, the award-winning singer and former Life Guards officer, has "run into trouble" with military top brass after he complained about "gross incompetence" in the Royal Air Force. RAF chiefs have protested that they were not "helping to lose the war" in Afghanistan, after Blunt criticised the transport delays that forced the cancellation of his "morale-boosting" trip to entertain British troops in the country. The aircraft involved was not an RAF aircraft, although that factor tends to be of little interest to stranded passengers.

Was 'right of settlement' campaign good for the Gurkhas?

Two years after Gurkhas who retired before 1997 won the right to settle in the UK. Gurkha welfare groups and the Home office estimate that about 8,000 former soldiers and their families have since moved to Britain. But many have struggled in the UK, as the BBC's Alastair Lawson reports:

Mail: 'Soldiers face longer tours in Afghanistan because of savage cuts to troop numbers'

Parliament's Defence Select Committee has now warned that the imposition of defence cuts while British forces are still engaged in operations in Afghanistan could mean the remaining servicemen and women having to deploy for an extra three months. The Daily Mail reports that:

Human remains found in S Korea could be soldier of the Glorious Glosters

In a meticulous search after receiving information from a local, South Korean soldiers have unearthed human remains which could be those of a member of the Gloucestershire regiment who fought in the Imjin battle in 1951.

7,000 more MoD civilian jobs to go

Various media report that following the recent announcement of a further 7,000 military jobs being cut between 2015 and 2020, the number of civilian defence personnel is also to be cut by some 7,000 posts over and above what was announced in the SDSR. While there is no detail available on where the extra cuts are to fall, MoD civil servants include a wide range of specialist posts including Royal Fleet Auxiliary seamen, security personnel and Defence Intelligence staff. Today's Guardian reports that:

Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) - video message from VCDS

Amid the speculation and debate about the the findings of the Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20), this is a message from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton.

Human rights law applicability to British forces overseas - Gurkha inquest concluded

To what extent should human rights laws apply to British forces personnel when deployed on operations overseas?

Leaked letter reveals Army cuts to bite sooner than later

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).

Losing Small Wars by Frank Ledwidge: review

Review: Sean Rayment on Losing Small Wars by Frank Ledwidge, "an account of why Britain fared so badly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan":

Media: 'Army units to be disbanded before end of Afghan campaign'

Despite earlier complaints by Ministry of Defence media staff that speculation about closures had been distressing families and putting lives at risk by distracting soldiers on operations, there has been increasing discussion about Army units being cut more quickly than previously expected. The Daily Telegraph now reports that:

New steps to protect troops from genital injury

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.

Shake-up cuts Army, boosts TA and costs RAF an air base in Scotland

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).

 

 

 

Welsh Affairs Committee launches new inquiry into services for veterans in Wales

The Welsh Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has announced a new inquiry into support for armed forces veterans and their families in Wales. The Committee has asked for written submissions by Monday 12 September. BAFF members and supporters who have something to contribute to the inquiry are encouraged to submit their own submissions - BAFF assistance available on request. If there are issues on which you would like BAFF itself to submit written evidence, please contact us as soon as possible.

Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20) Final Report

The full report of the Future Reserves 2020 study (FR20) is now available at the following MoD link:

MPs critical of Afghanistan mistakes

A critical report by the House of Commons Defence Committee, published today (Sunday), questions the coalition government's plan to remove troops by 2015, saying such a decision should be based on circumstances, not artificial deadlines. And it says the shortfall in troop numbers and the poor state of equipment they were given on deployment in Helmand in 2006 was "unacceptable". BAFF comment:

FR20 announcement imminent: 'Thousands of regular soldiers could be sacked to boost the role of the reserves'

 In the latest speculation about the imminent release of the FR20 study  (now expected on Monday)  it is reported that thousands of regular soldiers could be sacked to boost the role of the Territorial Army. Former Labour defence minister Kevan Jones MP says that “Major changes are gong to cost money. Without that, the report will simply sit on a shelf.” The British Armed Forces Federation, which includes reservists as well as regular and retired forces personnel amongst its membership, pointed out in a recent radio interview that any defence capabilities transferred to the reserves must be adequately funded, genuinely usable and "not mere window dressing" - otherwise they must remain with the regular forces. From the Daily Telegraph:

Wandsworth Council social housing allocation policy 'to favour armed forces'

'Inside Housing' reports that a local authority has pledged to give members of the armed forces priority access to social housing and has set aside 15 homes:

Service voting: Government proposal to extend UK parliamentary election timetable

Following the 2005 General Election,  Silence in the Ranks identified "the UK's tight electoral timetable" as an important factor in the effective disenfranchisement of many members of the armed forces community, whether their postal votes failed to arrive in time or whether they did not even attempt to vote, out of lack of confdence in the system.

Fox: RAF will not merge with other services

It is reported that Defence Secretary Liam Fox has ended speculation that the Royal Air Force could be merged with the other armed services. From Virginia-based journal, DefenseNews:

FR20: 'Britain needs a citizen army to fight its wars'

Lt Gen (retd) Sir Graeme Lamb, Former Commander of the Field Army and a key member of the team which carried out the Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) Study, writes in the Daily Telegraph (13 Jul) that the The balance between regulars and reserves in our Armed Forces should be rethought:

NOTW: HMS Liverpool makes history

In its final issue after 168 years, the News of the World reports that HMS Liverpool has made the Royal Navy's first use of main armament gunnery since the Falklands Campaign:

Women 'will be allowed to serve on Royal Navy submarines for the first time'

Last year we followed the story that that women might be allowed to serve aboard RN submarines for the first time. The Sunday Mirror now reports that:

Chinook Mull of Kintyre crash review findings about to be announced

The Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons next week following the review led by retired judge Lord Philips relating to the crash on 2 June 1994 at the Mull of Kintyre of RAF Chinook ZD676, killing all twenty-five passengers and four crew. From BBC News:

Defence basing review: decision delayed until Thursday?

Dundee-based newspaper The Courier claims that the decision on future defence basing, which we were expecting early in the week, may now be delayed until Thursday (14 Jul) due to the business disruption caused by the News of the World alleged phone hacking scandal:

Broadsheet 2011 - Royal Navy Matters - available in digital format

Broadsheet 2011/Royal Navy Matters has just been issued in digital format, although hard copies are also available.

Former top brass: Armed forces 'on the brink'

According to Forces News' report of the Armed Forces Bill debate in the Lords on Wednesday evening, the Government is being warned by armed services chiefs that the armed forces could be "on the brink" because of planned reforms and “morally indefensible" redundancies:

Does human rights law apply to British forces overseas?

To what extent does human rights law apply to British forces on operations overseas? This vexed question has been in the news again lately, the latest development being the long-awaited decision by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case of al-Skeini and Others. Update:

BBC News: RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars news 'could be imminent'

Based on replies by Dr Fox in today's Commons Defence Questions, BBC News says that the decision on RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars is expected soon:

News of the future of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and RAF Leuchars in Fife could be imminent, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has hinted.

Mr Fox said a number of decisions on the future of threatened air bases - including the two in Scotland - had been taken.

Answering questions in the Commons, Mr Fox said he hoped "to make progress very shortly".

Campaigners have been trying to save the Lossiemouth and Leuchars bases.

The Scottish government has said Scotland has already suffered more than its fair share of military spending cuts.

The UK government decided to scrap the fleet of new Nimrod spy planes at Kinloss in Moray as part of the defence review

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has also been gathering evidence on the possible effect of two base closures on the Moray economy.

North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell said that the campaign for keeping RAF Leuchars was in the "home straight" but the race was still on "until we reach the tape".

He urged supporters to e-mail the prime minister directly to make their own case for the base's retention.

S Telegraph: Defence chiefs cut bonus payments to military bands

According to the Sunday Telegraph, millions of pounds in bonus payments to military bands have been axed as the Ministry of Defence desperately attempts to save more money:

Service charities say Wounded soldiers face 'postcode lottery' of care:

Badly wounded soldiers are subjected to a “postcode lottery” of care on the NHS when they leave the Services, charity chiefs have told MPs.From the Daily Telegraph:

'Myth-busting inquiry' delivers final report on former armed forces personnel in prison

The Howard League for Penal Reform’s Inquiry into Former Armed Service Personnel in Prison published its final report recently in the run up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday 25th June:

Telegraph: 'Returning troops to jump the housing queue'

A report in the Daily Telegraph says that as part of the new military covenant, the Prime Minister is to change the law (in England) "in an attempt to show he is recognising the sacrifices of those who risk their lives for their country". This follows initiatives by a number of local authorities. The Telegraph story continues:

Telegraph: 'Cream of officers bail out of RAF'

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, RAF chiefs fear that the “cream” of the air force is leaving after a dozen group captains resigned or asked for voluntary redundancy in the past month:

Nearly 1000 army officers have volunteered for Tranche 1 redundancy

The Head of Army Manning says that the "right balance of experience" will be maintained in the Army despite nearly 1,000 officers volunteering for redundancy. PA News reports that:

Armed Forces Bill completes its consideration in Commons

The Armed Forces Bill has now completed its consideration in the House of Commons. It is due to be debated on the House of Lords on 6 July.

BAFF spokesman on Iraq Historic Allegations inquiry

An investigation by BBC News has revealed that the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) - which was announced in March 2010 and began work at the beginning of November - has so far managed to interview only ONE of the Iraqi civilian complainants. Complainants have refused to cooperate on the advice of their lawyers, but IHAT dispute that such advice is justified.

 British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) spokesman Adrian Weale, who served on Operation Telic, was interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme and other BBC media. He said:

Sweeping NATO HQ changes - AMCC Northwood retained

NATO has agreed plans for a new land, air and maritime command structure which will reduce command and staff personnel by 30 per cent. The maritime component command in Northwood, cited in a recent NATO study as one of the most efficient headquarters within the entire NATO command structure. is being retained. Aviation Week reports:

Future Reserves 2020 (FR 20): Armed Forces 'should recruit more part-time soldiers'

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Armed Forces should recruit more part-time soldiers to help Britain prepare for conflict and natural disasters, the FR20 review has concluded:

Fox: Multiple potential prosecutions over leaks

Investigations into leaks at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are likely to result in "a number" of prosecutions, Liam Fox has told Sky News.

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off Libya

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) is operating off the Libyan coast as part of the Nato operation in support of UNSCR 1973. BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale got exclusive access on board the pride of the French navy:

Seeds of recovery at Headley Court

British Forces News reports that a new gardening project has been launched at Headley Court to provide occupational therapy for personnel recovering at the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Centre:

Maritime Squadrons disbanded at RAF Kinloss

The three flying squadrons at RAF Kinloss have been officially disbanded in a ceremony attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, following the decision to end the squadron operations under the UK government's defence review.

The airfield at the Moray base will cease to operate after 31 July. From BBC News NE Scotland, 26 May 2010:

Defence Headquarters ditches vending machines to save cash

MoD staff are keeping a stiff upper lip in face of deficit-busting 'caffeine cuts' to save £0.5m a year, according to a report on guardian.co.uk:

Army Obesity Study: Half of British soldiers are obese or overweight

A Ministry of Defence study found that 44.9 per cent were overweight and another 12.1 per cent were classed as obese or even heavier. According to The Daily Telegraph:

Lord Levene's review causing 'consternation' amongst senior officers


The Guardian is reporting that Lord Levene's plans for root and branch reform of the military are likely to cause consternation among senior officers:

'Ex-service personnel fast-tracked for council housing'

Armed forces veterans are being fast-tracked for council housing, according to some council leaders in England. LocalGov.co.uk reports that:

Ofsted: Children of armed forces families need better support

Service children who face regular moves from home and school can suffer high levels of anxiety and stress, especially when their parents deploy to armed conflicts overseas, according to a report by Oftsed, the the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in England.

Bolton News: New research on 'Why ex-soldiers end up in prison'

The Bolton News reports that new research is being carried out in Bolton to find out why (according to some sources) there are "so many" Armed Forces veterans in prison. It is a controversial subject, on which serious fact-based research is to be warmly welcomed.

Video of Military Covenant announcement in House of Commons

A BBC Democracy Live report of Dr Fox's statement on 16 May includes video of the announcement:

Telegraph: Bus passes for injured troops as military covenant becomes law

The Daily Telegraph reports that servicemen who have been seriously injured while on duty will be given free bus passes for life under a series of measures designed to enshrine the Military Covenant in law:

Secretary of State's statement on Armed Forces Covenant

The Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox made a statement to the House of Commons on Monday 16 May 2011 on the Armed Forces Covenant.

Parliamentary Human Rights Committee raises reservations about Armed Forces Bill

The Westminster Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its report on the Armed Forces Bill, which raises "several significant human rights issues":

Military Covenant: Dr Fox sets out 'enhanced services for the military'

Sky News reports that Defence Secretary Liam Fox has set out how the Government's new military covenant will be enshrined into law:

Lord West claims covenant announcement possible 'smokescreen' for new cuts

The Evening Standard reports that the Government published its long awaited military covenant today - and was immediately accused of using it as a "smokescreen" to cover fresh cuts.

Number 10: Military Covenant to be enshrined in law

The Prime Minister has announced plans to write the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant into law:

BAFF quoted in latest reporting about the Military Covenant

The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) has been quoted in several media reports about giving legal force to the military covenant:

MoD implements AFCS improvements recommended by Boyce Review

The Ministry of Defence has announced that the "significant improvements" to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) recommended by the Boyce Review are being implemented in full as of today, 09 May 2011.

More to follow.

Remains of British Burma and Korean War fighter ace handed over by North Korea

The Daily Telegraph reports (05 May 2011) that the presumed remains of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Hinton DFC, who lay buried in an unmarked grave outside the North Korean capital Pyongyang for more than 50 years, have been handed over to British diplomats.

Rugby: Army win back a year's bragging rights from the Royal Navy

Army 44 - RN 10

Royal Navy scored first in a rivetting first half at Twickenham before the Army got into gear and scored seven tries winning back a year's bragging rights from the Royal Navy. Bola Boladua was Man of the Match.

Government delays vote on Armed Forces Bill

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Coalition Government has delayed a vote on the Armed Forces Bill - and that the Prime Minister has hinted that the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan could be hastened by the death of Osama bin Laden:

Good luck to our team on Saturday!

The Sun reports that the premier rugby event of the year will take place at Twickenham this Saturday:

The People's Front

YouTube clip from Life of Brian (1979)

Outcome of CAFFUK trademark attempt to suppress BAFF

{slider Summary}

The 4-year bid by Combined Armed Forces Federation UK (CAFFUK) veterans to suppress BAFF has finally been seen off, after a series of rulings in BAFF's favour.

This unfortunate saga is now at an end, but if any member requires more information, please click the headings below.

Sun: RAF course to beat fear of flying

The Sun reports that "the Royal Air Force is running a course to help staff beat their fear of FLYING":

Honorary Lieutenant (QGO) Tulbahadur Pun VC

The death has been announced of Honorary Lieutenant (Queen's Gurkha Officer) Tulbahadur Pun VC. The following statement has been issued by the British Embassy, Kathmandu:

Thinking of applying for redundancy? Make sure you consult!

Applying for redundancy is a difficult decision in any profession. Our advice is to do your homework, ask questions, consider all your options, and make sure that you have properly discussed it with your partner before submitting an application.

Mail: 'Fighting the Taliban? Make sure you have ironed your uniform, our boys are told'

The Daily Mail reports on a critical soldier's letter in Soldier magazine:

Wounded Scottish veterans to get bus travel permits

Following similar initiatives in some other parts of the UK, The ScotsmanThe Scotsman reports that veterans who were injured while serving their country will now receive free bus travel as part of a package of pledges aimed at making Scotland "fairer".

Forces personnel urged to make proper wills

The Army Families Federation (AFF) is calling for ALL armed forces personnel to make a will with proper legal advice.

 

The Families Federation say they are seeing an increasing number of cases where bereaved families are struggling because the military will was not detailed enough. They cite the case of the mother of the youngest soldier killed in Afghanistan. She has had her income support and housing benefits stopped after receiving her son's death-in-service and compensation payments. Watch the full report on the British Forces News websiteBritish Forces News website.

Serving personnel will be aware of MoD Form 106 which can be used to make a simple Will. While we cannot advise without knowing your circumstances, in most cases we would suggest using Form 106 in preference to having no Will at all, but as the Families Federation says, it is best to make a proper Will with legal advice.

Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) report 2011

UPDATE MON 21 MAR 2011  As we predicted, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body's annual report containing its recommendations for armed forces pay for the ensuing financial year has just been released online. The Secretary of State has confirmedconfirmed that the recommendations will be implemented in full from 1 Apr 2011. The key recommendations and links to the full AFPRB report and today's DIB are shown below:

MOD 90 to be accepted as proof of age in pubs

Following a campaign, Defence Minister Andrew Robathan MP has confirmed in a parliamentary answer that the MoD has now agreed to a change in policy, allowing service personnel to use their service identity card as proof of age, and has written to the relevant trade associations encouraging their members to accept it.

Results of new study into number of former service personnel on probation

A joint statement by Defence and Justice Ministers has revealed the results of a DASA study into the number of former service personnel on probation in England and Wales. DASA estimates that 3.4% (or 5,860) of those supervised by probation trusts in England and Wales, as at 30 September 2009, had previously served as regulars in the UK armed forces.

Repatriation ceremonies to be relocated to RAF Brize Norton

Repatriation ceremonies for those killed in operational theatres will move to RAF Brize Norton by 1 September 2011 the Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has announced today as expected. Fuller details from the Ministry of Defence:

Armed Forces Bill - Select Committee publishes its Report

The Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill has announced the publication today of its Special Report on the Armed Forces Bill. The Committee was tasked by the House of Commons to scrutinise the Bill which makes various changes to existing Military Law.

Service wives win unfair dismissal protection overseas

British Forces News reports that three Appeal Court judges have ruled that forces wives who took overseas jobs with the Ministry of Defence are entitled to protection against unfair dismissal:

CEA: 'SAS Colonel quits Army after education perk that lets Forces children go to top boarding schools is axed'

A story at MailOnline says that "A highly decorated former head of the SAS is quitting the Army following the Government’s decision to cut education allowances for serving soldiers."

Sunday Mirror: 'Bomb disposal hero was the only one of six comrades to return from Afghanistan '

The Sunday Mirror has a controversial interview with a serving warrant officer who received devastating injuries on IED disposal duty in Afghanistan:

Sunday Telegraph: More armed forces redundancies 'not ruled out'

According to the Sunday Telegraph's Defence Correspondent, "Army, Navy and Royal Air Force's chiefs will be told within the month exactly how much of the burden each service will have to shoulder and will then have to decide how to make the savings."

Rees-Mogg: 'No planes, no ships means no no-fly zone'

The veteran conservative journalist William Rees-Mogg argues on MailOnline that:

Duchess of Cornwall meets deploying chaplains

(UKPA News) The Duchess of Cornwall has met chaplains deploying to Afghanistan during a visit to the Royal Naval Chaplaincy Service annual conference:

BAFF Chairman: Troop cuts 'will affect front line morale'

Almost the entire contingent of Britain’s 10,000 troops in Afghanistan have been told they could be sacked within months. BAFF Chairman Douglas Young writes about the issue on the Telegraph.co.uk website:

Of course the threat of redundancy will affect morale on the front line. How could it not?

Details of RAF redundancy programme released 1 Mar 2011 (article includes link to DIN)

Details of the RAF's redundancy programme were released to RAF personnel today.

Armed Forces Redundancy Calculator 2011 now online

UPDATE: Please check your forecast if you used the SPVA's Armed Forces Redundancy Calculator prior to 15 March 2011, as there were errors with some quotes.

Liam Fox: Libya crisis shows why we're right on defence reform

The Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, sets out in The Sunday Telegraph why he believes the Coalition is right to radically reform UK defences. "The vision we've set out – Future Force 2020 – ensures that by the end of the decade we have coherent, efficient and cutting-edge Armed Forces prepared for the challenges of the future."

Guardian: BFBS to be put out to tender

The Guardian reports that the British Forces Broadcasting Service, for years a lifeline for members of the armed forces and their families, is to be put out to tender to competitive bidders. The report continues:

BAFF submits written evidence to Armed Forces Bill Committee

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.

Admiral Chris Parry: Without agile, balanced Forces, we will be left behind in the world

Admiral Chris Parry writes in The Daily Telegraph that:

Independent on Sunday: 'A soldier writes from Afghanistan'

Independent on Sunday: "A serving British soldier in Afghanistan, enraged by last week's news of Army sackings-by email, believes our forces are being taken for granted. He decided to tell The IoS of his feelings":

Sun: 'Soldiers off to the frontline in Afghanistan have been freezing their sperm in case they are killed or maimed'

The Sun reports that "Dozens of soldiers off to the frontline in Afghanistan have been freezing their sperm in case they are killed or maimed." The article continues:

Sunday Telegraph: 'Army facing huge cuts after withdrawal from Afghanistan'

BAFF is quoted in a report by the Sunday Telegraph defence correspondent, about the Army facing "huge cuts" after withdrawal from Afghanistan. The reductions would make the Army the smallest since the reign of George IV, who reigned 1820-1830. Quotes in the article:

Telegraph: 'Wounded soldiers to be forced out of the Army'

According to the Daily Telegraph, thousands of injured personnel could be forced out of the military on medical grounds after the Army's head of personnel ordered commanders to face up to the "harsh reality" of an efficiency drive. But the minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans has told the newspaper that no severely injured soldier will leave "until it is right for them and the Army, however long that takes". The newspaper reports that:

Yorkshire Post: 'Domestic abuse soars as jobless soldiers return to civvy street'

A report in The Yorkshire Post claims that "domestic violence has soared across vast swathes of rural North Yorkshire with growing numbers of frustrated ex-servicemen who are unable to find employment fuelling the rise." The report continues:

Belfast Telegraph: NI Assembly 'split over military perks'

The Belfast Telegraph reports that efforts to improve services for members of the armed forces in Northern Ireland have opened "deep divisions" between unionists and nationalists at the Assembly:

Express: War widow says she's been let down by Government

The widow of a REME soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2008 has accused the Government of breaking its promise to British troops.

Will the Government come to the defence of an Iraq war hero?

A Fijian citizen who was seriously injured in Iraq in 2005, and was diagnosed with PTSD after a further tour but reportedly received no treatment for it, is now threatened with deportation from the United Kingdom.

Tory: ECHR and its part in the downfall of "March in the guilty man" style of military justice

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.

Mirror: David Cameron 'broke 10 pledges to troops'

According to a report in The Daily Mirror. Prime Minister David Cameron today "stands accused by the Labour Party" of breaking "10 crucial election pledges" to Britain's armed forces:

MoD cites spending cuts in row over pension changes for armed forces

According to a report in The Guardian, the armed forces have been warned that they cannot be spared from the government's spending cuts as pressure mounts on ministers to reconsider changes that could cost families thousands of pounds in pensions and allowances.

British Legion accuses David Cameron over 'U-turn on pledge to war heroes'

(Daily Mail 09 Feb 2011).  David Cameron was accused yesterday of breaking his promise over the military covenant — the state's responsibility to its Armed Forces:

Mirror: 'Ten troops a day suffer mental health problems in fight against Taliban'

The Daily Mirror claims that the war on terror is taking its toll on the mental state of British troops with a "dramatic rise in the number seeking psychiatric help":

MOD announces changes to allowances for Service personnel

The Ministry of Defence has today announced changes to the allowances paid to Armed Forces personnel for expenses incurred during service.

Gulf War 1990-91: Charities warn that British veterans are 'still suffering' 20 years on

Twenty years on from the commencement of offensive air operations in the liberation of Kuwait, campaigners say that more than 9,000 British veterans are still suffering from a cocktail of war-related health problems. Sky News reports (16 Jan 2011) that:

Telegraph: 'Security threat warning over MoD police cuts'

The Daily Telegraph's Defence Correspondent writes that there are fears that the 3,500 strong MoD Police force that protects nuclear missiles, special forces bases and vital energy sites could be slashed by as much as a third:

Future Reserves 2020 (FR20) Study announced 01 December 2010

The Review of the Reserves focus has morphed into a new study entitles 'Future Reserves 2020' (FR20). This is from the British Army website:

Nimrod squadron to disband in Guernsey

One of Britain's oldest military flying units, 201 Squadron Royal Air Force, will be marching for the last time on Guernsey's Liberation Day, 9 May 2011.

Forces Pension Society: Covenant Task Force report 'incredibly wet and feeble'

The report of the independent Covenant Task Force led by Professor Hew Strachan was released by the Government on 08 Dec 2010.

Vice-Admiral Sir Michael Moore, Chairman of the respected Forces Pension Society, has told The Times that the report is "incredibly wet and feeble."

Telegraph: 'Army's 400 main battle tanks may be cut to 50'

The Daily Telegraph's Defence Correspondent writes that the Army is set to lose its ability to fight large scale tanks battles under radical plans being drawn up to slash its fleet of armoured vehicles:

Armed Forces Bill: Groups urge Parliament to end UK's recruitment of 'child soldiers'

Children and young people's rights groups are calling for a change in the law to end the recruitment of 16 and 17-year-olds into the UK armed forces. Their call comes ahead of the second reading of the Armed Forces Bill, which the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, will present to the House of Commons tomorrow (10 January). More from the Ekklesia think tank:

Armed Forces Bill: MoD 'will politicise' covenant

The Ministry of Defence stands accused of "politicising" the military covenant, under plans in the Armed Forces Bill to scrap an independent review of the Government's progress in honouring the nation's pact with servicemen and women. According to an Independent on Sunday report:

More details released of university funding for children of fallen personnel

The government has released more details of the university scholarship scheme for children of British servicemen and women from England, Scotland and Wales killed on active duty.

Armed Forces Bill presented in House of Commons

The new Armed Forces Bill has been presented in Parliament, without any debate today. It is excitingly described as a "Bill to continue the Armed Forces Act 2006; to amend that Act and other enactments relating to the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence Police; to amend the Visiting Forces Act 1952; to enable judge advocates to sit in civilian courts; to repeal the Naval Medical Compassionate Fund Act 1915; and for connected purposes."

Government to 'rebuild' covenant

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.

Help pledged for service families

The government is due to unveil a range of measures today to support the armed forces and their families. The measures are in a report commissioned in July into the military covenant to ask what more society could do to support the armed forces and their families. The report by Professor Hew Strachan found that many service families struggled to get a mortgage because they moved so often. UPDATE: The task force report has now been released. See Government to 'rebuild' covenant.

Armed forces allowances to be slashed - Telegraph

The Sunday Telegraph's Defence and Security Correspondent writes that allowances paid to thousands of members of the armed forces are to be slashed by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Government rejects calls to protect armed forces pensions

BBC News reports (12 Nov 2010) that Downing Street has rejected calls to protect the armed forces from cuts to public sector pensions:

Kinloss personnel 'absolutely gutted' by RAF base closure

An unnamed Nimrod aircrew member stationed at RAF Kinloss said that he and colleagues felt "absolutely gutted" by the decision which had effectively closed their base. From Moray newspaper The Northern Scot:

Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme 2010: Official Guidance

The links below are quoted from ARRSE. The same disclaimer applies to BAFF. If you are a BAFF member, you should consider consulting us if you are not being treated fairly, such as being threatened with discharge under Manning Control when others in your trade are being made redundant.

'Scotland battered in defence review'

The Herald Scotland says that Scotland is today placed on the front line of the Coalition Government's defence cuts, after David Cameron announced the biggest paring back of Britain's military forces for a generation to help reduce the record budget deficit:

Defence Academy project at St Athan scrapped (termination of the Defence Training Review)

In the first of the cuts to be publicly announced as opposed to being the subject of speculation, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox has confirmed in a written statement that the £14bn defence training academy project at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan have been scrapped. It is still hoped that some form of future defence training solution will be based at the South Wales site in the future. The full written statement is now available at the first link below:

Armed Forces Pay Review Body to be retained

The Cabinet Office today issued the list of proposed reforms to the Government's Public Bodies, or quangos. The following MoD-sponsored bodies listed below are all slated for retention. BAFF particularly welcomes the retention of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB).

Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) update

The Daily Telegraph reports that State funding for the children of Armed Forces personnel to attend independent schools is at risk from last-minute cuts in the defence budget. While CEA is a major expenditure item about which there is inevitably a range of views amongst our serving members and supporters, the Telegraph story is a welcome corrective to some recent media reporting of CEA as no more than a "lavish perk" of "pampered military chiefs".

Injured soldiers train as cowboys to regain confidence

A Stetson, chaps and cowboy boots aren't the usual uniform for a soldier, but they're what Lance Corporal Jay Hare from 45 Commando Royal Marines wears to work these days. BBC News reports that:

Labour names new shadow defence team

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has appointed the new Shadow defence team. Shadow Secretary of State Jim Murphy will be supported by former Defence Minister Kevan Jones, along with Russell Brown, Michael Dugher and Gemma Doyle.

Guardian: 'What the armed forces can expect from the defence review'

In further entirely unofficial speculation about the SDSR outcome, The Guardian's defence correspondent outlines in today's paper the potential impact of cuts on the army, navy and RAF. Richard Norton-Taylor suggests that this includes:

'I am a serving officer in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces'

This is a transcript of the 'essay' by an anonymous serving officer which was read by an actor on The World This Weekend on Sunday 10 Oct 2010:

Uncertain future for UK's amphibious forces

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.

'Mothball' huge chunks of the Army, says 'top Parliamentary adviser'

Thousands of troops should be forced into the reserves and hundreds of weapons mothballed for Britain to make defence savings, according to a think tank study by a professor of defence engineering. The Daily Telegraph reports that:

Telegraph: 'Navy to reduce to smallest size ever to save carriers'

Amid further SDSR speculation, the Daily Telegraph says that the Royal Navy is set to be reduced to the smallest size in its history after admirals yesterday offered drastic reductions in the fleet in order to save two new aircraft carriers from defence cuts:

Inquests for Service personnel – jurisdiction and recent developments

The House of Commons Library has produced a useful note on recent developments affecting inquests and fatal accident inquiries (Scotland) into the deaths of service personnel.

University scholarships for children of Armed Forces casualties, education scheme for service leavers expanded

The Goverment has announced that families of servicemen and women killed on active duty will benefit from publicly-funded higher education scholarships.The new scheme will apply to the children of servicemen and women killed on active military service since 1990, giving them the chance to take up university scholarships. The Government also announced the continuation and expansion of a scheme to pay tuition fees for Service leavers undertaking level 3 further education or undergraduate higher education courses for the first time, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Ministry of Defence. These announcements implement two of the commitments given in the Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement.

Troops to get more stress support on return home

BBC News reports that new measures to help soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress are due to be unveiled at the Conservative Party conference:

British Army advised US on repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

As Republican senators rejected attempts to reverse the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prohibits openly gay personnel in the US armed forces, a decade after similar rules were abolished in the UK the head of the British Army's diversity unit confirmed it had been consulted by its military counterparts across the Atlantic.

SDSR: British Armed Forces to be replaced by the A-Team

As part of budget cuts the entire Ministry of Defence is to be dismantled and replaced by four soldiers of fortune sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit.

New guidance for GPs on health care for veterans

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), The Royal British Legion and Combat Stress have launched guidance to support GPs in identifying and meeting the healthcare needs of veterans more effectively - including accessing the priority treatment to which all veterans are entitled for Service-related conditions.

The BAFF line on Manning Control

From one of our earlier articles about Manning Control, a policy used by the British Army to dismiss soldiers who are considered to be "not fit for a full army career":

Reunited - a Polish pilot and his Spitfire

A Polish pilot who led his squadron into battle from RAF Northolt has been reunited at the airbase with the same Spitfire he flew 67 years ago.

Footnote: BAFF highly values its friendly links with today's Polish Armed Forces personnel through Konwent, the Council of Senior Officers of the Polish Professional Soldiers.

Cathedral service welcomes ARRC to Gloucestershire

A service to welcome formally the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) to Gloucestershire has taken place at Gloucester cathedral. More than 2,000 troops from 15 nations, have relocated to the Imjin Barracks from Germany. Thursday night's service came as it was announced members of the force will be deployed to Afghanistan next year.

Chinook crash: Review team members announced

Following recent confirmation that an independent review will be conducted into the 1994 crash of RAF Chinook ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre, the names of the members of the review have now been announced.

'The can-do culture stays calm and just cracks on'

Author Patrick Bishop, writing in The Daily Telegraph, argues that apart from the debate about equipment, the defence review is about people – the remarkable men and women who make up the three Services, with whom the public has a warm but ambivalent relationship.

Wartime fighter commander's statue unveiled in London

few_posterThe BAFF Chairman was invited to the unveiling today of a bronze statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park, Commander of No 11 Group, Fighter Command, which was responsible for the protection of London and the South East of England during the Battle of Britain. The statue in Waterloo Place, London has been presented by the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign, following on from the temporary display of a statue of the same design on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for six months from 4 November 2009, and marks the culmination of a campaign set in motion three years ago, on Battle of Britain Day 2007. It has been said of Sir Keith Park that "If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did."

 

'Please don't send unsolicited Christmas mail to the troops'

16 Sep 2010 - 100 days to go to Christmas Day! The Ministry of Defence is urging people not to send unsolicited gifts and packages in the pre-Christmas period, becauses it increases pressure on the in-theatre postal system and can delay mail from family and friends.

Cuts: 'Armed forces to lose one in four of their lawyers'

The armed forces are set to lose one quarter of their lawyers, in a series of cuts that lawyers say could directly impact frontline troops. The Guardian reports that:

Fox: UK will still need global force post-Afghanistan

Defence Secretary Liam Fox has told an international think tank meeting in Geneva that pulling British troops from Afghanistan before 2015 would boost militants everywhere, because only by then would British forces, working with the U.S.-led coalition, have achieved their security aims. He also told the IISS that British defence planners conducting a review of military priorities had to take account of the possibility that its forces might have to intervene again elsewhere in the world.

Defence spending: Thousands of service personnel to be cut

In further speculation about the outcome of the SDSR, the Daily Telegraph reports that tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen face the axe after ministers concluded that reducing the number of uniformed personnel in the Armed Forces was the best way to save money:

New inquiry into 1994 Chinook crash confirmed

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.

Return of the brown envelope part 2: 'War heroes to be axed in army cull'

Rumours have been circulating that the Army would start sending out the first of a couple of hundred Manning Control Point letters about now. In an astonishing related development, the lead story in today's Sunday Times claims that the Ministry of Defence is planning to renege on a previous promise not to use Manning Control to discharge personnel who had been wounded on operations.

Telegraph: Gen Sir Richard Dannatt reveals 'perfect storm' of political incompetence and inter-service rivalries

General Sir Richard Dannatt's autobiography is entitled "Leading from the Front" but it also might equally be called "The Enemy Within". The autobiography is to be published on 16/9/10 and is being serialised in The Sunday Telegraph. The paper's Defence Correspondent Sean Rayment writes that:

Gurkha veterans renew MoD battle over pensions

The Scotsman reports that Gurkha veterans have renewed their battle with the Ministry of Defence over their army pensions.

A test case which would have affected about 25,000 veterans who retired before 1 July, 1997, was lost at the High Court earlier this year.

Now the British Gurkha Welfare Society is asking the Court of Appeal to rule that the government is acting unlawfully in paying them a third of the income of veterans who retired after the cut-off date and who have parity with UK soldiers.

Former soldier wins MoD payout over PTSD diagnosis and treatment failures

The Guardian reports that an un-named former army bomb disposal expert suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has won a six-figure compensation settlement after claiming the Ministry of Defence failed to properly diagnose and treat his condition early enough. These failures left him more vulnerable to future stressful events.

In a case his lawyers claim has implications for other serving and former members of the military, the soldier claimed his condition might not have deteriorated had the army acted sooner.

One important issue in the case involved the time limit within such claims must be brought.

The Enemy Within: Ex-service personnel and mental illness

Dr Max Pemberton has encountered many ex-servicemen in his work. In an article in The Daily Telegraph, he explains why he is backing a new initiative to help them.

Thinktank: Royal Navy in severe and dangerous decline

The Royal Navy is dangerously weak, risking the "silent principles" of the UK's national security unless the future fleet is restored and adequately sized, according to a new article in the latest Journal of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). The article claims that Britain needs at least 10 more frigates, and that ships in the current fleet were nearing the end of their useful life.

Revamp at RAF Brize Norton

BBC Oxfordshire has a report about the recent revamp to passenger facilities at RAF Brize Norton:

Tales of the unexpected

"A theorem: In matters of military contingency, the expected, precisely because it is expected, is not to be expected. Rationale: What we expect, we plan and provide for; what we plan and provide for, we thereby deter; what we deter does not happen. What does happen is what we did not deter, because we did not plan and provide for it, because we did not expect it."

Caroline Wyatt: Coalition in difficult position on defence

After the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's first 100 days in office, the BBC's Defence Correspondent Caroline Wyatt writes that the coalition is in a difficult position on defence: "It inherited an unpopular war in Afghanistan, as well as a black hole in the defence procurement budget of some £37bn of equipment - ordered over the next decade without the guaranteed funding to pay for it."

Forces Pension Society: MoD pension management 'poor form'

Service personnel could lose 12 per cent of their pension on average, the Forces Pension Society has warned:

British officer corps to be cut back

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":

Fox: 'We need to ensure we are using our people to the best of their ability'

The Press Association reports that in his RUSI speech later today (13 Aug 2010), the Defence Secretary Liam Fox is to pledge to give military chiefs greater control over the armed forces.

The move is part of efforts to "decentralise" the Ministry of Defence to make it more efficient and effective. He will say that "We need to review all our current practices to ensure that we are using our greatest asset - our people - to the best of their ability."

Served in Iraq between 2003 and 2009? Chilcot wants to hear from you

Sir John Chilcot, Chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, has issued an open invitation to UK military personnel who served in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 to attend an event at Tidworth Garrison on 14 September. Alternatively, views in writing are also welcome.

Mirror: 'Gurkha pensions under threat'

The Daily Mirror reports (6 Aug 2010) that "David Cameron and Nick Clegg were accused of hypocrisy as it emerged they are planning to cut Gurkha pensions. In fact NO pensions have been excluded from the MoD's spending review. The Mirror says that:

SDSR: Massive job cuts in armed forces, UK to give up role as major military power

In further reporting linked to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, The Daily Telegraph says (7 Aug 2010) that ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces.

If implemented, the cuts will mean that Britain will almost certainly depart the world stage as a major military power and become what military chiefs call a "medium-scale player".

'Royal Navy shouldn't fear Army general chief'

According to a 17 Jul 2010 report in Portsmouth Today, a former admiral says the Royal Navy and Portsmouth Naval Base has "nothing to fear" from an Army general taking over as chief of the defence staff:

'Homes of army chiefs in firing line for cuts'

Scotland on Sunday reports (18 Jul 2010) that top brass in the British armed forces may lose their official residences and domestic staff, following a review by defence secretary Liam Fox on the £2.6 million spent each year on housing 19 senior officers. The Strategic Defence and Security Review will scrutinise the accommodation, entertainment and travel costs of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force chiefs:

SNP: Scotland’s troops ‘being betrayed’

The Press & Journal reports (16 July 2010) on further SNP-led speculation about the future of Scottish units and bases under the ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review. The latest speculation concerns the future of The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS)The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) and The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTSThe Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS). In their present form, these two battalions were created in 2006 under the Restructuring of the Infantry, which was intended to improve stability for Scottish infantry personnel and their families.

RAF offers to cancel Nimrod MRA4 programme as part of defence cuts

Jane's Defence Weekly reports (16 Jul 2010) that Royal Air Force chiefs have offered - just weeks before the first production aircraft are due to be delivered - to cancel the £3.65 billion Nimrod MRA4 programme to save costs and reduce the RAF payroll by 5,000 personnel.

Battle of Britain 70th anniversary: plans unveiled for memorial learning centre

The Daily Telegraph reports that Battle of Britain veterans gathered on the white cliffs of Dover (Sunday 11 Jul 2010) on the 70th anniversary of their finest hour to launch a new campaign to keep their memory alive.

Development Secretary eyes savings from cancellation of aircraft carriers

(Daily Telegraph 12 Jul 2010) Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said that Britain would continue to fund and support the campaign for universal primary education around the world but that it could not increase its spending without saving elsewhere. He added that all governments should reassess their spending priorities and that if Britain were to modify its plans for two new aircraft carriers, it could single-handedly achieve the aim of 1GOAL1GOAL.

Early Day Motion - Veterans in the Criminal Justice System

Elfyn Llwyd MP has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) about Veterans in the Criminal Justice System:

Former Navy chief in cuts warning

A 'decade of under-investment' has left the Royal Navy with a serious shortage of ships, according to the former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jock Slater. The former head of the Royal Navy said in an interview with BBC Radio Solent (06 July 2010) that any further cuts would lead to an "enormous strain" on the service.

Gloomier defence spending forecast - with 30,000 cut in uniformed personnel

RUSI's Professor Malcolm Chalmers has issued a more pessimistic forecast of defence spending and personnel numbers over the life of this Parliament. The previous RUSI estimate was that the most plausible central scenario for the future defence budget is a 10-15% real terms reduction over the next six years. Their revised estimate following the Chancellor's Budget statement is that the core defence budget could instead be cut by up to 15 per cent in real terms over the next FOUR years. The number of uniformed service personnel might be reduced over that period by 30,000, with a cut in civilian personnel numbers of around 13,000.

MoD 'thinking the unthinkable' about future of RAF bases in Scotland

According to the Press and Journal (05 Jul 2010), the SNP vowed last night to fight “tooth and nail” against plans to slash defence spending in Scotland, a move which the newspaper said could force the closure of at least one Moray air base - RAF Lossiemouth is claimed to be in the frame - and several other military sites such as the infantry barracks at Fort George, testing sites in the Uists and the Sound of Raasay, and RM Condor near Arbroath:

MPs: War veterans should be helped to adjust to civilian life

Servicemen and women returning from active combat abroad should have access to "decompression" advice to tackle problems in readjusting to civilian life and to stem the rising numbers of veterans entering the criminal justice system, according to a group of MPs and unions, reported in The Guardian 05 Jul 2010:

Government wins appeal against soldiers' human rights

Below is a Press Release issued by Mrs Catherine Smith's solicitors following the Supreme Court's decision issued on 30 Jun 2010 about whether soldiers on service abroad are entitled to any of the protections of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights:

BMA: 'Exhausted British armed forces doctors quit'

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."

Gulf War Illnesses raised in Parliament

Gulf War Illnesses came up in Parliament again on 28 Jun 2010. Lord Morris of Manchester (Labour) asked:

Taliban detainees covered by Human Rights Act - but not British soldiers

The courts have decreed in a number of cases, such as the Afghan detainee case only last weekAfghan detainee case only last week, that insurgents and criminals detained by British forces in Iraq or Afghanistan are covered by the Human Rights Act. Now the UK Supreme Court has determined in the Pte Jason Smith case by a majority of 6 votes to 3 that the jurisdiction of the Act does not extend to British forces personnel on overseas missions. Part of the reasoning for that decision is that all British armed forces personnel, including compulsorily mobilised personnel like Scottish TA soldier Jason Smith, are volunteers. Giving his initial reaction to the Supreme Court's judgement issued today 30 Jun 2010, BAFF Chairman Douglas Young said that:

HMS Chatham combating piracy on the high seas

The Plymouth Herald reports (29 Jun 2010) on anti-piracy operations by HMS Chatham in the Gulf of Aden:

PM: Military Covenant to be given force of law

On a visit to HMS Ark Royal, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged his support for the Armed Forces by announcing that the military covenant will be given the force of law in forthcoming Armed Forces legislation.

Breaking the news to families that their loved ones have died

According to a report by The Guardian (21 Jun 2010), family support groups largely agree that great progress has been made in recent years in the MoD's casualty notification and visiting procedures when armed forces personnel have died in service:

Parade marks ARRC move from Germany to Glos

BBC News 21 Jun 2010:  A farewell parade in Germany has marked the departure of troops from the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) to their new base in Gloucester.

Operational Allowance increase - details confirmed

Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed the details of the Operational Allowance increase, in a written statement to Parliament on 14 Jun 2010. The increase has to be met within the MoD's core budget.

UK troops join former US personnel in 'toxic' lawsuit

BBC News reports (10 Jun 2010) that seven former British soldiers are suing an American defence firm, accusing it of exposing them to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in Iraq.

Arbuthnot elected Chair of Defence Committee

James Arbuthnot MP has been elected Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee in the new Parliament. A Conservative who served as Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence in the John Major Government, Mr Arbuthnot also held the chairmanship of the Committee in the last Parliament and and is a council member of the Royal United Services Institute.

Post-Election update on Armed Forces voting

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.

Jackson: Baha Mousa death 'a stain on army's character'

The Guardian reports (08 Jun 2010) that the head of the army during the invasion of Iraq, giving evidence at the Baha Mousa Inquiry, has delivered a withering attack on the commander of the regiment in whose custody a civilian was beaten to death:

The Sun: 'Troops to get trauma help'

The Sun reports (07 Jun 2010) that David Cameron has ordered plans to be drawn up to ensure better care for ex-troops traumatised by war:

Pregnant RAF officer awarded £16,000 for discrimination

Personnel Today reports (04 Jun 2010) that a female officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been awarded more than £16,000 after she was removed from her post because she was pregnant.

'Armed forces face 20% budget squeeze'

Britain must cut by at least a fifth its armed forces’ personnel, aircraft and vessels in order to maintain the current balance of capabilities under the most likely defence budget settlement, according to a leading think-tank.  UPDATE: See RUSI Working Paper 'A Question of balance? The Deficit and Defence PrioritiesA Question of balance? The Deficit and Defence Priorities'.

BAFF refutes claims that armed forces majority supports English Defence League (EDL)

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, a spokeswoman for the English Defence League (EDL) has claimed majority support amongst the armed forces:

Radar Commission Report (Germany) - radar exposure and sickness

The German Radar Commission Report concluded that during the operation, maintenance and repair of radar units operated by the Bundeswehr and the former DDR's Nationale Volksarmee (NVA), exposures to ionizing radiation and high-frequency radiation can occur and that this ionizing radiation arises from stray sources such as component parts and electron tubes, in some cases resulting in serious health problems. The report was first published in 2003, but an English translation of its summary has only recently been produced, and has been circulated by EUROMIL to its member and observer associations, including BAFF.

US paves way for gays to serve in military

The Daily Telegraph reports (28 May 2010) that the United States has taken an important step towards allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the US military by voting to repeal the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

Countdown to Armed Forces Day - 26 June 2010

(From MoD Army websiteMoD Army website 27 May) There is now less than a month to go until this year's Armed Forces Day (AFD) celebrations get under way on Saturday 26 June 2010.

MOD ponders Chinook crash review

BBC News reports (26 May 2010) that the Ministry of Defence is considering reviewing the findings from a 1994 RAF Chinook crash which blamed the two pilots for gross negligence.

All 29 people on board died in the crash on the Mull of Kintyre.

In response to Lib Dem Sir Menzies Campbell urging a review, Liam Fox said the MoD was "already looking" at ways to conduct "an independent review".

He said the government would fulfil its promise made in opposition to review.

The Chinook Mark 2 helicopter crashed on 2 June 1994 en route from Northern Ireland to Inverness in the worst RAF helicopter accident in peacetime.

Cardiff hosts Armed Forces Day 2010

On Saturday 26 June 2010 Cardiff, the capital city for Wales will be proud hosts of the second Armed Forces Day national event, supported by the Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff Council and the Ministry of Defence.

The Military Covenant and the Human Rights of armed forces personnel: Two sides of the same coin

One test for the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government could be how it approaches the human rights of armed forces personnel. Some commentators distrust the whole idea of human rights behind the barrack gates, or while deployed: 'You can't have human rights in the heat of battle'.

Coalition Agreement published

The Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition has published the full text of its Coalition Agreement on a programme for government. Click to view the Defence and Foreign Affairs sections of the agreement. The full text can be viewed here.


8. DEFENCE

The Government believes that we need to take action to safeguard our national security at home and abroad. We also recognise that we need to do much more to ensure that our Armed Forces have the support they need, and that veterans and their families are treated with the dignity that they deserve.

•  We will maintain Britain's nuclear deterrent, and have agreed that the renewal of Trident should be scrutinised to ensure value for money. Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives. We will immediately play a strong role in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and press for continued progress on multilateral disarmament.

•  We will aim to reduce Ministry of Defence running costs by at least 25%.

•  We will work to rebuild the Military Covenant by:

– ensuring that Service personnel's rest and recuperation leave can be maximised;

– changing the rules so that Service personnel only have to register once on the Service register;

– exploring the potential for including Service children as part of our proposals for a pupil premium;

– providing university and further education scholarships for the children of Servicemen and women who have been killed on active duty since 1990;

– providing support for ex-Service personnel to study at university,

– creating a new programme, 'Troops for Teachers', to recruit ex-Service personnel into the teaching profession;

– providing extra support for veteran mental health needs; and

– reviewing the rules governing the awarding of medals.

•  We will double the operational allowance for Armed Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan, and include Armed Forces pay in our plans for a fair pay review.

•  We will ensure that injured personnel are treated in dedicated military wards.

•  We will look at whether there is scope to refurbish Armed Forces' accommodation from efficiencies within the Ministry of Defence.

•  We will support defence jobs through exports that are used for legitimate purposes, not internal repression, and will work for a full international ban on cluster munitions.


15. FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Government believes that Britain must always be an active member of the global community, promoting our national interests while standing up for the values of freedom, fairness and responsibility. This means working as a constructive member of the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral organisations including the Commonwealth; working to promote stability and security; and pushing for reform of global institutions to ensure that they reflect the modern world.

•  We will take forward our shared resolve to safeguard the UK's national security and support our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

•  We will push for peace in the Middle East, with a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state.

•  We will work to establish a new 'special relationship' with India and seek closer engagement with China, while standing firm on human rights in all our bilateral relationships.

•  We will maintain a strong, close and frank relationship with the United States.

•  We want to strengthen the Commonwealth as a focus for promoting democratic values and development.

•  We will work to promote stability in the Western Balkans.

•  We will support concerted international efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

•  We support reform of the UN Security Council, including permanent seats for Japan, India, Germany, Brazil and African representation.

•  We will work to intensify our cultural, educational, commercial and diplomatic links with many nations beyond Europe and North America to strengthen the UK's relations with the fastest-growing areas of the world economy.

•  We will never condone the use of torture.

mm

Mental health in the armed forces

“Medical services face a tidal wave of servicemen suffering from mental trauma as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”, reported The Daily Telegraph. Other newspapers reporting the same study said that alcohol abuse is a bigger problem. An article on www.nhs.uk has a different take on research funded by the MoD and recently published in The Lancet. UPDATE: See also KCL press release 'Troops mental health stableTroops mental health stable', including link to summary of Lancet article.

Dannatt: Cuts inevitable in RAC, RA and RAF

The BBC reports (14 May 2010) that a former head of the army who now advises the Conservatives on defence has said there is scope for substantial cuts in equipment budgets.

Nick Harvey confirmed as Armed Forces Minister

Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey has been confirmed (14 May 2010) as the new Minister of State for the Armed Forces, in succession to Labour's Bill Rammell.

Fox: Strategic Defence and Security Review is under way

Defence Management Journal reports (13 May 2010) that Defence Secretary Liam Fox has used his first day in office to launch the long-awaited strategic defence and security review (SDSR).

Telegraph: Medical journal warns of 'tidal wave' of mental trauma among servicemen

The Daily Telegraph reports (13 May 2010) that medical services face a tidal wave of servicemen suffering from mental trauma as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a leading medical journal has warned.

RAF investigates Hercules wheels-up landing

Flightglobal.com reported (07 Apr 2010) that the RAF is investigating the cause of a training incident involving a Lockheed Martin C-130K tactical transport, which had halted activities at its Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire since yesterday.

Armed forces unhappy over kit, MoD survey finds

The Daily Telegraph reports (06 May 2010) that two out of three members of the Armed Forces believe they are not well equipped and just one in five believes morale is high, official research shows. The Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) 2009 results are available to the general public on the DASA websiteDASA website.

Polling day latest (3): The figures for postal voting from Afghanistan

BAFF understands that around 760 service personnel in Afghanistan used the special Op Herrick service voter registration form to register to vote. Of these, some 500 applied for a proxy vote and some 260 applied for a postal vote.

Polling day latest (2): Cautious optimism over troops' postal votes

An electoral official who is closely involved in national arrangements for troops voting from Afghanistan, and who has a significant number of service personnel and families in his own local area, has supplied figures on the number of service voters in Afghanistan who registered under the special arrangements and have successfully voted by post in the 2010 General Election.

Polling day latest: Voting from Afghanistan

(6 May 2010) The Lancashire Post has a story 'Troops to have say electronicallyTroops to have say electronically' which is widely understood to mean that British troops in Afghanistan have been given the chance to vote electronically in today's General Election. We do not believe that such a thing has happened, however. We think the story is prompted by the fact that the final batch of specially-adapted service voter registration forms (which incorporate postal or proxy voting applications) were delayed in Afghanistan due to the volcanic dust cloud and that the Ministry of Defence, acting in consultation with the Ministry of Justice, Electoral Commission and local electoral officials, arranged for these registration forms to be transmitted electronically to electoral registration offices across the country.

'Conservatives eye big changes to armed forces'

 

Reuters report that the armed forces face huge change if the Conservative Party wins next week's general election, with an "unsentimental" review set to prompt "tough decisions", according to the party's defence spokesman on Thursday (29 Apr 2010).

'Fighting for the votes of Army wives'

A major article for BBC News (30 Apr 2010) reports that for the families of servicemen and women, the war in Afghanistan casts a long shadow over their lives - and how they will cast their vote.

US navy lifts ban on women submariners

The BBC reports (29 Apr 2010) that women can now serve on US submarines, after a ban was lifted.

'Forces need fairer votes’ says Lib Dem hopeful

The Reading Post reports (27 Apr 2010) that Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Daisy Benson has joined forces with a service wife to campaign for fairer votes for forces personnel overseas.

HMS Albion update: 'I didnt hear any arsey civilians demanding anything'

This is an update from a BAFF member who returned recently from Afghanistan via Cyprus, Spain and HMS Albion from Santander to Portsmouth. Following his original report, someone else had asked on the Army Rumour Service: "Were the civilians who were brought back by Albion charged anything or encouraged to make a decent donation to service charities??" Our man replied:

Update on service voting overseas

"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:

'Afghanistan: A conspiracy of silence' (Independent on Sunday)

"We want to see more substantive engagement on defence issues from the parties," said Douglas Young, executive chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation, an independent staff association for service personnel. "Up to now, there have been too many airy-fairy platitudes and not enough substance."

Gurkhas split over claims that £350,000 is missing from veterans fund

A report in The Times (17 Apr 2010) claims that hundreds of thousands of pounds are missing from the accounts of the main Gurkha veterans’ organisation in Nepal that spearheaded a campaign to win equal rights with the rest of the British Army.

Scandal of war heroes left on the scrapheap

(Daily Mail 16 Apr 2010): A minister with Cabinet status is needed to improve the treatment of war veterans, an influential peer said yesterday.

Row over Army childcare case

BAFF Executive Chairman Douglas Young was interviewed (13 Apr 2010) on BBC Radio Scotland about a controversial employment tribunal case brought against the Ministry of Defence for sex and race discrimination. Young also discussed the case for British Forces News on BFBS TV with Patrick Mercer, a former commanding officer in the Army and latterly member of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Independent: 'Thousands of Afghanistan troops face missing election vote'

The Independent reports (09 Apr 2010) that thousands of British military personnel based in Afghanistan have been disenfranchised in the general election because they have not been registered and there remain massive problems in getting their postal votes back in time. The paper says that only around 65 per cent of the 9,500-strong UK force in the country are registered to vote and many of these will have to be brought back from frontline bases in Helmand which are under daily Taliban fire.

Forces doctors fury over pay freeze

The Daily Telegraph reports (09 Apr 2010) that military doctors who are saving lives on the front line in Afghanistan are likely to quit the Army after the government imposed a pay freeze on Armed Forces medics.

Why do some service personnel fail to vote?

In a survey carried out by the Ministry of Defence after the 2005 General Election, 60% of  a random sample of service personnel said they were registered to vote and 13% did not know whether they were or not.

Of those who were NOT registered, 42% claimed they had not received a form. 25% were "not interested in voting", 23%"did not know how to register" and 15% intended to but did not get round to it.

From hero to zero

The Sunday Times reports (04 April 2010) that Michael Clohessy returned from Iraq with a distinguished war record — and ended up in prison. The newspaper says that our jails are swollen with former soldiers: why can’t they stay out of trouble? The figures, previously mentioned on the BAFF website, remain controversial.

British Army may send imams to Afghanistan

The Independent reports (03 Apr 2010) that Muslim clerics in the British Army may be deployed to Afghanistan in a "hearts and minds" mission to highlight the part played by Islam in UK society.

UDR fallen comrades remembered

The News Letter reports (02 Apr 2010) that parades were held in Ballymena and Lisburn last night to mark the 40th anniversary of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Medical care of troops could suffer if casualties rise, MPs warn

The Times reports (29 Mar 2010) that British Forces lack a proper plan to ensure that all seriously injured troops will receive first-class medical treatment if the number of casualties from Afghanistan rises significantly, MPs have warned. UPDATED - link to PAC report added.

PatchPedia launched on RearParty

RearParty, the unofficial website for British military forces family and friends, has launched a new project to provide information for service families: PatchPedia

RAF personnel honoured for bravery

Among the British Service personnel to be honoured for their gallantry and meritorious service in last week's Operational Awards List are six members of the Royal Air Force.

Return of the Brown Envelope: Manning Control reintroduced

The Ministry of Defence announced in Mar 2010 that in order to be better balanced to meet the challenges of current operations, the Army is making adjustments to its structures which is likely to result in some soldiers having to leave the Army through what are known as Manning Control Points. Between 300 and 500 soldiers are likely to be discharged against their will in financial year 2011-2012. UPDATE Sep 2010: See also Return of the brown envelope part 2: 'War heroes to be axed in army cull'.

Retired US General says gays responsible for Srebrenica massacre

Retired USMC General John Sheehan has attracted criticism and ridicule in the USA and Europe for his evidence to the Senate Armed Services Committee that allowing gay troops to serve openly in the Dutch military "led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point that I’m referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs. The battalion was under-strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them. That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II." A video transcript of part of the General's evidence is shown below.

 

BAFF and armed forces voting featured again in the media

Peter Oborne writes in The Daily Mail (20 March 2010) that:

In fact, only a relatively small percentage of the Armed Forces voted in the 2005 General Election.

Now, with a General Election barely seven weeks away, the same thing seems likely to happen again.

Disgracefully, Labour ministers were warned that the law discriminated against servicemen and women. Douglas Young, of the British Armed Forces Federation, published a brilliant document called Silence in the Ranks, which revealed the scale of the problem.

Veterans Minister visits British Gurkha Welfare Society

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.

Bomb Disposal experts awarded George Cross

The Ministry of Defence has announced that two British military bomb disposal experts, one of whom gave his life in the line of duty, have been awarded one of the UK's highest awards for gallantry, the George Cross. BAFF's Douglas Young was interviewed later on the BBC News Channel about these awards. For the full Op Herrick 10 list of operational honours and awards see Operational Honours and Awards List: 19 March 2010.

Army training exercises cut by a third to save money

(15 Mar 2010) Daily Telegraph Defence Correspondent Thomas Harding reports that training exercises for military operations have been cut by a third to save money at a time when the Army is engaged in heavy fighting in Afghanistan.

Government claims that giving soldiers human rights in war zones ‘will hamper battlefield commanders’

(15 March 2010) On the same day as The Daily Telegraph reports that Army training exercises have been cut by a third to save money, The Times reports that a mother’s battle to ensure that soldiers in war zones have their human rights protected will be challenged by the Government today, claiming that commanders will fear being sued for decisions made in the heat of battle.

Pay-out fight for injured troops - 'Lives on the Line' campaign

In welcoming the recent increases to some payouts under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, BAFF said that "There is obvious unfairness in the fact that those injured before 6 April 2005 in earlier conflicts including the Falklands War and even in the first two years of Operation TELIC in Iraq will not benefit at all from these improvements."

Enhanced postal voting arrangements from Afghanistan

BAFF representation in Service Voting Working Group

(11 March 2010) The three Service Family Federations and the British Armed Forces Federation are represented in a Minister-led Service Voter Working Group, along with the Ministry of Justice and MoD and the Electoral Commission. The following update is provided courtesy of the Naval Families FederationNaval Families Federation:

Operational Allowance increased

(10 March 2010) In addition to acceptance of the AFPRB recommendations, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has also announced today an increase to the Operational Allowance or "bonus" given to deployed personnel in operational locations such as Afghanistan.

Service Complaints Commissioner's 2nd annual report released (10 Mar 2010)

Cases that drag on for months or even years can have a significantly harmful effect on the health and welfare of all those involved. Despite improvements I cannot give an assurance this year that the Service complaints system is yet working efficiently, effectively or fairly.

Dr Susan Atkins, Service Complaints Commissioner

Sun: 'Women to serve on Royal Navy submarines for the first time'

The Sun reports (9 March 2010) that women will be allowed to serve aboard RN submarines for the first time. This report, not officially confirmed, follows recent speculation that the US Navy was ready to scrap its similar ban.

Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme 2010

The Government has adopted a new Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme to replace the existing Armed Forces Redundancy Scheme 2006. The Order implementing the new scheme comes into force on 6th April 2010.

Army denied vital equipment in Iraq (1991) and Afghanistan, claims former SAS head

In the queue of retired senior officers giving their views recently about defence spending, Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb did not restrict his criticism to politicians, or to the present Government alone.

The Armed Forces were “pretty much doomed on our current course and thinking” and would become the “dumpster of irrelevancy” unless they changed direction radically and gained the right equipment to fight today’s wars, he said. The focus on investing in ships, aircraft and tanks had endangered lives because it had left forces such as the SAS inadequately equipped with basic equipment, he claimed.

Tories: 'service personnel feeling under-equipped and undervalued'

(BBC, 1 March 2010) The Conservative party has led a debate on the government's record on defence, accusing the prime minister of showing an "instinctive lack of interest" in the armed forces.

More BAFF interviews about service voting in General Election 2010

(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.

MoD accused of cover-up after troop data reclassified

Figures on personnel shortages deemed secret after fears over security. By Terri Judd, The Independent, 26 February 2010

Military chiefs were accused of a disgraceful cover-up last night as it was revealed that figures for troop shortages have been quietly reclassified as secret.

With the army in particular maintaining a demanding tempo of battle in Afghanistan, several specialist trades such as medics have had to cope with a shortfall in their numbers. Yet the Ministry of Defence said last night that the public would no longer be privy to just how low numbers in certain regiments are.

Figures obtained last year revealed serious shortfalls in countless trades, most notably among bomb disposal experts who are now so vital in Helmand. Statistics revealed a 42.5 per cent shortfall in Royal Logistic Corps Ammunition Technician corporals to staff sergeants and a 16.7 per cent shortfall in Royal Engineer explosive ordnance disposal troops of the same rank.

Intensive care nurses were down by 71.1 per cent, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who keep vehicles going on the front line were 37.2 per cent down at corporal rank, while Merlin pilots were 36 per cent short. Infantry privates and lance corporals, the bulk of the frontline fighting force, were 10.7 per cent below strength.

But recent requests for up-to-date information have been turned down. Yesterday, the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who had previously asked for information on the number of medics in the forces, at a time when injuries in Helmand continue to escalate because of the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), was told there was, he said, a "deeply disturbing" shortage.

As he revealed that the Defence Medical Services only had 476 medical officers out of a required trained strength of 818, defence minister Kevan Jones added that future data highlighting potential "pinch points", or shortages, in the armed forces would no longer be published as it would prejudice security.

A similar request by Tory MP Gerald Howarth in December was blocked by Armed Forces minister Bill Rammell, who said: "Information detailing pinch-point trades has been reclassified. I am withholding the information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces."...

 

BAFF website usage continuing to rise

The number of visits to the BAFF website www.baff.org.uk continues to rise. The daily number of visits during February 2010 varied between 75 and 306.

Another fall in the number of registered service voters in Scotland

(BAFF, Thursday 25 February 2010). The latest electoral registration statistics for Scotland show another fall in the number of service personnel who are registered as service voters. UPDATE: UK-wide electoral registration statistics now available

US Navy to lift ban on women serving aboard submarines

Women could be allowed to serve on Royal Navy submarines for the first time as defence chiefs 'seriously consider' scrapping a long-standing ban.

The news comes as the U.S. was reported to be ready to axe its own policy of barring females from the vessels within weeks.

If the Ministry of Defence follows suit it would open a new area of the senior service to the Navy's 3,700 women sailors.

Navy sails into battle over future of forces

(guardian.co.uk, 24 February 2010 20.00 GMT) The head of the navy tonight stoked up an increasingly intense debate about the future shape of Britain's armed forces, defiantly rejecting claims that the age of large fleets and aircraft carriers is over.

More than 1,000 British troops wounded in action in Afghanistan since 2006

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph, 21 Feb 2010

More than 1,000 British troops have been wounded in action in Afghanistan since 2006.

Figures released by the Ministry of Defence also disclose that up until the end of 2009, 168 troops are classed as having suffered the loss of limbs, parts of limbs or eyes, in battle with the Taliban or from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

According to a charity, at least 84 of these have lost arms or legs, including 24 who have had two limbs amputated and eight who are triple amputees.

Former UDR soldiers warned of dissident threat

(BBC News 19 February 2010)  Former UDR soldiers are under threat from dissident republican groups

About a dozen former Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers in Mid-Ulster have been warned they are under threat from dissident republicans.

'More than 17,000 episodes of troops going AWOL since 2003'

'Macho culture blamed for soldiers running away rather than asking for help.'

Ark Royal sails up Clyde to take over as flagship

Ark Royal 10 Feb - (C) Inverclyde Now

AIRCRAFT carrier HMS Ark Royal sailed up the Firth of Clyde to prepare to take over as Royal Navy flagship.

BNP accused of muscling in on campaign for wounded soldier

From The Times, February 15, 2010, by Fiona Hamilton

The British National Party was last night accused of plumbing new depths after it hijacked an online campaign to celebrate an amputee soldier’s birthday. Military officials described the political stunt as shameful and condemned the far-Right party for exploiting the predicament of wounded soldiers.

Staying on: The last Brits in Iraq

Most people think Britain’s military involvement in Iraq is over. But for the forgotten Royal Navy and Royal Marine teams that remain in the country, the truth is very different indeed.

Address to troops on eve of Operation Moshtarak

Video footage from the BBC of Brigadier James Cowan's address to British, Afghan and other troops just before the start of Operation Moshtarak in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Other uniforms which can be recognised at the event include Danish, Estonian, and French.

MoD: New plans to support sick and injured soldiers

Soldiers who are sick or injured will be given enhanced support to help them successfully return to duty or transition into civilian life under new plans announced by the MOD today, Thursday 11 February 2010.

The Army Recovery Capability (ARC) will take soldiers from the point of injury or illness through to their return to duty or into a successful and supported civilian life.

Armed Forces Readiness And Recuperation Should Be At The Heart of The Strategic Defence Review Say MPs

Source: House of Commons

Published Wednesday, 10 February, 2010 - 11:44

The Strategic Defence Review should take account of the current low readiness levels of the Armed Forces and the need for their effective recuperation, says the Defence Select Committee in its report published today.

Armed forces compensations scheme – a soldier's view

Adam Downey was a signaller with the Royal Corps of Signals when he was hit by a car in Afghanistan at 19. He says changes to the AFCS would make a "massive difference" to his life

Bob Ainsworth announces AFCS changes

In hailing the AFCS increases and congratulating those involved in the review, BAFF added in the article below that "there is obvious unfairness in the fact that those injured before 6 April 2005 in earlier conflicts including the Falklands War and even in the first two years of Operation TELIC in Iraq will not benefit at all from these improvements."

The flight of angels: saving lives in Afghanistan's airborne A&E

The most traumatic nursing station in the world is in an RAF Chinook over the skies of Afghanistan. In a unique exercise, the MOD granted access to photograph their work - the agonies, the triumphs and the bloody heroism.

 

In just three months 750 British troops treated for mental trauma

from The Sunday Mirror - Exclusive by Kate Mansey 6/02/2010

Almost 750 servicemen and women have been diagnosed with Post ­Traumatic Stress Disorder in just three months, shocking figures show.

The leaked statistics reveal the mental toll ­suffered by our brave forces struggling to cope with the horrors of war in Afghanistan.

A Ministry of Defence document seen by the Sunday Mirror shows in just a three-month period last summer there were 746 new cases of PTSD and other mental illnesses diagnosed in the armed services.

Detainee handling rules to be published

From The Daily Politics Tuesday, 02 February 2010

LONDON (AP)  — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says newly drafted rules for the country's spies and soldiers on handling detainees will be published — but that previous guidelines won't be made public.

Brown ordered the rules to be redrafted following complaints from some ex-detainees that British intelligence officers had been complicit in their alleged torture overseas.

British police are investigating two incidents involving officers from the country's MI5 and MI6 spy agencies.

Brown told Parliament's Liaison Committee on Tuesday that the new rules will be published "very soon." Officials said it will likely be next month.

The British leader told the session, "We do not support torture, we do not condone torture, we do not allow torture."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

 

Armed Forces: fund defence or lose our ability to fight overseas

From Times Online, February 3, 2010, by Deborah Haynes and Tom Coghlan

The Armed Forces issued a stark warning to the public today to fund defence or risk losing the ability to fight overseas and accept a decline in Britain’s global status.

In an eagerly awaited Green Paper on Defence, Service Chiefs offered a bleak assessment of the pressures being heaped on the cash-strapped Armed Forces.

“We cannot proceed with all the activities and programmes we currently aspire to, while simultaneously supporting our current operations and investing in the new capabilities we need,” it stated.

The report warned that the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) which will follow after the general election “must be able to drive radical change” within the Armed Forces.

Offering a hint of the radical thinking that squeezed budgets may require, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, even cast doubt on whether the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force would exist as separate entities in 10 years’ time. ...

 

MoD invites views on Defence Green Paper 2010

(03 Feb 2010) The Ministry of Defence has published the Defence Green Paper online, and has begun a public consultation.

Defence Green Paper published 03 Feb 10

The Defence Green Paper will be published today, Wed 03 Feb 10.

(Channel 4 News) The government will publish today its blueprint for the future of the British armed forces - and is likely to call for greater co-operation with the French.

The defence green paper will not promise new aircraft or ships or even troops, but it will pave the way for the first strategic defence review in more than a decade.

RN discriminated against female CPO

from Russell, Jones & Walker Solicitors, 3 February 2010

A woman has successfully claimed she was the victim of sex discrimination by the navy.

Chief Petty Officer Jacqueline Cartner, who serves at HMS Collingwood in Fareham and has been awarded an MBE, alleged she was passed over for promotion to the position of warrant officer because she is a woman, the Portsmouth News reports.

An employment tribunal ruled this was the case, saying the selection board could not prove it was adopting a fair procedure.

It found that the selection technique was "frankly primitive".

Responding to her victory, Ms Cartner remarked: "This has been a very long and painful road, for both me and my family and I am sad that it has had to come this far."

However, she went on to state that she is glad the tribunal ruling vindicated her claims.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the navy said that after consultations with the Ministry of Defence - which operates with a budget in excess of £32 billion - it intends to appeal.

Think tank: More bang for the buck

Spending on defence over the last 12 years has not matched the demands made on our armed forces, and the equipment programme is underfunded by nearly £35 billion, writes Antonia Cox in More bang for the buck: how we can get better value from the defence budget, published on Monday 1 February by the Centre for Policy Studies.

Both major parties are committed to a Strategic Defence Review following the general election. But Antonia Cox argues that besides the hard choices to be made in an SDR, the MoD must show that it has learned the lessons of past failures in military procurement and that we can get better value from our equipment budget. ...

The public wants to see service personnel to be properly equipped. That is more important than local industrial considerations. The good news is that by learning the lessons of previous failures in defence procurement, it should be possible to deliver more for less.

 

Iraq Inquiry: Last minute planning caused body armour shortage

Iraq Inquiry: operational equipment.

British forces went into Iraq without enough body armour because planning for the war took place “at the last minute”, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup told the inquiry into the conflict.

By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph

Published: 12:35PM GMT 01 Feb 2010

Sir Jock, the head of the Armed Forces, also told the Chilcot inquiry that military aircraft programmes were not properly funded in the run-up to the war.

He was in charge of defence equipment in 2002 and 2003. He told the inquiry that several mistakes were made in the years and months before the war.

Sir Jock admitted that some troops sent into Iraq did not have the proper desert combat clothing and boots, because supplies did not reach the right units.

He also said that some troops did not get the body armour they should have had.

“The other area where we could have done better is Enhanced Combat Body Armour. We didn’t have enough of that in theatre at the time," he said.

“It was all being done so rapidly at the last minute so no one knew who had what.”

Liam Fox: UK taking ‘unfair hit’ in Afghan war

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox says our allies should fight or fund more of the war

From The Sunday Times, January 31, 2010, by Jonathan Oliver and Isabel Oakeshott

LIAM FOX, the shadow defence secretary, suggested German money should subsidise British forces in Afghanistan, as he called for reform of the 60-year-old Nato military alliance.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Fox claimed it was unfair that the countries doing most of the fighting were also footing the largest bills.

Think tank: Our most devastating weapon is agility

From a Times article by Professor Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Insititute:

Quiet sense of purpose in Afghanistan

from Martin Givens, More guile needed in the Afghan game, Sunday Times 24 January 2010:

No visitor to the British army base in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, could fail to be moved by the quiet sense of purpose of the officers and the cheery idealism of the men and women — hard to appreciate back home when the news is a daily diet of explosions and death. Soldiers spoke of the villages they had helped, the wells dug, the bridges built. Winning hearts and minds on their lips sounds less a tired old slogan, more a vocation.

Planning for troops' postal voting from Afghanistan revealed in Parliament

UPDATE 22 February: The Government again confirmed in Defence Questions today, in answer to a question from Andrew Rosindell MP (Conservative), that emergency measures are being put in place for postal voting from Afghanistan. See Have all service personnel been given all the information to ensure they can cast their vote?

  • Are you likely to be on Op HERRICK at the time of the next General Election? The Government has revealed in Parliament that planning is in progress to give you a better chance of successfully voting by post. If this affects you, we suggest you wait out for further info to be issued soon through your unit, and which we will repeat on this website.
  • The three Service Family Federations and the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) are actively liaising with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence and the Electoral Commission. Members of Parliament have also been consulted.

Defence spending is lowest since the 1930s

Defence spending is lowest since the 1930s

By Christopher Hope Whitehall Editor and George Jones

Published: 12:01AM GMT 22 Jan 2007

Britain spends less of its wealth on defence than Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey despite the constant demands placed on its Armed Forces, official figures show.

According to the Conservatives, defence spending as a proportion of the UK's gross domestic product is at its lowest since 1930, before the UK recognised the rising threat of Nazi Germany.

Cost-cutting imposed by the Ministry of Defence is now threatening the Navy's warship-building programme and leading to unprecedented levels of disaffection among senior serving and recently retired officers. ...

Defence policy: New wars for old

But this is not an argument that can or should be left to the military chiefs or the boffins. In the end it is also about the kind of British military effort that fits with the kind of nation we want to be. It is a debate that should be at the heart of the general election campaign too.

From a Guardian Editorial, 19 January 2010

And from Thomas Harding in The Daily Telegraph: Whitehall's civil war will decide our place in the world.

Linda Gilroy MP Visits HMS Raleigh

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.

MoD Armed Forces Pension Calculator

Below is a link to the Armed Forces Pension Calculator which is regularly updated by the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry points out that:

Geoff Hoon 'denied Iraq soldiers equipment that could have saved lives'

Geoff Hoon 'denied Iraq soldiers equipment that could have saved lives''

Tories demand that Chilcot inquiry establishes whether then defence secretary delayed ordering body armour.

The government was accused last night of denying British soldiers vital equipment that could have saved their lives in Iraq as a bitter party political row threatened to engulf the Chilcot inquiry into the war.

Two days before Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary, prepares to give evidence to the inquiry, the Conservatives are demanding that it establish the truth behind claims that Hoon delayed ordering enhanced body armour shortly before the invasion because ministers did not want to alert the public to their preparations and stoke opposition to war.

 

 

DE launches new housing information scheme

Defence Estates has launched a new scheme to provide better property information to Service families, ahead of them moving into their new homes.

Hastings: The Tory defence policy will be simple - cut, brutally

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

Max Hastings

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 ...

 

Armed Forces to slash 33,000 troops to balance books

The Armed Forces will be forced to slash 33,000 troops in order to balance the books at the Ministry of Defence, an influential think tank report has disclosed.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent and Aislinn Laing, Defence Correspondent

Published: 7:31AM GMT 13 Jan 2010

With the likelihood of a real terms cut of 15 per cent to the defence budget the number of tanks, ships and planes will also have to be similarly reduced.

Britain’s place at the “top table” for world security is likely to be threatened with the economic downturn influencing its ability to equip and pay for a premier military.

The news comes as new figures show that infantry battalions are employing 5,000 troops – a fifth of their strength – who are not fit for service. The MoD is also said to be preparing to force out wounded soldiers who can no longer be used for the front line.

Enforced budget cuts will mean that the Armed Forces total strength will fall from 175,000 to 142,000 by 2016 said the report by the think tank Royal United Services Institute.

The projected 20 per cent reduction of service personnel would cause “considerable upheaval” with bases closed and employees made redundant.

Injured troops to get priority NHS care for life

Injured Armed Forces veterans will be guaranteed priority NHS care for life under new plans unveiled by ministers.

By Aislinn Laing

Published: 4:00PM GMT 11 Jan 2010

The initiative will start with a tailored healthcare plan drawn up before each serviceman or woman leaves the forces.

GPs and hospital staff will be reminded of their duty to provide priority care to those veterans and health authorities will be expected each to nominate a director to ensure they do.

Six pilot projects which saw NHS clinical psychologists appointed to work exclusively with veterans will be rolled out across the country, and six new mental health nurses from the military charity Combat Stress will be appointed in selected NHS trusts to link veterans with the right medical help.

The NHS will also match Defence Medical Services spending on prosthetic limbs for those veterans who need replacements in later life.

Full article at Telegraph.co.uk

Chicken curry and a taste of real patriotism with the Muslim mourners of Wootton Bassett

"In a few silent moments, these two shy, unassuming grandparents had done more for national race relations and inter-faith solidarity than a legion of box-ticking equality commissars."

Bob Ainsworth: AFPRB has commissioned nation-by-nation pay survey

From a question and answer session with the Secretary of State in The Independent, 30 November 2009

Q. My American, Australian and Canadian colleagues do not pay income tax when serving their countries. Are there any plans to make UK forces more equal with our closest allies? I am well aware that our basic salaries are higher, in relative terms, than these colleagues; the much greater cost of living in the UK more than cancels out this advantage and our relative purchasing power, rank for rank, is similar. Flight Lieutenant Alex Morrison by email

A. The Labour government introduced a tax-free lump sum operational allowance of up to £2,380 (paid at the end of a six-month tour). We opted for this rather than tax-free pay because it puts more money in the ordinary soldier's pocket. It gives equal benefit to all ranks. In addition to the operational allowance, personnel on six-month tours also get a minimum of £1,194 in separation allowance. The independent Armed Forces Pay Review Body has commissioned a survey on remuneration, nation-by-nation, and this will inform its 2010 report. Deployed personnel also receive a council tax relief payment.

Problems for NHS doctors serving in the reserve forces

NHS doctors who are members of the reserve forces are reporting difficulty obtaining time off for their reserve forces training.

NHS Trusts have also been showing increasing reluctance to recruit staff who are members of the armed forces.

These reports relate to doctors. BAFF is also prepared to publicise any similar problems for other professional NHS staff who are members of the reserve forces.

Health fears for returning soldiers: 'Reservists at special risk'

Researchers at King's College London have found that common mental disorders such as depression and alcohol misuse are the top psychological problems amongst UK troops post-deployment and not post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as is widely believed. The study published in the open access journal, BMC Psychiatry, also finds that reservists remain at special risk of operational stress injury.

Britain's 'broken promises' to Afghan translators

It seemed unlikely that it could be happening again. But it was...

RAF prepares to cut 10,000 staff

'huge cuts in planes, bases, and personnel'

The Sunday Times's defence correspondent reports that Royal Air Force chiefs are preparing to cut 10,000 staff — a quarter of their manpower — and close up to five large air bases. The plans will reduce the RAF’s strength to 31,000 personnel over the next five years.

Remembering the Brave: Report affirms long-standing British Muslim support for HM Forces

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has published a special report highlighting the long-standing and continued support for the Armed Forces. Remembering the Brave: The Muslim Contribution to Britain’s Armed Forces outlines how Muslims have made a historic contribution to the defence of this nation. The document also covers the current contribution of British Muslims to the UK military. A copy of the report can be downloaded from the MCB website.

New Commons motion on armed forces pay

MPs are signing a new Early Day Motion to increase the pay of members of the regular armed forces "to bring them into line with their equivalents in the police force and fire service".

Armed forces personnel to get priority in Commons public gallery

The Guardian reports that six places are to be reserved for serving members of the armed forces during prime minister's questions or any other parliamentary debate.

Royal Mail industrial action: 'Mail for troops will get through'

Armed Forces families are being reassured that post to their loved ones on operations will not be affected by the strike at Royal Mail. Check the official British Forces Post Office website for full updated details.

New Armed Forces Act brought into force 31 October 2009

The new tri-service Armed Forces Act 2006 came into force on Friday 31 October. A BAFF spokesman discussed the changes on BFBS Forces Radio.

Public hearings in the Iraq war inquiry begin on 24 November

Having had meetings with bereaved families, the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot has announced that the initial public hearings for the Iraq Inquiry will begin on Tuesday 24th November 2009 at the QEII conference centre in central London. The hearings will run until 17th December, break for Christmas, then start again during the week of 4th January 2010. It is expected they will run until early February.

Evidence must be given in public says Iraq war inquiry chairman

(Press Association) Public hearings in the Iraq war inquiry will begin on 24 November at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre near the Houses of Parliament. Organisers have laid out guidelines for witnesses which stress that figures including ministers and senior military officers will be expected to give live evidence. Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said witnesses could only give evidence in private for "genuine" reasons. He said: "Ministers, senior military officers, members of the senior civil service and their equivalents, and former holders of those posts, should all expect to give evidence in public."

 

 

Nimrod Review on the Military Covenant

From the last page of the report of the independent review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006.

Nimrod Review: Haddon-Cave calls for a New Personnel Strategy

Chapter 24 of the Nimrod Review report identifies a number of current weaknesses in the area of personnel in the MOD which have an impact on the effectiveness of the MOD Airworthiness regime.

“Safety is delivered by people, not paper” (Andrew Macfarlane, Nuclear Regulator, 2008)

“It takes a whole community to ensure that we get [Operational Safety, Suitability and

Effectiveness].” (A Fleet Chief Engineer, US Air Force, 2008)

Haddon-Cave makes Recommendations for a New Personnel Strategy. From page 560 of the report:

Summary

1. People deliver Airworthiness.

2. There are currently weaknesses in the area of personnel in the MOD, namely:

(1) Undervaluing and dilution of engineers and engineering skills.

(2) Engineers are not required to have professional status.

(3) Decline in the ability of the MOD to act as an “intelligent customer”.

(4) Turf wars and inter-service rivalries for jobs and roles.

(5) Short term two-year postings.

(6) Constant re-naming of posts.

(7) ‘Double-hatting’ and ‘gapping’.

(8) Lack of trained Safety Engineers.

(9) Selfishness, rewards and promotion for ‘change’.

(10) Shortage of manpower and skills fade.

3. There should be a New Personnel Strategy to address each of these weaknesses.

Gurkhas back in court to fight for their pensions

The British Gurkha Welfare Society has gone back to court seeking a judicial review in its pension case on behalf of British Gurkha veterans who served before 1997.

Gurkha pension case reaches court

(BBC) Campaigners representing retired Gurkhas are going to the High Court later in a battle over their pensions.

The appeal concerns 24,000 veterans who served before July 1997 and are entitled to only a third of the monthly payment of their UK counterparts.

The British Gurkha Welfare Society is seeking a judicial review against an earlier ruling in the case.

The Ministry of Defence says Gurkha pensions are paid over a longer period and amount to the same final level.

It comes after Gurkha veterans with a minimum four years' service won the right to settle in Britain after a high-profile legal challenge led by actress Joanna Lumley.

The latest case followed an offer by the MoD in March 2007 to transfer Gurkhas' pensions into one of the mainstream armed forces schemes.

The change did not apply to those who retired before 1997, the year the Gurkhas base formally transferred from Hong Kong to the UK.

According to the British Gurkha Welfare Society, those who retired before 1997 have an "inferior monthly pension".

It added that there were also about 7,000 Gurkha veterans who served for less than 15 years receive no pension at all and around 5,000 veterans and widows who currently rely heavily on charity from its own scheme.

George Howarth, Labour MP and primary sponsor of a parliamentary motion that supports an improved Gurkha pension said:

The fact that this small but significant group of veterans are still discriminated against shows that there is still more to do to ensure that the Gurkhas are treated properly and fairly.

Ann Widdecome, Conservative MP and long time champion of the Gurkhas:

The Gurkhas have always been an integral part of the British Armed Forces, fighting the same wars and carrying out the same duties as British soldiers. It is an injustice to give these veterans a pension based on their country of origin instead of the country in whose Army they loyally served.


1. The British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS) is the largest organisation of Gurkhas now settled in UK with their families. It also has several thousand members in Nepal. Since its inception in 2004, BGWS has been in the forefront of Gurkha campaigns towards equality, settlement rights and equal pension for all ex-British Gurkhas.

2. The BGWS campaign for future equal monthly pension payments for all Gurkhas to their British counterparts has already received strong cross-party support with 94 signatures on Early Day Motion (EDM) 1726 entitled Gurkha Pensions. The EDM reads as follows: “That this House welcomes the residency rights given to former Gurkha soldiers; notes that the British public united unanimously behind the Gurkhas in their campaign for equality of treatment with fellow British soldiers; further notes with concern that one area of inequality still remains relating to Gurkhas who have protected the interests of the United Kingdom by serving prior to 1997, but still do not receive a fair pension equal to their fellow British Army soldiers with the same service; recognises that Gurkhas who retired from the Army prior to 1997 receive a pension settlement between as little as 1/6th or 1/8th of that of the UK soldiers they served alongside; acknowledges that the British Gurkha Welfare Society is not demanding the backdating of any pension payments, nor any further retrospective grants such as receiving a terminal gratuity payment equal to that which British counterparts have received; further acknowledges that they are simply asking for Gurkhas to be treated as equals by the British Government by ensuring that all Gurkhas, regardless of when they served, receive from this point onwards a fair pension, equal to fellow British Army soldiers with the same service; and calls on the Government to consider giving all Gurkhas an equal and fair pension in the future”.

3. The MoD claims that as Gurkhas retire earlier, their current monthly payment are lower to their UK counterparts as they are expected to work to supplement their pension. First, employment opportunities for British Gurkha soldiers in Nepal are few and far between, so those who did not seek employment overseas were rarely able to supplement their pension. Second, the majority of Gurkhas in this group of 36,000 are now becoming increasingly old and fragile. The majority of retired Gurkhas in this group do not therefore have the same option as the younger veterans who are able to find employment as private security contractors in war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, thereby risking their lives to augment their insufficient incomes. The need for veterans to seek a supplementary income shows that it is a fallacy that the Gurkha Pension Scheme pension allows Gurkhas to have an affluent standard of living in Nepal as the UK government claim.

4. References to the figures used in the above is taken from: Hansard 19 Jun 2009 : Column 512W. Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of up-rating the future pensions of Gurkha ex-servicemen who retired prior to 1 July 1997 to the amount received by their UK equivalents. [280987]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Government policy is not to implement improvements to pensions and similar benefits retrospectively, a policy that is applied across the public sector in the United Kingdom. However, it has been estimated that to pay retrospective pensions to Gurkhas would cost MOD £1.5 billion over 20 years.

Hansard 19 Jun 2009: Column 547W. Damian Green: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on public expenditure of the admission to the UK of 36,000 Gurkhas residents. [275904]

Mr. Byrne: The Government's position on settlement rights for Gurkhas who served in the Brigade of Gurkhas before July 1997 was set out in the Home Secretary's statement to the House on 21 May 2009. On the basis that 36,000 Gurkhas plus their dependants settled in the United Kingdom, the Government estimated that the annual cost would be approximately £1.4 billion. On the basis that 10,000 to 15,000 applicants plus their dependants settle in the UK, the Government estimate that the costs are likely to be £300 million to £400 million a year. This does not take into account the potential revenue from national insurance contributions, income tax or indirect taxes.

 

Government defeated over military inquest coroners

The Government were defeated tonight over a House of Lords amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill. The amendment provides for a Deputy Chief Coroner with a supervisory role in relation to armed forces-related inquests.

Iraqi former local staff issue not going away

Questions are still being asked about the treatment of Iraqi former local staff:

MoD loses appeal against single mums claim for sex and race discrimination

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently lost an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that it discriminated against a single mother soldier on grounds of both sex and race. BAFF were not involved, but the judgement indicates that the soldier was represented by the Federation's solicitors Russell, Jones & Walker.

More Employment Appeal Tribunal judgements involving Ministry of Defence:

MoD investigation into mail delays for Afghanistan troops

BAFF comment: These are by no means the first claims of unacceptable delays in mail to HM Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan, but reported complaints have been rising recently. Our understanding that the mail service is constrained by limitations in the strategic air bridge i.e. not enough modern long-range aircraft, and in-theatre problems which may be outwith the control of the BFPO organisation. A previous official excuse was that if it is between putting ammunition or mail on a particular helicopter, the choice is obvious - which of course it is - but there should be enough transport to carry what the troops need with reasonable frequency. It appeared during previous tours that some units had actively decided not to attempt a regular mail service to FOBs.

This is from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus:

Shipley grandfather's plea sparks investigation

New concerns about electoral participation by armed forces personnel

Concerns about voter registration and voting difficulties for armed forces personnel have again surfaced in Parliament, although it was acknowledged that steps have been taken since the Service Voting campaign of 2005 to improve electoral awareness in the forces. This exchange took place during a 20 October debate on the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill (TheyWorkForYou.com source):

Increased support for reserve forces members who are employees of NHS Scotland

Scottish government news release 20/10/09: Reserve forces in the NHS

NHS employees who also serve in the armed forces are set to benefit from increased support.

NHSScotland employs a number of staff in the Reserve Forces who may be mobilised to serve their country in areas of conflict.

The new policy will set out arrangements for mobilisation and support for Reservists on return to work. Paid leave of two weeks per year will now be available to Reservists to attend annual camp or continuous training.

'The Territorial Army deserves better'

From Guardian.co.uk 16 Oct 2009: The Territorial Army deserves better | A TA soldier writes | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

The MoD has relied heavily on our services in recent years, and brutal cuts are our reward, writes a TA soldier

I have been a serving member of the Territorial Army (TA) for several years. During this time I have seen many changes, the most notable being the compulsory mobilisation of TA soldiers in 2003 to fight the war in Iraq. I was mobilised and spent several months away from family and friends, my part-time job becoming a full-time occupation. During my time in theatre I served alongside regular soldiers, doing the job of a regular soldier, and the fact that I was part of the TA was no issue, with many completely unaware this was the case.

My unit continues to train TA soldiers for overseas tours, including the conflict in Afghanistan. However, recent events have made me question whether the TA, having offered its support, is now receiving the support it needs. Budget cuts this year have already led to a reduction in TA training days, and now we are told there will be a six-month halt to all training. This has already led to some units shutting up shop until April 2010. The army has a responsibility to provide the right training for the people it is sending into war zones. This is difficult enough already for the TA, only having its recruits part-time – with a reduction in training, will our soldiers have the necessary skills to serve their country in the future?

Since the Ministry of Defence announcement I have witnessed a fall in morale among TA soldiers, with many questioning whether there is a future for them within the armed forces. We are told that there is just one army, regular and part-time, but it is hard to believe this is the case when it is the TA bearing the full brunt of budget cuts. If my unit is put on a six-month stand-down I am not sure how many of its soldiers will return, meaning the loss of some very skilled men and women. I am saddened that in an age when the TA is increasingly being used for frontline duties it seems to be facing a fight for survival.

The MoD has been happy to use the TA to bridge gaps, but now that the recession has boosted recruitment in the regular army and fewer soldiers are leaving, it seems our services are not as essential. We are in effect being made redundant without any compensation, and yet will still be expected to put our lives on the line if called upon. It is important to note that many TA soldiers would still be prepared to do this if needed, highlighting their unwavering commitment.

A lot is asked of our TA soldiers. We work full-time jobs during the week, and then give up many of our weekends to undertake training. We are happy to do this if the sacrifices we make are valued, but to many this latest announcement is a hard blow to bear.

If this signals the end of the Territorial soldier it will leave a very bitter taste for me and many others, who have devoted years to what we believe to be a truly worthwhile cause.

 

The author of this article, a TA soldier, wishes to remain anonymous

 

MoD response to reduction of harassment award to ex-soldier

According to the Birmingham Post on 15 Oct 2009, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “The MoD has noted the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s Judgment and is considering its implications to see what lessons can be learned for the future.

“The MoD takes this further opportunity to apologise to Ms Fletcher for the conduct towards her, which was found in the Leeds Employment Tribunal judgment to be discriminatory.

“There is no place for harassment or discrimination of any sort in the Armed Forces and we are committed at the highest levels of leadership to dealing with it.”

BAFF comment

The MoD's reaction is sensible and we welcome the apology to Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher and the commitment to deal with harassment or bullying of any kind. It is true that a few individual members of the excellent Army Rumour Service website have been queuing up to rejoice in the reduction of Ms Fletcher's award, in some cases in totally unacceptable terms amounting to online bullying.

Members of the armed forces are no saints, nor are they known for political correctness, but we hear that the vast majority of those concerned are no longer serving.

 

US soldier's fight to bring translator to America

Another story about the natural concern of many military personnel for local staff who worked with them in the field, and are now in special danger because of their employment with coalition forces.

Soldier's fight to bring Iraqi translator to US

Lesbian soldier sees 190K harassment payout cut by a third

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.

New support network for Muslim armed forces personnel

Muslims serving in the British Armed Forces will benefit from a new support network that was launched at RAF Northolt on Friday 9 October.

Asylum move is hard to interpret

bilde-copyright-the-nation"The soldiers were always good to me, but I'm surprised at this. I had no idea it would all turn out so badly."

Below is yet another report about the plight of former local staff who worked for British forces in Iraq. BAFF continues to support the campaign on behalf of those former local staff who are at greatest risk because of their work for UK forces and agencies. BAFF has given practical help to the campaign, such as obtaining comparative data and documents about the more generous treatment of the issue by allied countries such as Denmark, and more recently, helping to trace a potential witness.

Service personnel inquests update February 2009

(2 Feb 2009) The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) gave a Written Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons about progress with inquests into the deaths of armed forces personnel who had died overseas:

Armed forces related inquests, legal representation and human rights

Iinquests have raised a number of important issues affecting bereaved families, and sometimes also affecting serving personnel who might be subject to criticism or blame for their actions.

BAFF continues to argue for the availability of some form of legal aid to enable bereaved service families to be legally represented and advised at inquests, or fatal accident inquiries (FAI) in Scotland. We think that all bereaved families should have access to legal representation and advice, but service-related inquests can raise specialised issues, and often - unlike many "civilian" families - without any prospect of eventually recovering the costs as part of a compensation settlement.

The families of people who have died in police custody or in prison are in several respects treated better than bereaved service families.
There is also growing concern at the position of individual service personnel who may feature prominently in inquests as a result of their service duties - but may not receive any assistance from the Ministry of Defence in regard to the cost of legal representation or advice.

Lawyers instructed by the MOD naturally attend the inquest to represent the Ministry, not the serving individuals involved. Their line of questioning and argument is often designed to show that standing instructions were in place but not properly followed - without much regard to the interests of serving individuals.

Inquests have also raised important questions relating to the applicability of human rights to armed forces personnel while deployed on combat missions.

From Mr Justice Collins' judgement in the Jason Smith inquest case (see links opposite):

But the soldier does not lose all protection simply because he is in hostile territory carrying out dangerous operations. Thus, for example, to send a soldier out on patrol or, indeed, into battle with defective equipment could constitute a breach of Article 2*.

If I may take a historical illustration, the failures of the commissariat and the failures to provide any adequate medical attention in the Crimean War would whereas the Charge of the Light Brigade would not be regarded as a possible breach of Article 2.

So the protection of Article 2 is capable of extending to a member of the armed forces wherever he or she may be; whether it does will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.

* Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights - the "right to life"

Corporate Manslaughter

In any debate about the applicability of the right to life and the duty of care in operational theatres, it should be noted that certain "military activities" are excluded from the scope of the criminal offence created by the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Furthermore, a wide range of operational military activities will be exclusively public functions within the terms of section 3(2) of the Act and so exempt from the offence.

The "military activities" exemption is contained in section 4 of the Act:

4.  Military activities

(1) Any duty of care owed by the Ministry of Defence in respect of—

(a) operations within subsection (2),

(b) activities carried on in preparation for, or directly in support of, such operations, or

(c) training of a hazardous nature, or training carried out in a hazardous way, which it is considered needs to be carried out, or carried out in that way, in order to improve or maintain the effectiveness of the armed forces with respect to such operations,
is not a “relevant duty of care”.

(2) The operations within this subsection are operations, including peacekeeping operations and operations for dealing with terrorism, civil unrest or serious public disorder, in the course of which members of the armed forces come under attack or face the threat of attack or violent resistance.

(3) Any duty of care owed by the Ministry of Defence in respect of activities carried on by members of the special forces is not a “relevant duty of care”.

(4) In this section “the special forces” means those units of the armed forces the maintenance of whose capabilities is the responsibility of the Director of Special Forces or which are for the time being subject to the operational command of that Director.

external links

  • Herald, 19/07/08, Killed soldiers ‘wearing wrong armour’Killed soldiers ‘wearing wrong armour’ An inquest heard that two soldiers who were killed by enemy action in Afghanistan while manning a defensive position were wearing "incorrect" equipment which was not authorised by unit standing orders for use while in contact with the enemy. While there was evidence that the men would have died anyway even if they had been using the correct equipment, which had been issued to them, the coroner said "What concerns me is the standing order was not followed. Those soldiers should not have been in the position they were without the appropriate equipment. If they are issued with the correct equipment, but are later found not to be wearing it, that represents a failure in the chain of command."
  • Telegraph, 21/06/08: Families of troops killed in Snatch Land Rovers to sue MoD Families of troops killed in Snatch Land Rovers to sue MoD
  • Telegraph, 11/07/08: MOD in £3m abuse pay-out to Baha Mousa and nine other Iraqi 'torture' victims: MOD in £3m abuse pay-out to Baha Mousa and nine other Iraqi 'torture' victims: "The settlement follows a statement by Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence in March when he admitted the Army had breached Article 2, the right to life, and Article 3, the prohibition of torture, in the European Convention on Human Rights."

Conservative Party's Military Covenant Commission

In their interim report issued on 17 June 2008, the Conservative Party's " Military Covenant CommissionMilitary Covenant Commission" chaired by author Frederick Forsyth deplored the backlog of military inquests said to be currently standing at 90 cases. The Commission also recommended that the Ministry of Defence should be banned from hiring barristers to defend it at military inquests.

Pte Jason Smith inquest

Coroner reform

Boards of Inquiry and Service Inquiries

Board of Inquiry were replaced on 1 Oct 2008 by a new harmonised system of "service inquiry" introduced under section 343 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.

Corporate Manslaughter

Little Britain will not be global military power, warns RUSI

The UK's role as a global military power is coming to an end and spending cuts leave the country at risk of becoming "Little Britain," a study has said.

By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent, The Daily Telegraph

Published: 7:00AM BST 02 Oct 2009

Unless politicians change course and agree to maintain defence spending at its current levels, the country will be left unable to conduct international military operations independently, according to the Royal United Services Institute.

Human rights of armed forces personnel: BAFF participation in key international working group

Below is a report by EUROMIL about the first meeting (14-15 June 2007) of a Council of Europe working group which is drawing up recommendations on the human rights of armed forces personnel.

Foreign and Commonwealth Citizens serving in UK Armed Forces

Anyone who is serving or has served in the UK armed forces can apply to join the British Armed Forces Federation including, of course, those of Commonwealth or foreign nationality.

BFPOs in NATO locations to be retained

According to the Belfast Telegraph [confirmed on 7 October - BAFF link] the Ministry of Defence has announced it is to maintain British Force Post Offices (BFPO) in 12 locations across mainland Europe after originally earmarking their closure for next year.

A spokesperson for the MoD said: "Families, federations and others have brought to our attention a number of potential impacts associated with the proposed closures of 12 British Forces Post Offices (BFPO). As a result, we have decided to maintain a BFPO service to these locations. They will retain their BFPO numbers so that personnel can continue to send and receive mail and access UK based services such as internet banking and online shopping."

 

From the Labour Party conference speeches

From Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour Conference:

... and let me talk today about how we will do more to support the great British institutions that best define this country.

The first is the one I spoke about in detail on Sunday when I talked about the mission of our brave men and women in Afghanistan.

The heroism of our fighting men and women is unsurpassed and we owe them a debt we can never fully repay. And let us on behalf of the British people pay tribute to them and their courage today.

The British armed forces truly are the finest in the world. And let us say to them – all British forces will always have all the equipment they need and the best support we can give.

And conference let me say, Britain will work with President Obama and 40 other countries for peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan, and to make sure that terrorism doesn’t come to the streets of Britain.

From Harriet Harman's speech to the Labour Conference:

The lives of women today - and their hopes and ambitions are different from our mothers’. And that is the case

whether you are a girl school leaver in Scotland

or a young mother in Wales

whether you are one of the thousands of wives of our armed forces.

The wives of our servicemen have always held things together at home. And their task has become even more demanding with the men away fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Just like every other woman, service wives want to, and need to, get training, get work, find childcare. But that’s hard if your family has to move regularly and if you are on a base miles away from your parents and in-laws. That’s why Bob Ainsworth, the Secretary of State for Defence, and I are working with ministers across government to make sure that as well as doing all we can to support our armed forces, We are helping our armed forces wives’ so they don’t lose out on new opportunities to get on in their work. Our navy, airforce and soldiers make a great sacrifice for our country and we back them up. Their wives, too, make an enormous personal sacrifice for this country and we will back them up too.

Labour pushed Armed Forces too hard admits Ainsworth

By James Kirkup, The Daily Telegraph, in Brighton. Published: 7:30AM BST 29 Sep 2009: Labour pushed Armed Forces too hard, admits Ainsworth

Labour pushed the Armed Forces “too hard” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, has admitted.

Mr Ainsworth said that trying to conduct two wars at the same time had put too much strain on the military.

Because the forces now need to recover from that pressure, he said, Britain will only be able to make a “small” extra deployment in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, has said that without more troops, the international mission there will fail.

Britain has 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, and the general has signalled he will ask Britain to increase that number, perhaps by as much as 2,000.

But speaking at a debate on the fringe of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Ainsworth said that the recent strains on the Armed Forces meant that Britain will be limited in its options.

“We had, a couple of years ago, 12,000 troops abroad on operations. They were running hot. To keep 12,000 abroad, deployed in operational theatres, was a lot.”

"We were pushing people too hard in many ways. It's not sustainable. It’s sustainable for a short period of time but not for a long period without consequences."

Now, Britain is nearing the limits of its ability to send troops to the front line, the minister said.

“If Gen McChrystal asks for a substantial contribution, we can only make a relatively small contribution to that,” he said, saying other Nato members must “step up to the plate” by sending more troops and allowing them to play a full combat role.

At the debate, Mr Ainsworth was contradicted by General Sir Mike Jackson, the former chief of the general staff, who said the UK can make a larger reinforcement in Afghanistan for a short time.

“We can. When so much blood and treasure has been expended, we should act decisively,” Sir Mike said. “If this is a critical year, we can do more on that time basis.”

Sir Mike’s views reflect those of serving commanders, who are pushing for a larger deployment to Afghanistan but meeting resistance from ministers.

Opening up a gap between the main parties on the issue, Liam Fox, the Tory shadow defence secretary said that a Conservative Government would be “sympathetic to a request for an increase in the number of British troops” to train Afghan security forces.

Since taking his post in June, Mr Ainsworth has been candid about Labour’s record on defence. Last month, he told The Daily Telegraph that the British Government and public alike had not done enough to support the Armed Forces.

Nontheless, he remains under pressure over Labour’s backing for the troops. At the fringe event, he was confronted by military families telling him frontline soldiers are being left without adequate basic supplies like boots and clothing.

Christine Bonner, whose son Darren was killed in Afghanistan in 2007, said kit failures are undermining the forces morale.

“I know of families who are having to send out boots and suchlike to their sons,” she said. “If they were getting what they are supposed to be getting, morale would be much higher.”

Asked if he accepted that some soldiers have to buy their own boots and other kit, he said: “No, I don’t. No.”

Last week, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that the leaking of details of MPs' expenses earlier this year was caused byanger at the Government’s failure to support and equip British troops on the front line in Afghanistan.

Lib Dem MP calls for a fair deal for our forces

From a Liberal Democrat press release:

MP LEADS CALL FOR A FAIR DEAL FOR OUR FORCES

12.00.00am BST (GMT +0100) Tue 22nd Sep 2009

Hampshire MP, Sandra Gidley, has led Liberal Democrat calls for a fair deal for the men and women of Britain's armed forces at the party's conference in Bournemouth.

Sandra, whose father served in the army, and whose constituency is home to the School of Army Flying, urged delegates to the Liberal Democrat conference to back a motion for better housing for our soldiers, and better access to education for their children.

Lib Dems debate Reaffirming the Military Covenant

Today (21 September) the Liberal Democrat Conference 2009 at Bournemouth will be debating a policy motion about reaffirming the military covenant. The motion will be moved by Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary Nick Harvey MP.

BFPO closures

Updates: BFPOs in NATO locations to be retained (1.10.09) and Update on retention of BFPOs in NATO locations (7.10.09)

 

(18 Sep 2009) Rumours have been circulating for some time about plans to close a number of British Forces Post Offices. There have been suggestions that all Field Post Offices (FPOs) in mainland Europe will be closing next year.

However, in the absence of any public confirmation, we understand that the affected FPOs are all at NATO HQs -

BFPO 6   Lisbon Portugal
BFPO 8   Naples Italy (there have also been reports that the closure of BFPO 8 will not go ahead in 2010)
BFPO 26   SHAPE Belgium
BFPO 28   Brunssum Holland
BFPO 49   Brussels Belgium
BFPO 50   Stavanger Norway
BFPO 61   Milan Italy
BFPO 62   Valencia Spain
BFPO 63   Norfolk VA, USA
BFPO 65   Rome Italy
BFPO 109   Ramstein Germany
BFPO 150   Karup Denmark

We are very concerned about the effect of these closures upon armed forces personnel and their families. Some of the effects might be mitigated by increases to Local Overseas Allowances (LOA) - which will reduce any savings to the public purse as a result of the closures. Other effects cannot be mitigated by LOA adjustments, such as:

  • Extra delays in postal votes, and disincentive to vote as prepaid envelopes will not be valid
  • Difficulties with banks, building societies and other financial institutions
  • Difficulties obtaining goods by post
  • Criminal record check problems when applying for employment
  • Loss of counter staff familiar with Royal Mail and UK conditions

More on BFPO Closures

Official website

Parliamentary question 1 Sep 2009

Ben Wallace (Shadow Minister, Scotland; Lancaster & Wyre, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent consideration he has given to future staffing levels in the British Forces Post Office; and if he will make a statement.

* Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 1 September 2009, c1798W)

Bill Rammell (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence; Harlow, Labour)

The staffing levels of the British Forces Post Office are determined by the requirement to ensure that our personnel have access to appropriate postal facilities. Support to operations, exercises and to HM Ships can be provided only by British Forces Post Office staff. However, we have identified that savings may be realised if personnel based in countries with a well developed postal infrastructure utilise the indigenous postal service rather than relying on British Forces Post Office staff. To that end the Forces Post Offices servicing the UK elements of NATO HQs in SHAPE, Brussels, Brunssum, Stavanger, Karup, Rome, Milan, Lisbon, Valencia and Norfolk Virginia are due to close.

 

 

Do our troops mark the 'X'?

In June 2008 the launch issue of Total Politics magazine carried a feature article by Ben Duckworth about electoral participation by armed forces personnel.

BAFF and the Service Voting Campaign got several mentions.

Review of the Reserves

UPDATE 28 APR 09: MoD statement including links to ministerial announcement

A "strategic review" of the United Kingdom's reserve forces was carried out over the course of last year under the leadership of Major General Nick Cottam and the outcome is expected to be announced to Parliament before the end of April 2009.

MoD statement on the Strategic Review of the Reserves

Following the statement by the Minister for the Armed Forces in the House of Commons on 28 April, 2009, the Ministry of Defence has released the following which includes links to the relevant documents:

A Strategic Review of the UK's Reserve Forces, which has looked at how the Reserves can be better organised, trained, equipped and supported, has been published today, Tuesday 28 April 2009.

BAFF strategy meeting in London

London, 12 Sep 2009. Members of the British Armed Forces Federation met today at the Victory Services Club to discuss key issues such as the recruitment of armed forces personnel, continuing development of member services and benefits, and cross-party political engagement.

Its party conference time again

It's the party conference season again. These will be the last autumn party conferences before the General Election.

BAFF, which has no party political affiliation, will be monitoring the major conferences for policies affecting armed forces personnel. Parties are welcome to use the online contact form to inform us about their policies.

Muslim soldier sues MoD for racial discrimination

A Muslim soldier is suing the Ministry of Defence over claims he was bullied and suffered racial discrimination whilst on active service with an SAS unit in Afghanistan.

By Lucy Cockcroft
Published: 5:39PM BST 06 Sep 2009

The British-born soldier, who is of Pakistani origin, said he was physically attacked and verbally abused by other serving soldiers in the unit over two months during a tour of Afghanistan in 2007.

A complaint lodged at employment tribunal said the alleged discrimination was racist, and continued when the soldier, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is known only as AB, returned to Britain.

He also claims that the authorities failed to properly look into his case.

The tribunal, due to start on Monday in Kingsway, central London, was ordered to be heard in private in the interests of national security.

The soldier appealed against the decision, but lost.

In the judgment to his appeal in July, Mr Justice Underhill said: "The claimant is a member of the armed forces. He is of Asian ethnic origin.

"He has brought proceedings against the Secretary of State for Defence claiming that he had been subjected to racial discrimination, including victimisation and harassment.

"While he was on active service overseas, as a member of a specialist unit, over a period of two months in early 2007 he was subjected to bullying, both in the form of physical assaults and offensive remarks, from fellow servicemen, which he claims was on racial grounds.

"He complains of inadequacies in the way that his subsequent complaints of ill-treatment were dealt with following his return to this country in mid 2007."

The five-day employment tribunal is expected to take place behind closed doors to protect the sensitive work of the soldiers involved in the case.

Almost all the witnesses are either former or active members of the special forces.

Summarising the MoD's argument in his judgment, Mr Justice Underhill said: "The nature of the work on which the claimant was engaged was very sensitive and that disclosure either of the nature of the work itself or in any event the modus operandi of the unit would be highly prejudicial to the effectiveness of that work, such that it might have to be abandoned altogether; and thus that disclosure would create a real risk to the lives of either the servicemen doing the work or of the others whose safety it was intended to promote."

But he added: "There is a public interest in exposing how complaints of discrimination in the armed forces are handled, even if the details of the particular incident cannot be addressed in a public hearing."

MoD lodge appeal against armed forces human rights decision

We have previously commented on the Smith case - known as Secretary of State for Defence v R and HM Assistant Deputy Coroner for Oxfordshire and Equality and Human Rights Commission - in which the Appeal Court had held that this protection applies whether or not soldiers are physically on an armed forces base or elsewhere.

The case arises from the death of Scottish TA soldier Jason Smith on a British Army base in Iraq in 2003. The MoD eventually accepted that the Human Rights Act applied to Jason Smith's case as he died on a British army base. However, it argued it did not apply to a British soldier who is off base and the MoD appealed the High Court ruling. The Court of Appeal found against the MoD but granted leave to appeal, on the basis that the MoD will bear the costs.

BAFF has learned that the Ministry of Defence has now lodged an appeal, which will be heard by the new Supreme Court for the United Kingdom.

Review into servicewomen in ground close combat roles

The Ministry of Defence announced on 26 May 2009 that it had launched a review into its policy governing women serving in ground close-combat roles:

Servicewomen are currently excluded from roles where there is a requirement to deliberately close with and kill the enemy face-to-face.

The investigation is required by European Community Law, which states that the UK Armed Forces are bound to conduct a review every eight years, under the Equal Treatment Directive.

The last review was undertaken in 2002 and it concluded that the policy to employ only male personnel in certain close-combat roles should remain.

related

OSCE handbook on human rights of armed forces personnel

Cover of the OSCE Handbook on human rights of armed forces personnelVIENNA, 26 May 2008 - The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched a handbook aimed at improving the protection of human rights of soldiers and other armed forces personnel on Wednesday in Vienna.

MoD now agrees with BAFF on human rights ruling

 

MoD: Human rights ruling does not alter commanders' authority to make operational decisions, nor does it leave them open to personal legal challenge

According to a post on the unofficial 'Army Rumour Service'unofficial 'Army Rumour Service', the Chief of the Defence Staff issued the following statement on the day of the Appeal Court ruling in Secretary of State for Defence v R (Smith)Secretary of State for Defence v R (Smith):

"We are disappointed by this judgment, which allows claims to be brought against the Department under the Human Rights Act in relation to operations overseas. It has potential implications for the ability of our Armed Forces to conduct such operations, which we are now considering carefully.

"We take very seriously the duty of care we have to our people. But we have consistently argued that, in the heat of battle, during dynamic, fast-moving military operations on foreign territory, it would be unrealistic to expect to be able to guarantee the rights and freedoms which the European Convention on Human Rights seeks to secure.

"Nevertheless, I want to reassure commanders at all levels that this judgment does not alter their authority to make operational decisions, nor does it leave them open to personal legal challenge. Any claims under the Human Rights Act would be brought against the Department, not individual commanders; legal liability under the Act lies with MOD.


"Meanwhile, we shall continue to argue for a legal framework that enables our Armed Forces to sustain the very high level of effectiveness in difficult and dangerous operations that they have demonstrated so convincingly in recent years."

The highlighted paragraph is what BAFF had been saying along, but was in stark contrast with the MOD's own public reaction to the judgement -

... We are very concerned by the attempt to insert lawyers into the chain of command in the middle of a battle, which would only create uncertainty, hesitation and potentially greater risk to our people. [MoD Defence News, 19 May 2009]

 

BAFF Chairman says ill informed criticism of human rights ruling could lead to dangerous confusion

There may well be questions to be considered in light of the ruling which was issued by the Appeal Court on 18 May 2009: for example, to what extent there are implications for decisions about the equipping and management of bases, or whether in fact the ruling does not alter the existing military requirement to consider force protection.

BAFF Executive Chairman Douglas Young was concerned that rather than the ruling itself, it was "ill-informed" criticism of the ruling which could lead to "dangerous confusion" amongst junior commanders required to make split-second decisions.

Commentators: No place for human rights in heat of battle

(19 May 2009) Even before the decision in Secretary of State v R (Smith) had been issued by the Court of Appeal, commentators were explaining how "damaging" it would be to apply human rights "on the battlefield" or "in the heat of battle". This line appealed to some of the media:

Social Housing: Service Personnel now able to establish Local Connection

'Social Housing Discrimination' update 23 Jun 2010: The Housing (Scotland) Bill has passed its first stage in the Scottish Parliament. Opening the debate for the Scottish Government, Alex Neil MSP said that the bill will, amongst other things, "remove the absurd anomaly under which our servicemen and women are unable to form a local connection in the areas in which they were based during their service in the armed forces to enable them to get on the housing list."  BAFF strongly supports this reform, which follows a similar change south of the border.

A healthy start to Nicks new career

Below is an article about the BAFF member who led the successful campaign for removal of social housing discrimination against service leavers and their families.

Unconnected with BAFF: "The Servicemens Union"

In May 2008 a new website appeared under the banner of 'The Servicemen's Union'.

Squaddies may sue over MOD slums

From the News of the World, Nov 2007

DEFENCE chiefs could be SUED over the squalid homes given to soldiers returning from war zones.

The troops' union is planning to take Defence Secretary Des Browne to court for compensation for servicemen and women forced to live in leaking, rat-infested old barracks.

And the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) wants the Ministry of Defence to be ordered to refurbish the run-down homes. BAFF chairman Doug Young said: "It beggars belief that the absolute worst barracks seem to have been reserved for some of the same units who have been fighting hardest in Afghanistan."

BAFF is in talks with troops and is offering free legal representation for any of its members who want to take the MOD on. A report recently revealed 19,000 soldiers and their families are living in conditions described by former top soldier General Sir Mike Jackson as "shaming".

BAFF can be contacted on ...


(Originally published by News of the World, Nov 2007)

Armed forces prevented from voting

From the libertarian blog Jess The Dog, Aug 2009:

Most would agree that those who risk their lives to defend democracy should be the first in line to participate in it. However, the Labour government takes the opposite view. There was wide-scale electoral disenfranchisement of the Armed Forces in the 2005 general election and only a high-profile campaign forced the government into limited action.

Once more, there is a real danger that soldiers on operations will be denied the vote once more….and it is difficult not to conclude that this is a deliberate omission on the part of Labour ministers who realise their appalling treatment of the Armed Forces over the past five years – despite their sacrifices – will win them few votes.

Read more at Jess The Dog - Armed Forces Prevented from VotingArmed Forces Prevented from Voting. Mentions BAFF and the Service Voting Campaign.

BAFF, 'ARRSE', the 2005 Service Voting Campaign, and 'Silence in the Ranks'

BAFF Chairman Douglas Young's paper  Silence in the Ranks was produced on behalf of the 2005 Service Voting campaign, and helped to bring about important changes to electoral legislation and official attitudes affecting service personnel and their partners. Douglas Young has been since Jan 2010 a member of the consultative Service Voting Working Group formed by the Ministry of Justice. The Working Group supported, as being the best which could be put in place in time for the General Election, the special arrangements for electoral registration and voting by deployed personnel in Afghanistan.

Armed forces policy on medical conditions such as diabetes

A Conservative Shadow Minister asked the Government if it will review the prohibition on insulin-dependent diabetics joining the armed forces. The Minister's reply indicated that there were no plans to review the policy whereby the services do not recruit or commission personnel with existing medical conditions which require regular access to medication, such as diabetes. The single services do, however manage individuals who develop diabetes during their service careers "according to their specific operational requirements" and "each case will be considered on an individual basis":

Army guide for the families of mobilised personnel

This guide is distributed by IRPT Worthy Down to mobilised members of the Territorial Army and Regular Reserve and by RTMC Chilwell to their nominated emergency contacts and familiy members. It can be obtained online from the MoD Army website by clicking this link:

New tri-service Armed Forces Act to be implemented in October 2009

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.

Links relating to the pre-1975 service pensions injustice

Leaving service before 6 April 1975

"It first became a requirement to provide a preserved pension on 6 April 1975. Many pension schemes did not provide preserved pensions for members who left before then.

For contributory schemes, members were given a refund of their own contributions when they left service. For non-contributory schemes, membership lapsed without benefit."

More MoD pension issues:

BAFF: 'You can't treat service personnel like children'

British Armed Forces Federation spokesman Adrian Weale said: “You can’t treat service personnel like children. They are in the front-line of the war against terrorism but the MoD doesn’t trust them to behave responsibly online.”

BAFF evidence on medical care for armed forces personnel and their families

The British Armed Forces Federation submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry on medical care for armed forces personnel and their families, which reportedreported in 2008.

Interested in joining the British armed forces?

We are sometimes asked about the possibility of people who are not British citizens joining the British armed forces. We are very grateful for such interest.

BAFF is completely independent of the Ministry of Defence, so we cannot give an official answer.

The 'Pre-1975 Regular Other Ranks pensions injustice'

The pre-1975 service pensions injustice affects ex-servicemen and women who served as "Other Ranks" in the Regular Army, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force, and left before April 1975 without completing a full 22-year armed forces career. They have no preserved pension for their years of service in the forces. The issue also affects the widows and widowers of such former personnel.

The Military Covenant

The Military Covenant is a term introduced into British public life to refer to the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces. The idea of a psychological contract between the nation and the serviceman is not new, but the term was coined with the publication by the Ministry of Defence of the booklet ‘Soldiering – The Military Covenant’ in April 2000, and has now entered political discourse as a way of measuring whether the government and society at large have kept to their obligations to support members of the armed forces.  The covenant has now been enshrined in the Armed Forces Act 2011 as the "Service Covenant", applicable to all three services.

NHS guidance on healthcare needs of Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans

Department of Health (England): Meeting the healthcare needs of Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans This leaflet is designed to help regular Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans to understand how to access the health services they need, and what to do if things go wrong. The leaflet applies to health services in England.

Death as a result of active service - complete exemption from Inheritance Tax

The estates of servicemen and women who die as a result of active service are exempt from inheritance tax. With an increasing number of estates in recent years having been over the inheritance tax threshold, this exemption can be very important and advantageous to surviving families.

AWOL (Absent Without Leave)

If you are absent from the armed forces without leave, the following links may be helpful:

Human rights and the 'duty of care' during operations

Do British armed forces personnel have any human rights while on operations?

'Fighting for soldiers on the front line'

From a story in the Inverness Courier, March 2008:

Inverness lawyer Douglas Young dedicated more than 30 years of his life to the Territorial Army, serving in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. In 2006 he helped set up the British Armed Forces Federation to represent rank and file soldiers as well as officers. Calum Macleod talks to a man much in demand ... "Nobody should think [BAFF] is about battles stopping for tea-breaks or anything like that. ...

Debt recovery from MOD

Feb 2008

If you're having problems with JPA, the JPAC helpline number is 0800 085 3600 or if you're abroad +44 141 224 3600.

A Moral Obligation

bepatient_smallThe British Armed Forces Federation continues to support the campaign on behalf of Iraqis who are now in danger as a result of having worked alongside British forces or diplomats. Our support has been at the urgent request of serving BAFF members, along with ex-service members who have relied on local staff while on operations.

 

Has your MP signed EDM 401, a House of Commons 'Early Day Motion' initiated by Lynne Featherstone MP?

That this House recognises the courage of Iraqis who have worked alongside British troops and diplomats in southern Iraq, often saving British lives; notes that many such Iraqis have been targeted for murder by Iraqi militias in Basra, and that an unknown number have already been killed, whilst many others are in hiding; further recognises that many Iraqis who have worked for fewer than 12 months for the UK are threatened by death squads; and therefore calls upon the Prime Minister to meet the UK's moral obligations by offering resettlement to all Iraqis who are threatened with death for the "crime" of helping British troops and diplomats.

Ask your MP to sign the EDM if they haven't already. You can check here to see who has signed it: House of Commons - EDM 401House of Commons - EDM 401

  • BAFF obtained advice for the campaigners on a legal question;
  • We supplied information on previous situations in which British forces personnel had successfully taken steps to protect local staff;
  • From colleagues in Denmark, we obtained valuable information which has been put to good use by British campaigners and media.

Eadar-theangairean Iraqi a' faighinn comraich san Danmhairg...

BBC Scotland's weekly Gaelic-language TV magazine 'Eorpa' ('Europe') had a piece on 13 December 2007 about Iraqi interpreters being given asylum in Denmark. Along with interviews with former local staff, a Danish military spokesman emphasises the vital importance of interpreters in post-conflict operations, and a People's Party MP explains why his party decided to make an exception to their anti-immigration stance for these Iraqis.

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Bolton MP backs formation of soldiers' federation

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.