Almost three quarters of British soldiers support the creation of an independent armed forces federation to represent their interests, according to a poll conducted by the Army. The Telegraph reported that:
Support for an armed forces federation has been growing for a number of years amid claims that the rank and file have been failed by the "chain of command", although this is the first time that the Army has polled its own members on the issue.
The clear support for an independent body will be a severe blow for Britain's top brass who have long argued that an armed forces federation is unnecessary and could damage military discipline and morale.
The survey was conducted on the Army's own website called "Armynet" which is restricted to use by troops and their families...
The poll was carried out by the official ArmyNet website on whether there should be an Army Federation to represent the interests of ordinary personnel.
The newspaper broke the story while the poll was still under way, at which point roughly 3,500 soldiers had voted, more than half being strongly in favour and nearly three quarters being either strongly or moderately in favour. By the time the poll ended it had collected nearly 5,400 votes broken down as follows:
|Should there be an Army Federation to represent the interests of ordinary personnel?|
|Yes, its long overdue||51%|
|It could prove useful.||22%|
|No, that's the job of the chain of command||24%|
|I don't have a view||2%|
The poll attracted a high number of votes in comparison to the ArmyNet average, despite the fact that we felt it best to let the poll run without any promotion or publicity by us. We recognise that the poll was not open to RN, RM or RAF personnel, amongst whom BAFF has much further to go in promoting awareness of an armed forces federation.
The ArmyNet poll was no flash in the pan, as the results were consistent with many previous polls and surveys - some under the auspices of the Royal Military College of Science (RMCS). Similar survey results were obtained by the official 'Bett Review' for the Secretary of State for Defence in 1994-95:
We have not been able to ignore a growing strength of feeling, apparent on our visits and in the responses to our survey, that the time may be approaching when some form of representation outside the chain of command may be required (in our survey, admittedly taken at a time of some concern over the future), 66% of Servicemen agreed, either strongly or slightly, with a statement that ‘the Services would benefit from [such] an organisation’.