August 2017
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Dannatt, Stirrup, Jackson – are they donkeys? Are they greedy, corrupt, incompetent, self-serving donkeys?

During the economic and social catastrophe of New Labour’s 13 years in power, almost all our major institutions became corrupted by greed and incompetence – expenses-thieving MPs and Lords, our politically-correct police, the biased paedophile-protecting BBC, the useless Home Office, the bloated, wasteful NHS, our dumbed-down schools, financially-incontinent local councils and our ever-increasing profligate central government bureaucracies. All these became polluted and rotten under Blair and Brown’s baleful leadership.

But one institution seemed to retain our respect – our military. Whatever criticisms the media made of our other institutions, they usually left the military and its leadership alone. Now thanks to the alleged, but not proven, behaviour of a group of retired military leaders, it seems the gloves are off and our military top brass may also come under scrutiny.

We all know that during the First World War and much of the Second World War, our troops rightfully earned the reputation of being “lions led by donkeys”. But how much better are today’s military leaders? How much better were people like Dannatt, Stirrup and Jackson? In both Iraq and Afghanistan, overwhelming force meant rapid victories. But what followed these victories seems to have been an almost endless series of blunders, stupidity and incompetence. We were fighting in Iraq for longer than either of the World Wars and in Afghanistan for longer than the First and Second World Wars together. It’s almost beyind belief – under the leadership of people like Dannatt, Stirrup and Jackson, we’ve been fighting in the dirty litte hell-hole Afghanistan for longer than it took to win both the First and Second World Wars – and we’ve achieved virtually nothing. 

In Afghanistan our military bosses apparently learnt nothing from the British debacle in 1838-1842 and nothing from the failed Soviet nine-year occupation from 1979-1988. Ordinary soldiers must do what they are told. But it should be the duty of their leaders to learn from the past.

As for looking after their troops’ well-being – we had endless stories of our troops lacking vital equipment like body armour: of the SA80 rifle being inferior to the cheaper American M16: of soldiers being maimed and dying unnecessarily because there weren’t enough helicopters, even though military bosses in the UK had helicopters to ferry them around. Meanwhile, military leaders wasted tens of billions on incompetently-managed, hugely over-budget prestige projects like Nimrod (scrapped after wasting £3.4bn) and aircraft carriers without any aircraft to fly from them.

Perhaps it’s time to ask whether today’s troops are also “lions led by donkeys” – but today could it be that our donkeys are not only incompetent, but also self-serving, greedy and corrupt? I know what I think.

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