Rob Hoole Letter

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by F169, Apr 13, 2007.

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  1. Interesting Letter in Today's Torygraph. One suspects that as a Lt Cdr after 32 years it was not despondence but age that caused Lt Cdr Hoole to leave, however a cracking good letter if a little harsh on the younger generation.

    Iran debacle shows Services are viewed as just a job

    Sir - I dedicated 32 years to the Royal Navy and left four years ago after becoming increasingly despondent about the erosion of service ethos, reduced standards, under-funding and the destruction of a way of life.

    By and large, service personnel are still the salt of the earth, but many of the younger members no longer have the commitment, pride and belief of their forebears. Their values and priorities lie elsewhere. Such people regard the Armed Forces as just another job and a useful step towards a more rewarding career in civilian life, so why take risks?

    There is the feeling that they, and their profession, are misunderstood by the decision-makers and unappreciated by the public. Sailors, soldiers and airmen on minimum wage are expected to achieve the impossible with shrinking resources, inappropriate tools, inadequate training and grudging political and public support.

    Soldiers, in particular, are trained to kill, but are expected to behave with impeccable discretion and forbearance despite the worst provocation. If they shoot someone in the heat of the moment, they know they will be hung out to dry, usually after a long period of uncertainty, by a government populated by lawyers, political apparatchiks and spin-doctors who know nothing about such situations.

    There was a time when the "Cornwall 15" would have taken it for granted that their government would move heaven and earth to secure their release and that the general public would be 100 per cent behind them. Those days are gone, as we have seen from the pathetic response of our Foreign Secretary and the many antipathetic views expressed on internet message boards.

    What culture does this exploitation engender? And what message does our submissiveness send about the next time our service personnel are held hostage?

    New recruits are imbued with a touchy-feely, health-and-safety fixated, compensation culture that sits uneasily with a selfless sense of duty and the need to sacrifice one's normal freedoms, safety and, when necessary, one's life. Adequate training is a luxury, as successive defence reviews have cut personnel and equipment, increased administrative paperwork, extended tours of duty, civilianised shore-based posts that previously provided some manpower flexibility, and closed down or contracted out training facilities and moved them to ever more remote parts of the country.

    Granting permission for serving personnel to sell their stories was the next step on the road to transforming Britain's wars into reality TV shows. I was embarrassed by the excruciating performance of the Cornwall 15 in the Iranian "Big Brother House", but it took the tacky sale of stories, sanctioned at the highest level, to complete my shame.

    Apparently, this was condoned because Britain's "official" word is no longer trusted and individuals' own stories would prove more credible. What does that say about our country?

    Lt Cdr Rob Hoole (Rtd), Waterlooville, Hampshire
  2. Spot on Sir.
  3. Still-serving personnel will tell us it ain't so and the RN has to move with the times but IMHO he has described the decline of the Service exactly.
  4. Absolutely right! the Walrus
  5. An excellent summing up of the situation…if anything good can come out of it then this might be a turning point….
    We will soon be rid of Blair …now let`s see if we can get rid of his legacy of political correctness.
  6. IMHO here lies the root of the matter - do we engender a sense of pride and spirit in our trainees any more?
  7. Or perhaps the rantings of a passed over Lt Cdr, every big wardroom has at least one sitting in the corner moaning away into his beer or in my day pink gin about how the mob was not what it had been.
  8. Unfortunately, that seems to be pretty much the way a job in the Forces is sold these days.
  9. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    WM - I think to sit and point the finger at the Service is a little narrow - what the good Lt Cdr points out is actually true across the country as a whole, and despite your best intentions, the Services and other Public Sector organisations have no choice but to reflect that society.

    Perhaps the biggest issue I have noticed is that very very few join the RN with the intention of making it their sole career. Those days have gone, in the same way that nobody joins their local bank as a junior cashier with the ambition of one day making branch manager. we could go back to the out moded ways of 'when I were a boy'..... but then we would have no sailors at all.

    Its a tough situation and I can empathise with those looking in from the outside and trying to view the modern navy against the yardsticks of thier time, which have long since gone.

    The only thing that gets me out of bed in the mornings is that, despite all this (and yes you will always get a few skates - but that was true in the old days as well), when push comes to shove, it has been my experience that J & J can raise their game to levels that would surprise themselves. The ship in which I was the XO had a particularly difficult time and yet I never ceased to be amazed at how, every time there was arequirement for the boys and girls to dig deep (again) they responded with humour, professional skills of the highest order and a determination to succeed. They made me proud to be in the same ship.
  10. It was the way a job in the forces was sold back when I joined over 40 years ago.
  11. You have no idea if he was passed over or not so please don't surmise. He was more likely to have been an SD officer whose ceiling was Cdr and who didn't quite make it because of age. If a GL officer (as was) had as many selective promotions as an SD Lt Cdr, that GL would have made Admiral.
  12. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Maxi - I know what you mean. Shame you have no Naval service or experience yourself.......
  13. You are of course quite right, although one could suggest that some one who has failed to reach their 'ceiling' has effectively been passed over.
  14. It appears that more and more frequently Acting Cdr is being used, rather than making the substantive promotion.
  15. Ah but I have which is why I recognised the type.
  16. With respect…..before a particular situation can be addressed...

    You first have to accept that the situation exists…..
  17. Not quite true now Wardmaster although was 10 years ago. Assuming you are or were a Wardmaster, you will know that there is currently a serving Commodore (MS) (and a Captain with several Commanders)

    BTW I concur with the sentiments in Rob Hoole's letter and his first paragraph reflects, in the main, my reasons for leaving the Service
  18. Quite right. Rob Hoole was a 'deep' specialist SL (Supplementary List) MCD officer whose ceiling, like SDs, was Cdr. He was probably the last SL to command a warship (HUNT Class MCMV HMS Berkeley - now HNS Kalisto in the Greek Navy). While he retired on age, that doesn't change the sense of his letter which was heavily edited - I have seen it in full on the Naval Review website. He is Vice Chairman and webmaster for the MCD Officers' Association A quick Google reveals that he has also written for several RN-related publications and websites including the RN Minewarfare & Diving magazine, the Naval Review, Warship World, the Nautical Institute journal Seaways (he is Vice Chairman of the Solent Branch), the Institute of Explosives Engineers journal and the Ton Class Association's magazine 'Ton Talk' among others.
  19. Rob's right. The RN has gone down the pan, you only have to look at the scruffy, unfit lard arses on Pusser's Greys these days to see that - and the male Ratings are not much better!

    I thought they'd struck a low point when the troops were issued with tacky 'Royal Navy' tags for wear on woolie pullies to avoid being mistaken for £1.90 per hour security guards (the MOD could have stopped Securicor from copying RN uniform, but they probably thought they were being paid a compliment), but now we know the truth, thanks to the Conwall incompetents. The tags are to prevent real villans thinking that the security guards are sailors who would run away at the first hint of a 'blag'.

    Perhaps the money given by the media for those toe curling, cringingly pathetic little stories should be used to construct a giant White Feather which can be rammed *********** of the First Sea Lord!
  20. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    I agree with the author's sentiment - but why has it taken him 4 years to publish his feelings? His decision to leave was obviously not an overnight, knee-jerk reaction; so what did he do about the state of the RN while he was still serving? :?

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