Rob Hoole Letter

F169

War Hero
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
 
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.
 

UncleAlbert

War Hero
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.
 

chun831

Midshipman
F169 said:
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.

IMHO here lies the root of the matter - do we engender a sense of pride and spirit in our trainees any more?
 
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.
 

Oil_Slick

War Hero
F169 said:
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?

Unfortunately, that seems to be pretty much the way a job in the Forces is sold these days.
 

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.
 
Oil_Slick said:
F169 said:
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?

Unfortunately, that seems to be pretty much the way a job in the Forces is sold these days.

It was the way a job in the forces was sold back when I joined over 40 years ago.
 
Maxi_77 said:
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.

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.
 

silverfox

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
wardmaster said:
Maxi_77 said:
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.

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.

Maxi - I know what you mean. Shame you have no Naval service or experience yourself.......
 

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