I've wondered oft time before whether HMG know what they're doing. When they announced the cessation of all Territorial Army training for six months I was convinced they'd taken leave of their senses.
OK, the recession Labour produced has led to a recent rise in Army recruitment - presumably on the basis that you can learn a trade, and that while you may get shot or blown up at least you'll get paid in the interim. But the military compact is a long-term one - and to kick the volunteers, of all people, in the teeth seemed insane from both a short and a long-term perspective.
Short term - at any one time there are 500-odd TA personnel - part-time volunteers - in Iraq or Afghanistan. We need these people and we need them with decent morale. It's a blunder.
Long term - I keep hearing that we'll be expected to be in Afghanistan for decades, in the mighty struggle to get little Nooria to school and make Afghan democracy like the UKs, but with more all-women shortlists. IMHO it would be cheaper to wait a few years until UK democracy is more like Afghanistan's, but that's by the by. We should value highly those men and women who willingly give their own free time (and sometimes much more) to defend our country. In many families and many parts of the country there's a tradition of service. A tradition is much easier to break than to recreate.
I was pleased to see a few Labour MPs like Lindsay Hoyle put their heads above the parapet - and I'm pleased that the whole thing's now been reversed, and no cuts are to be made, although this episode will not be forgotten by TA members or families. But I still wonder what kind of system - and more, what kind of person - could have produced that idiotic decision in the beginning ?
Haddad Preaching Jihad at Queen Mary University
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