Thursday, 12 April 2007

Conduct After Capture

I have wanted to put a comment on this blog for a while about the capture of Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines. First of all I was in Scotland so that delayed me and then they were released and then we have had this bodged attempt of getting their (the British servicemen) version out.
It now seems it will drag on as Cameron and the Lib Dems seek to gain some publicity over the matter.
Going back to the initial capture of our troops, there was an awful amount of crap put out in the media- mainly in the Tory supporting papers. we also had letters pages that often included attacks on those captured- comparing them to soldiers captured in the Second World War. Now as an ex soldier I feel I can put matters straight on a number of half truths. All members of the Armed Forces attend an annual lecture on the principles of the Geneva Convention, they do not all undergo Combat survival and Conduct after Capture training. Special Forces and to a lesser extent RAF Pilots do- other than that some other regiments do carry out their own training. My own regiment was one of them so I undertook a 3 week course and then went onto become a Combat survival instructor after undertaking a course run by our special forces. So I think I know what I am on about! The Geneva Convention lecture takes about 90 minutes there may be some further pre deployment traing but not much.
The Geneva Convention is not something that the Iranian Government was abiding by- even without taking into consideration the stories that have come out since they were released, the filming of the prisoners, removing their uniform- all against the Geneva Convention- but we still have Daily Mail readers stating that they let their country down by not just giving their name, rank, date of birth and religion!
Then we have the cock up this week of the stories being sold- Navy fault, Des Browne fault- someones going to have to take the blame- it was a mistake but in the Navy and Des Browne's defence- large amounts of cash were being offered that family members would have ended up taking and selling second hand stories- we would probably had those who did sell their version, buying themselves out of the service then selling their story.
Also annoying are the likes of ex soldier- TV expert types- Bob Stewart- the best (or worst) example- they seem to forget that they are still bound by the Official Secrets Act- what they really hate is that someone who is not an officer may have the audacity to sell their story. They also know that they have a limited TV life- Stewart is a Balkans veteran, he will soon be replaced by a Gulf war veteran - if he was any good, he would have gone onto greater things after his time in Bosnia.
There does need to be an inquiry into the capture of our troops and as an ex military man the questions I would like to know is why was there no helicopter support, why not two boats and what were the rules of engagement.
In the end though after the lessons have been learnt we should be thankful that no one was injured and that the situation did not escalate out of control.

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