You're in the Army/Air Force/Navy now!

As of last Tuesday, I signed the Official Secrets Act, swore fealty to the Queen, her heirs, and successors, and finally completed filling in a truly horrific and appalling volume of paperwork sufficient to make your eyes bleed and your wrist disintegrate (honestly - I had to state my family details in full three times on just one form!). With that, I became Recruit Frazer in 201 Headquarters Squadron of 75 Engineer Regiment (V), and began a career in the Territorial Army!

As there doesn’t seem to be any thread dedicated to the military associations of our forumers, I considered it an appropriate time to commence one. Feel free to wax lyrical about the exploits of any relatives or ancestors that you have in H.M. Services, state your own martial aspirations, or ask questions about what life in the military is like.

What kind of engineer, if you don’t mind my asking? Just curious.

Myself… I’m a Ground Radar Systems Journeyman in the USAF.

I’ve always been curoius as to why people do it, to be honest. Although there are a great many careers within the armed forces and you can dive into fields such as communication, nursing, engineering… it all boils down to (in my eyes) killing somebody because someone else told you to. That’s what our armed forces are for, right? You can dress it up with words like “For the defense of the country” or “To protect our way of life” but isn’t that essentially the act that is required to uphold those statements?
With terrorism being the current flavour of the anti-Western campaigners, and army going into battle in their homeland would only aggravate things, bringing more, not less, problems back home?

I don’t want anyone to feel I’m belittling the forces, because I think it takes a lot of courage and dedication, but well, I have questions! :anjou_happy:

The problem is, in Britain a career in the armed forces, to me, seems to be just that: a job, a paycheck. Nothing more, nothing less. I keep asking myself what it is we’re fighting to protect here with people embracing moral decadence as their new god.

It seems like more of a way of life in America, which I can respect.

My father was a soldier for many years, serving in Africa, Northern Ireland and seeing action in the Falklands conflict. In those cases, he was doing what needed to be done. Our armed forces should exist to protect people as was so clearly demonstrated in the Balkings. I personally wouldn’t stand idly bye and watch as innocents are being slaughtered. Would you?

There needs to be a strong moral force guiding us that goes far beyond mere self-interest.

So anyway, I wish you luck in your latest endeavour Robert.

More problems back home? Would you mind clarifying, Kimimi?

As far as killing someone else, every soldier has to adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Convention, regardless of what your superior officers state. Their orders are to be followed, but if unarmed combatants or civilians are involved, their orders are overridden by the above.

Sorry I meant as in the situations like in Britain at the moment where it appears as though Muslims are the current favourite “bad people” by the media - which leads to more borderline radicals becoming fully fledged “freedom fighters” and blowing up innocent people on buses for the sake of their Islamic brothers and sisters being bombed by us around the world.

I’m interested in this Law of Armed Conflict - who does it effect and what does it entail?

Kimini, I find that it’s helpful to reflect on Rudyard Kipling’s poem Tommy:

[quote]I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Tommy, 'ow’s yer soul?"
But it’s “Thin red line of 'eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of 'eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it’s “Saviour of 'is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees![/quote]

Anyway, we were shown a short video detailing some of more salient and immediately relevant aspects of the Geneva Convention as part of our TAFS (i.e. Territorial Army Foundation Scheme), which was mainly a weekend of Death By Powerpoint. Slide after slide after slide after promotional video after slide… :anjou_wow:

Anyway, the Law of Armed Conflict can generally be referred to as latter-day chivalry, in a sense - it’s a code of conduct which that aims to keep fighting between the soldiers alone. It also includes an example of do unto others as you would have them do unto you - it’s all very well and good torturing PoWs for information, but when you’re captured you wouldn’t want the same being exercised on yourself! It governs things like who is classified as a non-combatant, medical priorities (medics have to give aid to those in most need of it, even if they’re enemy prisoners) how to conduct yourself during a truce and so forth.

One example is the fact that there’s an important distinction between Duping and Deception. Duping is the standard practice of tactics and guile that is an intrinsic and vital part of warfare, whereas Deception is the open contravention of the Law of Armed Conflict, disingenuously using symbols of protection to gain your own advantage, and strictly forbidden.

If you allow some misinformation to fall into your enemies’ hands that you’ve vacated a position, and they advance to it to be greeted by a faceful of artillery fire, that’s duping and fair game. However, if your enemy waves a white flag (which indicates that they wish for a truce), or walks out wearing a Red Crescent (inidicating that he’s a non-combatant medic) but then mows down your men with a machine gun the moment they lower their weapons, that is Deception and Treachery. People who commit Deception void all of their protections under the Law of Armed Conflict and you can very much declare open season on them.

Of course, not every country is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, and there are hardly solicitors dashing about on the battlefield to ensure that it’s always enforced to the letter. There are regulations against looting, for instance, but my barracks at Failsworth has a cabinet stuffed full of battlefield trophies. :anjou_happy:

75 Engineer Regiment of the T.A. (which is the British Army’s reservists - the military isn’t a full-time profession for me) is a central component of the R.N. Dolphin and Sperm Whale Synchronised Swimming Trainers’ Flotilla (RNDSPWHSYNCSWTFL)… no, actually, it’s part of the Royal Corps of Engineers (RE) :anjou_happy: .

As I’ve joined a Headquarters squadron, once I’ve completed my basic training (everyone has to be able to demonstrate combat competence, even the clerks in the Adjutant Generals’ Corps!) I personally will be specialising in signalling and communications.

The Royal Engineers as a whole, though, are tasked with the role of combat support - facilitating our own Army’s manoeuverability (laying bridges and pontoons, clearing minefields, repairing roads, building bases) whilst denying it to the enemy (flip the coin to the other side - demolishing bridges, laying minefields, blocking roads, covering villages with razorwire…). Whilst the RE certainly isn’t composed of assault troops like the Paras and so forth, that portfolio can bring us right up to the front line.

Apologies for double-posting (and for using imageshack… my FTP is currently inoperable), but just if anyone’s curious here’s what I look like in my dress uniform:


Yes, the image quality is poor, but my mother isn’t a sterling photographer… :anjou_embarassed:

Hey that’s pretty smart! I bet your Mums really proud. :anjou_love:
Thanks for posting that poem too, I hadn’t heard it before and it was very thought provoking - maybe more people should read it.