Wednesday, December 06, 2006

General 'Macho Jacko' was Stamford schoolboy...

General Sir Mike Jackson who is tonight giving the Dimbleby Lecture on BBC TV, was educated at Stamford Endowed School where he first put on a uniform as a member of the Combined Cadet Force.

Recently retired as Chief of the British military, Macho Jacko as he was dubbed by the media, is arguably the most famous British General since Montgomery.

In his lecture, he said it would be wrong to "cut and run" from either Afghanistan or Iraq until the job is done and that the criteria for withdrawal should be conditions achieved, not pre-determined dates set by political agendas.

And he said, as a nation, we need to do more to value and honour our serving soldiers and their families who do a tough job often for too little pay and based in sub-standard accommodation.

Jackson has always been known as the best breed of senior officer - the kind who cares deeply about those who serve and the sacrifices they make.

A real soldier's soldier.

8 comments:

Brynley said...

Jackson's most telling points were about the performance target culture losing touch with reality

(Soldiering must be like health and public transport in this respect).

The bottom line is that the public values the professionalism of our armed services, but thinks that the missions are increasingly counterproductive.

The invasion of Iraq has made things worse.

The recent incursion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan has never really been explained to the British public, who sense that there is no coherant mission.

Liz said...

I have read a transcript of his speech. The broadsheets are not overly impressed with the General stating that he is not a popular figure in many circles. Also, they thought it rather late in the day to start "caring" for the soldiers under his command.

He is right to state that equipment must be continually updated and to improve service personnel's conditions of service. However, are we taxpayers willing to increase funding for our armed services? No EU government is willing to spend the proportion of GDP that the US does. I get angry when I hear them all ridiculing the US when they rely on that country for many security issues. My understanding is that the UK spends more than other EU countries?

Surely it is incumbent upon the Chiefs of Staff who work with civil servants and Ministers at the MOD to form military strategy. No government (or civil servant) would order any mission unless the Chiefs agreed. They are paid huge sums of money to form strategy and ensure that everything required is available to fulfil that strategy. I am uncertain about performance targets. I thought this was associated more with procurement issues etc and everyone in the MOD should hang their heads in shame at how they have failed to monitor procurement (and taxpayers money). The MOD has notoriously been appalling at overspending on defence procurement without proper controls. The Audit Commission as well as Select Committees have continually reported this and I thought the targets were set to ensure spending on procurement etc was regularly monitored..

I do not know how best the MOD can explain the purpose of troop engagement. I read widely so am personally aware (reports from Chatham House, Janes Weekly and the Defence Select Committee etc). The information is available but it does take some research.

Fascinating though........

Brynley said...

Liz said "I get angry when I hear EU governments ridiculing the US..."

I'm not sure I've heard any ridicule, Liz, but I've heard some trenchant criticism of the invasion of Iraq, which turns out to have been well founded.

Surely, the point is better made by Charles Clarke yesterday.

He draws attention to the damage which has been done to us by Blair fawning all over the European right wing, Burlusconi and Anzar.

Consequently, Britain's influence on the successor governments in Italy and Spain, run by centre-left parties, has been much reduced.

Most European governments, whether right or left, have sensibly kept out of the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan.

They have been vindicated, Liz. The Canadians are on their way out now, having achieved...what exactly?

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

Jacko was very strong on the need, in the British interest, for our troops to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done - we can't cut and run.

Liz:

i really do wish more people took the time to read the Jacko's speech as you have done.

i watched the entire lecture live.

when i later read the newspaper accounts of his "scathing/blistering/atonishing etc attack", i thought i'd been at a different football match.

Extracting one sentence or a soundbite as the media does fails to present the balance of what he was saying.

Brynley said...

Phil, you say we need to finish the job.

But what is the job?

I say that Iraq and Helmand Province, Afghanistan are not the same.

In Iraq, there is no job, except to extricate ourselves in the most responsible way possible.

In Helmand Province, it seems that there is no clear mission, but that the idea of defeating the Taliban in a straightfoward way is just not plausible. If anyone knows what our mission is in Helmand, I'd be interested to hear.

Liz said...

The Taleban were attacking Afgan security checkpoints and NATO operation bases in the area. Helmand province is one of the poorest areas in Afghanistan and of course the Taleban were finding it easy to recruit. My understanding is that the troops are there to rid the Taleban from the area, train the local police as well as Afghan troops. This is in addition to the massive reconstruction and upgrading of buildings. The troops are currently building a factory which will help the dire employment situation.

We removed the Taleban from Afghanistan some years ago and it is apparent that they were reforming in the mountainous province of Helmand. The mission is therefore to stop the Taleban from forming and to train the local population to defend themselves and to improve the infrastructure to allow business to develop.

I thought that NATO were involved in Afghanistan and the British army were leading the multi national force? I understand that the Government is doing its best regarding other EU countries committing more of their forces. I have a feeling (perhaps wrongly)that the constitution of many European countries make troop deployment more difficult?

Brynley I think it is right that the US has been ridiculed for the lack of planning after the removal of Saddam. I believe that a lot of healing has now occurred and relationships between the EU and US much improved. The change of Chancellor in Germany has helped as well as EU business leaders who were finding trade more difficult when relationships were poor.

I have always liked Charles Clarke but at the present time I feel there is a lot going on as individuals seek to position themselves knowing that the PM is shortly to leave office. I do not think it harms British interests that any PM has amicable relationships with any government in Europe whether they be left or right. I have amicable relationships with members of other political parties but do not feel that I have compromised my principles. All leaders - particularly those on their way out or those who have lost the confidence of their peoples (Chirac) lose influence.

Brynley I worked for NATO many years ago and keep abreast of the organisation. The US pays a huge sum to the organisation and 43% of the worlds military spending is also attributed to the US. I think we in Europe who are not prepared to spend such sums in our defence - UK is 6%, France 4% and Germany 3% rely on the US for world stability. Perhaps at some time in the future we may well have European Forces etc although I personally would not want defence issues to be taken outside of this country.

A bit of a ramble - sorry.

Brynley said...

Liz, the amicable relationships with European leaders of left or right, I take it for granted that any British Prime Minister will forge these.

What I am referring to is the intimate relationship (holidays together; family weddings and so on) which Blair forged with Burlusconi and Anzar, seriously embarassing natural allies in Italy and Spain.

You rather give the game away by saying that you prefer the new centre-right German Chancellor to the previous Social Democratic incumbent.

On the question of business in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Well, the business is heroin. Overwhelmingly so. A field of opium is worth x15-x20 to a poor farmer than the next most profitable crop.

Does NATO have a plausible stategy for dealing with this lynchpin of the local economy?

Well, the most intelligent suggestion I heard - from the Senlis group - that farmers could be licensed to produce opium for the medicine market has been shot down by the prohibitionists.

So we are left without a plausible mission.

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

In his lecture the other evening, General Jacko suggested that we should concentrate on the job in Afghanistan (preventing the terrorist Taliban from retaking control).

He went on to say that destroying the poppy fields only serves to alienate Afghanis - when we are trying to win hearts and minds...

I guess he was saying destroying the poppy fields is something to do when we have achieved the main objective.