This is a difficult piece. Everything else I’ve wrote so far has been tongue in cheek and about a subject I’ve been passionate about. This is different. The entire article is half story and half reasoning, just bear with me on it all, because this whole work will be the reasoning (and rambling) of why the British Army should never be deployed to foreign countries from the viewpoint of a British soldier.
I knew I wanted to be a soldier somewhere through my later school years, I wasn’t the best student, in fact it’s only just recently I discovered how close to the average British soldier I was, I got into my fair share of fights, I struggle in my GCSE, retaking both Maths and English repeatedly before I managed to get a C. (Still waiting on those Maths grade, retaken six times so far) Towards the end of my last year in secondary education, things did admittedly look bleak. My GCSE results were rubbish, I barely scraped in four Cs and one B, and the rest were a bag full of Ds and Es. Prospects were looking pretty bleak; my choices were to get a job in a poor ex-mining town who still blames Thatcher for all its ills or join the military – not that at the time I minded, I was more than happy to join the army, the infantry, to possibly go get sent to Afghanistan, to fight, to murder, to kill and quite possibly, be killed. It all seemed ‘right’, In fact I was looking forward to going to the Afghan, the feeling of comradeship mixing in with the hot sands and cold mountains all seemed right, just right. (From that, draw your own conclusions about my mental state)
I had always been very pro-military, I supported soldiers getting free bus passes, and I wanted them to be allowed to jump que for council housing, the whole lot. But most importantly, I viewed the British Army as a battering ram to Democracy, the hammer which smashes totalitarian governments and free the people and all that good stuff. I actually remember saying to a friend “I’m happier to die in Afghanistan for something worthwhile, than die old for nothing at all”
So I decided to do it, the day after my prom I took the 76 bus from my village into town, to the recruitment centre on Hall gate road. I would need to grab the papers and get both my parents to sign them (Under 18s need that to join up) A towering man greeted me, shook my hand (Nearly crushed it in the process) and handed me a stack of recruitment papers, before I got out of the door however, he asked me one simple question that has never ceased to piss me off whenever I get asked it (And I did a lot, in the early days)
“You know this is nothing like Call of Duty right?”
My mum was less than impressed, I’ve always had a rocky relationship with her but me bringing home the recruitment papers certainly sent her off on one. After she made a few colourful remarks about what happens when you stand on an IED I stormed off, later though we did manage to sit down and hammer out a deal.
She wouldn’t give me her signature, so I was screwed, I had the choice of sitting on my arse for two years or having a crack at 6th form (My mum’s choice) but another two years in education seemed like the world’s worse idea. Cleverly, she did manage to get the job done.
“You can join the TA when you’re 17 right? Tell you what, go to 6th form for two years, and I’ll let you join the TA half way through, deal?”
Was better than nothing, so I agreed.
(Some of you may be wondering where the actual argument starts, I’m getting there, relax)
I decided I’m going to skip around to when I’m in the TA, because I’m sure this life story stuff is getting boring. I enrolled at 6th form, originally taking triple sport – my whole aim was to coast as much as possible and slowly the days got counted down and I joined the TA on my seventeenth birthday. Training on the weekends, drinking myself silly every other day and attending 6th form when I could be arsed became routine, then a months later, things changed.
I’m going to deliberately leave his name out of this for respect. But there was a lad from a nearby regiment, who came down to our unit now and again to do training sessions with us; he had chosen to go to Afghanistan to fight for “Queen and country”. He was shot dead during his first patrol out in the field. The death hit me and the rest of the lads pretty hard and I began to question the reasoning behind the Afghanistan war, you could say the anti-war seeds were sowed that day. Regardless, military life pushes on and we all grew to adapt.
Politics had over taken the military as my main passion in life and I threw myself into UKIP. In fact, I joined UKIP based on its defence policies, I wanted a big army so we could go topple tin pot dictators, however I developed from a Neo/Social Conservative into As my political understanding expanded and grew, so did the body bags leaving the Middle East.
Now here is the argument:
No British soldier should be sent to fight in a foreign country for any reason whatsoever. Why? Because it’s moronic.
The British army is not a battering ram to democracy, I see now that it’s not my job to go running off into strange lands that most can’t find on a map to fight for freedom. Democracy can’t be forced upon a people either, we’ve seen that in the Middle East, democracy has to develop over time like it has in the West, I can’t imagine a land that is a dictatorship one day and a democracy the other being a stable place to live.
My heart bleeds for the men sent to die in Afghanistan and both the Labour and Conservative party sent them to die, our equipment is aging and we’re not trained to fight against an insurgency, the British army is a conventional weapon used to fight an unconventional war – It’s like trying to push a triangle through a square hole, sure if you smash away for long enough, you’ll finally win, but you’ll just be left with a ruined mess to rebuild.
I know I’m likely to be preaching to the choir here, but that’s just a short (ish) story about the past year of my life and why I would seriously fall out with anyone who would support a foreign war. Keep out of them, we only make them worse and it’s not worth the split blood.
Anyone who disagrees is more than welcome to join my former unit, as a front line soldier.