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Monday, October 24, 2005

Weighing Things Up


When I wrote 'A Good Day At The Office' Pat asked if I had ever fired my rifle in anger. I was originally just going to answer the question with a 'No' and leave it at that. Thinking about it though I realised that it is actually just part of a wider issue. So for one day only I'll get away from the memoire.

When soldiers join the army they don't do so to kill people. At least in the British Army they don't. Most of them don't even join up with a definite idea that what they are doing might involve them going to war. I certainly didn't.

Most of us join up to 'see the world' or 'do something different'. I've never been in a position where I have had to fire my weapon at another human being. I do know people who have though. Often for them the training took over. That's not to say that they didn't make a conscious decision to fire but they did so in response to a situation they had trained and trained and trained for. Those people I know who have taken human life have expressed regret that another person died but most often it was a case of 'them or me'.

There have been several media reports recently about the number of troops serving in Iraq who are now leaving the forces. The implication is that they either feel it morally wrong to be there or that the evironment they have served in has mentally affected them.

For most of them it is neither. They joined up for some excitement. Many of us wanted to know if we had what it took to do the job 'for real'. A lot of soldiers have now had enough excitement and have found out the answer to the question they posed themselves. Some of these soldiers have understandably left the army, others have relished the experience and look forward to returning to operations.

Normal service will resume tomorrow.

11 Comments:

Blogger BallerinaGurl said...

I do so like your blog. VERY much have enjoyed reading it! My step-mum is from the Isle. I am here accross the pond!

Love your artwork. Please post more about them and what you used to draw them.

Cheers!
Molly

11:05 am  
Blogger zilla said...

Interesting. Are you in it until retirement, then? What qualities do those who serve for life share?

1:43 pm  
Blogger BallerinaGurl said...

Hey thanks for stopping by....please leave the comment in my most recent blog.I would love it!! The chat thing is for...chatting! LOL

1:53 pm  
Blogger Milton john said...

Me, I joined at age 16, only just 16. My school, located in Rheindalen in Germany, for dad was also a soldier, was designed for the kids of otherranks to turn them into otherrank soldiers. It's primary focus, seemed to me, to be the Combined Cadet Force. Of course being in Germany we had the benefit of being inspected and encouraged by just about every General of the British Army. We were even inspected, on one occasion by the Minister of Defence - a certain John Profumo - its my greatest claim to fame, I was inspected by the first politicion to be shagging away the secrets of state. (well maybe not the first) There was little option for us but to join up. And in any case it was exciting and we did see the world and did see a bit of action. And then we got pissed off or reflective and a certain amount of intelligent insobordination creeps in and finaly you leave, and many times wish you hadent...

4:36 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Have you noticed the media doesn't always tells the full story? They tell only enough to serve their 'truths'.

After reading the Sven Hassel series I appreciate what good soldiers are about.

[Sven Hassel was a soldier in the German army. I think he was Polish but my mother insists he was Danish. He wanted to be a writer.]

7:12 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

The media doesn't...don't...? I can never get that grammar right!

7:13 pm  
Blogger greavsie said...

One of the main reasons I wanted to fly helicopters was not the prospect of firing a missile up someone's bottom but because of the chance to fly, see places and get a very marketable skill.

9:36 am  
Anonymous Pat said...

Thank you for that and I hope you never have to. On the History channel - time after time one sees ancient ex-soldiers of all nationalities crying helplessly as they remember the lives lost, sometimes through their actions.
Re Profumo - he behaved disgraceful;ly in the fifties but since then has devoted his life to helping others. I wonder if today's politicians would be bothered. By the way have you got a name you can use other than US?

12:10 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Thank you for giving your point of view about such things (shooting people, I mean)- and the p.o.v. of others in your trade. I've often wondered about the motivation. But if I put aside my objection to people killing people, I have to say that, since we seem still to need soldiers to keep safe what we value, I'd rather that those soldiers were able to aim, fire at, and if necessary kill, those who would kill me and my kind (even though you may not admire my particular views) were your protection not available. For this toughness of mind I'm grateful - and I can understand that such a toughness cannot - and should not? - last forever. In short, though I dislike your trade, I admire you and your colleagues for having the balls to do it for a while. (Pompous crap, this, I'm afraid, but I can't think of a better way of saying it.)

7:22 pm  
Blogger Universal Soldier said...

Zilla - yes I'll probably do my full time. And as for what qualities we share - the closer we get to retirement it's the desire to get the rather good pension!

Milton John - being in Germany at the height of the Cold War must have been interesting in itself. As for leaving - I can't actually think of anything I'd like to do if I weren't doing this.

Guyana Gyal - the truth doesn't necessarily sell newspapers I guess.

Greavsie - in the increasingly technical world that we live in the army is developing marketable skills in most of us. Perhaps another reason why so many leave.

Pat - sorry I think US will do for the time being.

Nick - thanks for the comment and I thought it was well put. If you actually look at what the British Army has been doing for the last 15 years the vast majority of it has actually been peacekeeping - which I think we all agree is worthwhile.

9:29 pm  
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1:30 am  

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