Monday, 1 February 2010

Troops Turned Down for Bravery Medals



Several weeks ago I posted about civilian staff receiving medals for 'serving' in Afghanistan and more recently highlighted MPs, who belong to the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme which awards medals to MPs who have served for 10 years or more.

More than half the recommendations for bravery medals for soldiers in Afghanistan are being turned down, former British forces commander Colonel Richard Kemp has said. Limits on the number of medals awarded for each six-month tour of duty mean only about one in 100 can ever be formally recognised.

The situation has prompted calls from war veterans and families of those who have lost loved ones in the fighting to award all troops a special medal in recognition of the specific dangers posed by insurgents.

All serving forces currently get a campaign medal - the same awarded for peacekeeping missions - but some are also recommended by officers for special recognition following acts of bravery.

These medals are issued on a quota system. Colonel Kemp said: "The way the quota is used at the moment is very strict the rules are very inflexible.

"Commanding officers are lucky to get a 50% strike rate for their med recommendations due to the conservative nature of senior officers who sit in London and decide these things."

The Ministry of Defence believes the quota system is necessary to protect the 'integrity' of the bravery medals. An MoD statement said: "British gallantry medals are highly respected and reflect the bravery of our Armed Forces."

Commanding officers, who work with their troops every day, are having half of their recommendations ignored. This is little to do with integrity and everything to do with rationing. How can the MoD ration military awards which should be freely given for acts of bravery over and above the call of duty? Possibly as easily as they can dish out medals to civilian staff.


8 comments:

CrazyDaisy said...

SR,

Morning Madame, I agree with the Top Brass, the integrity needs to be protected of "the brand", a campaign medal is sufficient.

I know those who die in service is an emotive subject but individuals can be Mentioned In Dispatches which is enough. I know The Stan is very topical right now but medals are designed for "A" War not "The" War.

As for giving chocolate coin medals to MPs and Civil servants serving in the UK, this procedure needs to be halted forthwith. If they want military medals then they should get signed up and in to action and earn them.

A storm is due here!

Crazy Daisy

subrosa said...

I know this rationing has gone on for many years CD, but that doesn't mean to say it's right.

It's a lottery and these medals should be awarded for actions well over and above the call of duty and not for a limited number.

Then again, nobody joins the military for medals, thank goodness.

I know the medals were designed for A War (the one pictured is new, I've put a link under it so as readers can see the history) but are you saying many brave souls miss out on medals and just have a mention in dispatches? They mean little to a civvie street employer.

Cold here, snow flurries. Batten down yer hatches. :)

Tory Totty Online said...

Morning Sb - great post as usual.

This makes me angry (and I don't pretend to know a lot about military business.)

But the first thing that jumps out at me in all this is the criteria by which these medals are given out.
I find it abhorrent to think that fat, lazy bombastic idiots are sitting on their arses in Whitehall, basically deciding 'who's brave' and who is not. Its a disgrace.

I agree that the integrity of medals neesd to be protected, but it should be left to people who serve with these men and women to decide - not some stuffy, intransigent bureaucratic 'quota' system.

Strathturret said...

I think Burns said something about medals and honours.

'For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.'

Surreptitious Evil said...

I'm sorry but I feel the need to take quite a contrasting line on this.

Civil servants serving in the UK do not get military medals. They may be awarded honours that are available to the general public (and you can quibble about the ease they get their CMGs - but that's not really the point.) Civil servants serving in campaign areas get the relevant UK or equivalent (NATO / EU) campaign medal and may qualify for an operational award (rare, but not unknown.) There are people operating on the CIMIC (jargon for reconstruction) side who do a difficult job in fairly dangerous conditions - xBE may be appropriate - and we mustn't forget there are civilian EOD, mine clearance and similar teams who may suitably qualify for bravery awards. However, even if you are a storeman preparing kit for return to the UK or a finance clerk in an HQ, you are doing something that is significantly outside normal CS Ts&Cs and are getting no more (or less - and often much less pay) than the woman or man in uniform working next to you. I can see no reason why this recognition should not continue.

The MPs - I know it is a gimmick (or a 'gimmie') but I can't feel at least slightly relieved that there are people trying to encourage our parliamentarians to have some idea of what service life can be like, especially in operational theatres, given just how few of them nowadays have actually served. I have met a few members of the AFPS and they seem keen to understand what is going on. The 'rank' is a red herring - it grants the same authority and is of equal standing to my membership of the Tufty Club. An MP or Lord in theatre will be treated as an FIP - majors, certainly, and even colonels will often not.

Possibly your main point, the selectivity of decorations following CO, Commander or GOC's recommendation? The UK used to, albeit some time ago, award these more freely - I agree with TTO that the committee (because not all CO's are equally eloquent and your level of award depending on your CO's flair with words rather than your actions is equally unfair - the same sort of levelling is done for annual appraisal reports) should be military rather than bureaucratically dominated - and formed with a majority of people with recent operational experience, rather than those looking back on more peaceable times. But it has always been a bit of a lottery - there are plenty of very brave, even gallant, people whose actions have simply gone un-noticed rather than rejected for award after consideration.

Disclaimer - I have a couple of campaign medals, a long service medal and the QGJM - far less than many have currently earned.

subrosa said...

Afternoon TT. This rationing has been going on for many years but I think, as you say, the latest dishing out of medals to everyone has brought it to the attention of the MSM.

subrosa said...

He did indeed but then Burns was never in the military was he Strathturret? Mind you as a C & E officer I doubt if he received any bonuses either.

subrosa said...

Don't be sorry Surreptitious Evil.

I don't think I said civil servants receive military medals did I? Not in the linked post either. It's obvious to the most uneducated person that military medals would not be issued to civilians surely.

Civilians volunteer to do work in these countries SE and have the right to refuse the posting, although that could affect their future promotions. Military have no choice. Somehow I think I've been through this kind of discussion previously. Until now civilians have never demanded medals.

Do you honestly believe that MPs being in operational theatres is a benefit to anyone but the MPs? I'm sure you're aware just how much upset to operational routine these 'visitors' cause. It may have been a good idea to have a mini Officers Training Corp in Westminster years ago, along with the MPs Pop Group etc, but there is no necessity to reward them with a medal. A lapel pin would suffice and without the ceremony which is paid for by taxpayers. I can think of far better uses of our money.

If the rank is a red herring then that is an insult to many. What about the NAAFI civilian staff who served at the front of WW11 and other wars prior to that? Some were given commissions because of seniority and military training but all were ranked and came under military law. Some of these were people who deserved a medal but didn't get one and I doubt if they even thought about it. I could refer you to some reading about civilians working in war zones.

Most officers in today's military are university educated SE. They are trained in writing recommendations along with many other reports. GOC's only write commendations for senior officers of course.

Medals have always been 'rationed' as I said to TT, but only now the MSM have brought this to public attention. In all my years I have yet to hear of a CO who does not document any act of extreme bravery. That is a essential part of their job. In what other way could a service record be truthful ?

A soldier who has served say 15 years today would have more than you I agree. The QGJM of course was issued to civilians as well as military.

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