Thursday, 23 September 2010

Made in Britain

As a old coffin dodger I remember when that proud boast meant something when seen on a product. Way way back now when we used to actually build things from start to finish and did not rely on 'service' industries employing off the hook foreigners at sweat shop rates.

We could still be doing it if we tried. We have the brains to invent - just how many types of Dyson vacuum cleaners are there? I hear we are well up in the development of computer games of the shoot 'em up, knock 'em down variety.

Something where I thought the developed world would appreciate some innovation must be the protection of the life and limb of their armed forces. That valuable document we know as Wikileaks revealed details of just how deeply the Taliban have adopted the Improvised Explosive Device. The leaked documents show the exponential growth in the use of these in the last six years. The number of British military personnel killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 337, after a soldier from the Queen's Royal Lancers and another from the Royal Engineers died in an explosion on 18 September. One would think that we might have explored all avenues to counteract this cheap but deadly munition. We have electronic measures but in the unfriendly to electrons environment they go off song.

But, wait a minute, the Americans have a new weapon of which great things are spoken. A gadget which fires a spear of water capable of slicing steel is being despatched to Afghanistan to disarm roadside bombs. The device — dubbed Stingray — was developed by boffins at America's Sandia National Laboratories — and 3,000 are heading to US soldiers this year.In this news release, it seems that someone's redacting marker had slipped. Bold as brass, right there it says "The basic concept of the devices was first developed in the 1970s in Britain to deal with IRA explosives" So, where the hell has it been in those 40 years? Looking at the manufacturer' site we see "Nine Sandians made the nation's fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) personal in 2009 through on-site service with the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in Washington, DC" What we had for all those years was developed by these nine guys in the space of a year. From concept to shipment of 3,000 units.

We have had a selection of governments since 1970. All full of promises that mostly lasted little longer that it took the ink to dry on their false and deceptive manifesto. So, not caring for our troops is not an attitude confined to any one political party. The Conservative element of our current Mongrel Parliament spoke of rectifying the Military Covenant. "The Conservatives say they will create a new "tri-service" military covenant, which would include specific obligations and requirements to care for families and veterans. The manifesto promises a new mental health screening service for everyone leaving the armed forces. The Conservatives say that more than a quarter of Iraq war veterans suffer mental health problems and that they will establish Britain's first dedicated post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programme within the NHS.

Operational allowances for military personnel would be doubled and the children of servicemen and women killed while on active duty would be provided with university and further education scholarships. The scheme would be backdated to 1990." They said. They have since said that HM Forces personnel and other Budgets will have the same savagery imposed upon them and many now employed will be 'set free' of the bonds of uniform. The Army does not gave a lot of use for one armed and legless soldiers who benefit from a bit of a blind eye approach and are currently found useful employment suited to their medical condition and they will be in the front line for being made civilians. Retraining is not an overnight process so it is not likely they will get a lot of that. Pressure on the NHS will be increased even without the additional workload and expense of caring for damaged former soldiers.

Truly, Kipling had it right all those years ago
"O there'll surely come a day
When they'll give you all your pay,
And treat you as a Christian ought to do;
So, until that day comes round,
Heaven keep you safe and sound,"

For sure, his employers will care not if he is neither safe nor sound.

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