A developing set of quotes collected by British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) about representation for armed forces personnel, transition, the service complaints system, electoral participation, and other topics.
Legal and Human Rights
It is one of the cardinal features of the law of England that a person does not, by enlisting in or entering the Armed Forces, thereby cease to be a citizen, so as to deprive him of his rights or to exempt him from his liabilities under the ordinary law of the land.Halsbury’s Laws of England
We used to have a system of justice that basically followed the principle of military justice of "March in the guilty man." We had that system until a man called Findlay, a member of the armed forces, having been turned down by every court in the United Kingdom, went to Strasbourg and won his case. As a result of that, the military justice system was completely overhauled and the previous Government brought in the Armed Forces Act 2006, which, just a few weeks ago, we all ratified so that it continues. Were it not for the ECHR, that system simply would not have changed.Simon Reevell MP (Conservative, Dewsbury 2010-15), House of Commons, 11 Feb 2011.
The presence of open or suspected homosexuals in the armed forces would have a substantial and negative effect on morale and, consequently, on the fighting power and operational effectiveness of the armed forces.UK Government, 1996, in ECHR case of Smith and Grady v United Kingdom
You can't treat service personnel like children. They are in the front-line of the war against terrorism but the MoD doesn't trust them to behave responsibly online.BAFF spokesman Adrian Weale, in The Sun, 16 Feb 2009
The people making these accusations have to put up or shut up. It is almost impossible to imagine that justice can be done after the amount of time that has passed. Our members are wondering about the motivation of this inquiry. Is it a sop to 'Human Rights' opinion, or is it actually aimed towards reaching a conclusion?BAFF spokesman Adrian Weale, Radio 4 Today programme, June 2011
Obviously any allegations of misconduct against members of the Armed Forces need to be taken seriously and properly investigated."Our concern is that some of the allegations being investigated by IHAT have little or no evidential basis and that even if there were indications that something had occurred, it is now far too long after the events for there to be any realistic chance of a just resolution.
What we cannot condone is a 'fishing expedition’ by IHAT in which service personnel are asked to inform on each other.
BAFF takes the view that the work of IHAT should be reviewed by an outside authority, and that if it is determined that the investigations are unlikely to result in prosecutions, IHAT should be disbanded and a line drawn under its work.BAFF spokesman Adrian Weale, quoted in Sunday Telegraph, 4 Sep 2011
Where serious allegations are proven against members of the Army, including allegations of a violent or sexual nature, it demonstrates indiscipline that is wildly at odds with the values and standards that represent the fabric of not just our army but the nation’s army, the British Army.A Statement to the British Army from the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, 6 Apr 2019
The MOD recognises the British Armed Forces Federation and other such organisations as effective mechanisms by which the views of service personnel can become known. Service personnel are free to join them, provided they do not take a particularly active part in any political activity. To be honest, we are not aware of any groundswell of opinion from members of our armed forces that the remit of the armed forces federations should be extended or that they should be established on a statutory basis.Mark Lancaster MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Armed Forces Bill debate, 15 Oct 2015
In the army I would say that the officers know what their men are thinking at all times.Senior officer evidence to Armed Forces Bill Committee, 1979
It must be for Servicemen themselves, if they so desire, to argue the case for an organisation to represent their collective concerns and to discuss what the role of such an organisation might be, and how it might function. This is an issue which should be freely debated within the services.Official Bett Report for MoD (1995)
We have ... examined the practices of other Armed Forces, and have concluded that it is possible for a wide variety of forms of representation to operate usefully, and in harmony with the chain of command.Official Bett Report for MoD (1995)
We have not been able to ignore a growing strength of feeling, apparent on our visits and in the responses to our survey, that the time may be approaching when some form of representation outside the chain of command may be required.Official Bett Report for MoD (1995)
We have to accept that soldiers are free to join whatever union they wish and an entire regiment could all join a single union. Currently, there is not a case pending for the formation of an army union, but the legal advice is that we think that soldiers could form a group under the law — although how closely that would resemble a traditional trade union is open to question.MoD spokesman quoted in Sunday Times, 10.03.02
We would be happy also to contribute to a wider debate about the representation of the armed forces community and its relationship with the democratic system. Final sentence of Silence in the Ranks (2005).
"When I was commanding in Bosnia, one of the battalions of one of the nations, and I will not tell you which one, laid down its arms because, it said, the pay deal was not right, so they put their arms down. Do you really see British Armed Services doing that? That is the sort of trouble you get into when there is a representative body who are fighting back at home, your soldiers are at the front and they do not appear to be achieving." CGS evidence to a parliamentary committee, 16 Feb 2006
There is a growing call for the military to enjoy some of the rights that other citizens take for granted. At every stage the MoD resists allowing the Armed Forces a right to express concern outside the chain of command. This is not acceptable at this stage. The United States and Australia are among the many nations which welcome such independent arrangements.
Since the advent of the new budgetary systems to the way defence works, every commanding officer is put in the position of managing a small business. While trying to manage his budget, he acts, at the same time, as the voice of concern for subordinates, which becomes ever more difficult.Air Marshal Lord Garden, Deepcut Barracks Debate, House of Lords, 19 Apr 2006.
Perhaps the most distinctive development over the last decade has been the launch of the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) as an independent campaigning professional association for serving and retired service personnel...Out of Step, the case for change in the British armed forces, T Edmunds & A Foster, Demos think tank 2007
The response of senior commanders to the creation of BAFF and their criticism set out for the House of Commons Select Committee has been mixed.
While some senior commanders have argued that any independent organisation designed to ''fight for the rights'' of British troops is completely unnecessary and threatens a dangerous breakdown of military discipline, others, such as the late Lord Garden, a former RAF Air Marshal and veteran of the first Gulf War, have been ''surprised talking to retired senior military people who are prepared to think about it, saying there might be a case for it''.Out of Step, the case for change in the British armed forces, T Edmunds & A Foster, Demos think tank 2007
The central question in the debate on military unions or associations is not what the body representing the interests of members of the armed forces is called but rather how to respect the rights of military personnel to the freedom of association and assembly while at the same time meeting the needs and legitimate concerns of the military, given its unique function.Handboook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel, Chapter 9, Military Unions and Associations
The federation will not be a trade union and, above all, it will not conduct or condone any form of industrial action or insubordination within the armed forces. The federation affirms the vital role of the Armed Forces chain of command in representing the interests of its personnel.BAFF constitution
I was also concerned that service personnel were beginning to think it was necessary to form an independent organisation - the British Armed Forces Federation - to lobby for improved living accommodation, better medical care and enhanced compensation claim limits.
In my book, looking after individuals should naturally be a principal duty of the chain of command, and I was determined to make the group's existence superfluous. If I, and my senior colleagues, did our jobs properly there would be no need for a federation or union. I was determined that such a movement was not going to gather momentum on my watch.'Leading from the front', the autobiography (2010) of General Sir Richard Dannatt (now Lord Dannatt) - CGS 2006-9
The Federation shall not condone, encourage or take part in any form of industrial action by its members or insubordination by any members towards their superiors in the chain of command, and shall not commit or procure the commission by any person of any service offence, including mutiny, failure to suppress mutiny, misconduct towards a superior officer, disobedience of lawful commands, or conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.BAFF constitution
We don't need a union. What we need is to raise the profile of BAFF by getting as many people signed up as we can. Every new member and bit of publicity they get is a bit more leverage they have to look after our interests.ARRSE poster ''Deltadog''
There is no place for an army trade union. There IS a place for an independent staff association which can represent the views of members of the armed forces and engage constructively with government, parliament, the media and the public without any question of industrial militancy, strikes or anything else of that sort. As it happens, one already exists ...ARRSE poster 'cpunk'
The Service Complaints system
Transition to civilian life
Public perception of Service Leavers needs to be changed. Though a small number do have problems and need special provision, Service Leavers as a whole begin new careers, enjoy good health and are no more likely to suffer PTSD, become homeless, commit suicide or go to prison than the rest of the population. Yet there is a widespread public perception that veterans are likely to be physically, mentally or emotionally damaged by their time in the Armed Forces. This in itself constitutes an unnecessary extra hurdle for Service Leavers, restricting their opportunities by lowering expectations of what they can do. There is a good story to tell.Lord Ashcroft's Veterans Transition Review (2014)
When I lived in Tidworth I attended a few local council meetings to try and sort out …. Needless to say my concern was about the impact on the quarter areas. When asked if the thoughts of the squaddies (who comprise 80% of the population of Tidworth) had been considered the local councillor said he couldn’t give a shot about the Army as they don’t vote so there was nothing in it for him. He was only interested in the votes of the civvies who will be there for longer than 2 years.
Moral of the story is if you don’t vote don’t complain.
ARRSE member 2005, quoted in Silence in the Ranks
Election security is part of national security.Dr. Aviel D. Rubin, testimony to U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 30 June 2005, quoted in Silence in the Ranks
Friends are good on the day of battle.La a'Blair s'math n Cairdean, Gaelic motto on the 51st (Highland) Division Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel
Battles are won or lost by men, not ships.Captain Rory O'Conor RN, Running A Big Ship (HMS Hood 1934-36, lost in command of HMS Neptune 1941)
The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.Anon (US), often misattributed to George Washington
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