Sunday, August 01, 2021

The Daily Mail reports on a critical soldier's letter in Soldier magazine:

Boots polished to a shine and brass buttons gleaming on perfectly-pressed tunics, the traditional British soldier has always prided himself on looking immaculate.

But on the hot, dusty battlefields of southern Afghanistan, UK troops fighting the Taliban are embroiled in a new campaign... against having to iron their uniforms.

Servicemen and women risking their lives in Helmand province say they have enough to worry about without being forced to press their combat gear several times a week.

Commanders said ensuring soldiers were not scruffy helped maintain discipline and professionalism in the Armed Forces.

But troops in Camp Bastion, the main British military base in the warzone, have hit out against the ‘ironed uniforms policy’.

In a letter to Soldier, the British Army’s magazine, a serviceman known only as Corporal Atherton said he was ‘horrified’ by the rule, which ‘has clearly been thought up by somebody sat bored behind a desk’.

He went on: ‘We are at war after all and should be focusing on our jobs, not unnecessary policies.’

The soldier also calculated that for 6,000 UK troops at Camp Bastion to spend 40 minutes a week ironing their kit would cost nearly £40,000 a year.

    This sum – based on the price of diesel and running generators to power irons – would be better spent on ‘something which adds to morale rather than depletes it’, Cpl Atherton wrote.

    The views were echoed by a senior non-commissioned officer. He said: ‘I would be amazed if Field Marshal Slim [a renowned British commander in the Second World War] moaned about shaving and sloppy dress while on their long-range patrols in Burma. Instead he would have been concentrating on winning the war.’

    But Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded UK forces in Afghanistan in 2003, said: ‘But in a relatively stable, secure, well-resourced place like Camp Bastion, there is no reason for soldiers to look like scruffy tramps. ...