This article by Dr Sarah Ingham for ConservativeHome dated November 12th 2021, begins with these words:
This week, we remember.
Yesterday was Armistice Day: at 11 o’clock many observed the Two Minute Silence. The first was in 1919, on the anniversary of the guns finally falling silent in what the victory medal awarded to 5.7 million Allied veterans stated was the Great War for Civilisation.
On Sunday, the annual service at the Cenotaph will honour the dead of both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. The Queen will attend but will be absent from Saturday’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
A Remembrance poppy is not just a symbol of respect for past sacrifice but a reminder to civilians about present-day military service. As the Second World War and even National Service becomes the stuff of history rather than living memory – the last National Servicemen were demobbed in 1963 – few consider themselves members of the “Armed Forces Community” of serving personnel, veterans and their families.
With the total full-time strength of the regular Armed Forces currently hovering around 159,000, employees of Tesco or NHS Scotland are probably more familiar to most of us than Service personnel.
Since the end of combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, the Armed Forces have largely been off the civilian radar. When they have come to our attention, it’s generally because of the helpful if slightly hum-drum stuff of Military Aid to the Civil Authorities rather than the heroics of battle. Building Nightingale hospitals or dealing with floods might show off the can-do spirit of the Forces but lacks a certain derring-do.
A recent exception has been Operation Pitting, the August rescue mission to evacuate thousands from Kabul following the unanticipated Taliban advance. Suddenly, Forces’ personnel were more than first responders with weapons-training. The public was getting some bangs – or the prospect of some bangs – for its buck. Or rather for the £39.8 billion annual defence budget.
Jo(e) Public seems unbothered if the Armed Forces remain largely invisible, venturing out for crowd-pleasing displays of clockwork-like ceremony, such as at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. After all, despite their comparatively low profile, in the Hansard Society’s 2019 Audit of Public Engagement, 74 per cent were confident that the Forces would act in the public’s best interest. The Government scored 33 per cent. The favourable findings reflect stellar levels of public support for the military ever since the late Blair era.
Neither the Government, some MPs nor some Ministry of Defence civilian staff seem fully to share the public’s admiration. Instead they appear actively to dislike a culture which has made Britain’s forces globally respected military players, reflected by the Royal Marines’ recent performance against the US Marine Corps. (One American military blog reports that the RM are the US troops’ favourite foreign military to train with, not least because they ‘almost drank us under the table’.)
Dr Ingham ends the article with these words of wisdom:
In these woke-not-bloke days, laddish culture is of course only a step or two away from toxic masculinity.
As the country gathers around its war memorials on Sunday, the service and sacrifice of the fallen, their stoicism, resilience and courage, will be contemplated.
There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, listed on those memorials commemorating Britain’s war dead who fought in uniform for Queen (or King) and country.
Lest we forget, with very few exceptions, all of them are men.
For the complete article in pdf, please click on this link:
The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will define the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade