Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fluff Farming

By Alec

There’s an old saying, over here in Britain about old soldiers, with various adaptations to suit circumstances but it always begins with:

Old soldiers never die they just learn to…” Adapt, carry extra ammo, use a bigger hammer, keep their own council, grow bigger balls, I think you get the picture.  

My favourite one is, “Old soldiers never die they just learn to listen and bitch appropriately”. Younger soldiers and I include myself from ‘when I were a lad’ do not; yes we listened but always had a knack of bitching at the wrong time, “earning brownie points” instead of being the grey man was a particular favourite past time of mine until I was rewired by a ‘kindly soul’ who I’m happy to say became a lifelong mate and I often thank him for his ‘input’ as it has saved my life. Nobody likes a gobby shyster

As I moved up along the ranks, back down a few times and up again, I began to see myself in the new kids coming through but the rules had changed, we became soft pandering to the European rules of handling manpower. Yes it eradicated most of the easy to see bullying but drove the more persistent offenders to even more creative ways but more importantly, it ensured that the recruiting process was delivered a blow from which I suspect, it will never recover.

Even now I look back and see kids who were clearly unsuitable for service weeded out, the knock on effect for commanders, commissioned or otherwise, was a rough around the edges, soon to be professional person who was serving because he or she wanted to and knew without a shadow of a doubt what was expected of them.

The rumour mill soon began to turn out stories of recruits being issued with coloured cards to give to an instructor if they thought they were being bullied; red, amber and green, red being the most severe and stories of instructors not allowed to fail “students” but having to give up of their own free time to coach sympathetically the “underperforming student” as it was the instructors failing…

When had maggots suddenly become “students” and the process of farming out the “fluff” been hamstrung?

We know the knock on effect, kids persistently late for work, turning up pissed as farts, although I’ve never understood that saying, and kids going AWOL.

I only once had ‘one of mine’ go AWOL, he was the kid who was quiet and only had one mate in the gang; on his return from his journeys and the inevitable Administrative Centre or brigg/stockade/prison to you fine folks, he was some kind of hero with tales of how easy his time was. He wasn’t so heroic when I explained to him and the rest of the gang it’s not a badge of honour and that the days he was AWOL he owed the Queen, therefore me and he wouldn’t be released from service for the full six months plus ‘holiday’ time.

Old soldiers never die… 

Which leads us to the fury being wasted on a U.S. Sergeant; I find it incredulous that he achieved the rank although I believe the U.S. Army has many different grades of Sergeant and he may well be a lowly grade, never the less. 

The biggest problem though is the sickness that has infected H.M.Forces has spread over the pond, or vice versa, where fear of ‘human rights’ breaches has effectively stopped the fluff farming allowing kids like Bergdahl slip the net. He should have been eating lentils and tiptoeing through the tulips at home with his parents because the sickening truth about the matter, and I shan’t comment on any Political wrangling’s as he’s not one of mine, is…

Good honest professional Soldiers who should be at home with their loved ones, aren’t. And that makes this old soldier who refuses to die weep.           

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