Filling the Gap by Thomas Paul

women in combatNews that Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond is to speed up the review that will see female soldiers allowed to join frontline units has met with widespread approval across both sides of the Houses of Parliament.

Rare are the occasions when decisions such as Mr Hammond’s order to General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the Defence Staff, to present his report by the end of the year are met with such unified approval in Westminster.

Tory peer Lord Astor wants the Army’s wonderful “opportunities” in the infantry and armoured divisions to be available to all. Vernon Coaker , Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, gave his backing to it and his colleague, Gloria Del Piero, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, agreed, saying the move was “long overdue”.

It’s heartening to see such agreement on the fundamental human right of “Our Girls” to close with and kill the enemy.
But it’s always useful to look behind the headlines and try to figure out whether there’s another agenda behind all the froth that’s presented. Is the policy just the natural progression of female emancipation or have our elected representatives just seen GI Jane too many times?

Is the war zone the next place that will witness mass demonstrations for all those excluded from participating in it? And what’s really motivating the powers that be to implement something that has been so widely dismissed for years?
Without a doubt, the coalition government’s controversial plan to cut back on Army numbers and replace those departed with part-timers is looking like a failure.

Heralded as the evolution of the Armed Forces into an agile, adaptive and effective organisation, the role of the Territorial Army (TA) was to be extended and utilised to make up for the shortfall in full time soldiers.
However, despite those plans, reservist numbers are actually down and well below the 30,000 figure required to fulfil the government’s target. They’ve even had to resort to offering departing regulars a 10k “bribe” to join the TA to attempt to cover the shortfall.

At the beginning of the year, Hammond had to assure us all that army recruitment was still continuing – just in case the British public had mistakenly come to the conclusion that they were now surplus to requirements.
It appears that despite all the grandstanding, keeping a steady stream of bodies through the office doors of the recruitment centres is proving to be harder than first imagined.

Unable to fill those yawning gaps by conventional means, it’s unsurprising that the government have decided to explore new avenues.

Therefore, General Wall’s report will now be four years early and no doubt present the case for women to be able to attach bayonets. And Hammond has also called for much greater efforts in recruiting form ethnic minority groups.

Of course, desperation isn’t something that can be admitted to, so it’s all painted as part of a strategy to improve diversity and bring HM Forces into the 21st century.

The truth, though, is much simpler. It’s often government policy to prey on the desperate, poor, misguided and disadvantaged. Military recruitment has also followed that strategy for many a century.

That won’t change with this policy and neither will the fact that while the sons (and daughters) of MPs are attending their private schools and elite universities, it will still be the poor doing the fighting and dying.

Thomas Paul (VFP UK) served in the Anglian Regiment in Northern Ireland.





  1. Gwen says:

    Call me old-fashioned, but to me the only time men should fight is to protect the women and children from getting raped and/or killed by the enemy.
    We shouldn’t send our boys to invade foreign countries for the financial interests of oil companies, banksters and sanguinary politicians.
    And we definitely shouldn’t send girls front-line!
    Let’s send politicians front-line instead!
    Let’s see how much they enjoy their warmongering then!

  2. Kenny Williams says:

    My town`s army and navy recruitment centre has not been open for the the good part of a year now….Hooray
    However, I went through the roof when my 15 year old daughter said she was thinking of doing her work experience with the army in catterick!! yep, they are pushing our kids at the right age at school towards the armed forces no no no needless to say I had strong words with the school.

    Peace and Love


  3. I do not see this case as any different form the principles of VFP. I am opposed to war, period, not matter what the gender, social status, ethnic background of the people engaged in the fighting.

    I was very pleased when the RAF recruited female pilots and can remember feeling very proud when RAF Leuchars (Fife) had the first female Tornado pilot in our ranks. We have women engaged in special duties (I will not elaborate) who undertake the same selection as their male counterparts.

    I am all for equality in what is, unfortunately, a still a very male dominated society (politics, religion, CEOs, or even the Armed Forces), and women should be permitted to fight on the front line as long as they meet all the requirements just as men too,. Homosexuality was still banned in the military when I joined in 1987 which, as we all know now, was illogical reasoning based primarily on bias.

    Keep focused on what we in VFP see as the evil that war is and the lies that are told to perpetuate them in the first place. This, to me, is the point, and not the sex of those engage in the fighting.

  4. I take this wider than just ‘Women In the Front Line’, as a perfect example of twisted Double-Talk. The Quislings who rule us will argue that Black is White, but (when it suits them), are equally vociferous in arguing that Black is Black. And the gullible accept both.
    As in the arguments they used to throw aside a centuries-old principle of law & justice, by giving anonymity to women who accused a man of sexual assault.
    For years we have been told that women can do anything a man can do, AND do it better!
    They can do anything a policeman can do (truncheons, boots, tazers, guns etc.), can serve on the frontline in war, as snipers or whatever, can pilot nuclear bombers, crew nuclear submarines & aircraft carriers: In fact, they are AT LEAST as good at killing people as any man.
    Yet, when it comes to standing behind an accusation they have made – an accusation which can end in life imprisonment for the accused – the plaintiff cry is ‘I’m only a weak & feeble woman – swoon, swoon, pass the smelling salts!’
    There was no ‘Sex Education’ when I was at school in the 1930s, but we did manage to learn that there are difference between male & female are different – & not only physically.
    Norman Scarth.
    Veteran of the Arctic Convoys of WW2.
    (Forced to flee the land of my birth (at the age of 86) to escape further persecution by the Quislings.) NS

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