Saturday, 28 February 2009

Johnson Beharry VC with Shocking Indictment of Mental Health Care for Veterans

The 29 year old Grenadian was awarded Britain's highest award the VC.

From the BBC. Seeing as our government is keen to commit troops to military operations it is entirely reasonable to expect that our society takes care of them upon their return. Furthermore those suffering from the after effects of the conflict should receive the best help and treatment. However according to Beharry the support available from agencies such as the NHS is poor. Certainly more needs to be done, is it too much to ask that say the standard of care available is better than or equal to the effort our welfare state goes to support people such as Abu Qatada. This is a serious issue as witnessed with the issues affecting veterans of the Falklands conflict of 1982. Full text of BBC article below:

Veteran mental care 'a disgrace'

L/Cpl Beharry also spoke about his own mental health Britain's highest-decorated serving soldier has criticised the government for failing to help ex-servicemen and women suffering mental health problems. Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, said it was "disgraceful" that some veterans struggled to get treatment.

He told the BBC the Army provided "first-class" treatment but ex-soldiers were forced to wait on the NHS. The MoD said a "huge amount of work" was being done on mental illness.
L/Cpl Beharry, who was given the VC for twice leading comrades to safety during attacks in Iraq, called on the government to give more help to his comrades suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and mental breakdowns. The 29-year-old told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he has to live with constant pain, nightmares, mood swings and unexplained rages, five years after receiving a serious head wound. Going forward, the demand on our services is going to be ever-increasing Robert Marsh, Combat Stress Yet he had to wait three hours in hospital to see an NHS doctor about his trauma.
"A lot of soldiers get discharged from the Army and have to be on the NHS for treatment.
"Having experienced it as a serving soldier, what it's like being on the NHS, I feel it's ridiculous because these ex-servicemen and women would not get that treatment they really need. What's going to happen to them?"
Mental symptoms can take a long time to surface and they are harder to deal with in civilian life, he said.

"[In the Army], we have places to go and get the help at the moment but my worry is that ex-servicemen and women, if something like that happens to them and they have to wait two to four hours on the NHS."
Earlier, in an interview with the Independent, he said it was "disgraceful" that those who had served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan were forced to wait for NHS treatment and charities had been forced to step in where ministers had failed.
"You spend six months on the battlefield and you have to defend yourself every day and then you come back to normal life and go to Tesco and someone runs into your trolley.
"You have to stop and think - it is only a trolley, you are not on the battlefield."

General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, said: "Ex-servicemen and women are cared for by the NHS.
"They should have a priority. Government policy is that they have priority within the NHS and I should hope that the NHS managers remind themselves of that."
As well as NHS responsibility, there was vital work being done by charities and the voluntary sector, he said.
'Not complacent'
Defence Minister Kevan Jones said: "We recognise mental illnesses as serious and disabling conditions but also ones that can be treated.
"Our dedicated psychiatric teams based in theatre provide the very best diagnosis and treatment of psychological illnesses both during and after deployments."
He insisted the government was "not complacent" and had awarded a new contract to the NHS for the provision of in-patient mental health services.
"In addition we have recently introduced mental health pilots across the UK; commissioned research into mental health conditions; and expanded our medical assessment programme at St Thomas' Hospital to include assessment of veterans with operational service from 1982," he added.
Figures published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in November showed nearly 4,000 new cases of mental health disorder were diagnosed among armed services personnel in 2007.
We need to understand that our duty of care lasts a lifetime
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox
They also showed personnel sent to Afghanistan or Iraq were more likely to suffer post traumatic stress disorder.
Robert Marsh of Combat Stress, a mental health charity for ex-servicemen, said the number of cases was bound to increase in the next few years.
"I think to be fair we work in partnership with the MoD as much as we can. Last year they gave us round about £4m in respect of war pensioners that we are treating.
"But I think that going forward, the demand on our services is going to be ever-increasing and there is going to be a funding challenge and perhaps we need to question where we are getting our money from."
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said there was "a bow wave of mental health problems building up".
"We need to understand that our duty of care lasts a lifetime," he said, "And that in areas such as mental health we need to find ways of picking up problems which may take years to manifest themselves."
Lib Dem defence spokesman Nick Harvey added: "The government is slowly waking up to the problem, but this testimony shows how far they have to go before we get close to dealing with this very serious issue."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Saudi Judge sentences Pregnant Rape Victim to prison and 100 lashes- as per Sharia law.

Jeddah where the attack took place.

A terrible injustice. However what the Daily Mail does not report accurately is the fact that this sentence is 'just' according to Sharia law. In Sharia for a rape to be prosecuted the requirement is for four independent male witnesses. In the absence of those witnesses the victim as in this case can be punished for adultery. Remember this next time you hear from the Islamists talking about the desire for a Caliphate with Islamic law, should such an obscene system be imposed on Britain or anywhere else this is one example of what to expect. The majority of Islamists are surprise surprise young men, it is hardly surprising that they seek to implement a system that only benefits Islamic men. Under Sharia law, women (as in this case) and Non-Muslims are the losers. Perhaps one of the Islamists who occasionally visit this site would like to explain to me how the punishment of this woman in Saudi is against Islam? It is not and the Judge in Jeddah has correctly upheld the Islamic law concerning rape.

Friday, 6 February 2009

'A British Soldiers View of Operation Cast Lead'

It is perhaps too early to fully judge the success or otherwise of Israel's recent operation against Hamas. It does appear though that the cease-fire has already been breached by Hamas with an IED attack that killed an Israeli soldier and further rockets being fired into Israel. It was perhaps always likely that Hamas would do exactly that. Although of course just as when Hamas launched thousands of rockets into Israel Bianca Jagger, Ken Livingstone and the usual crowd were of course quiet, note that the Israelis withdrew and suspended operations Hamas did not. I intend to write more on whether the Israeli response was proportionate but in the meanwhile here is a good article from the spectator. Full text follows:

A British soldier's view of Operation Cast Lead Daniel Yates 12:10pm
Many thanks to Daniel Yates for contributing this article to Coffee House. Daniel was a British soldier with the Intelligence Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is writing under a pseudonym. - Pete Hoskin

Having completed numerous combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I watched the television footage of Israeli soldiers deploying on Operation Cast Lead with a jolt of familiarity. I saw the emotions that I have felt in the past. I was eager to do my job properly, I had confidence in my abilities and those of my comrades, but I was also apprehensive. That apprehension was not just the fear of what harm may have come to me or my mates, but also the worry that my judgement would fail if I was called upon to make the snap decision to take another’s life. The pressure of these conflicting emotions coupled with the stress of battle is immense. The majority of us called upon to withstand them are young men, some as young as 18.
That is why the casual bandying around of terms like ‘war crimes’ so enraged me when I heard it directed at British soldiers during protest in London. I feel no different when it is levelled at Israeli soldiers. I accept that soldiers enjoy no immunity from the law and that our actions must be scrutinised but that judgement must be a measured weighing of factors, not a knee jerk emotive statement such as that made by Ban Ki-Moon nor a trial by media. I believe that I and other soldiers understand the stress, friction and confusion that combat brings in a way that media commentators and UN bureaucrats never can.
Urban warfare is complicated, disorientating and utterly confusing even in conventional operations. When an enemy, such as Hamas, is willing to dress in civilian clothing, attack from legally protected sites and use civilians as human shields it becomes fiendishly difficult.
The destruction of the UN School, cited by Ban Ki-Moon, is a case in point. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) maintains that its soldiers came under fire from that position. They returned fire; that is what soldiers under contact do. It would appear that light artillery guns or mortars were used. These are emphatically not the ‘smart’ weapons that civilians fondly imagine all war to be fought with. It is commonplace fact of war that such munitions do not always land were they are supposed to.
The urban environment can seriously hinder even the most sophisticated of radio communications, leading to command and control becoming fractured. The assertion by the UN that they provided the IDF with the grid references of their locations is valid. However, it is a fact that often information is not always passed down the chain of command, this is more likely to occur due to the fog of war rather than any malicious intent.
The IDF have also faced accusations that they have attacked ambulances. Again, I cannot speak for the veracity of these claims nor do I seek to diminish the serious nature of such attacks. The British Army’s enemy in Iraq, Jaish Al Mahdi routinely used vehicles marked as ambulances to transport arms, ammunition and fighters around Basra. Like Hamas, Jaish Al Mahdi received training and equipment from Iran.
During the course of Israeli operations in Gaza the whole of the media seems to have become expert in the use of white phosphorous. Most commentators either do not know, or have refused to acknowledge, that the use of white phosphorous is not illegal. The Geneva conventions do restrict the use of white phosphorous in certain circumstances, but it is used almost daily by British forces in Afghanistan.
The IDF have stated that, during this operation, they fired a total of 200 shells containing phosphorous. 20 of these shells were fired in urban areas and the use of those 20 is being investigated in line with these restrictions.
White phosphorous is used because it provides an instant smokescreen, other munitions can provide a smokescreen but the effect is not instant. Faced with overwhelming enemy fire and wounded comrades, every commander would choose to screen his men instantly, to do otherwise would be negligent.
Much has been made of Israel’s ‘disproportionate and excessive’ use of force in Gaza. Footage of Gaza released today does show devastating damage to individual buildings, but this is no Stalingrad. A fact often unappreciated by those with no military experience is that the selective use of overwhelming force, aimed at key targets, actually shortens conflict and saves lives. In Basra in 2003 the USA and the UK chose to use extreme force against locations that had been fortified by the Ba’ath Party, in order to spare our troops and the people of Basra the horror of a drawn-out street battle. It appears that the IDF made the same choice in Gaza.
I do not argue that any soldier should be outside of the law, any army that allows such a thing is not worthy of the name. I do believe, however, that the least the world can do for young men returning from combat is to offer them the basic right to have their actions considered on the basis of events and the context in which they occurred.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

NATO General suggests member states could get supplies from Iran! Doh!

John Craddock, his eye on the wider picture
or his head stuck up his Khyber Pass?

Okay now before people condemn this idea as being entirely devoid of common sense and the mutterings of a blimp like retard lets evaluate. Firstly the guy saying it is General John Craddock, a senior NATO general and thus hopefully at least no fool at all. Secondly there may be some merit in engaging Iran diplomatically over the resurgent Taleban insurgency. After all it is most likely that Tehran does not wish to see the Taleban back in Kabul. However that is about it, the Iranian theocracy will most certainly not want to see a NATO victory or democracy taking root now on two countries that border it (the other being Iraq).

Other problems are the fact that credible reports have been made that Iran is actually supplying Taleban elements with munitions. That is definitely a problem just as it proved and to an extent still does in Iraq. Most importantly this would hand Iran in effect full power to influence the outcome of NATO operations, operations to which they will almost certainly be opposed to. In other words NATO would go from being currently severely hampered to actually defeated in Afghanistan when the mullahs call off the supplies. Perhaps I'm missing something and the Iranians actually do want to help and not just swallow a load of dollars whilst being duplicitous (like Pakistan). Personally with my limited knowledge I would favour a supply route through the Caucasus, although again that would be with a political price. Anyway here is the article from AP.