Thursday, 3 January 2008

Returning soldiers made to change out of their uniforms on Birmingham airport runway

200 soldiers returning from the frontline in Afghanistan were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing Birmingham Airport runway after their flight had been diverted from RAF Brize Norton. The soldiers were told by the pilot that their baggage was being unloaded on to the runway and that they must relaim it, dig out their own clothes and remove their desert combat kit before they could proceed into the airport building.
One soldier said "We weren't told who gave the order. It's an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home soonest to their families. So much for a nation proud of its servicemen."
If the soldiers had been allowed through the airport concourse in their kit, they would have been given a hero's welcome by the public, just as they have been in towns and cities across the country. What a brilliant return that would have been! Instead the guys are left feeling demoralised and let down by their country. Colonel Jorge Mendonca said: "How would it feel to be on an operational tour and then to come home and be told to take off their uniform before being seen in public?"

The order originated at the Ministry of Defence where a spokesman said: "We can confirm the incident occurred but because everyone is on leave, we have not been able to discover who gave the order". This appalling, shody episode shows that yet again the MoD would prefer to bring the guys home through the back door instead of proudly welcoming them back to the UK. It's as if the MoD were ashamed of the them, embarrassed even by their presence. This cavalier attitude is consistent with Hash Brown's and the Labour Party's own indifference towards the Armed Forces and their disrepect for our troops.
Will we be told who gave this crass order or will it simply be another "fault of the system" with no one held accountable..... as usual?
Despite all the recent furore over the treatment of returning troops; despite the praise for the troops recently extracted from Brown; despite the nuLabour Government even setting up its own goddamned National Recognition Study; despite all this, as far as the MoD's concerned nothing's changed: the troops can't wear their uniforms in case they might upset some religious/ethnic/cultural group or other.

That's 2008 off to a good start, then.

Well done MoD: you really know how to treat the guys!

Link> The Sun: Our Boys in runway strip
Link> The Herald: Returning troops strip on airport tarmac after uniform ban
Link> The Mail: Afghan heroes home for Christmas forced to change out of uniforms on freezing runway before using airport terminal

PS If the MoD had any sense at all they would be using Dean Tabreham [see below] to promote the Armed Forces. His one video has done more to put the pride back into the UK than all the PR stunts, pseudo-initiatives and hype that's been spewing out of the Ministry of Defence put together.