There has been widespread continued coverage of the awards given to service men and women in last week’s Operational Honours list. The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Mirror and The Sun, carry stories relating to those receiving awards. The coverage is overwhelmingly positive and reflected on how the honours represented the hard work of all of those they served with.
The Mail on Sunday ran an article on Sunday claiming that ‘top RAF hero attacks shocking MOD planning that costs lives’ following the operational honours that were awarded earlier this week. Unfortunately the interview that was undertaken by Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar to produce this article was taken out of context and comments that were made were used in way that did not reflect what she had said.
There are a number of factual inaccuracies in the piece that it is important to correct. At no time did Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar "attack” MOD planning nor “hit out at military leaders”. In fact Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar has praised the military authorities on a number of occasions for allowing her to develop and introduce the new training programme for which she won her award.
Further, rather than Sqn Leader Thompson-Edgar being somehow ill-prepared or having not received the proper training, as the article suggests, it was in fact Sqn Leader Thompson-Edgar who developed the training that The Mail on Sunday criticises the MOD for not providing. The UK armed forces were also the first military to carry blood consistently on battlefield rescue helicopters in Afghanistan and therefore were pioneers in this area.
In summary, Sqn Leader Thompson-Edgar won her Royal Red Cross 2nd class last week for developing a pioneering new training programme to condition medics to treat wounded personnel on the front line. This new training programme for Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) personnel has and will serve as a bedrock for future training and will continue to add to the capability of our already highly trained medical teams.
The Daily Mail and The Daily Express report that lawyers accused of dragging British soldiers through the courts with false claims that they murdered, tortured and mutilated Iraqis face being sued by the Government for millions of pounds. They report that David Cameron is planning a case against Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the firm Leigh Day, reporting that they understand a case will be made to sue them for putting soldiers through years of anguish and to recoup public money following the £31m 5-year Al-Sweady Inquiry.
An MOD spokesperson said:
The MOD is assisting the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is investigating issues that came to light as a result of the Al-Sweady Inquiry.
British Muslims in the Armed Forces
Former soldier Zeeshan Hashmi wrote a comment piece in the The Daily Telegraph on the back of recent reports more British Muslims are fighting for ISIL than in the Army. He says a failure of integration in society is causing young men to follow in the footsteps of ‘Jihadi John’. He welcomes the new MOD campaign to attract more ethnic minorities but says joining the Armed Forces is not about religion.
As the Chief of General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter recently said:
My highest priority is ensuring we continue to have the best possible talent throughout our Army. This requires us to draw talent from all of the society we represent. Our recruitment from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities has been improving over the years, but it is nowhere near where it needs to be. We have to do more. The Army has always played an important role in making the connection to all elements of society and there are plenty of examples of initiatives that have built enduring relationships with minority communities. The values and standards we espouse resonate closely with these communities and there is much common ground that we can build on to broaden our recruitment base.
Imam Asim Hafiz OBE MA, Islamic Religious Advisor to CDS and Service Chiefs said:
Diversity is one of our nation’s greatest strengths and it is only right that our Armed Forces benefit from that capital. This not only brings them closer to the people that they serve, but also enhances the military’s cultural understanding when deployed. In my view, the values of the Armed Forces are fully compatible with the values of Islam as well as other faiths. Anybody wishing to pursue a career in the Services, Regular or Reserve and is prepared to work hard can be assured of a very rewarding experience.
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