Oldham school planned with all ex-forces staff

The first UK school whose teachers have all served in the armed forces is actively recruiting prospective pupils with a view to opening in 2013.

The first UK school whose teachers have all served in the armed forces is actively recruiting prospective pupils with a view to opening in 2013.

Captain AK Burki is handing out leaflets in a busy Oldham shopping centre for the school he hopes one day to run as head teacher.

“All the teaching staff will be composed of ex-servicemen and women,” he tells passing shoppers.

“They will be able to bring a breadth of experience that only those in the armed forces can,” he explains to a mother, who is concerned about her daughter’s education.

It is a world away from the front line in Afghanistan, where Captain Burki completed a tour of duty in 2010.

“The elements of the armed forces we really want to instil in the pupils are the core values of the Army,” says Capt Burki. “Courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment.”… Read more

Brown backs army cadet corps plan for schools

Controversial plans for pupils in comprehensive schools to sign up for military drills and weapons training are being backed by Gordon Brown in an attempt to improve the relationship between the public and the armed forces.

Controversial plans for pupils in comprehensive schools to sign up for military drills and weapons training are being backed by Gordon Brown in an attempt to improve the relationship between the public and the armed forces.

A major review of the military’s role in British society says that encouraging more state secondary school pupils to join the cadet corps would improve discipline among teenagers while helping to improve the public perception of the army, navy and air force.

However, anti-gun campaigners say that teaching teenagers to shoot would exacerbate the growing problem of gun crime among youngsters.

The government-commissioned review of civil and military relations, led by Quentin Davies, the Labour MP, was ‘alarmed’ at the number of schoolchildren who had no idea of military life. Davies wants secondary school pupils to receive basic military training as a means of developing greater affiliation with the armed forces.… Read more

Gove backs cadet forces in schools

Military-style cadet forces could be introduced to all secondary schools in a Government bid to boost standards and discipline.

Military-style cadet forces could be introduced to all secondary schools in a Government bid to boost standards and discipline.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told the Sunday Express he had met a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and learned of the advantages the groups can bring.

Following the conversation, Mr Gove has told Children’s Minister Sarah Teather to work with Defence Minister Nick Harvey on the project.

Schools Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Sidwell also backed the idea of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Gove told the Sunday Express: “I met this amazing guy, a 17-year-old an Afro-Caribbean lad, who joined the cadet force and told me how it had transformed his life.

“He was the perfect advertisement for what it can do.

“I’ve tasked the Children’s Minister to work with Nick Harvey at the Ministry of Defence to bring this to all schools and they are very keen to roll it out.”

The CCF includes wings linked to the army, Royal Air Force and navy and is made up of youngsters aged 13 to 18.… Read more

Military cadet forces in every school, says schools commissioner

All secondary schools should have a military cadet force in the drive to raise standards, according to a senior Government education official.

All secondary schools should have a military cadet force in the drive to raise standards, according to a senior Government education official.

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“The all-round curriculum that children need, CCF, debating – that’s not the province of the middle classes, it’s the province of every child.”

The CCF was created in 1948 but its antecedents date back to 1859 when public schools and universities were asked to form volunteer corps.

Today, more than 200 independent schools but only around 60 state schools run CCF units, according to the Ministry of Defence, which sponsors the organisation. Members learn drill and are trained to fire weapons.

In 2008, the then-prime minister Gordon Brown backed a government-commissioned report which said more state schools should sign up to CCF. Although there has been no major rise, it is increasingly offered in academies.… Read more

Not just waving poppies, but drowning thought

“There may well be a boom in poppy sales, but the act of Remembrance itself has been cheapened by a failure to back up words with action, particularly when it comes to successive governments’ care for victims of war, but equally in terms of the appalling the lack of resources put into peacebuilding.”

Simon Barrow

When politicians rush to claim that something is ‘non-political’ (as has been happening around Remembrance Day over the past week or so), you know that some healthy suspicion and careful examination is due.

The unfortunate reality is that, at present, the national ceremonies in the UK that (rightly) show respect to those who have died in war are also drenched in militaristic assumptions and symbols – ones which it is hard to say have no political content or bias.

The Prime Minister has also recently stressed the association of red poppy wearing with tub-thumping “national pride”, as my colleague Jonathan Bartley pointed out in an interesting exchange about ‘the politics of poppies’ on BBC2’s Newnight (11/11/11 – see iPlayer) with Gordon Corrigan, author of Mud, Blood and Poppycock: Britain and the Great War (Cassell Military Paperbacks), a revisionary account of the First World War.

Questions about the rightness or wrongness of armed conflict, concerns about particular wars (like the recent ones prosecuted in the Middle East); attempts to highlight alternatives forms of conflict resolution; the need to remember enemies, civilians and objectors, as well as soldiers… these and many other serious issues are all-too-easily swept away as the media and politicians encourage a frenzy of ‘patriotic’ poppy waving, while objecting to any attempt to consider or reflect on different perspectives.… Read more

The red poppy: a compromised symbol?

“The growing compulsion to wear a red poppy and to acquiesce in the remodelling of its purpose has diverted our attention from the more enduring and demanding aspects of remembering the destruction, personal, collective and environmental, which is the outcome of military action.”

Jill Segger

To be a child in the 50s and 60s was to be familiar with the sight of men, still young, who had been lamed or disfigured by war. Many more – my father among them – carried wounds in their psyches which were impediments to their becoming the husbands and fathers they would have wished to be.

My father frequently said “ war makes men mad” and from both him and my grandfather, who had, at least physically, survived the Somme, I absorbed the concept that those who had not “been there” could easily be led into falsity when speaking or writing of war and remembrance.

Combined with a religious and cultural unease over ‘outward forms’, this has given me a lifelong disquiet about Remembrance Day, and, in recent years, of its red poppy symbol. Even in childhood, I shrank from the marches, flag-bearing and official solemnity. I have never doubted the need to ‘remember’ but I am grateful to have been taught by the then unfashionable and unpopular witness of my parents that it was our calling to remember the dead of both sides and all the victims of war who never wore uniforms or bore arms.

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Army to increase security at London 2012 Olympics

Up to 6,000 troops could be drafted in as security guards at the 2012 Olympics in London, as officials reassess the manpower needed to cover next year’s Games, it has emerged.

It is believed the soldiers would work alongside private security guards at the Olympic Park in Stratford and venues across London.

The move brings to the forefront the security risks surrounding the Games, as London’s organising committee (Locog) increases the number of security staff needed from 15,000 to 20,000, the Financial Times reports (£).

Locog has already contracted G4S, the private security company that polices high-profile events including Wimbledon, to provide 10,000 guards for next summer’s events.

But officials involved in planning for the London 2012 Olympics have told the FT that “advanced talks” are in progress with the Ministry of Defence over bringing in the Army for extra support.

The MoD previously dismissed the idea that troops would be provided for the London Olympics, saying it was a “big ask” at a time when defence resources were stretched by overseas missions.

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Poppy chatter is a distraction from remembrance of the living

Whatever one’s stance on poppy-wearing, let us also not forget the ex-servicemen who survive – but only just

Once a year, the footballing fraternity is excused its position as grossly paid, sexually incontinent, firework-toting harbinger of our nation’s systemic breakdown and redeployed as the people’s – and, if one is being accurate, the Daily Mail’s – ethical barometer. This November, the seemingly annual row over Remembrance poppies on the football pitch has escalated due to England’s friendly against Spain on Saturday and Fifa’s ban of political symbols on national shirts. The association has finally conceded the England team may wear black armbands embroidered with the symbol following a number of high-level interventions, including a letter from Prince William.

To deny that the poppy exists in a political context, as well as a historical and cultural one, is to exhibit quite baffling levels of wilful ignorance. It’s also insulting to the armed services themselves, given how eager politicians of various stripes are to co-opt them to their particular agendas. Nevertheless, David Cameron decried Fifa’s initial prohibition as “appalling” at prime minister’s questions, while Ed Miliband, condemned by opposition to speak his truth via social networking sites, tweeted his outrage. Though how he managed to focus on anything beyond the ginormous red splodge attached to his Twitter avatar remains a mystery.… Read more

Surface-to-air missiles for Olympics

Surface-to-air missiles could be used to protect the skies over London during the Olympics, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said today as he insisted “all necessary measures” will be taken to ensure security.

Surface-to-air missiles could be used to protect the skies over London during the Olympics, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said today as he insisted “all necessary measures” will be taken to ensure security.

Mr Hammond told the Commons “appropriate ground to air defences” could be in place if that was recommended by the military.

His comments came as it was reported that forces personnel could have to provide far more Olympic security than expected.

It has been widely reported that Games organisers have massively underestimated the number of security guards required, and thousands of troops may have to fill the gap.

The MOD says no formal request has been received, but talks are underway.

The Home Office, which is responsible for Olympic security, says no decisions have been made.… Read more

How soldiers deal with the job of killing

“We talk about destroying, engaging, dropping, bagging – you don’t hear the word killing”. This article explores the effect of killing on people in the military, how many are unable to kill and others live with the effects of having killed for the rest of their lives. Also see The Kill Factor radio broadcasts.

“We talk about destroying, engaging, dropping, bagging – you don’t hear the word killing”. This article explores the effect of killing on people in the military, how many are unable to kill and others live with the effects of having killed for the rest of their lives. Also see The Kill Factor radio broadcasts.

 

When soldiers kills someone at close quarters, how does it affect them? This most challenging and traumatic part of a soldier’s job is often wholly overlooked.

Soldiers kill. It goes with the job, and they do it on our behalf.

But it’s an aspect of their work which is widely ignored – even by the soldiers themselves – and this can cause them great psychological difficulty, experts say.

“A central part of what we do with our careers is we kill the enemies of our country,” said Lt Col Pete Kilner, a serving officer in the US Army who has done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.… Read more