I intended to write about the British retreat from Kabul this week, but the shocking news about Bernie Mongan has to take precedent.
This heart-rending case is difficult to accept on so many levels. Bullying in the Army is a really complicated issue, which stems from the fundamental aspect of training men and women to cope with enemy bombs and bullets when the natural human instinct is to run away from danger.
However, the bullying in this case was nothing to do with “training hard to fight easy”. This was more to do with victimization and the challenge of dealing with someone who was suffering from PTSD. It is an appalling indictment of the leadership in 1st Military Intelligence Battalion that no one was punished for breaking Bernie’s eye socket before he died and that his body was not discovered in his room at Gaza barracks for three weeks.
There is a further disgrace that makes my blood boil and that is the neglect of his family. Every officer is taught the basic tenets of welfare, which includes ensuring soldiers’ families are looked after by the system. Bernie’s headquarters in Catterick did not even have his Next of Kin details, let alone provide his wife and three children with appropriate support. This is one of the most distressing cases I have heard about and brings to mind the failings that dragged the Army’s reputation through the dirt in 2005.
Twenty five years ago, the Army instructed all its units to improve their people management through the Investors in People accreditation process. The standards rose dramatically, but it was seen by some as too burdensome on operations. Now that the Army is no longer deployed so frequently, it should bring back IiP to ensure the sad case of Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan is not repeated.