Military Assistance In The Spotlight…Again

This week we should spare a thought for the soldiers, sailors and air personnel who will lose their hard-earned Christmas leave to stand-in for ambulance drivers and border staff.

I was involved in many operations designated as military aid to the civilian authorities (known as MACA) during my time in the Army, but some were more popular than others. In my experience, soldiers preferred to help vulnerable people during natural disasters such as flooding, or severe snow storms rather than any tasks related to industrial action such as Operation Fresco, which used the iconic Green Goddess fire tenders. It worried many of us when we became involved with industrial disputes because we were seen as strike breakers and were alienating some sections of the public from who we need support. This is the main reason why the military chiefs are pitched against the planned operations (as well as the other issues such pay and availability of troops).

It used to be a rare occurrence that the military was called to help at Home, but since the Foot and Mouth operation, it seems that we have been needed more frequently for national tasks such as Olympic security, Covid relief and illegal immigration. There is a great danger the public starts to believe that the Army is organised for civil contingencies, when in fact this is not even a funded activity. The problem is that the Media does not tell the public what the Armed Forces are really doing in places such as Africa, the Baltic and Iraq because it doesn’t suit their narrative. We really do need a much better public explanation of what the military does on a day-to-day basis.

The Iconic Green Goddess on Operation Fresco


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