Help
BBC OneThis Week

MORE POLITICS

Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Friday, 30 June 2006 12:42 UK

Andy McNab

THIS WEEK
Andy McNab on BBC One's This Week
If you talk to a Big Issue seller, there's a good chance he's ex-forces. I don't know of another country that would allow that to happen.
Andy McNab
Author and former SAS Patrol Commander Andy McNab gives us his Take Of The Week

Veterans' Day is an excellent idea, even if it is a political gimmick set up by Gordon Brown. That's okay; it's up to us as a nation to make it work.

This week, another two soldiers were killed on active service in Afghanistan, and another committed suicide in Iraq.

This is sad. But I had to turn to the inside pages in most newspapers to read about it.

Maybe that's because, as a society, the vast majority of the population, and that includes politicians, have never fought in a war and do not really value or understand our men and women in the armed services.

Not members of the WI

So to help you understand, let's get one thing straight. Soldiers are trained to fight and kill the enemy.

That is what they're paid to do. That's what I did when I was in the SAS.

Soldiers are not members of the Women's Institute. They are aggressive and professional soldiers. The vast majority want to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Borrowers"

The fact is, our troops are inadequately equipped. They always have been. I've been in Operations where I had to steal grenades from American forces because we simply didn't have any.

Maybe that's the reason why the British army is known as "The Borrowers".

But what worries me more is that there is confusion on the ground in Afghanistan to what exactly the mission is.

This is dangerous because it puts our troops' lives at risk.

Armchair experts

We know our forces are more than capable of fighting places like Helmand Province but the problem is that politicians say one thing to keep public opinion sweet, and down on the ground, the reality is different.

WATCH US IN BROADBAND
Andy McNab on BBC One's This Week

Decisions on the ground sometimes in contact with the enemy are being delayed because soldiers worry that some armchair expert will deem their actions illegal in six months' time.

Even a second's delay in decision-making can mean the death of another soldier.

And our responsibility to our troops doesn't stop when they come home.

No-one there to listen

There are young men, some of them in their twenties, who have suffered both mentally and physically in operations from Northern Ireland to the Balkans and Iraq.

Friends of mine have committed suicide. There simply was no-one there to listen or assist them after the wars they'd fought in.

Very soon, we'll see others needing our help and support when they return from Afghanistan. Other countries respect and look after its soldiers. We don't.

If you talk to a Big Issue seller, there's a good chance he's ex-forces. I don't know of another country that would allow that to happen.

Get in touch

To respond, to suggest other guests, or just to say hello, do feel free to email us at thisweek@bbc.co.uk or using the form below.

Send us your comments:

Name:
Your E-mail address:
Country:
Comments:

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all emails will be published.




Thursdays, 2335-0020, BBC One

iplayer replacing puffbox 7623712

EMAIL NEWSLETTER




THIS WEEK ARCHIVES

Week by week guide
 
This Week quiz archive
 
TW's special treats
 
Downturn Abbey archives
 

FROM THE VAULTS

Ruby shoes This Week team look for new PM
Diane Abbott and Keith Vaz Who's that slurping in the Commons?
This Week This Week theme music



SEE ALSO
Army's blast at merger petition
30 Nov 05 |  Scotland

RELATED BBC LINKS


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific