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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Troops federation set for launch
British soldiers
Baff would protect the interests of serving personnel and veterans
A new federation is being set up to represent British servicemen and women in the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

Organisers say the British Armed Forces Federation (Baff) is not a union but will reflect and promote the interests of those serving as well as veterans.

Soldiers are banned from taking part in strike action or political activities.

The idea has arisen from an unofficial website, the British Army Rumours Service - a focus for the views of serving personnel and their families.

Chain of command

In January calls for a new body to champion soldiers' rights were rejected by Defence Secretary John Reid, but it now appears a launch is imminent.

"We have been speaking to people in the chain of command, some quite senior, and I have had senior officers in touch with me saying 'I personally support you and you must keep going'," said Baff founder Douglas Young.

The federation will air service personnel concerns about things like equipment, deployment strength, pay and conditions, careers, housing and schooling.

"Because of pressure from above the chain of command cannot handle all these things by themselves, but we can work with them on many issues," said Mr Young.

The idea for a British Armed Forces Federation sprang up at the turn of the year out of discontent over kit shortages in Iraq and prosecutions against troops.

At the time Mr Reid said troops did have legal rights to complain not only to their commanding officers but ultimately to the defence council.

'Not keen'

The new federation has not gained the backing of Tory MP Andrew Robathan, a former officer in the Coldstream Guards.

"I am generally not keen on such an organisation," he said.

"Any concerns should be looked at by the chain of command and politicians. I would rather re-establish the trust [of servicemen and women] from below."

But Lib Dem peer Lord Garden, a former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, said the federation offered a way of airing issues that would previously have been grumbled about in the Naafi canteen or sergeants' mess.


SEE ALSO
Reid dismisses troop 'union' idea
27 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
MoD 'letting down armed forces'
13 Oct 05 |  UK Politics

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