It Gets My Goat…
Just a quick whinge.
In the difficult weather that has hit the UK over the last 24-48 hours a lot has been made by some parts of the media (particularly in the south) about The Army assisting people trapped in cars out on the snowy and icy roads.
And this gets my goat.
You see, the same was said about the fireman’s strike coverage a couple of years ago. The ARMY were replacing the firemen.
And Foot and Mouth…Remember that? Ohhhh yes, The ARMY were assisting with the culls and disposal of the animals bodies.
What about the other services? What about the Royal Air Force. What about Royal Navy personnel who have ALSO been involved?
I know for a fact that right now, RAF drivers are out in Landrovers with snowploughs fitted to the front. Despite the local news report on BBC Oxford saying “The Army has Chinooks on standby and have troops out rescuing people.”
This shouldn’t really annoy me – after all as long as people are getting the help they need then all for the good. But there is a point to my rant, isn’t there?
Yeah, I think there is.
Just because the people out “Assisting the Local Community” are dressed in combat clothing (so called CS95) it doesn’t mean that they are the Army.
After Op Fresco – the support during the Fireman’s strike – the top brass in the RAF realised there was a PR gap. That in fact, a large proportion of those acting as temporary firefighters, were RAF. It was just that they hadn’t been recognised as such because they were wearing CS95.
So to counter this, the brass came out with the idea that our CS95 have a couple of patches on them – and the best being “ROYAL AIR FORCE” in big letters on a patch sewn above the right-hand pocket of the shirts/jackets.
The thing is, the RAF, and to a certain extent the RN, are missing a trick. The Army is very good at telling the people of the UK about what they are doing – and have the added advantage of clothes to help! You see someone in greens – he’s an “Army man”.
This may sound a bit like sour grapes, but there is a serious side to it. And it’s one the RAF and RN needs to grasp quickly.
Yes, the Army deserves recognition for what it does – both in the UK as well as in Afghanistan. Rightly so. The Army alone makes up just about half the strength of the UK Armed Forces. They are often the ones doing much of the actual the fighting (although the RAF Regiment and The Royal Marines, part of the Royal Navy would have something to say about this, as well as the aircrews of both of the other Services!
But if we don’t tell the world about what we, in the Royal Air Force do, how we do it, and how important it is, then we risk losing some public awareness and consequently some public support.
And if we lose that, then we face the risk that the RAF, and it’s hardworking personnel, will not get the credit that those helping the British public in the UK, and fighing in Afghan, so richly deserve.