Defence Equipment

Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb is quoted in the newspapers this morning with a barnstorming criticism of resources and equipment available to the Army in conducting current and future operations. General Sir Graeme and I go way back and he is of course, something of a legend in the Army. In fact, I remember as if it where yesterday the moment when we passed each other in Airport Camp in Belize City in 1981. Without a thought he completely ignored my, "Good morning Sir," and strode purposefully ahead. Nice when you make an impression.

For whats it's worth, the infantry soldier is probably better equipped now, insofar as his personal kit is concerned, than he has ever been. There simply aren't enough of them though and the lack of air mobility is well documented.

Peering through the misty memories of youth I recall the days when I first joined the Army and the equipment state was very poor indeed. The last days of a Labour government saw military families surviving on social handouts, vehicles with very limited mileage and petrol allowances and "make do," being a way of life. That all changed when Mrs T arrived and along with a 30% pay rise, lots of shiny new kit started to come into service. Unfortunately, such is the Army culture that unless we were operational in Northern Ireland, the Quartermasters would have rather stab themselves with blunt pencils than hand out kit. "Stores are for storing; if they were meant to be issued they'd be called issues!"

One especially protective and fearsome QM gave me short shrift one day.

I had the unfortunate experience of walking up to the stores with a knackered pair of plimsolls and he was there, "PT shoes for exchange Sir", "Getawawithyeryachancininmuppet............thereanuder 2000 miles in they sanies....." Off I toddled.....