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article imageOp-Ed: Good news — UK Government announces 5,000 more redundancies

By Alexander Baron     Jan 22, 2013 in Politics
This is good news because those being made redundant are soldiers; the big question is, will they be thrown on the scrap heap and left to rot?
Last month, David Cameron announced the withdrawal of around 5,000 troops from Afghanistan next year, with what appears to be a total withdrawal by 2014. This is to be welcomed, the cost of this no-win so-called war has been astronomical in fiscal terms and unimaginable in human ones.
Today it was announced that 3,800 of these souls will be brought home this year, probably by the autumn.
We don't yet know the exact numbers, but there will be both actual redundancies and a further shrinking of the army. Although it is difficult to believe it today, this small island nation once ruled the greatest empire in the history of the world, greater even than the Roman Empire, an empire on which the Sun never set.
Leaving aside the fact that the Sun has indeed long set on the mighty British Empire, big time, we should all applaud this development. Leaving aside too the politics of the misnamed war on terror, times have changed, and the very concept of boots on the ground is redundant. The new year is less than a month old but we have already seen two big companies go under: the UK arm of Blockbuster Video, and HMV, a massive name in music and entertainment that has been around since the 1920s. How and why did this happen? Recession aside, the very concept of the take out video is obsolete. Vinyl records are lovely things, as those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 70s will recall, but the development of tapes, CDs and now the ubiquitousness of broadband has all but relegated any sort of hard copy to the old curiosity shop.
Likewise, the wars of the future - the wars we all hope won't happen but know will - will not be fought on the battlefield for the most part but with high technology. Terrorism - the other type of war we are all vulnerable to - can ultimately be defeated only by winning hearts and minds. Again, this is a hi tech war, one in which a CCTV camera is a much better resource than a soldier patrolling on foot. A soldier who is likely to be murdered by the very people he was sent there to protect.
There are those who would like to see the British Army getting out of not only Afghanistan but everywhere else. Some people, including Americans, feel exactly the same way about Uncle Sam. Including the misnamed drone war in which both the USA and the UK are complicit.
While David Cameron's bringing the troops home is to be welcomed, the question must be asked bringing them home to what? It must be recognised that many of these men will be ill-equipped for an immediate return to civilian life. We have all heard horror stories of former soldiers who have ended up homeless or even sleeping rough, including some who have ended up in psychiatric hospitals or even prisons for entirely avoidable reasons. These men must not be thrown onto the scrap heap. The older ones especially must be given every assistance to reallocate including generous lump sum payments and assistance with finding employment. Yes, that will cost money, but far better to spend a few million now than billions later on.
There is one soldier in Afghanistan who should be brought home now, like today. Prince Harry - or Wales as he likes to be known - has clearly relished proving his point that he doesn't think himself better than anyone else, and that he is worthy of being third in line to the throne, even if he may never be king. He has now nothing left to prove, and if he is made redundant he could play a pivotal role in the reallocation of those less fortunate than himself.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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