Thousands of service personnel gathered at Twickenham this weekend for the Army v. Navy game giving many a chance to catch up with old friends. In an age of austerity it’s all about excess as espirit de corp abounds.
Jubilation at being in today’s Armed Forces is in short supply. Last week I presented at the Commanding Officers' Designates course to the chosen few. I sense a wind of change – normally very much ‘on message’ having achieved the life-time goal of being designated for command, those I saw seemed daunted by the prospect of what must be an impossible task as the gaping holes in welfare, finance and manpower become apparent - making their job as Commanding Officer increasingly difficult. Whilst some bravely state that austerity measures call for tough leadership one should remember that even in the years of plenty the Armed Forces were expected to deliver a champagne performance on cider budget. So how will these future COs manage to continue providing on tap water?
The future size, shape and direction of the Army will be announced over the next few months as Army 2020 is revealed – the fact that their most ‘keen as mustard’ personnel seem unconvinced by plans afoot are a worrying indication of the dire state of defence. It may have been a win for the Army at Twickenham – but I doubt many in the Army will feel like winners as the reality of life in the tranches continues.