Why are British Generals good at talking sense only after they leave the military?

General David Julian Richards, Baron of Herstmonceux GCB,CBE,DSO,DL,ADC Gen….I think that’s about it, spoke to the BBC the other day about the fact that the British Army should be much larger than it is, in order to meet today’s requirements!

Really? I left the military after 23yrs with the great title of Bob Shepherd, and I and all my ex military buddies knew that was the case years ago. Yet I’ve heard him and other “Generals” over the years in press conferences explaining why, due to the current climate, the military should be cut down and/or replaced by part timers.

Today’s Army is the smallest in it’s history. It’s due to people like him signing off and agreeing with politicians instead of standing up for his men and women in uniform and resigning, thereby keeping his integrity and his military in one piece.

But here we are today, British soldiers yet again proving time after time that they are the best in the world, simply by showing how well they can operate in survival mode in places like Basra, Iraq and in Helmand, Afghanistan. No other military could have operated so well. I know that as I’ve spent years in military embeds whilst working with the media studying other NATO units versus the Brits.

I am so proud of our soldiers in uniform, regulars and TA, but I am not proud of the serving and ex Generals who have failed them.

If you’re a General and you’re wearing the hat…make sure it’s the military hat and not the political one, even though the latter will guarantee you a place in the House of Lords. The former will guarantee you a place at the bar with my ex military mates and myself!

I took this photo the day before Basra fell to the British Army.
Basra Bridge, Iraq. 2003

12 thoughts on “Why are British Generals good at talking sense only after they leave the military?

  1. Delighted that you are back blogging Bob. I’ve missed your insight into the world of hostilities. Great piece.
    Stay safe.

  2. I know it’s old saying but truer today than it probably was over a hundred years ago “Lion’s lead by donkeys”

  3. Its not just Officers in the military. We have a culture of `yes` people throughout society. They are good at pushing down to the minions but not so good pushing back up at unjust and detached superiors. The common good is ignored for profit or power.

  4. Totally agree 100% with what you say Bob…What we need are people like yourself instead of these Ruperts.Don’t suppose you fance running for election?You would have my vote and every other squaddie.Stay safe brother
    Mac

  5. Thanks Bob,

    Have missed your sensible and forthright posting on the blog.

    Do you see a time when This culture of careerist generals will be replaced by men of heart and substance?

    1. Not at the very top Chris I’m afraid.

      I think that once they step through that door, they swap hats as I keep saying, wear the political one and look to their own future. The military then suffers and tax money gets wasted as we’ve now seen many times in the last ten to fourteen years or so.

  6. Good points vert well made Bob. Just illustrates who is actually running our UK Forces. But not just running the armed forces but who is making the strategic calls, re allowing or not allowing boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

    I wonder if the high ranking officers and Senior NCOs who have joined PSPs or PMSCs feel as restricted or mislead as their regular armed forces, or do they find themselves in an environment where they can use their skills and training to their full potential?

    Food for thought.

    1. Hi William,
      Great points mate. In my view high ranking officers normally sit on the boards and use their status for contracts. Ex NCOs use their skills purely to make a living. It’s a business, therefore the whole operation is purely designed around making profit.
      I’m all for commercial to commercial contracts, but not commercial to MOD or USDOD, purely for the reason of for profit not being as professional as the military.

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