Politicians who don’t get the military, and not just here in Canada, have a bad habit of starving the armed forces of equipment and manpower and giving soldiers, sailors and airpersons inadequate pay and perks… and then casually assuming they can do anything on a moment’s notice, from ousting Muammar Gadhafi to fixing natural disasters to stepping up on domestic security issues.
For instance in Britain, where top officers are publicly resigning over the latest round of deep cuts, the Daily Telegraph now reports that the clueless Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition administration is calling up over 17,000 troops to bolster Olympic security. That’s around half the effective strength of the British navy or air force and almost a quarter of the entire army.
People who do get the military understand that you can’t just deploy everyone all the time. Troops need time off to rest, train and have semi-normal lives.
It might just seem like one more instance of the modern politician having so little grasp of the relationship between means and ends that he or she often seems unaware that there is a relationship. But the military is an especially dismal case because the same sense of smug moral and social superiority over the grubby sorts who might actually enlist convinces politicians they can make anything happen painlessly just by wanting it really really sincerely.
The result is ugly, for the armed forces and ultimately for the societies that depend on them in emergencies.