2010
11.27

“Our troops are fighting a war as professional soldiers, not victims, and the sooner everyone switches on to this fact, the better” ~ Andy McNab

Andy McNab: In the eyes of the Army, the BBC stands ‘Accused’ over drama
27 November 2010

“It makes me furious the way our soldiers are continuously portrayed as victims in life: victims of war, victims of bullying, victims of bad organisation and leadership.

If an alien had landed in the UK at any time in the last five years, it could be forgiven for thinking that the British Army consists of compete idiots or sadistic bullies.

The truth is, the Army has never been as well-equipped, trained, or experienced as it is right now. And, contrary to popular belief, soldiers do not moan about being issued bad boots, nor are they preparing to hang themselves. They are far from victims.

They are highly competent, professional soldiers who join to fight in Afghanistan; doing exactly the job they have been trained to do.

I am writing this article from Afghanistan, while visiting our troops for a few days. And, guess what, I haven’t seen a single victim, idiot or bully yet. All I see, wherever I look, are soldiers getting on with the job.

I served in the British Army for 18 years, both in the infantry and in the SAS. I have trained recruits and commanded soldiers on hundreds of operations, and I know that our soldiers do not want or need our pity.

Today, along with my writing, I am director of an international private security company which has involvement in many countries, including Afghanistan. I employ soldiers when they leave the Army because they are a high quality product. Not traumatised victims.

The continuous drip effect of “our poor boys” is as incorrect as it is unhelpful. If we, at home, continually feel sorry for our soldiers, this will affect the way our army fights for our national interest.

The latest incident of soldier victimisation reared its ugly head during Accused, BBC One’s new drama following those accused of crimes awaiting the verdict of their trial.

In the second instalment of the six-part series, shown on Monday, the drama focused on the British Army, notably the extreme culture of bullying and intimidation in a fictitious army unit in Helmand Province.

One soldier is shown committing suicide after enduring retribution for having failed to show courage in combat. In one scene, the victimised soldier has a barrel of human excrement poured over him.

General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, wrote to the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, calling Accused “inaccurate and misleading”, and “deeply distasteful and offensive” to the families of soldiers in Helmand. General Wall also demanded that the programme be dropped.

Accused was written by Jimmy McGovern, the 61-year-old author of Cracker and The Street. McGovern has been quoted as saying: “As a dramatist I was interested in exploring how soldiers have to be of a certain mindset to kill.”

But what McGovern has done, and the BBC allowed him to do, was ignore the first rule of writing – write what you know.

I have sold more than 30 million books and written two Hollywood film scripts based on my own experience, but I would never dream of writing about a pub landlord in a gritty northern town. Because I wouldn’t have a clue.”

Go here to read the full article in The Telegraph