Tens of thousands of British troops will pause drills to reflect on their differences
UK soldiers will spend six hours undergoing group talks and lectures focused on “culture and inclusivity” within their units next Tuesday, all focused on getting the 82,000-strong fighting force to “think differently” amid a “complete stop” to normal training. The order was reportedly issued by General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.
“It is not the army being woke, it is the army addressing some of its unacceptable behaviors,” an army spokesperson told the Daily Mail on Tuesday, insisting that “we identify that we’re on a journey and a change of culture takes time and this [session] is part of that journey.”
However, not everyone in the military is pleased with this use of their time, especially as tensions in Europe continue to run high between the US, its NATO allies, and Russia.
Speaking to the UK tabloid The Sun, ex-colonel Richard Kemp mocked the day of ‘reflection’, which is mandatory for all army personnel who aren’t on missions or engaged in essential duties, as “a navel-gazing and virtue-signaling exercise.”
Army Director of Personnel Major General Paul Griffiths insisted that, far from showcasing their softness, the “tactical pause” would render the army a “more effective fighting force,” with an intensive focus on “developing the ideas and changes we all want to see in our service.”
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith and his deputy Christopher Tickell will launch the module with speeches, followed by a video meant for “setting the context” and a series of teamwork-focused vignettes showcasing what happens when a group fails to act as a team and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, “what can be achieved when getting it right.”
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
is considering sending another 1,000 UK soldiers out to “strengthen Europe’s borders.” In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Johnson
said an invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow denies it is planning, would be a “tragic miscalculation.”
While the US government has until recently implied that such an invasion is imminent, even Kiev has begun backing away from the narrative, concerned for the effect the war talk is having on its economy.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace concurred, declaring on Monday that it was important to defuse the Ukraine situation for both humanitarian and economic reasons.
Carleton-Smith and Tickell were among a group of high-ranking military men disciplined last year by Wallace over an apparent failure to maintain “standards.”