An army is made up of many different elements; tanks, artillery, engineers, logisticians, medics etc. But the oldest and some would argue most fundamental element of any army is the infantry, the foot soldiers, the grunts, the PBI.
The infantry’s role is “to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and to repel attack”. This cannot be done with the push of a button at some far distance as part of a digitaly enabled battle. It is done up-close and personal and it is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. The army has been through a very tough five years, and when the army has it tough the infantry has it very tough.
Bernard Jenkin MP has done some digging and found out the effect of this. I’m not surprised to hear that 1 in 5 infantry soldiers is now unfit for full deployment, the anecdotal feedback that I’ve recieved has pointed at this for some time. Indeed the figure for infanteers at platoon level (the core fighting troops) the figure could be as high as 1 in 4.
We have got here because the government has tried to fight two high intensity conflics with resources designed for low intensity peace keeping roles. It just does not work. The army is too small and unballanced and until we have a proper defence review is likely to remain so.