UK DEFENCE – THE SUN MILITARY AWARDS
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
11 Dec 14. Held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich last evening it was with great pleasure that I once again attended The Sun Military Awards, an event that is perhaps more affectionately known these days as the Millies.
Attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Secretary of State for Defence, Ministers, Shadow Secretary of State, the Chief of the Defence Staff, senior serving members of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force together with many individual members of the three armed forces plus a host of so-called stars and celebrities, the Millies are by any standard that you care to measure a truly great event. Recorded by national TV, the event will be shown on ITV1 at 20-30 Hours on December 18th.
As an event The Sun Military Awards has grown in stature over the years. From the beginnings seven years ago it has become an event that is hugely appreciated by all those that it aims to serve and recognise. The ‘Millies’ can now I believe claim to be one of the most important occasions in the calendar that we are able to salute the tremendous work done by our armed forces. However, of inevitability the future will be different to the past and I suspect that a big events such as this will need to continually adapt and change to meet differing circumstances in the years ahead.
With only a few hundred highly specialist British military personnel now in-country and that have been left to train future generations of Afghan officers it seems now that our essential role in Afghanistan is complete. In terms of ongoing conflict engagement Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft continue to support the mission against ISIS in Iraq and were I understand once again in operation last night. The real point though is that although we currently have a much reduced level of military personnel engaged in conflict support than at any time over the past fifteen years our armed forces remain in readiness, they continue to work hard and train for the eventuality of what is bound to occur at some point in the future. We know not when or where of course but I would remind that of the last twenty conflicts that UK armed forces personnel have been engaged none had been anticipated until just weeks before personnel and equipment was deployed.
Today Army personnel together with Royal Marines and many other members of our armed forces continue to work in various fields internationally be this protecting our dependent territories, policing the seas for drug trafficking or engaging in support of our NATO allies as we have been doing in the Baltic States. We continue to provide large scale humanitarian support in Sierra Leone in the fight against EBOLA and we stand ready to provide assistance elsewhere wherever we are needed.
But with Afghanistan now considered to be a completed mission as far as we are concerned this does mean that the scope for an awards ceremony such as the ‘Millies’ will need to change. My hope though is that the event will continue to foster a system of recognition of all aspects of work that will continue to be done by all of our armed forces in future years. I suspect that by now you know where I stand and my long held belief that defence should always be the first priority of government. We must recognise too that while the British public are great supporters of the military they are very poorly understood of the concepts of defence and why we must all strive to ensure we retain adequate defence capability.
I would like to hope that far from having witnessed the last event, as some have privately suggested, that the ‘Millies’ award ceremony will continue to thrive and grow to become a permanent symbol of appreciation for the work done by our armed forces whether they be at home or abroad.
For the record, l