No sympathy for Army, says chief

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The Independent Online

The head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has expressed concern about "the growing gulf between the Army and the nation" resulting from a lack of public sympathy that is undermining the crucial "contract" between military and public.

General Dannatt told the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London: "When a young soldier has been fighting in Basra or Helmand, he wants to know that the people in their local pub know and understand what he has been doing and why."

The remarks follow criticisms by service chiefs and the Royal British Legion that the age-old Military Covenant – the pact of mutual support connecting military and public – is being undermined by the Government, through overstretch and neglect over resources.

In his speech General Dannatt contrasted the "indifference" shown in the UK to homecoming troops as opposed to the US, where soldiers are greeted with military parades.

He caused controversy in October last year when he warned that "our presence exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq, in comments that led the way for gradual withdrawal of troops.