The Curmudgeon


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Gross National Product

Three years ago the army discovered that two-thirds of British teenagers were too fat to meet its fitness requirements; and, with all the alacrity of a New New Labour education minister lowering the standards for a GCSE grade A+++ in Human Resource Management, relaxed its rules to allow overweight children to enlist. There would be nothing wrong with this if the army had also thought to enforce a policy of changing the obese recruits into non-obese ones; but it appears that the army has more important things to do than ensure its troops are healthy, let alone fit. As a result, the "operational effectiveness" of the country best placed to ride out the economic downturn is being undermined because so many of its soldiers are "unable to cope with the brutal conditions" of the poverty-stricken countries which they have been sent to democratise. At least one of our glorious fallen in Iraq, who was "at the higher level of obese", died from heatstroke. The great British tradition of sportsmanship in war, from Balaklava to Spion Kop and from Passchendaele to Market Garden, has long been a rich source of rhetoric at home and hilarity abroad; but recruiting soldiers too fat to pose a threat to the enemy, even if they don't simply topple over on arrival at the field of glory, seems to be taking chivalry a bit too far.


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