MoD sparks anger with ideas to make war more palatable
Military families outraged by a think-tank proposal to reduce profile of repatriation ceremonies
FAMILIES of dead soldiers have reacted angrily to a Military of Defence think-tank suggestion to "reduce the profile" of repatriation ceremonies in order to make future wars more palatable to the public.
In a discussion paper, the MoD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) looks at how to influence public opinion on future wars.
Written in November 2012 and obtained by The Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, the document recommends that the armed forces should have "a clear and constant information campaign in order to influence the major areas of press and public opinion".
One step would be to "reduce the profile of the repatriation ceremonies", it says.
Deborah Allbutt, whose husband Stephen was killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident in Iraq in 2003, described the proposal as "brushing the deaths under the carpet". She said: "They are fighting and giving their lives. Why should they be hidden away? It would be absolutely disgraceful."
Another controversial idea is to use more special forces in wars, as the report said deaths from the SAS appear to have less of an impact on the public. Other suggestions include the increased use of unmanned vehicles, cyber-operations and "contractors" rather than soldiers. The report found that neither the media nor public appear to identify with contractors in the same way as military personnel. "Thus casualties from within the contractorised force are more acceptable in pursuit of military ends than those from among our own forces," it said.
An MoD spokesman said there are no plans to change the way in which repatriation ceremonies are conducted and that DCDC discussion papers are designed to "stimulate internal debate, not outline government policy or positions".
Repatriations have been held in the town of Carterton, near RAF Brize Norton, since September 2011, before which they were held in Wootten Bassett, near RAF Lyneham. ·