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CDS sends Christmas message to UK Forces



www.mod.uk    Department of defence UK
2008-12-16

Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, has sent a Christmas message of support and best wishes to all UK Service personnel, thanking them on behalf of the Nation for the outstanding job they continue to do.

In his message, Sir Jock outlines the challenges faced by Britain`s armed forces during the past year, drawing attention to the "transformation" of Basra in the wake of the successful Iraqi-led operation `Charge of the Knights`, as well as the continuing challenges posed by "persistent and cunning opponents" and the "crucial struggle for the ungoverned space" in Afghanistan.

Sir Jock ends his message by expressing his pride and gratitude for the support shown to our Forces by their families and loved ones, "who bear the pain and uncertainty of separation, along with the other strains that go with a Service life," and he thanks all of our troops, "for the dangers you run; for the uncertainties you bear; for the success you make possible; for the service you give."

You can listen to Sir Jock`s message using the Flash player below or by downloading the .MP3 from the Related Links >>>

Here follows a full transcript of Sir Jock`s Christmas message to all UK Service personnel:

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Audio Description
Transcript


"As we come towards the end of 2008, we look back on a year of considerable achievement for the British armed forces. We look back in particular on our progress in two major campaigns; one on the verge of transition, the other still in its early stages.

"The past twelve months have brought considerable and welcome change to Iraq. This is the case across most of the country, but nowhere more so than in Basra. All who visit the city are astonished at the transformation. And all are clear that the Iraqi operation, `Charge of the Knights`, launched earlier this year, was a seminal moment for the city.

"We had concluded in late 2006 that the only way we were going to see sustained progress in Basra was by getting the Iraqis to face up to their own intra-Shia problems. We needed Iraqi political leadership in order to address Iraqi political problems. And all we did during the course of 2007 was directed to this end. The consequence was `Charge of the Knights`, and the result was what we had predicted.

"There were undoubtedly shortcomings in the way the operation was launched. But it was, at long last, the clear Iraqi political lead that had up until then been lacking in Basra, and that was the essential prerequisite for progress. `Charge of the Knights` represented the culmination of years of effort by the UK armed forces in Basra.


The much improved security situation in Basra recently allowed airmen of the RAF Regiment to play a friendly football match with local Iraqis
[Picture: Cpl Adam Fletcher RAF]

"This doesn`t mean that the future is now plain sailing for the Basrawis. There are still many difficult challenges ahead, but we can`t live the Iraqis` lives for them. Nor can we shelter them from the problems their country faces. Our task has been to get them to the point where they are capable of dealing with those problems themselves – as they did in `Charge of the Knights`.

"That task is now all but accomplished. It`s been achieved through unrelenting professionalism and unwearying determination. It`s come at a high cost, including the tragic loss of some of our comrades. But it`s what we set out to do. And you – all of you who`ve served in theatre over the past five- and-a-half years – have done it, and done it superbly.

"Meanwhile, the crucial struggle for the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan goes on. As in Iraq, that struggle is not just a military one; in Afghanistan, too, it`s politics that will deliver enduring success. But there will be no chance of success without the time and space that our armed forces are buying for Afghan politicians.

"We can see that vividly in places like Garmsir, in Helmand province. At the beginning of 2008 it was an uninhabited battleground. At the end of the year it`s a thriving town again.
"All over the nation, the homecoming parades, the other ceremonies, and the level of giving to Service charities bear witness to the fact that the armed forces are in the people`s minds and in the people`s hearts. They`re proud of you, and so am I."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup

"The Taliban are persistent and cunning opponents. Our people have been involved in some fierce and sustained fighting, and we`ve again suffered some sad losses. But the Taliban know they cannot overcome us militarily. They know that the more time and space we are able to buy, the more Afghan governance can be spread, the longer we can sustain the early, sometimes faltering steps of a nation being built from the ground up, the more certain becomes their failure.

"And it`s in our national interest that they do fail. Yet again, the British armed forces are there where our country needs them, doing what our country needs them to do, and doing it superbly.

"The British people understand this. And throughout the year they`ve given tangible expression to that understanding, and to their appreciation of your sacrifices. All over the Nation, the homecoming parades, the other ceremonies, and the level of giving to Service charities bear witness to the fact that the armed forces are in the people`s minds and in the people`s hearts. They`re proud of you, and so am I.

"Not just those who`ve been in theatre, but all of you across the Nation and in other overseas locations who are carrying out your duties with such professionalism and such courage.


"I`m also proud of and grateful to the families and loved ones, who bear the pain and uncertainty of separation, along with the other strains that go with a Service life. All of you have played your part magnificently; all of you have placed the Nation in your debt.

"At this special time of year, it`s more than usually appropriate that we stop for a moment and think about all this. That we remember those we`ve lost, and the families that will be facing for the first time a Christmas with an empty place at the table. That we remember those colleagues and families who are having to cope with painful and sometimes disabling injuries. That we think of those who are spending the holiday season far from home and loved ones, in the service of their country. Christmas is above all a time for remembering others.

"So I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for all you do on the Nation`s behalf: for the dangers you run; for the uncertainties you bear; for the success you make possible; for the service you give. And wherever you may be at this time – home or overseas; on duty or off; in the bosom of your family or far away from them, I want to wish you the best possible Christmas and all good fortune in the New Year."

2008-12-16








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