Tuesday, August 17, 2004

MoD's mad Doc in committee brain fart

The Torygraph reports on what must have been a memorable day at the independent inquiry into Gulf War syndrome after the former medical adviser to the MoD's own "health assessment programme" turned up in a US Army uniform and accused British servicemen of alcoholism and malingering.
"He was scathing of the British soldiers he examined, many of whom he claimed smoked, had criminal records and were alcoholic or obese. "All the eight Sandhurst Gulf war veterans that I examined were alcoholics and six were obese."

He even accused Lord Guthrie, the last Chief of Defence Staff, a former SAS officer and the regiment's current colonel-in-chief, of being "obese". He made a number of personal attacks on other veterans. "The Gulf war veterans who have complained to the press, thereby breaching their own confidentiality, are liars," he said."

Where do we start with this lot? Dr. Quack seems to have a variety of curious views. Having claimed that British soldiers were unfit he prescribed that the MoD ought to ban contact sports. Curious. He also seems to suffer from a common complaint in the Ministry, an exaggerated respect for American power. Apparently he still has his boots from Vietnam and wore the uniform "to show how much better it was". He further claimed that the US Army must be better because it won in the US War of Independence and declared an admiration for George S. Patton, before declaring that "most if not all" Gulf veterans he examined were "malingerers". It should come as no surprise that he got the bum's rush in short order for "loss of trust", neither would it surprise anyone that the MoD went on paying him £1,000 a day for some time after his sacking.

There is a slightly more serious edge to this though. The good doctor appears to hold a form of ideological belief that post-conflict medical problems do not exist physically, and should not exist mentally. He is quoted as saying that "all war syndromes since the US Civil War" have no "physical cause", and gives the strong impression that any mental symptoms cannot be real. Patton, of course, would hav agreed strongly. This was after all the man who punched one of his soldiers in a field hospital, calling him "a coward", after being told that the man was suffering from shell shock. It would be typical of the MoD's attitude if they had sought out Hall with a view to discrediting the Gulf veterans.

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