Business Eye: Conflict is part of life’s fabric

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Don’t ask me why, because I am by no means a regular attendee of society functions like church, charity and village events, but every year I do always find my way down to mark Remembrance Sunday by the War Memorial in Wendover High Street.

And every year without fail, I shed a short tear for the sacrifices of those who I will never know or meet but on whom my freedom to write this column and live as I do have always relied.

There’s something cathartic about saying ‘thanks’ to the Unknown Soldier and taking a little time out to stand in silence and reflect on what is important in life.

The human sacrifices are, of course, not just from the now distant world wars but are going on today in our midst in theatres all around the globe from Afghanistan to the seas off Somalia.

Who, for example, knows which of our brave spooks and spies will have suffered pain and death at the hands of our enemies following the Edward Snowden revelations published by the Guardian newspaper?

The sacrifices made are not all ultimate in nature.

The numbers of amputees and those suffering mental devastation as a result of their work on our behalf dwarf the number of deaths in action.

Many Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit nurses have fought bravely for Queen and Bucks county.

Of course, the impact of the military machine is far wider and deeper than these personal sacrifices, noble as they are. Last week demonstrated our continuing dependence on forces-related skilled jobs with over 500 years of Royal Navy shipbuilding history coming to an end in Portsmouth.

We are still the fifth largest military power in the world, employing 225,000 personnel, flying nearly 2,000 jets, sailing 135 war ships and spending around £40 billion a year.

Some of the economic impact is felt here in Bucks with fighter command in High Wycombe and the large training base at Halton.

The military is also a terrific trainer of talent, and those leaving the forces present not only many important skills needed by firms and the economy at large but also a critical disciplined approach to teamwork and task achievement that so many employers look for and often find to be in scarce supply.

A soldier is for life; not just for Christmas.