FORCES DISCOUNT GUIDE YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST DEALS AND DISCOUNT FOR CURRENT AND EX SERVICE PERSONNEL
SAS: HOW TO GET SELECTED AND LIFE IN THE MILTARY ELITE ALSO INSIDE THIS ISSUE: HOW TO MAXIMISE ARMED FORCES DISCOUNTS THE IRANIAN EMBASSEY SIEGE POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Forces discount guide is a free monthly magazine aimed at current and ex service personnel. Publishing relevent and interesting articles on life in and out of the miltary and providing access and awareness to superb discounts from national and local businesses.
CONTENTS Money Matters How to maximise armed forces discounts in the UK. (Page. 4)
Who Dares Wins Physical and mental stamina is put to the test in pursuit of the winged insignia. (Page. X)
The Siege 30 years on from the Iranian embassy siege. (Page. X)
“ When we heard that a member of the Armed Forces, who had recently returned from military operations, was denied a discount in a major high street store, but a student in front of him was given one, we knew we had to act. ” Person X Associate Editor
PTSD Could we be setting ourselves up for PTSD epidemic? (Page. X)
RESTRUCTURING Seven military barracks to close in army restructuring (Page. X)
BLESMA The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association. (Page. X)
FORCES DISCOUNT GUIDE
The Armed Forces is a vital organisation for every nation to properly function so it’s only right that each member is given appreciation and recognition for the services they provide. In the UK, members of the Armed Forces are entitled to several privileges, among the most prominent of which are discounts. Typically, most people take discounts as mere rewards- spending or using these for anything that is within a hand’s grasp. What they don’t realise though is that with proper use, especially right timing, discount privileges can bring in so much more than what may have been initially anticipated. Listed below are useful tips on how armed forces discounts in UK can be best maximised.
MONEY MATTERS How to maximise Armed Forces Discounts in the UK
Purchasing Goods/Products 1) Know the discount offers. Although a lot of private corporations do honour discount privileges given to members of the British Armed Forces, it should be noted that there may still be a few that do not. Provision of benefits is not all-encompassing and this is why it’s important to always make enquiries first.
Discounts are best used for the purchase of items that are deemed as necessities instead of wants. They simply come off more helpful and beneficial compared to being used for luxury. However, the story becomes different when it comes to using discount privileges for vacations or holiday trips. Travels When discounts for armed forces are used for long, costly vacations, the benefits also double up, of course. The higher the gross or original cost of the travel is, the greater the percentage of discounts that holders will be able to get. Now you can take the dream trip you may haven’t otherwise considered if it wasn’t’ for the discount privilege. Avoid using discounts for short trips you can so easily pay for anyway.
be most beneficial to transact only with establishments that can guarantee the offer of good discount deals. Usually, major corporations will assign financial advisers to each of their clients. These advisers will be the ones to brief in detail what mortgage options are available and which from these would be most suitable to go for. Mortgage and loan transactions are just the kind that typically requires heavy thinking and complex analyses. Most often, they will call for the knowledge, experience and assistance of field experts. Perhaps, the best way to maximise mortgage discounts would be to discuss with financial advisers the prominent circumstances and needs that will affect the decisionmaking related to choosing the right mortgage or loan deals.
Mortgages Compare lenders to find out which offers the best discount deal. Government-granted discounts extend to mortgages and loans as well. Similar to usual dealings, it would
Some businesses may also not offer the same discount values as others within their respective industries. In order to maximise the privilege, it is recommended to limit dealings to only those with the best offers. Why purchase goods or services from a store offering a mere 2% discount when the one across offers 5%, right? 2) Purchase in bulk. Typically, people get items the moment the need for these becomes evident. This is a common practice amongst consumers and there is inherently nothing wrong with it. However, if discount maximisation is the issue, then the smarter choice would be to make purchases in bulk. Purchasing in bulk don’t just avoid the need for emergency trips which could translate to additional gas expense but also paves the way for a bigger impact on discount privileges. A 5% off a £10 item doesn’t really seem that significant as compared to a 5% off several items amounting to a total of say, £300.
With the guides above, you may now start your search for various armed forces discounts available online. Start the hunt today!
3) Use discounts for necessary items and not luxuries.
Those who have passed stage 1 have to then pass jungle training. Training takes place in Belize, in the heart of deep jungles. Candidates learn the basics of surviving and patrolling in the harsh conditions. SAS jungle patrols have to live for weeks behind enemy lines, in 4 man patrols, living on rations. Jungle training weeds out those who can’t handle the discipline required to keep themselves and their kit in good condition whilst on long range patrol in difficult conditions. Again, there is a mental component being tested, not just a physical. Special Forces teams need men who can work under relentless pressure, in horrendous environments for weeks on end, without a lifeline back to home base.
WHO DARES WINS PEN Y FAN 886 meter peak in the Brecon Beacons which is the focus of the ‘Fan Dance’, an element of the fitness and navigation stage of SAS selection. Part of a 24km tab, candidates must march over Pen Y Fan twice while carrying a 40lb bergen, rifle and water.
The first phase of selection is known as the endurance, fitness and navigation, or ‘the hills’ stage. This is the endurance portion of selection and not only tests a candidate’s physical fitness, but also their mental stamina. To pass this phase, a high level of determination and self-reliance is vital. The hills stage lasts 3 weeks and takes place in the Brecon Beacons and Black Hills of South Wales. Candidates have to carry an ever-increasingly-heavy bergen over a series of long timed hikes, navigating between checkpoints. No encouragement or criticism is provided by the supervising staff at the checkpoints. SAS Directing Staff (DS) are fully-badged members of the
- Pen Y Fan Dave Dunford
regiment and leave each candidate to their own devices. This can be a marked contrast from the selectee’s experience in their parent units. They would be used to their instructors shouting constant instructions at them, along with encouragement and abuse. The demands of life in a special forces unit require each member to be selfmotivated. The endurance phase culminates with ‘the long drag’, a 40 mile trek carrying a 55lb bergen, that must be completed in under 24 hours.
AFTER ALL THAT
Selection Phase 3 - Escape & Evasion & Tactical Questioning The small number of candidates who have made it through endurance and jungle training now enter the final phase of selection. The likelihood of a special operation going wrong behind enemy lines is quite high, given the risks involved. The SAS want soldiers who have the wherewithal and spirit required to escape and evade capture and resist interrogation. For the escape and evasion (E&E) portion of the course, the candidates are given brief instructions on appropriate techniques. This may include talks from former POWs or special forces soldiers who have been in E&E situations in the real world. Next, the candidates are let loose in the countryside, wearing World War 2 vintage coats with instructions to make their way to a series of waypoints without being captured by the hunter force of other soldiers. This portion lasts for 3 days after which, captured or not, all candidates report for TQ. Tactical Questioning (TQ) tests the prospective SAS men’s ability to resist interrogation. They are treated roughly by their interrogators, often made to stand in ‘stress positions’ for hours at a time, while disorientating white noise is blasted at them. When their turn for questioning comes, they must only answer with the so-called ‘big 4’ (name, rank, serial number and date of birth). All other questions must be answered with ‘I’m sorry but I cannot answer that question.’ Failure to do so results in failing the course. The questioners will use all sorts of tricks to try and get a reaction from the candidates. They may act friendly and try to get their subjects chatting; or they stand inches away from their subjects and scream unfavourable remarks about the sexual habits of their mothers. Female interrogators may laugh at the size of their subject’s manhood. Of course, a real interrogation would be a lot more harsh and the subject would not know that they get to leave alive when it’s all over. That said, days of interrogations and enduring the stress positions and white noise break down a man’s sense of time and reality. The SAS are looking for men who can withstand such treatment long enough so that the effects of revealing any operational information they might have can be lessoned by HQ.
The small number of men who make it through selection receive the coveted beige beret with the distinctive winged dagger insignia. As a newly badged member of the Special Air Service they can feel justly proud. They are not out of the woods, however, as they are now effectively on probation. As brand new members of the regiment, they will be watched closely by the DS as they enter continuation training. Many SAS soldiers are RTU’d (returned to unit) during training.
Selection Phase 2 - Jungle Training
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THE SIEGE 30 years on from the Iranian embassy siege SAS man tells what it was like at the spearhead of the attack by. CHRIS HUGHES
The order “go, go, go” triggered the world’s most famous and spectacular counter-terror assault. A split second later Operation Nimrod began with black-clad hooded troops, armed and wearing gas masks, pouring over the side of Iranian Embassy in London. Sensational coverage of the operation shone an unwanted light on the world’s most secretive and highly trained military unit – Britain’s elite Special Air Service. Thirty years later, and for the first time, one of the men who charged the embassy, former SAS Staff Sgt Pete Winner, reveals what it was like spearheading the attack. It was 7.23pm on May 5, 1980, and the assault was announced by deafening blasts and screams as dozens of SAS soldiers poured into the embassy from all sides. The men of B Squadron were assaulting the besieged Knightsbridge building after a tense six-day wait – the first full-scale military assault in modern London. Behind the embassy an SAS team sledge-hammered through the French windows and charged into the ground floor. Out of sight of TV cameras Pete Winner, then 30, led an eight-man room assault team to the cellars and into the unknown. To him, standing in front of the embassy three decades later, the moment is as clear as if it were yesterday. The building had been seized on April 30 by a sixman Iraqi-trained terror team from the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan. The gunmen, who took 26 hostages, were separatists demanding the release of comrades jailed in Iran. They were led by Awn Ali Mohammed, 27 – codenamed “Salim”. He was on the phone to a police negotiator when the attack started.
Picture: Getty images
What he didn’t know was that security services had drilled tiny microphones through the walls and were listening to everything happened within. Fibre-optic cameras were also used to watch the movements of the hostages and the gunmen. The layout of the embassy had been studied by the SAS and the caretaker had warned them the first two floors had reinforced glass. That meant they ditched plans to drive up to the building and simply sledge-hammer their way through the windows and doors. That would have been a disaster. To drown out the noise of attack preparations aircraft landing at Heathrow were told to fly lower over the embassy – and British Gas began drilling nearby. After six days, the kidnappers escalated the crisis by killing hostage Abbas Lavasani, throwing his body outside. Pete and his SAS comrades were in their “Forward Holding Area” – 14 Princes Gate, next to the Iranian Embassy. Pete recalls: “We heard the gunshots through the walls and knew that was it. I called it our ‘ticket to ride’. “All of us wanted us to get the go ahead and get the job done. We all looked at each other and we knew it was on. The hostage takers had crossed the line. As
“We all looked at each other and we knew it was on. The hostage takers had crossed the line.”
soon as the doors went in we storm into the ground floor looking left and right and head for the cellar door to the left. I remember seeing loads of books and thinking ‘damn, this is our escape route and that lot will catch fire soon’. “Nobody was talking – I was one of the more experienced and knew as soon as it went off people would be screaming for updates, in my ear so I pull out the earpiece. “Now we’re totally on our own. Basically it is kill or be killed. The combat adrenalin really kicks in, so does the training and you get this amazing warm feeling and everything seems pin-sharp. Anyone who says they aren’t nervy before a battle is an idiot – but once it goes off it is fine. We’re storming into this building and we are unstoppable – I am unstoppable – utterly unstoppable. This is an armed SAS assault on a central London building for the first time ever.
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“I see the cellar door to the left and pull it. It’s locked so I blast it with my MP5 and boot it open. “There are stepladders placed on the stairs and I am now thinking ‘booby-trap’ but I pull them out of the way – no time to worry about that. “First man down the steps. Grab a stun grenade from my pouches and fling it down the stairway, charging after it. Bang, bang, bang – it puts the enemy on the back foot. Got to get to the rooms quick. There are seven soldiers behind me doing the same. “We can hear automatic fire and explosions upstairs. But that’s not our job and we’re not worried. I get to a room on the right. Blast it open and run in looking left and pointing my MP5. I know my partner Tak is jumping into the room pointing right. “Nobody there. We shout ‘room clear’ loud as possible through the masks and it comes out all muffled. We charge to the next one, leapfrogging the other guys.” Minutes later the cellar clearance team was sprinting back up the stairs to help with the line of freed hostages being thrown from one SAS man lining the stairs to another. Pete adds: “You’ve got to dominate them because they are panicking and breathing in gas. You’ve got to get them moving out. Suddenly one man comes into view, coming down the stairs in a crouch, like he’s hiding something. One of our guys shouts ‘terrorist’, pointing at him as he comes down towards me. “I see the top of a Russian-made fragmentation grenade in his hand. It’s distinctive. “I cannot shoot him because I might hurt someone else so I smash him down on the back of the head with my MP5. “As he hits the deck at the bottom of the stairs, there’s nobody beyond him so I give him a burst,
along with several others. “We all opened fire on him. That’s what we do in the SAS. You can’t stand around debating who is going to kill him because the guy needs to be killed now. As he rolled over the Russian fragmentation grenade fell on to the floor and we’re all thinking ‘has he pulled the bloody pin out?’ Luckily he hadn’t – he was very unprofessional. Otherwise it would have been a bad day for us all.” Five of the six militants were killed during the assault and 19 hostages were saved. PC Trevor Lock, who was a hostage, received the George Medal. The last surviving gunman, Fowzi Nejad, posed as a hostage and was escorted outside the embassy with those rescued. A real freed captive quickly identified him as one of the attackers and he received a life sentence from which he was released in 2008.
“I see the top of a Russianmade fragmentation grenade in his hand. It’s distinctive.
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The government’s plan to replace more regular troops with reservists could trigger an epidemic of stress disorders.
The government’s plan to replace more regular troops with reservists could trigger an epidemic of stress disorders. Studies have shown that part-time soldiers from the Territorial Army are far more likely to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from deployment. In the next five years the government wants to reduce the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000 whilst doubling TA troop numbers to 30,000.
Andrew Cameron, of the mental health charity Combat Stress said this could lead to a huge increase in those suffering psychological trauma: “Members of the TA are at greater risk of developing PTSD than ordinary soldiers, We’re facing a ticking time bomb.” Work on stress has been carried out by the King’s Centre for Mental Military Health since 2004. Around 9% of reservists suffer from the syndrome, twice the number of ordinary soldiers. But the reasons why are revealing. Regular soldiers who return from deployment often suffer from exposure to combat - a situation that has been well known since after the US Vietnamese experience. However the part-time warriors suffer from a different type of disorder. It seems it is not exposure to combat that effects them rather than what happens when they return - lack of understanding from work colleagues is one factor. The experts have also identified that many affected have suffered childhood traumas that are revisited as a result of their
experience. A spokesman for King’s Health said: “In conclusion, the developments in military epidemiology have allowed studies to confirm that combat experience is temporally related to PTSD. Yet, the majority of those who are deployed seem to be resilient. “Across studies there are other common prospective vulnerability factors for PTSD, including psychiatric co-morbidity, alcohol misuse and lack of support.” An MoD spokesman said: ‘We are committed to giving everyone who serves in our Armed Forces all the help and support they need. ‘That is why the Government has invested £7.4million to improve the mental health services available and ensure help is available for everyone who needs it, whether they are a reservist, regular or veteran. ‘Since 2006 all reservists have had access to the Reserves Mental Health Programme and this year we launched plans to give reservists access to occupational health services so they can get routine mental health support when they are in their civilian role. ‘We are also working to raise awareness amongst employers of the unique challenges facing reservists.
by. CHRIS HUGHES
Defence secretary tells MPs 30,000 soldiers will be relocated to new bases across the UK as part of shrinking of the army
by. markus wisnu
Seven military barracks are to close and more than 30,000 soldiers relocated to new bases across the UK as part of a restructuring of the army announced on Tuesday. The moves are part of the wholesale reorganisation and shrinking of the army as almost 16,000 soldiers return from Germany over the next six years, and thousands more are pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Though the speed and scale of the withdrawal from Germany has been partly dictated by budget cuts, Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, warned he was leading a drive to find further small “efficiencies” from the armed forces. But he also reiterated his warning to the Treasury that his department could not absorb further big cuts without affecting the military’s capabilities and responsibilities. The withdrawal from Germany is one of the last major pieces of a complicated jigsaw that will shape Britain’s armed forces over the coming decades. In a statement to MPs, Hammond confirmed that more than 11,000 troops based in Germany would return to Britain within three years and that £1bn would be spent on new military accommodation. A further 4,500 troops will withdraw in 2019. As the army restructures around seven regional hubs in the UK, four existing barracks will close completely, and three others will partially shut.
The MoD said Claro Barracks in Ripon, north Yorkshire, Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Craigiehalle Barracks in Edinburgh and Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire would “no longer be required by the army and will be made available for disposal”. Parts of Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Forthside Barracks in Stirling and Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury will also close. Hammond said the axing of some sites was regrettable, especially in areas where the army had longstanding links with the community.
Claro Barracks Ripon (above)
Seven military barracks to close in army restructuring
But he suggested some of the barracks facing closure were too dilapidated to save and were “no longer fit for purpose”. He also admitted there would be some civilian job losses. “Of course we are very sensitive to the fact that many of our military units have very close connections to the communities in which they have been embedded for a long time, and there will be significant regret for the loss of those connections. “There will be some loss of civilian jobs, that is inevitable when you reduce the size of the army. Equally in other areas there will be the creation of new civilian jobs.” Major General Nick Pope, the officer in charge of the rebasing plans, admitted that the plans would involve 74 units moving location within the UK, as well as the repatriating of the 16,000 soldiers in Germany. In total, more than 30,000 troops will have to move from their bases between now and 2019. In addition, the MoD has to provide for the 17,000 relatives and support staff who are also in Germany. The MoD said the upheaval would ensure more stability in the future as the army settled around the seven hubs. They will be at Salisbury Plain, Aldershot, Colchester, Stafford and in the east Midlands. There will be two more hubs in Scotland – in Edinburgh and Fife.
“We have been there for almost seven decades. This represents the end of an era.”
The Scottish National party (SNP) will be angered that only 600 of the soldiers returning will be stationed north of the border. That is a 20% increase on
current numbers, but the SNP had hoped for thousands more. Speaking before his statement to the House of Commons, Hammond refused to say whether there was a split in cabinet over whether the military would face further big cuts as a result of this year’s Whitehall spending review. He also said he was working closely with the chancellor, George Osborne, and understood the need for further reductions in government spending. But the defence secretary again warned that further inroads into his budget would have consequences. Asked if cuts would have a devastating affect, he said: “Devastating is a very emotive term. We have a set of output requirements, we have some very challenging efficiencies that we are trying to drive through now, including in the frontline. “I have never said and would never say that there aren’t further efficiencies (in the MoD budget). We are working right now to identify where we might find still further efficiencies. But clearly if we go beyond what can be delivered from efficiencies, there will have to be a reassessment of the output that is delivered.” Of the withdrawal from Germany, where British troops have been based since the end of the second world war, General Pope said: “This is a phased and sequenced move out of Germany. We have been there for almost seven decades. This represents the end of an era.”
BLESMA The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association
BLESMA has existed since after the First World War, starting out as a network of those who had lost limbs in service of their country. These networks evolved to become BLESMA – The Limbless Veterans, a national charity in 1932.
by. GEORGE CLODE
Members of BLESMA, prepare their 65 foot yacht in Portsmouth to race in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the 2,700 nautical mile Atlantic voyage to St Lucia
There is life after amputation BLESMA has a legacy of helped wounded service personnel who have lost limbs or the use of limbs or eyes to rebuild their lives by providing them with rehabilitation and welfare support. Our unique and pioneering rehabilitation programme, based on challenging sporting activities for amputees, is where we make an immediate impact. If you thought that losing a leg or two would stop you skiing, think again! The physical achievements of taking part in our rehabilitation programme rebuilds confidence; experiencing that you can still do amazing things rebuilds lives. Sharing this experience with other amputees, whilst mentored by an experienced BLESMA member, helps injured service men and women tackle challenges head on and with pride. Mark’s Story Royal Marine, Mark Ormrod, was 24-years old and just four months into a tour of duty in Afghanistan when he stepped on a landmine. As he recalls: “There was a huge explosion. I didn’t know what had happened. I thought we had come under attack. I knew in my head that I wasn’t moving like I should have been. Then as the sand and the dust settled, I looked down and I realised what had happened.” Mark had lost both of his legs above the knee and was rushed
to a field hospital where doctors had to amputate his right arm too. One of our team visited Mark in hospital back in Britain and was able to tell him about some of the amazing things other BLESMA amputees were doing. It was to be the start of a journey that would show him that he wasn’t alone, that there were other guys out there like him, who were not just getting on with their lives, but doing remarkable things. Mark’s first goal was to master the use of prosthetic legs so he could receive his campaign medal standing up. He achieved this goal with only 5 months of rehab. Within a year of sustaining his injuries he was sit-skiing in Colorado on one of BLESMA’s rehabilitation activity breaks run by experienced military amputees and designed to rebuild confidence and self-belief. “Skiing with BLESMA was awesome. It was great to get out of the hospital environment with a group of people in the same circumstances, to push myself to the limits again and party a little bit. It made me feel normal again.” BLESMA for life BLESMA supports its members for life – from veterans of the Second World War to the conflict in Afghanistan and all others in between. We support all military personnel who have been injured during their time of service, whether its whilst on duty or a road traffic accident. Rehabilitation, support, counselling and care are the four principle foundations of our organisation. Together, we can help our men and women of the Armed Forces and their families face the challenges ahead with renewed confidence and self-belief.
Mark Ormrod Royal Marines
For more information on how you can support us visit www.blesma.org, or call 020 8590 1124. For Membership enquiries email: email@example.com
“Skiing with BLESMA was awesome. It was great to get out of the hospital environment with a group of people in the same circumstances, to push myself to the limits again”
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