Andy Dolan

[Daily Mail-Monday, July 21,2008]


Paras chief who quit in anger speaks out for the first time over treatment of soldiers.

A HIGHLY decorated commander who served in Afghanistan spoke out yesterday for the first time over hiss soldiers 'shoddy' treatement.

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal said he had been shocked by how

'our wounded soldiers were not being looked after'

He accused DEFENCE CHIEFS of failing to address the low level of soldier's pay, pointing out that troops risking their lives earn less than tanker drivers.

He also suggested they were stuck in a 'Cold War mentality', fixated on high-tech equipment such as fighter jets rather than on


Lt Col Tootal led the 3rd Battalion the Parascute Regiment in Helmand in 2006.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order but resigned last November after 20 years in the Army.

He had reportedly written an explosive letter of resignation, citing the 'appalling' and shoddy' treatment of troops as the reason for quitting his 70,000 post. The letter described by a source as a 'devastating indictment' of


It highlighted poor pay, a lack of training equipment, appalling Army housing, and the treatment of soldiers at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

The Unit has been critisised for treating soldiers alongside civilians and for overstretching its staff, leading to


In a interview with the Observer yesterday, LtCol.Tootal said:

All the guys I fought with were really motovated and really professional and the least a grateful nation owes them is the


He welcomed the improvements to the care of wounded soldiers announced last week, although he said thaey were


and that continuing to treat soldiers on mixed-sex  wards was


He also welcomed plans to double compensation for seriously injured servicemen to 570,000, a move which followed a Daily Mail campaign.

But he suggested the proposals should also have addressed the issue of junior soldiers ' pay.

'Even with the tax-free bonus for a tour somewhere like Afghanistan soldiers get only

20,000,' he said.

'A tanker driver in the UK who can go on strike and takes no risks gets


Lt Col Tootal, who stressed that personal reasons as well as his grievances had prompted his resignation, said that he considered the



but that it could take

20 or 30 years

He called for an end to the 'Cold War mentality' at the MoD, saying:

We have to ask if we really need so many high-altitude fights right now. Defence has to be about priorities. We can't do everything. helicopters are critical and save soldiers' lives

His comments on pay echo those of the HEAD of the ARMY, general Sir Richard Dannatt, who last month said that many soldiers were paid less than traffic wardens.

the average salary for a traffic warden is 20,526, A newly trained Private earns 16,227, although benefits and allowances take his pay just below that of a traffic warden.


[The sooner the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE War in AFGHANISTAN is ended the better because to think that the public will tolerate the inevitable increased death toll over the months of the next 20/30 years is unthinkable.  Why the GOVERNMENT resolutely refuses to treat our brave soldiers in a DEDICATED MILITARY HOSPITABLE is a barbarity and a disgrace which in a country one of the richest in the world must rank as the crime of the century in the disgusting way New Labour treats our under-resourced-under-supplied and with all the U-TURNS of late this particular barbarity needs attention as it is too long outstanding]