7 NOVEMBER 1958, Page 6

A Spectator's Notebook THE TONE 01' the Grigg Re- port

on conditions in the services is most engaging: it really sounds as though it were written to be read. And its recommendations are generally sensible, though the fact that some of them have had to be made at all (that the kitbag and the raincoat/groundsheet should disappear and that other ranks should no longer have to bring their own cutlery, to meals) is a depressing condemnation of the forces' inertia when nobody chivvies them. But the real problem for the future is hardly touched upon. In my own experience --and to judge by letters to the SpectalOr —the feature of service life that is most destruCtive of morale is the way in which young men are lured by the tempting inducements offered into signing on for long terms. When, for one reason or another—perhaps because they lose interest or because some other opportunity beckons—they want to leave, they are not allowed to do so; and they stay on in disruptive disdontent. Now that the forces are benefiting from a decided improve- ment in conditions of service, this is less serious than it was a few years ago, when frustration —in the navy, in ,particular—was frequently and often violently expressed. But it is essentially a bad principle to bribe young men fresh from school to accept long-term engagements which they may later regret. It is often argued that trained men cannot be released at whim : the answer is that, given that the reforms proposed in reports like' this one (I would like to see it made an annual event) are made, there would be no risk of their leaving. On the contrary, I imagine that demand, would begin to exceed supply.

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