"Soldier" magazine (SM) is a massively popular monthly publication which is read by servicemen & civilian alike. It details a wide variety of subject matter from within the defense community (equipment, procurement, trials, op tours, sports, you name it - if the UK military are involved, SM are there to report on it) and even though it's a high production publication (glossy, slick, shit-ton of content each month), we squaddies are "gifted" a copy every month - 100% gratis.
By the end of year one, most career soldiers are sick of the fucking thing and wouldn't wipe their arse on it. Also, it's a chargeable offense to appear in the damned thing (barracks-room type charge, fines range from a kick in the nuts all the way up to half a dozen crates of beer). Oh, and a common nickname for SM is "Propaganda" magazine - you'll rarely (if ever) see or read anything within its hallowed pages which goes against the grain, rocks the boat or runs counter to the policies of the current/sitting government.
Note: I've been in it twice (early 90's and again at roughly2010) but good luck trying to sift through the thing to identify me. The first time, I was let off due to "new guy stupidity", the second time I was fined an outrageous amount of alcohol. Bastards, it's not like I asked to appear in the accursed rag.
Anyway, now that you know what SM is and the scope of its reach, you'll hopefully understand why the following caused an absolute uproar within the MOD.
When we deploy to the Middle East, we are required to carry/use theatre specific equipment - upgraded body armour, desert modified radios (heat is a constant issue, obviously), desert DPM etc. Most of this gear falls into one of two categories - theatre stock or personal issue.
Theatre stock is held in-country, is issued to incoming units for the duration of their tour then at ENDEX, it's returned to the store, cleaned up and prepared for issue to the next unit. Personal issue (nicknamed "Buckshee's") is given to individuals, they keep it and it stays with them after the tour ends.
Anyway, there are odd items which fall between both stools - they're personal issue but due to lack of accountability (and a strong sense of teamwork), most squaddies will pass the gear to their replacements at ENDEX. Our supplementary body armour (elbow, shin and knee guards - nicknamed "Robocop gear") used to fall into the category. It was brilliant stuff - kevlar plated, very comfortable and massively reduced the cuts & bruises you'd suffer as part of a normal foot patrol. It may look pretty simple in film/news reports but whenever soldiers run and dive down into cover/fire positions (something you do thousands of times per week, every week, whilst on tour), they suffer countless little nicks and dents all over your carcass. It's called "Scheme rash" and is a real tell-tale sign of a seasoned soldier - peppered with tiny scars around the knees, shins and elbows. Anyway, the initial few issues of Robocop gear must have cost the MOD a fortune because after a few Iraq tours, they suddenly stopped issue of it. They later sourced a slimmer (and frankly inferior) replacement which no bugger used.The upshot of this? You'd deploy in Iraq and before your rotation actually begun, you'd desperately attempt to source a good set of Robocop gear from the out-going battlegroup - beer & pornography being the currency of choice.
Fast forward a tour or three into the "TELIC" roulement system and SM started to churn out reports and articles covering our fun in "The sandy place" complete with glossy, professionally shot pictures. One of these photos, a grinning grunt decked out in body armour complete with scabby Robocop gear, actually made the cover of an issue. The actual article was a fluff piece about bringing stability, defeating insurgency, a force for good, blah, blah. Did I already say we call SM "Propaganda" magazine?
Anyway, the shit really hit the fan when an eagle-eyed reader (civvy) spotted some faint but very legible graffiti scrawled across one of the knee-pads.
"Kill the paki bastards" (or words to that effect)
The soldier in question was raked across the coals, was sacked and kicked out of the Army even though the gear was "grubbed" (scrounged from the out-going battlegroup) and the graffiti clearly predated him taking ownership of it. Obviously, he should have covered it up with masking tape ("Black nasty") or paint but when you're prepping for rota, some things just aren't important.
Also, the MOD banned the use of old Robocop gear (fearing a repeat of the graffiti incident), implemented a strict theatre-wide "no graffiti" policy and started a witch hunt to track down all of the previous owners of that individual knee-pad. No, seriously, they actually thought they could find out who owned a piece of gear that had no paper trail, no recorded serial number and that had been passed around like a porn magazine on a naval ship.
Oh, and nine
years after this retarded incident took place, we were still being told (as local commanders) to watch out for the guys scribbling rude graffiti anywhere it might be spotted. Yeah, we're in a country where everyone wants to kill us but the stuffed suits back home are shitting bricks about non-pc graffiti.
Oh, and the issue of SM with the offending cover was blackholed but there are still copies in circulation - they're now highly collectable (I had a framed copy but lost it during a drinking game) and a great way of thumbing your nose at the shrill, PC twonks who lurk in the upper echelons.
So, that's it, sorry for the wall of shit. It was probably not worth the effort.
http://downmagaz.com/uploads/posts/2011 ... oldier.jpg
Note: The image above is not the cover in question but is a good representation of the type of photo you find in SM. Propaganda never looked so glossy... :P