Monday, 3 December 2012

Soldiers working from home - a brilliant idea

The Ministry of Defence was criticised yesterday for ordering the Army to take 25 days off or work from home over the Christmas period. Officials insist the move is a “thank you” for a busy year, which included the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee. But former commander in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said the extra days off are just an “insulting” bid to save on energy bills. He called it “an act of sheer desperation by military commanders starved of cash by the Government”. Col Kemp added that the idea troops can work from home is “beyond satire”. Wrong, Col Kemp, wrong. I think letting soldiers work from home, if they choose, is an excellent idea and a sign that the British army is joining the 21st century. 

Modern electronic communications and weapons allow soldiers to perform, in the comfort of their own homes, most of the tasks that used to require their physical presence in the field. Using remote control cameras, soldiers could patrol camp perimeters and alert superior officers when there’s an enemy breach. Operating remote control robots, home-based soldiers can search for mines, defuse improvised explosive devices, identify enemies and fire small arms weapons. I bet they could look for and pick up litter around a base. Some military vehicles are being adapted for remote control, thus allowing soldiers to control them from home. Home-based soldiers can even control drones and battlefield missiles. Drill exercises are made easy by remote cameras, allowing a home-based soldier to participate in exercises along with the rest of their unit. Through Skype technology, a home-based soldier could continue to participate in kit inspections – a drill sergeant can examine his or her uniform on screen and still bellow out intimidating and belittling instructions. Another benefit of allowing telecommuting from home is that it may enable the Army to attract more (and more technically sophisticated) people to enlist. If I've whetted your appetite, you can visit the Army information website here.

Of course, there would be a few teething problems that would have to worked through initially. Changes to sleeping arrangements might lead to some domestic friction: how would the hoover go under all the kit on the floor? And the children would have to be told that the drone control is not an X-Box or Wii device. One press on the wrong button and, oops, there goes another innocent bunch of civilians in a far off land. On the plus side, shopping at the supermarket will take on a new dimension as the squaddies yomp their way around the aisles before heading home (at the double, of course) with the week's groceries on their backs.
Admit it, Col Kemp, it's a brilliant concept. Bet you wish you'd thought of it. If you had, you could have been cultivating your tulips in Taunton at the same time as fighting the Taliban in Tashbir.

No comments: