This is a diversion to inform you of the views of one or two other people, very few, as only the military publisher is allowed the freedom in this most secret of countries, where there is no freedom of information.

Career This is a factor which only really applies to senior officers, and even then only to the Army and the RAF. With in the Army and the RAF there are certain command appointments with which a married man will receive a military house, ex officio, with the job. He is obliged to move his family there and pay the rent, otherwise in many cases he does not get the job.

This policy is based on the regimental tradition of the unit as an extended family, with the Commanding Officer and his wife as Patriarch and Matriarch. Today when some military bases employ thousands of men and women, the CO and his Wife havn`t a hope of knowing even a tenth of them, but their role is symbolic. Off base attending local functions they represent the comfortable face of the military to the rest of the community, and on base they provide a model of military marriage for younger and more junior people.

The Navy seems to manage without getting too hot under the collar about how this role is performed, by whom, and with what degree of efficiency. It took centuries before they recognised that sailors had families at all, and they remain the least paternalistic about family welfare, and the most open minded about how it can best be achieved, Having said this , it is generally assumed that a married naval officer in command of a shore base will move his wife into the `Residence` and that she will undertake a certain number of official duties, unpaid of course.

Unlike the RAF and most sections of the Army however, he is unlikely to be passed over for a second , third ,or even fourth choice candidate, ( as has happened in the case of RAF appointments ) if he declines to take his wife.

Captain Paul Lefever:-

" We have an awful lot of functions to attend, we are a very social regiment. Usually it`s good fun, but there are times when your liver or your pocket says `enough` and the compulsion to attend a dinner or a cocktail party, -or a Ball- does rankle, and you think why the hell should I, is it really necessary for the defence of the United Kingdom."

 

Alison MacDonald is Captain Lefever`s partner:-

"I`ve had a chance to look at the system from the outside, as Paul`s girlfriend and frankly I donít want to get too involved, certainly not unless we decide to have children. You see you can`t have a career and be an Army wife. If the Army builds quarters you`re expected to live in them, if they post your husband to Outer Mongolia, you`re expected to go along. If they invite wives to an Open Day you`d better go or there`ll be Questions asked. It`s just too difficult. The Army believes that wives are a kind of lower order of soldier with special duties of their own,and perhaps they are, but not me. Truthfully, Paul is much better off being a bachelor than having an uncommitted wife."

These extracts are from a book " Military Man, Family Man : Crown Property ? " written by Ruth Jolly, and published by the military publishers, `Brassey`s.

 

Extracts from Tom Wolfe, author of `The Right Stuff`` an analysis of the training of fighter pilots and astronauts in the United States:- Of course it was well known that a gracious, well spoken, small talking, competent, sophisticated wife was a great asset to her husband`s career, precisely because they were a team, and both were in the service.

These wives are commodities, like supermarket products, which can be bought or even exchanged if they don`t do the job for which they are intended.