The The Food Chain of Command

No doubt you have all seen the stories and, frankly disgusting images, of food that serving personnel allege is being served.

If not, click the image.


This is not a comment on Pay As You Dine or the rights and wrongs of the individual instances but a thought on the chain of command and the sheer frustration that has driven serving personnel to circumnavigate it.

If these issues are not isolated, as appears when one reads the comments on Facebook, and if they are a result of many years of frustration at inaction, again as would appear to be the case when reading the comments, how has the chain of command so spectacularly failed its personnel?

Were Very Senior Officers’s aware of the issues, what is the contract governance arrangements and what would posses anyone in their right mind to issue a warning about legal action?

Have we learned nothing about the modern era of social media and crisis communications?

The issue of dodgy food is almost secondary, how has it come to this, letting our personnel down so badly they have to resort to Facebook?

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March 24, 2016 9:43 pm

Is it then no longer routine that the orderly officer visits the mess at every mealtime to look at the food and to receive any complaints? Before privatisation, the cookhouse staff were servicemen and women responsible to fellow servicemen and women if standards fell, and if this relationship no longer exists with contracted organisations (as was feared at the planning stage), then the role of the orderly officer is increased in importance. A reduction in standards of the amount the pictures suggest will require a financial explanation and then a decision as to whether it is evidence of an ill-advised Sodexo attempt to increase profits, or of wasted food stocks, or of misappropriation.

March 24, 2016 10:23 pm

This issue has been a disaster waiting to happen and it surprises me that it has taken so long to emerge. Each unit should have a contract monitor to maintain a vigilant scrutiny of catering standards however, experience has shown that these are frequently individuals who are last tour of duty junior officers and have no wish to rock the boat. I have no love of contracted out support services that have regularly failed to meet the contractural requirements and in this particular case, spectacularly. Nonetheless the amount of money that contractors are allocated by the MOD daily to feed one individual wouldn’t buy you a sandwich in a supermarket. Service culture does not encourage complainants and whatever issues are raised rarely reach the ears of senior officers but when they do they are normally ‘swept under the carpet’. Nonetheless, the warning bell has been sounded through social media and the MOD must shoulder its responsibilities by supporting the men and women who appear to be so badly let down and ensure that they are properly fed.

Peter Elliott
March 24, 2016 10:32 pm

Reminds me a bit of when Slim took over 14th Army there was a big problem with Malaria. The preventative measures were known but simply weren’t being done. He changed the reporting line for sickness from the MO to the CO of each unit. Then he sacked a couple of COs for their high sickness rates. Oddly enough the problem was soon under control.

I’m with TD on where the basic problem lies: chain of command must be asleep on the job.

March 24, 2016 11:28 pm

Reminds me of a senior RAF officer taking some food-aid supplies destined for the Iraq drop zones to feed his own people in Cyprus last year. Crazy. Anecdotal evidence of course, but… damn, those pictures… worse-looking than ration pack mush (aka rice pudding!).

Peter Elliott
March 25, 2016 7:52 am

And that RAF officer was absolutely right to do it. Caused a hell of a fuss no doubt but I bet the food available in his cookhouse imptoved as a result. If people aren’t listening then you have to find a way to make them listen.

Senior Moment
Senior Moment
March 25, 2016 8:47 am

Same principle as NHS and school meals, but surely our armed forces have a high calorific expenditure and the dietary policy should be about meeting the expenditure not about cutting costs.

March 28, 2016 10:51 am

I have long advocated that MPs should be forced to use the same contractors at the same scale of issue in the (subsidised) eateries of Parliament as was inflicted on the military. Their needs cannot be more important than the needs of members of the forces. This would keep our elected representatives abreast of what was happening and could revolutionise procurement of rations.

Peter Elliott
March 28, 2016 8:59 pm

Cuts both ways: Montgomery abolished Auchinlrck’s policy of symbolic ration limits in HQ when he took over 8th Army. Morale in headquarter staff rose as a result. But Slim insisted on half rations in HQ of 14th Army while any subordinate unit was on short supply.

I guess it comes down to competence. Soldiers will put up with a lot if they believe their leaders are capable. Once they decide the muppets are in charge all is lost.