Friday, January 4, 2008

UK troops have to change out of uniforms on tarmac.

UK: Geez, why does stories of UK troops getting treated like crap keep popping up?

Scores of soldiers flying home from Afghanistan on Christmas leave were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing runway before being allowed into a civilian airport terminal.

Troops were told not to be seen in public in their uniforms - which they had worn with pride while risking their lives during months of intense fighting against the Taliban.

Last night the Ministry of Defence and bosses at Birmingham International Airport blamed each other for the indignity suffered by the soldiers - which comes amid mounting anger over the treatment of British troops returning from war.

One soldier, who was ordered to undress for "security reasons", said: "It is an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home to their families.

"So much for a nation proud of its servicemen. The temperature was Baltic on the runway but most of just wanted to get home so we cracked on."

The December 23 flight, carrying 200 personnel, had been diverted from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Birmingham because of bad weather.

The troops were told they could either wait for coaches to take them back to Brize Norton or else travel home via public transport - in which case they must change into civilian clothes before entering the terminal.

Around 50 chose the latter option and, because there was no room in the cabin, most changed outside.

Last night the airport authorities denied responsibility, saying: "We support our Armed Forces and whatever form of dress they choose to wear at our airport."

Birmingham International Airport: The soldiers were forced to change out of their uniforms on the tarmac after being refused entry to an airport building

The MoD eventually confirmed it has a ban on troops wearing uniform in civilian airports, claiming it was because a small number of airlines ban all uniforms on flights for security reasons.

A spokesman said: "In this case, it appears it was applied a little too rigidly." The policy will now be reviewed.

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