Armed Forces Day 2022


Colin Basnett

Recent commemorative activity in the UK to mark the 40th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Falkland Islands war, comes hot-on-the-heels of the outstanding display of skill - both on the ground and in the air - by UK Armed Forces personnel during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations.  

These two events neatly demonstrate the wide scope of outputs we expect from our nations’ Armed Forces across the globe: on the one hand, the requirement to engage in a conflict some 8000 miles away from home in order to enforce the principle of sovereignty, the right of people to choose their own destiny, and our willingness to stand up to bullies; versus, on the other hand, showing off Britain at its very best through the medium of impeccable ceremonial drill and precision flying.

The similarities in national mood in the UK following both events is telling.  Britain’s victory in the South Atlantic injected much-needed impetus into a nation plagued byindustrial strife, self-doubt and a prevailing sense of national decline; whereas the recent Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations also inspired a unifying moment among millions of Britons.  And front and centre at both events we find our Armed Forces, efficiently getting on with the job at hand, not seeking a fanfare, just recognition for their efforts before heading off to their next task.  But we should not forget that, behind some of the brave faces on display, the experience of war in the South Atlantic and elsewhere has weighed heavily on them ever since. In the last year alone, 60 Falklands veterans have approached ‘Combat Stress’ - the veterans’ mental health organisation - to request their support.  

I am delighted that there are so many ex-Service personnel employed within QinetiQ in each of our home nations; not only because they bring with them a multitude of skills, but also because their contribution enables us to better understand the true needs of our primary customers.  I am also delighted that our global company continues to support organisations like ‘Combat Stress’ and ‘SSAFA’, The Armed Forces Charity, which have been our corporate charity partners in the UK since 2019 and 2020 respectfully.  With thousands of trained volunteers providing personalised case worker support and confidential helplines, Combat Stress and SSAFA’s lifelong support is available to every member of the military community and their families, no matter how long they have served.  Never has such support been needed more than it is now.

It is therefore important for us to occasionally reflect on the huge contribution that the women and men in our Armed Forces make to our national and global security and prosperity.  So on Saturday 25th June, UK Armed Forces Day, I for one will take a moment to pause, reflect, appreciate and admire the unrelenting devotion, self-sacrifice and positive attitude of those who serve, or have served, their country as part of their Armed Forces.  I encourage everybody to do the same.

Hear Air Commodore (retired) Colin Basnett CBE, QinetiQ's Group Director of Strategic Engagement, talk about what Armed Forces Day means to him.