“I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals (air officers) and officers set over me.”
This is the Oath of Allegiance which is sworn by all members of the British Army and Royal Air Force. What this means is that all persons who have sworn this oath will do as they are legally ordered to do. So if, let’s say, Air Commodore DG Cooper ordered an RAF pilot to go on an exchange posting with the US, French or Canadian armed forces. Then the person who had sworn this oath would be duty bound to follow that order. Whatever that entailed.
The way that the armed forces work in this country is that, although they swear allegiance to the queen, the queen vests the strategic direction of the armed forces to the government of the day. So if Royal Air Force crews are involved in the bombing of another country, they are doing it under the orders of the government. No ifs, no buts, they are following the direct orders of the Secretary of State for Defence, because it is that person who directs the Chief of the Defence Staff (currently Nick Houghton).
The problem is that the UK parliament voted against action in Syria. So why are our armed forces currently engaged there? Obviously the government has disregarded the democratic wishes of the House of Commons and decided to bomb Syria anyway. There can be no other explanation.
There is a name which describes the act of a government which disregards the democratic wishes of the people’s elected representatives, that name is dictatorship. Is that where we are at? While we wish our armed forces all the best, are they acting illegally? We really need to know.