In 2019, I put my head above the parapet, publishing my book, ForeWarned, It described the ongoing challenges for women serving in the UK Armed Forces, as well as the wider issues for all those serving, and for veterans.
I remain a proud advocate as well as critic of what should be a great British institution - the UK Military.
I hope this site will offer you a range of insights and resources - for those interested in the current challenges for UK Defence.
My aim remains to encourage greater resilience of UK's defence - by bringing the MoD up to date in its thinking - and doing. Defence is everyone's business. And everyone's responsibility.
I am an advocate of a well-led meritocracy - defence leadership needs to attract and retain thought-leaders. This requires managing diversity, changing inflexible systems, and modernising cultures that our grandparents would recognise. Defence must adapt to recruit and retain the skills needed - and let fair competition (not which public school was attended), be the selector!
I am delighted to say that my book, ForeWarned, has been one of the catalysts for defence policy change. My story created an outpouring of voices, both veterans and serving, demanding change in how UK personnel are managed and represented. It highlighted the need for a #MilitaryMeToo moment, but also of far broader need for reform. So far, there has been policy change - not yet the cultural or leadership change.
Many women and men stepped forward and shared their stories, explaining why many are leaving early, due to poor senior leadership and a cohort of 'privileged white men' at the top.
My anonymised research report, shared with appropriate consents, is now feeding into the next steps:
Sarah Atherton MP and the Defence Select Committee announced the inquiry in December 2020 and it was published in July 2021. Now, in 2023, we are starting the review of progress. It remains a challenge, as every report since Deepcut has been largely ignored.
ForeWarned, launched in May 2020
Sarah Atherton MP announces the Defence Select Committee inquiry, in Dec 2020.
My military journey was told in Forewarned, my first book (a story of joy, loss, grieving, fighting, winning and losing within the military). It talked of military injustice and pockets of toxic bigotry, still happening today. And it touched a nerve. By publishing my story, I found I was just one of many voices asking to be heard.
The defence chiefs did respond - to say that they accepted the need for change and called it a 'NO MISSION FAIL' requirement to modernise. But so far, there has only been words - each piece of evidence. Each recommendation and report that highlights the path to reform has been cynically watered down. And instead of action, the MoD recommends more reviews of those reviews - kicking change into the future. So, I found myself reaching out as the voice of those who spoke up - and with their permissions, submitted a report of the findings, to the House of Commons Defence Select committee. There have been inquiries now on women in defence, accommodation problems, procurement shortfalls and others.
Cock Ups ? Conspiracies ? Inappropriate Behaviours?
The one I have worked with most closely is Women in Defence. The #MilitaryMeToo is about all who serve or work in the MOD. It has uncovered stories of the bigotry many face daily - and the unwillingness of too many of our service leadership to face up to the toxic pockets of bad behaviours. Many good people are trying to support a fairer approach, but are constrained by the damage to their careers by speaking up. This needs to change.
Defence needs safe spaces to speak out, without damaging operational security or careers.
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About the Author
Educated at Pates Grammar School in Cheltenham and then the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and various post-graduate institutions, Diane Allen is a former officer in the British Army, serving in communications and intelligence.
Given the choice to stand up against poor behaviour or toe the military line, she stood up. Only to find herself (as many had warned), suddenly frozen out of future promotions. She resigned in January 2020.
She continues to work in wider defence and industry, now as a contractor.
Get In Touch
For all publishing & press enquiries:
Cranthorpe Millner Publishers: email@example.com
If you would like to submit your experiences of serving with or alongside the armed forces (RN, RAF, Army, Civil Service, women & men), you can share your stories confidentially, via the website contact page.
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SOME INDIVIDUALS HAVE ALSO ASKED THAT I CONNECT THEM TO TRAINED PROFESSIONALS, OR APPROPRIATE ORGANISATIONS. WE HAVE ESTABLISHED A SYSTEM TO DO THIS SAFELY & APPROPRIATELY.