So the American supplier of rifle sights, Trijicon, inscribe references to biblical passages on their products. Reported at the BBC following alleged complaints by an American soldier. The sights are also in use in the UK, most recently on the squad medium range rifle about to be issued, hence the interest here and my own thoughts on it.
I can see the point of the complaint, the military deliver a capability that is directed by a democratic government. In principle the British military is directed by the crown, but that still means under the direction of the government. Military operations support our foreign and security policies irrespective of our own faith or beliefs, or those of our opponents. Equipment supplied to our military should not be explicitly aligned with any faith tradition in this way.
In this instance where much of what we do has been polluted by the overt Christianisation of conflict by the previous American administration, and the opposing ideology it’s not useful. This “evidence” can be used to support the assertion that current operations in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, are religiously inspired attacks on Islam. That despite the fact that the form of Islam portrayed by Al Qaeda is a hideous misrepresentation of the teachings.
However, I would question whether explicit references to an imaginary friend have a place in defence procurement decision making. There are already too many factors, checks and balances influencing the procurement cycle, and factoring in something like this is a needless distraction from the key point. Does the equipment deliver a battle winning military capability in a cost effective manner?
Turning the issue round, if the sights had not been procured on the basis of these engravings, just what would the tabloid headlines look like?