A recent parliamentary question on training of members of foreign armed forces obscured as much as it revealed. It showed that between 2003 and 2007 some military personnel from Guatemala had received training in the UK. However, despite the column heading being “total numbers of students trained by financial year” all the columns showed only an asterisk or a dash. Asterisk means that some unspecified number from the country started some training, dash means there were none from the country starting training. There is no comment made as to why the grand totals are provided but the country specific numbers are not.
I am pleased to read that training aims to “assist in the development of democratically accountable armed forces” but in the interest of democratic accountability why am I not even allowed to know the reason why no numbers are given, quite apart from not knowing the numbers themselves?