No politicians have experience of war. But the generals don’t have much either

President Obama’s former adviser on Afghanistan, Bruce Riedel, says the British army’s performance in Afghanistan means it can’t fight outside Europe in future.

He has a point. British military effectiveness in Afghanistan was undermined by political correctness. When our forces went to Helmand in 2006 the focus was more on reconstruction and human rights than fighting insurgents. This should have been challenged by the generals, whose job is to wield robust military influence over politicians in war time.

The usual charm and compliance of the senior officer will not do when so many lives are at stake. Alan Brooke, chief of the imperial general staff, clashed repeatedly with Churchill during the Second World War.

There is no evidence of anything like that over Afghanistan. Yet today it is even more important that generals do not take political misjudgement lying down. None of today’s senior politicians has any experience of war. Unfortunately, that is largely true of the generals as well. Most of their experience — at best — came from Northern Ireland. The lack of urgency in that 30-year policing campaign created a peacetime mentality ill-suited to the high intensity combat in Helmand. Continue reading

Israel’s Security and Unintended Consequences

Would General Allen — or any other general today — recommend contracting out his country’s defences if it were his country at stake? Of course not.

The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.

There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.

Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.

If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.

When in 1942 American General Douglas MacArthur took command of the defence of Australia against imminent Japanese invasion, one of the plans he rejected was to withdraw and fight behind the Brisbane line, a move that would have given large swathes of territory to the Japanese. Continue reading

Royal Marines in Afghanistan

British forces have been savaged by ill-judged and excessive defence cuts

David Cameron says the fight against the Islamic State is a struggle that will last years, not months.

He has committed Britain to a leading role in Iraq and has suggested our forces will expand their operations into Syria.

But our forces have been savaged by ill-judged and excessive defence cuts.

Even our limited role in Libya for just a few months in 2011 left us severely over-stretched, according to RAF and Navy chiefs.

And that was before huge new cuts to both services, as well as the Army.

Cameron has ruled out boots on the ground in the fight against Islamic State.

Such public statements are grossly irresponsible and serve only to encourage the enemy by signalling our weakness. Nor does this policy make military sense. Continue reading

Post-war, Israel must be supported

Grinning Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s V for Victory sign beside the rubble that was his house reminded me of Saddam Hussein’s spokesman Muhammad al-Sahhaf’s wild claims that the Americans were on the verge of surrender as their tanks poured into Baghdad during the shock and awe of 2003.

But lies, deception and self-delusion are cornerstones of Hamas’s way of war, so grotesque celebrations of victory among the ashes of their most crushing defeat in 27 years came as no surprise.

Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas now admits that Hamas is to blame for the death, desolation and destruction in Gaza.

An unprovoked war of aggression that has deliberately crushed their own people.

Those who give Hamas’s mirage of triumph even an iota of credence are simply playing into its hands, helping to deceive the desperate people of Gaza and contributing to the terrorist group’s resurgence.

Hamas’s military resurgence is of course possible. They have been defeated but not annihilated. Understandably, many Israelis believe the IDF should have been unleashed to complete the destruction of Hamas.

Would that have been possible? In military terms, yes. Perhaps over a lengthy war of attrition, at Continue reading

Hamas human shields are to blame, not Israel

Palestinian rockets are like the Nazi V1s. Civilian casualties were inevitable then and now

‘The Israelis are doing it all wrong. The RAF didn’t fly off to bomb Belfast in the troubles.”

These words from a respected media commentator embody the extraordinary lack of understanding by so many in this country who think the Israelis’ fight with Hamas is like ours with the IRA and can be dealt with in the same way. Continue reading

Britain, Lawfare and the ICC

The British government should deny its enemies the opportunities for exploitation presented by the International Criminal Court and withdraw now from the process. Any other course would represent an unprecedented and historic betrayal.

Today the United Kingdom sits alongside Libya, Darfur and Sudan as the International Criminal Court [ICC] launches an investigation into alleged war crimes by the British Army in Iraq. Continue reading

The War Behind the Wire by John Lewis-Stempel

During my conduct-after-capture training we were instructed not to draw attention to ourselves but to melt into the background, to be the grey men. No one told that to the “Old Contemptibles” or to the men of Kitchener’s Army. But to a man they were the product of a
society that inculcated the virtues of pluck, patriotism and duty. And to their eternal glory, they did resist when they fell into German hands. Every step of the way.

Continue reading

Security – Defence – Intelligence – Counter Terrorism