All posts by jmb82BBp

Trump’s strike on Syria made the world safer. Now he must tackle the nuclear threat from Iran

A version of this article was published in The Sunday Post on 9th April 2017. © Richard Kemp

President Trump’s attack on the Al Shayrat airbase in Syria has made the world a safer place. It was a return to US global leadership and resolve that hasn’t been seen for eight years.

Thursday night’s Tomahawk cruise missile strike was made necessary by President Obama’s weakness, appeasement and poor judgement that destabilized the Middle East and signalled a free pass to despots everywhere. Russia received the green light for intervention in Syria and aggression in Ukraine.

President Assad previously used Sarin in August 2013 in an attack at Ghouta. Despite Obama’s declaration the previous year that use of chemical weapons by Assad was a red line he failed to respond, with far-reaching consequences for American credibility and authority. Instead, with Russia and Syria, he agreed the surrender and destruction of Assad’s chemical weapons under international supervision.

Ever since, Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice have been bragging about how they ended Syria’s use of chemical weapons by diplomacy rather than force.

Tuesday’s Sarin attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun conclusively exposed their miscalculation and naivety.

The Chemical Weapons Convention bans production, stockpiling and use of these munitions worldwide. Whenever anyone attacks with chemical weapons without consequences their subsequent use becomes more likely and threatens us all. Because of that, not only was Trump’s counter-attack legitimate, lawful and proportionate — it was vital for global security.

Why did Assad attack with nerve agent? Support from Russia, Iran and Lebanese Hizballah prevented the total collapse of his regime but the war against his own people is far from won. Continue reading

The chutzpah of Sayeeda Warsi

Article published in Jewish News, 3 April 2017. © Richard Kemp

The chutzpah of Sayeeda Warsi. I mean that in the Yiddish sense of despicable insolence, but likening the Israel Defence Force to the Islamic State is much worse, it is dangerously irresponsible. Warsi excuses IS and Muslims who leave Britain to murder and rape for them yet condemns the IDF and British Jews who serve in their honourable ranks.

Coming from the most prominent Muslim parliamentarian, this will make Islamic jihadists sniff blood. It will encourage UK Muslims to join terror groups and embolden IS. Repeating the lie that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza validates Hamas’s human shield strategy and encourages further violence and killing. She has blood on her hands.

Her arguments are absurd. She obviously doesn’t care about the so-called loophole she demands is closed: allowing British citizens to join a foreign army. If she did, she would apply the same in reverse, condemning the thousands of Gurkhas and Commonwealth soldiers in the ranks of the British forces today.

She would also condemn the hundreds of thousands from her parents’ native Pakistan who served in the British Army, including in two world wars.

Among them were both her grandfathers.

So what is this all about? Warsi objects to the increasing action against hundreds of UK Muslims fighting with Islamic terror groups and wants an excuse to demonize Israel as she’s done before.

Let’s take a look at IS. Their mass murder, rape, torture, beatings and wanton destruction have no limits. They despise our Judeo-Christian civilization, our country and our way of life and they want to vanquish and subjugate us to their barbaric Islamic caliphate.

They have repeatedly threatened to attack us and kill our leaders. They have murdered British citizens abroad and ordered their disgusting followers in this country to ram their cars into us, slash us to pieces, shoot, poison and blow us up.

The IDF are the diametric opposite of this evil. They are the army of our close allies, at the forefront of the war on terror. Israeli intelligence has saved many British lives on the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, here at home and abroad.

Israeli drone, counter-IED and battlefield medical technology have made our forces more effective and kept British soldiers alive and fighting.

Israel’s staunch military backing to Egypt and Jordan has held IS at bay and prevented an even worse immigration flow into Europe.

Will our young people who join the IDF cut off their victims’ heads, burn them in cages, bury them up to their necks and leave them to die, line them up and shoot them in the back of the head, systematically destroy their cultural heritage, rape their women and children, torture their prisoners, beat and abuse their elders, as IS do?

I won’t even answer that. The IDF complies with the Geneva Conventions and with Jewish morality handed down across the centuries. In their efforts to avoid civilian casualties in battle, they are admired and emulated by armies throughout the world.

I have seen many young British IDF soldiers in action. I hugely admire their dedication, humanity, professionalism, courage and fighting spirit.

I abhor and reject the contemptible accusations of Sayeeda Warsi. Unlike these brave Jewish men and women, she has never put herself in harm’s way for her country, has no understanding of the depredations of our bestial IS enemies or the righteousness of our friends and allies of the IDF.

Marine A was a man broken by combat. The courts are right to say he was no murderer

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 28 March 2017. © Richard Kemp

I strongly welcome the news that Sgt Alexander Blackman is to be released soon, after his conviction for killing a wounded Taliban terrorist in Afghanistan was downgraded from murder to manslaughter.

Blackman was the first British soldier ever convicted of murder on the battlefield. This is particularly striking given the millions who fought in both world wars, and in all other violent conflicts in modern history.

Thousands of British soldiers who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland have been investigated for alleged murder, torture and rape. The scale of these proceedings is vastly greater than anything seen in all previous wars combined.

Have the British armed forces of the 21st Century suddenly descended into hitherto unknown savagery? Or have such horrors
previously been brushed under the carpet in a cover-up of unprecedented proportions?

Neither. The reality is that today, unlike in the past, the actions of our troops are measured by a society whose only understanding of combat is ‘Command and Conquer’ or ‘Call of Duty’; and judged by leaders who have never themselves faced enemy fire.

This includes senior military officers, civil servants, politicians and lawyers. These people not only permitted, and even welcomed, Sgt Blackman’s wrongful conviction for murder; they also encouraged and financed a large-scale legal vendetta against British soldiers, taking seriously hundreds of patently trumped-up accusations of criminal wrongdoing. Continue reading

Khalid Masood simply doesn’t fit profile for jihadists and reality is the police and MI5 can’t monitor everyone

Article published in The Mirror, 24 March 2017. © Richard Kemp

Britain sustained its first Islamic terrorist attack in July 2005 when I was responsible for coordinating the national intelligence agencies in support of COBRA.

Following COBRA’s meeting on the day of the London attack this week, the emergency committee will have met several times.

One of the key issues under discussion has been the profile of the terrorist, his known associates and whether he was working alone.

The members of COBRA would have quickly realized that 52-year-old Khalid Masood did not fit the usual profile for jihadists active in this country.

The average age is just 22 – often impressionable hotheads who are easy prey for radical preachers like Anjem Choudhray, himself now in prison for terror-related crimes.

Masood seems to come from a relatively well-to-do background. This is not uncommon, contrary to the popular misconception that most jihadists are from poor families, marginalized and cast aside by society.

He had been in several prisons, and it is very likely that the Christian convert was radicalized while inside. Disgracefully, our prisons remain a breeding ground for Islamic extremism.

His crimes, over 20 years, had involved violent assault, public order and possession of offensive weapons.

He had no terrorist convictions. But like many others who have launched attacks in Europe, Masood had previously come to the intelligence services’ attention on the margins of a terrorist investigation.

He was no longer a suspect and not under surveillance. The reality is MI5 and the police cannot monitor everyone they believe to be involved in Islamic terrorist activity.

There are just too many for them to cope with. The Head of MI5 says his service knows of 3,000 jihadists in the UK. Such a huge number cannot possibly be monitored.

On top of these, with the Islamic State under pressure in Syria and Iraq, hundreds of British citizens who have fought with this murder gang will return home.

Plus even known jihadists from European countries will continue to be free to travel to Britain until we leave the EU.

Allowing such freedom of movement in the name of the human rights of known terrorists puts all of our citizens in mortal danger.

London terror attack shows we must seriously think about arming ALL police to prevent another

Article published in The Mirror, 23 March 2017. © Richard Kemp

I was once responsible for the coordination of the national intelligence agencies for Cobra meetings dealing with terrorist attacks like this one.

Our intelligence services, police and private security organisations prepare for all types of terrorist attacks, from the 7/7 suicide bombings, the firearms and explosives assault in Mumbai, to the Bataclan theatre slaughter and the lone wolf knifing or car ramming attack such as this one.

This is the hardest type of attack for our intelligence services to stop. Working individually or in pairs, terrorists do not need to communicate in a way that can be detected by intercepting emails or phone calls.

Nor do they need to obtain specialist weapons.

As Islamic State has called upon its followers to do, anyone can use a car, knife or machete to deliver a terrifying, lethal attack.

The last assault of this sort in London was in May, 2013 when Fusilier Lee Rigby was rammed and killed by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

Since then no terrorist attacks have come to fruition here. Many have been planned, but the intelligence agencies and police have succeeded in stopping them.

But, no matter how good our services are, they can’t always be Continue reading

Mistaken criticism

Article published by Israel Hayom, 10 March 2017. © Richard Kemp

I was in Israel throughout Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 and monitored the campaign as closely as someone outside the official machinery could do. Having been involved in the direction of conflict from the top level of government down to command on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland, I believe this highly complex and demanding operation, fought under an intensely critical international spotlight, was conducted effectively and with the best possible outcome.

To argue that the war could have been avoided is to simply ignore the diplomatic and political efforts made over several years to do just that, not only by the Israeli government and its ambassadors but also by supporters around the world, including the Friends of Israel Initiative of which I am a member. It is to ignore the actions of international governments and organizations like the UN and EU that encouraged terrorist acts against Israel and still do. And it is to ignore the malign intransigence and motivations of Hamas itself and its supporters such as Iran, which are hell-bent on the destruction of the Jewish state.

Of course errors were made, as they always are in war. Winston Churchill himself readily admitted making many mistakes in the prosecution of World War II. But to a large extent due to his courage, judgement and leadership, Britain and its allies ultimately defeated their enemies in the most lethal conflagration mankind has ever known.

The ultimate outcome, not the inevitable mistakes along the way, is the true measure of any armed conflict and it is the true measure of this Gaza war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objective was not the total defeat of Hamas, but to inflict sufficient damage to force a cessation of hostilities and deter further aggression as far into the future as possible.

Continue reading

Rommel and ‘HR’

Letter published in The Times, 28 February 2017.  © Richard Kemp

While Captain HR McMaster was attacking Iraqi tanks in the Battle of the 73 Easting, I was doing the same a few miles across the desert with the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats (‘ “HR” and the Charge of the Heavy Brigade’, The Times, February 25). I was in the command tank with Brigadier Patrick Cordingley, also an outstanding battlefield commander. While McMaster had a photograph of Rommel in his armoured vehicle, from ours fluttered the flag flown by the commander of 7th Armoured Division who fought under General Montgomery when he vanquished Rommel at El Alamein.

Ben Macintyre is right to say that President Trump has not acquired a docile general who will meekly follow orders. Most British soldiers became deeply impressed by the fighting spirit and initiative of the US Army and Marine Corps during that war, and we can be sure that from McMaster and his Marine colleagues Generals Mattis and Kelly, the president will benefit from a great deal of military straight-talking.

Nato needs to reform into a global alliance against Islamic terrorism – or become obsolete

by Rafael Bardají and Richard Kemp

Article published in The Daily Telegraph on 13 February 2017. © Rafael Bardají and Richard Kemp

President Trump has said repeatedly that Nato is obsolete. And he is right. For five decades Nato was necessary to, as its first Secretary General said at the time, ‘keep the Soviets out, the Americans in, and the Germans down’.

The Atlantic Alliance was indeed instrumental in deterring the USSR

and keeping the European continent in peace. There were many discussions as to how to achieve its goals, including major disagreements, but with America providing leadership, taking a big portion of the economic burden, and being willing to station hundreds of thousands of GIs in Europe, the Allies were able to overcome all problems and stay highly successful during the Cold War.

The collapse of the Soviet Union left Nato with both the sweet feeling of having won the Cold War without a real fight, as well as a sour feeling about what should come next.

In the early 90s there were voices calling for the dismantling of Nato as well as voices arguing in favor of retaining it as a safety net, just in case things went once again in the wrong strategic direction. In any case, the civil war in the former Yugoslavia offered Nato defenders a new option: to move from a territorial defense of the members in case of a Soviet invasion to a multinational body able to act on its periphery to enforce peace among rivals and contenders. More than a mission, peace enforcement was adopted as a salvation philosophy to keep Nato alive and well.

Lord Ismay, founding Secretary General of NATO, standing second from right on board the SS Williamsburg. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Thus, in 1995, allied forces bombed Serbian forces to force the Dayton agreement and put an end to the war over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1999 they mounted a bombing campaign to guarantee the independence of Kosovo, a territory controlled by Serbia.

That campaign lasted for 81 days, far longer than expected, and was Continue reading

The next step is an Army that’s not able to deploy after 5pm

Article published in The Mail on Sunday on 12 February 2017. © Richard Kemp

This ill-considered, headline-chasing policy will turn our Armed Forces into a semi-reserve force. If we’re not careful the next step will be an Army that can’t deploy after 5pm, or isn’t available at weekends.

Everyone has to realise that joining the Army, the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force is not just another job and I am afraid to say it cannot be a family-friendly organisation. That is the unpleasant reality of Service life.

One must ask the question: Do we really want to have soldiers whose priority is not to serve? Or whose priority is to go off and do other things for a couple of days a week? Our Armed Forces are of such high quality because of the extraordinary commitment made by our people. We do not want to encourage them to reduce that level of service, or prioritise the interests of those who are not as driven to succeed as military personnel.

Also, to achieve cohesion among fighting units, which is critical to success, troops must live and train together and make the same sacrifices. Allowing some people to avoid going anywhere where they might be shot at isn’t conducive to this aim. Rather, fighting capability will be reduced and so will the readiness of our Services to deploy to where British interests are being challenged.

The Flexible Duties Trial is taking us down the same route as various European armies. To them, being in the armed forces is just another job, with the same obligations and rights as civilian employment.

But recruits to the British Armed Forces must continue to understand that by enlisting they are making a major commitment, beyond that of any other job.

This strikes me as a panic move by politicians and Service chiefs to deal with recruitment and retention problems of their own making. Recruitment isn’t done properly because it has been outsourced while mismanagement and legal attacks on our troops have made retention of high-quality individuals more difficult.

Iraq Investigation Shut Down

Article published in The Sun on 11 February 2017. © Richard Kemp

If IHAT is shut down tomorrow it won’t be soon enough.

This miserable organisation and it’s posse of private investigators is the state arm of a despicable campaign to undermine our brave soldiers on the front line, spearheaded by bent tank-chasing lawyer Phil Shiner.

Shiner could not have brought so much misery onto innocent British soldiers and their families without the support of successive governments spending our tax money.

Theresa May and Sir Michael Fallon deserve credit for finally calling a halt.

Great credit is also due to the press, especially The Sun, in their tenacious campaigning on behalf of the beleaguered troops.
What they exposed has been nothing short of betrayal, by government ministers, senior civil servants and – perhaps worst of all – by generals who should have fallen on their own swords rather than see their soldiers sold down the river.

Our soldiers are not angels and they would be no use to us if they were. But they are courageous, well disciplined, well led, tough, professional and moral.

Very few have wilfully transgressed the laws of war in either Iraq or Afghanistan, despite untold horrors and provocations that less effective fighting men would not be able to withstand.

But their collective names have been blackened by this politically-motivated slur campaign. The government must now compensate those directly affected, many of whom have had their lives ruined.

Worse still, our jihadist enemies have used the lies of Shiner and his henchmen to recruit, to gain funds and to motivate. It is highly likely innocent people have died as a consequence.

This must never happen again.

When we send our fighting men into battle to defend this country, and risk their lives doing so, we must in future ensure that they know they will get 100 per cent support from their chain of command and politicians.

Images: Michael Fallon, Theresa May: Wikimedia Commons (1), (2)