Category Archives: Articles

Devastating for morale – and a threat to life

Article published in The Daily Mail, 17 September 2017. © Richard Kemp 

The news that officers aboard a British nuclear submarine on active patrol threatened to resign, because both the captain and his second-in-command were alleged to be having affairs with female crew members, is terrifying – but not surprising.

It is impossible to imagine a more serious setting for a crisis in morale than HMS Vigilant, one of the four Vanguard subs that form our country’s round-the-clock Trident nuclear deterrent at sea.

But it was sadly inevitable, given the Government’s insistence that men and women must serve alongside each other wherever our Armed Forces are on duty – on battleships, on the front line, from the first day of training, and even in submarines.

I am quite certain we’re hearing this story only because of the seniority of the ranks involved. Commander Stuart Armstrong and his executive officer [XO], the boat’s No 2, have both been removed from their posts. It is unprecedented for both the commander and the XO of a nuclear sub to be suspended simultaneously. But affairs between lower ranks are commonplace, and they can have equally catastrophic effects on morale and unit cohesion.

The situation is so bad that, in the two years up to last December, 36 Army recruits became pregnant during basic training. So did 15 RAF and ten Navy recruits. That’s about one young woman per fortnight.

It is not a new problem. More than 100 servicewomen were evacuated from Iraq during the years following the overthrow of Saddam because they were pregnant: Military rules forbid expectant mothers from active duty in a war zone. It was a similar story in Afghanistan – though in September 2012, quite unbelievably, a Lance Bombardier gave birth at Camp Bastion in Helmand province. Four days earlier, the Army base had repelled a Taliban attack.

Every pregnant soldier is a loss to her unit, in an Army already undermanned and compromised by defence cuts. But the effect on morale is incalculable. Soldiers have to be able to trust each other with their lives. The camaraderie of an active unit is crucial – and it can be ripped to shreds by the petty jealousies that simmer when two of the squad embark on a relationship together.

There is no more certain way to damage a tight-knit team than with sex. But put men and women together, especially in the pressure cooker situations of a combat zone or a submarine on active duty, and sex will be the result.

Politicians obsessed with political correctness are desperate to impose gender equality everywhere, including the Armed Forces. They ignore the fact that the Army, Navy and Air Force are like no other employer. There is nothing comparable to being a combat soldier. Continue reading

This is a very different kind of war

Article published in The Sunday Express, 17 September 2017. © Richard Kemp 

FRIDAY, when London was hit by the latest terrorist outrage, was also Battle of Britain Day.

This is a very different kind of war.

But if our political leaders showed just a fraction of the courage of the RAF in 1940, they could end this onslaught.

Here is what they must do:

● DENY re-entry to the UK by anyone who has fought with the Islamic State or any jihadist group. They represent the greatest danger.

● STOP unregulated movement from EU countries to the UK, even before Brexit. Under EU rules we cannot even prevent those known to be involved or previously convicted of terrorism from entering.

● VET all those entering the UK from countries where violence is rife, including refugees from countries like Syria. Our humanitarian obligations must not take priority over protecting our own people.

● DEPORT all non-British citizens involved in extremism or radicalisation. Today, we prioritise their human rights above those of their victims. This must stop.

● THROW OUT and ban from their mosques all preachers who contaminate young minds with their murderous messages of hate.

● SET UP special courts to hear evidence based on secret intelligence that cannot be revealed in public.

● SEGREGATE and if necessary isolate terrorist convicts and others who try to radicalise their fellow prisoners.

● TAG those involved in extremism that cannot be deported or imprisoned so their movements can be more effectively monitored. Continue reading

Britain should be taking back control of its defence, not surrendering it to Brussels

Article published in The Daily Telegraph,  13 September 2017. © Richard Kemp

Nelson will be spinning on his column. Under plans the government has been working on for months, if we want to build another naval warship in the future we will have to go cap in hand to Brussels.

When it comes to defence, it is becoming clear that Brexit does not mean Brexit. Judging by a paper released yesterday by the Department for Exiting the EU, which calls for a defence relationship with Brussels ‘closer than any third country’, the government intends to surrender control of UK defence to the EU.

British voters have always been more opposed to this than any other issue. Polls have consistently shown that even among the minority of voters who wanted to remain in the EU, large numbers rejected the idea of an EU army.

The architects of Project Fear, in their desperation to persuade us to vote Remain, assured us no such thing would ever happen. But the British people have been betrayed from all sides. Lied to by the Remain camp, they are now being sold out by the politicians that are supposed to be leading us out of the EU.

Much of this has been done behind all of our backs — including MPs and government ministers. British officials in Whitehall and Brussels have been quietly conspiring with their EU counterparts to draw us further and further into an EU defence union.

Since November last year, five months after we voted to leave the EU, Britain has fully signed up to five separate EU Council agreements which frame a defence union. Although the process has involved UK defence ministers, foreign ministers and the prime minister, the general election as well as intense focus on other Brexit issues no doubt allowed the usual smoke and mirrors to be deployed with even greater guile than usual. Having worked for several years in Whitehall I know well the machinations of the Sir Humphreys on both sides of the Channel. Continue reading

BREXIT TERROR STUDY

Letter to the editor of The Times, published 24 August 2017. © Richard Kemp

The leaked Home Office report (Aug 23) warning of an increased terrorist risk to the UK after Brexit is pure fiction. The opposite is true: Britain will be safer after Brexit.

No longer will we have to allow known terrorist suspects who are EU citizens to enter the UK as we do now. We should not forget that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian ringleader of the November 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed, travelled freely to Britain beforehand despite being known to be involved in extremism. Such is the EU’s security regime that he boasted in Islamic State propaganda of being able to travel unnoticed into and around Europe.

The report says that security co-operation would be ‘less effective or slower’ once Britain left the EU. Why should it be? The UK has the most effective counter-terrorism operational capability in Europe with the most extensive liaison relationships in countries from where the greatest Islamic terrorist threats emanate.

Our intelligence services have prevented numerous terrorist attacks in the UK and elsewhere in the EU in recent years. In the fight against terrorism the EU needs us far more than we need them.

Colonel Richard Kemp
Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan

Image: Abdelhamid Abaaoud

What Europe can learn from Israel in its war against vehicle attacks and lone wolf terror

Article published by International Business Times, 21 August 2017. © Richard Kemp and Arsen Ostrovsky

By Richard Kemp and Arsen Ostrovsky

Shortly after the horrific terror attack in Barcelona last week, which claimed the lives of 14 people, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said terrorism is Europe’s main problem ‘right now’.

Similarly, it was not until the London Bridge car ramming in June this year that killed eight people, that UK Prime Minister Theresa May said ‘enough is enough’. But therein lies the problem.

Jihadists have been waging terror in Europe for years now and ‘enough’ was enough after the first attack. But European leaders have largely been in denial, only now beginning to concede there is a problem, and even now, many refuse to identify and confront the radical Islam at the root of this war.

These might be so-called ‘lone wolf’ terrorists, but they are united by the same homicidal ideology, with pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (Isis).

The vehicular terror attack in Barcelona follows a similar wave of car ramming attacks in Nice, London, Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm over the past year, which have claimed a combined total of 130 lives.

But the sober reality is that the wave of vehicular terror we are seeing across Europe now was pioneered by Palestinian terrorists in Israel, when the world mostly looked the other way, trying to downplay, excuse or just plain ignore the attacks, seeking to differentiate terror in Israel from terror in Europe. Today, Islamic jihadists are copying and exporting this murderous methodology across Europe.

So what can be done about this, and, specifically, how can Europe stop this wave of car rammings by ‘lone wolves’ and what can it learn from Israel? Continue reading

North Korea: America must prepare for war

A version of this article was first published in The Daily Express on 10th August 2017. © Richard Kemp

North Korea is not America’s problem alone but the world’s. Britain and the US last fought against its aggression during the war of 1950–1953 after North Korea invaded the south.

Today the threat is greater — a nuclear-armed state fast developing global strike capabilities. North Korea’s most recent missile test indicated a potential capability to reach much further than previously thought. Its theoretical range of around 10,000 kilometres would put Washington, New York and London within the target zone.

And the threat goes even further. Pyongyang has colluded extensively with Tehran over ballistic missile development and we must assume there has also been, or will be, cooperation on nuclear programmes, especially with $100 billion of financial assets released to Iran under President Obama’s nuclear deal. The ayatollahs — the world’s greatest supporter of terrorism — may not be the only rogue client looking to North Korea for nuclear capability.

Is the threat from Kim Jong-Un likely to materialize? He knows that a strike against US allies or territory, which he has been threatening, would unleash what President Trump describes as the ‘fire and fury’ of the most powerful military in the world and would end both him and his regime. But he is an unpredictable and irrational dictator, capable of over-ruling the more sober-headed advisers that some believe constrain him.

Diplomatic efforts to halt or contain North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons over 25 years have all failed and will fail in the future given Pyongyang’s unwavering determination to continue developing them.

Nor will the sanctions regime ordered this week by the UN Security Council bring North Korea to heel any more than they have in the past. The country will cling on to its weapons programme to the end, even as its citizens starve in their millions. Continue reading

Dunkirk: the man who won the Second World War

A version of this article was first published in the Essex County Standard on 4th August 2017. © Richard Kemp

I saw old-fashioned British patriotism in Colchester after watching the movie Dunkirk at the Odeon last week. Tommy, a young soldier played by Fionn Whitehead, read the last words of Churchill’s ‘we shall fight on the beaches’ speech, the credits rolled and the audience broke into spontaneous applause. Exactly the reaction you would have seen to the newsreel report of Dunkirk in a Colchester cinema in June 1940.

The applause was not for the film, but for the Dunkirk spirit of embattled British soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians pulling together in the face of the mind-numbing peril it so powerfully conveyed.

Unknown to most in the cinema, a former pupil at Colchester Royal Grammar School pervaded every moment of the film, though his only appearance was a single mention of the name: Ramsay.

Admiral Ramsay

Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay, at CRGS before joining the Royal Navy in 1898 aged 16, masterminded the Dunkirk evacuation and by doing so won the Second World War. Why?

In words Tommy reads out in the film, Churchill said to the Commons on 4 June 1940, the day Dunkirk ended: ‘We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations’. But the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk — against all odds — was the turning point that paved the way to Allied victory over Nazi Germany five years later. Continue reading

Islamists may have already infiltrated our armed forces

Article published in The Times,  Tuesday 1 August 2017. © Richard Kemp

The sentencing of the Royal Marine-turned-terrorist Ciaran Maxwell exposes a key challenge facing the armed forces and police.

How did Maxwell get through the net? All recruits to the forces are subject to basic security vetting but it is far from foolproof. In the years before the Good Friday agreement vetting of recruits from Northern Ireland was much stricter, yet some extremists from both sides got in.

After the agreement, in the era of equal opportunities at any price, obsessive political correctness and a determination to increase recruitment among Northern Irish Catholics, vetting parameters and monitoring procedures changed. This made Maxwell’s entry and service in the Royal Marines far easier.

There is no doubt that the threat from dissidents will rise significantly in the coming years, partly in reaction to the increased influence of the DUP, so the potential for future infiltration remains. But that is the least of our problems. The understandable drive by the armed forces and police to recruit more Muslims, and a less understandable concern for ticking the politically correct box over operational effectiveness, combine into an unprecedented danger.

Most Muslims who join the armed forces and police undoubtedly do so for good patriotic reasons. But Islamic State is determined to infiltrate the forces and police, and has produced a manual that includes instructions on doing so.

The jihadists’ strategy of infiltration goes back years and despite the authorities rejecting hundreds on security grounds it is inconceivable that some have not succeeded in joining and are now ‘sleepers’, awaiting orders to strike.

We have seen the dangers of the enemy within. In Afghanistan 152 coalition troops were killed in 99 ‘green on blue’ attacks when trusted Afghan police and soldiers turned their guns on their comrades.

Armed forces members have access to sensitive intelligence, secure locations, members of the royal family, high-ranking officers and politicians, aircraft, tanks and nuclear submarines. Those with such potentially devastating opportunities have increased security vetting but what security vetting can be sure to detect an individual who is radicalised while serving, or pressurised to act by extremists who perhaps threaten his family?

The problem is exacerbated by a culture of political thought control under which soldiers and police officers are frightened to report suspicious behaviour for fear of being branded racist.

British soldiers engage the Taliban

This new outrage against British troops makes me wish our leaders had half the guts our soldiers do

Article published in The Daily Mail, Tuesday 4 July 2017. © Richard Kemp

Over recent years successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, have indulged in a shameful betrayal of our armed forces.

The very people who risk their lives to protect our country’s interests have been subjected to a relentless campaign of persecution, dressed up as legal investigation into abuses.

Disgracefully, the politicians have not only sanctioned this continual harassment but even encouraged it through vast legal aid subsidies and compensation payments.

Almost all the allegations of maltreatment brought against British troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out to be baseless.

But the reluctance of the Government to combat vigorously this stream of empty charges has created its own cycle of exploitation by ‘tank-chasing’ lawyers and their clients.

In Iraq alone, the Ministry of Defence forked out £20 million to more than 300 claimants to avoid court hearings, even though it spent more than £100 million on legal fees.

This week, a whistleblower who worked for the law firm Leigh Day — at the forefront of pursuing allegations of abuse by British military personnel in Iraq — alleged that many of these settled claims were not merely exaggerated: they were utterly fraudulent.

According to this person, a favourite lawyers’ ruse was to persuade clients to alter their stories about detention, pretending they had been held by the British even if they had been taken by the Americans. Continue reading

Borough High Street following the terrorist attack on 3 June

How to Fight Islamic Terrorism Effectively — Learn From Israel

Article published by Breitbart, 16 June 2017

by Richard Kemp and Rafael Bardaji

On 25 January 2015, a bus driver was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist who also injured several passengers before he was subdued by Israeli police; on 6 March, this time in Jerusalem, another terrorist drove his car into a group of people at a light railway stop, injuring 7 before being arrested by police officers.
A forthcoming report by the High Level Home Front Group shows that between 13 September 2015 and 25 July 2016 there were 157 stabbing attacks and 46 vehicle ramming attacks, with dozen of deaths and hundreds of injured people in Israel. Despite this incessant carnage, the West didn’t pay too much attention.

Our perception was more attuned to car-bombings and suicide terrorists, so this kind of low-level violence was not really considered terrorism – a mistake, to our own peril, as we know now.

Newscasts and public attention in Europe tended to focus on large-scale terrorist attacks, as in Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, Paris in January and November 2015, or Brussels in March 2016.

Yet the pattern of a new kind of Islamist terror was also brewing on our soil: in May 2010 in London, a British MP was stabbed and seriously wounded by a female who had been inspired by Al Qaida; in May 2013 two men who described themselves as ‘soldiers of Allah’ rammed their car into an off-duty soldier also in London and then cut him up with knives and a meat cleaver; in December 2014, a man with a knife, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, attacked several police officers at a police station in Tours, France; in 2015 there were at least two stabbing attacks in France and in January 2016 the first ramming attack using a car against soldiers took place.

The first attack using a truck happened in Nice during the celebrations for 14 July.

This non-traditional small-scale terrorism was not limited to the UK and France, striking other European nations too. In Hanover, Continue reading