Category Archives: Articles

Wrong to prosecute Bloody Sunday soldiers

The brutal actions of a small number of soldiers from The Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday betrayed generations of brave and honourable men who have fought for this country wearing the maroon beret before and since.

The ill-disciplined mayhem that saw 13 dead on the streets of Londonderry has left an immovable stain on the reputation of the British Army.

And these killings helped exacerbate the violence that was already on the increase in Northern Ireland, with 40 soldiers killed in the preceding 12 months.

Nevertheless it is wrong to now bring criminal prosecutions against these former paratroopers. Many victims of the Troubles have been denied justice as a result of the peace process including the families
of British soldiers murdered by the IRA. Continue reading

Their work has helped to prevent another atrocity

Another terrible landmark in the global war on terror. What have the deaths of 2,000 American troops in Afghanistan achieved?  Throughout the years that I worked at the centre of the British intelligence machinery, a vast array of reliable secret reporting and communications intercept clearly showed that al-Qaeda was hell-bent on another attack of 9/11 proportions. They have failed even to come close.

To a very significant extent this failure is down to the work of international forces in Afghanistan. All too often, at the cost of their own lives, these international forces in Afghanistan have prevented al-Qaeda from re-establishing their base, which intelligence showed to be one of their critical objectives from 2002 onwards. Continue reading

Green-on-blue murders must not deflect us

Allied forces have no option but to stand by our Afghan allies, however suspect their loyalty

My first experience of “green on blue” — the euphemism for Afghan soldiers going rogue — was as an officer cadet in 1978. I awoke at two in the morning with an Afghan’s knife at my throat.

A fellow officer cadet, he and I had become friends during our six-month course, but I had made the mistake of relieving him of his rifle when he found it impossible to keep up during a forced march across Sandhurst’s infamous Barossa training area. This he took as a mortal insult against him, his family and all of his ancestors. Continue reading

The people’s brutal oppressors have never been far away

Afghanistan is no longer shocked by Taleban brutality

Most Afghans will be sickened, but I doubt they will be shocked, at the latest atrocity to emerge from Helmand. On Sunday night 17 Afghan men and women were butchered, many of them beheaded, for “partying with music in an area under the control of the Taleban,” as a spokesman for Helmand’s provincial governor put it.

According to a tribal elder, such killings have been on the rise in this region of Helmand, with three beheadings in the month of Ramadan alone. Executions are not only justified on so-called religious grounds. Many, including old women and children as young as 7, have
been slain after accusations of spying for Nato or the Afghan Government. Continue reading

Armed Forces Day flag

On Armed Forces Day, the Government must begin to treat our troops as they deserve

As a former soldier and taxpayer, I was deeply embarrassed when I visited barracks and found soldiers living in slum conditions

WHEN 1,200 soldiers, sailors and airmen march past the Earl of Wessex in Plymouth today they will represent all of the men and women who have served on land, at sea and in the skies around the world, protecting our country.

Off the shores of this historic naval port, at 2pm, one of our most powerful warships, HMS Argyll, will fire a 21-gun salute.

At fly-pasts, parades and ceremonies in towns and cities across the UK, we will commemorate the service so honourably given by our brave fighting troops. Continue reading

Eavesdropping cardinals

It’s an online war. The old weapons won’t do

I don’t like snooping either, but if we want to stop terrorists we must be free to monitor the technology they use

This week MPs, civil liberties campaigners and human rights lawyers stampeded to the studios to oppose plans to record internet communications that the Home Secretary says are “vital” to combat serious crime and terrorism.

In the past, I have had responsibility for authorising and carrying out surveillance against terrorist suspects, criminals and insurgents. I always felt uncomfortable eavesdropping on private phone conversations or covertly watching people at home with hidden cameras or powerful optics, or reading their e-mails and text messages. Continue reading

You can’t guard completely against these horrors

We understand stress now, but the Americans are unlikely to have foreseen the Kandahar killings

No British or American soldier will understand or tolerate any man wearing their uniform who goes out killing defenceless civilians, especially children, as happened in Afghanistan on Saturday night. We don’t yet know what motivated this sickening killing spree. But the killer surrendering himself rather than attempting to cover up his actions or trying to escape does not suggest an act of pre-meditated murder or conspiracy. Continue reading