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.
COLONEL RICHARD KEMP says Sergeant Blackman should be given special pleading when he is sentenced
The Chief of the Defence Staff says ‘murder is murder’ and there must be no special pleading on behalf of British Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman when he is sentenced today for murdering an injured insurgent in Afghanistan.
But General Sir Nicholas Houghton could not be more wrong. I believe it is imperative there should be special pleading for a fighting man our government sent into battle with orders to forfeit his life if called upon to do so.
Some 47 per cent of the British public understand this, according to opinion polls, and want leniency to be shown. Continue reading
446 British lives were lost not for Afghanistan’s reconstruction but to kill violent Islamic extremists
As our final year of combat engagement approaches, the experts and activists are eager to dismiss as pointless the 446 British military deaths in Afghanistan. This perspective arises from a combination of delusional anti-war dogma, the innate ambiguity of unconventional
warfare and the failure of successive governments to explain the reality of the Afghanistan conflict. Continue reading
Despite the self-righteous pomposity of Edward Snowden, who claims from his FSB-protected Moscow hideout that he doesn’t want to live in a society that places its citizens under surveillance, his revelations about the secret state have told us little.
GCHQ exists precisely to do what Snowden has ‘uncovered’. Who is genuinely surprised that, in its efforts to protect this country, GCHQ is monitoring all possible terrorist means of communication? Who wouldn’t be outraged if it were it not? Continue reading
Review: Meeting the Enemy: the Human Face of the Great War by Richard van Emden
This tour de force of research casts new light on meetings
between the British and Germans in the First World War
As Guardsman Norman Cliff passed two decomposing bodies on the Western Front he was overcome by conflicting emotions. Two soldiers, one German, the other British, lay hand in hand “as though reconciled in mutual agony and in the peace of death”.
This grim yet deeply moving scene evokes Wilfred Owen’s great poem Strange Meeting, written shortly before he was killed in action in 1918. One line, “I am the enemy you killed, my friend”, sums up the often paradoxical relationship between deadly enemies on the Western Front which is the central theme of this book. Despite industrialised carnage, fighting men at the front could often feel greater comradeship with their enemies-in-arms than their own countrymen back at home. Continue reading
Plans to replace regular soldiers with part-timers are in desperate trouble
Senior officers have been busy flashing out immediate operational orders. Has a rampaging jihadist army landed on our shores to threaten the capital? No, what is causing brass to jangle is an entirely predictable recruiting crisis.
In the past three months, barely a quarter of the numbers needed have enlisted in the Army Reserve — the TA — and the outlook is no better. This bleak picture is also reflected in the Regular Army, but the impact is most serious in the Reserve because a swell in their numbers is the cornerstone of the Government’s fundamentally flawed plan to replace 20,000 professional regular soldiers with part-timers. Continue reading
Al-Qaida’s war will not end when Nato forces leave Afghanistan. If anything, terrorist attacks here in Britain could increase
Michael Adebolajo, the knife-wielding, blood-soaked brute who is suspected of killing Drummer Lee Rigby told passersby he was fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan. If that was the reason for Wednesday’s attack on Drummer Lee Rigby, Adebolajo should have travelled to Helmand and started wielding his knife against Taliban fighters. It is they who kill most Muslims in Afghanistan.
According to the United Nations, 81% of civilian casualties were inflicted by the Taliban and their bedfellows in 2012, with only 8% caused by Afghan and coalition forces. This is roughly the pattern of previous years too. The overwhelming majority of the Taliban’s
victims were the result of deliberate targeting and indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks, some carried out by children. Continue reading
The bleatings of Forces Watch show it doesn’t understand the Army
Forces Watch and Child Soldiers International proudly proclaim that their new report, One Step Forward, “details how the Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94 million each year training under-18s for army roles”. Wow! Human rights groups anxious to see Britain’s defence budget spent on more cost-effective ways of dispatching the Queen’s enemies? Continue reading
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
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