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 →
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 →
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 →
Article published in The Times, 26 August 2010. © Richard Kemp
Chile’s miners need military tactics to survive. Identify the ‘corporals’, keep busy and don’t ring home
I was buried alive when a powerful IRA mortar bomb, improvised from a gas cylinder packed with 200lb of explosives, detonated on the rim of the trench above me, blasting down sheets of corrugated iron revetment, earth and rubble. Mercifully, my soldiers managed to dig me out in a few minutes. Minutes that seemed like hours. Even that brief experience in South Armagh of being trapped, isolated, utterly helpless, was enough to make me shudder when I heard about the horrible fate of the 33 miners in Chile.
The terrors they have endured over the past three weeks, and the horrors that they will face over the next few weeks are of an order rarely experienced outside the Armed Forces.
When I heard yesterday that the men sang their national anthem as the rescue team first made contact, I again thought back to that desolate South Armagh hilltop. Private Dale Robbie had taken a direct hit from another of the ten bombs that had pulverised our position and was entombed beneath his destroyed concrete pillbox. He was badly wounded and bleeding hard.
As Robbie’s rescuers worked feverishly to get him out, they could make out from beneath piles of shattered concrete the muffled tones of the battalion song, The Lincolnshire Poacher — an expression of gratitude, relief and hope beyond the power of mere words that became as legendary within the regiment as the miners’ anthem has already become around the world.
It will be a long time before those men again see Chile’s “blue sky” or feel the “pure breezes” described in the first lines of their national Continue reading →