All posts by jmb82BBp

The Army gives a sense of purpose to so many young lives

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2016. © Richard Kemp

William Roberston, a servant boy and the son of a tailor, enlisted as a Private at 17 and ended up a Field Marshal, the most senior rank in the British Army. He served at its head in the First World War, as Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

Robertson’s story is unique; but the history of the British Armed Forces is replete with men and women from the humblest of backgrounds who have defied the odds to achieve the most remarkable success.

Kidane Cousland, from a council estate in Tottenham, who left school at the age of 15 barely able to read, and also originally joined as a Private, is a shining example. Yesterday he won the Sword of Honour, awarded to the top officer cadet at Sandhurst. By any measure this is a remarkable achievement. To win the sword, Cousland not only beat the 200 members of his intake on the world’s most demanding leadership course, but also the many hundreds of other applicants who failed even to reach the formidable front gates of the Royal Military Academy.

Sandhurst’s motto is “Serve to Lead” and it is that ethos of service among officers towards their juniors that makes the British Army unique and provides people like Cousland with opportunities rarely found in any other walk of life. I have no doubt that, like the young William Robertson 128 years before him, Cousland was encouraged to strive for a commission by the officers in his regiment and his comrades in the ranks.

For many recruits, some as young as 16, the Army is their first proper family, and their instructors the first people to take any real interest in whether they sink or swim. Contrary to the screaming, shouting image favoured by TV documentary makers , staff at basic training centres care deeply about their recruits. They make enormous efforts – often in their own time – to encourage them to succeed. This is a matter of personal and professional pride and also because they know that the lives of their young charges may soon depend on the standards they have trained them to. Continue reading

Col. Richard Kemp: Israel an ‘Outpost of Strength’, Europe on ‘Spiral Downward to Obliteration’

Article published by The Algemeiner, 13 April 2016.


Discussing the challenges democracies face in confronting unconventional warfare, a retired British Army officer on Tuesday touted the Jewish state as exemplary.

Asked about the case of the IDF soldier currently under investigation for killing a subdued Palestinian terrorist who had just committed a stabbing attack against a comrade-in-arms, Colonel Richard Kemp – once the commander of UK forces in Afghanistan — said, “All people make mistakes, and soldiers are no exception, particularly since they are under immense pressure, may suffer from a lack of sleep, physical discomfort and often great fear.” The only relevant question, he added, is how an army and a country respond to violations, when they are determined as such.

Addressing the Gatestone Institute — a New York-based think tank specializing in strategy and defence issues — Kemp told The Algemeiner that the immediate public condemnation of the soldier in question by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot before all the facts of the case had even been established, was a function of their awareness of the “continual and unjust international pressure on Israel, no matter what it does.”

If the Israeli establishment had not reacted that way, said Kemp, author of the best-selling book Attack State Red, “it would have come under political assault.”

This attitude towards Israel, said Kemp, “is damaging to the West as a whole, because it constrains every army of every democracy; others do whatever they want. The perfect example of this is the war on ISIS. Though killing innocent civilians is obviously something we must avoid doing as much as we possibly can, our enemies hide among the civilian population, and sometimes we must risk the lives Continue reading

Putting women on the front line is dangerous PC meddling. We will pay for it in blood

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 6 April 2016. © Richard Kemp

The Ministry of Defence admits it is reviewing military physical fitness standards in preparation for the expected announcement later this year that women will be allowed to serve in all front-line combat units, including the infantry and SAS.

The MoD denies that standards will be reduced, but of course that is precisely what is going to happen. Generals – having put up a fight for many years – have been told women will join front-line units and, like the good soldiers they are, intend to make it work.

The people who have demanded this change – politicians desperate to be seen as “progressive”, feminist zealots and ideologues hell-bent on equality of opportunity without exception – would never dream of volunteering. Indeed only a very small number of women will want to join the infantry and of those only a fraction will have the physical capability. Hence the need to lower the bar.

This is an extremely dangerous move. Physical fitness is the single most important building block for an infantry soldier. Everything else depends on it. The only people who fully understand the demands of infantry close combat are infantrymen themselves. I have not heard a single serving or retired infantryman say that admitting women is the right thing to do – unless their wives or senior officers are listening. The overwhelming majority are vehemently opposed and many have said that if women join they will leave.

Why do feelings run so high? Because every infantryman knows that the price for this social engineering experiment will be paid in blood.

The infantry is different from any other part of the Army and from any other job in the world. Technology has changed the rest of the Army significantly over the decades and women now play a vital role in almost every part of it. It has been my privilege to command many women and I have the utmost admiration for the contribution they make. Continue reading

UK would give up right to self-defence if forced to join European army

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2016.

Britain would be forced to join an EU army within five years with “catastrophic” consequences for defence if voters back retaining membership, the man who once commended UK troops in Afghanistan has warned.

Col Richard Kemp told the Telegraph it is an “absolute certainty” that the UK would have to give troops towards an EU army that would undermine Nato and be very costly yet act like a “paper tiger”.

The move could even end Britain’s ability to defend the Falkland Islands because decisions would have to be agreed by EU member states and could never win consensus, warned Col Richard, who is backing Brexit.

The former commander said he had heard officials from Brussels pushing the idea of an EU army during his years working at the Cabinet Office and believed enthusiasm from France and Germany made it “inevitable”.

It comes after disagreement between rival campaigns about whether Britain would be safer in or out of the European Union in the wake of the Brussels terror attack.

Col Richard said: “An EU army is inevitable. As the EU has declared, it is moving to ever closer union, it intendeds to become a fully fledged superstate. That’s the plan.

“An EU army is a key part of that because it will be seen as both part of binding together an EU superstate and saving costs on duplication and overlaps. Continue reading

Europe faces most dangerous terror threat in history

Article published in The Express, 23 March 2016© Richard Kemp

ISLAMIC terrorists know we must continue to use air and rail centres, that is why these are their preferred targets.

Stations and airports guarantee large crowds at predictable times, so mass casualty attacks are much easier.

It is impossible to fully protect them without bringing our cities to a halt. The most effective defence is intelligence.

European national intelligence services have disrupted far more attacks than have succeeded.

But intelligence is usually incomplete, often wrong and lacking in coordination, as in Paris and now in Brussels.

Yet instead of national and European policies increasing the effectiveness of our intelligence services, they are undermining them.

Immigrants are pouring into Europe without effective security screening although they include active jihadis.

This is made worse by the return to Europe so far of at least 5,000 known terrorists who have fought with the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere and remain free to cross borders at will.

Jihadis operate from within growing Muslim communities that are often unwilling to turn them in and oppose measures to combat radicalisation.

With terrorists inspired and directed by an IS emboldened by the West’s weak response, Europe now faces the most dangerous terrorist threat in its history. Continue reading

The West’s fight against terrorism is anemic

Article published in the Miami Herald, 12 March 2016.

Arguing for the authorization of airstrikes on Syria in the British House of Commons recently, British Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn — a life-long campaigner against war — noted succinctly that we know this about Islamic State: They are fascists, and we have to defeat them.

Experience makes plain that when terrorist movements control territory where they can organize and train, the threat increases exponentially. The United States, the United Kingdom and our coalition partners must intensify our anemic action to destroy the Islamic State.

Coalition airstrikes alone will not defeat the Islamic State, nor end Syria’s brutal civil war. Ground forces will be necessary to take back and hold territory in urban centers in Syria and Iraq. We cannot predict the ultimate makeup of such forces. But we can be certain that they will face an unconventional enemy that will act with utmost brutality and pay no heed to the rules of warfare.

This is the fundamental challenge our democracies face.

We are confronted by ruthless Islamist death cults that pervert the rules of war to achieve victory and have no respect for basic humanity.

Military planners know from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere that terrorist organizations use a form of hybrid warfare combining terror with more traditional structures found in armed forces to even the odds against technologically superior forces reluctant to risk civilian casualties. Headquarters are placed around, or even within, schools and hospitals. Civilians are prevented from leaving conflict zones. Combatants deliberately dress in civilian clothes, and embed fighting units in homes. Islamic State uses these tactics to slaughter innocent civilians and commit savage acts to increase human suffering in flagrant violation of any moral code.

Rooted in democracies that promote the rule of law, our own militaries will never abandon the values that define us. Continue reading

Brexit would STRENGTHEN national security, blasts former Army Commander

ALL THE arguments in favour of leaving the EU, defence and security are the most clear cut.

Article published in The Sunday Express, 28 February 2016© Richard Kemp

There is no benefit in staying in the EU and national security would be strengthened if we left. Most EU members’ lack of commitment to defence is shown by their spending. No other EU state equals the amount the UK commits in absolute terms, or as a percentage of GDP. Other than Britain and France, no major EU military power comes close to meeting the two per cent of GDP membership of Nato requires.

Germany, most vocal in demanding Britain stays, spends a mere 1.1 per cent. Nato is our main military alliance, not the EU. Any EU army, an inevitable development of ever-closer union, would weaken our defences, drawing commitment away from Nato and costing vast sums of taxpayers’ cash. There would be shiny new headquarters, flags and generals, but an EU army could never become a serious deterrent or fighting force.

The rise of Islamic State presents a grave security challenge to us at home. The most important weapon in the fight against terrorism is intelligence. But there can be no viable EU intelligence-sharing mechanism. All sharing of sensitive information is bilateral, between individual states. Our most important intelligence partner is not any EU state but the US. Continue reading

Quitting the EU would help not hinder our security

Up to 5,000 terrorists trained by Islamic State are now back in Europe, with the right to come to Britain

Article published in The Times, 22 February 2016© Richard Kemp

According to David Cameron and Theresa May, Britain is safer from terrorism inside the EU than out. The Islamic State terrorist attack that killed 130 people in Paris in November — the deadliest in Europe since 2004 — proves them wrong.

Not only was there a catastrophic failure in intelligence sharing between France and Belgium, but the terrorists were able to travel unchecked from Belgium into France precisely because both countries are members of the EU.

The single most important element in preventing attacks is intelligence. Intelligence must be protected and that is why sharing of significant and sensitive intelligence is bilateral between individual states. It is not done through the EU or any other collective mechanisms that would lead to compromise.

These critical bilateral relationships would persist regardless of being in or out of the EU. Our closest intelligence relationship by far is not with any EU member state but with the US.

Nor would Brexit undermine any other area of security co-operation between us and EU member states or central organisations. It is absurd to suggest that the EU would deliberately put its citizens, or ours, at greater risk by reducing co-operation.

Rob Wainwright, chief of Europol, the EU police agency, said last week that up to 5,000 terrorists trained by Islamic State in the Middle East are now back in Europe. This is certain to be a gross underestimate and anyway these numbers will grow. Many are experienced killers. While we remain in the EU these terrorists have the right to come freely into our country. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Politicized UN

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 16 February 2016.

by Richard Kemp and Jasper Reid

  • The UN’s assertion that the Saudi-led coalition has committed war crimes in Yemen is unlikely to be true. UN experts have not been to Yemen, depending instead on hearsay evidence and analysis of photographs.
  • The UN has a pattern of unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes against the armed forces of sovereign states. Without any military expertise, and never having visited Gaza, a UN commission convicted the Israel Defense Force of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians in the 2014 conflict. It was an assessment roundly rejected by America’s most senior military officer, General Martin Dempsey, and an independent commission.
  • The Houthis have learned many lessons from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, groups also supported by Iran. Those lessons include the falsification of civilian casualty figures and their causes. The UN swallowed the fake Gaza figures hook, line and sinker, and are now making the same error in Yemen.
  • The Houthis exploit gullible or compliant reporters and human rights groups to facilitate their propaganda, including false testimony and fabrication of imagery.
  • Forensic analysis shows that rather than deliberately targeting civilians, the Saudis and their allies have taken remarkable steps to minimize civilian casualties.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and other groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in Yemen. A leaked UN report claims the bombing campaign against Iranian-supported Houthi insurgents seeking violently to topple the legitimate government of Yemen has conducted deliberate, widespread and systematic attacks on civilian targets.

Continue reading