I enjoyed seventeen years in the British Army (with op experience thanks to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Falklands War and Northern Ireland), 13 of those years in 3 Commando Brigade’s 29 Commando Regiment, and 5 years at Royal Marines Poole with 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery. There were also various attachments including to the headquarters of the 1st Armoured Division in Germany, the Ulster Defence Regiment and the US Army’s 2 Division (Light) at Fort Ord, Calif.
On leaving, I “declined into journalism” to be a national newspaper defence correspondent for The Sunday Times, and a television documentary producer and author. I”ve continued writing books.
I’ve also acquired the additional credentials of having a son recently promoted captain in the Light Dragoons. He’s just completed the All Arms Commando Course, and may even be the only cavalry officer currently wearing a Green Beret. The idea is for him to join my old unit 148 Battery. (Although both the Light Dragoons and 29 Commando Regiment are strongly in support, there’s some hopefully tangential glitch in the Royal Artillery’s manning machinery that doesn’t quite understand the mutual benefits of this happening…)
I was particularly fortunate to have spent most of my military career with the Royal Navy, running the land-based dimension of their formidable gunnery system. I was also a jungle warfare instructor, diving supervisor, paratrooper and forward air controller (TACP commander).
I’ve kept a watching brief on military matters since 1989 when I became a civilian – my leaving the military being partly in order to be free to comment from the sidelines.
I believe military affairs to be the most important of a state’s functions, the bedrock of its commercial success, and the foundation of its identity. Governments which abdicate responsibility for their nations’ security, in order to spend more on the comfort of their citizens, do not deserve to remain in power.
Soldiers, sailors and airmen are a nations’ most most valuable servants. Governments which do not honour the men and women who underwrite their every action, deserve to fail. As voters, we must be strongly vigilant on behalf of our Armed Forces, who are not permitted to speak out. Their every action takes place in our name. If they fail, it will be because we’ve allowed it.