Thursday, 05 March 2015
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At the height of the sectarian violence in Iraq in 2006 that followed the coalition invasion, more than 2500 people were killed a month, every month, for a year. The excesses of the time are well covered by the writers who were there. To the background of ritualised slaughter from Al-Qa'ida in Iraq and the Jaysh al-Mahdi, smaller militias sprang up in every community to man the roadblocks and carry out the patrols that guaranteed their homes some small shred of security. As these militias fought and protected themselves from other militias, so they become more brutal. Roadblocks became death traps, and the ranks of those disappeared at night grew. Shi'a militias developed a fine line in drilling holes in the heads of those they captured. Sunnis used the power drill for other forms of torture. Each new morning found more bodies abandoned in wastelands. And as the violence grew, so the various sects of Islam in Iraq retrenched territorially and ideologically; the country became split, physically and politically, along sectarian and tribal lines.

Marking the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades, friends and family welcome

History doesn't repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.' -Mark Twain

The British Army has recently launched a recruitment campaign aimed primarily at attracting new personnel into the Army Reserves. Designed to highlight the many roles that Reservists can play in uniform and opportunities for both professional and personal development, the 'Normal Days' campaign is the latest in a series of military recruitment drives. Over the last two years, the Army has launched several such high profile campaigns, writes Meghan Fitzpatrick. The current advertising blitz has cost roughly £7 million. The efforts have gone largely unrewarded. According to recruitment figures, 'last year the Army only managed to increase the total strength of the reserves by 20—it was also more than 3,000 soldiers short of its recruitment goal for full time soldiers.'

Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, of the Parachute Regiment, who has been awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. He is only the 15th winner since World War II.

On the 22 August 2013, Lance Corporal Leakey, deployed on a combined UK/US assault led by the United States Marine Corp into a Taliban stronghold to disrupt a key insurgent group.

On leaving their helicopters, the force came under machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, pinning down the command group on the exposed forward slope of a hill. For an hour the team attempted to extract from the killing zone; a Marine Corp Captain was shot and wounded and their communications were put out of action.

Lance Corporal Leakey said: "When you hear there's a man down, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Clearly then your plans change."

139 members of the armed forces and 1 civilian have been named in the latest Operational Honours and Awards List, which recognises service on operations in Afghanistan and national operations for the period October 2013 to June 2014. This distinguished group is led by :

AFGHANISTANLance Corporal Josh Leakey
Victoria Cross
Lance Corporal Joshua LEAKEY, The Parachute Regiment

The citation for this highest award for gallantry is in the next post, and the other 138 awards are listed on the next page.

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence of the United States, has said that he personally was in favour of sending lethal military aid to Ukraine, despite the intelligence community assessment that arming Ukraine would provoke Russia.

The hearing was part of the U.S. Senate Committee of Armed Services annual review of "Worldwide Threats" and its findings will further inform the U.S. defence authorization plans. However, it will take a decision by the White House for lethal aid shipments to start.

So what is going through President Barack Obama's head as he ponders such decisions, under increasing pressure from the likes of Senator John McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee and strongly supports arming Ukraine, and now the testimony of his most senior intelligence official, asks Adam Nathan?


The contributing author of Think Defence takes the Telegraph to task for its story headed "Not fit to serve: Vladimir Putin exposes UK defence industry failings.
Britain's Army is outgunned by Russia, and so is our defence industry, as Vladimir Putin sends his bombers into UK airspace"
Okay, so I know its the Telegraph, but I can’t seriously believe that any editor would allow such inaccurate nonsense to appear in a broad sheet. It seems the problem with getting the message on defence spending across to the media is two fold. The vast majority of the media know little about defence and care even less. The few that do profess to care seem to know nothing beyond watching the Battle of Britain.
Just to pick up on some of the inaccuracies
Russia does not have the 2nd biggest defence budget in the world. China spends almost double. In dollar terms Russia’s budget is likely to drop below ours soon as well.
Neither Russia or Ukraine is any where near the English Channel.
Russia does not have a million man army ready to storm across Europe. Even if it did one million men is a pretty small force to use to invade Europe, which coincidently has more soldiers than Russia. In addition despite the cut backs in Europe its forces are still of a far higher quality both in training and equipment than anything the Russians poses in numbers.
I have never come across any report that said Russian aircraft violated UK airspace this week.
While I don’t doubt we should take the Russian threat seriously and I do believe we should begin to slightly increase defence spending, lets not pretend by any stretch of the imagination that Russia and Putin in 2015 is Hitler and Germany in 1939. The author of this article is either lying to get his point across or so badly informed that he should not be writing in a major news paper.
Either way, bad journalism like this helps no ones case to get a higher priority for defence spending. (Read more below)

Nick Watts, Deputy Director General of the U K Defence Forum recently sat down with General Sir Richard Shirreff lately Deputy Supreme Commander Europe, the senior British commander in NATO's military structure. The NATO biennial Summit in Wales in September 2014, was concerned with the subject of how best to respond to Russian actions in Ukraine and what this might mean for the way the Alliance protects its Member States who are adjacent to Russia in the Baltic.

"On the face of it, the summit said what needed to be said." By which Shirreff means a clear and coherent message from NATO; a strong position in the face of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. This includes measures such as the formation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. But he wonders about the substance. "One area where it was not was the promise that within 10 years nations should aspire to be spending 2% on defence. That is a ten year rule which doesn't pass any hollow laughter test. The test will be the development of the Joint Deployment Force. The real nitty-gritty of readiness, sustainability, equipment and training. As an ex- NATO force generator, I would be pretty suspicious of whether the nations will sign up for that or not."

As the civil servants and senior military officials of Britain’s policy community contemplate the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), Nick Watts Deputy Director General of the UK Defence Forum spoke to Liam Fox who was the Secretary of State at the MOD at the time of the 2010 SDSR. Fox reflected that when he approached the last defence review he established a template against which the review was carried out. “We looked at costings, operational capability, the cost of regeneration, but particularly the ‘real world’ risk.” He says that for every decision relating to equipment, either in terms of purchase or deletion, the MOD was able to take a number of calculated risks.
When ministers revisit the decision this time, they will find that the level of these risks will be increased.
• Failing states: This risk has increased most notably Pakistan and Yemen.
• Belligerent states: This risk too has increased notably Russia and North Korea.
• Trans National Terrorism: This is an increased risk with the rise of Al Shabab and Daesh/ISIL among others.
• The risk to global financial stability: Fox believes that this is greater even than a year ago.
• Commodity competition: Has also increased.
• The cyber threat: Is massively increased.

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