Saturday, 06 February 2016
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Marking the passing of those who have served in the armed forces. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

In the world of state espionage, disloyalty can be deadly. A brutal reminder of that came with another chapter in the story of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian state security operative who in 2000 fled Russia for Britain. The results of the public inquiry into his 2006 death , finally released on January 21st, confirm what everyone has always strongly suspected: He was almost certainly assassinated by the Russian government , probably with a blessing for the operation by President Vladimir Putin himself, writes Fred Burton.

That the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) would murder a dissident on foreign soil is anything but surprising. In a way, it's a confirmation of what Litvinenko himself criticized about the agency that succeeded the KGB. After he defected, Litvinenko became a vocal opponent of the Russian government. Following years of trying to expose corruption in the FSB's upper echelons, he had come to believe the agency was nothing more than a brute squad for Putin's government, bent on picking off the president's political opponents one by one. Litvinenko had hoped raising public awareness would bring about some kind of reform. But it was not to be.

Lieutenant General Gordon Messenger CB DSO* OBE is to be promoted General and appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL in Spring 2016;

Vice Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB is to be promoted Admiral and appointed First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, in succession to Admiral Sir George Zambellas GCB DSC ADC DL in April 2016;

Air Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC is to be promoted Air Chief Marshal and appointed as Chief of the Air Staff, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford GCB CBE ADC in July 2016;

Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Deverell KCB MBE is to be promoted General and appointed Commander Joint Forces Command, in succession to General Sir Richard Barons KCB CBE ADC Gen in April 2016

Charlie Pratt comments at length on Nehad Ismael's artricle on the Saudi Arabia - Iran stand off.

Finally, the diplomatic crisis surrounding the execution of Shi'a cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia faded out. Iran and Saudi simply ran out of steam in the end, distracted by the lifting of sanctions on Iran, and the lowering oil price. So while Nimr al-Nimr was always a cause celebre for the Iranians, no Iranian died for him, nor did any Saudi. No hot war broke out. But this is yet another step in the war for Islamic hegemony waged between Iran and Saudi across the Middle East. Like the others, it will not quickly be forgotten. Instead the latent sectarianism from both sides adds to the cumulative increase in tension. And so, weeks later, Nimr al-Nimr is just one more martyr in this war, one that is sectarian and ideological in dress, but is about nothing more than power.

The end of Western sanctions in the aftermath of the nuclear deal was hailed by a supposedly reformist newspaper in Iran as "one of the greatest days in the contemporary history of Iran".
But a prisoner release and an order for Airbus paid for out of frozen funds do nothing for the underlying stand-off between Iran and Saudi Arabia. There's a deep and potentially unbridgeable fault line as both sides struggle for regional hegemony, accentuated by religious differences.
On January 2nd Saudi Arabia executed 47 people for terrorism, including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Most of those killed were said by the Interior Ministry to have been involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaeda from 2003-06.
The execution of Al-Nimr escalated the war of words between Saudi Arabia which is Sunni led, and Iran which is predominantly Shia. Each side regards itself as the leaders of the Islamic world and are fighting proxy wars in Yemen and Syria. On the 3rd Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties following an attack on its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad during protests, presumably organised. The foreign ministry in Riyadh gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom. Its Sunni allies in the Gulf followed suit.

Marking the passing of those who have served this country in the armed forces. Contributions fro comrades and families welcome

There was a large and very serious attendance at London's Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 18th November 2015 to hear Steve Killelea talk about the Global Terrorism Index Report for 2015, the third such annual report from the Australian based Institute for Economics and Peace (www.economicsand[ Equally serious discussions continued in the after event reception, which was not surprising given that the Paris terrorist attacks had occurred just five days before. 

The scope of the report is very wide. Its statistics (for 2014) are complemented by frequent comments in each section, these continuing coverage well into 2015. When considering the near, medium and long term implications of Paris and the narrow and wider implications of conflict in the Middle East and, especially, the growing tension between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran which could well divert energies and resources from terrorist threats, the compliers do not have the benefit of the greatest commentator's tool, hindsight. The following remarks by Euan Grant, who was there for Defence Viewpoints, are offered with that crucial caveat.

Last year around the 199th anniversary of the battle, the U K Defence Forum took a party of MPs and Peers to visit the battlefield as a prelude to visiting sites of major battles of 1914/15. Now Dr John Callahan looks back beyond the hype of the 200th anniversary to the enduring lessons learned - or confirmed as timeless.

"So Long as Campaigns are conducted on the surface of the earth, the principals of strategy which have guided Alexander, Caesar, Turenne, Marlborough, Frederick, Wellington, Napoleon, and every other great general of the past, will hold equally good." - David Chandler, New Introduction to Napoleon's Campaign in Poland, 1806-1807, by F. Loraine Petre.

As the frenzy to make money off of the most famous campaign in military history by the mass sale of dubiously useful, but colorfully repackaged books comes to an end (hopefully), it is useful to look again at the Waterloo campaign with an eye to picking out the key lessons of the battle. This brief treatment aims not to rehash the specific events of the campaign, but rather to focus on the key lessons to be learned by soldiers and statesmen from the battle. The point here is to make Waterloo relevant in a world in which it might not seem so, a world of hybrid and 4th generation warfare, which seems starkly removed from the linear tactics of a bygone era.

123 service personnel and 37 civilians have been honoured either for their work in the MOD or in other aspects of Defence. They are all listed on the next page.

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