We can\’t trust the French to be our allies on the battlefield

Much as I hate to agree with Con Coughlin, he\’s right here.

For the thing is, we\’ve got different military interests.

The French are still deeply involved in the remnants of their African Empire. We are still deeply involved in the defence matters of some of our own Empire remnants. The two interests are rather incompatible.

Sorry, but thinking that the only thing our military should be doing is defending either Britain of France is grossly simplistic. Think of the Sierra Leone and Liberia interventions… imagine that we\’re actually looking at one of the Francophone West African states. It\’s entirely possible to believe that we would be on opposite sides in such an intervention…..the French, for example, were hardly on the side of the angels in Rwanda now, were they?


Sounds a little odd:

Britain\’s ability to defend itself from attack has been called into question after deep cutbacks to the Armed Forces were announced to pay for the war in Afghanistan.

When unemployment rises we don\’t cut unemployment pay in order to keep the budget constant. We wouldn\’t insist that a pandemic were paid for by cuts in the NHS.

So why insist that the extra task of fighting in Afghanistan has to be paid for from the rest of the military budget?

The MOD are silly bastards, aren\’t they?

Joanne Goody-Orris and her partner Maurice Benton, both 79, from Somerset, began sending packages to serving soldiers two and a half years ago.

Since then they have sent over 6,000 parcels containing everything from treats such as chocolate and crisps to necessities such as wet wipes and thick socks.

They drive hundreds of miles every week, collecting donations from local businesses, charities and individuals and setting up stalls at fetes and other events. They even spend hours writing four-page letters to every soldier.

But the Ministry of Defence has said that the troops have enough resources and has told the pensioners to stop sending parcels, claiming that the extra transport needed to take them to the soldiers could put servicemen\’s lives at risk.

Even if what the MOD says is true, they\’re still silly, stupid, bastards. Raising morale at home, raising morale at the battlefront, all for the price of the occasional truck for transport?

Silly, stupid, bastards.


The Shadow Defence Secretary told The Daily Telegraph that ending Britain’s 25,000 strong military presence on the Rhine would be part of a fundamental reorganisation of Nato forces designed to free troops for military operations outside Europe.

I thought we\’d already left.

Sounds sensible that we should leave though.

Can we shoot them, please……please?

The government will this week launch an attempt to deny soldiers crippled in battle full compensation for their injuries.

The MoD is arguing that they should only have to pay compensation for the original injury, not for any complications that might result from treatment, infection, etc.

Please, can we shoot them.


On Princes and war

Doesn\’t the gung-ho posturing of the princes rather undermine the courage of ordinary men and women in the forces?

No, that\’s actually what Princes are for.

Yes, the Royal Family are immensely privileged. Yes, they\’re rich beyond dreams simply by being members of the lucky sperm club. Yes, we do this so as to have a non-political Head of State and representative of the nation.

And part and parcel of all this is that when the military, the armed forces of the nation, are asked to gird their loins and risk their lives for some or other policy of state, then Princes of the appropriate age should be there with them. Risking all that privilege. Yes, I know, it\’s easy enough to mock this idea as medievalism, some chinless wonder shouting \”Tally Ho!\” during a bayonet charge.

But that is what Princes are for.

God these people…..

What I don\’t understand is why they are wriggling so hard?

Immigration rules introduced in 2004 allowed serving Gurkhas with at least four years\’ service to settle in the UK but they did not apply to Gurkhas discharged from the British Army before July 1 1997.

The Government announcement followed a High Court ruling last year that immigration guidelines on older veterans were unlawful and in need of urgent review.

So the new rules?

David Enright, of Howe and Co solicitors, said: "They have set criteria that are unattainable. They require a Gurkha to serve for 20 years but a rifleman is only permitted to serve for 15 years.

Why the hell are they doing this? What\’s the damn point?


French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims.

They were, umm, using Windows and not adding the necessary patches.


Damascus steel

I thought this was well known already?

Williams began to test the Ulfberht blades when a private collector brought one into the Wallace, and found they varied wildly. The tests at the NPL have proved that the inferior swords were forged in northern Europe from locally worked iron. But the genuine ones were made from ingots of crucible steel, which the Vikings brought back from furnaces thousands of miles away in modern Afghanistan and Iran. The tests at Teddington proved the genuine Ulfberht swords had a phenomenally high carbon content, three times that of the fakes, and half again that of modern carbon steel.

The crucible steel against locally worked iron, perhaps not, but the high carbon content I thought was well known. That\’s what made Damascus steel so desirable for example, that it had a very high carbon content (manufactured, I think, by continual reforging, wasn\’t it?).

Colour Sergeant Krishna Dura

Umm, folks, can we stand down on this story please? Yes, you, you, you, you and you.

I did a little digging yesterday and here\’s the state of play.

CS Dura\’s widow and children do not have an absolute right to continue to live here. This much is true.

However, it is almost certain that they will be given leave to do so. So sayeth the Home Office.

So sayeth also the people running the campaign. However, before such leave is given, they will in fact need to ask for it, something which they have not done as yet….something they are likely to do after they return from a post funeral trip to Nepal.

To reiterate. They are not being threatened with deportation. They are being told that they need to ask to stay and that if they do it is (almost certainly) going to be granted.

We might indeed want such a right to be enshrined in law, that those left behind by one who dies in our service live here as of right, but the situation is not as black as currently painted.

That fiscal boost

So, I think it\’s generally agreed (whether rightly or wrongly) that massive defence spending is what brought the US out of the Depression.

We\’re told here that we risk a Depression unless we provide a similar fiscal boost. So, what does the Government do?

The Armed Forces yesterday became the first significant victims of government attempts to reduce spending in the face of the advancing recession.

Two programmes worth £20 billion will be cut and delayed after defence chiefs were told that there was not enough money to go ahead as planned.

The announcement throws into disarray the Army’s £16 billion update to armoured vehicles, while the Royal Navy’s £3.9 billion project for two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers is postponed for two years.


Panic! Panic!

The United States should expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons within the next five years, a US study said.

The thing is that this is true.

And also not all that worrying. There has been a terrorist attack with biological weapons in the US in hte last decade….someone started posting anthrax, remember?

Whether it\’s worth throwing another few hundred billion at the Dept. of Homeland Security to try and head off a repeat is another matter….

So much for the Indian Navy then

The "pirate mothership" destroyed by the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden last week was actually a Thai fishing boat that was itself being hijacked and whose crew was tied up below decks.

The sunken vessel, which was destroyed by INS Tabar, an Indian frigate, on the night of November 18, was the Ekawat Nava 5, a deep sea trawler – not a floating pirate armoury loaded to the gunnels with supplies of ammunition and explosives as India had claimed.

Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, manager of the Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries, the ship\’s owner, said that the true story emerged when one of his crew was found alive, adrift in the Indian Ocean, but that 14 others were still missing and at least one dead.

The story was confirmed by the International Maritime Bureau, the marine watchdog.


Walter Tull

I went home, hit Google and suddenly realised that I did know a little about Tull after all. I had seen a brief segment of Ian Hislop\’s Channel 4 documentary Not Forgotten, which featured Tull in his capacity as one of the first black professional footballers in Britain. However, when I discovered that Tull had also been the first commissioned black officer in the British army, that he\’d fought in the first battle of the Somme and died at the tender age of 29 in the second, my hunger to write his story grew.

You know, I\’m really not sure that this rings true. Professional footballer, joined up as a private, made sergeant, commissioned, yes, got that.

But first black commissioned officer in the British Army? I suppose it rather depends upon what we mean by British Army and Black. For example, the early years in India were marked by a great deal of inter-marriage and I\’d be astonished if one of the sons of the early nabobs didn\’t end up as an officer. But would we consider such to be black? In today\’s parlance, perhaps….although I\’m not sure about whether we might consider some of those regiments to be "British Army".

Skinner\’s Horse for example, the man who founded that was, to use an old phrase, a half caste wasn\’t he?

Anyone actually know more about this though? I can imagine that Tull was the first in WWI, possibly the first since the late Victorian period, but I really would be rather surprised if he was the first overall. There\’s a few centuries of British Army before that…..

On being awarded the Military Cross

The number two gallantry medal for actions involving the enemy, behind only the Victoria Cross.

So a Gurkha Corporal is awarded one (along with others) for the following action.

Corporal Mohansingh Tangnami, 29, from the western part of Nepal, was recognised for his steadfastness under enemy fire throughout the tour.

On one patrol, he carried a wounded comrade to safety before braving fire again to collect the man\’s ammunition and gun to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.

Good man that. His reaction?

"I still don\’t believe that I met the Queen," he said today.

And there are still people who oppose proper pensions and the right of settlement in this country for these men?

Tee Hee

There is a long tradition of the military suppressing news that it considers detrimental to national security by slapping a D-notice on it.

But when the D-notice committee decided that the time was ripe to publish its own official history, nobody imagined that it would fall victim to its own system. The history of the D-notice committee has, in effect, had a D-notice slapped on it by the D-notice committee.

Hurrah, hurrah!

Finally, some sense in this matter:

In reality, Mr Justice Blake said…….. "The court is conscious that at the heart of military life and the sacrifices that soldiers make in the discharge of their duties is the military covenant. "Rewarding long and distinguished service by the grant of residence in the country for which the service was performed would, in my judgment, be a vindication and an enhancement of this covenant."

Damn right, they fight for us, are willing to die for us, it really isn\’t all that much to ask that we offer them the opportunity to live amongst us.