Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders CBE DSO is the British Army’s ‘LGBT Champion and straight ally’.
In a message to the Army LGBT Forum he talks of soldiers’ love for one another: ‘I have found that soldiers inspire and give profound love and loyalty to each other. I still feel deep love for the soldiers and officers I have been lucky enough to serve with.’
I couldn’t agree more. I witnessed this love firsthand every day in Afghanistan. Of course, hard bitten combat troops don’t like to speak of love or admit to feelings of fondness, devotion, tenderness or affection for their comrades in arms. It doesn’t seem appropriate somehow when your business is defined by effects terms such as destroy, degrade, deny and disrupt.
This is perhaps why General Sanders declares: ‘Search for the word “love” in a book of military quotations, and you will come up empty handed.’ But on this point I disagree. Warrior poets of the first world war frequently wrote of their love for their fellow man. So too did Alexander the Great and Napoleon. Field Marshal Montgomery preferred the term comradeship declaring it ‘makes a man feel warm and courageous when all his instincts tend to make him cold and afraid’, but it sounds a lot like love to me.
Somewhere along the way love has become unfashionable in war, just as it has in business. Search for the word love in a book of business quotations and you really will come up empty handed.
It’s odd because, at our core, love is what drives us all.
SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back (but check the smallprint first).
‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club
Doug Beattie, bestselling author of An Ordinary Soldier
‘A must read.’
Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zone
‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army