Tag Archives: Iraq

SIDING WITH THE VULTURES

Johnny Mercer, Tory MP and former soldier, writes in The Telegraph that the Ministry of Defence is “losing its moral compass”He refers to the reopening of historic allegations of abuse in Iraq by British soldiers brought by disgraced lawyers such as the unscrupulous Phil Shiner who sought only to line their own pockets.

Everything happens for a reason, but it is hard to understand why the Ministry of Defence would “side with the vultures”. Johnny offers a clue when he states that “we are finally beginning to understand the lengths to which an organisation like the MoD will go to look after itself”

Those who break the law must be held to account, but could it be that the Ministry of Defence is sacrificing the nation’s bravest and best in order to deflect away from complicity at the most senior level into illegal activities such as state sponsored assassinations, kill/capture missions (where the former was the most likely outcome) and detention without trial or access to legal representation?

Sometimes two plus two does equal four.

 

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Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial

Her Majesty the Queen has unveiled a memorial at Victoria Embankment Gardens in London to commemorate ‘the duty and service of British citizens who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, protected our nation’s interests far from the security of the UK, helped those in danger and worked to improve the lives of those in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan.’

In an official brochure to mark the occasion, Prime Minister Theresa May stated: ‘The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan called on hundreds of thousands of our military and civilian personnel to put their lives on the line in an heroic effort to help secure greater peace and stability in some of the most hostile environments that we have ever known.’

It’s a remarkable volte face since only last month she described the Iraq and Afghanistan missions as ‘failed interventions’ and warned that there can be ‘no return to the failed policies of the past – the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of a memorial to those that served but I prefered the Prime Minister’s earlier honesty about our achievements in the region.

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 small print first), Spin Zhira is a tale of one man’s personal battle against the trials of middle age set on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘First class’
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

‘Five stars’
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

‘Not just for soldiers’
William Reeve, BBC World Service and Afghanistan Correspondent

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

NOT BEFORE TIME

Sir Michael Fallon has announced that the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) will be wound down over the summer. Sir Michael rightly observes “This will be a relief for our soldiers who have had allegations hanging over them for too long.”

However, he fails to point out that IHAT, which cost the taxpayer £34 million without a single successful prosecution, was funded by his own department, the Ministry of Defence.

Sir Michael could have and should have closed down the Allegations Team much sooner but lacked the necessary courage, determination and leadership. Qualities he demands from his Armed Forces every single day.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars and Investment in Blood

‘SPIN ZHIRA vividly conveys the disjointed essence of modern warfare and the impossibility of balancing the adrenaline of combat with ‘normal’ life. This book brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club and Kandak

‘If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then SPIN ZHIRA is a must read.’
Lt Col Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zoneand An Active Service

‘Five stars’
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

‘A journey of love, service and adventure. Excellent.’
Amazon Customer

Ten reasons why you should read SPIN ZHIRA.

Phil Shiner: Greedy, unscrupulous w#nker.

Phil Shiner is one of the UK’s top human rights lawyers. He’s also a greedy, unscrupulous wanker. So it’s good to learn that he is to be struck off after admitting a string of misconduct charges. Johnny Mercer MP, will be pleased.

Let’s hope he is the first of many and that this marks the beginning of the end of the cynical gravy train that has hounded honourable British soldiers for years.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars and Investment in Blood

‘SPIN ZHIRA vividly conveys the disjointed essence of modern warfare and the impossibility of balancing the adrenaline of combat with ‘normal’ life. This book brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club and Kandak

‘If you want to read about political and military success in Afghanistan, this book isn’t for you. If you want a fresh perspective from someone who is not a career officer and who is brave enough to bare his soul, then SPIN ZHIRA is a must read.’
Lt Col Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zoneand An Active Service

‘Five stars’
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

‘A journey of love, service and adventure. Excellent.’
Amazon Customer

Ten reasons why you should read SPIN ZHIRA.

Khalid Kelly and me.

ISIS have reported the death of suicide bomber, Abu Osama Irelandi in an attack outside Mosul in which he was the only casualty.

Abu, also know as Taliban Terry or Khalid Kelly was born in 1967, Terence Edward Kelly and grew up in Dublin before moving to London to train as an intensive care nurse. Attracted by the tax free salary, Kelly then took a nursing job in Saudi Arabia. Not long afterwards he began supplementing his nursing income as a bootlegger. ‘I got really good at making drink. I had three stills in my house.’ He was subsequently arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2000 ‘with five cases of Johnny Walker in the back of my car’. He converted to Islam while incarcerated in a Saudi jail and was deported back to the UK in 2002, where he briefly got a job at St Thomas’s Hospital, London.

Without alcohol, Kelly’s life appears to have unraveled quickly. In 2008 he was declared a fugitive and fled the UK. In 2009 he was interviewed in Pakistan stating: ‘Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.’ In May 2011 he returned to Ireland and was arrested after threatening to assassinate Barack Obama. In 2013 he moved to Ardagh, Co Longford where locals reported that ‘he never came into the pub’. At some point in late 2015, Kelly made a last fateful trip to Iraq.

To my surprise, I find that Kelly and I had much in common. We both have family, a wife from whom we are separated and two children. If Terry’s last photo is anything to go by, we’re both getting a bit too old for combat and we’re both proud to call ourselves London Irish. Thankfully, the comparison ends there.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Amazon Five Stars A JOURNEY OF LOVE, SERVICE AND ADVENTURE. EXCELLENT!

Amazon Five Stars A MODERN WARFARE LITERARY CLASSIC! OUTSTANDING READ.

Amazon Five Stars ENTERTAINING, THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND COMPULSORY TO READ.

Ten reasons why you should read SPIN ZHIRA.

Defending the innocence of children

Over the weekend we learned from The Spectator that over 6,000 new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were reported by NHS staff last year (tens of thousands more are thought to go unreported). Despite being illegal in the UK since 1985, despite the appalling scale of the abuse, there has not been a single conviction for this terrible betrayal of a child’s love and trust in her parents.

Meanwhile the broadsheets, led by The Telegraph, report that Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary barely suppresses his anger when he talks about criminal investigations into alleged abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan by British troops. He has pledged to provide legal support to servicemen under investigation, but omits the rather obvious point that it is his ministry which funds these enquiries with taxpayers money (expected to exceed £57m by 2019).

Not a single case has been brought to trial much less resulted in a conviction but instead of shutting it down Mr Fallon hides behind European Human Rights laws and extends the remit of the investigation. Meanwhile, not a single one of our European partners in NATO feels the need to hold enquiries of similar scale into the actions of its military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Fallon’s failure to act decisively is another example of what David Cameron described elsewhere in the news as his ‘lily livered cabinet colleagues’  failing to confront their ministerial responsibilities.

But I have a radical idea. Why not divert the funds and the investigators talents to an issue where a terrible injustice is being perpetrated against children, where there is irrefutable evidence of abuse and where an investigation is urgently needed to eradicate the illegal practice of female genital mutilation. Even Mr Fallon can agree that defending the innocence of children is a better use of resources.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Amazon Five Stars A JOURNEY OF LOVE, SERVICE AND ADVENTURE. EXCELLENT!

Amazon Five Stars A MODERN WARFARE LITERARY CLASSIC! OUTSTANDING READ.

Amazon Five Stars ENTERTAINING, THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND COMPULSORY TO READ.

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA 

 

Afghan veterans face war crime claims

The Telegraph reports that the Ministry of Defence has extended the remit of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) to include investigation into alleged abuse in Afghanistan.

In addition to the 1,500 Iraqi cases already under investigation a further 550 alleged Afghan war crimes have been added to the IHAT caseload.

As Johnny Mercer MP has already pointed out this implies a ‘total breakdown of law and order on an unprecedented scale across the British Army’, which is a complete fantasy.

As Iraq cases begin to dry up without a single successful conviction, extending the investigation to Afghanistan preserves the gravy train for the IHAT investigators for a few more years. But I sense a darker motive for squandering taxpayers money and causing unnecessary misery for those individuals and their families who have been accused of wrongdoing.

Investigating individual allegations of abuse deflects the spotlight away from the strategic failure of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns. This sits squarely with the policy makers and doctrine writers at the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office who sanctioned the tactics of drone strikes, kill/capture missions and detention without charge or access to legal representation, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence.

For the most part, British soldiers carried themselves with great dignity and showed incredible courage and restraint. It is the flawed counter-insurgency doctrine and strategy that has thrown the Middle East into chaos and caused untold misery and suffering that needs to be investigated.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Amazon Five Stars A JOURNEY OF LOVE, SERVICE AND ADVENTURE. EXCELLENT!

Amazon Five Stars A MODERN WARFARE LITERARY CLASSIC! OUTSTANDING READ.

Amazon Five Stars ENTERTAINING, THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND COMPULSORY TO READ.

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA 

 

Johnny Mercer MP: Forces Champion

Writing in The Telegraph, Johnny Mercer MP reveals a terrible betrayal of our servicemen and women by the Ministry of Defence, the organisation that claims to support them.

He refers to the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) a £5m/year gravy train for ex-coppers set up by the Ministry of Defence to investigate allegations of abuse, torture and murder of Iraqis by British servicemen. Currently there are some 1,500 on-going investigations, which as Johnny rightly points out, would imply ‘a total breakdown of law and order on an unprecedented scale across the British Army in Iraq’. It doesn’t take more than two brain cells to see that  an investigation of this scale is totally disproportionate.

However, even in war, soldiers are not above the law. Discipline and standards are maintained on the battlefield through strict adherence to the Law of Armed Conflict. Consequently, it comes as little surprise to me that, even after such a thorough review of alleged abuse, not a single IHAT case has been brought to trial or resulted in a successful conviction.

Inexplicably, instead of winding down the IHAT investigation and celebrating the quality of its men and women, the Ministry prefers to keep the gravy train running and soldiers now find they are subject to a second and in some cases even a third investigation. Squandering taxpayers money and causing unnecessary misery for those involved.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

 

Yet another ‘shitshow’

Hot on the heels of the Iraq enquiry we have a scathing, albeit mercifully shorter, report from the  parliamentary foreign affairs committee on British intervention in Libya.

The report concludes that the results are hauntingly similar to those in Iraq and include “political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of Isil [Islamic State] in north Africa”.

The finger of blame for these achievements is pointed squarely at David Cameron, who refused to give evidence to the committee, and chimes with President Barack Obama’s analysis that the intervention was a “shitshow”.

I couldn’t agree more.

There has been no report into Afghanistan (yet) but it’s impossible to avoid the parallels: political and economic collapse; inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare; humanitarian and migrant crises; widespread human rights violations; the spread of US supplied weapons across the region; and the growth of Isil [Islamic State].

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

 

The Pentagon has lost hundreds of thousands of firearms.

As the 2016 UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference winds down in Geneva this week, the New York Times reports that the Pentagon has lost track of hundreds of thousands of firearms it distributed in Iraq and Afghanistan many of which now fuel an almost bottomless arms black market across the Middle East, adding to the violence and instability which plagues the region.

The ATT, of which the United States is a signatory, is a ‘multilateral, legally-binding agreement that establishes common standards for the international trade of conventional weapons and seeks to reduce the illicit arms trade. The treaty aims to reduce human suffering caused by illegal and irresponsible arms transfers, improve regional security and stability, as well as to promote accountability and transparency by state parties concerning transfers of conventional arms.’  In other words, exactly what the US has failed to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In all, the Pentagon provided more than 1.45 million firearms to various security forces in both countries, including more than 978,000 assault rifles, 266,000 pistols and almost 112,000 machine guns. It can now account for less than 50% of them. According to a Pentagon spokesman, ‘speed was essential in getting those nations’ security forces armed, equipped and trained…as a result, lapses in accountability of some of the weapons transferred occurred.’

I’m not at all surprised. Every so often I would patrol with US Special Forces in Helmand and on one of these occasions my US Navy Seal hosts took with them a battered old wheelbarrow piled high with AK47s. These were handed out to locals together with a baseball cap and a little cloth badge declaring the wearer was now a member of the Afghan Local Police (ALP). I don’t recall seeing any paperwork for this particular transfer and I got the distinct impression it was not the first wheelbarrow of assault weapons the Seals had handed out.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.