In recent months more than one of my ex military mates in conversation over social media has referred to us all as last century soldiers…and so right at that.

I served between the early 70s to the mid 90s…I was shocked to learn a wee while ago now that I’ve been out for longer than I was in.

Back in the day…even in the earliest of days, we thought that we were the new tech military. That was even before sleeping bags were issued, Gortex, and certainly well before GPS.

However, today is a completely different ball game. Gone are the days of over fly’s of areas of operations in order to give us an updated view of where we are about to be deployed. An aircraft takes a black and white photo of the area…the following day (if we were lucky) the resulting photo is surrounded by my patrol gazing at it on a table, where half the photo (the important half) is covered in low cloud.

You get the picture, so to speak!

Training for war and even more so today with the added high tech involves lots of courses, personal fitness, group fitness, dry training, live training…and there is never time to cover everything that’s required to be covered within a sensible timeframe.

After 94 I was honoured to see the transition of the last century soldier into this century’s soldier. After 9/11 I spent a few years in and out of military embeds while working with the media in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

High tech was becoming the order of the day. A platoon move on foot to clear an area of mountainous ground involving an overfly of the area about to be patrolled…this time by a small drone taken from one of the patrol members’ bergens. From start to finish looking at the ground on a small monitor live was all it took…40 minutes max. Platoon commander happy with what he had seen, and off we all go.

Just a tiny look at the changes from the lower level of today’s grunts operating on the ground, and that’s without talking about comms and navigation. From that to the other end of the tech scale and the fight to control low orbit at the extreme levels of today’s high tech between ourselves in the West, Russia and China, with others involved too.

Lots going on today…does it make it easier for today’s soldier on the ground…is the idea to take the soldier completely off the ground…are the high tech companies getting too much control of what’s being sold and therefore implemented in today’s military…and are the players keeping everything realistic?

Today as an almost 67yr old, I’m intrigued by the way everything is moving so fast. Our armed services are nothing like those of just 30 years ago.

In my last 10 years of service, I was always impressed by the younger soldier, he was fitter than me, he was more professional than me, and he definitely knew more than me…to when I was at his level back in the day.

I can only imagine that that has taken off through the years to where we are today…and now it includes the weight of high tech…hopefully with the idea that it removes the weight of a soldier’s burden when faced with the enemy of the day.

The humble beginnings in the early 70s of a career with gun, belt kit and Bergen, map and compass…and communicating with a Morse key.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

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