WE ARE THE MILITARY COALITION INC.

WE ARE THE MILITARY COALITION INC

by Bob Shepherd
ONCE A SOLDIER.

We go into other people’s Countries and kick up a stink,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

It’s their Geo Political location…and what’s under the ground,
Leave it to our Governments to make the justification seem sound,
Our Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers fought to defend,
But fighting for giant corporates is our latest trend,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and all,
It makes their people seem oh so small,
What’s under the ground is what we’ve come for,
Democracy, woman’s rights, education…all done for,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

From the East India Company way back when,
Fighting for corporates is no new trend,
Our soldiers will fight for their mates left and right,
Until the enemy is kicked out of sight,
Because they are professional, gallant and tough,
But the people at home say enough is enough,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We’ll bomb them from the air and send them underground,
Sound like a plan? No…not very sound!
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We lost our lives, limbs, minds…in Afghanistan and Iraq,
Does anybody really care…now that we are back?
We’re from communities around the Thames, Mersey, and others like the Clyde,
We’re homeless on the streets, and more soldiers are being lost to suicide,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

We rely on charities, backed by our great British folk,
As the Government won’t help, as they say they’re broke,
What about the corporates…as they leave us to the evil drink?
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Lions led by donkeys has been quoted through history,
When you look a bit closer, it’s really no mystery,
Whilst we defend ourselves from bullets, bombs and rockets,
We see the Generals playing politics, from inside the corporates’ and politicians’
pockets,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

The Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS et all,
Born from failed policies, US’s ya’ll,
For our amazing young soldiers, we must do better,
So I stayed up all night, and wrote this letter,
We are the Military Coalition Inc.

Whilst we’ve been fighting for corporate greed,
The Chinese and Russians have strengthened at speed,
So now, we have to rebuild for a bigger, stronger Army,
To save our once great Nation, before things turn barmy,
No more…Military Coalition Inc.

Forget Building Iraq’s Armed Forces – Rebuild Our Own

I read this morning on the BBC website that yet more British troops in the position of “trainers” are to be sent to Iraq. Our government and top brass pulled our troops out 3 years ago. This “off the bus, on the bus” attitude of military operations really has to stop. Our troops and many others have already spent years training Iraqi, Afghan, Libyan, Kurdish and other troops from the region, and we’ve seen the poor results. Why? Because it’s been a facade of building a foreign armed force. We give them basic training over a farcical, unrealistic time frame. Why? Because it’s all political. Then they are armed with no more than the basics. Why? Because one day soon, we may be fighting the ones we’re training. And so it goes on…and so our tax paying pounds continue to be poured down the toilet; money that we badly need to train and equip our own armed forces.

Instead of our “two cheeks of the same arse” political parties looking 4 years in advance because of the next election, how about we look way in advance like China and Russia, and once again use every penny to get our own armed forces back up to scratch. After spending the last 15 years fighting for US foreign policy and making a mockery of “our” commitments, we need to now claw back the mantle of the finest military on earth.

I fear that future commitments for our brave armed forces won’t be against an enemy in flipflops, but against a formidable force beginning with “R”.

British Generals Admit Afghan Failure

This important news story was number 10 on the BBC UK’s website earlier today; 7 stories below the death of Alvin Stardust.

Years after these “Generals” (of course there is no such thing as ex-Generals) made some extremely bad calls for the sake of British foreign policy in Afghanistan, they have come forward and admitted their failings on a BBC programme. Brigadier Ed Butler back in 2006 was put in a no win situation along with his officers and men who fought courageously down in Helmand Province, not gaining meaningful ground but just surviving. Like always, the Parachute Regiment and associated units showed the world what British troops can do under very extreme pressure. However, it is well documented in the press that a UK SF report suggested that British troops should not be deployed to Helmand Province for various very sensible reasons.

Back in 2004, when I took a road trip from Kabul to Helmand with a small media team, I could see that it would be madness to deploy NATO troops to a majority Pashtun, Taliban supported area, no matter what the scale of deployment. On my return, and on various occasions afterwards, I voiced my opinion to military people back in Kabul. How dare I, as I’m no longer in the Forces, therefore what the hell do I know?

I’ve spoken and blogged many times over the years about how we took one side of a simmering civil war back in 2001; the side of the non Pashtun northern tribes. The politicians and Generals expected British troops to deploy to Helmand, and win the hearts and minds of the people on the other side of the civil war…just plain crazy!

The MOD has since argued that they left Helmand in a better situation than when they found it. I would argue against that, as I could “sensibly” wander around Helmand back in 2004, visit farmers, small towns and markets, but today I wouldn’t dare step into the Province. Almost every year since 2006, I would go there in a military embed and watch the situation get harder and harder for troops to operate–while senior officers and media relations officers spun the situation to the British public. Millions of Pounds of tax payers money has been wasted on military and DIFID projects, as the farmers are all back to growing the poppy, and the men of Helmand are putting the women and girls “back in their place”. Men and women have fought bravely. Many died or suffered wounds (both physical and mental); their friends and family all impacted one way or another, whilst the MOD still spews its filthy spin.

It angers me to see these Generals continue to be awarded medals and titles, write their memoirs and make out to their readership that they were right and courageous to make the decisions that they did.

These people dropped their pants for our politicians and US foreign policy. They did not lead from the front.

I’ve been banging on for a while now about accountability from our top brass and political leaders. A wee while ago, a British officer was rightly stripped of his gallantry award for lying about his leadership under contact. How about stripping these Generals of their medals and titles–for playing political spin for years over the Helmand deployment, and letting down both the British public and the brave soldiers who were under their command

My Answer to “Child Soldiers” in the British Military

Why Under 18s Should Continue To Serve In Britain’s Military

Well meaning Human Rights groups are trying to change the British military structure that has gone on successfully for decades. Here is what they don’t understand.

I was born in Lochee, a very deprived area of the city of Dundee, Scotland in the mid 1950s. I was brought up in a Victorian tenement building sharing an outside lavvy with four other families. My father drank heavily and constantly threw my mother around the tenement like a rag doll. When I was around 7 or 8, I would step in to help my mother and get battered myself. At the age of fourteen, having spent more time looking after my mother than going to school, I chose to run away.

After chasing a dream of becoming a professional footballer but not making the grade, I joined the military. I entered the RAF Regiment just after my 17th birthday, did my basic parachute jumps and was sent off to a small simmering war in Oman. I was given special dispensation to go as a minor as my unit was undermanned.

I was chuffed to bits.

At the age of 20 I passed SAS selection (naivety got me through, lol) and I never looked back!

Joining as a youngster was good for me and it probably saved my life. It certainly kept me out of jail, off the streets and off drugs. It didn’t eliminate my voice, creativity or character, as those of you who know me or have read my blog know, ha.

The military gave me a set of front teeth as I’d had mine smashed out in a gymnastics accident at the age of 16. It showed me how to do laundry, stay tidy and keep my bedspace, shower and toilet immaculate…with the use of a toothbrush. It showed me the importance of being a team player, how to listen to your elders and how to never prejudge others. It gave me a family environment, something that I never had before, but would cherish for the rest of my life.

Joining the military as an under 18 year-old (child soldier) is the best thing that happened to me- and thousands of lads and lassies before, during and after me I’m sure. I really hope that never changes.

 

Why are British Generals good at talking sense only after they leave the military?

General David Julian Richards, Baron of Herstmonceux GCB,CBE,DSO,DL,ADC Gen….I think that’s about it, spoke to the BBC the other day about the fact that the British Army should be much larger than it is, in order to meet today’s requirements!

Really? I left the military after 23yrs with the great title of Bob Shepherd, and I and all my ex military buddies knew that was the case years ago. Yet I’ve heard him and other “Generals” over the years in press conferences explaining why, due to the current climate, the military should be cut down and/or replaced by part timers.

Today’s Army is the smallest in it’s history. It’s due to people like him signing off and agreeing with politicians instead of standing up for his men and women in uniform and resigning, thereby keeping his integrity and his military in one piece.

But here we are today, British soldiers yet again proving time after time that they are the best in the world, simply by showing how well they can operate in survival mode in places like Basra, Iraq and in Helmand, Afghanistan. No other military could have operated so well. I know that as I’ve spent years in military embeds whilst working with the media studying other NATO units versus the Brits.

I am so proud of our soldiers in uniform, regulars and TA, but I am not proud of the serving and ex Generals who have failed them.

If you’re a General and you’re wearing the hat…make sure it’s the military hat and not the political one, even though the latter will guarantee you a place in the House of Lords. The former will guarantee you a place at the bar with my ex military mates and myself!

I took this photo the day before Basra fell to the British Army.
Basra Bridge, Iraq. 2003

AFGHANISTAN: TRUTH AND LIES

It is at least six years late, but finally a senior political figure has found the courage to call for an immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.  Lord Ashdown pulled few punches in his impassioned plea in The Times, criticising Britain’s early military strategy and accusing the government of becoming distracted by adventures in Iraq when it should have been focused on Afghanistan.

All true, but while Ashdown called out the government for its political failings, he neglected to mention the string of lies senior ministers have perpetuated about Afghanistan, or point the finger at senior military figures who’ve been more than willing to support that deceit. How any politician can say with a straight face that we are in Afghanistan to keep the streets of Britain safe is beyond me, when everyone knows our involvement has fuelled the flames of home grown terrorism.  Then there’s the lie of the moment—that Afghan troops can somehow be vetted to stop ‘rogue’ recruits from turning their weapons on their NATO mentors.  As I argued on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier this week, nothing can be done to stop green on blue attacks because an element of the men we’re trying to train up have viewed us as the enemy since we entered Afghanistan back in 2001.

I’ve been screaming it from the rafters since I started this blog and I’ll scream it again.  AFGHANISTAN IS NOT AN INSURGENCY. IT’S A CIVIL WAR AND WE’VE TAKEN ONE SIDE IN IT.  Since 2006 when British troops entered Helmand Province, they’ve been trying to win over the people on the other side of that conflict—a futile, senseless task presided over by sloping shouldered generals and senior military brass who care more about pleasing politicians than they do the lives of their troops.  These senior officers know who they are, and they should hang their heads in shame.  I really don’t know how they or their chums in government can sleep at night knowing how many brave British troops they have and continue to put in harm’s way for no other reason than to justify past mistakes.

Why is it taking our government so long to act in the best interest of our troops when our Canadian, Dutch and French NATO allies have found the political will to bring their forces home? There is no justification for Britain’s continued presence in Afghanistan. None. Continue reading

‘Generals for Hire’– Make An Example of Them

Do as we say, not as we do.’  Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows this is the ethos of many commissioned ranks, so it comes as no surprise that a group of retired military chiefs were filmed by The Sunday Times boasting about how they could peddle their influence to procure lucrative MoD contracts for private defence firms.

Exploiting professional connections for personal gain is nothing new for retired British officers. Look how many of them sit on the boards of private security and defence companies that pitch regularly for MoD contracts. In my view, this symbiotic arrangement between the top brass and private firms must be outlawed. Because not only does it corrupt our defence budget; it compromises our active duty soldiers by contaminating the motivation of serving high ranking officers as well.

I’ve said for years now that too many serving senior officers think and act more like politicians than military leaders. How else do you explain why they stick with discredited strategies that unnecessarily endanger the lives of the soldiers serving under them, such as mentoring Afghan Army and Police?  Maybe these officers know that if they toe the government line whilst on active duty, they’ll be on good terms with the MPs and Ministers they plan to lobby for defence contracts later on. Continue reading