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.

 

Julian Assange: The Ultimate Anarchist?

Julian Assange has lost the plot—or has he?  The answer depends on what the founder of Wikileaks is truly hoping to achieve with his online whistle-blowing website.     If it is as he declares ‘…to enable and empower citizens to bring feared and corrupt governments and corporations to justice,’ then Assange has strayed very far from his original mission.  The only people ‘empowered’ by Wikileaks’ latest publication of facilities vital to US security are terrorists who can now access a list of strategic targets at a keystroke.    

I am a passionate proponent of free speech, especially when it aims to expose corporate fraud and government lies.  But far from strengthening democratic institutions through transparency, Wikileaks’ publication of classified US State Department and military communications threatens to tear them down.   That is not, as Assange would put it ‘principled leaking’ to ‘lead us to a better future’.  It is anarchism.   Continue reading

Person of the Noughties

 

Many names will be considered for the title ‘Person of the Decade’; politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, sports figures, bankers, terrorist (I use the singular because Osama bin Laden is really the only one worth considering).  While influence will likely be the deciding factor for most publications, I’m going to break from the pack and list survival as my primary criteria (this blog is after all about security in hostile environments). And by that yardstick, there’s one name in my opinion which stands head and shoulders above the crowd: President Hamid Karzai.

              When you consider the minefields – figurative and literal– the Afghan President has negotiated since 2001, the fact that he’s alive and still in power is nothing short of miraculous.  Continue reading