2007
25.12

And He saw it was good…

2007
20.12

I sometimes look at who visits the Randy McFab journal, and was delighted to see today that I finally reached my target audience.

A visitor from Folsom, California (where the state prison is), found the blog by searching for, and I quote, piss gas mask urinal.  Makes me proud, it does.

A new McFab story is up for those interested. Read it and weep!

2007
18.12

“Our boys did a great job … but politicians must now take over” (Andy McNab)

Control of Basra was handed over to the country’s authorities . . . and those streets are still not safe.

The Sun asks: “Will leaving the city without establishing peace, order and a sense of democracy mean we have betrayed our troops? Or must we accept that the British role in the oil-rich southern province has been exploited to wound the West – and we should pull out now before more lives are lost needlessly.”

In this article Andy McNab and Iraq expert William Shawcross debate the Iraq issue and we hear from others touched by the conflict.

What Andy has to share:

PEOPLE forget that the job of the infantry is to close with and kill the enemy, and that what they’ve been doing – that’s what they’re for. The Government wants to portray the troops in Iraq as if they have been painting schools or giving out sweets to kids, but that is not what’s happening.

I have visited troops in Basra twice this year and some of the snipers were getting as many as four kills a night. One 19-year-old infantryman had fired 700 rounds in just one contact in the city.

The whole idea of going into Basra and rebuilding hasn’t happened as imagined, and neither have the other plans.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stationed in Basra moved out because they couldn’t achieve anything. As one of the commanding officers said to me, we could stay and kill a couple of hundred more insurgents, but what would be the point.

Where does that get us? You will never win fighting against an insurgency on foreign soil. No one ever has. Everyone knows much of the insurgency is funded and trained by Iran. The squaddies have been pounded by Iranian-made munitions, while our Special Forces have been monitoring insurgents talking in Persian.

So up to now politics has failed and our soldiers kill and get killed.

One group who will not be happy to see the soldiers go are the military interpreters. They have become a target of militia death squads who regard the English-speaking Iraqis as traitors.

The goal now must simply be to get the oil back on line. Even Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve has admitted the war was about oil, although the British Government still don’t want to admit it.
At the moment the oil wells are still burning — they look like huge upturned cigarettes.

We need to move on from our position of strength to negotiate, using politics, deal-making and negotiation.

From a positive point of view, the British infantry is far more professional than it has ever been. That’s because a 19-year-old British soldier today sees more shot and shell, and has more opportunity to kill the enemy, than his granddad did in the Second World War. Then there was an army of over a million spread over several continents. Now, with a bayonet army of just tens of thousands, a soldier has an engagement every 36 hours, often lasting five or six hours.

The British Army’s weapons systems in 2007 are stunning — the new SA80 A2 light support rifle is better than the standard American M16. The new Bulldog armoured vehicle used by troops in Iraq has a computer-guided general-purpose machine gun. It’s like playing a PlayStation: you don’t have to get out to fire, just park it and kick it off. Overall, soldiers have never been better equipped or had a better area of weapons.

The kit is better. The morale is better. I visited 2nd Rifles, who were about to finish a six-month tour in Basra city. They had been shot at and mortared every day. Yet some of them volunteered to stay and join 4 Rifles, the battle group that were taking over. At that level it has been great. But now it has to be political.

As for the Brits retreating? It doesn’t look like the British Army is pulling down the shutters any day soon. Quite the opposite. The COB (Contingency Operating Base at Basra Airport) is constructing more facilities: Permanent, hard-standing parks for tanks and armoured vehicles, new buildings, more infrastructure. Nothing like any retreat I’ve seen. There will still be battle groups ready, if needed.

That’s because Basra needs to have the international airport secure and working to bring in the oil companies.
Iraq needs a secure border to stop the Iranians bringing in weapons and ammunition. That’s why the Iraqis will need Brit Special Forces, or an infantry battle group, to “rock back” into the city if things get out of hand.
The priorities have changed.

Iraq is regarded as Blair’s war. Gordon Brown will want more troops in Afghanistan.

For the full article in The Sun go here

2007
16.12

Prince William of Wales is being headhunted to become chief of the legendary Special Air Service.

Senior officers in the crack army regiment have invited the 25-year-old prince to take over as their new Colonel-in-Chief.

They want to make him an honorary member of the unit, entitled to wear the SAS beige beret and cap badge for ceremonial occasions—but not its famous wings symbol.

Wills would not be expected to undertake SAS training but he has already shown a keen interest in the secretive special force.

Read the article here

2007
16.12

More than 500 writers have called on Gordon Brown to confront the issue of childhood illiteracy.

The authors have become “deeply concerned” about the “low levels” of literacy “across Britain”.

They are signatories to a letter written to the Prime Minister calling for “a push” on the issue, so that “no child is left behind”.

Andy McNab is amongst the signatories.

Read the article here

2007
15.12

“DRUGS have been a part of military life for generations. This is nothing new.”

Andy McNab silhouetteAndy writes another article for The Sun. Again not such good news, the topic this time being the latest reports on drug-taking in the Army.

The Sun: DRUG-taking is rife in the Army, according to a new report, with the equivalent of almost a battalion of soldiers dismissed every year as a result. Positive tests rose from 517 in 2003 to 769 last year. And cocaine use went up fourfold.

Andy’s view:

DRUGS have been a part of military life for generations. This is nothing new.

I remember soon after I joined the Army being shown a video about drugs. It was the early Eighties but the video was in a Sixties style. The film focused on an aircraft technician who kept getting psychedelic flashbacks because he had been taking LSD. Because he was under the influence he forgot to attach this one bolt. You can imagine the message — as a result the aeroplane crashed.

Like the rest of society the problem of drugs is not a new one.

It is so important that the military are completely in control because unlike any other job the consequences of their judgment being impaired by drugs are disastrous. Not only could innocent civilians get killed but so could your own side. That is why the penalty for taking drugs is so harsh — dishonourable discharge.

Every soldier knows the risks of getting caught but like any section in society there will always be a small minority who are prepared to take the risk.

Take the infantry boys who I worked with — most of them come from inner city areas where drugs are a part of life.
They are bored at home, experiment with drugs then decide to try to do something with their lives. Some take the habit with them into the Army, some leave it behind.

As an 18-year-old squaddie my first posting was to Gibraltar. A few of the lads used to cross to north Africa to buy drugs. They used some of it and sold the rest. But they were only a few. A couple of them got a court martial for trying to sell it downtown.

And the military is subject to the same checks as civilians when they go abroad. The military airports have the same Customs checks. In fact I would say they are stricter than civilian airports — they have to be. Can you imagine what a catastrophe it would be if a soldier managed to smuggle weapons back from a war zone?

Apart from the strict Customs checks, the military has introduced stringent drugs testing. As well as random checks including urine sample tests, if anyone is under suspicion they will haul them in to be tested. I remember when my unit returned from a long exercise in Cyprus in the Eighties. About three days after we returned to our garrison town of Tidworth, Hants, we had a surprise drugs check. Whole buses of police turned up and the place was ripped apart.

I’m sure the higher number of discharged soldiers due to illegal drug-taking is because of improved testing facilities. Living and working in the military is a very close-knit community — it is very confined and close. You don’t manage to keep anything quiet for long.

While a battalion may seem like a lot of men, I’m sure it is merely representative of the society we live in.

No matter what your class, age or job, drugs are everywhere.

Click here to go The SUN