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

2007
14.12

“the worst scandal to hit the Special Air Service in its 67-year history”

A Sun article today reports us “SAS men done for £250k fraud”

THE SAS was rocked last night as six senior troopers were charged with embezzling thousands from secret jungle training funds.

The long-serving soldiers are the first from the elite regiment to be publicly court martialled for such a serious criminal offence.

In the alleged scam, huge sums were systematically siphoned off a budget for exercises in Brunei and Borneo.

A military police probe was launched after senior officers found more than £250,000 had disappeared off the books between 2003 and 2006.

The Sun asked Andy for comment on this news, which is logical but it would occur to me that that’s not the most fun thing to do in this case.

Andy’s comment:

THIS has to be one of the darkest incidents in the regiment’s proud history.

Anyone serving in the SAS should be above petty theft. And the fact that the money came out of training funds makes it even more upsetting.

Properly funded training is essential in producing soldiers who are well prepared for combat.

The theft might also lead to Army bean counters insisting on more checks when they hand money out which could slow down how quickly the unit reacts to situations.

Read the full article here

 

2007
10.12

“Truly superb, what those boys go through……………..”

Two reviews this time from our renowned book reviewer Camban.
Sniper One book by Dan Mills
The first one is Sniper One by Sergeant Dan Mills. Sgt. Mills is an  Army sniper hero who as has “beaten an MoD ban to reveal the true story of the most epic battle fought by British troops in Iraq”, according to The Sun Newspaper (note: the book is ghostwritten by its defence editor Tom Newton Dunn).
Sniper One Review:

“All first hand accounts of war fighting are by definition interesting, if you are into that sort of thing. They fascinate both those who have been there, and those who have not. Some though are outstanding examples that convey the reader into the cauldron with skillful use of language and a sense of time that brings the scenes as close to reality as typeface can, this is one of the best. A good measure of veracity are the revues posted on the British Army Rumour Service web site by serving soldiers, they know a Walt when they see one, they all like this book. There are suggestions on that site that this was ghost written but that does not matter at all, this is the first hand story of Sergeant Mills, a sniper platoon commander, during his time at Al Amarah in Iraq during 2004 and is simply awesome in scale with the description of close in action among the best ever produced. Andy McNab is quoted on the cover “One of the best first-hand accounts of combat that I’ve ever read”, well he should know!”

3 Para book by Patrick BishopThe second book is 3 Para by Patrick Bishop, another new book that might tickle your collective fancies.
3 Para Review::

“Afghanistan, summer 2006, THIS is war” trumpets the cover blurb. And it certainly is. This is a story of continuous deadly action endured not only by 3 Para, but many other units of the British Army during this largely unknown series of battles fought by seriously outnumbered units of professional soldiers opposing the mindless hordes of suicidal paradise seekers with a seemingly endless supply of deadly weapons. But these moronic, drug addled ‘warriors’ were fought to a standstill by sheer professionalism and courage. Now, this book is nothing like the first person accounts such as ‘Sniper One’ to name but one. It is a journalistic work of great range which puts forward many different pieces of the overall war story. So don’t expect raw excitement but be in awe of the subject matter; those young soldiers who found themselves in the cauldron and did not flinch.”
About Patrick Bishop: “A foreign correspondent since 1982 covering numerous wars and conflicts around the world. In the last five years he has emerged as a highly regarded military historian with his books. He began his career covering the British re-capture of the Falkands 25 years ago. Since then he has reported from the front line on almost every major war of the era.”

2007
02.12

McNab explains the UGLA new clip in the informative series “Andy McNab explains”.

This time he shows us the UGL.

The what? Well that’s what I said anyway. The “Under-Slung Grenade Launcher” and that poor old truck is the victim again. The sheep were moved. Either that or they were on your pita bread.

To see the clip on Battleseen go here