2017 and beyond…

It has been almost a month since my last Blog, and what a month it has been! On a personal level, I have packed-off my youngest Step-daughter to university, moved my eldest Step-daughter back in (enjoying almost a week of unalloyed childless bliss!), and learned to bake without causing a conflagration in the kitchen.  On a professional level, I was recently selected as the Army Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall from September 2018.  This is both a new and exciting direction for me, and an immense honour; as General Kiszely pointed out last night at RMAS, I will be the first Other Rank to ever fill this post.  The pressure is on!

Following the return from the Summer break, we had the third of the talks in the War Talks at the PCL Series, given by Professor Gary Sheffield of the University of Wolverhampton.  Gary spoke on ‘The Duke of Wellington and the Tradition of British Generalship’; his talk was incredibly well received, and it was an honour to have him Talk at Prince Consort’s Library as part of the Series.  We were fortunate to have Lt General Bashall in the audience; speaking afterwards he gave his wholehearted support to the Series.  We also received great support from our friends at CHACR and CAL for which we are very grateful.  Unfortunately, I had to postpone the talk by Drs Stuart Mitchell and James Kitchen on Tuesday 26 September ’17 due to unforeseen circumstances, but I’m looking forward to seeing them deliver the postponed Talk at the end of the Season in December ’17. The next Talk is on Tuesday 3 October when Dr Dan Todman will talk about the strategic shock suffered by the Western Allies as a result of Hitler’s V Weapon Offensive in the Summer of 1944, closely followed by Dr Jill Hazelton’s talk on the future direction of Counter-insurgency policy post-Afghanistan.  Both these talks promise to resonate with the problems facing militaries today and will be thought-provoking and entertaining.

As I have said before, I am also working on the 2018 Programme for the Talk Series; thus far I have been fortunate to secure Professor Lloyd Clark of the Centre for Army Leadership in April 2018 and Dr Michelle Jones of Anglia Ruskin University’s Veteran and Military Families Institute.  Lloyd will be speaking about the development of the leadership styles of three great leaders of the Second World War, Montgomery, Patton, and Rommel.  Michelle will be speaking on the subject of military interaction with children in war zones; this work is fascinating and I think will become of vital interest to the British Army going forward given the likelihood of war amongst the children in the Third World.  I am hoping to announce three of four more speakers in the next month taking us up to July ’18.

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War Talks at PCL – The Full Picture

At long last, I am able to confirm the full programme of War Talks at PCL for 2017 as follows:

Tuesday 4th July 2017 – Dr Matthew Ford (University of Sussex).  Dr Ford spoke on the subject, ‘Is it Gucci? What small arms can tell us about the military’s attitude to innovation and adaptation’.

Tuesday 25th July 2017 – Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir John Kiszely KCB MC.  Lt Gen Kiszely spoke on the subject, ‘The British Campaign in Norway, 1940: Lessons for Today’.

Tuesday 12 September 2017 – Professor Gary Sheffield (University of Wolverhampton).  Professor Sheffield will speak on the subject, ‘The Duke of Wellington and the Tradition of British Generalship’.

Tuesday 26 September 2017 – Dr Stuart Mitchell & Dr James Kitchen (RMAS).  Drs Mitchell and Kitchen will speak on the subject, ‘Historical Perspectives on Contemporary British Army Doctrine’.

Tuesday 3 October 2017 – Dr Dan Todman (Queen Mary University London).  Dr Todman will speak on the subject, ‘a flat spin about the flying bombs’ – the ‘V’ Weapon Offensive and Allied Reactions, June – September 1944′.

Tuesday 10 October 2017 – Dr Jacqueline Hazelton (US Naval War College).  Dr Hazelton will speak on the subject, ‘Counterinsurgency: Fighting for a Better Peace’.

Tuesday 7 November 2017 – Dr John Greenacre (University of Suffolk).  Dr Greenacre will speak on the subject, ‘Flexible Enough to Adapt’: British Airborne Forces’ Experience during Post-Conflict Operations 1944-46′.

Wednesday 29 November 2017 – Maj (Ret’d) Mike Peters (Chairman of the Guild of Battlefield Guides).  Maj Peters will speak on the subject, ‘How to plan and deliver Battlefield Studies effectively’.

The final addition to the Talk series has been the talk by Drs Mitchell and Kitchen of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  Dr Stuart Mitchell has an MA in the History of Warfare from King’s College London and a PhD from the University of Birmingham.  He is a Senior Lecturer in War Studies at RMAS.  Stuart’s PhD was entitled ‘An inter-disciplinary study of learning at the divisional level of the British Army on the Western Front 1916-18’.  He has contributed to several books and has published many articles in academic journals and is an editor of the British Journal of Military History.  Dr James Kitchen was formerly a Lecturer in International History at University College Dublin and is currently a Senior Lecturer in War Studies at RMAS.  James has published on the military and cultural history of the First World War in the Middle East, with a particular focus on the British Army’s campaigns in Egypt and Palestine.  He regularly gives papers at conferences and seminars.  Each will deliver a 40 minute talk on the subject and questions will be taken at the end, they have requested that their Talk be delivered under Chatham House rules to enable greater debate and for this reason access will be strictly limited.  Their Talk will be given on Tuesday 26 September 2017 from 1800 hrs.

I am now actively seeking academics, soldier-scholars, and experts from the wider Defence and International Relations communities to deliver talks during the period January – July 2018.  I am particularly keen to encourage female and ethnic minority speakers to volunteer to come and speak to the Army; diversity is a strength.  If any readers of this Blog have suggestions for subjects or possible speakers please contact me either by commenting here or by messaging me on Twitter.  I look forward to seeing many of you at Professor Sheffield’s talk on Tuesday, 12th September ’17.

All the best,

Barney