It seems rather apt that my first blog in 2018 should be about my resolutions for the New Year. This isn’t going to be some boring post about losing weight and getting fit, there is enough of that about at the moment, rather it is going to describe the projects with which I am involved in 2018, and the changes I’ll be making in my professional life.
Inevitably, I will start with the second season of the War Talks at the PCL talk series which commences later this month. The establishment of the Series has been perhaps the greatest achievement of my career; in 2017 the eminent speakers who gave their time without recompense spoke to hundreds of people in the historic Prince Consort Library, Aldershot, and I’m hoping to build on that success in 2018. The Series is booked up until May 2018; I am hoping to book more speakers after that, however, there is a strong possibility that the Library may be closed for restoration over the Summer, and I will be forced to find a new, temporary venue. The other news on the War Talks front is that I’m looking to record the Talks in future and upload them to the Web. In a related project, I am hoping to re-invigorate the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize this year and have a model which, like the Talk Series, is at no added cost to the MoD, representing a significant saving to the Department; I will Blog on this subject when I have the appropriate permissions. Finally, I am planning two Study Days at Prince Consort’s Library, one on behalf of HQ Regional Command, and another in conjunction with Mr Simon Bendry, the organiser of the government’s School Childrens’ Battlefield Tours which promises to be a fabulous opportunity for teachers and children.
The School Children’s Battlefield Tours have been running since 2014 and I have been lucky enough to have been involved in the delivery of them since 2015. I am hoping to provide support to three tours this Spring, including a first outing as a Battlefield Guide in February. I am also hoping to Guide on a special tour on behalf of 7th Infantry Brigade in March, which will take BAME students out to France and Belgium to examine the role of the Indian Army on the Western Front in the First World War. I have a real passion for taking children out to the Western Front both to counter some of the rather unfortunate mythology surrounding the Great War, and to use my experience in the British Army to help the students understand both the organisation today and what it feels like to be a soldier on operations, albeit in a wholly different context. My interest in the First World War is lifelong, but was really engaged by my MA in Military History; whilst I have extracted an article from my dissertation for the Air Power Review (April 2017), I intend to write a wider article for the British Journal of Military History on the full MA dissertation in 2018. The BJMH will also publish my first Book Review in February. I have plans for a further article on bayonet training in the Victorian Army but that will have to wait until the Summer!
The biggest change for me in 2018 will be the assignment in September to be the Army Visiting Fellow at RUSI. This tremendous opportunity, will see me working on a paper on behalf of the Army at RUSI whilst helping to build a closer relationship between both organisations on behalf of CGS. I am really excited by this move and the other doors it has opened for me. Perhaps the biggest is writing a Think Piece on behalf of my academic sponsors at Shrivenham on the subject of ‘Adaptability in the Future Force Concept’; I will be working on this paper until June, it promises to be challenging, interesting, and to keep me busy until summer leave. There are a few other bits and bobs on the go currently, not least of which is the eminence grise of a PhD proposal, but I’ll talk about later in the year. I have the small matter of being a Warrant Officer in the Army to contend with too, but look at the opportunities the Army has afforded me!! Whatever the press may say, ‘Be The Best’ is an appropriate tagline for the most professional Army in the World and I intend to try my hardest to be just that!
Happy New Year in 2018