Just over a year ago I founded the Defence Studies Talk Series. A few weeks later, that mouthful became the War Talks at the PCL Talk Series, a year later and I’m changing the title to War Talks. This change of nomenclature is not merely a result of the renowned short attention span of its owner, rather it is driven by some fundamental changes to the Series. When I started the Talk Series in April 2017 I had two objectives: First, to provide an opportunity for informal professional military education to all ranks of the armed forces and civil service and secondly, to promote the historic Prince Consort’s Library. Since July 2017, the Talk Series has delivered nearly twenty talks on a wide range of topics to an audience of several hundred. In addition, we have run the HQ Regional Command Op REFLECT Study day 2018 and the British Army Military Book of the Year 2018 (#BAMBY18).
Following our last Talk given by Dr Nick Lloyd earlier this month, Prince Consort’s Library closed for essential renovation work, it will remain closed until January 2019. This left the Talk Series homeless, and led to a flurry of e-mails from supporters offering guidance on the way forward; overwhelmingly it was felt that the Talks should remain in Aldershot but with suggestions that the talks should also go ‘On the Road’ and /or be recorded. In terms of a new Aldershot home, I was offered the church halls of the three Army Churches, the lecture theatre of a new Army Reserve centre, and several facilities ‘behind the wire’. In the end I am pleased to announce that following a wide-ranging conversation with Kirsty Hoyle, the new Community Manager of the Aldershot Military Museum, I have decided to make it my home. The Museum has excellent parking, a historic conference facility, and is in the heart of the Aldershot community; a little gem, I hope the Series can help to support the work of Kirsty and her volunteer staff.
The War Talks Series will begin with a flourish on Tuesday, 17th July 2018 when Professor Theo Farrell will deliver a Talk on his BAMBY18 shortlisted book, ‘Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001-2014.’ The Museum will be open before the Talk and I would encourage audience members to view the fascinating collections for which Kirsty is responsible. The Talk will commence at 1900 hrs, refreshments will be available at reasonable cost, and there will be plenty of time for questions and debate afterwards. I am hoping to arrange for the recording of the Talk and will be ably assisted by Kirsty in terms of marketing. In many ways, the Aldershot Military Museum is the perfect partner to the War Talks and we have a number of exciting ideas for future collaboration. I will give you all more information as the plans firm up towards the end of 2018.
Another suggestion made was to take the Series ‘on the Road’. I have taken up this challenge and have arranged a talk in conjunction with the Tonbridge FWW Talks initiative at Tonbridge School on Wednesday, 7th November 2018. Our speaker, Maj General (Ret’d) Mungo Melvin CB OBE will speak on the subject of his latest book, ‘Sevastopol’s Wars: Crimea from Potemkin to Putin’. Clearly, there is a wide gap between Prof Farrell’s talk in July and Maj Gen Melvin’s talk in November, I am working hard to fill the gap with out usual high quality talks and can announce a fabulous ‘on the Road’ venue for which I hope to find a speaker on naval warfare. With the assistance of Commander Kay Hallsworth, the War Talks Series will deliver a Talk aboard the Navy’s flagship, HMS Victory, in the historic dockyard in Portsmouth in the Autumn. If any readers have subjects they wish to see discussed please let me know, the only guideline is that the subjects requested are in the areas of strategy and war studies.
I’m guiding an Army Staff Ride by the AGC(ETS) (South) in Hampshire next week, I’ll be sure to give you the inside track when I get back, the weather is going to be beautiful, a change is as good as a rest as they say!!
All the best,