Many apologies for anyone stumbling on this Blog in the hope that I had anything profound to say about England’s stellar progress in the FIFA World Cup. It is, in fact, one of two blogs I intend to publish this week, the first will look back at the first half of 2018 and look forward to achievements yet to come, the second will take a controversial look at the use of historical sites to mythologise and socially engineer. For those unimpressed by either football shenanigans or an account of this pilgrim’s progress, I must disappoint you, the controversy will have to wait until the weekend. Regular readers will recall that in January 2018 I set myself some fairly ambitious targets for the year, what follows is my progress to date.
My objective in 2018 was to encourage and advocate soldier education as a key component of an adaptable Army. The main vehicle for this has been the ‘War Talks‘ series, since January we have delivered ten talks at Prince Consort’s Library, Aldershot on such diverse topics as encountering children in war zones, organisational learning in the First World War, and the leadership of Montgomery of Alamein between the Wars. We continue to draw a small but dedicated audience, but I have recognised that we must adapt and so it is my intention to record and perhaps video future talks for a wider web-based audience. This decision coincides with the temporary closure of the Prince Consort’s Library for vital renovation work, I have been fortunate to find a new home for the Talks at the Aldershot Military Museum which provides a central location, good parking, and a historical backdrop to the events. The next Talk, our nineteenth in the series, will take place on Tuesday, 17th July 2018, when Professor Theo Farrell will speak about his #BAMBY18 shortlisted book, ‘Unwinnable: The British in Afghanistan 2001-2014‘. In addition to our talks at Aldershot, I am organising a series of ‘War Talks on the Road‘ in conjunction with other organisations at historic locations such as Tonbridge School in Kent and HMS Victory in Portsmouth.
A spin-off of the ‘War Talks’ series has been the privilege of running the British Army Military Book of the Year Competition 2018 #BAMBY18. Of the six shortlisted books announced in the Spring, four authors have spoken on the subject of their books in the last year. The judges, Reservists and Regulars, will provide their judgements in September 2018, with the winner announced shortly thereafter. It is likely that the prize-giving will take place in January 2019, at which point I will return the running of the Prize to the Army Library Information Service. Whilst these two initiatives have taken up much of my time, I also organised and ran the HQ Regional Command Op REFLECT Study Day in March 2018, and provided academic support to the AGC Educational and Training Services (South) battlefield study, Ex CROMWELL SCHOLAR, as well as command team support to four of the Department of Education’s School Children’s Battlefield Tours. Going forward, I am privileged to be guiding a flagship multinational tour to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Amiens, conducting groups of school children from the UK, Australia, Canada, the United States, France, and Germany around the Somme battlefields of 1916-18. Finally, as far as these trips are concerned I will be guiding a number of Army Cadet Force groups around the Western Front in October 2018.
In preparation for my Fellowship at RUSI commencing in September 2018, I have also begun to speak to units and formations on the subject of Adaptability. In June 2018, I spoke to 104 Logistic Brigade at South Cerney and tomorrow evening I will deliver a talk to 3 Regt RLC at Abingdon. Perhaps the most fortunate thing that has happened to me this year is being given the opportunity to write a Joint Concept Note on Adaptability for the Developments Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) at Shrivenham. The project is due to come to fruition in November 2018. So what are my priorities for the rest of the year? Well more of the same, an article or two, some high quality research at RUSI, concentration on my academic career, and perhaps an application for a Commission (dependent on a return to full fitness). I should perhaps add that next week I will be awarded the RAF’s Salmond Prize 2018 from the Chief of the Air Staff, this is an incredible honour which was both a surprise and humbling.
I promise a much more interesting Blog this weekend, I will warn you that it may not compete with either the World Cup Quarter Final or Love Island, whichever is your poison.