A few days ago, I laid out my accomplishments in the vintage year of 2018: first, my appointment as the first non-commissioned Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in its 187 year history; second, the award of the Royal Air Force’s Salmond Prize in it’s centenary year; third, organising the re-birth of the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize, won this year, for the first time, by a woman, Dr Aimee Fox; fourth, the organising of a Two-Star study day and fourteen War Talks, and having the privilege of speaking to Units, Formations, and a whole career stream in the Army and Royal Navy; fifth, to have been published in the United Kingdom and the United States and to have been interviewed for television and radio and finally undertaking, as both a guide and an administrator, nine battlefield studies in the UK, Belgium, and France. Above all, for the first seven months of the year, I was the Regimental Administration Warrant Officer at the Scots Guards.
If anything, I intend to achieve more in 2019. My New Year’s Resolutions are firstly, to get fit and lose weight, and secondly, to exploit last year’s successes. At this juncture, I’d like to reiterate my motivations: I want to see improved Professional Military Education for Other Ranks throughout UK Defence, wider employment for Other Ranks, and greater value placed on learning in the entire profession of arms. How I intend to push my projects forward in pursuit of these goals, will form the rest of this Blog post:
Royal United Services Institute. Although my assignment to RUSI is due to end in March 2019, there is much to accomplish in the next three months. I have a number of articles in progress, covering subjects as diverse as recruiting and retention and countering defence vulnerabilities in space. I intend to write more and be published more widely to enhance my profile in 2019. I’m also working on an essay prize, in conjunction with RUSI’s Land Warfare Conference, which will be open to soldier’s and junior officers and will encourage the Army’s young thinkers to write and express themselves with significant cash prizes as further motivation for the winners. I will also throw myself into whatever opportunities RUSI offers me, and they are many!!
PhD Proposal. In 2017, I began working on a PhD proposal, this was a bruising process and did not produce the result I wanted. In short, I could not find a subject which captured my imagination sufficiently to dedicate six years of my life in its pursuit. I do want to do a PhD, more for myself than for any other reason, but I still need to find the right subject. I intend, therefore, to find the right subject for me and begin study in September 2019. Its likely that the subject will be related to learning and adaptation and be in the context of the First World War or the period immediately following it.
War Talks. As I think I have said previously, I will be handing the British Army Military Book of the Year competition back to the Army Libraries Information Service in 2019, but the War Talks series will continue to move from strength to strength. Through my connection with RUSI, many of the speakers will be provided from amongst the Institute’s research community, allowing me to diversify the talks across military history, war studies, and international relations. To bring further diversity, and through Aldershot Military Museum, the RUSI speakers will also hold sessions with local Sixth Form groups to discuss current affairs and improve the understanding of international politics in the Aldershot area. In addition, the Talks will go on the road again, this time further afield, and I will endeavour to have them videoed and the speakers interviewed by me for podcasts.
These are just the headliners, I also intend to help organise a new Aldershot Military Literature Festival commencing in July 2019, continue guiding visits to the battlefields and speaking to Units and Formations. Above all though, I will continue to take every opportunity to push the message that competence, not rank, should be the only limitation on appointments available to Other Ranks and that nothing is beyond anyone with the right education. The last bastion of chauvinism in the Armed Forces is Rank, that needs to change. I wish you all a Happy New Year in 2019, see you on the other side.
All the very best,