This morning, I received a ‘phone call from Mons Barracks regarding the delivery of some parcels addressed to me, probably victims of the vagaries of MoDNet. Anyway, it acted as a useful reminder that it has been over twelve months since I left the Scots Guards and almost five months since I left RUSI, on a full-time basis at least. The last few months have flown. I must admit the move to Andover in March was not the smoothest, I rather resisted it I’m afraid, and this put me into the doldrums, a lull from which I am only just emerging. I am also aware that I have rather neglected this blog, I hope that over the next few weeks I’ll be able to put that right. This blog post will be largely reflective, but I promise to come back with something a little more interesting with my next posts.
My last review was at the end of March 2019, and a huge amount has happened since then. The biggest event was undoubtedly the opportunity to speak at the FINABEL Annual Conference in Malta. FINABEL is an alliance of European Union militaries, the purpose of which is to enhance military interoperability across Europe. It was a fascinating meeting held over three days in a beautiful hotel overlooking the Grand Harbour in Valletta. The culmination of the event, for me at least, was my address to the Chiefs of Staff of the member armies or their senior representatives. Although I have spoken to important groups before, speaking to the most senior soldiers in Europe was an incredible and unforgettable honour. I am surprised and honoured by every invitation to speak, and although not on the same scale, I was also pleased to speak to the Adjutant General’s Corps Warrant Officers’ and Senior NCOs’ Conference at the end of May. My next speaking engagement is at the 9th Annual Social Media in the Defence and Military Sector Conference in November, I hope to meet some of you there.
Besides speaking, I was also pleased to act as a historical advisor to the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC) Battlefield Study to Normandy in May, it was a fascinating trip during which I enjoyed seeing young soldiers open up to the conceptual component. It convinced me, even more, that intellectual study of the profession of arms is not just Officer sport. I have been booked on six battlefield studies over the next year already, four to the Western Front battlefields of the First World War before Christmas, and two to more exotic places in 2020. The first will be with the AGC to the Balkans in the Spring, the second will be to South Africa in the Summer, or is that Winter. The Battlefield Studies allow me to teach, that is a real passion but one which is sadly severely limited. Another area which has been restricted of late has been my passion for writing. Some of you may have read my chapter on the Western Way of War in RUSI’s ‘The Future Operating Environment Out to 2030’ published last month, unfortunately I have only written two pieces since then, an article on the critical vulnerability of space-enabled precision warfare with the wonderful Alexandra Stickings, and a book review on Mark Galleoti’s book, ‘Russian Political Warfare’. I am determined to re-balance this with a fistful of articles and papers before Christmas.
Another area which has been highly successful, but which I owe some more time to, has been the War Talks series and the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize 2019 (BAMBY19). The Fifth Season, an all-female affair, has pulled in larger audiences thanks to podcasts in conjunction with the Wavell Room; our last, until September, will be given by Cristina Varriale of RUSI tomorrow night at Prince Consort’s Library. The Sixth Season’s itinerary is, as yet, incomplete, but I am hoping to announce it during August. The BAMBY continues apace, it is hoped to announce the winner of the Prize by October. I have also been glad to assist the organisers of the Navy’s new Quarterdeck Talks, if only in a small way, I wish them luck in their endeavours and commend their Talks to you. A recurrent feature of this blog has been the limited capacity I have had since moving to Army Communications, I assure you that normal service will be resumed very shortly.
I have purposely left unaddressed any discussion of the future. The reason is that I am not quite sure of the direction in which I am travelling. I know that I want to do more reading and speaking, and I really want to start a PhD as soon as possible but that is counter-balanced by a need to earn money and to pursue the cause for which I have been speaking since 2014, better education and wider career opportunities for Other Ranks. Undoubtedly, I will return to these subjects in the next few weeks.
Thank you for listening, speak soon.