As those of you who have been following this blog know, in December each year I do a round-up of the previous twelve months and attempt to look forward into the New Year. This year has been one of the busiest I can remember, I have moved to a new assignment, moved house, and moved into a whole new type of work. In writing this Blog, I have used a thematic approach, covering work, academic developments, War Talks, and BAMBY separately as much to remind me of the events as to organise them logically for the reader.
I began 2019 as the Army Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) in Whitehall, my six-month full-time External Placement at RUSI was extended on a part-time basis from March until September 2019 and during that time I began working at Army Communications in Andover spreading myself very thinly, covering the Army Twitter account amongst other things. While at RUSI, I continued to produce articles and take a full role in the life of the Institute and was privileged to work with some brilliant minds, making friendships which have endured. In Andover, I found the transition from academia to the Army somewhat difficult but soon got into my stride, working as Project Officer for the British Army Challenge Book and running the Twitter account. I was fortunate to be awarded prizes for both these activities at the Defence Communications Awards in November and am even more lucky to work for and with some brilliant Officers and Civil Servants.
At the end of November I was offered the position of member of the RUSI Military Science Advisory Board and was pleased to accept, I was also offered permanent employment at the Institute which, virtually coinciding with my failure on the Warrant Officer promotion Board, made leaving the Army after 26 years a tempting decision. I am already resettling, thanks to the excellent Resettlement Service provided by the Army Education and Training Services, and am hoping to formalise qualifications in battlefield guiding. I hope to be ready to be a civilian when the time comes.
Alongside work I was fortunate to be asked to teach at the Defence Academy of the Republic of Georgia. I soon found that, when it came to Sub-Threshold Warfare, my students were far more accustomed to the practical application of the theory at the hands of the Russians than me. I can recommend Tbilisi in the Spring, it is a fascinating city and the old town is quite beautiful. In addition to teaching, I was asked to speak to the Chiefs of Staff of the European armies at the annual conference of FINABEL in Malta. I spoke on the subject of Adaptability and was pleased that it caused considerable debate amongst the delegates, particularly pleasing for any military historian was the praise received from the German Chief of Staff, General Jorg Vollmer. In addition to these two milestones, I have spoken at King’s College London, the AGC Warrant Officer’s Convention, and the Tonbridge War Talks to name but a few. I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking at the 1 SCOTS Development Day in January and at the next FINABEL Conference in Prague a week later. I also hope to do some work for Paul Ellis in teaching the use of social media to military audiences.
In addition to the day job and the academic study and presenting, I have also conducted a number of battlefield studies, primarily in support of Simon Bendry’s University College of London First World War Centenary Battlefield Tour Programme, but also the AGC Normandy 75 Battlefield Study in May. I am booked to deliver a couple more First World War tours in the Spring of 2020 as well as three other tours in Croatia, Crete, and South Africa prior to discharge. I hope that once fully-qualified I will be able to find further work in this area.
Every man has to have a hobby and mine comes in two parts. Since 2018, I have been running the British Army Military Book of the Year (BAMBY), this year I put in much more effort to publicise the event and this paid dividends earlier this week when the winner, Dr Jonathan Boff, was presented with the prize by the Commander Field Army, Lt Gen Ivan Jones CB. The second part of the equation is the War Talks initiative which I founded in July 2017. It has been pleasing to watch the Royal Navy start their own equivalent of the War Talks, the Quarterdeck Talks, this year and I was happy to provide a brilliant first speaker for them in the Spring. I am now working with the RAF to provide the same service and look forward to all three Talk series working side by side to provide excellent informal professional military education for the armed forces. The War Talks continue to develop and are podcasted by the Wavell Room and videoed for the War Talks You Tube Site. This year we have reached a grand total of 50 Talks, reaching a physical audience of over 2000, but more importantly exceeding over 10000 podcast hits and a Twitter following of almost 3000.
I will continue to write both for my the warrantofficer.org blog and for other war studies websites. The blog site has been enormously successful and has grown by almost 50% this year, with every post drawing an audience of around 750 readers. I have recently been granted membership of the Military Writers Guild and I intend to both increase the amount I write and promote the writing of others. Finally, I will start a PhD this year if it kills me!! I hope to achieve more in 2020, have a fabulous Christmas!
All the very best,
P.S I’ll be back to Blogging about War next week!