Thursday, 17 June 2010


What never ceases to amaze me is the propensity of senior officers to dash into print with personal opinions. They are happy to retain their military rank but have little reluctance to condemn an organisation that gave them status and a position in life. We have the latest such cynicism from one who now earns his keep by journalism and has reason to blurt out popularist opinions.
"Colonel Richard Kemp said his immediate feeling on hearing the findings of the Saville Inquiry was that guilty soldiers should be jailed for a long time. I think that the actions we have heard described are much more like the actions of Nazi stormtroopers than British paratroopers," he said.
Col Kemp, who commanded all British troops in Afghanistan, thought the report into the massacre should see the full wrath of the law brought down on the killers. We are not given the benefit of his thoughts with regard to prosecution of Nationalist killers who slaughtered 18 soldiers at Warrenpoint and those nine totally innocent civilians blown apart on Bloody Friday in Belfast. These cannot have disappeared off his radar screen surely?

They will be in his cuttings file awaiting a money-making opportunity when he can trot them out for a few pieces of silver. He gave evidence before a UN committee where he introduced himself thus "I commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government's Joint Intelligence Committee." That is a lot of service for a relatively mediocre career ending up as a Colonel. Maybe there is a link there to his bile? His reference to international terrorism for our JIC may seem a bit off given the way he spoke about Hamas/Israel. Hardly impartial?

And why did he stop short by merely condemning the soldiers of 1 Para? Well waiting in the wings are two very unsavoury incidents involving our forces in Iraq. The Baha Moussa Inquiry is well advanced. Also hanging over someone's head are the Danny Boy allegations. Given the sort of work he has claimed as his forte, he may well have clothing soiled by these matters and not want to wash his dirty linen in public.

I am never short of things to say but have held off on the question of prosecute or not in the case of the soldiers who gave evidence at Saville. It is far too complex in legal terms and there will be political considerations as well. Until the decision has been mooted and published, it behoves us all - expert-on-all-things-military especially - tp shut up and not rock the boat in a Province where the peace process is still a frail little plant.

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