- My latest piece in the Independent is a series of interviews with Afghanistan Veterans, some serving, some not. I asked them what they thought of David Cameron’s “Mission Accomplished” claim. They used bad words.
- I just wrote a piece on the real tyranny of drones for Souciant Magazine. The Royal Air Force and Ministry of Defence went on a drone PR offensive this morning, allowing journalists into the RAF Waddington drone facility for the first time. Defence Minister Phil Hammond’s Guardian piece is here. Mine is here. See what you think.
- Had the pleasure to meet journalist, veteran and photographer Stuart Griffiths last eve. He even gave me a copy of his book Pigs Disco, a Gonzo tale of drugs and soldiering in Northern Ireland. I urge you to check it out.
- David Cameron has declared mission accomplished in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by ex-England footballer Michael Owen, floated 2014 plans for a football match at Wembley between Afghan and British troops in the spirit of the 1914 Christmas truce. It may be of note that the Christmas truce was played between enemies and the ANA are officially allies despite the recent history of insider attacks by indigenous soldiers on coalition troops.
- General Sir Dave Richards was on the BBC today making noises about sub-Saharan Africa. He aired concerns over the legacy of the Libyan Intervention and how part of it’s fallout was the spread of arms throughout the region, and only hours after Cameron’s Mission Accomplished claims.
- Less well reported is the spiralling situation in the Central African Republic. My friend and occasional sparring partner Assed Baig is on the ground and filed an update in the last few hours
Just London, that is all.
- First, in Vice, my latest article on the silencing of UK and US veterans! Read, share, all that stuff. Fine people, in difficult situations, put themselves on the line to speak to me.
- The Afghan government is deep in talks over a “US security deal”. Should it not be called an Afghan security deal? I have no fucking idea. Only today the White House threatened to pull out all troops unless Karzai acquiesced. I thought it was just the Mayor of Toronto who smoked crack…
- Deep joy. Certain players within the Afghan government are considering bringing back stoning for adultery. Team Nato, which this week is wondering what to do with itself now that the war is “over”, has succeeded in replacing a violent regime with a violent regime. I for one think we all deserve another medal.
- Iran, something was happening, and now something has happened. Israel is angry and says Iran could have a bomb within weeks…again. This immediately tells me the “something” that happened fell short of a decision to bomb Iran to smithereens immediately. Iran continues to look on wryly, lending weight to my suspicion that Iran, for all it’s human rights flavoured shortcomings, is still cleverer than the rest of us. Has peace broken out? Unlikely. I think this is less a parley, more a shift. Empire endures.
- #Murika… Or Toronto anyway, which is America For Beginners, I think. Anything built before 1996 is accounted “historical”. The city is pretty, but blighted with dark satanic condominiums. I spend twenty days there in the haze of mayoral crack vapour, visiting with a nefarious colony of Americans. Canadian’s are very pleasant, but I knew that. I was elated to find that Americans are on the whole neither fat nor stupid – they are in fact hospitable, interesting, thoughtful and emotional in a way which is both disconcerting and endearing. In fact, I have developed a heretical love of Yanks! I was even happier to discover that they can not only manufacture but ingest in some quantity palatable beverage. We spoke on political platforms about war things, were hosted by Afghans and I pretended to be a public intellectual. Then we went to the woods. Germans filmed me filmed drunk-dancing to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. A philosophy student told us at a public gathering that all public gatherings are fascistic. Deadpan.
- Jiu Jits News – I’ve had two weeks off. My instructor texted me asking where I was. I said I was back Tuesday. He said: “Oss, Guerrierro” or something. It made me feel like I belonged.
- Guardian Freelance Journalism Masterclass. This was great. Stylistic tips and practical advice about pitches and markets. It was also very Guardianista. I ate lasagne. Hobnobbing afterwards, I found an ale called Warlord and drank it from a horn. Not really. The horn part.
- Veterans for Peace UK marched to the Cenotaph. I remembered how to right-wheel. Within a week of our wreath laying, dozens of new veterans were making enquiries. I am sure that this was because of my crisp, exquisite drill.
The YPG and YPJ (People’s Protection Units) are the Kurdish militias, male and female respectively, that are fighting against the al Qaeda linked groups Jabhat al Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) in Northern Syria. At their base in Kherbet al Binaat (literally “the girls’ corner” in Arabic) these women are on the frontline against al Qaeda, whose troops are just 2 miles away.
Stars and Stripes
November 23, 2013
In postwar environment, US and European troops work to prove relevance
By John Vandiver
HOHENFELS, Germany:The troops picked a good location to set up their mortars, down in a valley near the cover of a ridgeline.
But the shouts from the Slovenian mortar men, echoing off the hillside, threatened to give away their location.
Such scenes are playing out daily at the rugged training grounds in Hohenfels, Germany, where the Joint Multinational Readiness Center is hosting one of its largest multinational training exercises in recent years. As the war in Afghanistan winds down, such training initiatives will play a key role in ensuring allies don’t lose hard-earned combat capabilities achieved during a decade of war, U.S. commanders say.
The two-week exercise, which brings together 1,200 U.S. and European troops, tests the ability of soldiers to work as a single multinational combat brigade
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I’ve been away for a while. Not in jail this time though. In between researching a new book, visiting Toronto (with it’s dark satanic condominiums) and general frolics I have neglected my blog.
Why have I come back to the blog? Well, because I’m paying for the bloody thing. And also because I attended a Guardian masterclass on freelance journalism which was excellent in a Guardian kind of way. One of the speakers emphasised the value of blogging little bits of ideas as often as possible.
My last Guardian piece also saw me pick up dozens of email followers, and so I’d be rude not to write more…
Topics to be covered in the next few weeks (all subject to change on a whim)
- My musket-wielding, Crockett-hatted adventures in Canadia
- Veterans For Peace UK’s brilliant visit to the Cenotaph
- The “Security Deal” in Afghanistan and the wrangling with Iran
- Lefty cults. In the news again.
- Thoughts on the new book…
- My search for a hugely well-paid column which will allow me to sit in my river cottage in Surrey proselytising to the proletariat.
All this and more coming soon…