Friday, 28 June 2013

More Askari Thunder and a sweary rant

Just another quick post today, bringing you two videos from British Forces News to round out the series on Askari Thunder, followed by a brief rant about fitness.

*WARNING* - While all of the following videos are "safe for work", some of the language used later may not be. Open and read at your own peril.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Exercise Askari Thunder

To tide you over, while I finish up work on my next piece, I thought I'd share some videos from British Forces News on Exercise Askari Thunder, taking place in Kenya. It appears they're doing a series of videos and there may yet be more to come. 

Askari Thunder is a complex infantry training exercise, which is also bringing together elements such as artillery support and observation from UAV's. The training area provided for the forces is large, varied, and combined with the intense heat it provides a challenge unlike anything available in the UK.

One of the reasons I take such an interest in things like this is because my worry is that as budgets fall, training will suffer. The withdrawl of British Forces from Germany may save money, but it's also costing the British armed forces two significant training areas. 

History has taught us that in warfare - all things being equal (or near equal) - the better trained force wins. As the armed forces shrink, the need to maintain the edge in quality becomes more and more paramount. Large exercises like Askari Thunder are vital to the British army as it moves forward into the "post-Afghanistan" era, where the next deployment for the troops involved could be anything from another peace keeping mission to a full scale battle group deployment as part of a wider force in a conventional campaign.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

UKIP... I'll take the first watch (Ba-dum tish!)

Right, apology's for the delays, but we're finally here.

Now, about three or more weeks ago I sat down with the intention of reviewing the defence policy of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). They had just done pretty well in the county council elections, were being splashed across the front pages of many newspapers, and generally causing a few political waves. Inevitably when a small party starts to rise up the polls its members and its policies will come under greater scrutiny. That was my intention.

Till things got rather hectic for me personally. A warning perhaps about the dangers of unexpected circumstances?

In that time, UKIP converted their defence policy from a downloadable document to page on a website, so if you want to read the whole thing (take you about 10-20 minutes, depending on the number of distractions you face!) then you can read it here;

Otherwise, read on for the summary version.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Erm, change of plan

I know I said scouts honour, but then I was never a scout so that doesn't count! There's been an unexpected and frankly quite frustrating delay. All will be well soon.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sorry about the delays

Promise, cross my heart, boy scouts honour and all that, that I'll have something up tomorrow.

Honest guv.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


So apology's for the delays and absence of posting. I've been exceptionally busy over the last couple of weeks, to the extent that I've barely even had time to drop the odd comment over at Think Defence, let alone write out a full blown blog post here.

But I wanted to tell you about something interesting I saw today, down in Brightlingsea. There was some boat show/regatta/thing going on. Having spotted some exceptionally fine looking Rolls Royce's parked up near the harbour I went down to investigate. And popping round the corner to the hard itself, I noticed something odd moored at the end of the jetty.

It turned out to be MTB-102, a British Motor Torpedo Boat dating back from the second world war. Sadly I didn't have a camera on me so I have no pictures of my own, but I can assure you it was a fine sight.

MTB-102 is famous largely for the variety of distinguished guests it has hosted, though it also lays a claim to being the fastest boat to have served in the Royal Navy during world war two (48 knots). 

During Operation Dynamo (the evacuation of allied forces from the beaches at Dunkirk), MTB-102 found itself serving in the unlikely role of flagship to Rear Admiral Sir Frederic Wake-Walker, after his destroyer HMS Keith was sunk by air attack. MTB-102 was also the ship used by Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower to review the D-Day landing fleet in 1944, quite appropriate given that the anniversary of D-Day occurred just the other day.

MTB-102 also found fame later in the 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed, starring Michael Cain. It was also the only surviving ship from world war two to take an active part in the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

The ship is now maintained by a specialist trust and I had the great pleasure to meet two of her modern crew, including Richard Basey who is head of the trust. 

It's amazing just how long she is, though you can see just by looking from the outside that she's not exactly the widest of vessels. Built from a combination of Honduran Mahogany and Canadian Elm, she felt robust to the touch, and the externally mounted torpedo tubes give a truly menacing and war-like edge to what would otherwise be a sleek pleasure cruiser.

A fine vessel indeed, I've changed the background in her honour. You can also find out more about MTB-102 by visiting their website;

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Update - June 4th

Been very, very, very, very busy of late. Post is in the works. Stay tuned. Over.