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Using Drones operated in the UK to attack on ‘battlefields’ far away may be putting a safe distance between those doing the fighting. But it is also a major step away from achieving any kind of meaningful solution to extremist-led 21st Century Terrorism

December 18, 2013 Leave a comment

An RAF Reaper drone

News Reports demonstrating the RAF piloting Drone Aircraft from behind computer screens in the UK will of course upset many.

It will also frighten others who will realise that in the eyes of Terrorists, this very fact will potentially make RAF Waddington some kind of ‘legitimate’ target and focus for the attention of what perhaps may be home-grown, radicalised young Muslims whose desire for retaliation will be borne from what they understand to be happening at the other end of a satellite signal in Afghanistan.

There is some irony in the fact that the UK is now using the distance which remote technology affords us to protect our military personnel, when the results are ultimately creating even greater distance between us and the militant groups and their potential converts who we as a society have now come to fear so greatly.

If cultural misunderstandings are the basis of the problems between the Western World and extremists, violent acts of any kind are surely the quickest route to polarising those feelings even further. Especially so when those acts are perceived to be random and without regard to innocent human life, just as with 9/11 for the USA, 7/7 and Woolwich for us, and now these markedly remote-operated drone strikes for those living in Afghanistan.

The most frightening truth in all of this is the very real scenario that allows a violent act against just one person can be used as such an extremely effective marketing tool by those who perceive themselves as being the same as those injured – perhaps just for as outwardly simple a reason as sharing a Religion – to provide that essential hint of a genuine truth which is needed to legitimise the sharing of obscure views against the ‘perpetrators’ which might otherwise carry so little weight.

Those who preach to the young and vulnerable on our streets know this all too well. When teaching that the injustice of innocent deaths in a faraway land can be closely identified with the day-to-day injustices of living in and experiencing a money-obsessed Western world, we soon find brainwashing being carried out on a level that only our worst nightmares could ever possibly allow.

The regrettable reality of all this is that it necessitates the use of force by those who would protect us, simply because those who have learned that their own life has no value, will seldom hesitate in taking away the lives of others who appear to disagree with their ‘doctrine’ – perhaps just as simply as being because they do not share the same Faith.

However, using violence against terrorism is itself just a means of dealing with the effects of a massive problem which whilst manifested as violence, must be dealt with both intelligently and considerately at its root cause if any lasting understanding is ever really to be achieved.

It is this fact alone that Government must now face if there is any deep desire to genuinely future proof us against militant terrorism in the years to come, and talk of the mission being accomplished in Afghanistan by the Prime Minister is positive window dressing heaped upon one pyrrhic victory indeed.

Image  – thanks to http://www.theguardian.com  

Marine A: Battlefields are not today’s UK’s streets and we must accept that civilian rules and understanding inflicted upon the work and actions of military personnel will be little more than a pathway to disarmament, making us all the same

December 14, 2013 Leave a comment

download (16)Scant attention is being paid to the seismic consequences for UK Defence that may now follow the conviction and subsequent imprisonment of Royal Marine Sgt. Alexander Blackman.

Found guilty of Murder in a battlefield situation, there is little question that to all of us who have read the publicised details of this saga, it does indeed sound like a barbaric and cold blooded execution.

Indeed very few of us like to think of any situation where a human being is apparently dispatched in such a seemingly brutal way and certainly not by the hand of a Member of our Armed Services, whom we are still led to believe sit at the forefront of military professionalism, despite the continuing cuts which at some point will make such notions entirely mythical.

Very few of us have actually experienced the trauma of battle first hand and it would be my sincerest hope that this will always remain the case for as many of us as will ever be possible. But, one thing that is certain is that the environment created by warfare of any kind is very different to that which we as a majority have today ever experienced in our civilian lives.

We must therefore ask the question of whether we are now allowing the values and expectations of our peacetime, ‘civilised’ and liberally enlightened society to be projected and therefore inflicted upon the very environments in which our Service Personnel operate and who by the very nature of the warfare they are exposed to daily are experiencing something entirely different?

It is of course ironic that if the insurgents, terrorists or fighters that our troops are facing were themselves operating under a like-for-like code of conduct as we expect of those sent to the front line to protect us, this would in itself indicate the existence of a set of values and consideration for others on their part which would probably have meant there was never a need for violent conflict between any of us in the first place.

But this is what we and our ‘allies’ are up against; Itinerant warfare which recognises honour in killing, maiming and the installation of maximum fear in its enemies, whilst celebrating glory from martyrdom and death.

It is beyond foolish for any of us to expect that combat personnel will always ‘get it right’ when exposed to acts of violence and terror which run contrary to everything we have ourselves been taught. It is potentially disastrous when those making such a judgement are unlikely to have any meaningful appreciation of the very personal and specific way that individuals can be affected by these experiences and the effects that these emotional explosions will surely have.

Failure to recognise the steps that we have already taken on this slippery slope to considering combat or service related roles as being a normal or an everyday job are already seeing ambulance-chasing payouts to those who see the opportunity for personal gain. We can only wonder if the emergence of battlefield lawyers who judge whether every single act undertaken by troops are indeed righteous is just a matter of time away.

One thing is for certain and that is that if our armed service personnel are increasingly likely to be faced with criminal charges for actions which are taken completely out of context, it wont just be budget cuts and white elephant spending on the part of the Government and the Ministry of Defence that keep reducing the numbers of those who are willing to put their lives on the line and fight.

Image thanks to Reuters/www.dailymail.co.uk

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