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Monday, January 28, 2008

Going Solo

Not everyone who deploys on operations will deploy with the Unit they've trained with, lived with and gone on the piss for the last few years with. Most Units get extra people to go on Ops with.

They're variously called Supernumeries, the Wartime Establishment, Individual Augmentees, Battle Casualty Replacements or more commonly "Oi new lad get the kettle on".

I had the choice of going to Kuwait as an augmentee or not going.

So I went by myself.*

* - Well I sort of knew three people. I still got to make lots of tea though.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sitting, Watching, Waiting

It was the autumn of 2002 and things were getting interesting.

It looked like we'd be going to war. It looked like this was going to be 'the war' of my army generation.

Whilst some British forces had gone to Afghanistan the year before things were quiet there now. There were still a few guys around who'd been out on Op Granby (the retaking of Kuwait) in 1991. There were a few guys who'd been shot at in Northern Ireland or caught in a crossfire in Bosnia but most of us were virgins. Untested in combat and never had someone try to kill them.

Most of us were looking forward to it. Most of us were excited.

Funny how quickly things can change.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where's Everyone Gone?

Honestly - you take a year off and when you come back everyone has disappeared. My sidebar now links to several sex sites and other dubious cybersquatting sites.

I obviously have some catching up to do. In the meantime (and whilst I work out something interesting to say about Iraq) may I recommend the following series of articles about a British Battalion in Basrah by Michael Yon, an independent American war blogger:

Men of Valor - Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Back - For A Bit

Since I left I've moved house (again) and spent some time sunning myself in Iraq. On the positive side the army, and it's relationship with the general public has come back into the media. After some negative press about the military covenant there has been a resurgence in homecoming parades.

We, in the military, accept that not all of the campaigns which we are involved in are popular, but appreciate the increased public support which we are receiving.

How do you see it - civilian side that is?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stand Down

As you know I'm just a tad busy at the minute.

I'm also finding it hard to find anything new to say on this blog. Hence the reason it's all got a bit crap lately.

So for the time being Universal Soldier is being stood down.

I'll almost certainly start blogging elsewhere.

I might be back here at some point. We'll see.

Thanks for reading.

How Exciting

Looking forward to trying out the new version of blogger - that makes me sad doesn't it?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Answers - #10

Gonorr asked:

"PBI* or support?"

Well I used to be the former until my body decided it wasn't such a smart move and now I'm definitely a REMF.

* - Poor Bloody Infantry. Support = support troops - did you know there are something like 9 support troops to keep 1 infantry soldier in the field?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Here Comes The Bride

Although it is nearly 8 years ago I can still feel the ice in belly as I woke up on the morning I was due to get married.

The party had started the night before with a little 'light ' karaoke that had broken the ice between the in-laws and assorted guests but had left me with a slightly thick head despite my best intentions.

For any budding grooms out there can I recommend a 5 mile run and a full cooked breakfast to get rid of any wedding jitters.

Oh and getting into a spankingly smart uniform helped too.

And walking through my home town with all the passers bye gawping helped too.

And a couple of pints in my local helped too.

As for the wedding - well it's all a bit of a blur really (and that had nothing to do with the couple of pints).

I do remember seeing the soon to be Mrs Soldier walking down the aisle - red hair standing out even more than usual because of her wedding dress.

I do remember giving my wrong hand to Mrs Soldier and ending up shortly after the wedding being told that I was a prat and had my ring on the wrong hand.

I do remember thinking "Oh dear" as the lads who'd come over from my regiment sat down at a table with the only available ladies and then ordered tequila - at about 3 in the afternoon.

I do remember thinking "That'll be the tequila" when some of my friends decided they couldn't wait for the first dance.

I do remember thinking "Oh shit" when the DJ decided it would be a good idea to play 'Kung Fu Fighting'. *

But apart from that it was all a bit of a very pleasant blur.

* - Fortunately just the one casualty when one of the blokes managed to 'accidentally' kick his missus in the head.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Answers - #9

Dr Jest asked:
"How much does the regimental tradition still survive with all the political buggering about, and is this(the tradition)for good or ill?"

Yes the regimental tradition survives even though some famous regiments were forced to merge during the last round of tinkering.* Yes I believe the regimental tradition is a good one - every soldier in every infantry battalion is 100% convinced that they are in the best battalion in the whole army. Regimental life brings with it a sense of family that can be very important for both the soldier and his family when he is on operations. It also brings a sense of history and place that I personally believe to be important.

Having said that I really don't believe that soldiers fight for their battalion, regiment or even country most of the time. The soldiers who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan generally do so well because they are fighting for their mates and they don't want to be the one to let the team down.

* - tinkering that was actually long overdue and has been carried out in a sensible way.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Monday, July 31, 2006

Coming Home

I've got a short pause in the madness that is currently my life of work, getting ready to move and trying to have a family life, so back to the memoir for a short moment.

I loved my first 6 month tour of Bosnia. It's a beautiful country filled with passionate people (who sometimes want to kill each other) and I hope to return there someday as a tourist rather than a soldier.

But 6 months is 6 months. 6 months of not being able to walk out of the camp unless I was working. 6 months of living in a a porta-kabin. 6 months of work without a real day off. 6 months of living in the pockets of other people whether I wanted to be there or not.

So there was a mixture of relief and sadness as I got on the coach to take me to the airport.

Oh and a little nervousness as well - I was getting married in a fortnight.

Answers - #8

FourDinners also asked:

"Are there many Officers like the (ex) one we've got at work from Deepcut? (intimidating bully who's going to lose some bits of his anatomy when he transfers to our shift. If he behaves as he does on his current shift his balls will be leaving via the top of his head)"

Erm - I suppose like any large organisation there will always be a few people who reach a level of management which they shouldn't have reached. Most of our officers these days are actually very good although sometimes the more junior officers can overestimate their own importance.

The stereo-type of the public school boy turned officer who has a private income is to a large extent totally misplaced these days. These days they tend to come from all sorts of backgrounds and fewer and fewer talk with plummy accents.

P.S My ultimate test for any officer is - "Would I single handedly storm a machine gun position if this person asked me to." I.E - if they asked me to do something fairly suicidal would I do it. There are probably three officers I've worked for in the last 12 years who if they asked I would trust that it really needed doing and there was no other way. Top of the British Blogs