Armed forces

1 April 2024News in Brief

After Declassified revealed on 1 February that at least six Israeli air force planes had taken off and landed in the UK since 7 October, the UK government was forced to admit the true number was nine.

1 April 2024News

Israeli units were ordered to prevent the capture of civilian hostages 'at any cost'

Over the past few months, Electronic Intifada (EI) and other independent outlets have gathered together the growing evidence that the Israel defence forces (IDF) deliberately attacked vehicles and buildings on 7 October 2023 when they either knew that Israeli civilians were inside or when there was a significant risk that Israeli civilians might be harmed.

A new Al-Jazeera documentary about 7 October interviews a former British artillery officer, Chris Cobb-Smith,…

1 February 2024News in Brief

Are you reliable and conscientious, and able to volunteer your time answering enquiries from members of the armed forces and their families?

At Ease, a free advisory, counselling and information service for members of the armed forces and their families, is looking for volunteers anywhere in the UK able to answer questions by email or by phone as part of a small team.

At Ease is also looking for Local Volunteers who can (after some training) give occasional help and support to…

1 February 2024News in Brief

Meanwhile, in the UK, on 24 January, the head of the British army called for a massive expansion of Britain’s fighting forces, from 74,000 soldiers to 120,000. What he called the current ‘pre-war generation’ should prepare itself for war.

Why? Because of the Russian threat. General sir Patrick Sanders said the war in Ukraine wasn’t just about Donbas or the Russian empire, it was also ‘about defeating our system and way of life politically, psychologically, and symbolically’.

1 February 2024Feature

Is the UK providing the Israels military with drone-gathered intelligence?

Late on 2 December, the UK ministry of defence (MoD) issued a short online statement saying that the UK ‘will conduct surveillance flights over the eastern Mediterranean, including operating in air space over Israel and Gaza.’

The following day, health secretary Victoria Atkins, appearing as a government spokesperson on Sky News, was asked about the flights and said: ‘The ministry of defence has announced that it has sent some unmanned, and unarmed, surveillance drones into the region…

1 April 2023Feature

A counter-history of the SAS

The 22nd Special Air Service regiment, better known as the SAS, occupies a unique place in the British public consciousness. For many, it embodies notions of an elite level of valour and heroism coupled with the mystique of state secrecy and a certain roguish prestige.

Even within the military, these troops are often seen as almost supernaturally tough and skilled. A sense of barely-governed violence attaches to them, which results in nicknames like ‘blades’ and ‘pilgrims’.


1 February 2023Feature

Strike-breaking: using the armed forces to undermine workers’ rights

The UK is in the midst of industrial action on a scale not seen since the 1970s. With key public sector workers walking out over below-inflation pay offers, the government have asked the military to plug the gap. Drafting in the armed forces may keep some basic services running but it is also designed to weaken the power of unions. With the government threatening new anti-strike legislation, we should remember how military confrontation with strikers was the weapon of choice until the Second…

1 February 2023News

Military used diagnoses to 'get rid of the problem'

On 14 January, the Daily Telegraph published its latest investigation into sexual assault in the British army.

Danielle Sheridan, the paper’s defence editor, reported: ‘Hundreds of female members of the Armed Forces who accused their colleagues of rape were “misdiagnosed” with having a personality disorder.’

The women were medically discharged after seeking help for sexual assault and being ‘written off’ with emotionally unstable personality disorder.


1 August 2022News

Whistleblowers say weapons were planted to justify killings

SAS soldiers killed detainees and unarmed men in Afghanistan in suspicious circumstances on dozens of occasions, according to a BBC TV documentary broadcast in mid-July.

Military reports obtained by Panorama suggest that one SAS unit may have killed 54 people unlawfully in one six-month tour.

Whistleblowers from the SAS squadron told the BBC they saw SAS ‘operators’ kill unarmed people during night raids – and then plant AK-47 rifles to justify the killing.

1 April 2016Feature

Chris Venables details militarism's corruption of the European project

Over the last 20 years, a host of committees, agencies, and departments designed to foster cooperation on issues of defence and security between the Member States have been created. Far from being an inevitable consequence of European integration, this militarisation represents a corruption of the European project.

EU treaty law provides only a limited foundation for building military co-operation, but this has not been an impediment for member states eager to increase efficiency…

1 June 2015Review

Haymarket Books, 2014; 230pp; £12.99

I was looking forward to this book – an account of Rory Fanning’s walk across America in memory of his friend, Pat Tillman.

I am usually drawn to stories of individuals undertaking major endurance events, and this had the added bonus of being carried out by someone working for peace.

The comments on the back were all overwhelmingly positive so I was a bit disappointed that Worth Fighting For didn’t quite match my expectations.

It starts well enough,…

18 February 2014News

Dissenters in the ranks

On 10 December, 15 soldiers from 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment were sentenced to jail at Bulford Military Court for a concerted act of disobedience. (A 16th is yet to be sentenced.)

This courageous action was carried out during a parade in front of 1,000 other soldiers at Archers Post British army barracks in Kenya. The 16 soldiers were ordered to stand to attention, but instead their corporal, Anthony Brown, shouted ‘sit down’ and the dissenters dropped to…

1 November 2013Cartoon

2 July 2012News in Brief

In June, more than 4,000 British military personnel received redundancy notices (of which about a third are compulsory) in the largest single reduction in the last 20 years. In 2010, cuts were announced of 5,000 jobs each in the navy and air force, 7,000 in the army, and about 25,000 civilian jobs in the MoD.

A further reduction of 12,000 army personnel was then announced, which will cut army numbers to 82,000 by 2015.

The slimmed down force will have a much heavier emphasis on…

27 April 2012News

Former navy medic and conscientious objector Michael Lyons – who spent seven months in prison for his opposition to the war in Afghanistan (see PN 2538) – addresses the launch of Veterans for Peace UK on 9 April. Other speakers included Iraq war vets Matthew Horne and Danny Martin, D-Day veteran Jim Radford, Catholic Worker Scott Albrecht (who served in the US air force during the cold war) and Vietnam war resister Gerry Condon. The new group aims to resist war through nonviolent…