Love your enemy - everyone can change: Sir Jock Stirrup

IssueApril 2005
Comment by PN staff

Well m'darlings, today's Easter love-your-enemy-bunny is Sir Jock Stirrup. I kid you not.

His formal title is Air Chief Marshal Sir Graham Eric Stirrup. But inexplicably he prefers to be known as Jock.

His CV is so acronym-heavy it makes you proud. He's been an “OC 2” a “PSO”, a “CO RAF”, an “AOC No1”, a “FIMgt”, a “FRAeS”, a “KCB” and an “AFC”. Know what they stand for? Suggestions on a postcard please.

So you see, he knows a thing or two about planes, and was director of Air Force Plans and Progs at the MOD 1994-7 and Deputy C-in-C Strike Command 2000-2002. In 2006 he will acquire another acronym when he becomes the CDS (that's Chief of Defence Staff to you and me).

From Gulf to Golf

But all work and no play makes Jock a dull boy, so it's good to know that when he's not pushing model planes about on a scale map of the Gulf/Afghanistan at a secret (ie Northwood) location, deciding who gets bombed today (Kandahar or Tora Bora?... heads or tails?), he takes up a 5-iron and heads for the holes.

From Gulf to Golf, he knows how to hit `em hard, and hit `em home. Sounding grim? Fear not - he's a sensitive chap! He found the military casualties distress him so greatly that he has been one of the strongest proponents of unmanned military vehicles.

No need to put Tommy in the firing line when you can pick up your remote control and do it all from the Club eh? Cheaper too - we can hardly afford enough boots as it is. Spent it all on that darn SuperPlane and helicopters that crash. Speaking of which, he was also a loud voice in defence of the “Joint Strike Fighter” - a plane that was “too heavy to land safely”.

Shed a tear

A man of vision, clearly, but not a man of many words. He has never spoken of the horror and pity of war. Of the hundreds of flag draped coffins he has saluted or of the wreckage of humanity that lies beneath - seeping into the regimental brass handled wood.

But sometimes in the misty twilight as he lays down his stick, after a long day of plane pushing, and walks in measured pace towards his favourite decanter of single malt, just sometimes he can be seen to raise a hand to his eye and wipe away a tear.

Topics: Armed forces