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March 22, 2015


Chris Williams

Perhaps he's looking ahead to Cabinet rank? He sees UK-Chinese relations as the next big thing, and is signalling his suitability as a negotiating partner to Beijing by adopting the Maoist slogan "Bring the war home"?

Or perhaps he's merely one of the reasons the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned out the way they did.


Boy, have I got news for you on this one. stand by for a TYR post. It's got everything. Academies. Graft. Wanktanks. Unaccountable pools of secret service money. Really bad websites. Mercenaries.

chris williams

Maude. Pickles. Gove.

chris y

Curiously, your linked page seems to have been taken down. We shall have to wait for Alex to fill the breach.

Whatever, "Maude pickles Gove" conjures up a delightful image.


It's there, click Alex's name.

See Gove on Newsnight last night? The electorate warm to Cameron because he is not a manicured PR man.

Dan Hardie

'someone who has - apparently - been involved with population centric counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan for much of the last decade'

Among other things, the Afzal story is what you get when you have a frankly bloated officer corps filled with people who do non-operational jobs and then go around pretending that they have been on the front line. According to Wikipedia, he 'was commissioned into the Educational and Training Services Branch of the Adjutant General's Corps (Regular Army) in April 2003.' That's basically the old Education Corps which has been subsumed into the AGC.

I've seen what Education officers did out in Afghanistan: they were posted to the two largest bases, Bastion and Lashkar Gah, to help Officers and NCOs prepare for the exams which they have to take to gain promotion. And that was it. They had a tent on Bastion which I used to drop into when I was waiting either for a flight out to the UK or for a flight back to my patrol base after R&R, so that I could borrow a paperback from their library. The ETS people did nothing all day and then in the evenings they would have a few lessons for those who had jobs on Bastion. Possibly Amin got posted away to do an actual counter-insurgency job at some point but I have to say I doubt it. And life on both Bastion and Lash was safe (bar one incident on Bastion late on where the perimeter security was horrifically neglected by the Tongans, and more importantly by the British officers meant to be supervising them, and a bunch of Taliban got through the wire) and really very comfortable. The troops on patrol bases referred to Lashkar Gah as 'Lash Vegas', and whenever I went there on a re-supply convoy I could not believe how good the food was or how pleasantly most people lived on the base.

This guy is a fraud and I strongly suspect one of his early frauds was claiming that he was a 'counter-insurgent' rather than someone who coached people through exams. I know a guy who did three months in Afghanistan and never once left Bastion and refers constantly to 'Ganners' and what the combat medics are doing on the ground; I know a woman who did her entire tour on Bastion or Lash, again never left the perimeter, and will tell everyone who listens about the horrors of serving on the front line... There is no fucking shortage of these people.


Dan - there's also a photo of him knocking about wearing an Intelligence Corps uniform: http://www.harrowell.org.uk/blog/2015/03/23/ramshackle-coalition-of-interests-black-country-edition/#comment-57307

but in the light of all the grantsmanship I wouldn't be very surprised if he's a self-made hero.


What is the Army's Counterinsurgency And Stabilisation Centre, that Afzal Amin is said to have belonged to?

Is it the Army's link to the government's cross-departmental Stabilisation Unit or something separate?

Dan Hardie

Alex, I'm afraid your commenter Phil D gets it wrong: the AGC and the Int Corps have the same colour (cypress green) beret. He was commissioned into the AGC, never transferred out of it, and is wearing AGC dress uniform. And as Phil D notes, Amin is listed next to his book review as being in the AGC (ETS). If he'd been in the Int Corps, that's what he'd be described as being: military journals (like the British Army review) routinely identify people as being in the Int Corps. It's only Special Forces where people are identified as coming from their parent (ie original) unit.


Indeed, I stand corrected. The berets are a very similar shade of green, easy for a civilian like me to get them mixed up. Which makes him rather more of a self-made hero. Not least from this little snippet on ARRSE:
"“I remember an unpleasant little ETS man who came up to teach some Iraqi dialect to the boys in our regiment. He certainly got tongues wagging in the wrong kind of way. Who was it… Mr Afzal Amin! One notes that he is now hinting that he was some kind of seasoned front-line warrior?”


Dan Hardie

There are a few problems which this vile man has usefully brought to light. And one of them, I have to say, is that too many people (not everyone, but a great many of them are in the political parties) think, or think that they should pretend that they think, that everyone who has served in the Armed Forces is necessarily a person of high courage (as Mr Amin modestly claims for himself in the non-apology which Jame Kenny quotes: ‘Politics requires an amount of bravery and using my experience as a strategist in Afghanistan…’) or of integrity.

There are some exceptional people in the military, a large majority of ordinary people, and then there are some people who quite frankly shouldn’t be trusted to behave honestly or competently in any circumstances. I can think of a few examples straight off, and so- if they are honest- can anybody who’s been in the Forces.

More widely, the current American craze for ‘supporting the Troops’ absolutely uncritically is stupid and dangerous. There are signs that some British people are adopting it. All the tabloid rhetoric about troops being ‘heroes’ is one frankly objectionable sign.

One of the dangers, of course, is that it’s an open invitation to chancers like Amin to convince people that they are courageous, trustworthy and honest. Another danger is that if we convince ourselves that soldiers are the only public servants then we belittle the extraordinary work done by so many civilians in so many fields. And a third is that, if we convince ourselves that all service personnel are ‘heroes’ of outstanding integrity, then we stop asking questions about how our Armed Forces are run and whether there is anything wrong with them.

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