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May-21-2010 01:11printcomments

Great Britain, Still a Real Contender in African Affairs

A story of clarification.
British Security Forces prepare for an early morning mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, late 2006. photo by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - The British are still fighting hard to keep the Americans and the rest of the world safe, in a large part of the world that is still looked upon in mystery and confusion... Africa.

Britain has been and still is in the front of any combat situation in Africa, followed closely by their friends, the South Africans.

America still uses the SAS as well as Mi6 intelligence, more than any other country when investigating ongoing troubles in this part of the world.

For one, the British Military (due to popular belief) still has friendly states that are attached to the British common wealth, that are happy for us to train there, as well as using those countries as a platform in to doing quick and deadly raids across the entire African states. It is not always done for Britain’s interests ether, many westernized countries use those forces to save, assassinate, grab, or observe what ever goes on that is of westernized interests, or ongoing threats.

There are also other specialized units like the Royal Marine Commandos and the Parachute regiments that also train in Africa, as well as being involved in a few skirmishes here and there, which are normally put into force as back ups for Special forces like the SAS and SBS.

Then let's not forget the so-called “dogs of war”… mercenaries. These people are mostly a mixture of British, Dutch, French, South African, Germans, and a few occasional Americans and Canadians. If you look at the demand for mercenaries through agencies that specialize in this kind of thing, papers and magazines all over the world have stated that the British are in the biggest demand, making the top of the list in this kind of endeavor. Because of this the agencies involved charge extortionate prices for their services, making this a very lucrative business to be in.

Mi6 has also been very busy in deterring African Muslim terrorism in the UK, working closely with America, France, Germany, and dare I say it, even Israel. The UK is now the center point in Europe when it comes to any kind of terrorism, making our troops, as well as are intelligent services, overstretched to the breaking point.

Now it seems that Mi6 is finally coming out with some degree of truth in why they are now in this predicament.

Recently in a very unprecedented and irregular manor, the former chief of Mi6 has stood up and decided to express his frustration and troubles that Mi6, as well as other British intelligent services have been faced with, since working along side the United States.

Former Mi6 Nigel Inkster says Britain was “dragged” into the Iraq war, which was always against our better judgment, the former deputy head of MI6 has claimed.

The comments, made by Nigel Inkster, who was deputy director of MI6 at the time, makes clear there were reservations over the war at a very senior level within the Secret Intelligence Service.

In a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Mr. Inkster blamed weakness at the Foreign Office for allowing Britain to get dragged into a war over which officials had serious doubts.

"The Foreign Office no longer does foreign policy," Mr. Inkster said. "It acts as a platform for a multiplicity of UK departments and the lack of a clearly articulated sense of our strategic location in the world explains how we got dragged into a war with Iraq which was always against our better judgment."

British Royal Marines snap a photo with a Mongolian soldier, in
a 19th Century British castle in Kabul, Afghanistan.
2007 photo by Tim King

Sir John, the current director of MI6, was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the start of the war and was criticized for being too close to Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.

The Butler Report into the intelligence that took Britain to war, concluded that "more weight was placed on the intelligence than it could bear", and that judgments had stretched available intelligence "to the outer limits". In his speech he also criticized the current mission to Afghanistan, saying Britain has been attempting to implement an agenda that is "ludicrously at variance with the resources allocated to that task."

Professor Paul Collier of Oxford University, who has advised the government on failing states, said there had been a "massive mistake" in Afghanistan where Britain had believed there could be a "magical flip from the middle ages to Scandinavia in one go."

Mr. Inkster said the world was moving from "being policed by America to be policed by nobody" and the danger of an increasingly unstable world meant populations were likely to fall back on the "snake oil and voodoo" of religious and nationalistic movements."

When it came to the conflict between Russia and Georgia, he added, Britain was caught "completely flat footed" and used a strategy that "amounted to little more than moral indignation, which is not a strategy."

Also in the past Nigel Inkster has also slammed the United States handling of its fight on terror, including what he called the "frenzied, alarmist response" to the recently foiled Christmas Day bomber.

Another view: British Security Forces in Afghanistan. photo by Tim King

Writing in an article published in the International Institute for Strategic Studies journal Survival, Inkster and co-author Alexander Nicoll hit back hard in what they believe is an out of proportion response to attempted terror attacks, as well attacking the United States policy of imprisoning detainees without trial …a practice that has continued under President Barack Obama.

Nigel Inkster commented "It is surely not inspiring for radicalized people with the potential for violent action to see terrorists tried in ordinary criminal courts and sentenced to long prison terms."

The authors, both members of the International Institute, continue: "But it surely is inspiring to them to see terrorists treated as a special class of prisoners to be held by the military, imprisoned without trial and tortured. This is the kind of treatment that makes jihadists believe that they can indeed be the fighters for a cause that they aspire to be."

Even though Obama has tried to change that particular policy of President George W. Bush; where alleged terrorists might be tried in military tribunals instead of civilian courts. He has still stated that some may be held indefinitely without ever being tried.

On top of this, there is the argument that democratic values are the west's best advertisement," Inkster and Nicoll remark. "Departures from such values have damaged America's reputation."

Mr. Inkster also critiqued the Obama Administration's handling of an attempt to blow up a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day.

Afghanistan: British soldiers on patrol in Kabul. photo by Tim King

Mr. Inkster commented that “America's frenzied, alarmist response" to the foiled plot by the 23-year old Umar Abdulmutallab, "is hardly becoming for the most powerful nation on earth." He continued, "The lack of any sense of proportion simply serves to enhance the status of a terrorist group which is dispersed, quite small and cannot possibly threaten US sovereignty unless Americans connive in their own defeat."

Inkster asserts that Bush' war on terror did far more damage in its sheer cost to the global economy than the 9/11 attacks.

"Nobody can forget the horror of 9/11, and it was inevitable that a government faced with such an outrage would respond in extreme fashion," Inkster said. Nicholl added, "Hindsight is easy, but if Bush had placed more emphasis on bringing those responsible to justice rather than on declaring an unwinnable 'war' against an undefined enemy, things might have turned out very differently."

The British SAS and SBS (special forces)

American military top brass open their mouths, and put people that specialized in secretive clandestine operations at risk “again”.

Sgt Major Mike Treblecock of the English Army. photo by Tim King

Britain's special force, the SAS, has become entangled in controversy and recriminations, with one of its most successful former senior officers being banned from headquarters and its current chief engaged in a dispute with the US Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal, leading Western troops in the war against the Taliban, has received a complaint from the UK's Director of Special Forces (DSF) after he broke the SAS's code of silence and spoke about the missions mounted by the SAS and their Royal Marines equivalent, the SBS, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Williams, who led the SAS during the Iraq war in undercover operations run by General McChrystal, has been told to stay away from the regiment's headquarters in Hereford.

This reminds me of loose talk, when the American special forces decided to do a secret raid on a beach, only to be confronted by major American news teams that were waiting there to cover there whole operation.

The SAS has, in the past, proved to be unforgiving towards those who it considers to have broken the code of "omerta" (vow of silence) about its activities. The British SAS and SBS have always been extremely stricken when it comes to covering their identities, as well as their worldwide ongoing activities.

This is nothing like the Hollywood action movies of the American forces that like to parade around in public as well as war zones advertising themselves to all the world to see, from big bold badges, to base ball caps and t-shirts. The SAS and the SBS personal would get in to a lot trouble if they were to be found revealing themselves, and what they do, to anyone in the general public.

Another British castle, this is called Kyer Khot, near Gardez, Afghanistan. photo by Tim King

These units have very strict gagging orders applied to them, as well as there families. Even when they do decide to leave the regiment they can still get in to legal trouble if they decide to reveal too much about their regiment, especially if the media is involved or anything that can be used for financial purposes, like writing books about it, or selling information or photos to publicist.

But it is the rift with General McChrystal, the high-profile commander tasked by US President Barack Obama to turn the tide of the Taliban insurgency, which is causing the most concern in the defense field on both sides of the Atlantic. The American commander incurred the displeasure of the DSF by giving a newspaper interview in which he was effusive in his praise of the UK Special Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The British Major-General apparently felt that General McChrystal had no business talking about the activities of British troops.

The DSF's complaint, according to American sources, had "surprised and bemused" General McChrystal, who stood up for British forces against criticism by some US officers in Baghdad during the Iraq conflict.

There is also information about some of the “known” success of the British intelligent service Mi6, that were achieved with out American involvement, that showed that we can still resolve things in a diplomatic manner… or at least try to. If the Afghan insurgents thought Britain was not a threat, or had no heavy political and military weight behind Britain, then I am sure this situation below would not have occurred.

British MI6 Agents had Secret Talks with Taliban and Afghan Insurgent Leaders in Helmand Province, Provide ‘Mentoring’.

Agents from MI6 engage in secret talks with Taliban leaders despite the British government’s claims that there are no negotiations with terrorists.

British intelligence agents have been staging discussions known as “jirgas” with senior insurgents on several occasions over the summer. MI6 officers were understood to have sought peace directly with the Taliban with them coming across as some sort of armed militia.

Among England's allies in Afghanistan, are the Scottish
Highlanders. photo by Tim King

The British would also provide ‘mentoring’ for the Taliban,” says one intelligence source. There have reportedly been up to half a dozen meetings between MI6 agents and the Taliban, taking place at housing compounds on the outskirts of Lashkah Gah and in villages in the Upper Gereshk valley, which is to the northeast of the main town in Helmand province.

During the talks, the compounds are surrounded by a force of British infantry providing a security cordon. Afghan officials are reported to be present at the clandestine meetings to show that President Hamid Karzai’s government was leading the negotiations.

“These meetings were with up to a dozen Taliban or with Taliban who had only recently laid down their arms,” another intelligence source says. “The impression was that these were important motivating figures inside the Taliban.

Mi6 getting involved with Africa recently

The Secret Intelligence Service has been called in by Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, to lead radical plans by Britain for preventing coups and civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Secret Intelligence Service has been called in by Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, to lead radical plans by Britain for preventing coups and civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa.

Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, has recently convinced Ms Short that the service's agents in the field could give advance warning of coup attempts against African heads of state.

Ms Short now believes MI6 contacts in Africa could help to implement the Government's new conflict prevention and resolution strategy for the region.

A Ministry of Defense source denied this would mean propping up corrupt governments. "It is a radical, ground-breaking decision. Sierra Leone and East Timor are good examples of how we have managed to reduce conflict and to perform exit strategies for our troops with a great deal of success," he said.

Ms Short will chair a new ministerial committee to deal with conflicts in Africa and beyond. It will have a new £110m-a-year conflict prevention fund, which was announced as part of his £43bn comprehensive spending review.

The Secretary of State for International Development will become the lead minister for peacekeeping operations in Africa by British armed forces, and Ms Short has the money to ensure rapid reaction in times of crisis, although she has made clear that there will have to be a consensus for action.

A total of £50m a year will be allocated to conflict prevention in sub-Saharan Africa and £60m for operations in the rest of the world.

The new committee could also speed up the British response to natural disasters in Africa.

So much for saying Britain has no idea what they are doing, as well as mentioning that we have dropped everyone in the bottomless pit of no return!.

Just because we don’t swing our flags around, and televise everything regarding our progress; it does not mean we are not doing anything in resolving other people's problems.

Unlike the Americans, we make sure we can achieve our goals first before we start screaming it out to the public, or broadcasting it on American News channels. Like they say “actions speak louder than words”.

Dexter Phoenix has worked as a staff and freelance photographer since the mid-1990's and has a wealth of professional experiences on his resume. We welcome his presence to our staff and

This native of Great Britain moved to Los Angeles in 2007, where he photographed general news, general Interests, sports, freelance model photo work, and also stock images. In his career Dexter has had photos published: World wide, in many magazines and newspapers and online. Throughout the course of his career he has experience with technology of all imaginable types. In his career as a photographer Dexter has covered stories in Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, Somalia, Tunisia, Algeria. Angola, Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia, United States. Email inquiries about photo purchase to Dexter at the above address.

You can email Dexter Phoenix, Photographer/Reporter, at

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Dexter May 22, 2010 1:50 pm (Pacific time)

Michael: "MI5 and MI6 could utilize a "closed material procedure" that would allow them to rely on certain evidence without disclosing it to opposing counsel or committing it to the public record. The procedure, typically employed in criminal proceedings, is designed to allow concealment of evidence where disclosure would cause "real harm to the public interest." That is quite normal for those intelligence services to pull that over the public eye. Britain has a very sensitive nature when it comes to disclosing any information that is related to MI5 and MI6, especially when it comes to press releases. But it was a good point there that you managed to find. Thanks for that extra info Michael.

Dexter D May 22, 2010 1:33 pm (Pacific time)

Some good point there Michael. I will look in to it. But The whole point at my rather venomous response was due to the one sided finger pointing. Like I mentioned before, America is not all smelling of roses ether, and Britain and America working together have produced some very nasty results through are progress in the military operations that we are taking part in together. It seems like the only way to get results these days is to play it dirty, which the British have been famous for in the past. America and Britain have been in the same mess, and accused of the same things when it comes to world wide press coverage about the wars we have been involved in these past few years. Sadly though, it is going to get worse, before gets better... if it ever does gets better?!.

Michael May 22, 2010 11:27 am (Pacific time)

Dexter you posted " Not arguing anymore to tunnel vision lop sided prejudice people who mock the rest of the world like they are inadequate people incapable of handling any kind of situation. Also human rights?, have you been missing the news about American treatment to human rights?" Please see the below story Dexter. I will add that it is not unusual to have false allegations made against both our military forces. Are you familiar with the recent aquittal of four of our Special Op's personnel (SEALS) and many others? Anyway, I guess we'll see how the below works out for England. Have you heard of that saying: "People who live in glass houses should not be throwing rocks?" Also, related to your statement "Also do not forget the money we are pumping into joint american defense projects": How much money did America forgive England after WWII regarding the Lend-Lease program and other loans over the years? It was finally paid off in 2006, just ten cents on the dollar. Hitler stated that he declared war on America because of the Lend-Lease program. You're welcome. "UK to launch investigation into torture allegations [JURIST] UK Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary William Hague said Friday that the UK will launch an investigation into allegations that overseas UK operatives were complicit in torture. Hague stated that the new coalition government will initiate a judge-led inquiry into the allegations, but no details were outlined in the legislative program [text, PDF] published Thursday by Prime Minister David Cameron. In an interview with the BBC, Hague stated: We have said again in the coalition agreement that we want a judge-led inquiry. ... We will be setting out in the not-too-distant future what we are going to do about the allegations that have been made about complicity in torture. ... So will there be an inquiry of some form? Yes, both parties in the coalition said they wanted that. Now what we're working on is what form that should take. At least 12 men have filed lawsuits against the UK claiming the government knew or should have known about the torture the men experienced overseas."

Dexter May 21, 2010 10:04 pm (Pacific time)

Also I think if you were a country the size of Britain, with limited resources then you would be in the same boat as well. We might be having huge defense cuts, but for a reason. Thanks to those rather strict defense cuts we are now getting state of the art military equipment. We are trained not to rely on "mass", instead we rely on highly train a force that has to rely on what we already have...which means that they are pushed to the limit, regardless of what task they might have pushed towards them. Also do not forget the money we are pumping into joint american defense projects. You obviously have issues about Britain, but in the end I really do not care. Most of the American are pretty happy to have a close relationship with us, and that's that matters to me.

dexter May 21, 2010 9:54 pm (Pacific time)

Go online and get educated by world wide involvement with the U.S and the ongoing war against terrorism:"Institute for Public Policy Research" . You can not get more serious than that!. Not arguing anymore to tunnel vision lop sided prejudice people who mock the rest of the world like they are inadequate people incapable of handling any kind of situation. Also human rights?, have you been missing the news about American treatment to human rights?. America and Britain are working very Successful together when it comes to Intelligence gathering and "spy catching" Movies have been made out of it as well as books. I have no idea where you have been getting your info from, but if you want pure true data then please let me know, and I will be glad to supply that to you ;)

Vic May 21, 2010 11:42 am (Pacific time)

" The British are still fighting hard to keep the Americans and the rest of the world safe," My God...I dont know whether to laugh or cry......this IS a joke, right?

Sam May 21, 2010 9:47 am (Pacific time)

Great Britain's military is about one eigth (1/8th) the size of America's, and it is in badly need of updating, but that is very unlikely with today's economy. "UK military creaking under strain of Iraq and Afghanistan, report says: Budget cuts and relentless fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have left more than half of the ships, aircraft and ground units of the Armed Forces with “serious or critical weaknesses”, MPs say today.Britain’s military is creaking under the strain of ongoing operations and is being forced to deploy faulty equipment, suspend training and cancel the replacement of outdated kit, the report by the Commons Defence Committee says.The report, which comes ahead of a post-election Strategic Defence Review, concludes: “For some considerable period now ... the Armed Forces have operated above the overall level of concurrent operations which they are resourced and structured to sustain over time. James Arbuthnot, the chairman of the committee, told The Times: “I think we have reached a really serious stage and it is because we have been fighting two wars on a peacetime budget. It is not a surprise that we are concentrating heavily on the operations in Afghanistan, and that has to be right, but the consequences for our ability to deal with the unexpected are serious.” Particularly badly affected is the Royal Navy, which the report concludes has not recovered from a reduction in support resources that was ordered to meet the extra demands on the other services of the war in Iraq between 2004 and 2006." Read more at REGARDING UK's intelligence capabilities, America does share intelligence with the UK and vice versa, but to consider UK's intelligence services as an absolute neccesity for us to maintain our interests and national security, of course not. This is nothing more than mythmaking, or maybe movie-making bravado by the UK film industry, and others who simply have no experience in these matters. In the past decade, the UK has rapidly transformed into a surveillance society with pervasive camera monitoring, plans for a broad national ID card program, the largest citizen DNA database in the world, and increasingly common mandatory biometric information collection in schools without parental consent—trends that have drawn criticism from UK security officials and the European Court of Human Rights. As the UK grapples with the implications of collecting massive amounts of personal information about citizens, leaders must consider the serious risks of potential data breaches. For example: A laptop that was stolen from the car of a military recruitment officer contained information about approximately 600,000 people, most of whom were prospective recruits. The database stored on the laptop was not encrypted—a significant violation of MOD (Ministry of Defense) data handling policies. America also has breeches, but sometimes those breeches are related to counter-intelligence gathering methodologies. We catch spies all the time, because of these planned security breeches.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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