Sunday, 11 December 2011


A week or so ago I was waiting for a delayed train so I walked into a bookshop and picked up a book off the shelves. They were doing "buy one get one half price" so I looked around for another book - and found  Dead Men Risen by Toby Harnden, it sounded okay so I figured I'd give it a go. And I'm glad I did.

Apparently the first edition of the book was pulped by the Ministry of Defence - and there are chunks of the book that have been redacted. The book is the story of the Welsh Guards six months in Helmand Province during Operation Herrick 10 in 2009. It is a warts and all account - of combat in the Green Zone (not to be confused with the safe zone in Baghdad). I'm afraid that the book will make uncomfortable reading for the MOD and the British Government (well mostly Gordon Brown - solidly blamed for refusing to spend £1.4bn on helicopters when in charge of the Treasury, and of taking no interest in the war until obliged by public opinion to do so - apparently on the grounds that Britain had been committed to Afghanistan by Tony Blair and because he felt "the British Army voted Tory").

The book looks at the history of the conflict and of the Welsh Guards. The book follows the actions of LtCol Rupert Thorneloe who was slated for higher things following the Tour, and the operations of the individual companies of the Battle Group (which included Estonians and elements of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment). This isn't "warporn" - this is a really intelligent account of how the British army bit off more than it could chew, got bogged down holding fixed positions, and struggled to resupply those positions without getting blown up by IEDs.

There are maps (of course never enough) of patrol actions, and the larger area. This is clearly a war where key decisions are made by the junior officers and NCOs of the Battlegroup. Their tactical problems are described and fitted into the operational and strategic context of the war. I'd highly recommend reading this book if you have an interest in Afghanistan, of COIN operations or just an interest in military history. If you are looking for scenarios for Force on Force this will provide plenty of food for thought.

There's an extract from the book here;

So, if I didn't have enough periods already I've succumbed to Force on Force in 20mm. Naturally, I've bought Enduring Freedom to go along with it. Sorry for this blog turning into a "books I have read school report format" - I have some Elhiem 20mm Taliban I'm painting (slowly as usual).