RAF squadrons will double to face Isis and Russian threat

RAF Tornado

RAF Tornados

The number of fast-jet squadrons is expected to double, amid fears that years of deep cuts have left the RAF too small to tackle the twin threats of Isis and Russian aggression.

Senior defence sources say the RAF’s senior commanders have made increasing the number of fighter and bomber squadrons from six to 12 a cornerstone of their submission to the government’s forthcoming strategic defence and security review.

The move would be embarrassing for the government, reversing the 2010 defence review which reduced the frontline RAF to its smallest size since the First World War.

• Read my article (written with Mark Hookham) on the Sunday Times web site (subscription required for full article)

Battle of Britain scramble will be largest since 1945

A mass formation of nearly 50 Spitfires and Hurricanes — about 70% of the iconic fighters still flying worldwide — will take to the skies over southern England next month to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Hundreds of thousands of people will see and hear the Second World War aircraft on September 15, commemorating a decisive moment in the battle between “the Few” of RAF Fighter Command and the might of Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

Read my article on the Sunday Times web site (subscription required for full article)

Dispute threatens to capsize £4bn Clyde warship deal

Computer graphic of the new type 26 Global Combat Ship. Image : BAe systems

Computer graphic of the new type 26 Global Combat Ship. Image : BAe systems


A multi-billion pound deal to build a new generation of Royal Navy combat ships on the Clyde has hit stormy waters.

Shipbuilders at Scotstoun and Govan yards are poised to begin work on 13 Type 26 frigates but the £4bn deal is mired in delays because of a dispute over costs between the Ministry of Defence and the contractor, BAE Systems.

Read my report on the Sunday Times web site (Subscription required for full article)

Srebrenica, twenty years later

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8000 people were killed in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The mass killing was the single deadliest event of the Bosnian War, and the most recognized atrocity of the post–Cold War era. A number of reports about the anniversary have mentioned my research and books about the conflict, including this item by Srdja Trifkovic (“Srebrenica, twenty years later“) and another by David N. Gibbs (“The Srebrenica Precedent“).

The 20th Anniversary edition of my book, Operation Deliberate Force is available now as an ebook from Amazon’s Kindle store.

20th Anniversary e-edition of Operation Deliberate Force on sale now

Operation Deliberate Force - PromoThe 20th Anniversary edition of my book, Operation Deliberate Force is available now as an ebook from Amazon’s Kindle store.

Operation Deliberate Force was the first authoritative account of the military events of 1995 that draws on the accounts of the key participants.

Exclusive interviews with Lieutenant General Rupert Smith, the British commander of UN forces inside Bosnia; Lieutenant General Bernard Janvier, the French commander of UN forces in former Yugoslavia and Lieutenant General Mike Ryan, the USAF commander of the NATO air campaign tell the inside story of the military moves that brought the war in three year long Bosnian war to an end.

They describe their roller-coaster year, from the disasters of the spring and summer of 1995 through to launching of Operation Deliberate Force in August and September.

Buy the 20th Anniversary e-edition of Operation Deliberate Force from Amazon here

• More about the Operation Deliberate Force project here

Operation Telic: On Sale Now

Operation Telic Cover

Operation Telic: The British Campaign in Iraq 2003-2009 by Tim Ripley is on sale now for mobile devices using Amazon’s Kindle platform, offering a revealing insight into what many regard as Britain’s Most Unpopular War.

The campaign in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2009 deeply polarised British politics, contributing to the fall from power of Prime Minister Tony Blair and seriously damaging the reputation, at home and abroad, of the British armed forces. Eleven years on from the start of the war, it is now possible to learn real lessons from the campaign. Delays in publishing the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq make it even more important to learn from the Iraq experience, yet the Ministry of Defence refused to co-operate with the author in the writing of this book.

The book has already attracted high praise, with Major General Jonathan Shaw, commander British forces in Basra during 2007 calling it “the best I have yet read on Iraq”, while Lt Gen Robin Brims, who was Commander 1 (UK) Armoured Division during the assault on Basra in 2003 describes it as “Thought provoking… I hope people will buy the book and debate the points its raises.”

“It is clear the politicians dealt the military commanders a very poor hand, but at the same time, on some occasions, the military command played the cards badly,” notes an Amazon reviewer of the book. “The bruising experiences for the politicians and the military of Iraq and now Afghanistan will produce consequences that will echo across at least their next two generations and have already changed strategic and tactical perspectives.

“For anyone with personal experience of Iraq, or interest in the machinations of the application of military force in the modern environment, this is an absolutely vital book.”

Operation Telic: The British Campaign in Iraq 2003-2009 book draws upon many new sources of information about Operation Telic, including:

  • Using for first time uncensored British and Coalition military documents and maps from units that participated in the campaign
  • Internal British Army publications, giving first hand accounts of the campaign
  • Exclusive interviews with senior British commanders and military personnel

Tim Ripley’s Operation Telic reveals startling new information about the conduct of Britain’s war ill-fated in Iraq. For the first time it tells the story of the campaign from the perspective of commanders and troops on the ground, establishing a new standard for historical accounts of Britain’s wars in the 21st Century.

  • Far from having a ‘secret master plan’ to take Britain to war in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s haphazard and chaotic ‘sofa government’ left Britain’s commanders and troops struggling to get to the Middle East with the right equipment and plans in the days before the war.
  • For the first time, senior British officers and soldiers tell the inside story of the Battle for Basra in 2003, including – How British Special Forces and Intelligence chiefs misjudged the Iraqi army’s will to fight and launched dangerous and ill-conceived missions to persuade Saddam Hussein’s generals and troops to surrender. – The real story of how Saddam Hussein’s henchman Chemical Ali escaped the city after repeated British attempts to kill him despite claims by the British military ‘spin machine’ that he was dead. – For the first time, the story of how British airborne troops were stopped at an hours notice from joining the US advance on Baghdad is revealed.
  • How the British Army rushed to withdraw its troops from Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein army, leaving the occupation forces hard-pressed to cope with the resulting mayhem. Secret documents and testimony reveal that army chiefs knew Iraq was on the edge of anarchy but refused to ask ministers for more troops.
  • Dramatic accounts of Special Forces operations in southern Iraq from 2003 to 2008 as they waged an increasingly brutal war against Shia militia fighters.
  • How the drive to train up the fledgling Iraqi army stumbled as a result of confusion in the British military establishment and obstruction from Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
  • The secret decisions by military chiefs to switch troops from Iraq to Afghanistan that left Britain “waging a war on two front”, with not enough resources to succeed in either theatre.
  • The deadly duel to defeat militia road side bombs and enhance the protection of British armoured vehicles, including for the first time the full story of the battle to replace the infamous ‘Snatch Land Rover”, revealing how military bureaucracy and government penny pinching delayed the hunt for a replacement to the thinly armoured vehicle, costing the lives of dozens of soldiers.
  • British troops describe for the first time their experiences guarding a controversial prison camp in Basra, including how military chiefs and ministers ignored requests to improve conditions.
  • The secret missions into the heart of Basra by British troops during the Charge of Knights offensive in 2008 that defeated Iraq’s Shia militia are revealed for the first time.
  • How the ‘business as usual’ attitude in the Ministry of Defence in London was out of touch with the escalating conflict in Iraq. Priority was give to officer promotions over combat effectiveness, which undermined the adoption of an effective war strategy in Iraq.

Buy Operation Telic for Kindle

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More about Operation Telic on my dedicated web site


Tim Ripley, 2003Welcome to the timripley.co.uk home page.

Please take the time to look through these web pages to find out more about how I can help you identify and understand key issues in the confusing and complex world of defence or enhance your existing coverage and content.

You can also find out more about my books such as Operation Aleppo, Operation Telic and Deliberate Force – and about my work as a Defence Commentator and Analyst and Photographer.

This site also includes a Terrorism Incidents Database charting major incidents since the end of World War Two through to 2004.

If you want to take matters further do not hesitate to get in touch by telephone or e-mail.

Best wishes

Tim Ripley