'UK combat doctrine influenced by IDF'

British officer Richard Kemp: IDF's the most professional in handling suicide attacks.

February 23, 2010 02:15
3 minute read.
Col. Richard Kemp.

col richard kemp 311. (photo credit: .)


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LONDON - One of Britain's top military commanders said Sunday that Israel was instrumental in forming the British forces' doctrine on suicide bombings in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the UK Zionist Federation's annual dinner on Sunday night in central London, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and infantry battalion commanding officer, said that Britain had no stronger ally than Israel and the IDF.

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"I was a professional soldier for 30 years in the British army and it was my honor and privilege to work alongside the IDF on a number of occasions during that time," he said.

"I found in my time that the British forces and British government had no stronger ally than Israel and the IDF."

The former commander, who also worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee and Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR), said he wrote the British army's doctrine on suicide bombing based on help he received from an Israeli army expert on the issue.

"I went to Afghanistan to take over the British forces in 2003 and it was the first time I found myself in a situation where we faced suicide bomb attacks.

"I found that no one in the British forces had worked out a means to try to tackle suicide bomb attacks and how to train our soldiers to handle that situation," Kemp said.

"Obviously the biggest experts at the time, and who still remain so, are the IDF, so I spoke to a friend at the Israeli embassy and asked if he could help. I thought he would have me meet the defense attaché at the embassy, but within days a brigadier-general, the top expert the IDF had on suicide bombing, came from his base in the Golan to London specifically to spend about four hours giving me a full briefing on the subject.

"As a result I devised a policy that subsequently became the British forces' doctrine for dealing with suicide bombing," he said.

Over 400 people attended the prestigious dinner at a Park Lane hotel, where Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein was also among the guests.

Reiterating the importance of a strong relationship between the two countries, the colonel said that some of the challenges British forces face in Iraq and Afghanistan are comparable to the challenges Israel faces in Gaza and Lebanon. He implicated Iran as the prime motivator of terrorist groups in Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon.

"The thing that drives and motivates them, equips and trains them and orders them to carry out their attacks is of course the government of Iran," he said.

However, he said the major difference between the challenges they face is that the British and US armies are spared the "knee-jerk" responses Israel continually faces.

"When we go into battle we do not get the same knee-jerk, almost Pavlovian response [of condemnation] from many, many elements of the international media and international groups, humanitarian groups and other international groups, such as the United Nations, which should know better.

"We don't have to put up with that. Our soldiers don't have to go into battle knowing that large chunks of what are considered to be respected international bodies are accusing them of the most horrific things," Kemp said.

Kemp added that "dark forces" inside the BBC and further afield were subjecting Israel to a wholly biased, discriminatory and distorted campaign of vilification.

Comparing the predicament of British forces currently fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan to what Israel is up against, he said, "They fight among the people, they use their own population as weapons of war and that was certainly true of Hamas in the Gaza conflict. They deliberately sacrificed their own people, deliberately did their best to lure Israeli forces to attack their civilian population, and the same thing happens in Afghanistan.

"Taliban forces use the same tactics of trying to draw our forces onto their civilian population that they pretend to protect."

The colonel repeated his opinion that the IDF went to considerable lengths to protect human life during Operation Cast Lead.

During the Gaza conflict Kemp said in a BBC interview that the IDF was going out of its way to save Palestinian lives, while Hamas were deliberately using civilians as human shields. He also said the IDF was a world leader in humane warfare that seeks to protect civilian lives as much as possible.

"Israeli forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare," Kemp told the UN Human Rights Council last year.

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