About Patrick

Defence and security expert with comprehensive media experience, coupled with specialist knowledge of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan and military operations past and present.

London-based security analyst, Patrick has worked for NATO as an analyst and is a former Captain in the British army's Royal Irish Regiment. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Exeter's Strategy and Security Institute, studying the reform of the U.K's Army Reserve, cohesion and logistics. Patrick has appeared on international, UK and Irish television and radio to discuss security matters, and has written for leading broadsheets. His latest appearances were as an expert contributor to National Geographic's 'Nazi Mega Weapons' series, where he contributed to four episodes, including on the Atlantic Wall, the Wolf's Lair, the SS, and the Siegfried Line. He has specialist knowledge on the conflict in Afghanistan, having served in Sangin in 2008 and he has provided security research and analysis for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He also has expert knowledge of the current security situation in Libya and comments on wider security issues, including strategy, current military operations, military history, the role of the media in war, and ethics in war.

He has written for The Irish Times, The Guardian and The Independent, and has appeared on The National Geographic Channel/Channel 4, Sky News, BBC News, BBC News HardTalk, BBC Radio 4 Today programme, BBC File on 4, BBC Radio 5, and numerous Irish national TV and radio programmes.

His memoir, 'Callsign Hades', (Simon and Schuster 2010) has been called "the first great book of the Afghan war" and describes his experiences serving with Irish soldiers in the last Irish line regiment of the British army in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous places. It has since been incorporated onto the syllabus at Sandhurst, and excerpts from his work are also taught to Australian officer cadets.

Patrick was educated at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and King's College, London, where he studied Intelligence and International Security before attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He was awarded the Trust Medal for Overall Academic Performance, The John Pimlott Prize for War Studies and the Defence and International Affairs Prize during his time there.

He has commanded soldiers on operations in Afghanistan and deployed to Cyprus, Kenya, Malawi and Malaysia.

He has also published in military and ethics journals and on defence issues on political blogsites. He has spoken at numerous universities and military command courses on security and ethics issues. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal United Services Institute, the Irish Military History Society, the Military Ethics Education Network, and former member of an IED and Radicalisation project funded by the US Office of Naval Research and Hull University. A full list of Patrick's publications are listed in the links section below.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Security, Symbolism and History for Queen’s visit

Former army Captain and Irish security analyst Patrick Bury outlines the security and significance behind the British monarchs visit to Ireland.

About 120 plain clothed and armed Met Police officers will be accompanying the Queen on her four-day state visit to Ireland. Most of these officers will be drawn from Special Operations 1 (SO1) who guard UK diplomatic VIPs abroad, and SO14, whose remit covers the Royals exclusively. Aiding these will be Mi5 and Mi6, who will be paying particular attention to the dissident republican threat. In doing this they will be assisted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) over the border.

The Irish and British security services have a long history of co-operation in fighting the violence of the troubles and there has already further evidence of this surrounding this visit. The PSNI have sent 2 water cannon to the Irish police (the Gardai), should they need it. There has been close surveillance of known dissidents, and some arrests both sides of the border. The Gardai have moved assets north, and close liaison between the intelligence services continues.

In Ireland itself the biggest security operation in the history of the state is now fully underway. 8,000 uniformed Gardai, out of a force 14,000, are directly involved, supported by 2,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces on standby. Other Irish units operating are the Special Detective Unit, the Emergency Response Unit (specialist armed police, like the Met’s SO19) and Irish special forces, known as the Army Ranger Wing.

These will fulfill a myriad of roles, including, surveillance, close protection, air defense (a dissident plot to buy surface-to-air missile launchers was recently uncovered) and crowd control within Dublin itself. Although the threat from dissidents remains high, as seen by the viable and hoax IEDs reported this morning, the Guards are more concerned with the prospects of violent protest. To this end, over 30 streets in Dublin have been closed and riot police traveling in fleets of buses will follow the Queen on her journey around the country.

The itinerary itself is bold and ambitious for the first visit by a British monarch in 100 years. Today, the Queen will visit the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city center, where she will lay a wreath and observe a minutes silence at the foot of a memorial dedicated to those who” fought for Irish freedom”

It will be a hugely symbolic and historic moment, hopefully not disrupted by the groups of dissenting nationalists who plan to broadcast anti-British rebel reels through speakers to disrupt the ceremony.

But neither will any of the public be able to catch a glimpse of the Queen. Security is so tight that no members of the public will be able to get anywhere near the Garden, according to reports.

Another of the 11 venues on the Queen’s agenda is Croke Park, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the sight of the infamous British massacre of 1920. Hopefully that visit will go some way to healing old wounds.

Tomorrow will also see a visit to the War Memorial at Islandbridge, where the Queen will pay her respects to over 300,000 Irishmen who served and over 40,000 who died, many fighting for Britain, in the First and Second World Wars.

The Queen’s visit marks an interesting point in the continuing evolution of Anglo-Irish relations, perhaps finally and comprehensively showing both nations coming to terms with their often diverse, sometimes antagonistic, yet strangely common, collective pasts. This visit I believe, highlights these.

An old historiographic saying holds “The Irish would do well to begin letting go of the past, the English would do well to begin remembering it.”

For us Irish it shows that we are growing up, for the English that they are owning up. 

Either way, for those responsible for the multi-faceted security operation, the next four days will be tense.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Symbolic significance of Al-Qaeda leader’s death has far reaching geo-political implications.

 While the symbolism of killing Osama Bin Laden is a major victory for the West in its long war against Jihadi terrorism, “decapitation” of a Hydra-like organisation is as futile as trying to ‘kill’ an idea, writes former Army Captain Patrick Bury.

Killing Bin Laden is important for three reasons: firstly, the rough justice it serves to victims of the 9/11 bombings. Secondly, the unequivocal message it sends to international terrorists for whom each day Bin Laden remained at large was a propaganda victory: that the US can, eventually, find you and kill you, even if you are being protected by a so called ally. And thirdly, it denies the much degraded jihadi movement its symbolic figurehead and one of its strategic planners.

According to Peter Bergen’s ‘The Longest War’, since the September 11th attacks, Bin Laden issued over thirty video and audio tapes which have been watched by many millions around the globe. These tapes have not only instructed Al Qaeda affiliates to continue their mission of killing Westerners and Jews, they have also often given specific instructions that have been carried out by Bin Laden’s accomplices to devastating effect.

In 2003, Bin Laden called for attacks against coalition members in Iraq: soon after the British consulate in Turkey was attacked. Commuters on their way to work in Madrid were bombed in 2004, an act that convinced Spain to pull its troops out of Iraq altogether. In December 2006, Bin Laden called for attacks against Saudi oil infrastructure: in February 2006 Al Qaeda operatives duly attacked the most important oil production facility in the world in Abqaiq. And in 2007, after Bin Laden called for attacks on the Pakistani state, suicide bombings rose sharply in the country.

So Bin Laden was not just a symbolic figure in the world of Jihadi terrorism; he had operational knowledge and/or control of terror plots that were carried out around the globe by various groups. However, the September 11th attacks marked Bin Laden’s and Al Qaeda’s zenith of power. Pursued by the US intelligence services and with a $25 million bounty on his head, the wealthy Saudi with royal connections was forced into a lifestyle that meant he could not maintain day to day oversight of Al Qaeda operations. But the “hermit on the hilltop” still kept the ideological flame of Jihadism alight.

In a private study of over 600 extremists arrested in Saudi Arabia in the last eight years, participants said Osama Bin Laden was their most important role model. In a 2008 study of Muslim opinion in Morocco, Indonesia, Jordan and Turkey, respondents expressed more “confidence” in the Al Qaeda icon than in President George Bush. Even in Pakistan last year, approval ratings for the most wanted man in the world stood at 18 per cent, according to one source. If this man could inspire whole populations through his ideology, he also certainly had no problem inspiring fellow extremists.

Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the group that carried out the July 2005 London bombings, described Bin Laden and his  second in command, Ayman Al Zawahiri, as his “heroes”. Similarly, Abdullah Ali, the ringleader of a plot to destroy aircraft over the Atlantic in 2006 declared in his ‘martyrdom’ video that: “Sheikh Osama warned you many times to leave our lands or you will be destroyed”.  Nicky Reilly, a 22-year-old covert to Islam, wrote in his suicide note that: “Sheik Usama has told you how to end this war… but you ignore us… Leave our lands and stop your support for Israel”, before attempting to blow himself up in an Exeter restaurant in 2008.

Such an efficient summary of Bin Laden’s basic politico- religious message by a disturbed young British man demonstrates the traction that his ideology can have with both home grown extremists, seasoned jihadi terrorists and elements of wider Muslim populations alike. And it is precisely due to this strength of Bin Laden’s ideological currency that the importance of his death on Sunday evening is undermined.

For Bin Laden, his Islamic crusade was not against the West per se. It was against the West’s foreign policy, most notably America’s, and its support for Israel. In this it is interesting to note that Bin Laden never used the liberal West’s way of life as a pre-text for attacks. Instead, enraged by the loss of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967, Israel’s invasion of the Lebanon in 1982, and the presence of American troops on Saudi soil after the Iraq war in 1991, he said he felt the loss of Muslim lands to the infidel “like a burning fire in my intestines”. And driving this loss, in Bin Laden’s basic strategic view, was the tacit support of America for Israeli actions and ‘apostate’ regimes in the Middle East. Indeed, it is this tenet of his ideology that gives it traction with a small percentage of Muslims around the world. And it is the basic truth within this vision that will see it endure long after his death.

So, Bin Laden’s ideology will live on. But what of his organisation? Severely depleted and dispersed to avoid detection, Al Qaeda will still remain a global threat in some shape or form for years to come. Zawahiri is still at large, and has more operational control over the loose organisation than its iconic figurehead had. Even killing him may not be enough. Cutting off the heads of the Al Qaeda Hydra is not the best way of defeating an organisation that has as its basis an idea. Moreover, martyrdom is expected and hoped for amongst hard core members of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, many who will see Bin Laden’s death as he himself did: “as a beacon that arouses the zeal and determination of (our) followers”.

But there will be other significant repercussions to Bin Laden’s death. The location of his capture, barely a kilometre from the Pakistani equivalent of Sandhurst, will further sour already deteriorating US-Pakistan relations. That elements of the Pakistani intelligence services could be as duplicitous to allow the key fugitive of an ally to hide safely in a relatively obvious compound does not bode well for the future of the American-Pakistan relationship, or Pakistan’s internal dynamics. Neither does it bode well for Afghanistan, which NATO invaded to catch the newly infamous Bin Laden 10 years ago. Meanwhile, Libya’s Gaddafi has been given food for thought, and India can look forward to a budding geo-political alliance with America against Chinese and Pakistani influence.