After the Wall Came Down : Soldiering through the Transformation of the British Army, 1990-2020

After the Wall Came Down : Soldiering through the Transformation of the British Army, 1990-2020

Author
Andrew Richards.
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
Author Andrew Richards served on both sides of the end of the cold war having served in the Life Guards for 23 years retiring in 2003. He has a BA in History and Classical Studies and now resides in the United States as a citizen.

His book 'After the Wall Came Down' is an enjoyable and well researched history of his, and other soldiers experiences, from the days of Margaret Thatcher, through the disestablishment of of the Soviet Union and the so called 'Peace Dividend' all the way to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
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He starts with the days of the social unrest of the miners strike of 1984 to 85 to set the scene of many of the soldiers who were joining at this time, with feelings of divided loyalties between the Army they joined, which invariably had right wing leanings, and the miners. Through the years of Op Banner Northern Ireland, the fall of the wall and the ability of the West to then project hard power where it felt it was needed, such as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Balkans and Kosovo; I always felt a slight chafe that my battalion never went to the Balkans until after I got out, with other units doing repeat tours during that time. Having read the soldiers anecdotal experiences to remind me how awful the situation was, I am now minded to be grateful. Sierra Leone, the Iraq invasion and occupation and Afghanistan are all covered with soldiers experiences, against ever increasing rounds of budget and manpower cuts and amalgamations.

He also covers of the Army's social issues, some of which seem as ridiculous now as they were at the time. Warning off units for disbandment and amalgamation while they were on operations; informing soldiers on operations that they were to be made redundant. Moving women from the Woman's Royal Army Corps and integrating them into the corps and arms of the regular army. The ceasation of persecution of homosexuals in the army and it's constant battle with racism inside the ranks, which is still probably going on now.

Despite being a little light on the post invasion Iraq experience the book is a well deserved five Mr Mushroomheads. It is a must read for anyone with an interest in how the army has continued beyond 1991, and probably should be read by many of ARRSE's old and bold who are still stuck in the cold war.

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