Leo Docherty

A newly promoted Captain who was an ADC in Helmand for about two months writing like he was CGS. Oh dear.
electric said:
He was the Captain who quit the Scots Guards after criticising the way things were going in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This film is something to do with his new book and so is the myspace at the end of it.
Desert of Death film
There was a thread about him and his book on ARRSE about 3 weeks back.

He's a linguist - Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, IIRC.

And the fact that Faber are publishing his book suggests it's not one we may lightly dismiss. Faber publish heavyweights.
OldRedCap said:
caubeen said:
electric said:
And the fact that Faber are publishing his book suggests it's not one we may lightly dismiss. Faber publish heavyweights.
They seem to have made and error of judgement this time. Pillars of Wisdom it ain't
No. Not Lawrentian.

But still seemingly impressive enough to have the backing of Faber - not easily obtained.

The only review I've seen to date is : http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2432462.ece

More a news item than a review, really . . . .

(Why has the ARRSE system swapped your quote credit and mine?)
OldRedCap said:
This topic also appears at http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=62961.html.
Rather than try and write on two fronts, I'll stick with the one elsewhere. I'm not a regular book critic but this publication did not convey much to me; hence my short bit above.
If you've read it, you're ahead of most of us.

Why not do a crit and post it on one or other thread?

Seriously . . .
Ah, you silver tongued devil. I’ve already said that I do not possess the skills needed to write a fair review. At my time of life, it is unwise to commence correspondence courses or tuition spread over years. If a opinion will suffice as a review, that I can do.

There seems to be a breed of human that is drawn to the cruel, barbaric or exotic. Burton and his Arabs, Sir Wilfred Thesiger and his Marsh Arabs, the woman adventurer whose name escapes me and El Laurens are all examples of this fascination. I might add a little light relief by mentioning the man who dreams of the peach-like buttocks of the boy across the river. They are drawn into the exotic. They see rampant manhood. I once worked with Baluchi police men and they were very macho and attractive in that they led the sort of male life that Wyestern civilisation had taken from me. Their kohl-rimmed eyes just added to the desperado appearance; no suspicion of butty boys there.

The author of Desert of Death would appear to have experienced a similar attraction. He spent much of his free time travelling in Asia and the Middle East on horseback, cycle and public transport. His language skills gained him entrée into the local population. He was employed as an interpreter in Iraq working with booties and THEM. He was happy to be sent into Afghanistan where he felt that the reconstruction and eradication of the poppy was something that could be achieved following a campaign that was winnable. He was ADC to the Commander of the first British forces to enter Helmand Province in April 2006 but his linguistic abilities resulted in his moving out of the British Army ambit to work alongside the AFGHAN Army.

This is where the scales seem to have fallen from his eyes. He found the police to be corrupt bullies content to sit about in idleness. There was absolutely no support from the British departments that would lead the projects he had been told of. The Army were little better than the police. The brutality of everyday life was something that jarred. He was thrust into a world of making-do, of farce, misadventure and ignorance. The deaths of uninvolved civilians hit him hard as did the deaths of comrades during the intensive fighting that has been described as the worse since Korea.

He put his papers in and left. There were the moments of fame we are all promised but his outspoken criticism which gained international publication was not well received.

It is a slim volume – less than 200 pages. It is where he sets out his Epilogue that his work is the most valuable and it may well be that he would have achieved more as a commentator than he did – for me – as an author.

No Guards officers were injured or abused in the preparation of this post.
ORC - first class!


My copy has been ordered, and will be united in c. 6 weeks' time.

You seem to imply Docherty had a stars-in-his-eyes attraction to the Middle East, but experienced a revulsion from it, when exposed to it through the job he did.
I've read the book and to be honest wasn't very impressed, I found it short and light weight. Docherty left Afghanistan in June 2006 and seems to be able to right the whole campaign off as lost but I didn't feel he backed it up with enough evidence. He feels that their needs to be less UK troops on the ground and those their need to be in an OMLT role with Afghan forces and they should lead the fight against the Taliban and drug barons. The UK forces present were causing the fighting well that was the jist of his argument IMHO, he felt that there needed to be more reconstruction none of which materialised whilst he was there.
However he may have made some very genuine good points to do with other agencies like the FO and their lack of envolvment.

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