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The Changing of the Guard by Simon Akam

ARRSE Rating
5.00 star(s)
In years to come, people who want to know what the British Army was like in the first twenty years of the 21st century will start with Simon Akam’s controversial masterpiece “The Changing of the Guard - The British Army since 9/11”. Stunningly well researched it brings together evidence from a huge number of players at all levels to explain the failures in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is a must read for anyone with an interest in the contemporary British Army.

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Structured around 5 sections, it starts with the author’s own experiences of the Army during a 12 month gap year commission with the Scots DG and then follows the Regiment as they deploy on Op TELIC This focus on individuals from key organisations, continues through every chapter and is used to bring to life events that might otherwise be a little dry, or difficult to understand. This has the impact of making the book extremely readable and I finished the entire 700 pages in under 3 days.

Many opinions have been given extremely candidly, and perhaps controversially, as can be clearly seen in the sections covering the 42/45 Cdo tour that resulted in the conviction of Marine A or the situation in 2007/08 Iraq that led to the Charge of the Knights. I’m sure that there will be named people who will be extremely unhappy with the way that their contributions have been portrayed and it is notable that publication has been delayed for years due to legal concerns which resulted in a change of publisher. On the other hand, the book repeatedly shows how very few senior people have been held accountable for operational failures so perhaps this is the only way that will ever happen.

Possibly the most impressive part of the book is the authenticity that it possesses. Although it comes to many deeply critical conclusions, The Changing of the Guard has the feel of a work that was written by an insider with a profound understanding of the Army mindset. Military folk, like me, are a demanding audience so this is no mean feat but there are also very few three letter abbreviations, no wiring diagrams and succinct explanations for most topics which makes it accessible to a much wider audience.

Simon’s book is also really important due to the excellent job he makes of bringing many of the failings of the Army, and wider MOD, into the bright light of day. I’m sure many of us who served during this period shook our heads in despair at the lack of continuity created by 6 monthly Bde handovers or the incoherence of the blank UOR cheque book but I can’t think of anywhere else where they are written down in such a coherent fashion. The Changing of the Guard should be sent to every senior officer and politician not to mention featuring prominently on the reading lists of our training academies.

I consider myself incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to read this ahead of the general publication and am sure the majority of ARRSE users will get as much from it as me. If you haven’t already realised then this is 5/5 stars - you should all go and get a copy to read!



One slight postscript is that ARRSE is included, most notably during the events which contributed to Piers Morgan’s career change at the Mirror. The founding of the site is also covered in some detail and if you really want to know who Good CO and myself are then you can find out.

 
Last edited:
If you haven't got your own wiki page, you're a non-person ... like me.

Couldn't you have asked for a perssec injunction?
 

Bad CO

Admin
If you haven't got your own wiki page, you're a non-person ... like me.

Couldn't you have asked for a perssec injunction?

Neither of us have been in the military for quite a while, and I've long ago ceased worrying about telling people, so we didn't think it was that big a deal. There is also a part of me that is quite proud of this site and the things it has achieved so I'm pleased to be associated with that.
 
Ordered. Be interesting to see how a slightly less contemporaneous account will vary from the stuff written "in-stride".
 

Bad CO

Admin
Ordered. Be interesting to see how a slightly less contemporaneous account will vary from the stuff written "in-stride".

I'm sure you'll enjoy it very much as it will confirm many points you've made on this site! I on the other hand am currently figuring out how OnlyFans works as I've always really wanted to see inside a submarine.
 
I'm sure you'll enjoy it very much as it will confirm many points you've made on this site! I on the other hand am currently figuring out how OnlyFans works as I've always really wanted to see inside a submarine.
Currently the opinion here is that she's clearly doing sterling work for morale and hearts & minds (ooooh errrr!)

Also, book will be ordered.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
In years to come, people who want to know what the British Army was like in the first twenty years of the 21st century will start with Simon Akam’s controversial masterpiece “The Changing of the Guard - The British Army since 9/11”. Stunningly well researched it brings together evidence from a huge number of players at all levels to explain the failures in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is a must read for anyone with an interest in the contemporary British Army.


Structured around 5 sections, it starts with the author’s own experiences of the Army during a 12 month gap year commission with the Scots DG and then follows the Regiment as they deploy on Op TELIC This focus on individuals from key organisations, continues through every chapter and is used to bring to life events that might otherwise be a little dry, or difficult to understand. This has the impact of making the book extremely readable and I finished the entire 700 pages in under 3 days.



I will read this with interest. Did the author just do a gap yah commission? Or did he go and get a proper job? Did he get access to the actual decision makers at the time from MOD downwards I wonder?

Looking forward to it - of course if you're done with your copy then it would save me £20....
 

Bad CO

Admin
I will read this with interest. Did the author just do a gap yah commission? Or did he go and get a proper job?

To my eye, his CV is pretty decent!

Did he get access to the actual decision makers at the time from MOD downwards I wonder?

There are nearly 100 pages of notes and references which make impressive reading in themselves. Knowing what I do about many of the events, I certainly feel that he has the inside track!

Looking forward to it - of course if you're done with your copy then it would save me £20....

I appear in the index which is the first, and probably only, time that has ever happened. I'll be keeping it to bore children, grand-children (TBC), dinner party guests and random passers- by with!
 
and if you really want to know who Good CO and myself are then you can find out.

I thought Good CO was Hannibal Smith and you were BA.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Order placed.
 

Bad CO

Admin
I thought Good CO was Hannibal Smith and you were BA.
More howling Mad Murdoch I think, we're both aviators if nothing else ;)

Nice to see you appearing in the book as well!
 
Ordered - looking forward to getting into it
 
More howling Mad Murdoch I think, we're both aviators if nothing else ;)

Nice to see you appearing in the book as well!

Oh FFS! What have I done now?
 
Oh FFS! What have I done now?
Someone in a FOB received a legal letter and required some urgent advice on Tort law- so you were summoned :)
 

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