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Thursday, 6 September, 2007

  • Gavin Esler
  • 6 Sep 07, 05:57 PM

I've just returned from interviewing General Sir Mike Jackson for what promises to be a fascinating special programme tonight on the state of the army. (Read an extract from his autobiography here.)

Broken Army?

British soldiers in KabulThe man who took over from Sir Mike as Chief of Defence Staff last year, General Sir Richard Dannatt, suggested the army was reaching breaking point. We're devoting all of tonight's programme to find out whether he's right - and to find out why, as our exclusive poll reveals, more than two thirds of us would be unhappy for our son or daughter to join the army.

The Defence Minister Lord Drayson will join me in the studio, alongside retired soldiers, and the mother of Ben Parkinson, who was severely injured in Afghanistan. And we'll be hearing a selection of viewers thoughts and questions posted on the Newsnight website.

We would like to thank the Imperial War Museum North for their assistance in the production of elements of the programme.

Soldier - General Sir Mike Jackson

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Sep 07, 01:03 PM

General Sir Mike Jackson's autobiography Soldier details key events during his 45 years of service in the British Army. From early cadet days, through service in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, to commanding troops in Kosovo and overseeing deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, the book examines the changing face of British soldiering and warfare.

Since standing down as Chief of Staff in 2006, he has been outspoken on many issues surrounding the military, most recently criticising US post-Iraq invasion plans.

The following extract is from the opening chapter of the book, Schoolboy.

From Chapter 1 - Schoolboy

I am a soldier. I have held every rank in the British Army from officer cadet to four-star general. I am now retired, but my almost forty-five years of service ensure that I remain a soldier at heart. My father was a soldier, my elder son has been a soldier and my younger son is thinking about becoming a soldier. My father-in-law, my brothers-in-law and my son-in-law have all been soldiers – so the Army is something of a family tradition. But my father didn’t push me in that direction, and what I have said to my sons is that it is your life, and therefore your call, and you must decide what you want to do with it. I am pleased that both of them have decided to follow the path I took, but I would have been entirely content had they chosen otherwise.

Continue reading "Soldier - General Sir Mike Jackson"

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