Reference Library – Close Protection
Seventeen women were among the officer cadets who graduated at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst this month. One of them, commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment, became the first British Army officer to join a close combat unit.
The historic appointment came almost exactly one century after women first enrolled in Britain’s armed services. It was in July 1917 that the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was founded and in the remaining months of the First World War some 57,000 climbed into khaki skirts hems a maximum 12in above the ground – to serve king and country both at home and overseas. They did so mainly as cooks, mess waitress, telephonists, mechanics and medical orderlies.
And although women would eventually graduate to mainstream Army units and in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force into warships and warplanes it was not until 2016 that Prime Minister David Cameron gave the go-ahead for women soldiers to assume close-combat roles on the front line.
The 100th anniversary of the WAAC and a century of women’s military service will be commemorated on Friday, July 7, with a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum. It will be attended by veterans of all the women’s service branches as well as current service personnel. Although there are no surviving members of the WAAC, the gathering will include veterans of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, formed ahead of the Second World War, and the ATS’s successor, the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC).
ATS veteran Barbara Kemp with the insignia of the Legion of Honour
That’s the generation of Barbara Kemp, 92, of Plungar, who had been brought up in care and volunteered with the ATS in order to pay the bills.
“The ATS was the first family I ever had,” she reflected on service which took her into France and Belgium. “Until I got married, it was the best thing I’d ever done.”
It was an era when the women’s role in the military effort was seen as essentially supportive. A wartime recruiting poster for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force urged girls to “serve with the men who fly”. But that didn’t mean there was no danger. Before she was invalided home with illness, Barbara served at a barracks in Belgium which were shot up by a Luftwaffe fighter pilot.
Barbara Kemp as an ATS corporal during the Second World War
Mrs Kemp is not entirely convinced that women should be slugging it out, eyeball to eyeball, with the enemies of the Queen.
“We had to put up with dangers and we showed that we were just as good as men but sometimes equality is not such a good thing and I don’t think the front line is the right role for women,” she said. Mrs Kemp married wartime sailor Bill Kemp, who later practised as an architect in Nottingham. In 2015 a reminder of her service arrived in the post the insignia of the Legion of Honour, bestowed by President Francois Hollande on all who had helped liberate France in 1944.
A later generation of women in uniform is represented by Donna Remzi of Bulwell, who has the Meritorious Service Medal and ten other medals to show for her 23 years of service. She was a driver, transferring from the WRAC when it was amalgamated into the Army in 1992 and then serving first in the Royal Corps of Transport and later the Royal Logistics Corps.
Donna served in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and the post-conflict Falklands and as a staff car specialist with close protection training she drove royalty, defence secretaries and generals.
“I loved the life and made a lot of friends,” said Donna, 48, who stays in touch with former colleagues via the WRAC Association. Now working in property development, she says: “Yes, I’d recommend it to girls looking at a career, but it’s important that they keep themselves fit.”
The National Memorial Arboretum, venue for the July commemoration
Women at War 100 is being organised by the Royal British Legion, whose director-general Charles Byrne said: “This is an opportunity to recognise the vital role of women in the UK armed forces.
“The roles of women in the services has changed beyond recognition over the last century but throughout that time their contribution has been critical to the UK’s military campaigns.”
Claire Rowcliffe, the Legion’s director of fundraising, urged women veterans from Nottinghamshire to join the party.
“We’d love to see the National Memorial Arboretum full of women who have served, or are still serving, with lots of stories to tell,” said Ms Rowcliffe, who was commissioned into the Royal Military Police in 1998 and whose service over four years included an operational tour of Kosovo.
Royal British Legion director of fundraising Claire Rowcliffe
“We already support many women who are the spouses or partners of servicemen, or perhaps daughters who are their carers,” she said. “Those numbers are likely to rise as more women take on more roles in the services.”
A century of women in the British armed services
The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was formed in 1917 and in 1918 it was renamed the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps. It was disbanded in 1921. In 1938 the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) was formed and in 1949 it was succeeded by the Women’s Royal Army Corps, which was in integrated into the British Army in 1992.
Also founded in 1917 was the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). It was disbanded in 1919 but restored in 1939. In 1993 it was amalgamated into the Royal Navy.
The Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) existed from 1918 to 1920, and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force from 1939 to 1949, when it was absorbed into the re-formed WRAF. The WRAF was absorbed into the RAF in 1994, completing the assimilation of women’s units into the UK’s mainstream armed services.
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Recruited into the ranks of a top-secret bodyguard squad, teenage kickboxing champion Connor Reeves tackles the tricky assignment of protecting the U.S. President s impulsive daughter from a terrorist cell in Recruit, the first novel in Chris Bradford s Bodyguard series. On May 9, Philomel will release that title, as well as the next three installments, Hostage, Hijack, and Ransom. And the publisher won t keep fans waiting long for Connor s further adventures: the fifth and sixth Bodyguard titles will pub in the fall, and the next two are due in spring 2018. British author Bradford, whose earlier series, Young Samurai, is published in the U.S. by Disney-Hyperion, has accrued an extensive fan base overseas. When Recruit was released in the U.K. in 2014, it was awarded the Brilliant Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award, and rights to the series were subsequently sold to publishers in France, Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands. To date, Bradford s various novels have been published in more than 20 languages and have garnered 30-plus children s book award nominations around the world. The premise of Bodyguard came to Bradford while he was riding in a car with his father, en route to a book festival. We were listening to a radio program about security, and I heard a close protection officer say that the best bodyguards are the ones no one notices, he recalled. That single line triggered an idea, and during our one-hour journey, I planned the book series. Young Samurai had been a big success and I d been looking for an idea for a new series. And the idea for Bodyguard exploded in my head almost fully formed.
Taking the notion of writing what you know to heart, the author embarked on an intensive close protection course to become a qualified professional bodyguard. During his training in unarmed combat, tactical firearms, threat assessments, surveillance, and anti-ambush tactics, Bradford acquired the same skills that his protagonist, Connor, uses in his role as bodyguard.
It was one of the best experiences in my life and one of the hardest, said Bradford of his training. I learned so much it s knowledge I will use for the rest of my life. And, he added, it was important to him that the protection techniques Connor practices in the Bodyguard novels, and that the author demonstrates in his interactive book presentations to readers, be authentic and engaging. Kids are so very aware and astute, and it s impossible to pull the wool over their eyes, he said. I wanted the books to be genuine, and to be relevant to kids today. Brian Geffen, Bradford s editor at Philomel, praised the author for his unusually hands-on approach to writing: Chris s research, training, and writing bring a level of authenticity, and a breadth and depth to his characters and his stories. Kids are going to love seeing Connor s strategies and gadgets in action though we do have a warning at the beginning of each book about readers not trying the techniques themselves.
Mission: Binge Reading
In a nod to the contemporary binge-watching culture, Philomel s accelerated publishing schedule will bring eight Bodyguard novels into the marketplace within the span of a year. The company has created a new format model for the series, breaking each of Bradford s original novels into two separate trade paperback installments to make the books more accessible to and affordable for a middle-grade audience. (The heftier European editions were marketed primarily to YA readers.)
It was a reformatting challenge that Bradford eagerly accepted. I love the whole concept of binge reading it s brilliant, he said. Breaking up the books makes the stories more digestible, and if you re lucky enough to hook a reader with the right balance of good characters and action, that reader can move on to the next book right away. In the U.K. and Germany, where the series has had very strong sales, readers had to wait an entire year for the next book, but Americans will be able to get the first four books all at once. Tweaking plot beginnings and conclusions to fit Bodyguard s new formatting entailed a bit of a juggling act for the author. It meant going back to work on a book I had written a couple of years earlier, while at the same time working on an entirely new novel I was writing at the time, and promoting yet another novel, he recalled. That was the trickiest part my brain was all over the place!
On the plus side, he added, Since my books work in cliffhangers, there were natural places in the four original books to end one story and start the next. And one thing was really cool: I was able to fix a plot hole I had discovered in Recruit, though no one else had picked up on it, and I had the chance to make the new edition as perfect as it could be. So American readers will be able to read the definitive version, which no one else has read yet! Other material Bradford added to the Philomel editions has the attention-grabbing quality of television series. Each novel opens with a recap and vignettes from the preceding story, which are reminiscent of previously seen on clips at the start of TV shows, Geffen said. They give the books a cinematic feel, and let readers know where Connor s prior adventures left off. Chris also wanted kids to be able to know what had happened earlier if they pick up a book out of sequence. Penguin Young Readers Group has a 100,000-copy first printing on order for Recruit, and is printing 75,000 copies each of Hostage, Hijack, and Ransom. The publisher will support the series launch with consumer advertising targeting parents and kids. For retailers, the publisher has created a mixed 18-copy floor display, bookmarks, and a shelf talker and posters touting The Bodyguard Is Guarding This Door and Rules for Being a Bodyguard.
In addition to encouraging kids to read for pleasure, Bradford, a self-described flag waver for literacy, hopes that his series provides kids with a nice sort of escapism and entertainment, while empowering them to deal with the reality of today s world. I want the books to help kids learn the importance of common sense and looking out for and protecting one another which is a key message I want to pass along to my own two young sons. The fact that this is what the Bodyguard books are all about is very personal, exciting, and important, to me.
Bodyguard, Book 1: Recruit by Chris Bradford. Philomel, $8.99 May ISBN 978-1-5247-3697-2
Bodyguard, Book 2: Hostage by Chris Bradford. Philomel, $8.99 May ISBN 978-1-5247-3699-6
Bodyguard, Book 3: Hijack by Chris Bradford. Philomel, $8.99 May ISBN 978-1-5247-3701-6
Bodyguard, Book 4: Ransom by Chris Bradford. Philomel, $8.99 May ISBN 978-1-5247-3703-0
Congress needs to fund the government by April 28 or government employees will see a repeat of the 2013 shutdown. While the White House says the chances of the government actually shutting down are unlikely, we at Federal News Radio are answering some of the most pressing questions on the minds of defense workers.
Will I work if the government shuts down?
That all depends on your role in the Defense Department. The government furloughed about half of its civilian force during the 2013 shutdown, a total of about 400,000 civilians. Who works and who doesn t is all based on what positions are considered essential. If you re active-duty military, you will work.
White House ends hiring freeze, mandates workforce, mission restructuring
We can and will continue to support key military operations. We re allowed to do that by law, but the law would force us to disrupt many of our support activities, former DoD Comptroller Bob Hale said during the last shutdown. We wouldn t be able to do most training, we couldn t enter into most new contracts, routine maintenance would have to stop, we couldn t continue efforts to improve contracting and financial management including our audit improvement efforts.
For civilians it s more complicated. DoD released a 2015 contingency plan for the possibility of a shutdown. The plan lays out what positions would work if the government runs out of money. Those positions include jobs needed for the safety of human life or protection of property like civilians who operate and assess intelligence data. Other positions that won t be furloughed are those working in the medical and dental care field and those working in acquisition and logistics for essential operations. Those working in logistics at central receiving points for supplies purchased before the shutdown will stay on duty until they are no longer needed.
Education and training positions are mostly exempted from a shutdown, as are those working on legal activities for essential activities. DoD employees who work in mess halls and child care activities will report to work as will those working with the management of funds for essential services.
If you re a really good federal worker, you should welcome the reorganization plan, OMB says
There s also a wild card option: any activities funded with unobligated, unexpired balances will keep their employees on duty. That means if the account that funds your department still has money, you ll report to work. A full list of essential employee functions can be found here.
Will I get paid?
No, at least not at first. For all intents and purposes the government does not have money during a shutdown. Those who are working are providing pro bono services to the government for the well being of the nation. Don t think you can get out of it just because there is a shutdown either. Employees who refuse to work must comply or face disciplinary action. You also can t take any leave during the shutdown period. Those in the military won t be paid, unless Congress can come up with some sort of exception. In 2013, Congress passed a bill that provided money for the continued pay of the military through the shutdown. After five days of interpretation, Justice Department lawyers decided that bill extended to a majority of furloughed civilians, which brought them back to work and paid them as well.
During that time, paycheck processing pretty much stayed the same; however, there is no guarantee Congress will pass a bill to pay the military this time around. For civilians who had time furloughed, Congress eventually passed a law paying them for their work during the shutdown. If the government shuts down this time, there are no promises Congress will do the same thing.
What if I m a defense contractor?
While military members and many contractors would still go to work during a government shutdown, there are restrictions on what they would be able to do. For example, contractors would still be prohibited from doing inherently governmental work. And military members would be prohibited from performing the duties of presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed officials. Hale said things like the war in Afghanistan definitely constitute excepted activities, but that doesn t necessarily mean all military commanders have the authority to carry out their operations as normal.
These are the sort of gray area decisions that our managers and commanders are making right now as they identify excepted and non-excepted, he said. But I think most of the ships at sea would stay there. If there were some that stayed strictly in training and weren t excepted, they would be able to stand down if they had to in an orderly fashion. And we ll have to make some judgment about what that means. Obviously, you can t get the ship back immediately.
What changes might I see?
During the last shutdown DoD saw its support services take a hit. DoD held back care packages to troops in Afghanistan because of abrupt staffing cuts in the military postal system in Europe. The Pentagon curtailed seemingly-minor creature comforts such as cable TV for service members serving overseas. The Armed Forces Network took all but one of its channels off the air because of furloughs at its broadcast center in Riverside, California. The shutdown resulted in a patchwork of disrupted services that varied from installation to installation. For instance, a family child care management office might be at least partially open on one base because it s managed by a military member. At another installation, a similar office might be closed because its civilian-led workforce has not been exempted from furlough by the local commander.
There s also the matter of the Veterans Affairs Department. VA did not accept any new disability compensation claims or issue any decisions on appealed claims during the 2013 shutdown, and it cut back on the number of hours its claims processors worked. Several toll-free hotline numbers for veterans, including those designed to handle claims for education benefits shut down entirely.