A Platform; a Forum; an Opportunity
The Phoenix Think Tank is an open platform for authors to publish ideas, papers and reports on modern – or historical – maritime and naval affairs. Our purpose is to provide a platform and supporting framework for independent authors addressing these areas of key importance. We actively encourage academic contributions on, and seek to maintain rigorous standards of critical debate and thinking on – Britain’s maritime context.
2.0 Introducing the Phoenix Think Tank.
2.1 In late 2009, a group of retired Royal Navy and Royal Marines officers sharing a common concern that there was a critical lack of public understanding of Britain’s place in the world and how our national defence policy should relate to it, came together. With a new Government pending, the pressures to inform the public were increased. Without a clear defence strategy the three armed services would be left to argue their individual cases for equipment and funding. With the disappearance of the Cold War’s ‘Central Front’, and limited advances in strategic planning thereafter, a key mission of the Phoenix Think Tank was to address this worrying lack of rigorous debate and development.
2.2 The Phoenix Think Tank has developed fast since its foundation. Today, it enjoys the help of an increasing number of military professionals, most of whom have had considerable joint operational experience, and a growing number of academics.
2.3 With the approach of 2010′s Strategic Defence and Security Review, of immediate concern were the increasing public claims by individual Services fighting their corners. To combat this harmful and misguiding inter-service quarelling, the Phoenix Think Tank maintains meticulous standards for its academic and strategic contributions.
2.4 We hold, however, that the most pressing challenge in the UK defence debate is the marked lack of public understanding of the roles of the Merchant and Naval Services (The Royal Navy and Royal Marines with their Reserves, The Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Queen Anne’s Royal Naval Nursing Service). Whether over their roles in both promoting Britain’s prosperity, or in the defence of the Realm and its overseas interests, we argue the Merchant and Naval Services remain pivotal. The UK, as ever, remains an island almost totally dependent on the sea for its survival. Despite British ‘Sea Blindness’, any interruption of overseas supply would have immediate, painful implications for our daily lives and our wider economy.
Today, however, the Phoenix Think Tank boasts a growing list of contributors, either involved day to day or submitting thoughts, comments or insights. We hope that, through your continued interest and support, we can successfully pursue our key mission.
Views expressed by authors on the Phoenix Think Tank website are their own; the organisation assumes no responsibility for authors’ works or their affairs. The Phoenix Think Tank is an independent, private organisation that neither has contact with, nor answers to, the Naval Staff.
The Chief Co-ordinator
Captain Michael Clapp CB. First saw active service off Korea. He was involved in the start of the Cyprus insurrection and was then pressed as an observer onto the first ‘long course’ gaining experience in ASW and ELINT. For two years he flew in 849 Naval Air Squadron on Airborne Early Warning (AEW) duties. He completed the RAF Staff Navigator’s Course, qualified on Sea Venoms in All Weather Fighting (AWF) and trialled the Buccaneer Mk1 and then served as the Senior Observer in 801, the first operational Buccaneer Mk1 Squadron. He then commanded 801 NAS, the first operational Buccaneer Mk2 squadron. He commanded three ships, one of which was during the Indonesian Confrontation when he was mentioned in despatches. He served twice on the Naval Staff and twice in Joint training jobs, the second as the Naval Director of the Joint Maritime Operational Training Staff (JMOTS) and then, in 1982, he commanded the Falkland’s Amphibious Task Group.
Hal Wilson – BA (Hons), War Studies & History, Kings College London.
Alexander Clarke. The academic portion of his defence studies started in 2005, when he joined the BA History Programme at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham. He had the great honour of writing a Julian Corbett Prize Entry in 2006, and two Dissertations in 2008 all under the guidance of late Dr Michael Partridge. After St Mary’s he moved to Kingston University to study for his MSc in International Conflict, which he achieved with Merit after submitting a dissertation focusing on Sea Basing as a concept for future international operations. Currently he is studying for his PhD in the War Studies at King’s College, London. He has also enjoyed developing his writing in directions other than academia and is a regular contributor to the magazine Warships International Fleet Review, writing articles such as In Praise of the General-Purpose Destroyer (January 2010, pp.23-4) and What kind of carrier does a UCAV need? (July 2010, pp.18-20). His current research fields are naval warfare, sea basing, conflict intervention, defence procurement and the full spectrum of Unmanned Vehicles.
Admiral Sir John Woodward GBE KCB. A professional submariner who commanded two SSKs, one SSN, the SM Commanding Officers Qualifying Course, the Submarine Sea Training Organisation and finally the entire submarine Flotilla as Flag Officer Submarines and COMSUBEASTLANT. His surface ship experience started in cruisers, went on to destroyers, eventually including command of the T42 Class destroyer HMS Sheffield in 1977 and then the Falkland’s Carrier Battle Group in 1982. In his ‘spare’ time, he qualified as a Torpedo and AntiSubmarine [TAS] officer, as the senior Operations Room Officer in a Leander Class ASW frigate and, via a course primarily designed for post-graduate naval engineer officers, as an engineer OOW on nuclear submarine propulsion plant. After a three year appointment as Director, Naval Plans [the longest in 40 years], his final appointment in the MOD was as DCDS[C] – effectively head of Defence Operations working directly to CDS himself [Field Marshal the Lord Bramall].
Admiral. Sir Michael Layard KCB CBE. A Fighter pilot & Air Warfare Instructor who was 2iC of the RN’s ” Topgun” School at RNAS Lossiemouth, flying Hunters. He commanded 899 NAS Sea Vixens, in HMS Eagle in 1969-70. He was the last Commander Air in the 3rd HMS Ark Royal in 1977-78. In 1982 he was the SNO in MV Atlantic Conveyor, with an air group of RAF Harrier GR1′s, Sea Harriers, Chinooks, Sea Kings, Wessex 5′s & Lynx’s. From 1988 to ‘90 he was the Flag Officer Naval Aviation, the Fleet Air Arm’s Tribal Chief. Later, he was Second Sea lord.
Major General Julian Thompson CB OBE served in the Royal Marines for 34 years, mainly in Commandos; including command of 40 Commando RM and later of the 3rd Commando Brigade in the Falklands War of 1982. His staff appointments included a tour as an Assistant Secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He instructed at the Army Staff College Camberley and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies. He is now a military historian, and a Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.
Rear Admiral Jeremy Larken DSO was initially a specialist submariner. He was Navigation Officer of HMS Valiant, the first all-British nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN). He was appointed Project Officer for the development of anti-submarine protection of aircraft carriers by SSNs and Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPAs), seconded in this capacity to the USN Second (Atlantic) Fleet. He held three submarine command appointments, the last an SSN squadron. He commanded the Guided Missile Destroyer HMS Glamorgan and, in 1982, HMS Fearless – the headquarters ship for the Falkland’s Amphibious Task Group. As Commodore Amphibious Warfare he flew his Broad Pennant in both HMS Intrepid and HMS Ark Royal. His unusually broad career gave him both deep experience of amphibious rotary-wing operations and a high-level insight into maritime land- and carrier-based fixed-wing requirements and tactics in the context of holistic joint operations. He concluded his service career in the MoD supervising all UK commitments outside the NATO geographic area. He runs a company specialising in leadership under pressure, strategic risk and crisis management.
Commodore Neill Thomas CBE DSC. Flew Sea Vixens and then F-4 Phantoms from the old Ark Royal and was Senior Pilot of the RN Phantom Training Flight (A2 QFI and IRE), at RAF Leuchars, before commanding 899 NAS, Sea Harrier HQ Squadron (Trials and Operational Training) and was Chief Tactical Instructor for the Sea Harrier. 899 NAS embarked in HMS Hermes in 1982 for the Falklands campaign. Other air associated appointments: Staff of Maritime Tactical School, Joint Service Defence College, Operational and MOD (Directorate of Operational Requirements (Sea) Staffs, Commander (Air) of HMS Ark Royal, Naval and Air Attaché South Korea and then Commander NATO Airborne Early Warning Force Command.
Captain Bob McQueen CBE RN. A pilot who qualified as an all weather fighter pilot flying Sea Venoms. He served in three Sea Vixen squadrons, commanded 893 squadron and three frigates. In 1976 he commanded British forces in the Cold War and, in 1982, British Forces in Ascension Island. Unfortunately, Captain McQueen passed away after an illness in 2012.
Commodore Steven Jermy RN. An Observer who saw active service flying anti-submarine helicopters from HMS Invincible during the Falklands War. His most recent operational tour was as Strategy Director in the British Embassy in Kabul in Afghanistan 2007. Commands included HM Ships Tiger Bay, Upton, Arrow, Cardiff, the 5th Destroyer Squadron and the Fleet Air Arm. His staff appointments were in the Ministry of Defence Directorate of Policy Planning and as Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff. He gained an MPhil in International Relations from Pembroke College Cambridge in 1992 and graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2008. He now writes and lectures on modern strategy, including strategy in Afghanistan. His book, Strategy into Action: Using force wisely in the 21st Century, will be published by Knightstone Publishing in January 2011.
Commander Tim Gedge AFC RN. Flew the Sea Vixen from a variety of carriers and later the F-4 Phantom from the old HMS Ark Royal. A Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI), Instrument Rating Examiner and Air Warfare Instructor (AWI). He commanded 800 Naval Air Squadron Sea Harriers and later, in 1982, 809 Naval Air Squadron Sea Harriers for the Falkland War in HMS Ark Royal and then for the defence of the islands in HMS Illustrious. He graduated from the RAF Air Warfare Course at RAF Cranwell. He has flown in a variety of USN aircraft including the F-14 Tomcat embarked in USS Enterprise and F/A-18.
Principal Author – Naval Aviation – Commander ‘Sharkey’ Ward DSC AFC. Architect and Chief Tactical Instructor (CTI) of all Sea Harrier FRS Mk1 Operational and Tactical procedures prior to the Falklands. One of the highest qualified All Weather Fighter Pilots of recent times. Qualifications and Appointments include: Ship’s Diver, Instrument Rating Instructor (IRI), Air Warfare Instructor (AWI), Nuclear Planning Officer at NATO AFNORTH (drafted SACEUR’s Mine Warfare Policy), Senior Pilot 892 Phantom F4-K squadron in HMS Ark Royal and Sea Harrier Project Desk Officer in MoD. He commanded the Sea Harrier Intensive Flying Trials Unit, 700A, Sea Harrier Headquarters Squadron, 899 and then 801 Naval Air Squadron in HMS Invincible in the Falklands. Won the Director’s Prize at the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich. Became Air Warfare Adviser to the First Sea Lord. After voluntarily leaving the Service in 1985, he advised Pentagon and State Department on Gulf Intelligence and Operations – Iran/Iraq war. Author of “Sea Harrier over the Falklands.” Featured in the book, “What do leaders really do?” by Jeff Grout and Liz Fisher.”
Principal Author – History – Arrigo Velicogna holds an MA in War Studies (King’s College, London, Merit) and a Degree in Ancient History (Laurea in Storia, Indirizzo Antico, Universtà degli Studi Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna, Italy, Summa cum Laude). He worked as a Roman archaeologist from 2000 to 2006 including collaboration with the Italian National Research Committee (CNR). He has published several historical articles in conflict simulation magazines both Italian and international. He has also published a conflict simulation on the Battle of An Loc (Vietnam, April-June 1972). He is now completing a PhD in War Studies at King’s College, London, on the differences in doctrine between the US Army and the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam conflict. His research field is mainly centred on naval and amphibious operations both in symmetrical and asymmetrical conflict.
Principal Author – Amphibious Warfare- Peter Unwin is a retired teacher and one-time Royal Marine with an abiding interest in naval matters and in researching military issues past and present. He has a degree in theology and sociology.
Michael Ryan Joined the Royal Navy in 1952. On qualifying as a pilot he flew the Sea Venom, an all weather fighter. He then flew Sea Vixens in 890 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Hermes, and was the first pipeline pilot to do his first deck landing in a Sea Vixen. Then, as an Instructor, he orchestrated “Fred’s Five” aerobatic team. He resigned as a result of Denis Healey’s decision to cancel the new carrier (CVA01) and, consequentially, further naval fixed wing flying. On leaving the Navy, he set up and operated Villa Holidays, a business in Malta. He then became a business management consultant. In 1980’s and early 1990’s he was Chairman of Battersea Crime Prevention Panel. He is a Trustee of The Fleet Air Arm Museum, a Management Board Member of FLY NAVY Heritage Trust.
Dr Duncan Redford is Leverhulme Research Fellow at the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, University of Exeter, and the author of ‘Submarine: a Cultural History from the Great War to Nuclear Combat’ (IB Tauris)
Commander Graham Edmonds. Served in 11 warships, mainly in Atlantic, Caribbean and Middle East. Qualified as a PWO and AWO(A) and was Cdr (A) at SMOPS. Commanded two shore establishments, the RN Gunnery School, HMS Cambridge and the RN Unit in Gibraltar. Was the Ops Officer of HMS Broadsword in the Falklands War and Head of Navy Ops at CinCSouth during Desert Storm. MoD appointments included the AWW and Middle East Desk in MoD DESO and latterly served on the personal staff of DCDS(Pers).
Captain Gordon Wilson, an Independent Strategic analyst and lately Senior Research Fellow at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris, is a Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies and an Associate Fellow of the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, Southampton University and also the Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College, London. Previously a career naval officer, he has held frigate command and, in the rank of Captain, was for five years Head of Defence Studies, the Royal Navy’s link with defence academia.
Who’s got involved, further contributed or been consulted and referenced:
Numerous professors in the UK who specialize in this field.
Dept of War Studies Kings College London Students – Consulted
University of Salford , Naval Dept
University of Exeter, Maritime History Studies – Consulted
Oxford University – Consulted
University of Plymouth – Consulted.