About Patrick

Defence and security expert with comprehensive media experience, coupled with specialist knowledge of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan and military operations past and present.

London-based security analyst, Patrick has worked for NATO as an analyst and is a former Captain in the British army's Royal Irish Regiment. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Exeter's Strategy and Security Institute, studying the reform of the U.K's Army Reserve, cohesion and logistics. Patrick has appeared on international, UK and Irish television and radio to discuss security matters, and has written for leading broadsheets. His latest appearances were as an expert contributor to National Geographic's 'Nazi Mega Weapons' series, where he contributed to four episodes, including on the Atlantic Wall, the Wolf's Lair, the SS, and the Siegfried Line. He has specialist knowledge on the conflict in Afghanistan, having served in Sangin in 2008 and he has provided security research and analysis for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He also has expert knowledge of the current security situation in Libya and comments on wider security issues, including strategy, current military operations, military history, the role of the media in war, and ethics in war.

He has written for The Irish Times, The Guardian and The Independent, and has appeared on The National Geographic Channel/Channel 4, Sky News, BBC News, BBC News HardTalk, BBC Radio 4 Today programme, BBC File on 4, BBC Radio 5, and numerous Irish national TV and radio programmes.

His memoir, 'Callsign Hades', (Simon and Schuster 2010) has been called "the first great book of the Afghan war" and describes his experiences serving with Irish soldiers in the last Irish line regiment of the British army in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous places. It has since been incorporated onto the syllabus at Sandhurst, and excerpts from his work are also taught to Australian officer cadets.

Patrick was educated at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and King's College, London, where he studied Intelligence and International Security before attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He was awarded the Trust Medal for Overall Academic Performance, The John Pimlott Prize for War Studies and the Defence and International Affairs Prize during his time there.

He has commanded soldiers on operations in Afghanistan and deployed to Cyprus, Kenya, Malawi and Malaysia.

He has also published in military and ethics journals and on defence issues on political blogsites. He has spoken at numerous universities and military command courses on security and ethics issues. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal United Services Institute, the Irish Military History Society, the Military Ethics Education Network, and former member of an IED and Radicalisation project funded by the US Office of Naval Research and Hull University. A full list of Patrick's publications are listed in the links section below.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Security, Symbolism and History for Queen’s visit

Former army Captain and Irish security analyst Patrick Bury outlines the security and significance behind the British monarchs visit to Ireland.

About 120 plain clothed and armed Met Police officers will be accompanying the Queen on her four-day state visit to Ireland. Most of these officers will be drawn from Special Operations 1 (SO1) who guard UK diplomatic VIPs abroad, and SO14, whose remit covers the Royals exclusively. Aiding these will be Mi5 and Mi6, who will be paying particular attention to the dissident republican threat. In doing this they will be assisted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) over the border.

The Irish and British security services have a long history of co-operation in fighting the violence of the troubles and there has already further evidence of this surrounding this visit. The PSNI have sent 2 water cannon to the Irish police (the Gardai), should they need it. There has been close surveillance of known dissidents, and some arrests both sides of the border. The Gardai have moved assets north, and close liaison between the intelligence services continues.

In Ireland itself the biggest security operation in the history of the state is now fully underway. 8,000 uniformed Gardai, out of a force 14,000, are directly involved, supported by 2,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces on standby. Other Irish units operating are the Special Detective Unit, the Emergency Response Unit (specialist armed police, like the Met’s SO19) and Irish special forces, known as the Army Ranger Wing.

These will fulfill a myriad of roles, including, surveillance, close protection, air defense (a dissident plot to buy surface-to-air missile launchers was recently uncovered) and crowd control within Dublin itself. Although the threat from dissidents remains high, as seen by the viable and hoax IEDs reported this morning, the Guards are more concerned with the prospects of violent protest. To this end, over 30 streets in Dublin have been closed and riot police traveling in fleets of buses will follow the Queen on her journey around the country.

The itinerary itself is bold and ambitious for the first visit by a British monarch in 100 years. Today, the Queen will visit the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city center, where she will lay a wreath and observe a minutes silence at the foot of a memorial dedicated to those who” fought for Irish freedom”

It will be a hugely symbolic and historic moment, hopefully not disrupted by the groups of dissenting nationalists who plan to broadcast anti-British rebel reels through speakers to disrupt the ceremony.

But neither will any of the public be able to catch a glimpse of the Queen. Security is so tight that no members of the public will be able to get anywhere near the Garden, according to reports.

Another of the 11 venues on the Queen’s agenda is Croke Park, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the sight of the infamous British massacre of 1920. Hopefully that visit will go some way to healing old wounds.

Tomorrow will also see a visit to the War Memorial at Islandbridge, where the Queen will pay her respects to over 300,000 Irishmen who served and over 40,000 who died, many fighting for Britain, in the First and Second World Wars.

The Queen’s visit marks an interesting point in the continuing evolution of Anglo-Irish relations, perhaps finally and comprehensively showing both nations coming to terms with their often diverse, sometimes antagonistic, yet strangely common, collective pasts. This visit I believe, highlights these.

An old historiographic saying holds “The Irish would do well to begin letting go of the past, the English would do well to begin remembering it.”

For us Irish it shows that we are growing up, for the English that they are owning up. 

Either way, for those responsible for the multi-faceted security operation, the next four days will be tense.

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