Mark Urban

Mark Urban a former defence correspondent at the Independent, covers security and foreign policy issues for the BBC’s Newsnight.

Tooth and Tail

Mark Urban, 7 September 1995

Throughout the Cold War, the British Army poured most of its resources into training and equipping for ‘the big one’, the day the Red Juggernaut would come rumbling across Europe and bring with it the most destructive warfare imaginable. The fact that British soldiers were fighting and dying at various times in Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and the Falklands was an annoying detail to many senior officers and planners in Whitehall, a distraction from what defence was meant to be about. Now the Soviet threat is gone, defence policy consists very largely of preparing for those distractions, the limited wars which once claimed only a small percentage of the budget. In the Defence Yearbook Michael Clarke repeats what everyone knows: although ‘the Army, in particular, may lament the fact that Bosnia – like the Northern Ireland commitment – detracts from the real business of training for a major war, the fact is that the prospect of major war is now very low and the likelihood of more Bosnias is becoming higher.’’

Friendly Fire: Torching the White House

Bernard Porter, 21 February 2008

Britain has fought the Americans twice. The first occasion we know about: it was the war that secured the colonists’ independence (1775-83). Mark Urban’s book is about the experiences...

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Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

Why are the British secret services so secret? The assumption is that they are so because they handle secret information. Yet there is no reason why an organisation entrusted with secret...

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