Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Irish Soldier killed in Afghanistan

In the series of geopolitical events that have occurred since the turn of the millennium there has been relatively few Irish casualties. These tragic events that include September 11th, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the second Lebanon war, Darfur and the Palestinian intifada have rarely affected the Irish directly. There have been some unfortunate exceptions. There were approximately 20 Irish killed on September 11th. In April 2003 Lance Cpl Ian Malone from Ballyfermot Dublin was shot and killed in combat as British forces entered Basra after the initial invasion. Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers from Navan was gunned down in a suburb of Riyadh Saudi Arabia while filming for the BBC in June 2004. And last week Cavan man Justin Cupples (pictured) Of the Royal Irish Regiment was killed after recieving wounds from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand province Afghanistan.

I mourned his death when I heard of it. In particular I feel anger toward the Irish army for their stringent entry requirements that see many leaving cert drop outs and others with minor imperfections abandon a career with Oglaigh Na Heireann for the less selective British army. I wish Ian Malone and Justin Cupples had served with the Irish Defence Forces. If so they would still be alive and serving in Lebanon or Chad. However I was also angered by those in the media and blogosphere that suggested these men were somehow un Irish to join the British army. I reject this completely in particular those on Slugger O'Toole and other blogs that imply these guys got what they deserved. Personally I could never join the British Army but I am not the judging type. I accept that many people may want to join for personal or professional reasons. Not everybody lives in the sectarian bubble that is northern Ireland and if they want to join they should do so without having to justify their "Irishness" to republicans.

I fear that Justin Cupples will not be the last Irish man to die in this "War on Terror". There are many men and women from the Republic of Ireland serving with the Royal Irish Regiment most of whom serve in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become a far more dangerous place for British soldiers than Iraq over the last 12 months or so. This is continuing to be the case on a grander scale every month as the Iraq war winds down and the Afghan conflict heats up. I take no pleasure in predicting that in three years from now Afghanistan could be the new battlefront where a two times its current size NATO army is in an endless guerrilla war with the Taliban with mounting casualties on all sides. I hope I'm wrong.


flora said...

Ted, your comment about Defence Forces recruitment standards angering you fascinates me on a number of levels. Do you really think they are the main eason why Irish men/women join other armies?Do you realy think we should drop recruitment standards (your expert knowledge welcomed here)? It may have escaped you, but numerous Defence Foces personnel have lost their lives or been injured serving with the UN; and doubtlessly more will in the future because soldiers do a dangerous job, but do so with knowledge of that danger. I could make a number of points but that might seem rude as I have already pointed out your incredible lack of knowledge in this area. This is the first time I have read your blog. I will read it again, but I hope you don't make a habit of this sort of 'generalist come expert' thing too much as it really does your credibility no good. Oh, and I do know what I am talking about, although it is a number of years since I left the Defence Forces and have no sinister or officialdom driven agenda here.

flora said...

Oh, and just to say that I absoluteley agree with you on the Irish joining the British Army issue. The ignorance of those who judge is both rediculous and at the same time wholly expected. While Ardal O'Hanlon got a great rise out of Johnny Vaughan with his "It may be something to do with 800 yeas of repression" comment (well done Ardal) I really have only one thing to say to the Brit bashers "GET OVER IT"!

flora said...

Ted. Boy is this Blogging thingey compelling. My earlier posts were y first ever and I got cought up in the instant translation of thoughts/pure honesty thing. Apologies for the tone of the first post, it was hectoring and unpleasent. The points I stand over but.... Lesson one, of many I'm sure, learned; be polite. Thanks.

Ted Leddy said...


Thank you very much for reading my blog and I very much appreciate your articulate comments. I always welcome vigorous debate so feel free to let me have it whenever you think I deserve it. I too am fairly new at blogging and am slowly becoming to realise that for real news and honest stimulating debate, the blogosphere is the place to be.

Regarding your main point. A personal interest of mine has always been Irish men and women that have fought in foreign wars. To think of Irish people dying violently in a foreign land, such as in the cases of Ian Malone and Justin Cupples saddens me particularly. I remember seeing Ian Malone on an RTE documentary about Irish People serving in the British Army. He said he had always wanted to join the Irish army but was prevented from doing so because of some trivial technicality. I know some have their hearts set on the British Army and that's OK but I think its a real shame to think we are losing potential top class recruits because of their age (for example)

As we know people often chose a career in the defence forces because the academic or conventional lifestyle does not suit them. Many people drop out of school age 16 or 17 for this reason. But the Irish Army will not take people in this age bracket unlike the British. You say "Do you really think we should drop recruitment standards " , I would not see dropping the recruitment age as dropping the standards.

I am very well aware of the sacrifices the Irish army have made in The Lebanon, Congo and other troubles spots but these men and women will be remembered and honoured by their own state while those serving with foreign armies will not. I think this is sad.

Flora, I intend to post regularly in the future about issues of interest to our defence forces and would appreciate your input as you obviously know what your talking about.