Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 23. 23rd September 1973
The prophesy of the military — Intensity Operations:
[unclear: The] prophesy of the military
[unclear: Intensity] Operations:
[unclear: Brigadier] Frank Kitson, M.C. (with Bar), [unclear: y] most criteria, an extraordinary indi-[unclear: ual]. He was born in 1926 into a family [unclear: oued] with service traditions. His father [unclear: JS] an admiral, his grandfather was in the [unclear: Jian] Army, and an uncle was a posth-[unclear: nous] V.C. in the First World War. He [unclear: arried] a colonel's daughter.
Since joining the British Army in 1946 he has seen service in Kenya (where he [unclear: won] one military cross), Malaya (where he [unclear: won] the other), Cyprus, Aden, and Ulster [unclear: -] where he recently commanded the 39th Brigade. He is now the new Commandant of the School of Infantry at Warminster in Wiltshire, a significant posting because virtually every general in the British Army has held this position.
With such an impressive background it is not surprising to learn that Brigadier Kitson is Britain's leading counter-insurgency expert. This information is partly confirmed by reading his Low Intensity Operations. The book encapsulates a breadth of knowledge of the tactics and ideologies of such diverse revolutionaries as Grivas, Giap, Kenyatta and Ben-Bella, as to render the pontifications of Salient and other infantile revolutionaries that the mass-media keeps belching out rather sterile and feebleminded in comparison.
Brigadier Kit son's theme is that for various reasons — a growing contempt for authority, improving techniques for influencing opinion, the wide range of opportunity that exists under the nuclear umbrella for quite minor powers to assail all and sundry — there is an increasing swing in the world of power politics towards the lower end of the spectrum of conflict, whether as a part of actual warfare or as a substitute for it. His counsel of perfection is that governments should recognise subversion for what it is before it has a chance of taking root, and act accordingly. But he also recognises the difficulty of reconciling the steps that might be appropriate with the normal process of democratic government. Subversion therefore starts with a lead over the forces that are eventually required to contain it. Nevertheless. Kitson is emphatic that even at the very earliest stages of governmental awareness military advice should be sought although the measures under discussion are political, economic or social rather than concerned with law and order.
Great emphasis is placed on the importance of background information (i.e. low-level intelligence) and the scope that this gives battalion and company commanders for "tactical ingenuity". Such information will only be forthcoming in adequate quantity if subversion has been arrested before it has had time to complete its conquest of heart and mind, by terror as well as persuasion.
What is implicit in the whole book; and I hope in the brief out-line above, is Kitson believes that Ulster-like situations will spread throughout Britain (and presumably Western Europe and North America) over the next decade. The Army must subsequently redefine its role to cope with these developments.
Copies of this book are not to be found on closed reserve in the study hall, in fact the only two copies in New Zealand libraries, according to the union catalogue are in the National Library and the General Assembly Library. This is rather sad when it is considered that this small book was one of the most controversial in Britain last year with numerous irate Labour MP's asking questions in the House of Commons about its contents. Brigadier Kitson has subsequently become an object of culthatred on the further left while becoming a guru to ambitious young officers who wonder what is to become of their profession if large-scale war is impossible.
The implications of the last point are interesting. In 1966 the British Government refused to use the British Army against "kith and kin" in Rhodesia on the grounds that commissioned officers would resign en masse and the other ranks would mutiny. This of course was before the present Ulster carnage. Perhaps it can be argued that the Irish are not "kith and kin" to Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen — how, it is difficult to imagine. For me and obviously for Brigadier Kitson, it has demonstrated that the British Army could be used without major problems and within a "democratic" framework in Liverpool, Glasgow or Cardiff — and equally, the New Zealand Army could be used in Auckland, Wellington or Taihape.
By way of a footnote as we sink into the slime of what George Steiner has termed a "post culture", it is worth commenting on the role of Oxford University in the publication of this work. The university has certainly travelled a long way from its monastic scholasticism to support of the new barbarism. Its internal contradictions are implicit in its role in this publication (and all it stands for) conrasted with the impeccable manners of Brigadier Kitson in the book's acknowledgements: "I should like to start by expressing my most sincere thanks to the Masters and Fellows of University College, Oxford for allowing me to live amongst them as a member of their Senior Common Room for the year in which I have been writing the book." Dominus Illuminatio Mea.