Summer time 2010, and one of many heaviest combating seasons of the warfare was underneath means in southern Afghanistan.
My small group had patrolled right into a village earlier than first mild — an space managed by Taliban insurgents who have been terrorising the native inhabitants to assist their battle with the British.
We have been leaving the realm when the primary contact occurred. It hit the group behind me, and I heard RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) as they exploded, severely injuring one Afghan soldier. We continued to get again to base and test for casualties from there, however we got here underneath direct hearth once more. This time from a constructing.
Miraculously, nobody was hit.
Johnny Mercer (pictured above) together with his group in Afghanistan
I knelt down and engaged the enemy to our left. My group had scattered for canopy, and earlier than I knew it, I used to be alone in the course of a discipline, with none cowl in any respect.
I continued to have interaction the enemy with my rifle, however to no avail. Seeing me alone, different enemy positions had opened up. I had nowhere to go. I used to be satisfied I used to be going to get shot.
There have been radios on my again — I may use them and have interaction with artillery or a close-by British jet. I made myself as small as doable and thought of my choices.
I had no thought who was contained in the constructing and who can be killed if it was levelled with both of those heavy weapons. I may name for a helicopter with a extra exact weapon, however that may take no less than six minutes to reach. And I might virtually actually be useless. However I selected to attend.
After 9 minutes, a pair of American HueyCobra helicopters arrived and I used their hearth as cowl to flee to the remainder of my group. My colleagues had been attempting all of the whereas to put down hearth for me to maneuver, with out firing immediately right into a constructing the place we knew there was a household.
The injured Afghan lived and we completed the mission. Nobody died that day.
Quick ahead to 9 years later. I am now an MP. This week I sat within the Palace of Westminster as a part of a committee of parliamentarians probing how veterans are pursued over historic allegations.
I questioned a person named Martyn Day, founding accomplice of Leigh Day solicitors, who, along with fellow solicitor Phil Shiner, has tried to prosecute 1000’s of instances on behalf of Iraqis and Afghans in opposition to troopers.
I wish to know why and the way he does it, as a result of I wish to finish this farce. I ask him if he thinks my era of troopers had such an issue with values that we may have damaged worldwide legislation and executed prisoners.
Johnny Mercer questioned Martyn Day (pictured above)
He replies: ‘Sure.’
I distinction this in my thoughts with the dangers we took to forestall lack of life in fight. I bear in mind the large private dangers I noticed my males take as they tried to comply with the ‘May I? Ought to I? Should I?’ mantra of ‘brave restraint’ earlier than engagements, as a way to protect civilian life.
I used to be fortunate, and got here again with virtually no scars, bodily or mentally. I made errors, in fact, however I used to be fortunate.
Johnny Mercer (pictured above) mentioned he was look to return again from the military with no scars
My circle of mates has not been so lucky. Three of my mates have authorised weapon releases which have gone on to kill British servicemen in error. On all events it was not their fault, however that does not matter if you find yourself sitting with their households explaining what occurred.
I bear in mind their private ache. The psychological anguish for years afterwards.
One other good friend did kill some girls and kids. It destroyed him. Actually. For years. He has by no means been the identical.
Distinction these ideas with the human-rights-lawyer brigade that has shamelessly financed itself by creating a picture of an uncaring, unprofessional and corrupt British Military.
Regardless that I used to be a serial combatant on the peak of the Afghan battle — a battle which noticed the British Military engaged in essentially the most intense fight because the Korean Battle within the Fifties — I’ve not been contacted by them.
However they do not go for folks like me — they’re your basic bullies. They go for many who have been unlucky sufficient to battle — via no fault of their very own. Those that cannot fairly bear in mind, who do not wish to bear in mind, those that have moved on.
However, principally, they aim these on whom their smoke-filled, obfuscating narrative might need an opportunity of working.
I do not remorse for one second telling Mr Day on Tuesday: ‘You’ve got been dishonest all through this course of. Do you’ve got any idea of the lives you’ve got ruined, of a number of the best folks on this nation who’ve gone on operations?
‘You’ve got accused me of coming from a era of people that may effectively have dedicated homicide. Are you pleased with your position?’
My fellow MP Mark Francois — a former infantry officer within the Territorial Military — summed up the temper when he shouted: ‘I have no idea the way you sleep at evening.’
Mark Francois (pictured above) was a former infantry officer within the Territorial Military
I did nothing particular within the navy — I all the time gave the impression to be within the incorrect place on the incorrect time, and I fought like hell to get out. However some particular folks did some very particular issues on behalf of this nation.
They have been peculiar younger males — the uncommon summers we did get collectively, we went browsing in Cornwall and threw cider at one another on the nearest Chas And Dave live performance. However when obligation known as, they proved extraordinary — their braveness, dedication, selflessness and patriotism awed these of us privileged sufficient to observe it.
And right here, in entrance of me, was any individual who genuinely thought that there was such a breakdown in legislation and order within the British Military that, along with Phil Shiner, he would deliver greater than 3,200 instances in opposition to the Ministry of Defence, alleging homicide, torture, rape and human rights abuses.
Martyn Day would not appear to assume that everybody I do know and served with prided ourselves on the rule of legislation. The actual fact is we wished to be extra skilled than the person subsequent to us. Folks risked dying to do the fitting factor, no matter circumstance.
Issues go incorrect — they all the time have in warfare. The dying of Iraqi civilian Baha Mousa, in addition to the 93 accidents inflicted upon him, in British Military custody in 2003 is a stain on our repute.
Baha Mousa (third in) pictured together with his household, was crushed and killed whereas within the custody of UK troops and was the sufferer of ‘an appalling episode of great gratuitous violence’ and a severe breach of self-discipline, an investigation discovered
These points have to be handled in essentially the most stringent means, and don’t have any place in a British Military which, I consider, stays essentially the most skilled combating drive on earth. However utilizing these extraordinarily uncommon instances as a means of trashing the repute of the UK Army’s actions is abhorrent.
I remorse to say it, however the Ministry of Defence is essentially the most at fault on this sorry story of prosecutions for historic allegations. Its behaviour all through has been characterised by weak point and betrayal.
However leeches on society corresponding to Martyn Day and Phil Shiner exist in any human system.
Johnny Mercer has mentioned that Phil Shiner (pictured above) is a leech on society
Behind their obvious regard for human rights, they see a chance to earn hundreds of thousands of kilos — usually displaying supreme piousness with an irony that appears misplaced solely upon themselves. Off the again of a number of the most benighted folks on this planet, destroying a few of this nation’s best folks, they rake of their Authorized Support.
Phil Shiner even received a ‘human rights lawyer of the 12 months’ award in 2004 — although it was rightly stripped from him two years in the past after he was struck off for his reckless campaign in opposition to our troops.
I felt solely monumental pity for Mr Day, sitting in entrance of me on Tuesday as a poster boy of the human rights agenda, who’s clearly reviled excess of he’s cherished.
However how does it finish?
The Authorities should legislate — it’s the solely means. Lowering the affect of human rights legislation on navy operations was within the Conservative Get together’s manifesto of 2017.
As occurs within the U.S., we should always enable our Armed Forces to self-regulate. Final week, a U.S. Navy Seal went on trial for homicide — and the case was adjudicated in-house.
Such a system is important for navy success. It ensures that proceedings are carried out with a cool head. The actions of legal professionals corresponding to Martyn Day are higher suited to a horror film.
I have been very onerous on the Authorities over the relentless witch-hunt of our troops and its failure to face up for them, and I make no apology for doing so.
Till ministers act, a self-righteous, pernicious brigade of human rights legal professionals will proceed to crawl over the actions of those that step up and defend our freedoms. Extra importantly, our troopers will proceed to be grotesquely persecuted.