Reference Library – Army Stories
Is the Republican Party in its death throes? Donald Trump s recent victories during the Super Tuesday primaries show the Republican Party in a major identity crisis, according to Christian Science Monitor writer, Linda Feldman, in an article entitled, Super Tuesday: Trump s Victories highlight GOP s Identity Crisis. 
Historically speaking, conservative parties in our nation have fragmented and disappeared. Are we at that juncture again? Trump s progression to ultimate nominee for the Grand Old Party does not bode well for its continued existence. Let s examine some political history. The first conservative pro-business party was the Federalist Party, centered mainly in New England, which ruled the nation from 1789-1800. George Washington was the Federalist s first president, although he was suspicious of political parties, considering them divisive factions and dangerous to the nation. In his farewell address in 1797, after eight years in office, he warned the nation against political parties. Washington s chief concern as president was to set strong precedents of presidential caution and wisdom in decision-making. Rather than support either Britain or France in their war, he chose instead to take a course of neutrality, thus keeping the Napoleonic War from causing divisions in this nation between pro-British and pro-French Americans.
John Adams, also a signer of the Constitution and a Federalist, followed him for a four-year term. Adams, like his predecessor, was deeply concerned for the stability and survival of the young nation more than for individual liberties. From 1798-1800 the United States was fighting an undeclared sea war with the France and the Federalists were very fearful. That explains why Adams and the Federalist Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien Acts increased the time required of immigrants to become U.S. citizens from five to 14 years. Most of these immigrants, upon becoming citizens, would vote for Thomas Jefferson s Democratic-Republicans, later known as Democrats. Federalist critics of the Adams administration were fined and imprisoned under the Sedition Act for what they wrote in newspapers. Although freedom of the press rights are part of the First Amendment, Federalists in power operated from a fear perspective, more concerned with survival of the nation than they were with protecting press freedom.
These anti-immigrant and anti-press acts eventually were used by Jefferson s Democratic-Republicans to drive Adams out of office in the 1800 presidential election in what has been called the Revolution of 1800. It was called that because the Democrats replaced the Federalists through an election rather than through the barrel of a gun. The Federalist Party began a long decline. The War of 1812 and the economic policies of Democrat James Madison had hurt New England merchants who were the major backers of the Federalists. Their primary trading partner was Britain. New England Federalists gathered in Hartford, Conn., in late 1814 and early 1815 to protest the war in what became known as the Hartford Convention. Some extremists in the party threatened to secede from the union. Additionally, the Massachusetts governor, a Federalist, had sent a secret delegation to Britain to negotiate a separate peace to end the war. Other Federalists wanted to expel the western states from the union.
The Hartford Convention delegation reached Washington D.C., with their demands at the same time as news came of the great victory over the British army by Gen. Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Rumors about and demands from the Federalists did not sit well with most Americans who were exulting in the victory. Nationalism and a rising patriotic spirit caused anger against them. The party eventually died out, leading to what became known as the Era of Good Feelings which lasted from 1816 to 1824. Eventually, the Whig Party rose in the period of 1828-1832, and later, nativist parties like the Know Nothings emerged whose major platform was anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic. At that time, the hated immigrants were the Irish and the Germans. In 1854 the modern Republican Party was formed out of the Whigs and the Know Nothings, gaining national support with the platform of abolition of slavery and business expansion.
Now, 162 years later, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the Republican Party, with their leading candidate, Donald Trump, emphasizing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments. We have come full circle.
- ^ Super Tuesday: Trump s Victories highlight GOP s Identity Crisis. (www.csmonitor.com)
UK to increase training to Iraqi forces
Britain is set to pledge several dozen more troops to support the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as they take the fight to Daesh.
A Kurdistan troop takes part in training to find Improved Explosive Devices as part of his training which is being delivered to them by British Soldiers in Erbil, Iraq.
The Defence Secretary has authorised an offer of more than 30 extra troops to provide training in areas such as logistics and bridge building, as well as specialist medical staff. They are expected to be deployed to training locations at Besmayah and Taji. The uplift will build on the training the UK already provides the Iraqi forces in infantry skills, counter-Improvised Explosives and weapons maintenance. These training programmes have saved lives and supported recent successful operations on the ground, such as the retaking of Ramadi. It will bring the total number of UK personnel involved in training inside Iraq to over 300, and the total engaged in theatre to over 1,000. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
We ve seen solid progress against Daesh in Iraq in recent months. Now is the time to step up our training of Iraqi Forces, as they prepare for operations in key cities such as Fallujah and Mosul.
Along with the trebling of UK air strikes, this underlines the crucial role our armed forces are playing in the fight against Daesh.
The British army has helped train more than 6,500 personnel in Iraq to date, while the RAF has flown around 2200 missions against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, carrying out more than 640 strikes.
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- Published: 12 March 2016
THE controversial death of a young soldier in an army barracks could be re-investigated due to new evidence, The Argus can exclusively reveal. The Attorney General is due to decide over the next few months whether to open a new inquest into the death of Sean Benton. It follows an application from campaign group Liberty who said they have uncovered evidence not considered at his previous inquest.
Private Sean Benton, from Hastings, was the first of four soldiers to die at at the Deepcut training barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. His death aged 20 from five gunshot wounds in the chest was ruled a suicide but that has remained controversial with questions persisting over what happened. A spokesman for Liberty told The Argus: “There are many reasons we say a fresh inquest is needed, but fresh evidence is the predominant one.
“Having secured access to the relevant materials held by Surrey Police using the Human Rights Act we identified significant material that had not been before the original coroner and which ought, we say, to be the subject of a fresh inquest now.”
Liberty was also behind the new investigation currently being held into the death of Private Cheryl James, who was found dead at the barracks in 1995 with a bullet wound to the head. High Court judges ordered the fresh inquest that started earlier this month at Working Coroner’s Court, quashing an open verdict from December 1995, after Liberty also used the Human Rights Act to unearth unseen documents. Woking Coroners Court has been told that Pte James had been upset that people were spreading rumours about her and she had been assaulted twice but did not feel able to report it.
It has also heard that Surrey police originally failed to properly investigate and eliminate three potential suspects in their original investigation into her death. The other two soldiers who died were privates Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham,and James Collinson, also 17. The army said the deaths were all suicides but the soldiers’ parents and campaigners have rejected that and called for a public inquiry.
In 2002 Mr Benton’s friend, Trevor Hunter, said Sean had been subjected to humiliating verbal abuse at the training camp. In 2003 an independent ballistics expert, Frank Swann, said it was impossible for Mr Benton to have killed himself, and it appeared he had been shot at close range. Mr Benton’s parents, Linda and Harry, have both died, Linda in 2015 and Harry in 2011.
Liberty said: “Like the other Deepcut parents, they had many perfectly reasonable questions about their child’s death.
“These questions were met with resistance, silence and suspicion.”
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office told The Argus: “I can confirm we are considering an inquest application for Sean Benton and will announce a decision this spring.”
PARENTS DIED BEFORE GETTING ANSWERS OVER SON S DEATH
BLUE-EYED Sean Benton was a 20-year-old Army private when he was found dead with five gunshot wounds to his chest on June 1995 at Deepcut barracks. Within one month an inquest held without a jury recorded he had killed himself. Six months later, there was another death at the same barracks 18-year-old Private Cheryl James was killed by a single gunshot wound to the face.
Held again without a jury, again within a month of her death and lasting around one hour, her inquest recorded an open verdict. Their families did not know each other and their cases were not linked at the time. Even when Private Geoff Gray, 17, also died from a gunshot wound at the barracks in 2002, the deaths were not connected.
Then in March 2002, Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was found dead with a single gunshot wound through his chin, also while on guard duty. And with that, the dots began to be joined and everything changed. Civil police were called in to investigate Pte Collinson s death rather than the Armyrats © military police who had taken charge of the previous investigations.
Surrey Police re-opened the investigation into Mr Gray s death in April 2002. Then in the July, they re-opened Sean s and Pte James s cases. Nearly 14 years later, Sean s mother Linda and father Harry had both died without getting the answers they wanted over their son s death. Surrey Police officers said they saw 900 witnesses, took more than 1,500 evidence statements and commissioned independent forensic and ballistic examinations.
They concluded that they had found no evidence of anyone else s involvement in any of the four deaths so no criminal prosecutions could be brought. But that also meant families were not allowed access to much of the evidence, with police arguing it could amount to a misuse of power to disclose it if there were no prosecutions. For years families and campaigners have battled for access to that information and documents were finally released to the campaign group Liberty between 2011 and 2014.
It was on the back of that information that the High Court quashed the open verdict into Pte James s death and ordered a new inquest, which began earlier this month at Woking Coroner s Court. Among the evidence to the inquest so far has been that the 18-year-old from Wales was ordered to have sex with another soldier on the night before she died strongly denied by the Ministry of Defence. Claims of bullying at the camp have persisted, denied by Army superiors, with a friend of Sean s speaking out in 2002.
Private Trevor Hunter said: You could see physical marks on the soldiers that showed something was going on. Soldiers were so scared that they would never tell you what happened.
ONE of the last people to see Army recruit Private Cheryl James alive said she looked upset and miserable at the time. Corporal Ian Wilkinson was stopped by Pte James at the gates of Deepcut barracks for an identity check as he drove to work at about 8.15am to 8.30am on November 27, 1995.
A colleague, Sergeant Phil Wood, said he arrived on foot a short time later and the gate was unmanned and unguarded. Pte James, 18, was found dead with a bullet wound to the head. A new inquest into her death, at Woking Coroner s Court, was opened after campaigners Liberty used the Human Rights Act to unearth new evidence.
On Thursday (March 3), Cpl Wilkinson told the hearing that Pte James, who was in uniform and had a rifle strapped across her front, looked down in the dumps . He said: She looked upset, did not seem altogether with it. She seemed miserable. I said something to the effect of, cheer up, it might never happen . He said the first time he was officially spoken to about the incident was in 2003.
He said: I never hid the fact I may have been the last person to see Ms James on November 27, 1995 that is what I thought and nobody ever approached me to recollect this and put down a statement.
The inquest, due to finish this month, has also heard from ballistics experts who say they cannot rule out that she was shot by someone else.