Wounded & Dangerous

What do armchair warriors know about combat? In Afghanistan in particular where the Taliban use suicide attacks as a weapon of choice? The murder of a wounded Taliban fighter was of course wrong, it goes against everything we believe in including, as the Royal Marine sergeant who did the killing acknowledged at the time, the Geneva Convention. Still, we have to remember the circumstances they were in. The attack they had repelled was not necessarily over, and the wounded fighter may have become an even greater danger. Shooting him was an expedient of the battlefield.

War is ugly. However I would still have preferred that the Marines did the decent thing and gave the wounded Talib first aid, as they discussed, instead of a bullet. But that’s easy for me to say, I wasn’t there. Nor were any of the other armchair warriors who pour down scorn on them. The Taliban had attacked their position and did everything they could do to kill as many of our troops as they could. Who could be sure this particular Talib, who was still armed, was not a threat? Would you bet your life he wouldn’t still kill you? The Taliban don’t respect the Geneva Convention, they don’t even respect their own lives.

So it’s pointless speculating whether the Talib fighter had surrendered or was even a captive; the Taliban have a record of concealing grenades to blow up themselves together with their captors. Fighting against irregular forces is fraught with danger but even in combat with another western army you can never be sure where you stand. The last time we fought a western army was in 1982 against Argentina, a signatory of the Geneva Convention. In one notorious incident, three paratroopers were killed when advancing under a white flag to accept the surrender of the Argentines at Goose Green.

Were the Marines mindful of that danger? We think of Afghanistan today and delude ourselves that we are on top of the situation, but back in 2011 when this incident took place there could be no delusion; Helmand was a very dangerous place to be. The Marines were coming to the end of a long and dangerous deployment and they had lost comrades to Taliban attacks and IEDs. It was kill or be killed. Let’s not forget either that we had sent them there with inadequate personal body armour, weaponry, vehicles and helicopter support. The stress must have been unimaginable, lapses in judgement inevitable.

I’m glad the Marines have been held accountable. But we must remember that it was us who put them in harms way. We sent them there to fight on our behalf and we are just as responsible for what they do. We should support them and try to be understanding when it goes wrong as in this case. Certainly have pity for the Talib fighter who was murdered, but have some pity too for the Marine. The fact that he was a sergeant in the Royal Marines is evidence enough without knowing his name or background that he was an outstanding soldier. He does not deserve to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Postscript: There is no conceivable risk that showing clemency to this Marine will endanger serving troops as is being claimed. Does anyone serious believe that any British troops who are captured by the Taliban would be leniently treated? Therefore it seems to me that the harsh words of the currently serving generals scorning the idea of clemency is in fact covering up their own complicity in historically under-resourcing the men in the field and is reprehensible.

In a word: Omnishambles

“a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations”.

Oxford University Press have updated their online dictionary with the latest set of new words to hit the digital generation, including the gem above that neatly and accurately describes every recent government in my view.

Omnishambles among new words added to Oxford Dictionaries online

I do miss Ambrose Bierce, however. If he were alive today, what fun he would have. I would offer these three terms for his Devil’s Dictionary, confident he could improve on my definitions:

Peace Dividend
The excuse used by politicians to slash defence spending after the Berlin Wall finally came down and a new era of peace was ushered in.

Arab Spring
The excuse used by politicians to slash defence spending after Libya and Egypt deposed their dictators and a new era of peace was ushered in.

Armed Forces Covenant
The empty promises made by politicians to honour the sacrifices of the armed forces in on-going conflicts even though the politicians keep promising us a new era of peace will be ushered in.

Serious question: Is this country worth fighting for any more?

Is a country that mistreats its armed forces so badly worthy of their continued service and sacrifice?

Consider the government’s recent record in its treatment of the armed forces: Troops on active service have been given redundancy notices at a time when they’re still putting life and limb on the line in Afghanistan, what a kick in the teeth that is. Many have been sacked within a year of qualifying for an immediate pension after 22 years service, forcing them to wait years to qualify for a pension again but saving the government millions. Others are being roped in to cover security blunders for the Olympics when they’ve just come back from the ‘Stan and ought to be enjoying some time with their families.

But it gets worse.

Now we learn of a new policy that means veterans from Commonwealth countries who have completed their service in the British armed forces are being deported, even if they have families here, in stark and unacceptable contrast to how convicted criminals are treated. Murderers, paedophiles and robbers can stay in this country once they have served their time in jail, while soldiers are deported once they have served their time in the armed forces.

The world has been turned upside down, the concepts of right and wrong have been inverted.

“Lance-Corporal Bale Baleiwai, a Fijian, served for 13 years in the Army, including operational tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, winning four medals, exemplary reports from his commanding officers and even being used in recruitment adverts.”

He and others like him are being deported.

“In 2011, at least one terrorist – and possibly up to four – was allowed to stay, as well as up to eight killers and rapists. Also among the total were 20 robbers and up to eight paedophiles, plus as many as four people convicted of firearms offences.”

They are not being deported.

Let’s put this in context. The very people L/Cpl Baleiwai was risking his life to fight on our behalf are amongst those allowed to remain in this country while he must be deported.

If that is how we treat our warriors, why do we think this is a country worth fighting for?

Here are the relevant Telegraph reports:

Commonwealth soldiers face deportation
The foreign criminals we don’t try to deport

In Defence of Our Defenders

I’m not happy about the swingeing cuts being imposed on the military. It’s sad to see so many servicemen and women being sacked, especially those on the front line, and I’m sure it’s not necessary. I’m also sad about equipment cuts, particularly those that leave us with no maritime air power, I’m sure they are all harmful to our interests. I’m sad too to see the open squabbling between Defence Secretary Liam Fox who is ordering the cuts and the top service chiefs who are protesting against them.

It’s not a tough call to decide who’s side I’m on. It’s easy in fact. I’m on Liam Fox’s side. I’m not on the side of the pultroons who caused the problem by years of sheer incompetence and infighting. The admirals and generals and air marshals cannot say it’s all the fault of the politicians. True, Labour had some of the most useless defence ministers in the history of the department, but what did the top brass do? They went along with that circus of madness, they were and they remain part of the problem.

Quite frankly, now we’re facing up to reality again I would be quite happy to see everyone of two star rank and above made redundant. I know there will be many highly capable officers lost in the process, but the same can be said of sacking hundreds of lower ranks, we will lose a lot of talent there too. At least by sacking the upper echelons en-masse we will expunge the old attitudes that led to the present difficulties and we will create wonderful opportunities to promote fresh talent.

The truth is, Liam Fox hasn’t singled out who gets the sack and who doesn’t, it was the senior officers who are now hypocritically complaining about the cuts who made the choices.

I think we’re getting rid of the wrong people. We threw out all the useless politicians a year ago, now we must complete that process and throw out all the useless generals. All of them. I have no confidence they’ve learned what went wrong, and I’m more worried that the next level of top brass have all been selected and schooled in the same dysfunctional ways. We have institutionalised incompetence and as the present outbursts show, we reward in-fighting. Bin Laden probably died a happy man.

Defence Select Committee report on operations in Afghanistan

We’ve read over the last few years some pretty alarming reports in the press about the state of operations in Afghanistan, now we can read an authoritative report from Parliament which has had access to all the relevant papers and interviewed people involved at the highest level. It is a horrifying report.

The Select Committee writes:

“It is unacceptable that UK Forces were deployed in Helmand for three years from 2006 without the necessary personnel, equipment or intelligence to succeed in their mission, says the Defence Committee in its report on Operations in Afghanistan.”

“The Committee is disturbed by the fact that in 2006 the Secretary of State was being told that commanders on the ground were content with the support they were being given in Helmand when clearly they were not.”

Summary of the report

Index to the full report

Here are some further points about what the report says, distilled from an article in the Telegraph:

  • The key failing was to send too small a force into Helmand.
  • The report also criticises senior commanders for sending the task force into Helmand without a strategic reserve force – a move widely regarded as a fundamental and potentially catastrophic military mistake.
  • Troop numbers were capped at 3,150. Of those, around 650 combat troops were deployed into an area half the size of the UK; by contrast, in 2001 NATO had 30,000 personnel in Helmand.
  • The task force deployed with just five Chinooks (heavy-lift helicopters) and just over half the number of vehicles required. Defence chiefs told ministers they had enough helicopters in Helmand even though field commanders complained of shortages. It was deployed without a single vehicle capable of surviving a strike from a Russian anti-tank mine or larger IEDs.
  • The lack of armoured vehicles meant convoys could not safely travel the vast distances over which troops were spread without sustaining heavy casualties, and within weeks of their arrival, British troops were trapped in isolated locations and engaged in daily battles.
  • The 75-page report does not name officers but those in positions of authority at the time included Gen Sir Mike Walker, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Gen Sir Mike Jackson and Gen Sir Richard Dannatt.

The full article in the Telegraph

My own view is that none of this comes as a surprise. We read all about this as it was happening, but it still comes as a shock to see our worst suspicions confirmed and to see how little the reality on the ground affected those at the Ministry of Defence whose incompetence created the shambles in the first place, and whose only response seems to have been to tell lies and cover it all up. As the Telegraph observes, the report names no names, but the four four-star officers named above presided over a monumental military cock-up that has cost 370 lives and counting, and more than 2000 wounded.

Surely there has to be some accounting for their conduct? Just how incompetent do you have to be to lose out on another promotion? Just how negligent do you have to be to lose out on another appearance in the Honours List?  Just how many servicemen do you have to kill before you lose your job?

Dishonouring the Dead

Air Marshal Sir John Day and Air Chief Marshall Sir William Wratten should hang their heads in shame.

The respect in which our Service men and women are held by the public at large is quite remarkable. Royal Wootten Bassett earned the gratitude of the nation and its “Royal” title because of the touching acts of respect residents showed to the fallen returning from Afghanistan, whose hearses by chance used to pass through their quiet town. The contempt in which the Ministry of Defence is held is equally remarkable. The MOD is an institution which has under-performed in spectacular style and has displayed gross incompetence, deceitfulness, and petty bickering on a staggering scale. It deals in denial, cover-up and blame shifting.

In 1994, an RAF Chinook helicopter crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing the crew of four and all twenty five passengers. It was described as “the largest peace time tragedy that the Royal Air Force had suffered”. The cause of the crash could not be determined by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, nor by an RAF Board of Inquiry who did not find the pilots, Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, negligent. Nor was negligence found by the civilian Fatal Accident Enquiry. This was because there was no evidence that they were.

The RAF Manual of Flight Safety AP 3207 published by the Inspectorate of Flight Safety and in force at the time of the accident provided in paragraph 9 of Annex G to Chapter 8 that “only in cases in which there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever should deceased air crew be found negligent”.

This strict rule did not trouble the AOC 1 Group and the C-in-C Strike Command, both of whom were required to give a final review of the Board of Inquiry into the crash. Despite there being no facts to support him, AVM Day concluded that both pilots were negligent to a gross degree and ACM William Wratten agreed with him.

What is known is that the Chinook was a deeply troubled aircraft with a history of mysterious faults that would show up during flight but be untraceable on later inspection. A report two years previous to the crash had cast doubt on the airworthiness of the Chinook fleet. And a House of Lords Select Committee which also investigated the crash in 2002 covered all this in great depth and included this telling account in their report:

Witness A, who was a member of the Special Forces Flight with considerable experience of flying Chinooks operationally, had, at the time of the accident, experienced intermittent engine fail captions on a reasonably regular basis. He had subsequently experienced torque mismatches on an intermittent basis. Pilots were instructed that if the failed captions remained on for more than 12 seconds they were to be treated as though something was wrong with the engine but if they stayed on for less than that time they could be ignored. When a caption came on in flight one of the crew was directed to check engine instrumentation and the engine itself.

Witness A also had personal experience of UFCMs in Chinook Mk1s. In one case over a period of days an aircraft bounced vertically every time it was turned right. Repeated unsuccessful attempts were made to find the cause and the problem eventually disappeared of its own accord. In another case in daylight the lights came on to maximum intensity, dimmed to minimum and the hydraulic gauges cycled between zero and maximum. The pilot reported that the aircraft was becoming difficult to control and Witness A ordered him to land at the first available opportunity. The subsequent engineering investigation found no fault.

In answer to a question as to how much the unforeseen malfunctions occurring in the Chinook Mk2 since its introduction were a matter of discussion among helicopter pilots, he answered,

“They occupied our minds to a great degree, crew room talk was of little else at the time. The crews felt extremely uneasy about the way the aircraft had been introduced into service. This perception was reinforced by the lack of information contained in the aircrew manual, the poor state of repair of the flight reference cards and such like as well”

The full report can be read here.

In all these years the MOD have maintained the line that the crash was caused by the gross negligence of the pilots when there is no evidence whatsoever to support that line, and plenty of evidence to suggest a failure on the aircraft may have been the cause.

The MOD in this matter have displayed every aberrant behaviour that has earned it the contempt of the public, but Day and Wratten plumbed new depths in blaming two hapless pilots in order to deflect criticism from the MOD.

Defence Reform: A welcome report from Lord Levene

I have to say I am very impressed with the Defence Reform report produced by Lord Levene and his team. It can be downloaded and read in full here. It is a report that examines the way the MOD is managed, rather than the usual report that looks only at how many ships, tanks and planes we think we need. They have consulted with a commendably wide range of informed sources both within the MOD of course, but externally as well including with foreign defence departments, academics, think tanks, even trade unions, and also including some of the MOD’s staunchest critics.

However I have a few bones of contention with the report.

My first concern is the time scale over which they envisage reforms taking place. It is far too long. They recommend that a Defence Reform Steering Group should reconvene on an annual basis for the next three years. The urgency of the situation surely dictates that they should reconvene quarterly for the next twelve months. Potentially disastrous decisions are already being taken and more will be taken before the reforms are in place. The harm that is being done must be minimised so we need to end the old way of doing business and have the new model established as a matter of urgency. The most ambitious time scale must be adopted.

That leads me to my second concern.

There is deep and widespread criticism of the SDSR. This is a plan that has been put together by what most commentators agree is a dysfunctional organisation that has made catastrophically bad decisions all of which this report acknowledges. Why on earth is the discredited SDSR still being implemented? It is the product of bitter inter-Service rivalry and a lack of strategic thought. It must be halted immediately, and any decisions that irrevocably removes military capabilities must be reversed. Nothing should happen until the newly reformed MOD is up and running and can make its own decisions based on a rational appraisal of balanced military need. A new SDSR should be drawn up within a year of the reforms being completed.

My third concern is about money.

The drive for reform is made critical because of the calamitous mismanagement of the economy by Labour during their thirteen years in power. The country is broke, and Defence is broker if I can put it that way. The discovery of a ten billion pound black hole in the Defence budget merely adds to the sense of disgust. But it is not feasible for an organisation to build a new structure while burdened with the costs of the old. If the new structure is to be trimmed to suit what little is left in the budget, it is doomed to start off in a state of crisis from which it may never recover. This point was not addressed in the report, despite many recommendations that have cost implications. If the coalition government is serious about Defence, it needs to ensure it is viable. Colossal sums of money were made available at the drop of a hat to bail out the financial sector, something of far less importance. Defence only needs a fraction of that amount to help it get through this crisis and it should be given that bail-out.

Which leads to my fourth concern.

Punish the guilty. No one can read the litany of incompetence and downright deceitfulness that has characterised the Labour government in general and the management of the Ministry of Defence in particular and not be angry. Yet all those involved have gone on to receive honours and accolades when, with the example of the House of Commons expenses scandal fresh in our minds, some of them should be going to jail. I would like to see another team formed to investigate every decision and assess the culpability of all those involved. It is clear, even at a cursory examination, that the best interests of the country were not being served by those appointed to positions of trust. Subverting the Defence of the Realm must still be an offence whatever the motives and the guilty should be identified and prosecuted. At the very least, contracts must be cancelled where there has been improper conduct or they have been unlawfully signed.

£25 Billion Bail-out for Britain’s Military

The government announced a £500 billion bail-out for Britain’s banking system in October 2008, extended with a further £50 billion in January 2009.

We need to do something equally urgent and equally dramatic about our defence forces because they are in serious peril. We need a bail-out to give immediate relief from the demands for cutbacks, to cover the added expenditure of unplanned operations called for by the government, to halt the scrapping of vitally needed weapons systems, and especially, to stop the redundancies.

I know there isn’t an area of government where deep cuts are massively unpopular and often demonstrably harmful. I know that. Yet because of the disaster that was thirteen years of New Labour profligacy, coupled with crass incompetence, those deep cuts must be made and if anything, made deeper.

But defence is a special case because we’re at war right now and calling on the army, navy and air force to deliver above and beyond the call of duty on two fronts. They are already suffering the ill-effects of previous cutbacks and the catastrophic mismanagement at the Ministry of Defence over the last couple of decades. They can’t take it any more.

We were the nation that could launch an armada at 48 hours notice to sail eight thousand miles to the south Atlantic and liberate the Falkland Islands, and do that against an enemy operating close to their homeland, equipped with modern weapons and with ample time to prepare their defences. We were the nation that was second only to the military might of the USA when liberating Kuwait from Sadaam Hussein as a key player in a multi-national alliance. We are not that nation any more.

The shambles of procurement means that new weapon systems are delivered late and massively over budget. Some are only run to completion because the cost of cancellation was prohibitively high thanks to penalty clauses. Who was in charge when such contracts were signed? How was this allowed to happen? Other contacts, presumably without penalties to protect them, are cancelled leaving us without vital operational capability.

I applaud those senior officers who are now speaking out about the strain the operations over Libya in particular are causing, on top of the climate of cutbacks and uncertainties in general.

Here is a very depressing speech given by Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham (retired). It’s depressing because it confirms from first-hand knowledge what we have suspected all along. Here’s one point he makes: “We are used to the comforting and rather romantic thought that our forces are world class, and that we are military leaders in Europe. I believe this is no longer the case. As just one piece of evidence the French, now indubitably the leading European military power, have flown three times as many sorties in Libya as the RAF.” And even that level is unsustainable.

There may be hope on the horizon if Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary can bring about the degree of organisational restructuring that is needed, here’s his business plan.

We must also hope that The Defence Reform Unit under Lord Levene will also propose meaningful reforms. Unfortunately, it’s not clear who they are taking their advice from and there is very little to be discovered in the public domain, here’s an introduction on the MoD web site.

Clearly they must have a period of open consultation where experienced and reform-minded individuals can tell them in no uncertain terms what is needed, otherwise they’ll only get their input from the vested interests who are already in the MoD. I can’t see anywhere that says they will do this, and they are due to report by the end of July – in a few weeks time – so someone needs to rattle their cage. Here’s my shortlist of who they ought to invite to talk to them: Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Beverley, Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, Major General Sir Patrick Cordingley, Major General Julian Thompson, Air Commodore Andrew Lambert, Colonel Tim Collins, Commander John Muxworthy, Antony Hitchens, Allen Sykes, Andy Smith.

We must have serious reforms in place to justify the bail-out. We must have that bail-out.

How to build a ship: The State does it, or Private Enterprise does it

Way back in 1998, the Ministry of Defence decided it needed new aircraft carriers and announced a competition amongst defence contractors. In 2003, they announced a winner, and in 2007 they signed a contract worth £3.9 billion for two vessels. As of mid-2011 they are expected to cost £5 billion (widely regarded as a gross underestimate) and the first carrier will not enter service until 2020. It will not have any aircraft. When the second carrier is ready for service, the first will be sold or moth-balled. The carriers will be 932 feet long, and will displace 65,600 metric tons.

Five days ago, the US Navy announced the name of a new aircraft carrier it was building, the USS John F Kennedy. Construction had already begun in early 2011 and it is to enter service in 2018. It will be longer (1092 feet) and heavier (101,600 tons displacement) than the Royal Navy carriers, will carry 75 aircraft, and cost an estimated $10.2 billion. The US Navy currently has eleven carriers.

Today, P&O Cruises announced they are to build a new luxury cruise liner. It too will be longer (1082 feet) and substantially heavier (154,407 tons gross) than the Royal Navy carriers, will carry the same number of aircraft as HMS Queen Elizabeth (ie none), will be in service in 2015, and will cost £500 million.

So private enterprise can build a bigger, better ship at a fraction of the price and have it at sea sooner. If we had given P&O the job at the outset we’d have two carriers off Libya right now making a useful contribution to our campaign, and have a lot more money in the coffers.

The Royal Navy's new luxury cruise liner

One of Our Aircraft is Over-Budget, or, the Modern Ministry of Defence

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is a work of genius. His description of the absurdities of petty military bureaucracy are devastatingly accurate and despite the humour, frightening, because anyone who’s been in the forces knows it’s all too real. When you combine it with the Peter Principle that tells us everyone rises to their level of incompetence, we begin to get a picture of what life must be like at the highest levels of the Ministry of Defence.

For most of its time in office, the Labour government appointed ministers of breathtaking incompetence to run the department. They in turn favoured admirals, generals, and air marshals who spoke the same language, that is, when they spoke at all. How else do we explain the shambles that we have today, with front-line troops fighting a hot war while badly equipped and about to bear the brunt of the economic cutbacks? Our military capability is tiny and becoming miniscule.

I would like to imagine how a conversation might have gone between Wing Commander Guy Gibson and whoever his boss was following the successful Dam Buster mission. I say “whoever his boss was” because I’m certain ‘Bomber’ Harris would never have survived in the kind of climate we have in the modern Ministry of Defence.

I think it would have gone something like this:

HQ: Gibson, HQ here, do you hear me, Old Boy? Over.

Gibson: Loud and clear, HQ, over.

HQ: Good show on the dams. Pass on our congratulations to your crew.

Gibson: Thank you Sir, they will appreciate that.

HQ: Now, here’s the thing, Gibson. Now that there are no dams to attack, we’re rather over-manned in the dam-busting role.

Gibson: I see Sir.

HQ: So what we need you to do is find the nearest airfield, and land your plane there.

Gibson: But they’re all enemy-held airfields over here Sir.

HQ: Well that’ll be more mouths for them to feed, eh? Ha ha.

Gibson: But don’t you want us to come back Sir?

HQ: No. Do not come back Gibson, we don’t need you any more.

Gibson: But we could re-train Sir?

HQ: Not on Old Boy, we got rid of training in the last round of cutbacks.

Gibson: There must be something we could do Sir, they might rebuild the dams or something?

HQ: No, we’ve thought about that, they won’t and there’s no point maintaining capabilities we don’t need. There is a war on, you know.

Gibson: But what do I tell my crew?

HQ: Tell them these are difficult times for the economy and we must all share the pain.

Gibson: Can’t we make some economies at HQ instead Sir? Cut back on some of the back office staff?

HQ: Really, Gibson, I’m surprised at you. We at HQ are going to have to work much harder to manage the same number of operations with fewer front-line staff. I myself am having to accept a pay rise to reflect the added responsibility. I don’t want it, but we don’t all get what we want in these situations, Gibson, and don’t you forget it.

Gibson: I’m sorry Sir, I don’t know what came over me.

HQ: So just go ahead and land your plane, and hand yourselves over to the enemy, there’s a good chap.

Gibson: As you wish, Sir.

HQ: And with any luck, you’ll have that plane paid-off by the time the war’s over.

Gibson: Excuse me, Sir?

HQ: Well, we’ll deduct the least amount we can from your wages, but you’ll have to pay for the plane you’re not bringing back.

Gibson: But it’s not my choice not to bring it back, you’ve ordered me not to!

HQ: We can’t make an exception for you, Gibson, or there would be no incentive for the other crews to bring their planes back.

Gibson: They don’t need an incentive to bring their planes back, Sir, they will do anything they can to defend their country.

HQ: Now Gibson, that’s just silly talk. Do you think we at HQ would put in the hours that we do, working until almost gone 5 o’clock, the endless committee meetings – with no biscuits I might add, all those important papers to read, if we weren’t incentivised? Reports don’t just write themselves, you know. Everyone needs incentives.

Gibson: But the Nazis don’t.

HQ: Exactly, do you want us to all end up like them? That’s what this war is all about and that’s why we need incentives.

Gibson: Very well Sir, I’ll crash-land the plane forthwith.

HQ: Good show, Gibson.

Gibson: Thank you, Sir.

HQ: By the way, Gibson.

Gibson: Yes, Sir?

HQ: We’re going to award you a Victoria Cross.

Gibson: That’s very kind of you, Sir.

HQ: It’s the least we can do. I’ll deduct the cost from your salary of course, but would you like it presented by the King?

Gibson: How much extra would that be, Sir?

HQ: Now you’re getting the idea, Gibson.