Podcasts & Specials

Getting UK arms to Ukraine

22/02/2024

Award winning Sitrep brings you discussion and analysis on defence, foreign policy and the stories affecting the British Forces.  

Presented by Kate Gerbeau, with expert analysis from Professor Michael Clarke.

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Britain has spent seven billion pounds over the last two years, equipping Ukraine’s armed forces to help keep them in the fight against Russia.

On the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion Sitrep talks to Major General Anna-Lee Reilly and Andy Start from Defence Equipment and Support about how that’s been done, and what lies ahead.

Denmark’s decided to give its entire artillery stock to Ukraine and appealed to others to do the same. Professor Michael Clarke explains the pros and cons.

And thousands of people are asking the government to rethink its New Accommodation Offer for the forces. Sitrep explains the plan to “modernise eligibility” for service family accommodation, and why there are losers as well as winners.

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EXTRA – Can we rely on the Trident nuclear deterrent?

22/02/2024
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For the second time in a row a Royal Navy test firing of an unarmed Trident missile has ended in failure.

The government says it was an “anomaly” and that it has “absolute confidence” in the nuclear deterrent, but it hasn’t explained why the missile failed.

It’s called the ultimate insurance policy, but can it still deter Russia after two very public failures?

Professor Michael Clarke explains what could have gone wrong, why the government insists we can have confidence, and whether it’s just an embarrassment or a serious worry.

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Trump-proofing Europe – could it win a war without US help?

15/02/2024
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Donald Trump’s talk of telling President Putin to “do whatever the hell he wants” to NATO allies who “don’t pay” has been called unhinged, but he could be President again.


So Sitrep examines if Europe could defend itself against Russia without American support, if it really came to that.  


Professor Michael Clarke and Simon Newton explain how European military capability compares to Russia’s and former NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller gives an alliance insider's view.


Also on Sitrep we’re at Marchwood sea loading centre as hundreds of British military vehicles head to NATO’s biggest exercise in decades.


And the former climate-change champion for defence, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, talks us through the practicalities of getting militaries to do more for the environment.


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Inside the secret world of Defence Intelligence

08/02/2024
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Sitrep gets unprecedented access to the heart of the UK’s military spying operation. 


Sian Grzeszczyk tells all, including the crashed Russian drones being disassembled by Defence Intelligence, how its analysts uncovered an arms-for-horses deal between Moscow and North Korea, and why it really does all look like a James Bond lair.


As MP’s say we must choose between more money for the forces or limiting their workload, former National Security Adviser Lord Ricketts tells Sitrep training foreign forces and Cyprus peacekeeping could be cut to concentrate on better warfighting capability. 


And we meet Turbo, the RAF’s new Typhoon display pilot, to talk negative-G, slow passes, and wowing the crowds.


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Could National Service fix the forces recruitment crisis?

01/02/2024
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Boris Johnson has called for the UK to bring back National Service. Sweden did just that seven years ago to solve its military recruitment crisis, and Germany’s looking at the idea.

Sitrep talks to Swedish defence expert Elisabeth Braw and former Welsh Guards officer Nicholas Drummond about whether it’s the answer for the UK’s depleted Armed Forces.

Iran’s ‘axis of resistance’ has carried out regular strikes against US forces in the middle east for months now. Sitrep explains who these militias are, and why Iran is helping them.

And as President Putin visits the small isolated Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Mark Galeotti explains why some think it could be the place where war with NATO begins.


 

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What is Strategic Command?

29/01/2024
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Strategic command, like the three single services, is deemed important enough to our defence to merit its own Chief of Staff.

General Sir James Hockenhull tells Sitrep about the organisation that he leads and its mission to help the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force be the best they can be.

From medical services to digital networks, cyber to intelligence, Strategic Command provides joint capabilities for all of the services, and is also tasked with developing new ones.

General Hockenhull talks to Sian Grzeszczyk about briefing the Prime Minister at the moment war began in Ukraine, why he sees himself as an accidental general, and why he chose not to apply for the very top job in Britain’s armed forces.

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The £25m minehunter mishap

25/01/2024
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Tens of thousands of people around the world have seen the moment one Royal Navy minehunter reversed into another in Bahrain, doing millions of pounds worth of damage.

Former Royal Navy Commodore Alistair Halliday talks us through the range of technical and human factors which could explain why HMS Chiddingfold went backwards instead of ahead.

The Chief of General Staff wants the UK to train up a “citizen army” to be ready for war. Mike explains why this doesn’t have to mean conscription, and former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith gives us his reaction.

And are killer robots an inevitability in the future of war? Someone who’s helped shape UK policy on autonomous weapons tells us why he’s written a novel to warn about the risks of science-fiction becoming lethal-fact.

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EXTRA – Sir Iain Duncan Smith on China, conscription and his own time in the Army.

25/01/2024
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Sir Iain Duncan Smith has been a Conservative MP for more than 30 years, and led his party from 2001 to 2003.

In parliament he’s a vocal contributor on defence, security, and international issues. 

His criticism of China’s government is so vocal the country has placed sanctions against him and his family.

He tells Sitrep why he believes China is a threat to the UK, not just a ‘challenge’ as it is officially deemed, how his military service shaped his political ambitions, and whether he’d join the “too small” armed forces of today.

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A new world order

18/01/2024
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The Defence Secretary warns of tough times ahead...we look at those warnings but also hear from another of Britain’s most senior military chiefs who has a more hopeful message. The Head of Stratcom rarely speaks to the media, but we hear his take on the state of the world.

Also on Sitrep Is diplomacy still a thing? Does it achieve anything? We speak to a former Army Officer who’s worked as a defence attaché representing the UK in 25 countries.

And what do the Houthis actually have in their arsenal?....plenty, according to an expert on the group that’s still causing chaos in the Red Sea.

 

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New questions about the future of the Royal Marines.

11/01/2024
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The First Sea Lord has been asked for a plan to “take forward” the work of the Royal Marines, as ministers effectively confirm they’re again reconsidering the future of the corps’ two amphibious assault ships.

Professor Michael Clarke explains what’s going on, and former Royal Marines Commandant General, Major General Buster Howes, tells Sitrep the Defence Secretary needs to think “very very carefully”.

The Defence Secretary tells the world “watch this space” for possible reprisal strikes against Houthis firing missiles at the Red Sea. British Sailors are already on constant watch there, and former Royal Navy commander Tom Sharpe explains what they experience when missiles and drones are incoming.

And how do you learn to command a multi-million pound military craft in an environment less explored than space? Ryan Ramsay who used to lead the Royal Navy’s submarine command course shares stories of near misses, pushing people beyond their limits, and how he’s turned it all into life lessons for a new book.

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EXTRA - Life lessons from ‘The Perisher’ submarine command course.

11/01/2024
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Under the sea, in charge of a multi-million pound boat, and the safety of your crew, there is a lot that can go very wrong.

Ryan Ramsay has lived it all, then trained his successors both in how to avoid those disasters, and to cope if they do strike.

In his new book ‘A View From Below’ he shares the inside story how submarine captains are trained, the impossible scenarios they’re faced with in a real sub, and stories of simulated emergency suddenly becoming the real thing.

He tells Kate Gerbeau why he turned those experiences into life-lessons that we can all use, what he learned from his most perilous moment in command of HMS Turbulent, and whether any of it helps him on the football pitch while refereeing.

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The Sitrep Crystal Ball 2024

21/12/2023
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Could more British troops be sent to Eastern Europe, or as peacekeepers in the Middle East? Will Donald Trump return to the White House, and would it guarantee defeat for Ukraine? And where in the world might the next war break out?

Kate Gerbeau and Professor Michael Clarke take on the big questions about what’s in store for our defence and security in 2024.

They hear from the UK’s top military officers, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, General Sir Patrick Sanders, Admiral Sir Ben Key and Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton, who tell us what they’ll be working on in 2024.

And some of Sitrep’s expert guests from the last year share their thoughts to help explain what might happen in the next 12 months.

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To beard or not to beard? The Army’s big question.

14/12/2023
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The Defence Secretary has called the Army’s ban on beards for most soldiers “ridiculous and outdated”, as the Chief of General Staff reviews the rules.

Kate and Mike are joined by former Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General James Swift, to discuss whether facial hair really matters to recruitment, discipline and operational effectiveness.

The next head of the Army has been named as General Sir Roly Walker, so Sitrep takes a look through his CV to see what experience he brings, and explains the challenges he’s taking on.

And we go into The Valley of Death with the Welsh Cavalry, on a unique desert exercise where unseen controllers keep changing the game to push troops to their very limits.

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The UK increases its Middle East military presence – what can it do?

07/12/2023
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HMS Diamond has been sent to the Red Sea after missile and drone attacks against British owned cargo vessels, and RAF spy-planes have been deployed to search for hostages held in Gaza.

Professor Michael Clarke and former Royal Navy commander Tom Sharpe explain what these assets and personnel can achieve, the limitations & risks of their missions, and the possibility of more UK military capability joining them.

Sitrep also looks at another big deployment much closer to home, a new Royal Navy task group trying to protect critical undersea power and data cables, alongside European allies.

And does military history repeat itself, or just rhyme? Kate talks to military historian Lucy Betteridge-Dyson, General Sir Mike Jackson and General Lord Richards about how the study of past conflicts shapes the wars of today.

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What does Ukraine need to win the war?

30/11/2023
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Sitrep’s Simon Newton has just returned from Ukraine - he reports for Sitrep from a drone testing centre where new models are trialled before being used in combat.

Sitrep also hears from the former Champion Boxer, and now Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, on his country’s will to resist.

Also on Sitrep, as tensions remain high in the Middle East, Britain deploys a Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond to the Gulf and America sends the USS Eisenhower through the Strait of Hormuz. 

Sitrep looks at how Aircraft carriers are used to deploy both hard and soft power and hears from the Commanding Officer of the UK’s biggest warship HMS Prince of Wales.

  


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Can Ukraine avoid being trapped in a frozen war?

23/11/2023
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As winter sweeps across Ukraine the ideal window for its counter-offensive is now closed, with seemingly minimal gains from five months of hard fighting.

 So what happens next? Sitrep assesses whether Ukraine has another chance for a significant fightback next year, and if so how it could do that.

Professor Michael Clarke, Ukrainian researcher Mariia Zolkina, and former infantry officer Ed Arnold discuss the military options, and we hear from Kyiv about the mood there.

And we get an insight into one of Britain’s newest military units, the National Cyber Force, from Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes who oversees their defensive and offensive operations.


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EXTRA – The National Cyber Force explained

23/11/2023
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Cyber-warfare was is no longer simply science-fiction, it is now a military fact that hits hard.

 Military communications, power systems and nuclear processing plants have all been taken offline in recent years by purely digital attacks.

 The UK’s capability for this domain sits in the National Cyber Force, created three years ago as part of Strategic Command, bringing together military and intelligence teams for both defensive and offensive cyber operations.

 Kate Gerbeau talks to Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes, the Deputy Commander of Stratcom, about the cyber threats the UK faces and how the force is tackling them.

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Up close with Ajax

16/11/2023
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The Army’s future is built around the new Ajax armoured fighting vehicle. After years of delays, faults, and even injuries to troops, ministers say the Ajax programme is now ‘in recovery’.

We take a look for ourselves, from the production line to training on Salisbury plain and hear from soldiers using the first of the vehicles.

Another cold-war treaty has collapsed. It aimed to prevent surprise attacks by limiting Russia and NATO’s options for massing their military might. We assess whether NATO will take advantage of the extra flexibility it’s just got.

Plus the British Army’s former top legal adviser in Iraq talks us through the laws of war, and how the big questions he faced in Basra 20 years ago are mirrored in Gaza right now.

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EXTRA – The laws of war explained

16/11/2023
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Every single country in the UN is signed up to the same laws of war, but Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is reminding us interpretations of those laws often differ.

In this extra Sitrep podcast Kate Gerbeau talks to Rev. Nicholas Mercer, who was the British Army’s top legal adviser in Iraq 20 years ago.

He explains the key principles that govern the legality of military action, how he applied them in the midst of battle, and how the Israel Gaza war mirrors many of the difficult decisions he faced in Basra.

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How Napoleon changed warfare forever

09/11/2023
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He’s been called a strategic and tactical genius – but he also abandoned tens of thousands of his soldiers to their deaths.

Sitrep goes behind the Hollywood gloss of the new Napoleon film to assess his true military legacy, and Professor Michael Clarke explains how Napoleonic innovations are still used in wars today.

Japan is on a massive military spending spree aiming to become the worlds 3rd largest military budget. We assess what military capability it has, and what it needs to face down China and North Korea.

Ukraine’s Commander in Chief has declared the war in his country at stalemate. But why, and what does it tell us about tensions at the top in Kyiv. Simon Newton explains all.

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EXTRA – Japan’s big military ambitions

09/11/2023
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Japan is one of the world’s third biggest economic power, but until now its military power has come nowhere close to matching that.

That’s changing though, with a 5-year defence-spending spree to include new counter-strike capabilities which will enable Japan to fire on enemy land for the first time since World War Two.

Kate Gerbeau talks to the author of ‘Japan as a Global Military Power’, Dr Chris Hughes, about how capable Japan’s forces already are, what the extra spending will add, and why Britain is key to Tokyo’s plan for greater military might.

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