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General Sir Mike Jackson

There are those who see Mike Jackson as a vain cowardly government man. Such views may be untrue but history will be the judge. Some argue he lacks bottle – others believe he dabbles in ‘Inquisition torture games’. Perhaps he is all things to all men. Personally, I wish he would do more to enhance the basic kit and pay of our troops.

Professional head of the British Army
Shock, Horror and General Mike Jackson
Army Board Para recalled to Bloody Sunday Inquiry
See also

Mike JacksonGeneral Sir Michael "Mike" Jackson, GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen (born 21 March 1944) is a British army officer, currently Chief of the General Staff. He was formerly commander of KFor in Kosovo as well as UNPROFOR  commander in Bosnia.

Jackson's father was in the army. Jackson was a cadet at Stamford School CCF, in 1961 he went to the University of Birmingham. Jackson was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps aged 19 in 1963, specialising in the threat from the Soviet Union. He transferred to the Parachute Regiment in 1970 and was serving in Northern Ireland when the regiment was involved in the infamous Bloody Sunday (1972). He spent two years as Chief of Staff of the Berlin Infantry Brigade, then commanding a parachute company in Northern Ireland, later rising to become the commanding officer of 1 Para from March 1984 to September 1986.

In the 1990s, Jackson served in the NATO chain of command as a deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark. In this capacity, he is best known for refusing to block the runways of the Russian-occupied Pristina Airport, to isolate the Russian troops there.

Had he complied with General Clark's order, there was a chance the British troops under his command could have come into armed conflict with the Russians; doing this without prior orders from Britain would have led to his dismissal for gross insubordination. On the other hand, defying Clark would have meant disobeying a direct order from a superior NATO officer (Clark was a four-star general; Jackson only a three-star). Jackson ultimately chose the latter course of action, reputedly saying "I won´t start World War III for you!", though the point became irrelevant when the American government prevailed upon the Hungarians, Romanians, and Bulgarians to prevent the Russians from using their airspace to fly reinforcements in. As a result, he was dubbed "Macho Jacko" by the British tabloid press. Among his own troops and the British press, however, Jackson had a reputation for being gaunt, severe, and prone to anger, earning him the nicknames "Darth Vader" and "Prince of Darkness".

During the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War, Jackson, as Chief of the General Staff, ordered an inquiry into pictures released by the British tabloid The Daily Mirror that depicted alleged torture of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers. The Daily Mirror's editor Piers Morgan was later fired by the newspaper, after the pictures were shown to be a hoax.

On February 23, 2005, soldiers of 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, were found guilty of abuse of Iraqi prisoners arrested for looting at an army camp called Bread Basket, in Basra, during May of 2003. After they were sentenced General Jackson, made a statement on television and said that: he was "appalled and disappointed" when he first saw photographs of the Iraqi detainees and that the incidents depicted are in direct contradiction to the core values and standards of the British Army ... Nevertheless, in the light of the evidence from this trial I do apologize on behalf of the army to those Iraqis who were abused and to the people of Iraq as a whole.

In March 2006 in the aftermath of British Christian peace campaigner Norman Kember's freeing from kidnappers after four months by a multinational armed force Jackson attracted condemnation when he, barely twenty four hours after Kember's liberation, attacked the hostage's lack of gratitude for the solidier's efforts in freeing him. Jackson claimed he was "saddened that there doesn’t seem to have been a note of gratitude for the soldiers who risked their lives to save those lives", and in doing so created a media scrum demanding Kember's apology.

Jackson had bags under his eyes surgically removed. He refuses to be photographed in a suit, preferring military uniform instead, with the famous red beret of the Parachute Regiment.


Professional head of the British Army.
As as 2006-03-29

Chief of the General Staff
General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen

General Sir Mike Jackson was born in 1944, and was educated at Stamford School, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Birmingham University. Commissioned from Sandhurst into the Intelligence Corps in December 1963, he studied for an in-service degree in Russian Studies from 1964 to 1967. After graduating, he spent 2 years on secondment to the Parachute Regiment and subsequently transferred from the Intelligence Corps in 1970. During the early 70s he served in Northern Ireland, and with the TA in Scotland.

He attended the Staff College in 1976, after which he spent 2 years as the Chief of Staff of the Berlin Infantry Brigade. He then commanded a parachute company for 2 years, once more in Northern Ireland.

After a 6 month course at the National Defence College at Latimer in 1981, he joined the Directing Staff at the Staff College. His two and a half year tour at Camberley included a 10 week attachment to the Ministry of Defence during the Falklands conflict.

He commanded 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment from March 1984 to September 1986. Throughout his period of command the Battalion was part of the NATO Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land), a role which included 3 winters spent in Norway on arctic training.
For just over 2 years, until the end of 1988, he was the Senior Directing Staff (Army) at the Joint Service Defence College, Greenwich. Following the Higher Command and Staff Course at Camberley in early 1989, he then spent 6 months on a Service Fellowship at Cambridge writing a paper on the future of the British Army.

He moved back to Northern Ireland in late 1989 to command 39 Infantry Brigade for two and a half years. 1992 and 1993 were spent in the Ministry of Defence as Director General Personnel Services (Army. He commanded the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division from March 1994 to July 1996. In August 1995 he was selected to assume command of UNPROFOR in Bosnia at the end of that year; in the event, after the success of the Dayton talks, he spent the first half of 1996 in Bosnia commanding IFOR's Multinational Division South West. He assumed the appointment of Commander ACE Rapid Reaction Corps in the rank of Lieutenant General in February 1997, following a brief assignment as Director General Development and Doctrine.

He deployed with ARRC HQ as Commander Kosovo Force to Macedonia in March 1999 and subsequently commanded Kosovo Force in Pristina from June to October 1999. He assumed the appointment of Commander in Chief Land Command on 1 March 2000.

General Sir Mike Jackson was awarded the MBE in 1979, the CBE in 1992, the CB in 1996, the KCB in 1998, the DSO in 1999 and ADC Gen in 2001. He is married to Sarah, and has 2 sons, a daughter and three grandchildren. His interests include music, reading, travel, skiing and tennis.

Shock, Horror and General Mike Jackson
30 April 2004

The British Ministry of Defence was said to be shocked and horrified tonight when it emerged that photographs, apparently showing British Troops torturing Iraqi prisoners, had been obtained by the Daily Mirror. According to the BBC, "The UK's most senior soldier, General Sir Mike Jackson, said if guilty, the men were not fit to wear the uniform." The controversary follows publication of similar pictures where US soldiers were photographed humiliating and sexually abusing other detainees.

General Mike Jackson has gone on record that the men, if guilty, are not fit to wear the uniform. Except of course if they are guilty of murder when he decided that the killers of Peter Mc Bride were fit to wear the uniform. General Mike Jackson has a long track record when it comes to the Irish. On Bloody Sunday he was on duty on Rossville St. Curiously he had difficulty recalling any soldiers actually firing their weapons.

Army Board Para recalled to Bloody Sunday Inquiry
15 October 2003

The most senior officer in the British Army, General Mike Jackson, will give evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry today (Wednesday) following claims that new evidence has come to light which suggest that he played a more significant role on the day that he had previously admitted to.

More recently Jackson was the most senior British Army officer sitting on the Army Board which ruled that the two soldiers convicted of the murder of 18 year old Peter Mc Bride were fit to continue serving in the British Army. The Mc Bride family have long argued that a senior officer who was present in Derry on Bloody Sunday was a totally inappropriate individual to sit on an Army Board which was deciding the fate of two soldiers convicted of the murder of Peter Mc Bride.

General Mike Jackson was the officer in command of British forces during the Iraq war and the information below was first posted at the beginning of the war earlier this year.

According to Jackson's written statement to the Bloody Sunday Tribunal:

He attended Sandhurst Military Academy in 1962/63 and joined the Intelligence Corps in 1963. Later he was seconded to the Parachute Regiment which he then joined on a permanent basis in late 1970. Jackson was then posted to the notorious Palace Barracks in Holywood Co Down, centre of numerous allegations of torture of internees after the introduction of internment in August 1971. Jackson took over as Adjutant of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in the Spring/Summer of 1971.

According to the Sunday Times of 17 October 1971,

Internees were "…flown by helicopter to an unknown destination - in fact, Palace Barracks. During the period of their interrogation, they were continuously hooded, barefoot, dressed only in an over large boiler suit, and spreadeagled against a wall-leaning on their fingertips like the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle. The only sound that filled the room was a high pitched throb, which the detainees usually liken to an air compressor. The noise literally drove them out of their minds…"

The Sunday Times went on to claim that the "interrogation at Palace Barracks was organised, as far as we were able to ascertain, by men from the Joint Services Interrogation Centre. The actual questioning appears to have been carried out by members of the RUC Special Branch."

On October 24 1971 the Sunday Times carried a further story on the allegations that torture was widespread at Palace Barracks. The story claimed the "British Army's involvement seems to go beyond simply being the centre's landlord." Soldiers were involved in the actual torture of detainees according to witnesses. In response 425 Catholic priests, 80% of the clergy working in the North, released an unprecedented statement condemning the "brutality, physical and mental torture and psychological pressures inflicted on men" arrested during the internment swoops. The priests went on to single out the "barbarities…still being inflicted on innocent people…at Palace Military Barracks, Holywood…"

In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the so-called five techniques used in interrogation, usually by RUC Special Branch officers trained by the British Army, constituted inhumane and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3. There is no evidence to suggest that Mike Jackson was involved in the torture practised at Palace Barracks. He was a senior officer there at the time the torture occurred.

Bloody Sunday
On January 30 1972, Bloody Sunday, Jackson describes his own role as that of a 'gofer' for the Para commander on the ground, Lt Col Derek Wilford. "I was one of the group of people around Derek Wilford and that is where my memory properly kicks in." Jackson describes moving into Rossville St and having the impression of "coming under fire." In his statement to the present inquiry Jackson claims that the Support Company "had become involved in a firefight."

 He adds, "I have absolutely no reason to suppose that any of 1PARA would have been using their weapons had there not been incoming rounds." Extraordinarily Jackson maintains that, though surrounded by soldiers apparently coming under fire, he "… did not see any soldiers firing their weapons."

Following the murder of 14 men and boys and the attempted murder of many more Jackson admits that he would have been "involved in the administration of the statement taking exercise." In anticipation of the overwhelming evidence that there was then a cover-up Jackson states that, "…there is absolutely no question of briefing soldiers as to what they should say. Such a suggestion is absolutely outrageous." Indeed.

Within hours of Bloody Sunday the British Army put out a statement claiming that a number of the victims were on the wanted list, others had been carrying weapons while yet others had nail bombs. General Sir Mike Jackson, Commander of British forces in the Gulf, was the Unit Press Officer in Derry that day though the statement was released at a more senior level within the chain of command.

Official documents supplied to the Tribunal quote Jackson as describing the Parachute Regiment's activities on the day as 'first rate'. Other comments attributed to Jackson that suggest that the Paras should go in "hard and ready" and "inflict casualties" give a "misleading impression" according to his recent statement. Jackson's recollections of the events of Bloody Sunday will come under close scrutiny when he gives evidence to the Saville Tribunal.

See also

The Deepcut tragedy
Another Scottish Elegy
The British Army in Scotland
Naivety at Osnabruck Courts Martial
Fate of the Scottish regiments