Surgeon Rear Admiral Ralph Curr, Royal Navy (Ret’d)
Ralph Curr studied Medicine and joined the Royal Navy in 1969 where he worked as a GP running Families Practices in Gibraltar and Hong Kong. His main interest was teaching young doctors and he is still involved with NHS medical politics. His Military Career took him back to sea with the amphibious ships and what proved to be a very useful exposure to the Royal Marines. His final appointment was as the head of the Naval Medical Service in the rank of Surgeon Rear Admiral. Ralph was responsible for preparing all the medical support for the second Gulf War including fitting out the Hospital Ship support Facility.
Always a man to enjoy debate and a keen writer of Defence articles he became a Founder Member of the United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA) and one time Director. During the last General Election he was President of the SW District of UKNDA and with no funding run a very successful campaign, seen as a model way of doing business. DefenceSynergia provides a further opportunity to lobby and work with influential people in Defence and at the same time help to improve the welfare and rehabilitation of injured Service personnel. Other minor directorships, running a Sea Cadet unit and a local Church gives him much need intellectual challenges and he still works as a part time GP.
Captain John Marshall, Royal Navy (Ret’d)
Since transferring from the Active to Retired lists of the Royal Navy, John Marshall has maintained an active interest in defence and security matters. With his nuclear engineering background and a wide variety of appointments including Moscow, the Ministry of Defence and in command of the Royal Naval Engineering College, he is in a strong position to judge whether the United Kingdom’s defence and security measures are being properly addressed and implemented by government.
Not wanting to see cataclysmic mistakes in armed forces’ preparedness repeated, John is a strong advocate of an integrated approach to foreign policy and the military might underpinning it. The United Kingdom does not rank as a wealthy superpower, yet must make a proper contribution to ensuring her survival in an era of multiple, serious and developing threats.
Professor (Dr.) Paul Medhurst
Paul Medhurst served for twenty-eight years in various bodies on four continents, including: the Surrey Police; London Metropolitan Police; The Queen’s Regiment (V); RMP (V) and the United Nations (Security Services; Peacekeeping Forces; Institute for Training & Research; Office for Drugs and Crime; International Atomic Energy Agency and the Swedish Armed Forces Centre / UN Police). He is currently a Full Professor at The American Military University, his fortes being: Counter-Intelligence, Covert Action, Subversion and Anti-Terrorism. Medhurst is also a Special Advisor for Counter-Intelligence at InterPortPolice.
He has a knowledge of languages; experience of war, terrorists, Warsaw Pact Intelligence, negotiating hostage-release, surveillance and sensitive-vetting. Decorations include the International Peace Prize medal (awarded by the Nobel Committee to UN Peacekeepers in 1988).
Medhurst is motivated by steadily-eroding defence budgets, which cannot be adequately reconciled with present, growing and potential threats at home and overseas.
Mr M A Parnell
Commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1973 Mike was awarded a university cadetship for a BSc in aeronautical engineering before qualifying as a navigator and fighter controller. Following tours flying Airborne Early Warning and Control missions he qualified as a flight trials specialist serving in R&D appointments for the Nimrod AEW3 and E-3D Sentry aircraft. On leaving RAF service, Mike joined the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) as a research engineer and Programme Manager providing procurement support to a range of Land, Sea and Air platforms. He entered commercial life in 2001 to work as a professional Programme Manager delivering complex technology and business change programmes in regulated and controlled environments.
Mr Christopher Samuel
Christopher has a Naval and Defence Industry background. In recent years he has been involved in the growth of a coherent UK National Security & Resilience and Defence environment. Christopher is a former Associate Fellow in the National Security & Resilience department of The Royal United Services Institute, RUSI.
His interest in DefenceSynergia is to promote a better public understanding and provision of the ‘capabilities’ that the Armed Forces, Blue Light, Critical National Infrastructure and others that can and are contributing to the national prosperity. The threats to the UK will only be countered if all Government and Civil capabilities are integrated and this entails the understanding of the challenges by all and partnerships and dialogue breaking down the existing ‘stovepipe’ organizations. This can be done through leadership, organisational restructure, persistence, common sense and public demand.
Mr Ben Sharp
Ben is the Managing Director of a Marine Chartering and Operations company based in the UK.
He was educated at St Lawrence College Ramsgate, Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth and subsequently the Royal Naval Engineering College Manadon. In the Royal Navy he served in Submarines as a Weapons Engineering Officer. From the Royal Navy Ben entered the world of commercial shipping and subsequently held senior appointments in London and Hong Kong.
Ben believes that DefenceSynergia can play a constructive role in the ongoing discussion and debate, relating to the provision of the Defence of the United Kingdom.
Squadron Leader David Tisdale, RAF (Ret’d)
Dave is what the British military colloquially calls ‘a scaly brat’ – the offspring of a serving soldier. Which accounts for why nearly 6 years of his formative schooling between the age of 5 and 15 was spent in the army education system in Singapore.
He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) Supply Trade as an apprentice at the age of 16 and with the exception of a two year gap in service working in industry (and as a part time trade union representative), he served for 25 years. In the process he returned to the Far East for jungle training, undertook military courses in parachuting, fuels, tactical supply and procurement and became a specialist planner in Expeditionary Logistics.
Dave saw service in Northern Ireland (3 tours), Norway, Germany, USA, South Atlantic (Ascension Island), Cyprus (3 times) and Bosnia (the last two involving secondments to the United Nations) and helped plan humanitarian operations in the Middle East. During his 25 years service Dave spent 10 as an airman and 15 as an officer. He commanded two squadrons, one as second in command of a joint Army/RAF unit in Cyprus and held planning and logistic posts with the UN in Bosnia, the UK Ministry of Defence, RAF Strike and Support Commands. He worked with the Harrier Field Force in Germany, Support Helicopter Force in UK, Northern Ireland and Cyprus and with the RAF Jaguar Force element of NATO’s ACE Mobile Force in UK and Denmark. Dave concluded his career writing the concepts of logistic support for all RAF and army units committed to support deployed RAF operations.
He retired as a Squadron Leader taking redundancy in 1997, and then worked and lived in the USA and Cayman Islands for 4 years before returning to UK. His last full time position was as an Assistant Director of Welfare with the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund which led to voluntary welfare case work with the Royal British Legion in Lincolnshire. He now devotes his time to the Defence and Strategy Research Group – DefencSynergia – where he is active in explaining the incoherence and weakness in UK defence and security strategies to HMG. The latter seeming to be on ‘send’ and not ‘receive’.
Having lobbied the government and spoken to many parliamentarians, analysts and academics on the subject of the capabilities and strength of Her Majesty’s armed forces over the past several years, Dave is convinced that without an overarching Grand Strategy, our military planners will always be disadvantaged. Indeed, this focus on military and security strategy has demonstrated to him that a national strategic narrative more widely, one that crosses departmental boundaries and gains cross party support, is essential for efficient, cost effective and cohesive government.
Whilst Dave accepts that Great Britain is a European state through geography and political will, he sincerely hopes that the strategic vision Great Britain adopts can extend goodwill, trade, benign influence and security beyond continentally limiting ambitions. He firmly believes that although British interests are EU related a coherent UK strategic narrative must consider a wider interconnected international world beyond EU borders with all departments of state working to the same grand strategic goal – UK domestic security through assured prosperity.
Group Captain Patrick Tootal OBE DL, RAF (Ret’d)
Patrick served in the RAF for 33 years as a pilot. He commanded LXX Squadron flying Hercules and held various operational and staff appointments relating to planning the introduction of new aircraft into RAF service. He was the first Defence Attaché in Buenos Aires nine years after the Falklands conflict. After voluntary retirement in 1993 he was the first County Field Officer for the Royal British Legion in Kent supporting the many volunteers who raise funds and provide welfare for the ex-Service community in need. He is Honorary Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and the Battle of Britain Fighter Association (The Surviving Few).
Having seen three Strategic Defence Reviews during his Service career he is determined to see that Britain’s armed Forces are properly equipped to meet the defence tasks set by their political masters.
Mr Tim Dainton
Defence Analyst, DS researcher, member of the US Naval Institute, Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts (ACIA) & Association of Former Intelligence Officers and former member of RUSI. Tim believes security and defence are the foundations of a prosperous and secure nation.
(The late) Dr Michael Waddell MC
Michael Waddell joined, as an officer, the Royal Tank Regiment and saw active service in the Eighth Army in Egypt, Libya, Tripolitania and Tunisia. Then in Sicily, Italy and later Greece, where he confronted communist fighters, backed by the then Soviet Union, in the streets of Athens.
After the war he studied medicine, qualifying in 1952. His medical career embraced country practice in Northumberland, and later, after taking an American MD, Family Practice in Vermont, where he was also medical advisor to Norwich University and Military College. On returning to England he took a practice in Kent.
During his retirement he has had close and continuing contacts with the Royal Marines. After his own and his family’s experiences in World Wars 1 and 2, and the resulting appalling universal carnage, as well as more recent conflicts, in which our armed forces have often been inadequately armed and prepared, he is firmly convinced that, above all else, Defence of the Realm should be the first priority of government and we should have been persuaded by now of the truth of the declaration by the Roman writer Vegetius, – ” Let him who desires peace prepare for war”, and that, furthermore, we should continuously strive to furnish our armed forces with the latest and best equipment available.
He joined DefenceSynergia in order to assist in the spread of these verities as widely as possible.
Dr Michael Waddell a Founder Member of DefenceSynergia – Born in December 1922, died in May 2015. His colleagues in DS will miss his enthusiastic and objective contribution. His full obituary can be found here.
Mr David C. Graham*
* Not all DefenceSynergia members publish their wide expertise and specific areas of knowledge on our website. However, for completeness please note that DS experience includes: Three former Air and Naval Attaches (Argentina and Russia), an Associate Fellow at RUSI, a Former head of Naval Medical Services and Maritime, Land and Aviation expertise covering: Government contracting in respect of procurement and leasing maritime and land assets; Major Project Management and operational experience in AEW, radar, navigation, avionics, communications, IT, Tactical Data Links, NEC, Programme Management; Risk Management, Home Land Security and Resilience Planning; MOD Procurement, Provisioning and Logistic Planning for Expeditionary Warfare; Nuclear Technology; Joint Operations Planning; Forces Clinical, Mental Health and Charity Sector et al.