Visiting British troops in Afghanistan
Julian served as an Officer in the Territorial Army for 13 years. Before entering Parliament in 1987, he served in the Gulf in both a military and civilian capacity.
On July 15th Julian was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary for Reserve Forces. From 2010 until then Julian was a member of the Defence Select Committee. He previously served on the Committee from 1997 to 2001, visiting our forces in Bosnia, Kosovo, Germany and at sea. He stepped down to hold front bench posts from 2001-2010, before rejoining the committee in 2010. Since rejoining, he participated in producing ground-breaking reports on the Afghanistan campaign, cyber warfare, as well as making significant contributions to try to tackle “lawfare”; a relatively new concept whereby access to our courts by our enemies is exploited to bring prosecution against our soldiers for propaganda gain. This includes lobbying Ministers over the use of legal aid in cases such as the “Al Sweady Enquiry”.
In 2010, Julian was appointed by the Prime Minister to the three man independent commission on reserve forces titled Future Reserves 2020, which set a new course for Britain’s reserve forces. These studies have taken him on visits to both British and American forces in three provinces of Afghanistan. Along with several others, he took a great interest in the Defence Reform Bill and successfully proposed amendments to the Bill to ensure our armed forces are flexible enough to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.
The Reserves are due to play a larger role within the reformed military, and for many years Julian advocated wider discussion and understanding of these issues through his chairmanship of the All-Party Reserve Forces and Cadets Group, until taking up his appointment as minister. The group benefits significantly from briefings from ministers and military and civilian personnel involved in formulating thinking and enacting policy, raising important questions and discussing potential answers. He believes that the Territorials and the Cadet Movement, in which he also served, provide a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn leadership skills and experience adventure in a disciplined environment. He is President of Canterbury Sea Cadets and played an important role in negotiating a 99 year lease with Canterbury Council and fundraising for their new Head Quarters, opened by Admiral Lord West in April 2014.
In his constituency capacity, he has visited the Regular and TA battalions of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, both in the UK, in Northern Ireland and in Afghanistan. He has also worked closely with the Royal British Legion and Army Families Federation on a range of issues affecting service personnel and war pensioners. This includes successfully campaigning for drastic changes to the sale of the MoD married quarters, and opposing the conviction of Danny Nightingale, who was prosecuted for his possession of a handgun after suffering brain damage in a charity run in the South American jungle.
Julian has contributed widely to defence thinking. On Julian’s first pamphlet on Defence, "No Easy Answers", the Evening Standard wrote: “A fine old-fashioned broadside into the unprotected underbelly of the Ministry of Defence”. He then went on to co-author with four British and two Americans the book “Not Fit to Fight: The Cultural Subversion of the Armed Forces in Britain and America” published by the Social Affairs Unit ("A must read for anyone interested in the politicization and degradation of Western armed forces" - The Wall Street Journal).
Regarding wider foreign policy, having been a Shadow Minister for Overseas Trade and International Development, Julian is strongly committed to the advancement of the developing world. He takes a particularly close interest in Middle Eastern affairs. He has visited many countries in the Middle East in a variety of capacities, and was present at the fall of the Free Enclave in Lebanon in 1990. Following this fall, he returned to help organise a conference on freedom and democracy, in defiance of the Syrian-backed puppet government in 1996. As well as Parliamentarians this attracted the support of the US, UK and EU ambassadors. More recently, Julian has joined forces with many other MPs to raise further awareness in the Foreign Office about the worrying trend of declining religious freedom around the world.
Looking at the future of British foreign policy, he has argued for many years that, in a world where English is the language of globalisation, the key to Britain’s long-term future lies in the development of links within the Anglosphere. He is a keen member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and has carried out six lecture tours in the USA and two in Australia. He promoted a private members bill (blocked by the then Labour government) to give citizens from realms of the Commonwealth better treatment at airports and ports.