Frank Kitson

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General Sir Frank Kitson OBE, KCB, MC (born 1926) is a retired British Officer and counterinsurgency theorist. He rose to be Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces from 1982 to 1985 and was Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen from 1983 to 1985. In 1985 he became a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. He saw active service in counter revolutionary operations in post war colonial conflicts. He is one of the leading theorists of counterinsurgency to have emerged from the British military.

The historian Bernard Porter has noted:

"Between 1970 and 1972 Kitson served in Northern Ireland as commander of a brigade in Belfast. He may have been largely responsible for the setting up and development of ‘Psyops’ units there. If he was not, then somebody else was. By all accounts this side of the army’s work expanded enormously over the next ten years, and involved some techniques which could be described as devious. That may be putting it mildly indeed. Among the ‘tricks’ attributed to various British intelligence agencies in Northern Ireland in the 1970s - army intelligence, MI5, MI6, British Special Branch, RUC Special Branch - were torture, for which Britain was censured by the European Human Rights Commission in 1976; murder, faked to look like ‘sectarian’ killings; the planting of bombs in Dublin in 1974 ...; homosexual seduction and blackmail; ‘black’ propaganda and disinformation; ‘shooting to kill’; fabricating evidence; and ‘covering up’. At one stage, because of inter-departmental rivalry, MI5 and MI6 were rumoured to be indulging in covert operations against each other..."[1]

Career

Kitson was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade as of 23 February 1946.[2] He spent his first seven years as an officer chiefly in occupied Germany.[3]

He was promoted to Lieutenant as of 10 April 1948, with seniority from 15 December 1947.[4]

Kenya

He was posted to Kenya in mid-1953, at the height of the Mau Mau rebellion. According to a Rand Corporation biography:

His primary task was to help the intelligence branch of the police obtain the information needed by the security forces in their fight against the terrorist gangs. In the course of the next two years Col. Kitson developed and perfected a novel approach and technique for the collection and utilization of the special kind of intelligence that is indispensable in guerrilla warfare.[5]

He was promoted to Captain on 15th December 1953.[6]

Kitson was awarded the Military Cross on 1 January 1955 "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Kenya, during the period 21st April to 20th October, 1954".[7]

Malaya

In 1957, Kitson commanded a infantry company in Malaya, where according to the Rand Corporation he was able "to apply this [Kenyan] experience in the antiterrorist campaign".[8]

In May 1958, Kitson was awarded a bar to the Military Cross "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Malaya for the period 31st August to 31st December, 1957."[9]

The citation read:

For exceptional skill and leadership as a Company Commander during jungle operations. By his devotion to duty he attained the virtual elimination of two communist party branches in a difficult area.[10]

Oman

Kitson served in the Planning Branch of the War Office in 1958. on 28 October 1958, Peter de la Billière in Malaya received a signal from Kitson suggesting the deployment of the SAS to the Jebel Akhdar in Oman. De la Billière brought the message to Tony Deane-Drummond. Kitson and Deane-Drummond subsequently met in Bahrain and visited Oman, where they met David Smiley, the head of the Sultan's Armed Forces. A decision was subsequently taken to deploy an SAS squadron to Oman.[11]

1960s

According to a 1963 Rand Corporation biography:

In recent years Col. Kitson’s assignments have included a year at the British Army Staff College at Camberley; a post in the Military Operations Branch of the War Office, responsible for the Middle East; a tour as army instructor at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, England; and several months at the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia. Col. Kitson has recorded his experience in Kenya in a book entitled Gangs and Counter-gangs, published by Barrie and Rockliff, London, 1960.[12]
  • Oman 1958-1959

He was awarded the MBE on 13 June 1959.[13]

Kitson was appointed second in command of his old battalion, now renamed 3rd Green Jackets, the Rifle Brigade, in November 1962. The battalion was then serving as part of the garrison of the British sovereign base areas in Cyprus.[14]

Kitson was appointed a Brevet Lt-Col. on 1 July 1964.[15] He became a full Lt-Col on 31 December 1966.[16]

Kitson was awarded the OBE in January 1968.[17]

Kitson was promoted to Colonel on 31 December 1969, with seniority from 30th June 1969.[18]

He was promoted to Brigadier on 30th June 1970.[19]

  • Britain 1969-1987

Northern Ireland

  • Ireland 1970-1972[20]

Kitson was awarded the CBE on 15th February 1972, "for gallant and distinguished services in Northern Ireland during the period 1st August 1971, to 31st October 1971".[21]

General Officer

Kitson was appointed General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, and granted the acting rank of Major General on 22 January 1976.[22] He was appointed a full Major General on 5 April 1976, with seniority from 2 June 1974.[23] He stepped down as commander of 2 Armoured Division on 28th February 1978.[24]

Kitson was appointed commandant of the Staff College, Camberley on 5 March 1978.[25] He held this position until 18 January 1980.[26]

Kitson was awarded the KCB in December 1979.[27]

Kitson was appointed Colonel Commandant 2nd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets on 1 January 1979.[28] He held the position until 1 January 1987, when he was replaced by David Ramsbotham.[29]

Kitson was appointed Deputy Commander in Chief, United Kingdom Land Forces and Inspector General Territorial Army with substantive rank of Lieutenant-General on 17 March 1980, with seniority from 17 August 1979.[30]

Kitson stepped down as Deputy Commander in Chief United Kingdom Land Forces and Inspector General Territorial Army on 30th May 1982.[31]

Kitson was appointed Commander in Chief United Kingdom Land Forces, succeeding Sir John Stanier, and granted the local rank of General on 1 July 1982.[32] He held the post until 1 June 1985.[33] He was promoted to the substantive rank of General on 1 August 1982.[34]

Kitson was appointed Aide-De-Camp General to the Queen on 15 February 1983, succeeding Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley.[35]

Kitson was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in December 1984.[36]

Kitson retired from the Army on 27 July 1985.[37]

He was appointed Honorary Colonel Oxford University Officers Training Corps T.A on 21 July 1982.[38] He held the position until July 1987.[39]

Counterinsurgency theorist

His earlier published work on counter-gangs and measures of deception, including the use of defectors, continues to provoke strong opinions. Although sometimes wrongly credited with inventing concepts of pseudo-gangs and pseudo-operations (for example, used earlier in the Huk Insurrection[40] in the Philippines), his writing gave the issue a wider audience. In retirement he has given evidence to the Saville Inquiry[41] into Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland.

Publications

External Resources

See Also

David Kilcullen | John Nagl | Robert Thompson | Orde Wingate

Notes

  1. Bernard Porter (1989) Plots and Paranoia, p.199, Unwin Hyman Ltd.
  2. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 26 MARCH, 1946, London Gazette, issue 3750, page 1527.
  3. Stephen T. Hosmer, Sibylle O. Crane, Counterinsurgency: A Symposium, April 16–20, 1962, RAND Corporation, 2006, p.xx.
  4. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 9 APRIL, 1948, London Gazette, Issue 38526, page 2260.
  5. Stephen T. Hosmer, Sibylle O. Crane, Counterinsurgency: A Symposium, April 16–20, 1962, RAND Corporation, 2006, p.xx.
  6. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 22 DECEMBER, 1953, issue 40046, page 6928.
  7. SEVENTH SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette OF FRIDAY, 31st DECEMBER, 1954, issue 40372, page 53.
  8. Stephen T. Hosmer, Sibylle O. Crane, Counterinsurgency: A Symposium, April 16–20, 1962, RAND Corporation, 2006, p.xx.
  9. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 23 MAY, 1958, London Gazette, issue 41392, page 3328.
  10. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 23 MAY, 1958, London Gazette, issue 41392, page 3328.
  11. Peter de la Billière, Looking for Trouble: SAS to Gulf Command - The Autobiography, Harper Collins, 1994, pp.127-128.
  12. Stephen T. Hosmer, Sibylle O. Crane, [http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/2006/R412-1.pdf Counterinsurgency: A Symposium, April 16–20, 1962], RAND Corporation, 2006, p.xx.
  13. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 13TH JUNE 1959, London Gazette, issue 41727, page 3704.
  14. Frank Kitson, Bunch of Five, Faber and Faber, 2011, Chapter Nineteen.
  15. SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Tuesday, 3oth June 1964, London Gazette, Issue 43371, p.5715.
  16. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, lOth JANUARY 1967, London Gazette, issue 44223, page 310.
  17. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, IST JANUARY 1968, London Gazette, issue 4484, p.7.
  18. http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/45013/supplements/215 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 5th January 1970], London Gazette, issue 45013, page 215.
  19. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 30TH JUNE 1970, London Gazette, issue 45138, page 7186.
  20. Namebase Frank Kitson, accessed 5 December 2007
  21. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/45598/supplements/1895 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, i4th February 1972], London Gazette, issue 45598, page 1895.
  22. SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 26th January 1976, London Gazette, issue 45598, page 1289.
  23. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/46868/supplements/5053 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 5th April 1976], London Gazette, issue 46868, page 5053.
  24. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 28th FEBRUARY 1978, London Gazette, issue 47474, page 2580.
  25. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/47480/supplements/2897 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 6th March 1978], London Gazette, issue 47480, page 2897.
  26. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 19th FEBRUARY 1980, London Gazette, issue 48100,page 2631.
  27. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 31sT DECEMBER 1979, London Gazette, issue 48401, page 2.
  28. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 16th JANUARY 1979, London Gazette, issue 47745, page 656.
  29. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 13th JANUARY 1987, London Gazette, issue 50799, page 452.
  30. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 18TH MARCH 1980, London Gazette, issue 48130, page 4156.
  31. SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 3ist May 1982, London gazette, issue 48995, page 7221.
  32. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/49055/supplements/9457 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 19th July 1982], London Gazette, issue 49055, page 9457.
  33. [http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/50141/supplements/7715 SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette of Monday, 3rd June 1985], London Gazette, issue 50141, page 7715.
  34. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, SRD AUGUST 1982, London Gazette, issue 49069, page 10134.
  35. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 15th FEBRUARY 1983, London Gazette, Issue 49625, Page 2218.
  36. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 31ST DECEMBER 1984, London Gazette, issue 49969, page 5.
  37. SUPPLEMENT TO The London Gazette, of Monday, 12th August 1985, London Gazette, issue 50226, page 11147.
  38. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 3RD AUGUST 1982, issue 49609, page 10133.
  39. SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 27TH JULY 1987, issue 51009, page 9573.
  40. Cline, Lawrence E. (2005) Pseudo Operations and Counterinsurgency: Lessons from other countries, Strategic Studies Institute, page 1
  41. Bloody Sunday Inquiry website