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David Benest: Keelite of the Month January 2013
1981 International Relations
What am I doing now?
Researching, reviewing and presenting on matters military, especially British counterinsurgency and the Falklands war.
How did you get to where you are now?
Thirty-seven years of military service, from officer cadet to colonel.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
An MBE for my contribution to counter terrorist technology, an OBE for its conduct in South Armagh in 1996-97. I also wrote the history of 2 PARA in the Falklands War (I was there as its Signals Officer).
And your biggest mistake?
None – no regrets at all.
What are your ambitions now?
To continue researching and telling truth on matters military – the age of cover up is well over.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Think honestly as to whether you wish for a 'vocation' or a ‘career’. Life (and death) in the Armed Forces is definitely not a career.
What made you choose Keele University?
The combination of an excellent International Relations programme plus the geography that permitted me to continue rock climbing in North Wales, the Lake District and the Peak District.
What kind of a student were you?
As throughout my life, ‘bolshy’, questioning received wisdom, relentless reading; lucky indeed as a mature student to be accepted by the History group for evenings in the Sneyd Arms
How has Keele influenced your life?
Hugely! I was reciting international law as we landed in the Falklands back in 1982 and most grateful to the late Michael Akehurst (his lectures on the legal aspects of Vietnam, Palestine etc were superb), as well as John Vincent for all their wise counsel. If there is room to mention others, I would include Professor Charles Townshend, who, if any, led me into the study of British Counterinsurgency as well as Chris Brewin, who did his best to make clear the human responsibility for the ethics of war.
Photo: David (left), speaker at Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 2012.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Dare I say, after a ten mile run and dreading the results, to find that I had been awarded a first class honours degree – suitably knackered!
What is your impression of Keele now?
A great university!
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, how very sad that the Armed Forces have abandoned the ‘in-service’ degree for those such as myself, who were at the age of 18 years, denied such an opportunity.