Army generals considered blaming a “middle officer” for “overstepping his duties” when they removed a member from the platform Extinction Rebellion (XR) from a leadership conference.
Chris Taylor was removed from the Center for Army Leadership (CAL) panel after they decided to distance the online event from the “overtly political” group and its civilian disruption tactics.
Leaders exchanged emails discussing ways to go public about his removal – or to justify his inclusion – on Twitter, which were released by the Ministry of Defense to Metro.co.uk.
A flurry of criticism had greeted an announcement of Mr Taylor’s admission to discuss “leadership in a time of social breakdown” made by CAL in social media posts on November 8 last year.
The thread, with the title “CAL Conference Twitter Post – Possible Responses” in the subject line, shows how the decision was made in a hasty high-level reversal the next morning.
Major General Duncan Capps, Commander of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), wrote: “We will publish immediately the removal of Chris Taylor from the culture and leadership event that CAL is conducting on December 1st. We will do this under my name and authority, Dir Leadership, but using the CAL Twitter feed to avoid the inevitable merging of RMAS with this reference to my Twitter handle.
“We will point out that no payment was to be made and that the intention was to seek broad and varied opinions, but on closer inspection it is clear that the Army cannot affiliate with any organization (however noble its purported aims may be) employing tactics or methods that break the law.’
Major General Neil Sexton had previously outlined two options in the November 9 group email discussion, posted at Metro.co.uk Freedom of Information Act.
The first suggestion to cancel the activist’s invitation reads: “The Army hierarchy is stepping up to cancel the appearance of Extinction Rebellion’s Chris Taylor at the December 1 leadership conference.
“Let journalists know that he was dealing with a middle-ranked official who was looking for a wide range of speakers, but that it would be inappropriate to spend public money (if that is the case) to get the views of such an overtly political organization publicized listen .
“The officer overstepped his remit, not telling any of the Army’s senior positions of his plan, and now acknowledges that this was an ill-considered attempt to ensure the Army understands the approaches of organizational leaders across our society.
“The worst result is: the army chief cancels Extinction Rebellion/no platforms with the implication that we are closed to outside ideas.”
The generals were also given the opportunity to leave Mr. Taylor, who is part of XR’s “Vision Sensing Group,” in the lineup for the conference, which was held to “explore the symbiotic relationship between leadership and culture.”
The suggestion reads: “Let it go but confirm that the speaker is not paid and that he is just one of x speakers in a day discussing leadership approaches used in many elements of British society including business, Sports, politics and activism.
“This is indicative of an Army trying to learn from others across a wide spectrum etc. The problem is that the headline will be: Army invites XR to teach it leadership.”
The decision was later made to uninvite Mr Taylor and the generals and media officials then discussed how to deal with a request from the i-Zeitung for the inclusion of XR in good time before the journalist’s deadline.
One person, whose name was redacted, wrote: “We may miss the link to this one. I’ll try to cheer up the journalist.’
Under the motto “Leadership and Culture” the conference took place without Mr. Taylor. The forum, moderated by author Simon Sinek and British gold medalist platform hockey player Kate Richardson-Walsh, was part of CAL’s commitment to “improving the entire Army – all ranks, regulars and reserves.” .
Mr Taylor told Metro.co.uk: “I was disappointed when I was deplatformed. I was looking forward to speaking to the army and I thought it was an important conversation and I wanted to open a dialogue with them. Military strategists around the world are beginning to realize that climate change will pose a major potential threat to peace and security, and I wanted army leaders to take this seriously. I thought we could have had a really useful conversation.”
In response to the justifications for XR’s removal, Mr Taylor said: “I wanted the military to know that they had nothing to fear from XR. We are peaceful and have everyone’s interests at heart. We are there for them and their children and grandchildren.”
The lifelong pacifist also wrote in the i that he told the audience that climate change is a “major threat to peace and global stability” and “the warrior’s true calling is to keep the peace, to protect the vulnerable.” ‘both people and environment’.
The Home Secretary has branded XR as “criminals” by XR over the group’s controversial tactics, which included 11 naked activists taped to the glass of the public viewing gallery overlooking the Chamber of Commons.
Supporters of offshoot group Insulate Britain have since blocked main roads and motorways across England, sparking angry confrontations with motorists and prompting the government to take activists to court and secure new legislation outlawing their tactics.
In the Queen’s speech on Tuesday, the Government unveiled plans to ban “hooking”, the method used by protesters who lock or tape to each other or to buildings.
The public order bill, according to Priti Patel, is intended to target “outrageous behavior” after “the law-abiding, responsible majority is fed up with anti-social, disruptive protests”.
Other guerrilla-style anti-disobedience measures would also criminalize tampering with infrastructure such as airports, railroads, and printers.
An Army spokesman said: “While the Center for Army Leadership encourages different mindsets and alternative views, it was decided prior to last year’s event that the Army cannot affiliate with an organization that uses methods that may violate the law. As such, the invitation was withdrawn.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/11/army-removed-extinction-rebellion-from-panel-after-ill-judged-invite-16623532/ The Army removed Extinction Rebellion from the panel after a "rash" invitation