MOD Special – Glenn Haughton

Michael: My name is Michael Coates. I am a former fire fighter but I am also a former soldier. It is the
stories from the individuals within this military community that I am desperate to document. In this
episode we speak to the Senior Enlisted Advisor. We talk about his early career, deploying on
operations around the world in his current role. We discuss his own mental health challenges and why
he is so passionate about making things better for those that serve. An MOD special, Glenn Haughton,
this is Declassified.

Michael: So, born 1972 just outside of Cambridge. Were you an only child?

Glenn: Yes, an only child. No siblings. Grew up in a council house in a small caldil-sac in a little rural
village south of Cambridge.

Michael: And what was childhood like growing up?

Glenn: I had a good childhood. It was humble. It was like you know mid 70s as a young kid. Good
parents brought me up very well although we didn’t have much like many families didn’t in the mid 70s.
But yes I was looked after well I had a fun childhood, nothing extravagant, but It was just you know I
did various things. I loved sport. I got involved in various clubs, cubs and scouts and touched a bit on
cadets and did little bit of boxing training when I was a small kid in a local boxing club. But no I had a
good up-bringing and I am really grateful for the way my parents brought me up and the values they
taught me and the manners they taught me and how to be a good human being.

Michael: What did your mum and dad do?

Glenn: My mum did lots of different jobs from secretarial work to working in shops and she worked in
a local green- house sales factory that she worked in for a long period of time. My father was a bus
driver since the time I can remember and he is still a bus driver now.

Michael: Is he. Still in the same place?

Glenn: Yes, still in the same area.

Michael: Were you good at school then?

Glenn: No. Not because I didn’t apply myself. I didn’t like school. I didn’t enjoy it. I had some good
friends but I wasn’t in the popular group but also not in the unpopular group. I was happy go lucky
kind of kid I just couldn’t be bothered. I was a day dreamer. I didn’t listen. I didn’t pay attention. I was
more worried about cricket, rugby and PT like many boys do at that age so I didn’t pay attention as I
should do. Consequently, towards the end of my schooling years, where I realised it just wasn’t for me
and I wasn’t going to come out of there with anything significant. My education suffered because of
my attitude towards it, really.

Michael: What were your options then? Coming from Hull, mine was staying in Hull in a dead end job
or join the military. That’s what I felt like.

Glenn: I thought like that. You do your options in school. It used to be in the third year. I had no idea
where I was going to go. I probably would have ended up doing something like a car mechanic or
something in local community. I just had no idea at that stage all I did know was that I had this sort of
draw towards the military. My grandparents had served RAF and Army and there was something there
I grew up in a time when I was 10 years old the Falklands was ongoing. I used to collect the binder
folders and Solider magazines and survival aid stuff and mercenary. You know I was just interested. I
always wanted to do but never worked out which part I wanted to go into

Michael: Joined at 15?

Glenn: Yes. As soon as I could I went to the career office. Because they give you 15 years and 9
months you could apply back then. I basically applied on the first day I could. I walked in there and
said I want to join the army. (laughing)

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Michael: Did you know what part you wanted to join? (laughing)

Glenn: I had no idea. In the 80s there was a famous documentary, The Paras and I think they must
have had an influx of people who wanted to join The Parachute Regiment at that time. So I said to
them “look I want to join The Paras.” They must have looked me up and down and thought “not a
chance son – you weigh about 6 stone and you haven’t got a parachute regiment in you so I wouldn’t
even bother” either that or they had over recruited. That was a No, so they said “what else?” And I
said what about the Scots Guards as there was a poster on the wall. They said “Are you Scottish?”
and I went” No I am from Cambridge.” “Have you got any Scottish family? “and I said “No none at all
“and they said “Well, you can’t join the Scots Guards then?” So they then said, I think I was boring
them and they said “you need to make a decision what do you want to go into?” I genuinely had no
idea. I was a kid I said to them my name begins with G so I will go with something beginning with G.
And they said “Green Jackets or Grenadier Guards?” That was it! So I signed up to the Grenadier
Guards. Literally crossed the road had a cough and drop from the doctor. I did my bar test which was
literally a hand written test then a bit maths and little bit of English. I was quite proud of myself then I
was only qualified either to blow a trumpet in a band or join the infantry. So I joined the infantry. That
was the start of this 31year old journey.

Michael: The thought process of a 15year old boy (laughing)

Glenn: I was quite proud of myself, the way I narrowed it down.

Michael: Do you remember how long it was then from cough and drop to getting on a bus or getting
off a bus?

Glenn: I think I joined literally in the May and then by mid-June I was going to the depot. The Guards
depot at Pirbright. I just remember it was my first solo journey on a train. I had never been on a train
on my own before and I got on this train with a bag as per the packing list you been thrown. This was
after doing the Sutton Coldfield 2 half dayer thing. I literally turned up at Coldfield station not having a
clue what I was letting myself in for. Being met by the scariest looking Sergeant I had ever met in my
life got thrown in bus and that was when the years training started at the infamous Guards depot in the
late 80s.

Michael: You were a junior leader then?

Glen: Apparently they thought I had some potential skills as a junior leader. But I am not entirely
convinced I did not pull out any of the education stuff they wanted me to during that year.

Michael: What was year like then? What did you do?

Glenn: This was the late 80s so if you can think of the phase 1 and phase 2 now. Most of the listeners
will know what that means: It was all combined in a one-er. I literally arrived there in June 98 and left
June 89. You went from the very basic of training all the way through to ‘passing out’ and a full year of
training. It was intense. There was no not as much though process and duty of care as put into
training now days’ health and safety stuff. It was a beasting for a year from start to finish but you know
I look back on it with really fond memories I met some amazing instructors and experienced some
awful instructors and it is a year that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I can remember so
much of it, like it was yesterday it had a real impact on me as a person, human being and as a soldier.
It genuinely carved out to what I was going to be in the future. I had a lot to learn from there. It was the
start of my journey.

Michael: All the young soldiers, were the junior leaders were they 15 to 16?

Glenn: Yes. It was literally the Harrogate of the day. If you were a junior leader. I joined Waterloo 3
Platoon. Actually the garrison Sergeant Major, now of London District, me and him, we were in the
same Platoon. We were all kids, literally kids.


Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Michael: A kid then going to Munster in ‘89 what was the experience?

Glenn: I got posted, I finished training got posted me to 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards who were in
Munster Germany. So that was another whole different experience. My first overseas journey. Got to
Munster the battalion at the time were deployed on an exercise in Canada. So I joined a company
called The Queens Company which is still a well-known company in the Household Division now purely
as every single member of the Household is over 6 foot so you can imagine me weighing 76 kilos and
6foot3 (laughing). I had to go into a bus returning from Canada on exercise this day one crow sat at
the front as these honking bods turning up, getting off the plane, staring at me almost growling at me
getting onto the transport. I was petrified as a young I was still in 16 and the bus journey took as back
to Oxford barracks in Munstand I just remember being abused on the journey oranges thrown at me
and water bottles and this was my kind of 3rd or 4th day in the Battalion and I thought is this what my
career is going to be like in this Battalion. So I went from having a spark in my eye, to being massively
proud of the regiment I joined, going through this year of hell to be the solider to become and then get
treated like that at the start of your career. And you think is this what I want to do. it was like a long
time ago.

Michael: Were you ever homesick at that point?

Glenn: No. I couldn’t wait to get away from my home. Not because of my mum and dad and family
makeup. I liked living at home. I was bored. I was a kid I wanted to travel the world I wanted to
experience something new and do something different and hence why I joined the army.

Michael: In that first year in, did it get better?

Glenn: Not initially, I mean back in those days physically bullying was rife back in those days. I think
where ever you went round the army. My first year was particularly awful I don’t know if it was
because I was deemed as a bit of a gob shite or a little bit cock sure of myself. I don’t know what it was
but certain people took a dislike to me. Some of the beasting and some of the physical punishments
and bullying was something to behold I didn’t even know it was physically possible to jump out of a 3rd
floor window with a parachute while you are naked or to be strip naked covered in graphite grease and
thrown in a skip. It was kind of like the norm for new people to be treated like that. I was treated bad
for a year. Until you sort of get your status. My status sort of came I sort of made my name when we
deployed to the first Gulf which was deploying to war at the time. But it took me a good year to settle
in. Don’t get me wrong I met some amazing people and friends for life. The experience was a
challenge. It was a sort of time where I was like do I really want to do this do I really want to be treated
liked this when is it going to stop and how long will it go on for. It happened to everyone. That for me
was my point, my lesson in life that I made sure I never did anything like that to another human being.
And I never did.

Michael: I was just about to say that. Did it go on beyond that? Did your peers carry that on?

Glenn: Yes it carried on It was just, like a cycle of life. New guys would join and get all the hard times,
the bullying. Eventually the physical stuff dwindled and phased out because it was a societal thing.
But I just never made a point of doing it. Some of the new boys would come in and I would a point of
not necessary making friends with them but making them feel comfortable. Making them feel welcome.
Don’t get me wrong I haven’t always treated people like my best friend all the time but I have never
bullied or physically laid hands on people or done stuff that I shouldn’t have done. I always treated
people the way I wanted to be treated.

Michael: How old were you when you went to the Gulf?

Glenn: I had just turned 18. You had to be 17half to go to operations or go to war then. I think at the
time the youngest guy was a soldier in the, Scottish Division, Royal Scots. I was probably second or
third junior or senior bod. I was just 18.

Michael: What was it like then? A little bit before, as a youngster? Especially talking to your mother
and father. Do you remember the kind of pre-deployment?

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Glenn: It was a whirl wind to be honest. It came round really quick. All of a sudden we were told we
were going to be deployed to Operation Granby, US version was Operation Storm. We are going to go
to war. The first gulf kicked off. It was really quick because of the timelines. We had to do
re-deployment training pretty rapid a lot of rifle ranges and fitness, nuclear biological chemical stuff to
get us ready. Our Battalion was split up into different regiments. Which was a bit of a shame. Our
company group was attached to the Royal Scots Battle Group. It just came round really quick. I think
we deployed on New Year’s day, I think if I remember rightly. I had Christmas home with my family.
When you are 18 I didn’t really care. I wasn’t really bothered we were going to war. It didn’t make
much difference to me. I remember we were packing our boxes and writing death letters to our mums.
I think I recorded a tape leaving my will on my tape. It was a joke to us. Sure it was not to my mother
and father. It was a life experience. It was something new something different and something I was
excited about that I wanted to be part of.

Michael: What were you doing out there?

Glenn: If I am completely honest if you are an 18-year-old Guardsman back in the day and you are
deployed to war I am not entirely sure I knew what I was doing. Whether it was down to passive
communication or I didn’t really care. You think what you want to think when you are 18 years old.
We literally got out there and did a lot of training in country we were armoured warriors. You can
imagine the brotherhood and camaraderie straight away in your group of people in your warrior and in
your section. all of whom I can still remember to this day like it was yesterday. We trained like it was a
number of weeks. And then we it was a distant memory to me now we literally went through a series of
operations, series of lines of departure and a series of assaults which were not always quite what we
expected some were kinetics some weren’t it was just amazing to be on the back of a warrior as a new
adult as an 18-year-old. Listening to the combined arms do what they do. Listening to even from
inside the warrior hearing aircrafts doing what they do. Hearing the tanks going before us. Hearing the
armoured core before the cavalry doing what they had to do to the enemy before the infantry and the
warriors. It was a real learning curve for me. And then to get out of the back of a warrior going into
war into a section attack as an 18-year-old with your mates knowing the only people you have got with
you on your left and right are the 6 or 7 people in the back of your wagon was a real experience. Going
to war then and going to the first Gulf is very different to subsequent operations for me different going
into Iraq and Afghanistan. It was just a different type of operation we were genuinely going to war and
we didn’t know if we were coming back and we didn’t know what we were going into. Whereas when
you go on subsequent tours of Herrick, which any of your listeners have done, you know what you are
going into

Michael: Were you actually fighting on the first Gulf War?

Glenn: Yes. The first Gulf War. I Think a lot of people don’t understand what happened. Some people
had more fighting depending on what regiment you were in. In a lot of cases there was a lot of
surrounding by enemy forces. You ended up doing prisoner of war handling. But yes There was some
kinetic stuff. There were Certainly the chain guns firing section attacks and fox holes to clear. It wasn’t
that much. Certainly where I was. I can’t speak for others as there were other operations going on.
Special forces etc. in my little warrior in my company group, in my battalion or battle group I was part
of. It wasn’t what we expected it to be. Which you know in the end, it’s a good thing.

Michael: When you came back it wasn’t long before you were off to Northern Ireland.
Glenn: Yes.
Michael: So you were a lance corporal by that time.

Glen: Yes, in 91 I did my lance corporal course I was actually going to get out of the army. I didn’t, it
wasn’t for me I didn’t like it at that stage I had had enough I remember I had terminated I was leaving
and I think I was due to be out the army on a Monday and I remember my company sergeant major at
the time got me in and said what you are doing on Sunday. I said I am getting out the army on Monday
Sir. He said you are not you are going on the corporal course. I remember thinking inside is this bloke
for real I am getting out of the army “I’ve had enough by then” I was genuinely ordered to go on a
corporal course. I went on the corporal course. It was done in Pirbright, back in the bear pit. the old

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

guard’s depot, did my corporal course and weirdly did really well and came top on it. It changed my
journey my path I found my sort of love for the military and for my regiment and the army and then I am
still here now however many years later. It was probably a good decision by my company major
although I didn’t agree with it at the time.

Michael: Is that when you went to Northern Ireland?

Glenn: Yes first tour of Northern Ireland came up. My company group went going across the Glen…
South Armagh tour which in those days early 90s bandit country it was the punchiest operation you
could go on at the time, particularly into South Armagh but I went for selection for the close
observation platoon so that was like a long old selection to get into that. It was a prestige little group
almost like a RECE platoon back in the day of close observation. So I did that on my first tour. It was
immense I learnt some great skills and I loved doing that. A really good experience.

Michael: Were the IRA really active were you close by to them?

Glen: Yes people who have done Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and other operations, some of your
listeners might have the same thought process as me. Sometimes I was more scared in Northern
Ireland than in Afghanistan and people would not believe that. But when you are going into an area
that is you know your country and your United Kingdom and you are dealing with your own people and
they are your enemy and you don’t know where they are and you are patrolling around rural locations
and known snippers patrolling the areas with point 5 barrow snipper riles it is pretty scary and those
sort of areas in northern Ireland were small and sometimes you had limited areas where you could go
and pattern setting could be a problem so it took some tactics and thought process and some good
infantry skills to try and avoid that sort of stuff. The tours were punchy and they were relatively there
was a fear factor there. Most certainly. You had the ID fear factor so it was always in the back of your
mind on those tours so it differs end depending on what areas you went to in Northern Ireland. I did a
few tours in different areas.

Michael: Were lads getting hit and lads getting killed?

Glenn: Don’t get me wrong this was not like going through daily ID belts like Afghanistan it was not the
same and it was a lot less frequent but you know some of the reps you would get you would get
contact but depends on the area you were in you could have daily small arms contact you could have
weekly mortar attacks onto some of the SF basis you were in. IDs could be weekly I can’t put a
timeframe on it depending on the area. Some were more kinetic than others. You really had to be on
top of your game when serving on those tours.

Michael: We have never had anyone talk about Northern Ireland yet on this. Was there a feeling, that
the British troops were doing some good there? Even on reflection now, did you feel you were doing
some good?

Glenn: It is a hard one to comment and it depends on the area you were in and it depended on the
political religious sort of denominations in that area.

Michael: What about you did you? Did you feel you were doing something good there? As a young
soldier did you feel like you were there for a reason?

Glenn: To be honest I didn’t really think about it. I was young and you just did what you were told to
do, had to do and you listened to orders and you just did what you had to do. You just trust in your
chain of command. You trust in your Government. You trust in the people that have put you there in
the first place. For me, personally, I never thought “Should I be here?” I never put any real thought
process on whether I was achieving any good. I just did what I was told to do and did it to the best of
my ability.

Michael: After that tour you went back once more?

Glenn: Yes I did a couple more tours. I did the first year of a 2 year tour in Bally kina which was a

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

residential tour for the whole battalion but I only did the first year there and that was for a traditional
rifle company multiple commander which again, a lot of the stuff was in the Armagh area around
another interesting experience. I did a year their because I then went and did Junior Brecon Section
Commandos course in 1995.

Michael: Just explain what Junior Brecon is?

Glenn: So for an infantry guy your promotion courses are essentially, you do Lance Corporal course
first you then do Junior Commander if you are army tanks or a speciality. If you are rifle company guy,
you do Junior Brecon it is 12 weeks. 6 weeks is tactics and 6 weeks is skill of arms. It is where you
essentially learn your trade. Literally to command a section of people. And you know it is a rite of
passage for the infantry. It is a tough test I didn’t excel on my Junior Brecon because I found it really
hard. I had been essentially the best part of 5 years’ part of a public duties battalion in London. I had
done a couple of years Northern Ireland and I essentially had been marching up and down the mall
wearing a tunic and a bearskin so I was not in the right mind set. I also did not understand the bigger
picture there was other people outside of my regiment and the infantry so I was quite naive so didn’t do
as well as I wanted to do and made me question on whether I wanted to stay. I passed it and became
a section commander and then went off to Catterick to practice my trade as a Section Commander
with recruits. It is something the Infantry are very proud of and taken very seriously. It is literally a rite
of passage.

Michael: I did not understand the extent of it until after speaking to Brian Woods and definitely Sean
Jones, how it upskills people to a different level and a different professionalism. So after that it was
Senior Brecon which you did in 2000?

Glenn: Yes so I sort of redeemed myself on seniors. It was a completely different. I learned so much I
think the experience I learned as a Section Commander I kind of found my feet because you are
constantly learning of other people you learn how to treat people what right and what’s wrong I
constantly tried to better myself. So when I went on Seniors on 2000 it all worked out for me. I came
off that and was literally promoted to set an example and it worked out alright for me the day I got back
I was turned into a Platoon Sergeant and the projectory sort of started from there on in that was the
point where I considered doing other things. I was fit and strong I felt like a good platoon sergeant I
considered doing Special Forces selection but chose not to do it because I did not think I could
commit to it as much as I would like to do as I was such a family man. And I didn’t want to lose time
with my family and I know Special Forces is a big commitment and a lot of time away. Yes, So I found
my feet and I was in a good place and that’s when I really knew I wanted to stay for the long haul and
make something of my career.

Michael: So when you go on Senior Brecon, because it is so far removed from anything we did, Is that
all infantry?

Glenn: Yes it’s not the same again it’s another step up another 12 weeks. You do skill of arms but you
learn your range qualification to run field fire ranges. to get called up but you also do the tactics but
you do all the different phases of operations. You do defence, attack patrols week you do the fan
dance and there is a lot of pressure on you. It is a tough gig. There is not much time, there is not
much sleep, and it is hard graft.

Michael: Is it a learning course or is it a beasting course?

Glenn: It’s a mixture of both you learn a lot about yourself. You learn a lot from other people you learn
a lot of life skills it helps to build your mental resilience and your physical resilience and it puts you in a
position to lead and command those who you are employed to look after.

Michael: A lot of stress but on the back of that you are making decisions and tactics it is an amazing
course.

Glenn: I mean I did that a long time ago. I mean now it is even better.


Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Michael: Way before Iraq and Afghanistan

Glenn: Yes, this is all conventional platoon battle course

Michael: so after that you didn’t go on Op Telic

Glenn: I did Platoon Sergeant Battle course I did a couple of oversee exercises as a Platoon Sergeant
some public duties again. I didn’t really, there was no operations then because I then did the
Sandhurst Cadre course run to at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to become a Colour Sergeant
Instructor because we are probably being one of the only armies in the world where non-commissioned
officers are trained to help train officers. So every year the sandhurst cadre runs for 60 sergeants and
colour sergeants who inspire to become instructors and you know 50% will kind of get through
depending on the year and how many they need to train officers for a 2year period. some people
choose not to do it and go to Brecon and other establishments to teach people but it was something I
chose to do and I got in there and spent a fantastic 2 years as a Colour Sergeant Instructor.

Michael. Is it just Guards?

Glenn: No, it is all Arms actually. It used to be very guardsman 60’s 70’s, heavily influenced by the
footguards but not so much now. There are still quite a few guardsmen from there Sergeant positions
are still there for ceremonial reasons. But it is now open for pretty much anybody which I think is a
good thing you get all sorts in there, gunners, signallers, anyone can go for it. It’s a tough test. It’s a
tough 4 weeks because you are in mental competition with other people.

Michael: Assuming it is prestigious to be there?

Glenn: It is absolutely fantastic I had a platoon all the way through. Sometimes you will have a platoon
sometimes you won’t. I was lucky to have a platoon all the way through I was lucky to have Prince
Harry as one of my cadets and as you can imagine as a young Colour Sergeant it was a fantastic
experience for me.

Michael: Actually, it wasn’t something I was going to discuss. Was there more pressure on you then
with someone like Prince Harry in the platoon?

Glenn: Yes, but only through administrative purposes and reasons. Because clearly when you have a
member of the Royal family there is going to be interest from the media and there is support staff that
have to play a part of looking after the royal family but to be honest Sandhurst were brilliant, my
training team were brilliant, Prince Harry and his staff were brilliant.

Michael: Do they have staff with them?

Glenn: Well, protection officers.

Michael: Oh really but did he get treated differently?

Glenn: No, exactly the same. Lived the same. Ate the same. Worked the same. Shouted at the same.
Ran the same. Everything.

Michael: So those protection blokes didn’t say like “stop shouting at him?”

Glenn: No. It was easy and it was good fun and it was a real life experience for him just as much for
me.

Michael: Well look where he is now. Do you at that stage, do you get bonded, by recruits coming
through?

Glenn: You have a platoon of about 30 and they come from all different walks of life and you get lots of
overseas cadets too. I had about 5 platoons in total. Actually that’s a lie. When I was a Colour

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Sergeant I had 3 platoons. But you have close bonds with the platoon coming through. All very
different platoons for different reason. You get some real characters and now I know so many officers
around the British army. Everywhere you go you bump into people who don’t want to speak to you or
love to speak to you or scuttle past you and don’t want reminded of Sandhurst day.

Michael: So do you still know Prince Harry now then?

Glenn: Yes, but it’s not just Prince Harry. I have good relationships with my old cadets I stayed in
touch with. But yes I know Prince Harry and still work together and collaborate together time to time
for the good and benefit of serving and veteran personnel.

Michael: There is obviously a clear link to what he is doing now and what you are doing now.
Before we get there, 2006 you went back as a Company Sergeant Major.

Glenn: Yes I finished as a Colour Sergeant in 2006 and went on back end of a Telic Tour and once I
finished the Telic tour it was pretty underwhelming to be honest and it was the back end of it and the
job we did was not that enjoyable. We came back from Telic and I did my normal colour duties in
battalion and then went back to Sandhurst from 2008 to 2010

Michael: When were you first Herrick?

Glenn: My first Herrick was 2007. I finished in 2006. Went to Telic. Finished Telic and went straight on
MST, mission specific training for Herick 6 so before I went back to Sandhurst in 2008 I went to Herrick

Michael: So what was the difference then as you had done Colour Sergeant on Telic and then going
straight into Sergeant Major on Ops Herrick?

Glenn: It was different as when we were on Telic we were watching 16 Air Assault Brigade Force on
Herrick 4. I don’t know if you will remember, or the listeners will remember, that was a very kinetic
period they were in their platoon houses in Sangin, Musa Qala, Gereshk … places and for us to watch
through afar and wish we were on Telic. We were going to leave Telic and go straight on mission
specific training and we were going to go out on Herrick 6 so it was the 5 between us, Herrick 5. While
we did our training we deployed on that as part of the OLT, operation liaison team that’s what our
battalion did which was a fascinating tour and to be a company sergeant major part of that group
although the battalion was spread to the four winds a little bit. The OLT, you had to reduce your
company size to mentor teams to look after the Afghans and the best part of our battalion formed the
brigade rece force and also a company we called number 3 Company which was bigger group and
they had a really punchy tour. it was kind of sad because I didn’t have a full company group but kind of
good as well as we had a select few non-commissioned officers mostly mentoring teams in Afghan so
it was a very interesting exciting and sort of mixed emotions tour.

Michael: Did you lose anyone on that?

Glenn: Yes our battalion lost 5 of our guys on that tour and there was a lot injury on that tour my
company crew had a lot injury for various reasons and then it was very different to latter Herricks. It
was very kinetic there was less ID there was much more gun fighting and a lot more vehicle patrol and
clearing frogs and compounds so there was a lot of injuries and when you have a small team and
losing people to varying injuries it is quite hard to maintain the sort of manpower you need to manage
the Afghans.

Michael: We won’t go into it too much at this point at this point your two children. Your eldest son is
probably well aware of what is going on as he is 10. Does that play?

Glen: Massively for anyone who hasn’t been on operations it is listening to these podcasts going on
operations is very hard to disrobe what impact this has on our family. You can’t describe to people
what it’s like to say goodbye to your family knowing there is a good chance you might never come
back. You can’t explain that you have to live it to really understand it. You can imagine what … was
like. It is bad enough when you have children it is properly heart wrenching saying goodbye to kids

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

wondering if you are ever going to see them again. My son was at a really influential age for a father
son relationship and on that tour in particular we were out on the ground on that tour we were out on
the ground for the best part of 80 days of one period of time so it was a busy tour and everybody that
has been on operations will know when I say everyone had a day of days that sticks with them forever
and one of those days on the 80 day operation was the worst day of my tour the toughest day and just
happened to be on my son’s birthday and it’s hard to apply yourself as we are processional but when
stuff like that is on the back of your mind and you are trying to separate the emotional part of your mind
and got to concentrate on the task you have to do it’s an emotional roller coaster.

And then when you come back and the euphoria. When you were lucky enough to come back with
your life or without injury you can only imagine what other people go through. The euphoria that you
get when you see your family and they are happy you are home they are parents and grandparents and
uncles and everyone is affected by it.

Michael: Is it then euphoria? Do you ever, what’s the word, the initial euphoria do you miss it?

Glenn: So I think the best way, yes it is initial euphoria. To get home is amazing because you have
high expectations your wife and kids have high expectations. You will have high expectations as any
communication you have had on operations everything is geared about getting back and how amazing
life is going to be because you reflect a lot when operations both sides of the family do. The way I
always describe coming back from operations is when you are on ops everyone deals with it differently
I find operations a simple existence and what I mean by that is not the fact that your life is at danger
and your soldiers life is at danger and you have to manage that on tour. I mean you have all got to look
after your mates, look after your vehicle, your Bergen, your rifle, your food. It’s simple. You get up you
operate you go to bed if you get to bed. It’s a cycle you know what you are doing, where you are there
is a routine there. But when you get back. But firstly your family don’t have that routine they are doing
bills they are doing the school run they are getting the cars fixed, the drains unblocked. They are doing
the crap we get away with we have our own crap to get on with but they have different. We don’t have
the pressures of our family. I enjoyed the simple existence. When you get back you enjoy the
euphoria. I think that’s where everyone in their own way misses being on operations whether it is the
camaraderie the simple existence, the camaraderie the brotherhood you have formed, whether it’s the
fighting. Different people … I just yes when you get back you…. The excitement soon goes back to
normal and I think that’s when some people start to struggle with the change in environment and going
back to daily jogging.

Michael: Did you ever have any fluctuations?

Glenn: Yes, I suppose one example I just remember getting back everything was fantastic all great
internally miss being on operations I was still in post operations tour not happy to be there not shaven
wearing my flip flops but I do remember doing the washing up one day it was a bit of a shock coming
back doing the washing up. I was washing up and a teaspoon literally went down between the plastic
bowl and the sink and I could not get the teaspoon out. It stressed me out to the point I wanted to
smash the crap out of the plastic bowl. It was just little things would frustrate me. Small things. You
hit your head on the cupboard door so you react differently. To the way you would normally react if you
hit your head on cupboard door. For me, it was not the stress of operations, it was just, I was having to
deal with crap I couldn’t be bothered to deal with.

Michael: Do you think it was the world view that had changed? the big picture stuff, the important
stuff much more relaxed about if something was to happen to someone you would be in a much better
position to deal with it. If one of the kids got taken to hospital with a cut. You can deal with it. It is the
small things?

Glenn: Yes, it’s the small things I think what I also find and It also changed me it was my emotional
mind-set. So I have always prided myself on being a stiff upper lip good old British guy who doesn’t
cry about stuff and get emotional. But I just found after that first tour I got emotional about things I
would never get emotional about before I remember watching a kid’s movie with my family and even
the kid’s movie put a lump in my throat the size of an ostrich egg. I was like what’s the matter with you
it wasn’t because I had issues I just valued everything I had more. Because you have been in a

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

situation and you have seen others less fortunate than you because you know what could have
happened to you and what could have panned out you just think about life differently you think about
your family differently you don’t take things for granted.

Michael: After that you were the Company Sergeant Major at Sandhurst, post that you were RSM at
the Grenadier Guards. Was that almost pinnacle?

Glenn: Yes, for me for a lot of soldiers. I think you get to a point when I got to Platoon Sergeant level
and I use to look at my Regimental Sergeant Majors as mentors and role models I would have just
loved to have get it. To be selected was just amazing. I was immensely proud to be appointed into that
role and I absolutely loved it.

Michael: What kind of stuff were you doing?

Glenn: When I took over we were literally getting employed to go on Herrick 16 and missed our middle
tour of Herrick so I came in literally as were prepping mission specific training in Canada for a couple of
exercises before we deployed in 2012 on Herrick16 and did some public duties before I handed it over.

Michael: So as RSM Herrick 16 – what is the role? Are you in the office?

Glenn: The battalion was split it is back to the Gereshk area same as Herrick 6 which was weird mixed
emotions to go back and see how much it had developed and changed. But also go back to the place
you had fought so hard for and saw people injured and killed. It was bizarre going back.

My role then was very different to Herrick 6 there was a little bit of office battlegroup headquarter in
FOB… at the time but mostly it was being part of the TACT group it was planning and moving the
commanding officer around in a small group to all the outstations and FOB to the locations the guys
were at to make sure we had the battalion function the way they should do on operations. But it was a
different environment we had vehicles we could only have dreamed of on Herrick 6. It felt a lot safer in
the vehicles you were in. The level of IED having missed the middle tour was just completely different
to what I had known in 2007 so the route planning and all the stuff you have to pay meticulous
attention to look alter your guys paid a big part in my role because I was travelling around so much.
But the battalion groups were in certain locations. They had a tough tour.

Michael: What as in getting attacked what was?

Glenn: Yes, we had a couple of companies that were in 2 locations in the Ghazni are and another
company that were doing a lot of ground taking and holding and because this particular are and …….
Gresham area always been Taliban strongholds they just had a rough tour ranging from ID to kinetics to
UG and compounds you kind of name it wasn’t what I was expecting on a tour so late on in the
campaign. If that makes sense so.

Michael: Was moral down?

Glenn: When you are getting hammered by CGL and ID people getting killed periods of time when
moral is down but the resilience and toughness of soldiers never fails and the camaraderie the
brotherhood, the stuff I have mentioned all the way through the podcast keeps the guys going, kept
the battalion going.

Michael: From your point of view then that pinnacle everyone is looking to you does it ever affect you?
in command, when the lads are dying or getting injured do you ever feel responsible for it?

Glenn; Yes, you do. Its slightly different as the regiment sergeant major … you are not the commanding
officer so as the RSM you don’t actually own anything. You are not actually in command that’s what our
officers are there to do but you are there to compliment the chain of command but as soon as you hear
a crump or you are stood in the ops room and you hear something come in you can’t help but get that
sinking feeling and then the urge to find out what’s going on because you care about your blokes and
you want everyone to be okay and you just want information you want to know where they are and

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

what going on so you can help so yes there were testing times on that tour like all the tours where you
just wish you could make everything better. But you haven’t got a magic wand and you can’t change
everything or make everything better no matter what position you are in so it does take its toll on
people in command and leadership positions there is no doubt about that you have to deal with it in
your own way. It was my job as the RSM and I have prided myself on …I have grown up in an
environment an infantry environment alpha male macho it is a job of the RSM to tell everyone it’s all
going to be alright and to make light of it and to use that soldier humour and change people’s mind-set
and make them think differently and convince them what they are doing is the right thing and to carry
on doing what they are doing.?

Michael: After Herrick 6 you became the academy sergeant major. After that the army sergeant major.
Was that a new role in 2015?

Glenn: Yes the academy sergeant major used to be the senior position sergeant major position in the
army we just hadn’t had a sergeant major like other armies around the world. When I was the Academy
sergeant major although people would like you to carry around with CGS and have an idea what’s
going on in the army. But you haven’t you only know what’s going on in Sandhurst. So The CGS at the
time general Nick Carter decided to have an army SM which was a completely new thing it was kind of
cam e out of nowhere it had lots of no sayers, blockers against it and people who didn’t believe it and
seem son an American idea and why do we need to do that we have had an army for 350 years why do
we need to change it now and being in such a senior position. CGS stuck to his guns asked my advice
and he brought in a sergeant major and changed the network at the time which we kind of had. But we
didn’t necessary do it property. The new job came in I was appointed into it in a 3-year position and it
was a real challenge to set it up.

Michael: What was it?

Glenn: The Army Sargent Major was the Senior Warrant Officer in the army and I was appointed as a
member of ETAC so if you can imagine a table full of generals and a couple of civil servants and some
outsiders that set the policy for the British army with someone who had very limited experience in
running a business. I was brought into that as somebody with very limited experience in running a
business I was plonked round this table. It was a real baptism of fire. I was uncomfortable to start off
with it took me the best part 8, 9 -10 months to really understand how I could influence this room. Its
wasn’t just that, it wasn’t just being sat around this board table. It was also about working out what I
had to do. Setting up a role at that level is quite hard to do have to set about what your job remit is
and how you can make a difference so it took me a long time to get around the army and to convince
people that this role was a good thing and to tell people exactly what it is for. I soon started to work
out that when seniors saw you and heard you and listen to what you were trying to do. Then they
understood it then they got behind then they supported you and before you knew it the army sergeant
major role was taking off. The problem was there were many people in the chain of command both up
and down that were one, jealous of the access the ASM would get and they felt threatened by the
influence the ASM could have to the senior members of the army. Because the influence was
unbelievable. I was probably the only person who could have an open door policy to that I could walk
in and say, Sir I need to speak to you about something. I don’t think people really understood that.

Michael: What were you influencing then? Was it transition? Was it all about those that were serving?

Glenn: There was so much to do. If you think of all the officers who were sat around that table who
were about 15 to 20 years removed from those at the coal face/ that was probably the last time they
commanded as a commanding officer so they have been away from it for a long time. They are
genuinely good people who care passionately about the army they served. The problem was they
haven’t got anyone who really gets out on the ground who can feed them unfiltered information. So
that’s what I did. I would influence them in the way only a sergeant major could influence them with
honesty clear factual advice with no hidden agenda on a number of things and I mean it is hard to list
them all and list exactly what influence you had. just things such as education I am passionate about
soldier’s education I had no education when I joined. I am passionate about other ranks. In my new
job that I am in now across the services. Changing the command chain of leadership bringing in
chartered management and degree apprentices for servicing personnel. The army leadership was

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

rolled out. I played a big part of that influencing how it was written how it was developed and how we
could change behaviours in the Army for the better. Communications was a big thing. No one had
really had any social media accounts at the time. For me to come in and set up an official twitter
account and other things which I tried and failed for a number of reasons. It changed the way the Army
it was not down to me it was the position that managed to change the way we communicated and the
way we showed the changes that were being made and I think it has just grown from there with senior
people and junior people and jumping on the communications band wagon and making a difference.
Everything from diversity and inclusions, women in ground closed combat, bullying, harassment,
discrimination, alcohol abuse, mental health well-being so many things and as the ASM you just need
to know a little about a lot and spread yourself slimly because you are not a union chairman, you are
not someone who is going to go against the grain. You have to compliment that chain of command
and you are employed by that chain of command to do a job and you have to cleverly do it only the
way a sergeant major could do.

Michael: But in long term and look at the long game this might be a 20 or 30 year think exponentially it
just goes on. You can’t do everything straight away you go to be able to especially when you have
push back from certain people. You almost have to like the New Zeeland rugby team. You have to
share and pass the share on in a better position than when you got it. It is a really good mantra. Rome
was not built in a day and these things do take time and we mentioned communications and I feel like
especially on twitter it is really open and me looking really from outside a bi link that I am seeing things
I have never seen before. Just being able to communicate with people whether that is Head of the
military, right the way to civil servants and I am having meaningful conversations with people especially
around the podcast. It has its negatives as well social media. I personally believe you have been
unjustified hammered a lot on various platforms and not to go into that too much but that did have a
negative impact on your well-being to the point you broke down.

Glenn: So yes as I said before I have always prided myself on being a machine because that is how I
have grown up and I have always been proud of the fact that I am a bit of a tough guy and I mentally
resilient and I can handle most things been on operations seen all the bad stuff done all that sort of
thing. But when I got into the army Sergeant Major position it was almost like a concoction of things all
at once. I decided as well when I was in that job as I studied and wanted a degree Thato set an
example to others that you could educate yourself later on life. Which I successfully did but that sort of
came at a cost to as I was trying to set this job up I was travelling a lot visiting the army I was away
from home a lot is set up these social media accounts I got a fair amount of stick on social media
whether it was personal or not. I don’t know. But I thought I was doing pretty well with it and I chose to
engage with it and continued to battle on and do the right thing for people and the organisation and
kept persevering and I had no idea I knew I was busy I knew not stressed but I knew I was wired if that
makes sense sand I working really hard and I was pleased to be working really hard. And then one day
I just happened to go to the military doctor and went for something like an ankle or a knee and the
doctor started probing asking questions like doctors do how are you sleeping and stuff like that. I was
sleeping horrifically nothing stopped me going to sleep I am out of the count no matter where I am or
what I am doing but I would be a 00:03hr waker up, stressed writing things down, thinking about what I
should do, reading social media, think about my next text. He picked up on that and the conversation
went on. I just broke down with the doctor and properly broke down. I squealed and cried like I had
never cried like when I was 6 or 7 years’ old everything was pent up inside me and waiting to get out
because he was brilliant doctor he just got it out of me. And yes it was a tough time. It is tough when
you pride yourself on being who you think you are to be then be seen like that by a doctor and then to
have to share everything with them was just a bit of a challenge. And then to share that with my wife
and my family as well was a tough pill to swallow.

Michael: Were you diagnosed with anything?

Glenn: Yes depression/stress related stuff, I was offered meds. It was like a relief as well once it
happened. I was kind of over the moon it happened. When I released it, it was just an amazing feeling.
I got put on some meds. Not for overly wrong. I was recommended to do counselling which I refused.
Because there was still an element in me that said I did not need it now I know what is wrong now vie
got some medication and now vie got a doctor I can speak to who was absolutely brilliant who I could
confide in for months after. And it all just worked out okay. It changed my mind-set. It changed me a

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

s a human being. It made me do things I thought I would never do. And it’s made me want to help
other people who are in the same position.

Michael: The next role on from that. You handed over that role of ASM and you became the Senior
Enlisted Adviser essentially you are working now with and for the MOD and removed from the Army as
such. And we are looking at things like recruitment, retention and retirement. I know that is a big part
of what you are trying to go into there. But off the back of that the Mental Health Champion has come
about. It’s a new role. It certainly is seen by many as progressive and a really good step forward from
“words / phrases” like mental resilience crept in over the years and mental fitness, management of
good mental health. What is the role firstly, of the Senior Enlisted Adviser? and then your kind of sub
role as the Mental Health Champion?

Glenn: Yes, but the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, I mean it’s a long winded
title. But I think it’s a good thing it is not called Defence Sergeant Major or Defence Warrant Office as
soon as you use words like that you think of a shout fella with a stick. I think senior listed adviser to the
chief of staff committee. So in the role I advise chief of staff, defence ministers and the service chiefs
with the help of the service warrant officers as well. Pretty wide spread job. I do advise pretty much a
bigger scale of the ASM job but I have got the other services as well. Because I know the Army
intimately I have stayed away from the Army from the last 8 months and I have learnt a lot from the
Navy, the RAF, and the civil service. Honestly, there is so much good stuff that we can learn from each
other CIAC role (that’s the abbreviation of the role) as one of the only people who can get around the
whole of defence and bring the close of the defence together with good ideas and share experiences.
So I work at the MOD in London. I travel a lot and try to learn as much as I can about the services.
Essentially I try to be 3 things: the thermometer to check the temperature, the way of life around
defence. I am a translator because I try and translate from the very senior levels all the way down that
you and I understand, normal human being speak. I am a courier as I can deliver from the very senior
level to the very junior and then back up to the senior. So it is a unique role and I use social media to
try and do that to try and bring those defence to gather and I work close with the service officers as the
Army, Navy, RAF all have their own senior officers they feed that into me. I use the information from the
very lowest level and feed it all the way up to the top. People again there were blockers non-believers
people who felt threatened and jealous but it’s been 8 months and people see a difference already.
People see the Mental Health Champion. It was just an idea. I happened to speak to a few people and
said I can’t believe the military don’t have a champion. And when I say champion I am no doctor I am
no expert in mental health far from it. But what has really triggered this is my own experience that we
have just talked through which has just made me want to do something to try and help people. This is
genuinely not about Glen Houghton. I’ve got nowhere else to go. It is not about a hidden agenda. It’s
about these roles helping the people that they serve. That’s what it is about. The mental health and
well-being champion is literally there to raise awareness, break down barriors, to break down the
stigma. To sign post people. It’s okay to talk and if someone who is 6 foot 4 looks like me with a bald
head and tattoos and you know thinks they are the alpha male – it can happen to anyone and it’s my
job to convince them that it is okay to share and to talk and that there is somewhere for them to go to
help them.

Michael: A role, that will go on to someone else after you?

Glenn: Yes, so people say to me what do I want to achieve in this first year. And the first thing I say is I
want this role to be a one way valve the CIAC needs to stay. It is a position that could represent the
views not just enlisted and other ranks but everyone in defence. It gives defence ministers and chiefs a
completely different perspective and a view.

Michael: And the mental health champion will that always be part of the advisors?

Glenn: That’s what I will advise to do. I think it’s the right thing to do. Because of this unique thing
about these positions is I have been part of the boys and girls. They listen in a different way because
you have been there, lived there and done that and been through all the ranks and because you
communicate in a way that most of them understand and they can relate to, it is almost like in most
cases they trust the position more than anything else. It is a good position to be in. To influence the
way, we do our business.

Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast

Michael: A great step forward. Glenn we will leave it there.


Episode 33 – Glenn Haughton, OBEDeclassified Podcast