Today's Sun headlines with PARAS TO BLITZ DRUG LORDS. What on earth can they mean? For a horrible, sick-throat here-we-go moment I thought they were reporting some half-bright great idea from No.10 to send the Parachute Regiment into, say, Holmewood or Feltham, or perhaps any number of dinner parties, on a desperate mission to blast those evil pushers. But no, thank God. A closer look shows that they are talking about the coming deployment of NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps HQ as well as the 16th Air Assault Brigade to Afghanistan as a reinforced and extended version of ISAF. But - that's been well known for a year now. It's called Operation HERRICK, and it's been multiply reported in the national and international press, and it's even on the ARRC website, arrc.nato.int. The first call for volunteers from the TA went out a couple of weeks ago.
So why on earth is it news all of a sudden? And what is all this DRUG LORDS crap? The chief tasks of ARRC, including the two battalions of Paras in 16AAB, will be firstly to keep the warlords deterred, and secondly to chase the Continuity Taliban up and down mountains. They might do a modicum of poppy-destroying too, but given the total-strategic realities, not too much. After all, trying to suppress the Afghan heroin export trade as a contribution to peace there would be like abolishing oil in an effort to pacify Iraq.
What it does do, though, is put a super-sensation screamer on the Sun's front page, and one with plenty of Sunny signifiers - the Parachute Regiment, a warry photo of a WAH-64D attack chopper, DRUG LORDS and, dear God, the BLITZ. Now, what else might somebody think of printing this fine Monday?
Hmmm - perhaps the Met's discovery of the quantum television camera? You know, the one that's both working and not working at any given moment depending on whether the Metropolitan Police or ITN observes it. Like Schrödinger's cat. Nope, though. Look! Paratroopers! I think the Sun used to have a Page 7 Fella as well as the Page 3 Girl, but at least they didn't go *that* far...well, I hope not, because I haven't opened the thing.