Archaeologists, art dealers, art crime investigators, and linguists. These are some of the professions to which the British Army is looking in order to fill the ranks of its newest special unit: the Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU).
Creation of this new unit comes as a result of the British government’s decision in 2017 to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on protecting cultural property during a conflict. According to its founder—and thus far, only member—Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick, the new unit will be comprised of 15 operators drawn from across the British military—from the Army, Royal Air Force (RAF), and Royal Navy (RN). Civilians who wish to enter the unit would have to first join the reserves.
The CPPU will specialize in protecting archaeological sites, anti-terrorism finance and anti-smuggling operations, and intelligence gathering. They will also be responsible for informing commanders about places of cultural importance found inside their area of operations.
“I’m looking for experts in art, archaeology, and art crime investigation—leaders in their field who are able to deploy on operations down to the tactical level,” said Lt. Col. Purbrick. “The idea will be to identify sites so that we don’t drop bombs on them or park tanks on top of them,” he added.