Monday, 13 July 2009
Helmand Is not the only War Front
It is without a doubt our own Vietnam.
Britain is with other coallition partners finding our presence in Afghanistan becoming a nightmare.
Last week was the single biggest loss of life for our troops since the conflict began.
And the public stomach is no longer as strong as it once was.
Questions by the average voter are being asked and the same question is being asked .......why????
I heard over the weekend a group on radio 4. a group saying the work we do is good, we are advancing forward putting Afghanistan on the road to democracy, providing health, medicine, and young ladies with the opportunity for education.
All noble...........but I for one feel the cost we are paying is too high.
The death toll has passed that of Iraq and if you listen to the bumbling fool Bob Ainsworth it is set to get worse.
But I notice another issue.
The war appears on another front not just Helmand.
A bitter war of words.
We now have a vast number of senior military figures coming out of the shadows and indeed letting rip and venting there spleen. This has a nother issue. It shows a broken administarion, shows in fighting and further undermines the position of our troops.
Max Hastings raised the subject and I quote.
The steep rise in casualties in Afghanistan is being matched by increasingly bitter recriminations between the Government and the British Army.
Soldiers accuse ministers of failing to give the troops on the ground the support they need. Ministers charge the Army with dangerously politicising its role.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, has especially angered Labour by complaining privately to a group of Tory MPs about under-resourcing of the campaign.
Senior officers are impenitent about speaking out, because they regard the stakes as so high - the lives of their men. One told me yesterday: 'I regard the losses of the past fortnight as a wake-up call to the Government.
'If we are going to fight this war as it needs to be fought, we need a properly-resourced army.
'We also need the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to explain to the British people, as they have never convincingly tried to do, why we are in Afghanistan and what we are trying to do there.'
General Dannatt, who left London yesterday to visit the army in Helmand, retires next month. He feels acutely his responsibility to speak out for the interests of his men who are doing the fighting.
He knows that, with only weeks left in his post, there is little the Government can do to punish him. To force his resignation at this stage would merely make him a martyr - with most of the country firmly on his side.
This further props up the article I blogged about on Lord Guthrie last week.
The Army's view is that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown committed our troops to fight wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, yet have always refused them the means they need to do the job.
The Chief of Defence Staff, airman Sir Jock Stirrup, is thought to be more committed to keeping ministers happy and protecting the interests of the RAF than backing the soldiers in their struggle.
Army strength has been cut since 1997, though most defence experts think 98,000 men is not enough to defend Britain's interests.
Today, there is a new threat to reduce infantry numbers, to help bridge the Treasury's huge spending hole. The Army has repeatedly urged the need for more battlefield helicopters, but these requests have been rejected.
General Sir Richard Dannatt has complained privately to a group of Tory MPs about under-resourcing, helicopter support for the Army, unless ministers force the airmen to do otherwise.
Did anyone know the helicopter budget for the conflict was cut in 2004 and we were in both Afghanistan and Iraq at that time?
There is absolutely no military confidence in the new Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth. We have had four Defence Secretaries in three years. John Hutton was the only one who seemed to understand the questions, even if he could not provide the answers, but he walked off the set in the last reshuffle. It is impossible to make sensible policy if you don't have proper political leadership.'
At the heart of the Army's anger is a belief that, because Gordon Brown has never been enthusiastic about either the armed forces or the wars to which Tony Blair committed them, he is trying to conduct operations at bargain-basement prices. Soldiers pay with their lives for his cynicism.
No prime minister likes having to pay bills for wars, which are always hugely expensive. But historically, governments which have committed the nation to fight have accepted the cash consequences of doing so.
So do we pull out?
I for one do not accept the terror returning to the streets arguement.
Proper policing and border controls will sort that out.
And is it the Taliban?
What is the Taliban?
I feel we are fighting the locals, the warlords, the dissefected, the drug trafickers the basic people of Afghanistan who just want us away.
Not the Taiban NO, not the religious regime who are the Taliban. Its another excuse!
Hamed Karzai is reported to be corrupt. His government is also reported corrupt.
In my trips to Afghanistan, Kabul airport has a ring of NATO ISAF steel around it, however once inside you meet the Afghan police. And everyone has there hands out for a bribe, a tip, or you never see your bags again, or maybe for some reason you might find a paperwork error that delays you getting to a plane.
So Mr Karzai needs to shake this image off, needs to bring his people together and change an attitude or two. The government needs to view hard our role, and stop spreading the huge falsehoods they have been of late. They sent us in, they have to get it sorted.