Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Onward, British soldiers

Des Brown, the Secretary of State for Defence, has admitted that they had 'underestimated' the Taliban when preparing to send British soldiers to Afghanistan.

In other words, they did not properly assess the situation, and because of this error, British soldiers lie dead in their graves.

This is outrageous. There is no excuse under the sun for this grievous miscalculation. Before the deployment had even taken place, warnings were sounded about the dangers of sending troops to Helmand.

The Taliban greeted the news of the arriving troops with relish. Surely, that should have induced wariness in even the most gung-ho Prime Minister. They gleefully reminded us of the 1880 Battle of Maiwand (not far from Helmand), where an entire British regiment was almost wiped out by the Afghans. Who can forget the words of Mullah Razayar Noorzai, when he warned us a few months ago:
"We have already prepared 600 suicide bombers alone for the Helmand, and you'll see that we will turn it into their graveyard."
A few months before that, another Afghan warlord had warned:
"We thought that it (ie the war) would be between us and the US, but it looks like souls of the British buried in the Helmand after they were killed by the Afghan warriors in the 19th century may be feeling bored. ... Now they are calling their grandchildren to be reunited with them in hell."
This was not just idle boasting. It was sufficient enough to cause worry in many quarters. We were sending soldiers to do peacetime duties, while their reluctant 'hosts' were threatening war.

The then Defence Secretary, John Reid, was criminally deluded about the risks of being in Afghanistan. Apparently, the soldiers were going there to help out in reconstruction and the effort to curb drug production. John Reid
talked about leaving in three years 'without firing a shot'. Such naivete would only be touching if demonstrated by a twelve year old schoolgirl. Did he really think that the Taliban would sit back and watch the soldiers as they went around town 'reconstructing' the place? Did he really think the Taliban would give up poppy-control without a fight? At the very least, we should be calling for the head of John Reid, but he has since been promoted to the Home Office. Congratulations, sir.

I can understand, to some degree, if the Government chose not to listen to the warnings from the Taliban. However, concerns were also raised about the difficult terrain of the Helmand, which obviously favoured the native Taliban. These were dismissed with typical careless arrogance.

This Government has shown over time that it has little or no regard for the lives of its soldiers. Daily we read about soldiers being sent into battle without protective gear. Sometimes, their equipment is faulty, and downright dangerous. Even when, against all odds, they survive the heat of battle and return home, they may yet find themselves facing charges of war crimes. Now we hear that even an objective assessment of the risks of battle is beyond the capabilities of this Government. This is truly shocking, but sadly, not surprising. Though the Taliban may wield the weapon, many soldiers are dead today because of the Government.
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Blogger tapestry said...

i wrote a report fron Channel 4's report last night on the government's unwillingness to spend any money to support the troops and save their lives with basic equipment.

On the same theme.


3:36 PM  
Blogger GlassHouse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:50 PM  
Blogger GlassHouse said...

I agree with you on the troop equipment stuff, but I don't think that tribal and religious militants' threats of retaliation are reasons in themselves to avoid taking a particular course of action.

Otherwise it's just appeasement

3:52 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

glasshouse, I agree. Which is why I said I could understand the government not taking much notice of that. However, if you are sending soldiers to a dangerous place, and you insist they are not going there for war, it should concern you that the local warlords are threatening war, nonetheless.

I don't agree re the appeasement. What are we doing there in the first place? Appeasement as a concept should apply when someone is threatening us. We were sending troops to a danger zone to act as social workers. What were we on?

(Tongue in cheek here) In any case, this Government has been 'appeasing' all manner of terrorists, so why not the Taliban? We talk to Hamas, IRA, and all such undesirables, after all.

3:59 PM  
Blogger GlassHouse said...

I understand you're point - clearly the Taliban aren't directly threatening us. However, a withdrawl that allowed the country to return to it's previous state would allow it to once again become a safe-haven for those who would like to threaten us directly.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

glasshouse, have we not enough trouble from those who are threatening us directly, without pouring away billions in this manner? I speak here of islamic fundamentalism which is growing at an alarming pace in the UK.

Perhaps better to deal with that as a matter of urgency.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

tapestry, I have been and read that interesting article. Thank you for highlighting it :)

4:49 PM  

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