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Thread: The UK in Afghanistan

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK 'may have 40-year Afghan role'

    This milestone has been passed now, with three Paras killed in a suicide bombing and much comment / reporting in the UK press.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...aches-100.html - which includes 'Not a single British soldier has been fatally shot for almost nine months'.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...ghanistan.html

    There's also a photo gallery: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2095...ghanistan.html

    How this milestone will play out with the public is unknown.

    davidbfpo

  2. #22
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Soldiers Story (update)

    Following on from the BBC Panorama programme, November 5th 2007, which was on this thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4262

    Last night Panorama provided an interesting short update on how the soldiers feel now: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programme...ma/7437580.stm

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-10-2008 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Add 2007 thread link

  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    for the links.

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Prince of Wales article

    Issued yesterday to coincide with the Trooping the Colour ceremony: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../15/do1511.xml

    The Welsh Guards colour was being trooped and there was footage of a group temporarily assigned to the Royal Irish, in Afghanistan.

    Nothing startling in the article, but some may like it.

    davidbfpo

  5. #25
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default British Operations in Helmand Afghanistan

    British Operations in Helmand Afghanistan
    by Dr. Daniel Marston, Small Wars Journal

    British Operations in Helmand Afghanistan (PDF Article)

    Iím going to try to provide an overview of British operations, called HERRICK, in Helmand (HLD) province, Afghanistan, over the last couple of years. The situation in southern Afghanistan (RC South) is widely considered to be worsening, with the Taliban controlling entire districts and launching major attacks. The British, along with the rest of our allies, have faced heavy criticism for their prosecution of the war in the south. I will look at how the British have adapted to changing conditions, and their understanding and application of COIN principles. My assessment is not official in any way, and any errors of fact or interpretation are purely mine. This assessment is drawn from the many conversations which I have been privileged to have with commanders from brigadier down to platoon level on all British operations, as well as from field reports and visits with units.

  6. #26
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Cross posting on UK role

    Under the headline 'Grim reality of life beyond Helmand' the (UK) Sunday Times has this report, subtitled 'British officials are pleased with their reconstruction. Our correspondent finds little for them to crow about':

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle4882416.ece

    It should be read alongside a longer article on the military campaign, under the headline 'Relentless Taliban just keep coming' and subtitled:
    As their gruelling tour of duty in Afghanistan ends, men of 2 Para tell of relentless battles with an enemy that simply doesnít know when he is outgunned

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle4882417.ece

    Includes remarks made by the Brigadier in charge of the UK brigade in Helmand, who are about to leave.

    Note one platoon in 2 Para of thirty men had six fatal casualties in their tour; a one in five ratio does not bode well - in Afghanistan and here IMHO.

    Posted in another thread too.

    davidbfpo

  7. #27
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK Failing Strategy

    An article in the 'Restricted' British Army Review (BAR) has appeared in the public domain: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    I am sure the author, a UK Army major, is echoing many comrades views.

    Hat tip to: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama and that refers in the comments section to another UK officer, David Benest, on UK COIN doctrine and associated problems: http://ccw.politics.ox.ac.uk/events/...t08_benest.asp

    Not that this publicity will affect the UK government.

    davidbfpo

  8. #28
    Council Member Blackjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    An article in the 'Restricted' British Army Review (BAR) has appeared in the public domain: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    I am sure the author, a UK Army major, is echoing many comrades views.

    Hat tip to: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama and that refers in the comments section to another UK officer, David Benest, on UK COIN doctrine and associated problems: http://ccw.politics.ox.ac.uk/events/...t08_benest.asp

    Not that this publicity will affect the UK government.

    davidbfpo
    Thank you for the link to the article. I must admit it was rather harsh, but possibly not off base. The part that really got me as a former NCO was when the article stated the following;

    Maj Miller also castigated senior officers for the strategy of "Clear, Hold, Build", which he stated had become a "parody of itself".

    He added: "We are really only clearing the immediate vicinity of the security force bases, we are only holding the major settlements, and we are not building.

    "Self-protection has become the main tactic, reinforced by air strikes that can backfire and undermine the campaign.

    "Even as the Army renders itself more and more immobile with heavier vehicles and infantrymen weighing as much as a medieval knight, still the fantasy of the "manoeuvrist approach is peddled in staff courses.

    "There is nothing manoeuvrist about weeks of petty, attritional fire fights within a few kilometres radius of a Forward Operating Base. The reason for all this is clear – zero casualties has become the tacit assumption behind operations.

    "The Taliban are not being "coerced", "deterred", or "destabilised". They simply disperse, knowing that the British cannot sustain pressure, and they return like the tide when the British troops withdraw, after a short period, back to their bases."

    In concluding his essay, Maj Miller wrote the "British Army must believe that it can win wars again".
    It sounds like an utter disaster and like the leadership lives in some sort of fantasy land, or echelons above reality. Some of us have lost good friends along the way in these small wars, or been wounded ourselves. However it is important to recognize that risk is part of this thing we do. We should not be so adverse to casualties that it stops us from doing our duties on the ground.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-23-2009 at 09:16 AM. Reason: ahve to have and nto to not
    See things through the eyes of your enemy and you can defeat him.

  9. #29
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    Is there any way to access the actual British Army Review article?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  10. #30
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default BAR access

    Carl,

    BAR is not available publically in the UK and sometimes back issues appear in the RUSI Library (Whitehall think tank). I understand copies circulate in US staff colleges etc (as indicated by Jon Custis recently and others before, on different threads). I will check when in RUSI this week.

    davidbfpo

  11. #31
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK heliborne assault

    I will post this too in an OEF thread, but as it is a UK Army operation starting here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...n-assault.html

    What is amazing IMHO is the reference to 'Operation Panther's Claw, an assault by the Scots soldiers on one of the last Taliban strongholds in Helmand Province...' Bold added by me.

    Does this exclude the two large refugee camps, which had Taliban rule eighteen months ago in Helmand Province?

    davidbfpo

  12. #32
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Hat tip to: http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama and that refers in the comments section to another UK officer, David Benest, on UK COIN doctrine and associated problems: http://ccw.politics.ox.ac.uk/events/...t08_benest.asp
    Colonel David Benest, former CO 2 PARA, has only recently retired. I know him well. Unlike a lot of folks this guy actually is a Counter-insurgency expert, with a 30-year operational track record, from the early days in Northern Ireland until A'stan last year.

    I don't wish to place words in the Colonel's mouth, but my conversations with him seem to indicate that he is very sceptical of "COIN Doctrine/manuals" or "theoretical approaches." He is very much for the hands on approach and teaching what works, based on actual evidence, and not "pet theories."
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  13. #33
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default UK Failing Strategy

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    I have started this as a new thread because I think it is deserving of our collective attentions.

    Suffice it to say, I doubt these are "UK only" problems. Moreover, as many of you know I am not entirely convinced that Afghanistan is actually suffering from an insurgency. There might actually be a war going on.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  14. #34
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    While I can't get on board with all of the Major's points, his frustration is certainly valid.

    But at the heart of the matter, as he alludes to, and WILF states above: If you don't understand what the problem is that you are trying to solve, any solution you devise is likely to come across as a confused, inefficient mess.

    (Though WILF, I do have to call you out a little bit: I thought your position was that insurgency is war, but now you identify the difference as critical? Shed some light, brother. What factors are you seeing that are making you see this as trending across some line, and what that line is.)

    For me, I would set "Clear-Hold-Build" on a shelf, right next to the concepts that we can either kill enough "bad guys" to win; or build enough infrastructure to win. In fact, toss up on that shelf the concept of the coalition "winning" or "losing" altogether, as this tends to shape our actions more to save our own face rather than to stabilize Afghanistan.

    What I would take down from the shelf is a shift to a focus of attaining localized "goodnees" and doing so in a manner that minimizes any perceptions of legitimacy of the Coalition over whatever government the Afghan people choose to put in place. I would then seek a strong partnership with Iran to help implement this process, and also thereby diluting any perceptions of western legitmacy over the Afghan government. Simplify the solution and reduce the amount of control we seek over that solution. We must merely enable an Afghan solution, not impose a western one.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  15. #35
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    (Though WILF, I do have to call you out a little bit: I thought your position was that insurgency is war, but now you identify the difference as critical? Shed some light, brother. What factors are you seeing that are making you see this as trending across some line, and what that line is.)
    Call away Brethren. Call away! What's the difference between an insurgency and a war? I merely suggest that in wars the primary purpose of operations is to defeat the enemy (defeat as in render the enemy unable to stop you doing what you want to do).
    I believe that should be the object in what some call "COIN". How it is best done will depend on the specifics of the circumstance, but painting yourself into the "POP-centric COIN" corner is not necessarily progress, if the population is inclined to support which ever side is winning.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  16. #36
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wider than Afpak

    A lengthy speech by the next UK Army chief, full text: http://www.rusi.org/events/ref:E496B...4A4253226F582/ and a commentaries: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/ and: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...ure-chief.html

    Too late to fully absorb now.

    davidbfpo

  17. #37
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Thread amendments

    The first seven posts were on a different thread on the UK Army problems: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...?t=4819&page=5 and rightly Wilf thought a new thread was needed and I later moved the seven posts to this thread.

    davidbfpo

  18. #38
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    I'm not sure its as bad as all that. Queen's Birthday Parade went well.
    I had a splendid time in Afghanistan, and was quite clear what my purpose there was.




    Bringing all my men home alive. Preferably without setting the neighbourhood on fire.
    Any thing else was a bonus.

  19. #39
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Making all-service choices?

    Daily Telegraph comment on the choices: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/p...is-timely.html

    davidbfpo

  20. #40
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Savage comments

    Following the death of Lt.Col. Thorneloe, once a student of his Professor Richard Holmes (once a TA / Reserve Army brigadier) has written this savage IMHO attack on the UK lack of a strategy: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle6652496.ece

    Incidnetally the more popular newspaper The Daily Mail on 7/7/09 had an editorial comment: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...hting-for.html. Followed by Max Hastings article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...r-country.html - within are two pithy sentences
    'Soldiers know the harsh statistic, that an infantryman faces a one-in-ten chance of suffering a life-changing injury during a tour in Helmand' and 'They perceive their courage exploited, their lives risked, merely so that Britain can 'show willing' to the Americans'
    .

    In evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee on Defence, Stephen Grey, a Sunday Times journalist, was scathing in his criticism - not of the troops: http://files.stephengrey.com/OpSnake...transcript.doc

    Then we can read that UK aid has created a park for women at Lashka Gar:
    To the utter bemusement of the local Afghanis, DFID has invested no less than £420,000 on a (-) leisure park for Women, complete, you will be pleased to know with a (-) Ferris wheel. Called Bolan Park, when it was completed just over a year ago, it had "puzzled residents" asking why so much money was being spent on leisure when the most pressing problem – security – was getting worse by the day. Said Amir Mohammad, 44, "If the international community wants our country to be prosperous, they should first worry about peace and security. Then we can have parks."
    Then there's the good news:
    As for the IEDs that have been killing "Our Boys" – many of them now home-made using agricultural fertiliser - the aid agencies thought about that as well. Very helpfully this season, they have supplied the (Taleban) Afghani farmers with a total of 4,749 metric tons, conveniently packaged in 25-kilogram bags.
    Last two comments from: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.com/

    Meantime the official line is
    'The way forward is hard and dangerous. More lives will be lost and our resolve will be tested
    .' From the Defence Minister's speech; in full: http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/De...fghanistan.htm

    The speech was delivered at Chatham House, London a think tank and unusually for such a gathering his speech recieved some hostile comments over the lack of helicopters in the Q&A.

    Apologies for length, IMHO the issue of 'Why Afghanistan?' appears to be moving into the public domain and public support for the policy is simply evaporating. In late 2008 a poll IIRC found 80% opposed our presence.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-05-2010 at 11:11 AM. Reason: Tidy up and add quote marks

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