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Thread: The UK in Afghanistan

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Who Rory Stewart? The answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingo1rtr View Post
    I think Rory Stewart's view will gain traction.
    (Taken from another thread re Rory Stewart's views) A lengthy commentary on the Afghan situation and whether it is really that vital a battleground; the author Rory Stewart has been a soldier, diplomat and academic and has travelled extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq. Living in Kabul in 2005: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...annot-win.html A slightly longer edition: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n13/stew01_.html

    Worth reading through for its many pertinent comments and seems to fit here, even if killing is not the focus.

    davidbfpo

  2. #62
    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    - its a very useful link. I think that Rory Stewart's views are beginning to resonate in the upper echelons of the military chain. No doubt the military do find some of his views uncomfortable, but I think his warning on both the potential length of the campaign, problems in Kabul and the need to get more non-military activity going are accurate. Both NI and Iraq point to that need - both were much longer in duration than originally thought. Ergo, whatever timeline we have in mind for the current chapter in the Great Game, add 5 years.....

    I posted my last onto the Foreign Policy page at Haddicks article. Hopefully it will provide useful, balanced, counterview.

  3. #63
    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default A Good Article

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...p-1752208.html

    Well worth a read. Most of the points land on target.

  4. #64
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good article. Entirely too sensible for any

    government to adopt...

    Both authors have been there and speak truth. Thanks for linking it.

  5. #65
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Unity of purpose, how about aims?

    Those who criticise our Afghanistan policy for lacking a credible plan and being lost in empty rhetoric are right. We are fixated on what allies and partners call "Helmandshire". Unlike our American allies, we lack a cross-government strategy and plan, the commitment, resources and Whitehall willingness to change sufficiently to deliver success.


    What would success be? We have to stabilise the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan – bring the Pashtu into the fold, give them a stake in their nations' politics, wean them away from extreme Islam, deny sanctuary to terrorists and give the Afghans a state that can deliver what they want. Without Pashtu support, extremism in the region will decline. These are substantial aims, but failure, which would increase extremism – with inevitable and violent consequences within the region and internationally – is not an option.
    From: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...p-1752208.html

    Good article that assumes public unity in the UK on why we fight there and secondly what we aim to do is shared by the local population - as distinct from the state(s).

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-19-2009 at 09:31 PM. Reason: Add link for clarity

  6. #66
    Council Member kingo1rtr's Avatar
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    Default An SDR for current operations?

    Another good article. Well thought out and accurate on a number of levels. Its encouraging that the debate in the media is moving gently towards a more sophisticated level that just pure equipment shortfalls. Lets hope the politician follow on as the whore to her pimp!


    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...t-1753030.html

  7. #67
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Interesting article, but
    We urgently need a defence review, and not in order to produce further economies. Although there is scope for re-deployments, there is no scope for reducing the defence budget – unless we want to imperil our ability to conduct high-intensity warfare. We have to think through the relationship between resources and commitments. That will not happen under this brain-dead Government. Perhaps the Tories should ask General Dannatt to undertake the task, once he retires.
    That's only part of the answer. Patrick Little's RUSI article makes the point that actually we have quite a few "brain dead" senior officers. Nothing wrong with the courage and skill of the boys on the ground, but a lot that is wrong with the British Army is the British Army, and not political machinations that fund and task it. - and I have spent a good deal of time in Officers Messes, talking to serving officers and corresponding with them.
    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

  8. #68
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Liverpool Cathedral: a sign

    From a well-known reporter, Robert Fisk; short article and I will show two paragraphs: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...s-1751587.html

    I said that we should not be in Afghanistan, that we Westerners now have 22 times as many military personnel in the Muslim world than the Crusaders had in the 12th century .... Send them our doctors and our teachers and our agronomists – but not our soldiers. They should be brought home....And to my astonishment, the burghers and their families, students and their mums and dads – hitherto silent in expectation of a soft homily – began to clap, a great wash of sound that spread through the chapels and aisles of Scott's cathedral.
    In just one month – May of 1941 – Liverpudlians lost 1,453 men, women and children to Luftwaffe raids. In my cruel calculations, this means that our 185 dead in Afghanistan in eight years – from all over Britain – represent a mere seventh of what Liverpool alone suffered in one month of the Second World War.
    A different viewpoint I readily admit, worth reading in full.

    davidbfpo

  9. #69
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Is Astan Worth It

    Interview on CNN Fareed Zakaria (sunday) between Killcullen & Bacevich(spell)

    Highlights from Killcullen:
    1- Iraq was a mistake never should have gone there, there was no threat!
    2-Pakistan is the Center of Gravity not Astan!

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bes...n.worth.it.cnn

  10. #70
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    • The politicians have not clearly articulated why Afghanistan is so important.
    • The public can discern that here is a palpable disconnect between importance and resourcing: If it is so important for us to be there why have we not resourced it accordingly?
    • The campaign is perceived as floundering with no clear plan or defined endstate.



    The combination of all three is leading to considerable disquiet in the public ranks. Add to this an unwillingness on the part of the political class to engage with the issues. In my opinion very few UK politicians wish to commit themselves beyond the term of the parliament. Political thinking is currently dominated by short term thinking with decision making left until the last safe moment, possibly workable in major combat operations but the antithesis of COIN operations!

    Scrutiny from political classes and the public is also beginning to focus much more on the senior echelons of the armed forces with the tarnish from Iraq leeching across to Afghanistan. 'Lions lead by donkeys' has been muttered. The usual Services internecine politics in advance of expected budget cuts does not help either.

    With the insurgents in Afghanistan viewing operations as 'Influence operations with a kinetic element' I would expect increasing focus on causing casualties in the UK element.

    On the Home Front I would hope to see clearer articulation of why we are there and greater clarity and focus at the operational level. The reccommendations in the Independent article are sound, but judging by the comments made by Lord Digby-Jones and others about the way the UK government (dis)functions both within and across government departments I somewhat doubt that improvements will be either quick or effective.
    Last edited by Red Rat; 07-20-2009 at 11:12 AM.

  11. #71
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    With the insurgents in Afghanistan viewing operations as 'Influence operations with a kinetic element' I would expect increasing focus on causing casualties in the UK element.
    Ahhh! I like that. I like it a lot.
    Kinetic effect/action consistently the most effective way of creating influence. When was it ever not, in any war? Not much has changed in 3,000 years!
    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

  12. #72
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Missing the point, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Highlights from Killcullen:
    1- Iraq was a mistake never should have gone there, there was no threat!
    2-Pakistan is the Center of Gravity not Astan!
    True not a threat, not so easy a call on should have never gone. The problem is that the Bush Administration sold Iraq as threat for several reasons. They later acknowledged that was a mistake but have never announced the total rationale for going there. My contention is that reason was to shake up the ME, the source of the Islamist international terror business since the early1970s. If that is correct or even if it was a synergistic side effect, then Kilcullen (and Bacevich) are wrong and are homing in on the wrong rationale.

    As for Pakistan, true -- but Pakistan did not host the guys that paid for the attack on US soil. Plus Pakistan was and is a far tougher nut to attack than was Afghanistan. Afghanistan was an announcement that attacks on US soil will not be tolerated and, as a Pakistani neighbor, a lever to influence Pakistan -- one that may or may not work. However, we sort of had to try...

    Iraq was an announcement to the ME that attacks from there on US interests around the world, an issue since 1979, would no longer be tolerated. Had it been better executed by DoD and the Army, it would have made an effective and powerful message. In the event, the message got diluted a bit but it's still been made and will have an effect. The worst gig about attacking Iraq was the timing; later would've been better.

    Too early to make sweeping pronouncements about either operation; it'll take another 20 years plus to even start getting a good handle on them.

  13. #73
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Deeper into the mire?

    First an "outsider" ex-diplomat minister comments: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...-politics.html (note next suggests a slight retraction) and then an ex-UK Army brigadier, who commanded in Helmand last year: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...commander.html

    The domestic "front" rumbles on.

    davidbfpo

  14. #74
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    The Economist weighs in with a briefing on the issue, 16 Jul 09:

    British forces in Afghanistan: And the soldier home from the hill
    .....The war in Afghanistan has, until recently, had an oddly low political profile in Britain. One reason is that it was long overshadowed by the conflict in Iraq. With the withdrawal of Britain’s last combat troops from Basra, that is no longer the case. The other reason is that, unlike the conflict in Iraq, the Afghan war has commanded broad political support. Whereas the Liberal Democrats, the country’s third party, opposed Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq, all the main parties have supported the country’s involvement in Afghanistan since the outset. At least, they have done so until now.

    The cross-party consensus on Afghanistan is under more strain than ever before. Both the Tories and the Lib Dems still say they back the deployment, but they attack the government’s perceived lack of strategy and its parsimony towards the armed forces. Liam Fox, the Tory shadow defence secretary, has accused the government of “the ultimate dereliction of duty”. The Tories have concentrated their fire on the shortfall in the helicopters available to British forces—though the criticism is undermined by their reluctance to promise extra defence spending if they win the election due by next year. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Lib Dems, has been sharper: he talks about soldiers’ lives being “thrown away”, describing the mission in Afghanistan as “over-ambitious in aim and under-resourced in practice”.

    Yet the most important divide may not be between political parties but between government ministers and military commanders.....

  15. #75
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK 'may have 40-year Afghan role'

    This is the BBC's title for a short article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8191018.stm based on a far longer article, interviewing the General Sir David Richards, the UK's new top soldier (CGS), in The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...ffset=0&page=1

    It will take time. This is nation-building – not the starry-eyed type, but nation-building nonetheless. It is not just reconstruction; jobs and simple governance that works are key, and there has to be a strong reconciliation element to the latter. The Army’s role will evolve, but the whole process might take as long as 30 to 40 years. There is absolutely no chance of Nato pulling out.
    Later
    I believe strongly that it is winnable. Demanding, certainly, but winnable. And when people say, ‘How can you use the term “win”?’ I retort, ‘Well, I will certainly know if we have lost.’ Can you imagine the intoxicating effect on militants if we were defeated? Can you be certain there would not be an export of terrorism to the streets of London? It’s a risk we should be very wary of taking... But, of course, the end will be difficult to define; it won’t be neat and clear-cut like the end of some old-fashioned inter-state war might have been. And, as I have said many times, everyone involved needs to realise it will take a long time and considerable investment. We must remember, though, that we are not trying to turn Afghanistan into Switzerland.
    How the UK public react to such a statement by the CGS, starting a three year tour, is a moot point. Let alone the government or opposition, who for very different reasons see Afghanistan differently.

    How would the US public react to a forty year presence?

    We have discussed before the Western public and political impatience for long wars. A factor the Taliban appear very well aware of.

    The latest BBC radio news had a very short item on the interview and a renewed call by a Labour backbench MP for other NATO nations to share the burden. A so far largely a forlorn hope.

    davidbfpo

  16. #76
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Viewpoint lower down

    In this hour long, regional BBC-Wales documentary they report on a Welsh (armoured) regiment in Afghanistan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode...e_Afghanistan/ The programme is available till 1214hrs Monday 10th August 2009.

    Some interesting footage; note filmed in March 2009 before the US surge into Helmand Province.

    At the end when asked "can we win..is it worth it?'" a NCO (troop commander) says 'No' and "history shows we cannot". This portion starts at 56:28.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-08-2009 at 02:22 PM.

  17. #77
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    No UK government -or the UK public as such- is willing to stay decades in Afghanistan.
    They remember their failurs from the past in that region.

  18. #78
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    Default Not just UK....

    Quote Originally Posted by frank View Post
    No UK government -or the UK public as such- is willing to stay decades in Afghanistan.
    They remember their failurs from the past in that region.
    I think most taxpayers in any western democracy, unless convincingly, consistently and repeatedly sold on the benefits, would balk at committing troops/aid for a generation - especially when politicians doing the selling are thinking in a "next election" timeframe.

    Not knocking democracy, but I see this as the fundamental tension at play: governments looking for and offering solutions that get "results" (and you can spend a pretty long thread debating "results" vs. "success" vs. "victory" when defining exit strategies) in the short-ish term for situations that need commitment in the loooooooooooooooong term.

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    UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2008–09:

    Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan, Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence.

    Report

    Conclusions and recommendations

    1 Introduction
    2 The role of the international community in Afghanistan
    3 Where Afghanistan is now: an assessment
    4 Pakistan’s strategic importance and role in relation to Afghanistan
    5 The Obama plan: addressing previous failings?
    6 The UK’s mission in Afghanistan
    7 The UK’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan: a way forward?
    8 Future prospects: towards a political settlement?

    Maps
    Annex: Foreign Affairs Committee visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan 26 April–1 May 2009
    Glossary of Terms
    Formal Minutes
    Witnesses
    List of written evidence

  20. #80
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Minister disagrees with UK top soldier

    In a BBC News report on 200+ deaths in Afghanistan: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8203975.stm there is a mild rebuke to General Richards recent '40 years' comment by the UK Secretary of Defence:

    But, referring to comments by incoming head of the army Gen Sir David Richards, he said:
    "The notion that we are going to be in Afghanistan in 30 to 40 years in anything like the form we are now is ludicrous."
    davidbfpo

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