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Thread: The UK in Afghanistan

  1. #81
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    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."
    Hmmmm.... Is it not wonderful that we have politicians, gifted with such an ability to see the future? I remember being told in 1980, that Northern Ireland deployments "could not go on for another 10 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

  2. #82
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default The last winner of the VC from the Commonwealth was an Aussie:

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I know similar stories have appeared here, this one is British and the young soldier has been nominated for the Commenwealth's highest military medal, the Victoria Cross. The last winner was L/Cpl. Beharry, in Iraq.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...9/nhero109.xml

    There is an option to post comments on the Daily Telegraph's website.

    davidbfpo
    Trooper Mark Donaldson VC, Australian Special Air Service Regiment, won a VC for actions in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan on 2 Sep 2008. Story from the Australian Defence Force Website (http://www.defence.gov.au/special_ev...kDonaldson.htm ) follows:

    For most conspicuous acts of gallantry in action in a circumstance of great peril in Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group during Operation SLIPPER, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

    Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson enlisted into the Australian Army on 18 June 2002. After completing Recruit and Initial and Employment Training he was posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Having successfully completed the Special Air Service Selection Course in April 2004, Trooper Donaldson was posted to Special Air Service Regiment in May 2004.

    On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

    In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

    As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

    On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy.
    Trooper Donaldson’s acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force. Trooper Donaldson’s actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril. His actions are of the highest accord and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Special Operations Command, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

  3. #83
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Aussie VC update

    Mark,

    Thanks for the extensive update on the Australian VC.

    I read Johnson Beharry's auto-biography recently and sat back in astonishment at what he did on two days. His citation is on: http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/bbbeharr.htm

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-16-2009 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Add link and get VC winner's name correct

  4. #84
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default David , I agree,

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Mark,

    Thanks for the extensive update on the Australian VC.

    I read Johnson Beharry's auto-biography recently and sat back in astonishment at what he did on two days.

    davidbfpo
    The depth of commitment and courage displayed by men such as these is truly amazing,

    regards,

    Mark
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-16-2009 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Get VC winner's name correct

  5. #85
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Petraeus in Scotland

    From a rather too laudatory article IMHO on General Petraeus, after a visit to Scotland last week.

    In response to a question based on John Nagl's criticism of the UK in Helmand, he replied:

    The distinction that Brits have always are those that are found in a relatively small number of militaries around the world – confidence, courage, an almost unique capacity for independent action, initiative, innovativeness, perseverance and just sheer will… there is an indomitable will there and there always has been. There is something about your soldiers that is very, very impressive.
    The remainder of the article has some local "colour", including a meeting with Gordon Brown at his holiday home: http://www.scotsman.com/latestnews/P...ain.5579643.jp

    davidbfpo

  6. #86
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Yon weighs in

    In his article 'New Afghan war: Frontline correspondent says fight has morphed – but we still can't afford to lose' Michael Yon has some very interesting and general comments on the war in Afghanistan.

    He also comments on the UK, which will not earn "points" with officialdom:

    Instead of concentrating on training and operating with Afghan forces, the British are involved in a daily struggle for tiny pieces of real estate.

    Having just spent another month with British forces in Helmand, today I am on my own in the same province. During the last month, our great allies the British lost dozens of soldiers who were killed or wounded. Cooperation from locals is almost nonexistent in many places. Interaction between civilians and British soldiers was nearly zero. The British treat the civilians very well, but being polite and respectful is not enough.

    Without significant reinforcements, the British likely will be defeated in Helmand within a couple of years. My respect for British soldiers is immense. I have been in combat with them many times in Iraq and Afghanistan, including during the last couple of weeks and would go into battle with them today. (My bold) Yet it must be said that the average British soldier has practically no understanding of counterinsurgency.
    I am not persauded, from my faraway "armchair", that others are not fighting for real estate, e.g. Korengal Valley and inter-action with Afghans is better.

    davidbfpo

  7. #87
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Yet it must be said that the average British soldier has practically no understanding of counterinsurgency.


    Huh? Well that's a plainly ill-informed comment and one that assumes there is a set standard of COIN practice, which is equally ignorant. I suppose Yon gets his understanding from the very variable understanding contained in FM3-24.
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post

    Huh? Well that's a plainly ill-informed comment and one that assumes there is a set standard of COIN practice, which is equally ignorant. I suppose Yon gets his understanding from the very variable understanding contained in FM3-24.
    I really enjoy reading Yon's war reporting, but I must admit the statement baffled me. He seems to be basing it on the absence of interaction with the locals--but almost every other dispatch he filed while on the embed emphasized how very overstretched the British were, unable to maintain sufficient patrolling to prevent IEDs from being repeatedly placed (daily) within a hundred meters or two of FOB Inkerman, and the 7km to nearby FOB Jackson unsafe to travel except by helicopter. Presumably being overstretched makes it difficult to do very much at all.

    It would require a much more considered analysis than a couple of sentences if he really wants to make that case.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Default UK Parliament Sees TIC Stats from Helmand

    Looking for something else, I spotted this little chart in the UK's Hansard from earlier this week:



    Some caveats apply, of course:
    Without undertaking a detailed assessment of each engagement, it is not possible precisely to define in every case whether an attack was aimed at UK forces, at our ISAF partners, or against Afghan units. Data is therefore collected on the number of incidents involving ISAF forces in Helmand without attempting to identify the nationality of the forces actually being attacked. The environment in which forces are operating makes it extremely difficult precisely to distinguish between incidents initiated by insurgent forces and those initiated by ISAF. This data is based on information derived from a number of sources and can only be an estimate
    Still, it looks like the numbers are steadily rising.

  10. #90
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK's most senior officer who died - gave a warning

    The (UK) Daily Mail is running a piece today which reveals that Lt-Col Thorneloe, of the Welsh Guards wrote a secret memo, a month before he was killed by an IED while riding in a Viking, complaining of the shortage of helicopters. the full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ater-dead.html

    On June 5, reports the Mail, he had chillingly predicted the circumstances of his own death in his weekly report to the Ministry of Defence. Headed "'Battle Group Weekly Update", it reads in part:
    "I have tried to avoid griping about helicopters - we all know we don't have enough. We cannot not move people, so this month we have conducted a great deal of administrative movement by road. This increases the IED threat and our exposure to it."
    There is a fuller comment on: http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...dead-body.html

    The issue for the UK remains mirred in accusations of a lack of resources, coming a poor second is the strategy (covered consistently by KOW blog) and a substantial body (majority) of public opinion opposed to our campaign in Afghanistan.

    davidbfpo

  11. #91
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Challenging the conventional

    A few weeks ago there was a discussion at The Frontline Club, London on Afghanistan, this is the video: http://www.terraplexic.org/visual-st...n-and-now.html (Frontline site currently offline). This is an astute challenge to why and our 'Special Relationship': http://www.terraplexic.org/review/20...h-america.html

    The last paragraph:
    The lessons of Afghanistan for the UK ought to be entirely chastening – a more modest assessment of our capabilities, a more realistic understanding of what a nation-building intervention can achieve, and a realisation that once you make a commitment, you may well be stuck there for much longer than your public is willing to tolerate.
    davidbfpo

  12. #92
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Rory Stewart is also becoming a Conservative politician:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...rith-tory-seat

  13. #93
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Tory MP writes

    From the dependable Defence of the Realm a pointer to Adam Holloway's new pamphlet:http://www.cps.org.uk/cps_catalog/in...pedinsofar.pdf

    The author's bio: Adam Holloway is a Conservative Member of Parliament. He sits on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. He is a former soldier and television reporter. He worked in Bosnia during the Sarajevo siege, and in Iraq in 2003. His first visit to Afghanistan was with the anti-Soviet Resistance in the 1980s. He now travels there independently and with the Defence Committee.

    He concludes:
    We should focus on what we can actually achieve, not what we think would be rather nice to achieve. There is always going to be some level of insurgency in Afghanistan, but we need to manage it, not fuel it. We should not reinforce failure. Instead, we should have a long look at why we are failing. There are no easy answers: there is no package of perfect solutions. But the way forward lies more in working with the grain of Afghan society, than in sending more troops to work against it. The last thing we needed is more “Big Army”. President Obama seems to understand this, but we will have to wait and see what he decides. Maintaining our partnership with the US is vital to the UK’s national security. (My added bold)Protecting our population from terror attacks is our first duty: picking fights with tribesmen in southern Afghanistan is not
    .

    A summary and comment is:http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...ing-light.html

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-05-2010 at 11:14 AM. Reason: Add quote marks

  14. #94
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Reflective UK ponders

    A number of UK media reports on how UK public opinion thinks about Afghanistan, partly as a new opinion poll was revealed as part of Rememberance Sunday and reflective moments.

    From the BBC:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8348942.stm

    The pollong:
    I feel I have a good understanding of the purpose of Britain's mission in Afghanistan: Agree 54%, disagree 42%, don't know 4%

    All British forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan as quickly as possible
    Agree 63%, disagree 31%, don't know 6%

    The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable: Agree 64%, disagree 27%, don't know 10%

    The levels of corruption involved in the recent Presidential election show the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for: Agree 52%, disagree 36%, don't know 12%
    In an interview with the Grenadier Guards CO (who lost three men thsi week) are some interesting points, but I cite only one:
    The Afghan people are stuck between what we are offering and what the Taliban are trying to do. There is no BBC or Sky TV out there, there are no newspapers so everything is done by word of mouth and it is very easy for the Taliban to misrepresent what we are trying to do. A lot of these locals don't know any better and they will believe what they are told. So the idea is to get our message across through the ANA and the ANP to the village elders.
    From:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...-soldiers.html

    The Scotsman has an interview with Col. Bob Stewart, a Bosnia veteran and frequent commentator:

    We need to get a decent strategy. It is no good saying we are going to be there up to 30 years. What I'm saying is that we've got to have a strategy that convinces the people of this country and – most importantly – the soldiers on the ground that what they are actually doing there is for a point. The death rate is a damn sight higher than Northern Ireland. I was warned when I went to Bosnia that I might well have up to 25 per cent casualties but that never really happened. But 16 per cent – that's pretty high.
    In forthright terms, he set out his own Afghanistan objective.

    Put crudely in military terms, it is to cut the balls off the Taleban so they can't hurt us, but putting it in political terms, it is to ensure the people of Afghanistan have a decent way of life and that Afghanistan is neutralised as regards any threats to our country. I think the crude way of putting it sounds better. That timetable should not be beyond five years. It definitely includes 'Afghanisation' of the security services; training up their people. And it definitely includes a timetable for how we actually achieve our objectives.
    From:http://www.scotsman.com/latestnews/-...for.5805056.jp

    davidbfpo

  15. #95
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UK reflections Part 2

    A small UK Sunday paper 'The Independent on Sunday' has today called for withrawal, the first to do so:http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion...n-1816835.html

    The better selling 'Sunday Telegraph' has a leader comment and I cite part:
    ...Those levels of dissatisfaction reflect the failure of political leaders to explain clearly and convincingly why we need to be in Afghanistan. It is simple enough to state the aims of the military operation: to prevent the return of a Taliban-dominated theocracy; to ensure that the country cannot go back to what it was prior to the Allied invasion in 2001 – a centre for planning mass murder in Western countries; and to ensure that the jihadists cannot take over neighbouring Pakistan, gaining control of that country's nuclear weapons....It is much tougher, however, to explain how those aims will be achieved.
    From:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/6...many-died.html

    I am not sure how this is going to develop. There have been a few quiet MP's giving voice to their opposition, none IMHO are "heavyweights", but as parliament lacks public credibility at the moment (a long story) it may not be the key factor.

    Saying there has been a failure to explain the mission, admitting failures in command and providing equipment cannot be attributed to the politicians alone, others have a role - their civil and military advisers. This could get messy, I cite in support the "spin" and allegations made by the government when General Dannatt retired.

    davidbfpo

  16. #96
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Helmand reports

    Two linked articles from an embedded Daily Telegraph reporter with UK troops in Helmand, note the stress on killing the Taliban and development:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...n-Helmand.html and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...-fighting.html

    Later comments on the ANA and ANP:
    We had the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police embedded with us and they were fantastic...They are our eyes and ears. They see the things we miss and they know when the atmospherics are right.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Two linked articles from an embedded Daily Telegraph reporter with UK troops in Helmand, note the stress on killing the Taliban and development:
    Blood calls for blood, even in the eye of a modern public. So this might be a good bit of reporting for the people back home. It should be also good for the morale of the soldiers to get a shot or two at the guys which try to kill them and their comrades and which pose a huge threat on every step.

    The rest of the article is also perfectly reasonable. The war can only be won with the local armed forces and by putting able-bodied males at work.


    Firn

  18. #98
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Two simple steps

    Firn,

    I echo you:
    The war can only be won with the local armed forces and by putting able-bodied males at work.
    Alas much of the strategy and on the ground approach ignored both steps.
    davidbfpo

  19. #99
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default London summit to decide end game in Afghanistan

    As part of the 'spin" for an annual speech by the UK Prime Minister in the City of London; he will announce that he plans to hold a summit for the Nato allies to discuss a timetable for withdrawal starting in 2010.

    He will be mindful of an opinion poll on Sunday that showed 71% of British voters now back a phased withdrawal of British troops over the next year.

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

  20. #100
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From the top

    The UK's top serviceman (CDS) spoke today in London:
    Declining public support may harm the UK military mission in Afghanistan, the head of the armed forces has warned....The mission is achievable and at last we have a properly resourced plan to deliver the strategy...Our people in theatre know this. The greatest threat to their morale is not the Taliban or IEDs [improvised explosive devices], but declining will at home...Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.
    See:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8394269.stm

    The UK's top soldier (CGS) General David Richards spoke to ITV after President Obama's statement:
    There was no question that they would "cut and run".....I absolutely emphasise, I am aware of no plan that contemplates withdrawing.
    See:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ithdrawal.html

    As some have noted the CGS view is rather at odds with Prime Minsiter Brown's statement on Afghanisation and handing some districts over to the Afghans by 2011.
    davidbfpo

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