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Old 09-16-2012   #981
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Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
Read that on a flight back from London a few weeks ago. Pretty good, gave me a look at a Helmand deployment that was the opposite of my own (which was pretty non-kinetic, way down south, counter-narcotics, a lot of needles in haystacks). 8-10 man patrols were our standard, seems like he and his "Toms" never went deep into the green zone with less than a company (-).
Yes it is an interesting account. Hoewever, I am generally cautious of officers constructing a book based on a journal which was maintained for that purpose. (Rather like form the book "Platoon Leader" by James R McDonough took - not sure it was from a journal though). One gets the feeling that such works are written as possible future "recommended reading" titles ...

Back to the book...

There remains a concern about the departure from fundamental Principles of War in Afghanistan operations and how the Brits (certainly) lost the initiative as a result. In this case once again the failure to apply the principle of "Concentration of Force" - called in the US, as I understand, "Mass".

As Rommel said of the Brits way back then: "What difference does it make if you have two tanks to my one, when you spread them out and let me smash them in detail?" Same apply to penny-packeting your troops in Helmand?

By all means put some "bait" out there in a FOB or on patrol so long as when the Taliban expose themselves - by attacking either - you have the reserves and resources to respond and deploy and implement the last two of the "Find, Fix & Finish" doctrine.

The Brits never had the means to do this but the yanks do/did.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932

Last edited by JMA; 09-16-2012 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 09-16-2012   #982
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Default Major Russell Lewis MC Citation

JMA asked:
Quote:
Any Brit readers know where to find his MC citation?
A little research found this text in Major Lewis's old school magazine, which IIRC is likely to be based on the official text which would have appeared in 'The London Gazette', but that website eludes easy use.

Quote:
St Albans soldier wins Military Cross in Afghanistan - Major Russell Lewis MC (S86-91)

A soldier from St Albans has won a top bravery award for his actions in Afghanistan. “Major Russ Lewis, aged 35, has been awarded the Military Cross for his heroic leadership of a company of the Parachute Regiment during a six-month tour in southern Afghanistan.

“Major Lewis and his company of 160 troops of 2PARA were located in a Forward Operating Base deep in the hostile Upper Sangin Valley and were subjected to almost daily rocket and mortar attacks. He led many foot patrols through the dense vegetation, canals and compounds of the surrounding countryside and during frequent bouts of intense fighting with the Taliban.

Major Lewis’ citation described him as "tenacious and courageous in attack" and added: "Major Lewis has set an outstanding example to his company at significant personal risk and has been an inspiration to all ranks."

“Major Lewis lives with his wife Andrea at Colchester where his unit is stationed. His wife, who is pregnant with their first child, is a major in the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps and set up the first field hospital in Iraq.

“Said Major Lewis of the bravery award: "I have mixed feelings about the award. It's a fantastic honour to receive such an award and I do think that it represents all of B Company, 2 PARA and what we achieved last summer".

Speaking about the intensity of the deployment on the Army’s website after his Company’s return from Afghanistan at the end of October, Major Lewis said: “Once it started it didn’t really stop for three months. We were just in the thick of it. We went through a period where every single patrol that went out came into contact of some description. There have been some horrible moments. I said before we went, I felt this tour would give us the best soldiering days of our careers and our worst. It has.”

Major Lewis described the soldiers under his command as “the finest generation of paratroopers in the history of the Parachute Regiment”. He added: “we lost three in one go to a suicide bomber and that was just an awful day, but it’s amazing how the guys deal with it. We had a night of grieving and the next day we were back out there. We had to, but I think that was what we wanted to do for our comrades, we are paratroopers and we go straight back out there and take the fight to the enemy.”
Link:http://www.oldaldenhamian.org/Downlo...nhamiana37.pdf

I note the Major now offers to talk on leadership, for a fee 3-4k.

Two other Para majors and one private got the MC, along with thirty others getting awards; the brigade lost eleven dead, nine from 2 Para.
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Old 09-17-2012   #983
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Yes it is an interesting account. Hoewever, I am generally cautious of officers constructing a book based on a journal which was maintained for that purpose. (Rather like form the book "Platoon Leader" by James R McDonough took - not sure it was from a journal though). One gets the feeling that such works are written as possible future "recommended reading" titles ...
In response:

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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
I note the Major now offers to talk on leadership, for a fee 3-4k.
Oh dear...
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 09-17-2012   #984
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Default Cracks start to appear

Today after the camp Bastion attack and two dead soldiers in a "green on blue" attack by an ALP member, the UK Defence Secretary stated in the House of Commons:
Quote:
The security of our troops on the front line in Afghanistan, or for that matter anywhere in the world, remains our priority...In recent days we have again been reminded of the difficult and challenging environment in which our armed forces operate. We cannot and will not allow the strategy to be derailed... The pain felt is all the more raw when the incident undermines the trust that our armed forces have built in Afghanistan.
It is rare for British MPs to openly say enough:
Quote:
..former Conservative cabinet minister John Redwood called for UK troops to be withdrawn from their security role and brought home "in time for Christmas"....(Paul Flynn, a very minor) Labour MP made the same demand, during some heated scenes in the Commons chamber.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19627090
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Old 09-18-2012   #985
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The whole ALP scheme was a disaster waiting to happen
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Old 09-18-2012   #986
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Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
Read that on a flight back from London a few weeks ago. Pretty good, gave me a look at a Helmand deployment that was the opposite of my own (which was pretty non-kinetic, way down south, counter-narcotics, a lot of needles in haystacks). 8-10 man patrols were our standard, seems like he and his "Toms" never went deep into the green zone with less than a company (-).
Just thinking... it may be of interest to those in the US that Major Lewis was commissioned in 1994 - so entered the army in 1993 - and finally got command of B Coy, 2 Para in 2007 - just before the tour of Afghanistan in 2008.

That is 13 years of commissioned service (14 years of total service) before he was given command of a parachute company at the age of 34.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 09-21-2012   #987
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Default Battle inside Afghanistan's most violent corner

Amidst all the news of Camp Bastion, Prince Harry and "green on blue" along comes an article on what the UK and allies are doing on the ground:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...rgents-taliban

the cost:
Quote:
Eighteen British soldiers have died there since the beginning of the year, nine in the last 10 weeks. Afghan soldiers have perished in even greater numbers, 25 since April. Hours before this security meeting, a government official was assassinated less than a mile away.
Yes there is a good amount from senior officers - following the official legend. There is a closing comment by an ANA commander, which might actually happen sooner than expected:
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This is our country and our people, and it is our obligation to take responsibility for their safety. There will be peace. The only question is when.
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Old 09-22-2012   #988
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
JMA asked:

A little research found this text in Major Lewis's old school magazine, which IIRC is likely to be based on the official text which would have appeared in 'The London Gazette', but that website eludes easy use.

Link:http://www.oldaldenhamian.org/Downlo...nhamiana37.pdf

I note the Major now offers to talk on leadership, for a fee 3-4k.

Two other Para majors and one private got the MC, along with thirty others getting awards; the brigade lost eleven dead, nine from 2 Para.
David, found the list of awards in "The London Gazette" but not his citation or any of the others. The Brit are cunning the way they turn navigating a website into a puzzle

Suffice it to say from what was posted above and from my enquiries elsewhere Lewis' MC was a general one and not for a specific action. Don't know how the yanks work but my experience was that "crosses" were for individual acts of bravery/gallantry/valour while "orders" were for successful operational command at company/battalion/brigade level. So forgive my confusion on this as I had visions of the company commander personally leading the final bayonet charge (like Major John Kiszely of the Scots Guards in the Falklands at Tumbledown).

As an aside... quoting:

Quote:
“Said Major Lewis of the bravery award: "I have mixed feelings about the award. It's a fantastic honour to receive such an award and I do think that it represents all of B Company, 2 PARA and what we achieved last summer".
No names no pack drill but... I recall from my war the story of an SAS officer who got a medal after which he clumsily told his men that it was "our medal in recognition for the achievements of all of us". A few weeks went by until one of the lads had the opportunity to ask the question, "Sir, I am going to a military wedding this week-end would you mind if I wore our medal". One red face and a lot of laughter.

.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 10-14-2012   #989
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Marines charged with murder over Afghanistan death
Five Royal Marines charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...er-afghanistan

Well this is curious. The article itself is a load of bollocks, not only do they call the marines "soldiers" but they also says British ROE are "largely derived from the Geneva conventions". Forgive me if I'm wrong but I'd say current ROE in Afghanistan are a fairly modern invention? Worth noting that a documentary aired on channel 5 in January follow some marines from 42, in which they expressed frustration with the ROE. Not the first and certainly not the last. I'd be interested to hear what other people thought on the ROE, in particular anyone who's had to work within them.
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Old 10-14-2012   #990
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Marines charged with murder over Afghanistan death
Five Royal Marines charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...er-afghanistan

Well this is curious. The article itself is a load of bollocks, not only do they call the marines "soldiers" but they also says British ROE are "largely derived from the Geneva conventions". Forgive me if I'm wrong but I'd say current ROE in Afghanistan are a fairly modern invention? Worth noting that a documentary aired on channel 5 in January follow some marines from 42, in which they expressed frustration with the ROE. Not the first and certainly not the last. I'd be interested to hear what other people thought on the ROE, in particular anyone who's had to work within them.
Couple of points...

First it is of note that 5 (I think it is) have been formally charged with murder and remain in custody. So this is more than fishing/probing investigation. They believe they have the evidence to make a murder charge stick.

We have heard around here (on SWC) that soldiers on the ground in Afghan (both Brit and yank) are "happy" with the RoE. Where does the truth lie?

What acts would constitute the murder of an insurgent in Afghanistan?

.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932

Last edited by JMA; 10-14-2012 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 10-14-2012   #991
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Originally Posted by TDB View Post
Marines charged with murder over Afghanistan death
Five Royal Marines charged with murder over the death of an insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...er-afghanistan

Well this is curious. The article itself is a load of bollocks, not only do they call the marines "soldiers" but they also says British ROE are "largely derived from the Geneva conventions". Forgive me if I'm wrong but I'd say current ROE in Afghanistan are a fairly modern invention? Worth noting that a documentary aired on channel 5 in January follow some marines from 42, in which they expressed frustration with the ROE. Not the first and certainly not the last. I'd be interested to hear what other people thought on the ROE, in particular anyone who's had to work within them.
From The Telegraph:

Quote:
The servicemen are understood to have been arrested after a video was discovered on a laptop belonging to a Royal Marine.
The clip appears to show members of a Royal Marine patrol standing around a Taliban fighter as he lay injured on the ground in a compound.
They were apparently discussing what to do with him and whether to administer first aid but the film is said to cut out before anything happens.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 11-04-2012   #992
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Default A supportive public and a majority against being there

A recent piece of research, based on opinion polling:
Quote:
The research is the first major study into British public attitudes towards the military and is published today as part of the 2011 British Social Attitudes survey.
Link to review article, with links to authors and more:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department...medforces.aspx

Link to the Survey's section:http://bsa-29.natcen.ac.uk/read-the-...roduction.aspx

Quote:
The research found that nine out of ten people respected the UK Armed Forces and eight out of ten had a high or very high opinion of the Services. The UK Armed Forces was also more respected as a profession than doctors, lawyers or the police. It seems that support for the UK Armed Forces is significantly higher among men, older people, those with lower educational qualifications and people who align with parties on the political right, as found in overseas studies.

The study also showed that 58% of the UK public were opposed to Iraq and 46% disapproved of operations in Afghanistan, with women, older people and people supporting minor political parties significantly more opposed to the missions. Despite this, more than 90% supported military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of their agreement or disagreement with these missions.
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Old 11-10-2012   #993
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A commentary on the debacle over giving troops better vehicles in Afghanistan, with a rather stark comparison between the labour government and the current Conservative-Liberal coalition:
Quote:
Two conclusions can be drawn from this brief history. First, for all the Conservatives’ agitation between 2006 and 2010, there has been no significant change since the election in either scale or urgency in supplying equipment to our forces in Afghanistan. In opposition, David Cameron and his team argued consistently and stridently that they would have been able to supply the necessary equipment much faster. But Foxhound has proceeded on exactly the same two-year timetable which the army and the Ministry of Defence, left to their own devices, always insisted was the fastest possible. The striking exception to this timetable remains the Mastiff, which was ordered in July 2006 and deployed in December of the same year — through the personal intervention of the then Defence Secretary Des Browne, and the hands-on management of the procurement minister Lord Drayson — but rather than being used as a model for a new approach, this seems to have been quietly forgotten.
Link:http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeeh...ears-too-late/
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Old 11-16-2012   #994
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Default Continuing to fight is not worth the life of one more British soldier

Paddy Ashdown, a former leader of the Liberal-Democrats awhile ago, an ex-SBS officer and with the experience of Bosnia, has a rather unusual place in British politics - he is listened to with respect.

So when he makes these remarks some will listen, HMG certainly will not and the public will agree. So what did he say?

Quote:
The only outcome of staying longer is more deaths for no purpose; most of them now caused not by the enemy in front of our troops, but by the enemy among them. It is not worth wasting one more life in Afghanistan.
All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently, has been lost. The only rational policy now is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies.
Lord Ashdown conceded that British forces have succeeded in driving out al-Qaeda, the main reason behind the conflict, but he said:
Quote:
In almost all the other tasks we set ourselves, especially the establishment of a sustainable state, we have failed.
The interview first appeared in The Times, this is behind a pay wall, so I use this second hand report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...y-Ashdown.html

A former Afghan veteran added (via Twitter):
Quote:
Only we won: AQ smashed, OBL dead.
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Old 12-17-2012   #995
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Default British troops 'most vulerable' during Afghan withdrawal

The UK CDS, General Sir David Richards, has spoken publicly on wider matters and of course leaving:
Quote:
It is vital that Afghan confidence in the West’s long-term commitment to their country is retained. Why, should this be lost, would they stay the course themselves let alone fight to protect us in 2014 when, absent successful reconciliation, we will be at our most vulnerable?
And why should the Taliban reconcile, if they thought we were ‘cutting and running.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ithdrawal.html

Given the state of the UK economy I was mildly surprised mention was made of future deployments in the Middle East, with local allies, like Jordan.
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Old 01-26-2013   #996
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Default A muddled nation and army: a mother writes

Lt Mark Evison, a Welsh Guards officer died after being shot in Afghanistan in mid-2009, his incredibly brave mother, Margaret, has written her story: 'Death of a soldier: A Mother's Story' and was reviewed in 'The Spectator' recently:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/880...-of-unknowing/

Mark Evison coined the phrase "mowing the grass" IIRC when his letters or diary were released after his death - asking what exactly were the soldiers doing.

Quote:
...she realises that some things about the official account of what happened to him don’t add up. Why did it take so long for a helicopter to airlift him out? As a result of the delay, Mark bled until his heart was ‘dry’ just 30 kilometres from a sophisticated hospital base.

(Ends) She never really gets to the bottom of what happened to her son — and in a way it’s this lack of answers that makes her book so powerful. Quite possibly, she acknowledges, there is no sinister back-story, no dark chicanery. Instead, there is just blunder and evasion. As she writes, ‘The muddle over Mark’s death seemed to reflect a more fundamental Army and political muddle over Afghanistan, as well as a muddle about itself.’
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Old 03-20-2013   #997
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Default UK combat operations effectively cease

A very curious way to tell the UK public, an Army brigadier in Afghanistan being interviewed by the BBC's Mark Urban:
Quote:
We have reduced our profile to such an extent that we don't do ground combat type operations anymore...[The] Afghans with whom we work still like to know that they can call upon us...
Alas an ANA Brigadier in central Helmand dissented:
Quote:
In terms of combat we did not need any help with that and we have not asked for any.
Mark Urban questioned why so many UK troops remained, the answer was slightly odd - hinting at far fewer being in Helmand and Urban writes:
Quote:
During the current six month troop rotation - now coming to its end - around 900 troops were sent home early, bringing the total down to around 7,000. There are plans to cut back to 5,200 by the end of the year, both figures exclude the special forces group of around 1,000.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21839451

Elsewhere an observer reports an infantry battalion (2 Royal Scots) is about to leave, to mentor the ANP.

The main thread 'The UK in Afghanistan' is:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7644
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Old 03-21-2013   #998
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Default Danes too

A "lurker" has pointed out that the Danish Battle Group, long assigned to the UK forces in Helmand, will leave by March 2014, six months earlier than previously announced.
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Old 04-12-2013   #999
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Default Achieving a return to the past

The UK in Afghanistan has been the subject of a House of Commons Select Committee on Defence review, for odd reasons it was published this week when parliament was on holiday and so had little coverage amidst the focus on Lady Thatcher's demise.

Link:http://www.publications.parliament.u...ce/413/413.pdf

There have been a few comments, so starting with Paul Rogers:
Quote:
.. there is deeply conflicting evidence as to whether the Taliban are actually in retreat; the second is that the committee has faced great difficulty in trying to find out how Britain plans to aid Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

(Later) In the British parliamentary system, select committees are (with a few exceptions) not particularly effective at calling governments to account - and usually this is even more true for the defence committee. Its Afghanistan report is different: a welcome sign that at least one part of the political system is trying to get a stronger focus on what is really happening in Afghanistan, and whether the UK and other governments should be replacing their "boots on the ground" with much greater efforts to help Afghans rebuild their own country.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...stan-day-after

Kings of War:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2013/04/ham...nd-civil-wars/

The Daily Telegraph's Foreign Editor:
Quote:
One of the more depressing observations made by a defence select committee report this week concerned the apparent lack of interest that both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office have displayed in Afghanistan’s administration post-2014 – when Nato’s combat operations officially conclude. Given that these departments were responsible for dispatching thousands of British troops to southern Afghanistan in the summer of 2006, one would have thought they would be doing their best to ensure that the sacrifices of the past decade – the total British death toll stands at 441 – are not in vain.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-of-peace.html

The Guardian's correspondent has some "boots on the ground" experience and concludes:
Quote:
Unfortunately, it looks like the need for a quick exit will mean the west caves in to Pakistan's demands. At that stage, we will have gone full circle in Afghanistan since 2001, with Pakistan once again back in the driving seat and civil war the only realistic outlook.
Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...criminals-west

Last night the BBC re-ran what appeared to be a short clip of an interview with Lt. General Nick Carter, ex-RC(S) and now Deputy ISAF CO; in which he stated:
Quote:
Cutting British forces in Afghanistan too quickly could "endanger" progress at a critical time, the UK's top commander there has told a paper......But he warned any move to thin out UK forces too soon would be unforgivable.
I have just noted the report is dated April 1st 2013.
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Old 05-14-2013   #1000
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Default UK combat operations effectively cease: well not exactly

It appears the UK just cannot draw down yet:
Quote:
Thousands of British troops will start serving longer tours in Afghanistan from October, the defence secretary has announced....And it means that only another two brigades will serve ....rather than three.. The UK has 7,900 troops in the country, set to fall to 5,200 by the end of the year.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22520249 and http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/ma...rs-afghanistan

Given the SWC debate on length of operational tours it does strange longer tours come at the end.

The value of having an entire brigade in Helmand, largely within Camp Bastion, when the ANSF are becoming independently capable is lost on me in my armchair.
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