Tuesday, 16 February 2010
A Fair Share
How often have I heard the words, "Other NATO countries will be supplying their share of troops to the Afghanistan conflict," from Bob Ainsworth or one of his side kicks? Quite a few times. How often have we had a concise reply from him when he's been asked for the numbers each country is prepared to send to Afghanistan? Not once.
However, the Jury Team political party has analysed the latest information from ISAF, the NATO Afghanistan military command and has come up with some startling facts.
They show that we are providing three times more troops per head of the population than our European NATO allies.
The UK with 9,500 troops has 154 soldiers per million of population.
France, Germany and Italy have a ratio of only 58, 54 and 52 per million respectively and Spain, Portugal and Greece only have 23, 10 and 1 per million.
We also have more than the US which has 152 per million.
Fatalities are even more agonising. Relative to our size we have had over 12 times more deaths than our European NATO allies. During 2006-09 Britain suffered 240 troops killed from its 61 million population. In the same period all other European NATO countries combined have only had 169 deaths from a total population of 495 million.
The Jury Team believes their policy should be to limit the number of British troops sent to Afghanistan to the average number sent by other NATO countries (relative to their population). I strongly agree with them. We have soldiers who are battle-fatigued yet they are redeployed to this conflict over and over again without receiving a reasonable length of respite.
This war is costing us billions, money which could be spent wisely here at home, yet so few of us protest. We are a part of NATO, one country from a total of 28 and we should be contributing on a fair basis. It is well documented that many other NATO countries refuse to send more troops because they are conscious of public opinion.
It's time we ensured our politicians were aware of public opinion and telling them that they must reduce out troop numbers from 9,500 to around 4,000, in line with other countries, would be a good place to start.
Alan Wallace has the statistics from all NATO countries at his place.