Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The New Defence Secretary's Quandries

Liam Fox has a problem and it's not only the complexities of the war in Afghanistan. Guido points out Mr Fox's choice of Special Advisor is causing security headaches, not least because he's an American citizen. Mr Fox defended Coffey's appointment and dismissed concerns of spying. He has highlighted the importance of the so-called 'special relationship' between Britain and America, saying: "It's not as if he is Russian."

Mr Fox doesn't seem to get the point does he? I don't want a 'special' relationship with a country which has a president who does not keep close contact with his commander in Afghanistan and relies upon weekly memos from General McChrystal, who now has our armed forces under his command. Of course this move was agreed by Gordon Brown but I can see no benefit - quite the contrary - to our soldiers being commanded by the US.

We all know that within political circles there are those with contacts in other countries. Is it better to have them named as in this case or have them lurking around in the depths of the MoD doing their best to look invisible?

Another headache for the Defence Secretary is the claim by Maj Gen Andrew Mackay that Britain sent troops into Helmand province with 'eyes shut and fingers crossed'. The Major General said Labour's 'complacent' approach to the Afghan mission had proved 'very costly'.

The MoD, immediately on the defensive, retorted, 'The campaign followed careful analysis and had helped combat a resurgent Taliban'. The careful analysis they mention must be that done by John Reid when he held the position. Mr Reid's plan was that ' no shot would necessarily be fired' showing his complete understanding of the Afghan situation in 2001.

Maj Gen Mackay's statement has a ring of truth about it don't you think?

Anyone with any genuine experience of this counter-insurgency business understands that it is hellishly difficult and that mistakes, cock-ups and friction are a permanent feature.

"The issue is whether or not our politicians, diplomats, intelligence services, civil servants and senior military have done enough, adapted enough, been innovative enough or courageous enough to make tough, and more often than not, unpalatable choices.

"My answer to that question is that they have not or have failed to do so too often.

"Muddling through seems to be the default setting, along with the protection of individual and collective interests."

"The genesis of this approach is born of complacency, the thought that 'we can deal with it as and when it happens'.

"It resulted, I believe, in the upper echelons of government going into Helmand with their eyes shut and their fingers crossed.

"For those who fought and died or suffered injuries in that period, this proved a very costly means of conducting counter-insurgency."



Oldrightie said...

As I used to say, if Labour did war or economics.......

subrosa said...

I so wish the new Condems get it right OR but somehow I feel that's a wish too far.

Indyanhat said...

I'm sorry, but Iwas always under the impression that the QUEEN was commander in Chief of our armed forces. How can anybody give control of our troops to a FORIEGN POWER!!!

It's all about SOVERIEGNTY isn't it? We are no longer a SOVERIEGN nation because of the EU but why do now give command of our troops to an AMERICAN, as the USA has not signed up to any of the international war crimes protocols and their soldiers are not prosecutable because of it, what happens to our people if they are ordered to do somethig illegal and then have to face the music...on their own...stupid, stupid thing to have done, presumably if they were to be prosecuted for any such crimes the Queen as commander in chief would also be liable for the same offences (and the idiots in Parliament)
Given the American track record ,I think it only too likely that such a situation WILL come about. Should be interesting to see who exactly does get hung out to dry...

subrosa said...

Well said Indyan. Oh yes a reckoning will arrive at some time but will the true guilty be called to account? I very much doubt it somehow.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fox is a liar, a thief and a bigot.

What he is doing in a position of responsibility is a complete mystery to most people.

He should be sacked and taken before a court.

banned said...

UK and US forces have been under each others command since WW1. Montgomery was, I believe, CiC Western Front for a while; it is an operational matter, not a Sovereignty one.

Time to face facts and leave Afghanistan, the Taliban have been succesfull in using IEDs which our forces simply cannot deal with in terms of numbers alone. They are by far the most deadly weapon against which we can only use Bomb Disposal personell who take years more training than would-be bombers (of which there are hundreds at any one time) do. We will soon be in the position of haveing no experienced bomb disposal officers because they will all be dead and for what?

The only other opion is to nuke the place, which is not an option.

Anon said...

Maj Gen Mackay is correct.

It's time we closed down the military in all countries.

- Aangirfan.

subrosa said...

That may be banned but as I understand it operation-wise it isn't necessary in Afghanistan. The reason for it is that the US wants the UK to move to Kandahar and then the US will take over Helmand. Mind you there are differing views as always.

For nothing because Afghanistan wants to keep its own culture.

subrosa said...

I don't understand what he's doing Tris. Just can't believe he would use Coffey in this position. Of course foreigners work in governments, it's quite common Americans coming here because of the ease of language, but this appointment is strange to me.

subrosa said...

I would agree with that Anon, although would need some form of defence force.

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