Tuesday, 19 July 2011
A soldier, from the 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan yesterday while in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on an operation to recover bomb components.
The soldier's tragic death occurred on the same day General David Petraeus handed over command of the Afghan war to Marine General John Allen. General Petraeus is returning to the US to take over as director of the CIA. As he leaves, it remains unclear whether his strategy - with an emphasis on protecting the local population and decisive strikes against insurgents - has made Afghanistan any safer. Last week the UN reported that the number of Afghan civilians killed in war-related violence rose 15% in the first half of this year.
The US has lost 1670 military personnel since 2001 when the Afghanistan war began. We have now lost 377.
When he took over a year ago Petraeus brought in more than 30,000 troops in a surge designed to bolster his counter-insurgency plan. Little has changed. Why? Because there are no winners and losers in this war, only losers. Britain has just lost once again and the Afghan people gained nothing.