Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Our Next War
A British soldier was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday. Captain Walter Barrie, 41, was serving with the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland when he was shot dead by an individual wearing an Afghan army uniform.
This is the 12th incident this year in which our servicemen have been killed by Afghan soldiers or police and brings the total number of fatalities in the war to 438.
On the Andrew Marr's Sunday Show, General Sir David Richards announced our next war. Hundreds of British troops could be deployed to Syria if the humanitarian crisis worsens he said. I translate that to read 'will' instead of 'could.
It's obvious Obama and Cameron had been discussing this for some time but the US election interrupted their plans. Now they can continue with their plans.
I don't believe for one minute that our involvement would be limited. Think back to - then Defence Secretary - John Reid's statement from Kabul in 2006. We had 3,000 troops deployed there at the time.
"We're in the south to help and protect the Afghan people to reconstruct their economy and democracy. We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years time without firing one shot." source
By then our military had been in Afghanistan for 5 years. They've now been there for 12 years and the number of troops has risen to 10,000. So has the number of deaths. Syria will be the next battleground for our armed services, which are being depleted month by month. Although the appalling reduction in our full-time military is going ahead at considerable spped, the plans to augment the TA are still a pipe dream, because discussions with employers have not yet started and the UK government has little chance of gaining the support of businesses. But that's a post for another time.
There is a humanitarian problem in Syria, as there is in every war. The Syrian conflict is complex and, should we become involved, there's little doubt we would be there for some time - not months but years.