Yesterday it was reported that an Army officer, who works in intelligence, described the British presence in Helmand as an 'unmitigated disaster' fuelled by 'lamentable' government spin and naivety. In the British Army Review he wrote 'Let's not kid ourselves. To date Operation Herrick (the British codename for the war in Afghanistan) has been a failure.'
Anyone with the slightest interest in what is going on in Afghanistan knows that this war will never be won and that our troops were sent there to suit the will of politicians. Since the Iraq war this government has no hesitation in sending thousands of the military into the front line of badly planned operations. It seems they intend to keep them there for some considerable time, as the video I posted last week shows that permanent buildings have been erected to provide accommodation and house supplies. This is a move welcomed by the troops as, living under canvas in temperatures of 40 degrees plus, is unbearable for any length of time.
British generals are said to want 2,000 more troops now but Gordon Brown is against this apparently on cost grounds. What price does he put on the death or seriously maimed soldier? A fraction of what many get in, for example, sexual harrassment cases.
This morning we are told the government is to provide an extra £1bn which will be spent on improved body armour and other equipment taking the cost of this was to £2,623m this year. An MOD spokesman said, "We're spending more money to improve protection for our troops." Then I read none of the equipment will be supplied until next year. Is that January or December? Many lives can be lost in eleven months.
Another British soldier was killed yesterday. Major Sean Birchill was 33 years old and the Commanding Officer of Number 1X Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The total dead now stands at 169 since this all started in 2001.
Read another newspaper and there's a headline 'Army faces biggest cuts since Crimea.' The Times states the MoD intends to cut army manpower to its lowest level since the Crimean war. Plans to axe three infantry battalions, a total of 1800 men, are being discussed despite the overstretch caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One battalion from each of the Yorkshire Regiment, the Mercian Regiment and the Royal Regiment of Scotland will go. This would see the size of the army drop below 100,000 for the first time since the 1850s. The army is so desperate to protect funding for Afghanistan that it could offer cuts only in infantry units to meet demands for savings.
So reduce troop numbers, saving millions, then spin 'extra' investment in troop equipment which may be still be completely inadequate and the present government expect us to believe our troops are being well looked after. How many of us believe this I wonder.