Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has this week voiced his concerns over our UK troops continued presence in Afghanistan. It is doubtful that his motivation is political. Mr Ashdown has a military past and will know all too well the high price many are paying for this ongoing war in Afghanistan.As other foreign troops leave the region it will make the job harder for those that remain. If the mission had been successful that may not have been the case but it has clearly failed. That is no criticism of those involved. They have given their all. They give until there is nothing left to give. You may have to conclude that Afghanistan is not a winnable war.Invading a country is always a tough decision. It should never be taken lightly. An increase in terrorism and 9/11 backed the West, and in particular the US, into a corner. We took the bait and have been paying the price ever since. Now it appears to be a case of two steps forward and three steps back.The whole Middle East region is currently "wobbling" That word seems the most fitting. There are unsafe regimes and governments, unsatisfied people, high unemployment, corruption, poverty and there is religious hatred. A terrible combination. A huge bomb of discontent wating to explode. How far the blast reaches will be down to us.Put yourself for one moment though in the shoes of an Afghan. Perhaps a yoing man aged 17. You will only remember conflict, poverty and perhaps bereavement. You will have had more than your fair share of pain.
You could have been indoctrinated from an early age. You have known your country overun by foreign forces and have experienced little freedom as we know it. You may have seen or known more horror than a person aged 100 should in a lifetime.Hardly a recipe for civil obedience. And of course obedience to what and to whom?There will be some who will want a better life and overcome all of this. For some it will not be so easy. We are all different. That is how it should be.Move away from Afghanistan and look at the families and communities of those who served in Afghanistan. They now face a different set of challenges. An increase in citizens coping with the fall out of conflict, PTSD. Some will also be physically challenged whilst there will be children who have lost a parent in this conflict. Another recipe for unhappy lives unless care is taken.Afghanistan is far from settled. Should we continue to offer hurt on all sides. We think not. We tend to agree with Mr Ashdown. According to the guardian he said, "allied forces have failed to build a sustainable state and establish a government which was untainted by corruption."He went on, "We cannot pretend there is any more to do in Afghanistan. The urgent priority is to get out. It is not worth wasting one more life in Afghanistan. All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently, has been lost."The only rational policy now is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies. This is the only cause for which further lives should be risked."He blamed the International community for failing to establish a functioning state with the country's leaders and neighbours. "The international community in Afghanistan needed to speak with a single voice in pursuit of a single plan with clear priorities" "Instead we have been divided, cacophonous, chaotic. We should have concentrated on winning in Afghanistan where it mattered, instead of distracting ourselves with adventures in Iraq."We should have engaged Afghanistan's neighbours, instead of going out of our way to make them enemies. Our early military strategy should have been about protecting the people instead of wasting our time chasing the enemy. "We should have made fighting corruption our first priority instead of becoming the tainted partners of a corrupt government whose writ, along with ours, has progressively collapsed as that of the Taleban in the south has progressively widened."
Mr Ashdown's article published online on Friday November 16, 2012 has been condemned by some. You need to bear in mind though that some countries have already left this war. He is not alone in thinking that it is a lost cause, is he?.You can read the full Guardian report hereCapt Barrie the latest UK death is 438 British soldier to die in Afghanistan
With foreign troops committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan
by the end of 2014 time is running out for a peceful scenario. Much has changed for the better in Afghanistan, but by who's standards? There are also still ongoing security problems in that country.Today October 19, 2012, there have been reports of violent deaths in Afghanistan. At least 18 people on their way to a wedding in Afghanistan have been killed by a roadside bomb. The wedding was taking place in the
Dawlatabad district of Balkh province, in Northern Afghanistan. The party of wedding guests were traveling in a mini-bus when the bomb exploded. Those on board were men, women and children. That said the majority were women and children. All were civilians.The northern region of Afghanistan had previously been one of the safest areas of the country. The region were today's bombimg took place though has experienced an increase in terrorist activity.As well as those who died. some of the mini bus passengers were critically injured in today's bombing. They are receiving treatment
in hospital at Mazar-e-Sharif. As yet the authorities do not know if these wedding guests were the actual target. Also at time of writing no eor individual has come forward to accept responsibility.RIP
The death toll
for British soldiers serving in Afghanistan has risen by three in recent days. On Friday there were reports of two deaths and yesterday another. Each of these three deaths was not due to hostile action.
29-year-old Capt James Townley
of the Corps of Royal Engineers died on Friday September 21, one day before his 30th birthday. Capt Townley had returned to Afghanistan on September 5 for his third tour of duty. He had volunteered to return. It is believed that he committed suicide.38-year-old Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups
died at Camp Bastion on September 21, in a separate incident. He leaves behind a wife and three children. His death is under investigation but was not due to hostile action.Today there has been an announcement that a British Marine died in Afghanistan yesterday, September 24, 2012. His name and personal details have not been released yet. This will gve his loved ones a brief period of time away from press intrusion. It has been reported that he died of natural causes.This year has seen an increase in green on blue attacks, that is local people in uniform turning their weapons on the ISAF members. It must be nerve wracking working alongside locals in light of this, yet it is vital to this mission, as far as military commanders and politicians think. With a deadline for all foreign troops to withdraw from Afghanistan there is little to reassure that the country is any safer than before this lengthy conflict.
Add to this the risk of death by so called "friendly fire" and Afghanistan is one country fraught with danger for foreign troops.When the conflict finally ends and the military men and women who have played an active role return to the UK, or their home countr,y how will they fit back into society?
Not easily we think.RIP and condolences
If you believe that the ISAF mission in Afghanistan has been successful perhaps you need to have a re-think. While it may have achieved part of its aims Afghanistan remains as volatile as ever. A bloody period in the country has resulted in many deaths including civilians, and soldiers of different nationalities.
The latest news, in a BBC report, reinforces the belief that Afghanistan is far from a settled country. 17 local people in the Kajaki district have been beheaded. The killers are not known. The victims were two women and fifteen men. The village had been used by both insurgents and foreign troops. The incident is being investigated.
10 Afghan soldiers were also killed in in the same region when their checkpoint was attacked by insurgents. Details of this attack are sketchy with claims that this attack was yet another case of an "inside" job. There are reports that another five soldiers opted to join the insurgents and took their weapons with them. Either that or they were kidnapped. 42 members of the ISAF have been killed so far this year. There are early reports of two more ISAF deaths today.
What have been called "green on blue attacks" have been on the increase in Afghanistan this year. Currently there are 130,000 ("blue") NATO troops in Afghanistan working alongside 350,000 ("green") Afghan personnel.
Opinion: This protracted war is becoming a killing fields. Local people will be embittered after being an occupied country for such a long time. Incidents such as that in which SSG Bales allegedly killed 17 civilians will have helped breed a new generation of insurgents.
Most people in countries that have troops involved in Afghanistan want their soldiers out of Afghanistan and home. They are gradually being withdrawn but the fear is that they will leave a hotbed of insurgency when they have left. It does look as if that is what will happen, whether the troops are withdrawn tomorrow or in ten years.
The West has not learned any lessons though. It is still keen to become embroiled in the Syrian civil war, with further action possible in the Lebanon and Iran.
Update: The latest information is that the 17 civilians who were killed had been party goers. Their bodies were all found at the side of a road. All had either had their throats cut or had been beheaded
Western governments continue to maintain that their Forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan
by 2014. That is only right for those countries such as the UK
and the US who are still deploying troops in the country. After countries such as Canada and France announced a withdrawal in 2012 many claim that the mission is now complete.
Just what the mission was may fox most people. Sent in on the heels of 9/11, primarily to seek out Bin Laden, the reasons for the conflict have become muddled. Was part of the mission's aims to help the people of Afghanistan and to remove the grip of the Taliban? If it was then it is doubtful that it has been accomplished, long term.
Even now with some foreign forces remaining on the ground in Afghanistan, the Taliban are reaching out once more.
Yesterday July 23, 2012, there was news that a "British worker and two Americans were shot dead yesterday when an Afghan policeman opened fire at a training centre".
In common with other recent attacks the killer was a man dressed in a
national security force uniform.
Yesterday's murders followed a bloody weekend in Afghanistan. It has been reported that civilians died on Sunday, in bombing which hailed from Pakistan. The bombs were aimed at "insurgent" camps, or so it was believed. Five members of the NATO forces in Afghanistan have died due to roadside bombs in the last two days. Five local men working for the Afghan NATO alliance were taken hostage and subsequently killed.
All in all a bloody few days with more bad news today.
An Afghan police commander, Mirwais, and 13 junior officers are reported to have joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah, on Sunday, July 22, 2012.. This is the biggest single defection so far. They took with them weapons, radios, police cars and armoured vehicles.
This defection leaves open to question the statement that "The Taliban are finished"
We have heard of so many attacks by Afghans in security uniforms 2012 that such incidents make it hard to believe the Taliban will not simply take hold once all foreign forces leave. With this in mind you have to wonder if it is worth any of our troops remaining in Afghanistan?
Those who do stay on after armed forces withdraw will be on a training mission. The only conclusion right now is that the training mission will also fail.
Currently foreign troops put their lives at risk, and for what? Incidents such as the deaths of civilians at the hands of foreign military make for more insurgents and not less. Hatred helps build rebel armies, when all is said and done.
If Western governments have not yet realised, Afghanistan is not a winnable war. The Soviets tried under the premise that the authorities wanted them to enter the country. We have used similar statements. Whilst some inroads have been made there is a long way to go.
Is whatever the outcome of Afghanistan will be worth the time, money, effort, and loss of life on all sides? We think not.
Tags: Afghanistan, Afghan defectors, civilian deaths, War, World News, NATO Forces
Foreign troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014. There has already been an exodus of some foreign troops leaving those still in the country a difficult if not impossible task. Military deaths continue and the latest once more were at the hands of an Afghan national wearing a uniform.
Late yesterday NATO issued a statement which read, ""An individual wearing an Afghan National Civil Order Police uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing three service members." The attacker was injured and detained.
Part of the mission of those foreign troops in Afghanistan is to train an effective local police force and army. The work is increasingly dangerous as insurgents it seems infiltrate training camps.
NATO officials today, July 2, 2012, have confirmed that three of its staff have been killed by a man dressed in an Afghan police uniform. As yet the nationalities of those killed has not been released.
These latest three deaths bring the total number of NATO personnel killed in this way to 20. Understandably this is proving demoralising for troops and worrying. It puts the training mission into question. It makes some people demand an instant draw down of troops whilst others believe the campaign will have to carry on much longer than 2014.
Afghanistan down the years, and with different occupying forces, has proved itself a hard nut to crack. It has so often been a case of two steps forward and three steps back for NATO forces.
In the final analysis will the cost, in hard cash and loss of life, be worth what has been achieved? Cause for concern is also will Afghanistan simply revert to its previous state once foreign troops have pulled out? RIP
July 2 update - The three soldiers have been identified as British
Tags: Afghanistan, foreign troops killed, NATO staff killed, Afghan in police unfiorm kills three, three british soliders killed
A personal view
Last weekend a reported lone US soldier serving in Afghanistan, entered civilian homes in the early hours of the morning. He allegedly opened fire killing 16 civilians, which included women and children. The case raises plenty of questions to which this blogger has few answers but many thoughts.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has visited the region since the massacre. He has supposedly shown both military Afghans and US personnel proof that the attack was carried out by one lone soldier. What proof could this be one wonders? Unless the soldier filmed himself as he killed, hard evidence should be hard to find. Many believe that it was in fact not simply a rogue soldier and that yet another US cover up is underway.
The Defence lawyer acting for the soldier accused of these murders has today given some reasons to justify the soldier's actions. The man had suffered non specific head injuries in an accident in Iraq, he had been loathe to return to active service, he had witnessed a friend's leg being blown off the day before the killings and he had a previous exemplary military record. His family are devastated and find it hard to believe that he acted in such a way.
This blogger cannot imagine the horrors of war nor what the man will have experienced and witnessed. However this blogger would never be in a military role unless she was dragged kicking and screaming and forced to fight. If however these reasons are valid what of other soldiers in a similar position? What if they run amok? Whi is monitoring their health?
PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, is now a recognised illness. It has affected people after traumatic experiences in the past but was not a recognised illness. PTSD can affect the family as well as the person suffering from the disorder. One has to wonder though how come no person realised this man was suffering? Whilst sometimes mental ill health can be hidden surely the military team as a whole let this man down?
There have been incidents in the past of former soldiers launching gun attacks once they have returned to their own countries. Do we make the same excuses when that happens or simply want justice served. More often than not the perpetrator would either be killed during his attack or end his own life. Would we react differently depending whether it is Afghan children killed or US children?
UK media today carried news of a march by UK soldiers through the town of Warminster.. The men are due to be sent on a tour of duty to Afghanistan. The parade was especially poignant as five of the UK soldiers killed last week were from the region. Speaking before the parade the Town Crier seemed visibly moved as he talked of the dead, recent incidents and the longed for return of our military in 2014. Not once however did he mention the 16 civilians killed last week. He expressed his condolences regarding the Swiss bus crash but not last weekend's events.
Does this mean that an Afghan life is worth less?
The killing goes on in Afghanistan and there is wrong on both sides. We should not forget though that we are the foreigners in that country. How would we feel about occupiers in our country, more than ten years after troops had entered our country to fulfill their mission?
We may now claim that we did so to help the people of Afghanistan, not least the women and children, but that was an afterthought. Look online for the abuse of women around the world and you will find plenty of other countries with poor womens and human rights.
Thoughts go to the families of the victims, of the perpetrator and to the man himself. RIP