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 They are gradually being withdrawn but the fear is that they will leave a hotbed of insurgency when they have left. It does look as if that is what will happen, whether the troops are withdrawn tomorrow or in ten years.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
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