A very British War


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Since the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict in 2001 the United Kingdom have steadily committed a task force of 9000 troops to the war on terror. This force is part of an international coalition of troops committed to the region, with the largest force committed from the USA and the next biggest contingents coming from Germany, France and Canada respectively. A total ground force of 96, 513 ground troops have been dropped into this theatre of war and the number is only set to rise. It is expected that by December 2009 troop totals from the US and the UK will exceed 100,000 on their own according to news clippings.

It is not a pleasant type of war. If we can use a comparison of Vietnam, Afghanistan was the exact same result for the Russian Armed Forces when they went to war with Afghanistan in the 1980’s. I have read some amazing accounts of the bravery of soldiers on both sides of that conflict, but if the world didn’t take heed at that time that a largely superior army, lead by some of the most sophisticated military technology available at the time, were held at bay and never in any convincing way defeated or suppressed the Afghan uprising, then surely we are heading for yet another arse whipping. Fair enough you may counter that the Afghans at the time were supplied weapons by the US as a means of frustrating the communist advance into Asia, but the rebels today are no less capable of getting their hands on highly sophisticated weapons as they have shown time and time again even with an arms embargo heavily monitored into the region.

Plus the ability to create Improvised Explosive Devices on a large scale and use these with impunity against our ground troops means that anyone wanting to make a dent into the rebel strong hold on Afghanistan is going to have to be prepared to wage a bloody and costly war. 742 US personnel have already lost their lives, and the UK have sacrificed 184 men and women to the cause up to July 2009. Canada is not far behind and then the numbers fall back drastically as Germany lists fourth with only 33 deaths thus far. It would be a worthy cause if we understood why our troops were there. We are told on a daily basis by our leaders that our troops have not sacrificed their lives in vain, but I am puzzled to see how we have made any advance in the Afghan theatre since we started pounding them with bunker busting bombs in the search for Osama Bin Laden.

We read often that the Taliban fighters blend in with the locals, are tenacious and well supplied, not afraid to stand in the way of civilians or even use them as human shields and are empassioned to their fight believing it to be a holy jihad against western powers. That type of war is next to impossible to win, and we know that the Afghan government have no power to stop it. The Afghan government needs to keep its wary eye on its neighbour Pakistan it seems, and it would appear that rebels are able to cross the border between the two on a regular and unstoppable basis. So its next to impossible to monitor or control the movement of arms, curb or thwart training camps and dampen the efforts of the Taliban in the region. We know our troops can’t engage the enemy when there are chances of civilian casualties, and the press are foolish enough to shout it to the world so that everyone knows this handicap. We know our forces cannot engage in any hands on robust forms of interrogation or questioning of captives. We know that our troops have their hands tied by almost every human rights campaigner that decides that there is a case they can get some money out of.

How can we realistically expect our boys to win a war with one hand tied behind their back. And let’s not start to talk about the failure of our government to provide adequate kit to our forces on the ground. Could you imagine a US president getting away with committing his forces to a conflict without the equipment they request or deserve? How I would love to impeach Gordon Brown and put him in a witness box and get him to admit the truth of how hopeless and unprepared we really are to be actively engaging in a long term conflict. The sheer cost alone of keeping our troops actively engaged in the war zone costs our economy billions of dollars each year, a sum the country clearly does not have. And so thousands of our young men, brothers, husbands, sons daily face a world of pain at the request of a nation clearly torn apart and unsure of why or whether we really should be committing our troops to this conflict.

The fact that we have stirred up a hornets’ nest means that perhaps now that we are committed we cannot turn our backs and flee with our tails between our legs, but I am snapped to attention by the government’s failure to insist that it is the Afghan army that we train and put into the firing line. I mean after all, we are there to “Support” the Afghans, so yeah ok fair enough, use our troops to train their soldiers, use our troops to guide them in the art of war, and stop putting our boys at the end of the short straw.

If we look at Iraq for a moment we find that the Iraqi people are sick and tired of feeling the effects of road side bombs and market suicide bombings, and are actively engaged themselves in bringing the violence under control. It would seem that they have remarkably more success at it too, but that is bound to be the case when they understand their people, and are not bound by the weird and wonderful laws of engagement that our troops have to follow. If the Iraqi defence forces get a hold of an insurgent as they call them, I am pretty sure that the justice handed out during interrogation gets them the answers they need to put a stop to the insurgency operations quickly and robustly.

In many ways violence begets violence. You cannot stop a lion in full charge with a softly softly approach. It is often said by the people of the African Savannah that if a Lion is charging at you that if you run directly at the Lion shouting and screaming at the top of your voice, with your arms waving about and trying to appear as big as possible that the Lion will suddenly think twice about attacking this crazy apparition bearing down on it and avoid the confrontation at all costs. In much the same way, if the Taliban choose to use roadside bombs as a method of attacking our troops, make a Taliban captive walk in front of the moving troops. He will quickly remember where they devices are, and if not, well he wanted to die anyway.

I’d love to find out why Tony Blair’s sons never served in the army. The cowards chose to hide behind their fathers frills while he spun out his lies taking us to war. I watch him now as a pathetic whimp as he pleads with Gordon Brown not to allow the Iraq Enquiry to be held in public. If he is so white and pure and innocent why the hell should he be fearing for his skin now? He so willingly stood before parliament and told us how he had seen proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and it was necessary for us to go to war for humanities sake as the Iraqi people needed to be freed from the clutches of an evil oppressor. The world still wants to know who was really behind the sexed up dossier that they claim never really existed, and now have no idea who really put together. An Oxford based Dr suddenly turns up dead mysteriously committing suicide in a field no one can fathom why he visited. So many questions hang over the head of the spin doctor that he must be quacking in his boots. How he must now wish that he’d not been George W Bush’s poodle, there at his every beck and call. We have paid a heavy price as a nation due to Tony Blair’s war on Terror. And that war didn’t really keep Terror from our shores did it. Do we really feel safer as a result of billions of dollars spent on a wager? After all that effort, the loss of so many lives, and the cost to our nation we have to ask ourselves, wouldn’t the money have been better spent bulking up our defences at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that as a leader of the First World we do have a responsibility to remove despots from around the world, but if that is our calling and we aim to do it for one we cannot deny doing it for another. As I sit here I can list of 10 evil men in positions of power around the world. Countries where ethnic cleansing and genocide are happening right now. Places where you would cringe to be alive, and live every day in fear of the next beating or round of attacks charging through your village, never quite sure when the next food aid will reach you, living a life without medical attention, clean water or sanitation. And shelter? I can name places where the word shelter is a bitter distant memory. Sleeping on the streets is safer than remaining in their mud huts or tin shacks. What type of life style has our beloved Mr Blair closed his eyes at while feeding the greed of his petrol tank running after the oil that lies in the ground of Iraq. Yes Mr Blair, own up to the lies you so intricately rolled off your tongue and tell us how you manoeuvred us into a position where entering into war was imperative and in the interest of every man, woman and child alive in the United Kingdom. In all the master of spin, spent 15 years in power, totally mismanaged the system, allowed the government to spiral into a web of deceit, greed, mistrust, and corruption, lined your own nest with a comfortable pension we’ll pay you forever, while earning millions of dollars each year on the seminar circuit, having a job that means you get paid tonnes to do very little and all at the expense of the country that you were meant to serve. You remind me of another tyrant who has stolen from his country and left it in a mess. The only difference is that he is bold enough to know he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and doesn’t mind the world knowing he is a thief. Mr Blair you really are no better than Robert Mugabe, and you should stand accountable for your lies. How can any of us really expect Gordon Brown to be able to make any sense of the mess that Tony walked out on? The poor man isn’t the brightest spark in the box, and listening to him at times makes me angry as he claims to have learned and listened when he clearly has not, but I also do feel sorry for him for its not all his fault.

We have a nation of Hero’s and I am grateful that we have a population that honour our service men and woman. And when I hear that people attack and disrespect the bravery of the very people who put themselves in harm’s way to give us our freedom I get very mad indeed. I can sit here and write like this due to the freedoms that they protect doing a job that none of us would want to do, at a time so few of us would enter into the armed forces, under conditions that clearly are not suitable for a good result. We should take our hats off every day and say a prayer for each and every one of them. A prayer of gratitude and thanks for their bravery and a prayer asking for their protection and wellbeing. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with them in defence of their service, and anyone who dares to utter discord against them should be thrown out of the land in which they choose to live. After all I might not agree with the reason that the government put them there, but they are there not by their own choice but by orders that they cannot refuse. If you don’t have the courage to accept that they are there for you then go somewhere where you don’t have to think of our service men putting themselves on the line.

For the families that live with loss daily, I can only begin to imagine your pain. I know watching my own father suffer through cancer was a nightmare, but we had our chances to put things right, so say our goodbyes and to prepare. The sudden loss of a loved one in violent circumstances in a distant land where he felt alone and deserted as he died can only leave a hole larger than I can consider. And to be disrespected by the government and the MOD in so many ways over the last few years and they spin their lies to cover the inadequacies our forces have to face is criminal. Our soldiers blood is on their hands, and they will answer for it one day. And to the many men and woman who return from war with injuries and scars that we cannot begin to understand my heart goes out to you. I so wish I had a magic wand that would wave your disabilities and hurts away. You are true heroes worthy of our respect and gratitude, and deserving of our total and committed support. I can only salute you in words and say my prayers are with you always. Thank you and may god bless and keep all of you.

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2 comments on “A very British War

  1. Mark says:

    Good article Rob.Just want to add a bit of a rant here:
    The British troops are not given enough of the respect and gratitude that they deserve by the citizens of this country. For instance only just yesterday I read an article in the Metro that a pub denied access to troops in uniform that had just come from a comrade in arms funeral. Many may say that the British troops do cause a lot of trouble in pubs, but I say no more that the average man out on a Friday night and you have to remember one thing – these men and women put their lives at risk at the behest of their country’s leaders. Also, what difference does it make that they are wearing a uniform? If they weren’t wearing uniforms, they no doubt would have been allowed in. They deserve some respect!

    • Rob says:

      Too Right Mark. I mean lets be honest, these guys go through a lot to wear that uniform. Their training ain’t the easiest, the job is pretty damn lousy, the pay ain’t great, the risks are abismal, and they can’t feel proud to wear the uniform they trained and work so hard to respect. People who can’t have a bit of respect for squadies should have their heads banged together and given a lesson in humility and common decency, but even that once British institution is now left for the returning colonialists to teach to a wayward and lost Britian.

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