In a military campaign plagued by miscalculations, President Obama’s sacking of General Stanley McChrystal as head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan will likely be remembered as one of the most significant.  McChrystal could not have won the war.  As I’ve said in past posts, Afghanistan was lost as far back as 2005/06; over three years before he took command.  Moreover, having picked sides in a festering civil war, the coalition will never co-opt the local populations in the Southern and Eastern Provinces.  Still, firing McChrystal was an epic mistake because if any military leader could have achieved an honourable exit from Afghanistan, it was the ‘warrior monk’. Continue reading

A Civil War – Not an Insurgency

It’s a grim milestone that with good leadership could have been avoided.  This week a Royal Marine wounded in Helmund Province became the 300th British service member to die as a result of operations in Afghanistan.  The tragic death has caused many Brits to pause and reflect, not only on the sacrifices made by our brave men and woman in uniform but on the broader issue of what our country can realistically achieve in Afghanistan. Continue reading

Not Fit to Lead

After four years, the British media have finally got it.  This week, The Times published a two month investigation into who was responsible for the disastrous decision to deploy British forces to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in insufficient numbers back in 2006. The answer was in the headline:  The Officer’s Mess.

Of course, today it is obvious to a blind man that the Helmand mission was poorly planned and woefully undermanned.  Nearly three hundred brave British soldiers have lost their lives in Southern Afghanistan and many have sustained horrific, life-altering wounds.  But as far back as 2004 and certainly by 2005, it was clear to anyone who visited the province that it would never be pacified by a token occupying force. Continue reading

The IDF: A Third Class Military

Remember when the Israeli Defence Force was regarded as one of the finest militaries in the world?  That myth was finally laid to rest this week by the disastrous assault on the flotilla ferrying aid to the Gaza strip.  The raid by Israeli commandos in international waters which left at least nine peace activists dead was just the latest IDF operation condemned for its ‘disproportionate use of force’.

Having witnessed the IDF in action in the West Bank and Gaza, I can’t say I’m surprised, though I confess there was a time when I bought into the IDF mythology. Continue reading