British Generals Admit Afghan Failure

This important news story was number 10 on the BBC UK’s website earlier today; 7 stories below the death of Alvin Stardust.

Years after these “Generals” (of course there is no such thing as ex-Generals) made some extremely bad calls for the sake of British foreign policy in Afghanistan, they have come forward and admitted their failings on a BBC programme. Brigadier Ed Butler back in 2006 was put in a no win situation along with his officers and men who fought courageously down in Helmand Province, not gaining meaningful ground but just surviving. Like always, the Parachute Regiment and associated units showed the world what British troops can do under very extreme pressure. However, it is well documented in the press that a UK SF report suggested that British troops should not be deployed to Helmand Province for various very sensible reasons.

Back in 2004, when I took a road trip from Kabul to Helmand with a small media team, I could see that it would be madness to deploy NATO troops to a majority Pashtun, Taliban supported area, no matter what the scale of deployment. On my return, and on various occasions afterwards, I voiced my opinion to military people back in Kabul. How dare I, as I’m no longer in the Forces, therefore what the hell do I know?

I’ve spoken and blogged many times over the years about how we took one side of a simmering civil war back in 2001; the side of the non Pashtun northern tribes. The politicians and Generals expected British troops to deploy to Helmand, and win the hearts and minds of the people on the other side of the civil war…just plain crazy!

The MOD has since argued that they left Helmand in a better situation than when they found it. I would argue against that, as I could “sensibly” wander around Helmand back in 2004, visit farmers, small towns and markets, but today I wouldn’t dare step into the Province. Almost every year since 2006, I would go there in a military embed and watch the situation get harder and harder for troops to operate–while senior officers and media relations officers spun the situation to the British public. Millions of Pounds of tax payers money has been wasted on military and DIFID projects, as the farmers are all back to growing the poppy, and the men of Helmand are putting the women and girls “back in their place”. Men and women have fought bravely. Many died or suffered wounds (both physical and mental); their friends and family all impacted one way or another, whilst the MOD still spews its filthy spin.

It angers me to see these Generals continue to be awarded medals and titles, write their memoirs and make out to their readership that they were right and courageous to make the decisions that they did.

These people dropped their pants for our politicians and US foreign policy. They did not lead from the front.

I’ve been banging on for a while now about accountability from our top brass and political leaders. A wee while ago, a British officer was rightly stripped of his gallantry award for lying about his leadership under contact. How about stripping these Generals of their medals and titles–for playing political spin for years over the Helmand deployment, and letting down both the British public and the brave soldiers who were under their command

Why are British Generals good at talking sense only after they leave the military?

General David Julian Richards, Baron of Herstmonceux GCB,CBE,DSO,DL,ADC Gen….I think that’s about it, spoke to the BBC the other day about the fact that the British Army should be much larger than it is, in order to meet today’s requirements!

Really? I left the military after 23yrs with the great title of Bob Shepherd, and I and all my ex military buddies knew that was the case years ago. Yet I’ve heard him and other “Generals” over the years in press conferences explaining why, due to the current climate, the military should be cut down and/or replaced by part timers.

Today’s Army is the smallest in it’s history. It’s due to people like him signing off and agreeing with politicians instead of standing up for his men and women in uniform and resigning, thereby keeping his integrity and his military in one piece.

But here we are today, British soldiers yet again proving time after time that they are the best in the world, simply by showing how well they can operate in survival mode in places like Basra, Iraq and in Helmand, Afghanistan. No other military could have operated so well. I know that as I’ve spent years in military embeds whilst working with the media studying other NATO units versus the Brits.

I am so proud of our soldiers in uniform, regulars and TA, but I am not proud of the serving and ex Generals who have failed them.

If you’re a General and you’re wearing the hat…make sure it’s the military hat and not the political one, even though the latter will guarantee you a place in the House of Lords. The former will guarantee you a place at the bar with my ex military mates and myself!

I took this photo the day before Basra fell to the British Army.
Basra Bridge, Iraq. 2003

The Farce of Training Afghan Troops (and a cautionary example for Syria)

Afghan National Army training.

 

Recruits being trained by US military mentors/trainers. 200 men to 1 instructor! On the US M16 assault rifle and not the AK47.

Mindblowing, watching the instructor in front of 200 men explain stripping and assembling to mainly illiterate soldiers, some of whom don’t even speak the language of the interpreter.
KMTC (Kabul Military Training Centre), Afghanistan. 2009

AFGHANISTAN 2014: THE BIGGEST MYTH OF ALL

Only the most diehard ostrich believes official pronouncements on Afghanistan anymore.  The latest fiction in this endless, senseless, victor-less war involves the vetting of Afghan local police recruits. Following a spate of “green on blue” incidents (NATO’s sanitized shorthand for Afghan security forces gunning down or blowing up their ISAF mentors), General Adrian Bradshaw, the British deputy commander of ISAF, announced that the training of around a thousand Afghan Local police recruits had been suspended to allow for re-vetting.

The idea that Afghan recruits can be effectively vetted is ludicrous.  Putting aside the logistical challenges of deploying NATO staff to remote, often hostile villages to perform background checks, the lack of official records, the nation’s sky-high illiteracy rate, and the basic distrust of Afghans toward westerners in general, the fact is, the central government will never top the Afghan hierarchy of loyalties.  After thirty plus years of civil war, Afghans have learned how to prioritize their allegiances in order to survive.  Family comes first, then tribe.  Beyond that, nothing matters.   Continue reading