"Afghan Campaign was Woeful" - Richards

General David Richards: Afghan campaign was woeful - Telegraph

in an interview for a new book by Sandy Gall.

Also includes an indirect sideswipe at Brig Ed Butler

now IIRC Ledwidge's "Losing Small Wars", Brit SF (under command Butler) operating in unison with a large well resourced US PRT in Lashkar Gar held and managed Helmand effectively, using a "Hearts & Minds" approach to reduce the risk of talibanisation, support counternarcotics effective, and had community outreach programmes such as MEDCAP

"the people would find us through the bush telegraph. Wherever we went, we'd attract a line of burkas two hundred yards long" LSW Ledwidge Page 68

This then led to a larger operation in 2005 that resulted in a report to FCO via MOD PJHQ that later formed the basis of the "Helmand Plan", the initial template for British deployment. Criticism of the diversion from this plan and into "platoon house" has often been laid at Butler's door.

To quote Ledwidege again (page 74):

"Butler was not the only general, and certainly not the senior general on the spot, who was aware of, and involved in, the discussions and decision making process. A very senior officer, now a three-star general, was present when these matters were fiercely debated in the brigade headquarters. Despite the senior officer's presence, it is Brigadier Butler who has received the blame for what ensued. it is to his lasting credit that he has never sought to evade responsibility, despite the appalling political pressures placed upon him and the lack of any real support. It might convincingly be argued that he was placed in an impossible situation and in the circumstances had little choice"

This interview does not come across as the necessary "soul baring" an organisation needs to objectively analyse and make change from, but rather a more general "mistakes were made" (acknowledgement without accountability) and some underhand scapegoating.

Brig Ed is by some distance, the cleverest mil offr I have worked with. The man has loads of op experience. One needs to look at the context of the day and not the Afghan of today with the large US footprint, and the focus it has from politicians, financiers, force contributions and armchair specialists.

This is a bollox story taking a cheap swipe. Nuff said.
I seem to remember a chap called Butler was kicking cats and raging once he was committed to the operation then had all the promised support denied.

Short memories some people that era was when "there were enough helicopters to do the job", the lack of helicopters prevented proper resupply, the lack of resupply by helo meant that supplies had to be driven in via convoy, the convoys provided the targets the enemy were looking for and were targeted by IEDs and the rest is history.

Seconded cheap swipe!
I was wondering when some sort of criticism like this was going to emerge.

I am currently reading Ledwidge's "Losing Small Wars" and if half the stuff it contains is accurate (and I have no doubt that it is - the book is thoroughly researched and documented) then the men and women of the armed forces (and particularly the army) below the rank of major (and equivalents) have been shockingly let down by the majority of their superiors. It is well worth reading, if only to read how a complete cluster f***k in Basra can be ignored only to undertake another one in Helmand, but there is far, far more to it than that.

With the publication of Ledwidge's book I suspect that many of the British military are moving to protect their reputations and this just may be the first of many.

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