For quite some time now, a mass of contradictory thoughts and ideas have been building in my mind about the Afghanistan mission. Audrey Gillan's (aka mintymcginty) recent Guardian article on A coy, 2 Mercian has poked me into putting some of those thoughts and concerns into words in a search for some answers. I guess the fact that a South African, Pvt Johan Botha, was killed in this operation has been the trigger. Many years ago, in another life it seems, I was in Angola as part of the SADF. It was the tail end of the 'Bush War', and my part was absurdly minor and utterly insignificant. I was fortunate to leave the AO suffering no scars external or internal: then or subsequently. Others were not so lucky. Putting aside the obvious possible mental trauma of having war, violence, injury and death 'in your face', I perceived amongst friends and aquaintances another 'scar' that only really emerged some time after the events themselves: 'was it worth it?' Remember, the SADF was in Angola fighting Angolans (MPLA), Cubans and all sorts of other 'advisors' - on behalf of other Angolans (UNITA); (Namibian/SWA) PLAN and (RSA) MK 'terrorists' - and that's just keeping it simple!!! Not that indifferent to current ops in Helmand. Not so long after my stint north of the 'cut-line', we - that's to say the RSA Gvt - were making friends with the MPLA, handing power to PLAN (SWAPO) in Namibia and then to the MK (ANC) in RSA itself. All that death and destruction. Just what was it all for if a few years later everything you fought to defend - and quite successfully so - is handed over politically to the 'enemy'? I hope you're now starting to understand the point I'm making. Just what is our mission in Afghanistan? Are we likely to achieve 'success'? Are we fighting people that really threaten our society and way of life? Is this really about our security, an attempt to make it more difficult for drug adicts, or ... ? Are the bodies and lives of our brave youth (how many teenagers have returned from the AO in bags or missing parts?) going to go the same way as those of the South African youth - sold down the river by political indifference and a change in foreign policy? I look forward to hearing others opinions and thoughts on the matter. As diverse as you wish, but please keep racist and irrelevant twaddle out of the thread please. Can we try and keep it sensible, respectful and constructive, please.