Armed Forces reputation is at risk in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Nov 6, 2009.

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  1. From The Times
    November 7, 2009
    [b]Armed Forces reputation is at risk in Afghanistan, MoD chiefs warn[/b]

    Michael Evans and Philip Webster

    The long-term future and reputation of Britain’s Armed Forces is at risk unless progress is made in Afghanistan, the two most senior officials at the Ministry of Defence warn in an internal document seen by The Times.

    The pronouncement by Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, and Sir Bill Jeffrey, the Permanent Secretary, leaves no room for the possibility of early withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Planning within Defence should be based on the assumption of a rolling three-year military commitment to Afghanistan, reviewed annually,” they say in a jointly signed document circulated as guidance to MoD staff preparing for next year’s defence review.

    Their unequivocal statement of commitment appeared out of step with a more conditional speech on Afghanistan given by Gordon Brown yesterday. He was accused by the Opposition of sending out mixed messages and making empty threats after warning President Karzai, the Afghan leader, that he was not prepared to put the lives of soldiers “in harm’s way” for a government that did not stand up to corruption.
  2. I could understand and support the initial invasion I could understand and support the early promises made to the Afghan people. However what has followed is a complete disaster. Money has been thrown away, aid has failed to be delivered, the military effort under-resourced and to top it all we are propping up a corrupt regime.

    Now, I think that our leaders should either start making a real effort or pack up and go home.
  3. I think that, like Iraq, the op was probably launched for the best of reasons and militarily achieved it's basic objectives. What was lacking was an 'exit strategy' and all that goes before it.
    The lessons of history were ignored. There is no basic unity within the Afghan population as far as I know, they just respond to their local leaders/warlords or are so used to conflict that they offer themselves to the highest paying to support their families. I don't think the 'western' concept of democracy is understood, partly because they have never had a period of reasonable stability (unless you count under the Taliban) for decades, perhaps hundreds of years. On the political front there apears to be little viable opposition to the grossly corrupt Farsai government. Probably the only one to have any chance against it threw the towel in in the face of a corrupt electoral regime that would not have been changed had a second round of election taken place.
    The whole bloody place is so fragmented and corrupt that I doubt a truly 'democratic' government as we understand it is acheivable.
    As for reconstruction and 'hearts and minds' type operations I think the internal politics and diversion of funds makes the whole thing almost laughable. You might get a few good blokes on side but they will still have their own adjendas at heart, and what will happen if and when we do pull out is anyone's guess. Back to the old tribal conflicts I would guess unless there is a bigger target ie. US/UK/NATO troops.
    Gloomy situation I know and I don't know what the answer is but my gut feeling is to leave the troops (of all nations) there to do their best and hope the bloody polititians can get off their arses and try to IMPOSE some sort of acceptable political solution in a basically undemocratic society.
    Don't ask me for sources for the above, just my own views after reading the tabloids.
    I want our guys home too - got a mate there right now - but I don't think pulling out now is the right option. If we did up sticks and run home what would the families of those killed in Afghanistan feel it was all for?
    To get back on thread I feel that the UK forces WOULD lose face and be considered to have been defeated if we withdrew now. I don't want anyone else to die out there but to my mind we would be better viewed if we stuck it out until we could withdraw with some measure of dignity, having leaft a 'better' society in place.
    Before anyone asks I am not, nor have ever been in UK forces but have several current and ex-forces friends who's lives I would hate to see wasted - especially for a failed cause. I have too much respect for all HM (and other countries) forces.
  4. The stupidly optimistic generals who sent troops into Helmand in 2006 are the one's whose reputations will be sunk if we withdraw.

    Absolutely nothing will sink the reputation of the fighting ability of the British soldier.

    In contrast, those who agreed to fight an under-supported, under-financed and under-equipped war should hang their heads in shame. They have shown complete disregard to previous British experience in that country. We are considered infidel on moslem land and should now come home. Why should we continue to fight for people who offer succour to the enemy?
  5. The problem we have is can we really afford to loose the war in Afghanistan because lets make no bones about this, it is a war, and if we pull out alla Iraq. Pakistan is sure to follow and no one needs reminding what that will entail for the west.

    So lets stop trying force western values and culture on the Afghan people it will never work.Like most Islamic countries a strong dictator type is what they are use to, strength is what the people will respect coupled with economic growth, so rather than burn the poppy fields, and lets face it, the only thing of value that can be grown there is poppies, buy the crops. The medical industry is crying out for high grade morphine.You would also remove a large part of AQs and the Talibans cash flow which in turn would reduce their ability to wage war.

    Only then, when we have someone who wont roll over as soon as we have gone, backed by a well trained army. And the people have a better standard of life than a return to the Taliban would offer, can we talk of exit strategy's.
  6. As compared to the grossly optimistic politicians? Dr Reid and "without firing a shot"?
  7. Ah yes, the famous quote banned by the BBC IIRC as it is always taken out of 'context'.
  8. This Labour Govt has little regard for its armed forces. John Reid should have known better, he is one Labour politician who made a half decent stab at the job for the fleeting time he was there. But the bottom line is simple. If the generals and air marshals had said no to the 2006 deployment with its obscure mission aims pulling in opposite directions, it simply would not have happened. The political imperative in 2001 was to support US response to 9/11 and I too supported those aims. The job was done by mid 2002. ALQ had been chased out of the country. A simple military objective had been realised with the will of the Afghan people.

    And then we squandered a golden situation.

    No, British soldiers should rest easy. Whatever happens they will remain feared foes across the world. The strategists who decided to invade Iraq in 2003 have a lot to answer for. The Air Marshals who were too afraid to admit that the RAF could not properly support two OOA Ops were simply thinking about their own careers.

    The problem with the British is their military leadership, aside from General Dannatt they have been too afraid to stand up for their men and take on the politicians at their own game. I have grave doubts about General Richards, in my opinion he is too closely allied with the Afghan cause. President Karzai, once told him: “You think like an Afghan; you are one of us." Sorry but we are rapidly approaching the moment when the British people have had enough of this war, we need objective leadership that is working on Plan B and Plan C. Not someone who seems unworried by the mounting casualty list, simply because it is worth it, or we gave them a promise.

    I want us to pull out. I am not worried about our reputation, in fact that should be the least of our worries.

    If Stirrup is so worried about reputations he should have done more to shore up his own by demanding better equipment and support for the deployment he is so worried about now.

    Too little, too late.
  9. I'm not so convinced I'm afraid.
    Look at how History remembers the first three Afghan Wars or even how history remembers Percival in Singapore (there is an excellent hread on that somewhere)
    People will not remember who's fault it is. Just like Iraq only the failure itself will be remembered.

    It is the only reason I support continued efforts in Afghanistan, can Britain afford another defeat in the eye's of the world?
  10. Jagman it would help if we had a realistic appraisal of likely scenarios should we pull out. Everyone is writing off Pakistan. Well, I was stuck there on the ground in Jan 2002 with the prospect of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. My crew had been given comprehensive int briefs on the military capability of both India and Pakistan. I just remember it was impressive. I wouldn't be so quick to write off Pakistan and the US already have plans to secure the Pakistan nuclear capability.

    I don't buy the threat that terror will follow on the streets of the UK. But if it happens, there will be a robust response by the British people. This is the thing that is probably worrying the UK Govt most.

    A lot of this is just scaremongering by an establishment that doesn't want to admit it got it wrong. The Canadians are pulling out in 2011, they have suffered very high casualties and have fought like lions, I don't see anybody decrying their reputation. Do you?

    Regarding the three Afghan wars, when are we going to respect moslem land? We are always going to be regarded as the infidel. In Afg various disparate factions have joined together to eject the infidel (in their eyes).
    If our generals and air marshals had read their history books they would have realised that you get a short time and then you have to leave. It is not the winning of the Afghan wars it is what comes next. They showed a blatant disregard for our own recent experiences and those of soviet russia.
  11. UInfortunately the reputation of our armed forces, is a large part of their effect in preventing aggressors from attacking british interests. There are always going to be countries or groups which only leave us alone because they believe we will give them a good spanking if they attack. If they believe we can be beaten within a few years through 'harrrassment' they will become emboldened.

    By squandering the reputation (and men / materiel) of HM armed forces, this labour government would make it more likely that others would attack british interests.
  12. If the Afghan people aren't sufficiently bothered by the Taliban to support coalition troops, then frankly. I don't give a damn.
  13. I don't see the reputation of the armed forces generally being at risk, it is the reputation of the politicos and senior staff that is.

    There are several big probems, as I see it:
    There seems to be disagreement between the forces and politicians about the objectives and solutions.
    There is no joined up thinking by all the departments involved to get things like electricity and water up and running properly.
    There is dithering in political circles from ALL parties.
    The Afghans are not politcal as such as, they are tribal and would rather look after there own areas than the country as a whole.
    There is no "get out" plans and it looks like we are just bumbling along, as usual.

    That of course is just my opinion.
  14. Firstly, just so I am crystal clear, I have nothing but the greatest respect for the armed forces of this country. That extends to the Canadians in huge measure and I feel that from the european audience the Canadians do not get sufficient recognition.
    I don't want to mix my opinion of the armed forces with what I percieve public opinion will be around the world.

    No I don't buy the terror on British streets bull either. We would be better dealing with that as what it is, an internal British problem but we will bury our heads instead.
    That brings me onto another point, stabilty in the region has always been iffy, since the dawn of time but in the great Afghan, Pakistan, India turmoil we are pissing in the wind.
    My personal opinion is that we should offer suport to Pakistan and India where apropriate and necessary but the region is no more our business now than it was in 1948 when we were asked to leave them to their own devices.

    History will look back on this period of our history and view the whole sorry mess as a failure. It doesn't matter how Brown & Co try to spin it the result will be same, we left Iraq with out being seen to achieve anything and we are destined to leave Afghanistan just the same way.
    Just as history cannot remember who's fault the 1st failure in Afghanistan was it will not remember who's fault this one is. It will only remember it as a failure.
    If it was upto me I would put every resource available to this country into Afghanistan for the next year and leave it as a sucess or an unihabited wasteland. Anything inbetween only serves to make Britain look weak and I'm not so sure we can afford that twice in this decade.
  15. I agree with the thrust of your argument, just that I would cut loose now. The considered opinion in the UK is to wait to see what the US do next. If we are seriously worried about reputations, then Obama has a far greater problem on his hands. Whatever he does next he will lose political support.
    Militarily US is on to a hiding to nothing. UK can only ever be a bit part player.

    My eyes are looking at the US and wondering. Obama looks as though he is caught in headlights.