British troops put at greater risk in war on Taleban

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jul 9, 2009.

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  1. From The Times
    July 9, 2009
    British troops put at greater risk in war on Taleban

    The coffin of Major Sean Birchall of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who was killed on June 19 when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle in Helmand province, is carried from the Guards Chapel, London, following his funeral service
    Tom Coghlan in Kabul and Michael Evans, Defence Editor
    More British troops will lose their lives as a result of a strategy being brought in to reduce civilian casualties, the new commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan warned yesterday.

    General Stanley McChrystal — who has ordered his forces to reduce aerial bombing because of the risk to civilians — said that the additional risks to soldiers were a price worth paying.

    If the Afghan people swung behind the Taleban this would ultimately make the war unwinnable, the American commander said. “In the long run it is more economical in terms of loss of life to operate this way because we can gain the support of the population,” he told The Times.

    General McChrystal, who took over as commander of the Nato International Security Assistance Force last month, acknowledged that British troops had suffered “painful casualties” recently. Seven British soldiers have died in as many days in Helmand as part of Operation Panther’s Claw.
    More on the link

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6670392.ece
     
  2. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    If the policy of remote airial bombardment is driving the locals into the arms of the Talibs, or at best, making them hostile to us, it could very well mean more casualties for us anyway.

    There are a number of policies that ARE failing us in Afghan, the biggest of which is underfunding and undermanning for the job in hand. If we had been able to hold the ground we had taken in the first instance, and been able to follow it up with decent projects to help the local people, then we might have saved many more lives on both sides. That didn't happen, because we've never had enough feet on the ground to do that, let alone enough aircraft, the right vehicles and so on. That's not a failure in tactical planning, that is a massive failure at government level, and a slightly smaller one in the halls of the MOD. Somebody in the MOD should have had the balls to say 'Give us more men and materials or walk away from this project of yours', or better still 'This war CANNOT be fought in the manner you suggest, with the troop and equipment levels available to us'.

    20 years after watching the Russians get smashed all over the place, and 2-3 failed Afghan adventures in our own history, you would have thought that the government might have had a better understanding of the situation that suggesting that there was an expectation that no shots would need to be fired during the course of our presence in the country.

    One might have thought that it wouldn't take 7 years before the realisation set in that MANY more troops and MUCH more equipment was needed to do the job properly.
     
  3. I wonder what the good General would think of curtailing air support were it his boots on the ground? There is always a risk of collateral damage anyway, it's ALWAYS going to happen, it MUST be the commander on the ground who makes the call, not some senior officer sitting safely in the rear.
     
  4. Commanders on the ground are willing to take the risk of reduced fire support in order to prevent as much CD as possible and have done so on a number of occasions. The days of a stream of women and children leaving built up areas being a prelude to a contact are long gone. It has been proven on a microcosmic scale that this approach works. If you are able to gain even some of the local population in support, then they will come to you when IEDs have been laid in their fields for instance. Naturally, this is also out of self interest, but if it stops me losing a limb, I'm all for it!

    We need to take a longer term approach with Afghanistan. The FCO and other government agencies (and I include the MOD in this) must acccept deployments of years, not months, to the theatre if any true working relationship is to be successfully developed. No one is saying that it will be easy, but it will work. The Americans are streets ahead of us in this and seem to be doing very well, both in Iraq, and increasingly in Afghanistan.
     
  5. Really? The exfil of locals was still a massive combat indicator last year and never let us down once. And I`m sure its the job of the FST Cdr to do his own CDE and then weapon to target match as appropriate. But it is a fact of life that if you are in the S**t and all that checks in is a B1 with a 2000ib left then you are going to use it.

    Collateral damage and Local National life being lost is always regretable but if the action saved British lives then it is justifiable. IMHO.
     
  6. msr

    msr LE

    This is the difference between winning the battle and winning the war.

    msr
     
  7. I agree with you MSR however you cannot expect the lads on the ground to care about anything other than winning the battle that they are engaged in at any one time.
    Do you honestly think anyone gives two ********* about anything other than getting home from Afghan safe and intact? Whatever Campaign stratergy is set out by those up top bares no significance in a firefight what so ever. We are the best fighting force in the world however most of the time we are trying to do a job with one arm tied behind our backs due to the beauracrats pen pushing!
     
  8. This is both an evergreen and an insurmountable problem. However I think there is a bit of uni-dimensional reason being deployed here, where collateral damage equals civilian switch to Taleban. If all things being equal this occurs, then we need to raise the game. If allowing a war to take place in your front garden is only about surviving AK-74 rounds from one direction or JDAM from the other, fair go. If you chuck in some demonstrable quid pro quos, like improved aspirations, opportunity and quality of life, then a "sacrifice" might become capable of accommodation.

    So once again it isn't about "hard power" equations, it is surprise, surprise about smart power and soft power...Which leads me to think we need a time-out to reconsider what we really are doing in AFG. Warfighting or what?? Peace enforcement? Think not. Reconstruction/ Good for spin. A bit of everything with no balance or clear objective? Yes.