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Commentary: why British public accepts rising Afghan death t

From Times Online July 30, 2008

Commentary: why British public accepts rising Afghan death toll

(Richard Mills / The Times)
British soldiers on patrol in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan

Michael Evans, Defence Editor
The British casualty rate in Afghanistan is continuing at a relentless pace, with four killed this month already and a total of 28 dying so far this year, mostly from enemy action.

No military commander would expect the Taleban to reduce their activities during the hot summer months but the deaths are a bitter blow for the forces now out in Afghanistan.

It is the fighting season and in a province as large as Helmand in the south where the British troops are based, the Taleban have little difficulty in concealing themselves in the communities where the British troops, serving alongside their Afghan counterparts, cannot maintain a permanent presence.

The 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, one of the main combat units in 16 Air Assault Brigade which arrived in Helmand in April, has had a particularly tough tour, losing seven soldiers.


Reporting of British deaths by the media confuses the public. It's time for the BBC to adopt the policy of reporting on ALL Armoured Forces casualties as the lead story in EVERY bulletin, with a "As reported earlier----".

Why are CAS figures not reported on? Some may say that it would be bad for moral of every one, or am I completely off my rocker thinking the government are hiding it from the public? IMHO it would give the public a far better idea of what is actually occurring.
That's a fair point, but would the MOD really want the public to actually know what is going on? They try to keep as much sh1t under wraps as possible as it would definately be bad for morale over here.

As for the press, they are only interested in selling papers, bad news and controversy sell better than good news. They're just a bunch of cnuts anyway.
The British public accepts the rising death toll in Afghanistan for very simple reasons.
There is nothing they can do to stop it.
It really is as simple as that, many of us are grossely unhappy about it but there is absolutely nothing we can do.
The other factor is that the overwhelming majority of people have enormous respect for our armed forces, to complain or campaign against Afghanistan cannot be split from the perception that it would be complaining or campaigning against those same armed forces.

My thoughts on it are simple, the place (and supporting the USA's plans, whatever they may be) is not worth the life of one single Briton. On the other side of the coin I have nothing less than the utmost respect for anyone serving out there.


Jagman I agree, however I do feel it is the duty of the government to keep the public fully informed about everything that is going on within the bounds of national security. There is too much lying by the government about equipment, health and many other issues which I am sure the general public would be appalled with if they had all the facts.

Maybe it's just me and I'm getting paranoid in old age.
From outside the war in AFG is like the one in NI:

It's a long way away from most people in this country;
The main protagonists on both sides are not sympathetic characters, and our lot are stuck in the middle;
It's hard to explain what the negative consequences would be if we just pulled out immediately, particularly if we don't care what happens to the people who live there;
The service personnel being killed or maimed are all volunteers, all of whom willingly accept the risk, some of whom have joined up specifically to serve in a war zone;
The Services are professional enough, or the opposition are so poor, that there will not be a disastrous single event, like the loss of a whole Company group, with hundreds dead or paraded on the internet prior to execution. Drip drip drip headlines stop being headlines.

The war in Ulster went on for 30 years, and I would submit that for the great majority of people in the UK, pulling British troops out has had no immediately visible negative effects. This war in AFG could go on for another 25 years, at the present rate of loss, with no effective shift in public opinion (unless we need to enforce the draft, in which case it'll be over in three years).

In some ways this experience is one of our greatest strengths. We've been through this terrorist war process before, so as a country we'll just carry on and let our volunteer soldiers deal with it. The weakness is that poorly-educated or lazy journalists don't seek to understand why this war is different, or why it really maters that we keep it over there, rather than fighting it over here.
elovabloke said:
Jagman I agree, however I do feel it is the duty of the government to keep the public fully informed about everything that is going on within the bounds of national security. There is too much lying by the government about equipment, health and many other issues which I am sure the general public would be appalled with if they had all the facts.

Maybe it's just me and I'm getting paranoid in old age.
You are right, within certain constraints the public does have the right to know, after all its supposedly done for the benefit of the country.
I'm not a complete idiot and I watch the Afghan expedition with great interest but asides form propping up the much vaunted Superpower accross the Atlantic I see no real reason for us to be wasting the lives of our young men and women there.
As for the inadequacies of our government, most people in this country are now to busy trying to keep their head above water financially to be surprised at any skulduggery commited by Brown and his Commisars.
To support your angle Jon, Telic 10 saw equally high numbers of casualties as Afghanistan, without the same freedom of ROE. The difference is that Afghanistan is a popular or 'supported' conflict, Iraq is a 'shameful episode best forgotten'.
The way I see it. We and the rest of NATO went into Afghanistan as support to the US in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 business.
You can argue some justification for what is happening in Helmand.
Iraq, I would like to see Blair answer to some world body over this invasion, Totally Illegal in my opinion.
Brit troops are putting life and limb on the line every day and are not being fully supported bu the UK population and even more disgracefully by the UK Government, very bad business.
I read from time to time that Gorden Brown has a master plan in his head, but he never shares it.
I do believe that Labour has sold out the Brit Forces and that the left over remains will one day be incorporated into the future Euro Force.
But what probably upsets me even more I cannot see the Tories rectifying the above matter.
I think it is quite simple case with AFG.

My take is, UK public in general sees that UK forces need to be there, killing people that needs to be killed.

Situation in Iraq is totally different, because my country (among other Scandinavians) felt that it was war fought on false pretenses. I think some in UK share that view.

So, people in Norway, Denmark (both NATO) but even within Sweden and my country Finland see Afghanistan bit different. Cannot vouch totally for others, but that's the take with guys I have met.

While troops in Afghanistan from my country (not really combat unit and had only one combat casualty so far) would detest to deploy to Iraq (no way), they feel Afghanistan is where they can make a difference.
I don't think that the British public does readily accept the rising death toll in Afghanistan. The problem is how to support the troops and at the same time call upon the Government to bring them home. If we are going to 'stay until the job is done' - whatever 'the job' is - then we are going to be there forever as the Taliban aren't going anywhere.
If the public knew of the cost in £.s.d. then soon everyone would be home.

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