LOSING SMALL WARS- British military failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have just finished this book - the full title is indicative of the content

LOSING SMALL WARS - British military failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

1) This book would not have been needed if Tony Blair and the government had the decency and intelligence to listen to Field Marshall Lord Bramall who was against involvment in Iraq from the beginning and asked all the right questions " Of course we can get to Baghdad, but what are we going to do when we get there?" Letter to The Times.

2). Ledwidge tells of a certain very Senior Officer (but does not name) who went skiing in France just as a major op. was beginning. However, from the text and the context we can easily figure that one out.

3). Lovely little vignette on page 62 showing the British sense of humour
General David Richards, Commander of ISAF in southern Afghanistan at the time

"We were told the Canadians had asked to do Kandahar and that we would go to a place called Helmand. and I thought "Where's Helmand?".

This should be required reading for every British serviceman and woman this August. It is certainly the most hard-hitting. It is clear that the author has nothing but admiration for the courage, tenacity and professional of the British Army- all ranks, but with a few notable exceptions only those below one star. The tale he tells will make very uncomfortable reading for almost everyone with the rank of Brigadier upwards and all the politiicans involved. Very few civil servants or anyone at the MOD will enjoy reading it either.

Frank Ledwidge has "done the State some service". If only a quarter of what he outlines is true we should see a mass falling on swords. This book is up there with "Dead men Risen".
Im certainly no book critic and am normally more suited to reading nuts magazine so fear I won't do this book justice but having just finished this I have to say it was an uncomfortable read at best and actually made me embarrassed of the British Army and the way its done business over recent times.

The author is ruthless when making his points and has opened my eyes to just how deeply ingrained the backward thinking within the Army has been over recent years at all levels. Some of the usual concerns are covered, (i.e why is there more Brigadiers than Helicopters etc) but he has pretty much succeeded in ripping apart the Army from top to bottom. Points that struck me as particulary valid were how damaging the "6 month war" mentality is, how the "cracking on" mentality isn't necessarily a good attitude to have at ALL levels, the rewarding of failure,the sloping of shoulders when it came to responsibility but not authority and ultimately the Army's lack of flexibility to adapt and change its methods, not to mention its complete refusal to come to terms with the reality of certain situations through fear of upsetting certain people which led to false pictures being painted to save face. After reading this book you can easily understand why HM Forces reputation now lays in tatters amongst our allies aswell as our enemies.

I would love for some of the headshed responsible for the mess, to read through this book and actually try and defend themselves. I have no doubt that they wouldn't have a leg to stand on as I think the author is spot on. This book is something that needs to be read on a wide scale throughout the forces to ensure that we can better ourselves and address the problems that are seemingly rampant throughout the Army system.

I can only hope that the young officers who have served and suffered during the **** ups that Telic/ Herrick have become will eventually be in a position to actually transform the Army into something that not only will become capable at COIN warfare but something we can be proud of again.
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