One Columnists View of Afghan - Anyone want to disagree?

#1
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/c...away-simply-because-we-ignore-it-1808878.html

Any views on this article? It seems to be fairly hard-hitting, is it correct in anyone's opinion? I'm not qualified to comment on the technical side, but it does seem to raise some valid points.

This war will not go away simply because we ignore it

By Kevin Myers

Tuesday July 07 2009

Last Thursday, BBC 'Newsnight' announced the death in action of Lt- Colonel Rupert Thorneloe. In a recorded item -- which would thus have been heard beforehand by the programme producer and editor -- the wretched reporter thrice referred to "Lootenent-Colonel Thorneloe". Thus, after seven years of conflict in Afghanistan, and six in Iraq, senior BBC staff still do not know how to pronounce the ranks of British army officers.

In its own, peculiarly diseased and corporate way, the BBC faithfully reflects the more general cultural failure within British life to recognise the gravity of the wars upon Europe's southern and eastern marches. Yet these conflicts are not a continuation of the end-of-empire insurgencies of the latter half of the 20th century, but instead are epochal and global struggles whose consequences will unroll through the coming decades. Only the US seems to be fully aware of the gravity of this conflict. The British government's approach is characterised by a frivolous grandeur and a vapid, unprincipled posturing, which is not remotely matched by seriousness of intent or investment.

Lt Colonel -- BBC reporters, please note: this is pronounced 'leftenant colonel' -- Thorneloe and his driver, Trooper Joshua Hammond, were killed in a personnel carrier called the Viking, a tracked vehicle designed for Arctic warfare. It has no protection against mines, because mines are the last thing you need to worry about while protecting Norway from Soviet invaders (the design-purpose of the Viking).

Unlike US vehicles, British personnel carriers do not have seat-belts: mine-explosions can therefore propel soldier into the armoured roof, breaking their necks.

But at least the Viking's excuse is that it is a relic from the Cold War. The Jackal was purpose-built for Afghanistan. It is the 21st-century's answer to the Black and Tans' Crossley Tender. Its two crewmen sit in the open, unprotected and directly above the front wheels, with neither armour nor windscreen. The gunner sits above the rear wheels. Not merely can wheels detonate mines, they are also line-of-sight markers for the operators of remote-controlled improvised explosive devices. Far from the Jackals saving lives, 10 soldiers have been killed in them since their deployment -- including our own Royal Marine, Robert McKibben, from Co Mayo.

It's not as if the British ministry of defence didn't get warnings about the unfolding gravity of the Afghanistan war. In 2006, Sheila Bird, of the Royal Statistical Society, said allied casualties in Afghanistan were nearly matching those suffered by the Soviet Union in its war there 20 years before. "The commentary we are getting from politicians about this conflict does not do justice to the threat our forces now face in Afghanistan," she said acidly.

Quite so. Three years on, British soldiers are patrolling the desert in Arctic warfare snowmobiles, or on top of open-topped charabancs better suited to Blackpool Prom. And far from there being an anguished debate about this in the British media, there is largely silence. Meanwhile, the BBC -- the national broadcaster with 47 executives who earn more than Gordon Brown -- still doesn't know how to pronounce British army titles. It is too pathetic for words. Yet, almost unbelievably, the British political elite are more aware of the importance of this war than are most of their EU counterparts. Mainland Europe's failure to recognise the vital significance of the struggle in Afghanistan matches its supine response to the threat of Hitler in the 1930s. But perhaps forewarned by the 'cartoons' affair, Denmark -- relative to its resources -- has uniquely put a proportionate number of troops in the field. And has suffered accordingly.

But that's the terrible nature of war: it takes your bravest and your best. And this war will not go away simply because we ignore it, or because we don't like it, or because the BBC newsroom is willingly and wilfully and scandalously ignorant of the most basic military truths. Meanwhile, the real military burden is being borne by the US, who once again, showed us how contemptible Europe's military resources actually are. The very day that Lt-Colonel Thorneloe was killed while travelling overland -- because the British didn't have enough helicopters to transport him by air -- the US Marine Corps was able to deploy 4,000 men in just over an hour across Helmand Province, using helicopters only.

Why should I bother Irish readers with all this? Because if the West loses in Afghanistan, the consequences are global and epochal. If Afghanistan goes, Pakistan will follow. India's 80 million Muslims could then be radicalised, and the infant democracy of Iraq might once again perish. And then who knows what will happen, not just to the Arabic world, but also to the millions of Muslims in Europe?

Their militant mullahs rant and foam with hatred and with contempt for the societies they live within. But why should they not feel such contempt? These societies were faced with a threat from illiterate, badly equipped but determined mujahadeen in Afghanistan, but they walked away from it. The US saved Europe in World War II and in the Cold War. If we let it down in Afghanistan, we cannot expect it to save us again.

kmyers@independent.ie

- Kevin Myers
 
#2
I could not agree more with the comments the author has made. "Truer words were never spoke." It is easy to see, after walking the streets of any British/European city, the impact Islam will have in the very near future. A few minutes spent near Paddington Square will convince even the most skeptical person that Islam is about to overwhelm the UK.
 
#3
By Kevin Myers
Before I read it I shall attempt a brief synopsis based on KM's recent dribbling:

Britain is a bit rubbish at this warry stuff, not like America, they're ace.
British equipment is pants, all of it, they don't have anything that works, even the mess tins would melt. On the other hand, American equipment is ace, they could beat anyone at any time with their equipment, they've got bootlaces that could down a MiG 73.5.
I like America and Americans, they make me moist. Not like the British, they should do everything exactly like Americans, then they wouldn't be rubbish. Although, even if they were identical, they still wouldn't be as good.
Did I mention America is ace?


How close am I?
 
#4
If you really want to do something for world peace, nut out and support a fair settlement to the Palestine/Israel conflict. If you haven't got the guts to go up against the Zionists whom control the Western media, then forget it.

Weird, really. This war with the Moslems had been going on for sixty years before 9/11 and nobody in the West even knew about it. It's not the media's fault, it's ours for not finding out for ourselves what's being done in our names.

Does anybody anywhere in the West give a damn about how many Afghans are being killed by drone missiles every day? How many women, how many kids? But what's going to happen when the Afghans retaliate on captured Western soldiers by flay them alive in front of a web cam? Oh, the wheels on the outrage bus will be spinning then!

This Afghanistan shambles is being orchestrated by the same bastards who launched the invasion of Iraq. Britain and Canada and Australia were suckered in then by the vermin of the Pentagon, and we're being played for suckers again.
 
#5
More armchair critics arguing the point/blame targets of the conflict in the first place, not answering the thread which was to discuss the article and its description of reasons for failings in Afghanistan and the potential outcome of a failure to make decisive progress within that theatre, oh yes and you managed to get Iraq pigeon-holed into there too, how original.

And Ottar you are way off the mark, I dont know what section of combat + survival equipment review you were reading but it certainly wasnt the article at the top of the page.

I believe for the fact that he is a journo with little or no experience of operations in Afgh save for reporting he has a decent,honest view of some of the problems within current Operations (faced by UK boots on the ground), refreshing to read an opinionated account with ref to Afghanistan that isnt (completely anyway) full of rubbish.
 
#7
Dollsteeth said:
And Ottar you are way off the mark, I dont know what section of combat + survival equipment review you were reading but it certainly wasnt the article at the top of the page.
Am I? He must have made a rapid change in output if I am. Let's see now.

Myers said:
...the wretched reporter thrice referred to "Lootenent-Colonel Thorneloe..."
Yes, it's annoying, but is he highlighting it because he cares or because he's using it as a stick to beat the the BBC for being representative of Britain. Sky/Channel 5 pronounce Lt. incorrectly much more often than the BBC, but he doesn't mention them.

A/ the BBC faithfully reflects the more general cultural failure within British life to recognise the gravity of the wars upon Europe's southern and eastern marches...
B/ end-of-empire...
C/ Only the US seems to be fully aware of the gravity of this conflict...
D/ The British government's approach is characterised by a frivolous grandeur and a vapid, unprincipled posturing, which is not remotely matched by seriousness of intent or investment...
A/ So it appears it was a stick and what the chuff is he waffling about. Britain has been rather involved in 'wars upon Europe's southern and eastern marches', I seem to remember one recent op in which we were the lead supplier of personnel whilst the US was joint third.
B/ Never miss a random opportunity to throw 'Empire' in there, especially to an Irish audience.
C/ US is ace, see.
D/ Agreed, but the argument is weakened with all the superfluous polemic.

A/ Viking, a tracked vehicle designed for Arctic warfare...
B/ It has no protection against mines
C/ because mines are the last thing you need to worry about while protecting Norway from Soviet invaders (the design-purpose of the Viking)
A/ Was it balls. Viking is designed for Arctic, desert, jungle and temperate. You don't stick air-con on something designed for sub-zero temperatures.
B/ Apart from being designed with low ground pressure to avoid detonating them in the first place.
C/ The Soviets didn't have mines? Of course, Viking was designed more than 10 years after the end of the Soviet Union.

Unlike US vehicles, British personnel carriers do not have seat-belts: mine-explosions can therefore propel soldier into the armoured roof, breaking their necks.
American equipment is ace, see. Oh, Myers, go boil your head.

A/ But at least the Viking's excuse is that it is a relic from the Cold War.
B/ The Jackal was purpose-built for Afghanistan. It is the 21st-century's answer to the Black and Tans' Crossley Tender. Its two crewmen sit in the open...
C/ with neither armour nor windscreen.
D/ Far from the Jackals saving lives, 10 soldiers have been killed in them since their deployment -- including our own Royal Marine, Robert McKibben, from Co Mayo.
A/ When did the Cold War end? Because Viking was designed by Royal Marines from 2001-2004 and entered service in 2005.
B/ Then there is no armoured roof for them to be propelled into, breaking their necks :roll:
C/ Could that be because it's not meant to be an armoured vehicle?
D/ They were killed by the enemy, not the vehicle. How many people haven't been killed when in Jackals?

It's not as if the British ministry of defence didn't get warnings about the unfolding gravity of the Afghanistan war. In 2006, Sheila Bird, of the Royal Statistical Society, said allied casualties in Afghanistan were nearly matching those suffered by the Soviet Union in its war there 20 years before.
The MoD is responsible for British casualties, not Allied. Oh, and the Soviets had an average of 750 KIA a year, the Allies have an average of 150.

I won't bother with the rest of his drivel, except this little nugget:

The US saved Europe in World War II and in the Cold War. If we let it down in Afghanistan, we cannot expect it to save us again.
Isn't America just so wonderful. The US saved the US in WWII. Myers, please fcuk off and die.
 
#8
ottar said:
?

It's not as if the British ministry of defence didn't get warnings about the unfolding gravity of the Afghanistan war. In 2006, Sheila Bird, of the Royal Statistical Society, said allied casualties in Afghanistan were nearly matching those suffered by the Soviet Union in its war there 20 years before.
The MoD is responsible for British casualties, not Allied. Oh, and the Soviets had an average of 750 KIA a year, the Allies have an average of 150.
The Red Army lost more than that per year . In ten years of conflict the official figure was close to 15,000 killed in combat
 
#10
Ottar

I wouldnt disagree with a lot of your response but just a couple of points

1.
You are right that the Viking wasn't designed exclusively for arctic conditions but it predecessor, which the Viking is an obvious development of, was. Low ground pressure, by virtue of light weight and very broad band tracks, is primarily to provide excellent cross country performance on soft ground i.e. snow and summer tundra. Of course low ground pressure will help to combat mines, unless of course they are command line or use an initiation method other than pressure. The Viking is rated against 0.5kg of explosive, thats only a couple of sticks of PE4. Mine protection is therefore not a very strong point in the Viking design. It was as you say introduced 10 years after the soviet collapse but its predecessor wasnt and if you look at the two it is clearly an evolutionary design.

2.
Your extending the point of Jackals goes too far. Yes of course the vehicle hasnt killed anyone, the enemy has but it is vulnerable to mines/IED's. Lets not kid ourselves

3.
We may be suffering a lower KIA rate than the Russians but how much of that is due to the fact we have much fewer troops in theatre and medical technology is a generation better. However, I don't want to use casualty figures to argue about and so wont labour the point, except to say, is it apples and apples?



There is much nonsense in that article but there are grains of truth as well
 
#11
Meridian,

1. Viking is not just a development of BV206, it is vastly more capable. Viking wasn't designed to be heavy armour, it was designed to be a protected, amphibious, battlefield taxi. It does what it was designed to do very well, it shouldn't be condemned for something it wasn't designed to do, nor should it be misrepresented as a Cold War snow-mobile.

2. Which doesn't make it a poor or unsuitable vehicle. Why is Myers comparing it to armoured vehicles? It's not one and was never intended as such. He's another Richard North.

3. Soviet forces numbered 115,000; Allied forces number a little short of 90,000 - not much between them. We have fewer casualties because we are better trained, are better equipped and have better doctrine as well as having better medical technology. We are simply more capable than the Soviets were by a factor of lots.

There are some grains of truth in the article, but there is so much utter garbage it overpowers those grains and, will ultimately, do more harm than good.
 
#12
I think the man has a point.

Politicians and Journos are cnuts - Roger
The BBC are a waste of tax payers money - Roger
Europe have their eyes shut again - Roger
The Yanks have proven they can still cut the mustard - Roger
Our equipment is a joke - Roger

Fair play he might be noshing off a yank hence the biasedness of his article but how can you deny that when push comes to shove they are the only ones proving they still have bite to back up their bark. Once again Europe has had to rely on them to bail us out. Basrah, Helmand where next? The way things are going it wouldn't suprise me if we had a Septic Infantry unit stagging on at The Palace next year.

Personally I am more pro American now than I have ever been. The EU have not pulled their weight in this current conflict and I wonder why I expected anything different from them.
 
#13
Closet_Jibber said:
Once again Europe has had to rely on them to bail us out.
Erm, Afghanistan is an American war, we are helping them out. When did the US ever elect to 'bail us out' in the past?

Personally I am more pro American now than I have ever been. The EU have not pulled their weight in this current conflict and I wonder why I expected anything different from them.
Why should other countries have thrown themselves into the war in Afghanistan when the US couldn't be arsed and turned its attention on Iraq? If the US was serious about TWAT it would get a grip of Israel/Palestine and would do something about the real hotbed of Islamic terrorism, Saudi Arabia. Until then, the whole thing is a façade that some nations have seen through and refuse to get drawn in to. We, however, hang on to the US's coat tails as a nod to some non-existent 'special relationship'. Quite frankly, it's embarrassing.
 
#15
littlejim said:
If you really want to do something for world peace, nut out and support a fair settlement to the Palestine/Israel conflict. If you haven't got the guts to go up against the Zionists whom control the Western media, then forget it.
Those damn jews. They are lucky they weren't gassed when the banks in the US went sideways. Money grubbing parasites.... <<<<is called sarcasm don't get excited

littlejim said:
Weird, really. This war with the Moslems had been going on for sixty years before 9/11 and nobody in the West even knew about it. It's not the media's fault, it's ours for not finding out for ourselves what's being done in our names.
Only sixty years? What happened with the crusades, grand times had by all. <<<<is called sarcasm don't get excited

littlejim said:
Does anybody anywhere in the West give a damn about how many Afghans are being killed by drone missiles every day? How many women, how many kids? But what's going to happen when the Afghans retaliate on captured Western soldiers by flay them alive in front of a web cam? Oh, the wheels on the outrage bus will be spinning then!

This Afghanistan shambles is being orchestrated by the same bastards who launched the invasion of Iraq. Britain and Canada and Australia were suckered in then by the vermin of the Pentagon, and we're being played for suckers again.
Right and the USSR was so polite during their invasion.

You are really a dim-witted...
 
#16
ottar said:
Erm, Afghanistan is an American war, we are helping them out. When did the US ever elect to 'bail us out' in the past?
Actually unlike Iraq the UN fully sanctioned World action against Afghanistan after 9/11, is why the boxheads are still there ;-)
 
#17
"The very day that Lt-Colonel Thorneloe was killed while travelling overland -- because the British didn't have enough helicopters to transport him by air -- the US Marine Corps was able to deploy 4,000 men in just over an hour across Helmand Province, using helicopters only."

Can the USMC transport 4000 troops by helicopter in 1 hour? No. It took them 7. (Open source)

Are helicopters the be all and end all? No.

Do we have enough in theatre? No.
 
#18
ottar said:
By Kevin Myers
Before I read it I shall attempt a brief synopsis based on KM's recent dribbling:

Britain is a bit rubbish at this warry stuff, not like America, they're ace.
British equipment is pants, all of it, they don't have anything that works, even the mess tins would melt. On the other hand, American equipment is ace, they could beat anyone at any time with their equipment, they've got bootlaces that could down a MiG 73.5.
I like America and Americans, they make me moist. Not like the British, they should do everything exactly like Americans, then they wouldn't be rubbish. Although, even if they were identical, they still wouldn't be as good.
Did I mention America is ace?


How close am I?
I of course believe you to be right on target!


Oh, you're mocking someone...and there I was thinking you seriously meant it... :twisted:
 
#19
littlejim said:
Does anybody anywhere in the West give a damn about how many Afghans are being killed by drone missiles every day? How many women, how many kids? But what's going to happen when the Afghans retaliate on captured Western soldiers by flay them alive in front of a web cam? Oh, the wheels on the outrage bus will be spinning then!
FFS, have you been paying any attention to the Afghanistan theater, the issue of drones and civilian and the reasons for putting McChrystal in charge? Try reading up on the issue before you post idiotic drivel.

This Afghanistan shambles is being orchestrated by the same bastards who launched the invasion of Iraq. Britain and Canada and Australia were suckered in then by the vermin of the Pentagon, and we're being played for suckers again.
Hey Einstein it was launched prior to Iraq for a different set of issues. That you can't tell the difference pretty much discounts anyone taking you seriously.
 
#20
ctauch said:
ottar said:
Erm, Afghanistan is an American war, we are helping them out. When did the US ever elect to 'bail us out' in the past?
Actually unlike Iraq the UN fully sanctioned World action against Afghanistan after 9/11, is why the boxheads are still there ;-)
WW1 supplies and assistance - we (as in the British Empire) won the Hundred days after absorbing the Kaiserschlacht - but the French and the Us did some bleeding as well.

WW2 -Lend -Lease, some troops to fight in Europe and the Pacific. Check ot Normandy - IIRC there seems to be some US graves there :roll:

The Cold war with a nuclear umbrella - to stop the UK and urope paying for the Conventional Forces it really needed to prevent a Soviet incursion into Europe.

Edited once to add - when I read the article (and I know KM can be a bit of a n0sher) I got the impression that he was very pro - HMF and very scathing about the MoD, and UK and European politicians.

But nowhere near as scathing as I have seen on here. Indeed the man is an amateur :twisted:
 

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