Opposition to Afghanistan Damaging Troops Morale

#1
Pessimism over Afghanistan demoralising soldiers, commanders warn
Public opposition to the war in Afghanistan is demoralising troops on the front line, senior military commanders have warned.


Published: 6:55AM GMT 30 Nov 2009

Lieutenant-General Sir Graeme Lamb has warned that public opposition to the war in Afghanistan is damaging troops' morale

High-ranking officers, including a former commander of the SAS, have expressed deep concern that the country is in danger of "talking ourselves into a defeat" .
They said there is "surprise and disappointment" among members of the forces at the constant pessimism in the UK over the conflict.

A number of senior officers told The Independent that the British people are not getting a true picture of what is going on, and that any loss of public support as a result of this will have highly damaging consequences
for the campaign.
More
www.telegraph.co.uk/ne...warn.html?
 
#4
It does seem to be true that we back here in the UK do not get the whole story about Afghanistan. Unfortunately it is too dangerous for more than a couple of journalists to travel there at the moment and give us any objective insights. All that the troops can do just now is hold the line while President Obama comes to a decision about what to do next. I think he should be commended for not rushing, just as the troops are to be commended for their resolve. If I have undersood correctly, he will be announcing his plan to the world some time tomorrow. It should be an interesting speech, probably one of the most important in his presidency, and should outline the best option. Hopefully this will raise morale.
 
#5
You could look at it the other way round - The British military involvement in a pointless and as yet unjustified conflict in Afghanistan is demoralising the large majority of the British public, who, after all, have to pay for the bloody mess.

Why the 'surprise and disappointment'?
 
#6
I disagree that the implied 'public' opposition is the most damaging factor.

The vast majority of the public stands firmly behind the Armed Forces and almost universally admires their efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The damage to troops morale is most likely mainly due to the dislike and distrust of the prime minister and his pathetically indecisive 'leadership'.

Equipment shortages and failures do not help to bolster morale.

The nonsensical delay in responding to commanders' requests for more troops is, were it not so serious, near farcical. Commanders either need extra troops or they don't. This decision should not be made dependent on 'allies' contributions' and the fatuous 'conditions' laid down by Brown.

Now the hapless Mr. Ainsworth is telling us that we have acquired sufficient equipment to send five hundred more troops into theatre.

We have been 'in theatre' for eight years or more; we have had the 'five hundred troops' since 1997 at least, despite constant 'cuts'; so where was this equipment?

Adverse reporting in the media will and does damage morale, as does poor equipment, but neither damages as badly nor completely as indecision and weak and ineffectual political leadership.

The principle: 'Selection and Maintenance of the Aim' seems to have been discarded in Afghanistan - I doubt that an 'Aim' was ever thought about let alone selected when we were committed to this gargantuan misadventure by a shallow man whose thoughts were solely focussed on personal aggrandisement.
 
#7
Is this not the same line the Yanks used in Nam! (See Simon and Garfunkel song)

Won’t stop me volunteering for another tour
 
#8
I'm no expert in Guerilla Warfare but isnt that how an insurgency war is won or lost?
Poor third world shithole no-one cares about gets foreign troops sent to - pictures on T.V. of ramp ceremonies/severly wounded soldiers splattered over the media, Joe public gets fed up all come home.
Third world shithole carries on as if nothing has happened, Just extemly bitter yet can claim victory.

Wasn't there a Vietnamese chap who said America will never win unless they are willing to eat rice for the next thousand years?
 
#9
The armed forces sit beside HMQ and the NHS at the centre of the public's affection, there is no doubt about that.

So, speaking as a (now) member of the public, if you want to put 'my' soldiers in harms way you have to be crystal clear
about why you are doing it, what you are aiming to achieve and exactly how you plan to go about it.

Without that - and I would submit all of the above are absent - then you will rapidly lose my support.

Which is what is happening.
 
#10
Micawber said:
The armed forces sit beside HMQ and the NHS at the centre of the public's affection, there is no doubt about that.

So, speaking as a (now) member of the public, if you want to put 'my' soldiers in harms way you have to be crystal clear
about why you are doing it, what you are aiming to achieve and exactly how you plan to go about it.

Without that - and I would submit all of the above are absent - then you will rapidly lose my support.

Which is what is happening.
Totally agree with you Micawber, however Joe public doesnt quite get WHAT a guerilla war is or what Victory looks like.
Too much Holywood influence makes people think there will be a Flag being hoisted up somewhere then everyone gets to go home.
 
#11
I think it would be far less damaging to moral if all 9000 troops were propping up the bar in there local pub in the UK
 
#12
Micawber said:
The armed forces sit beside HMQ and the NHS at the centre of the public's affection, there is no doubt about that.

So, speaking as a (now) member of the public, if you want to put 'my' soldiers in harms way you have to be crystal clear
about why you are doing it, what you are aiming to achieve and exactly how you plan to go about it.

Without that - and I would submit all of the above are absent - then you will rapidly lose my support.

Which is what is happening.
Very well put, Sir!
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
llech said:
Micawber said:
The armed forces sit beside HMQ and the NHS at the centre of the public's affection, there is no doubt about that.

So, speaking as a (now) member of the public, if you want to put 'my' soldiers in harms way you have to be crystal clear
about why you are doing it, what you are aiming to achieve and exactly how you plan to go about it.

Without that - and I would submit all of the above are absent - then you will rapidly lose my support.

Which is what is happening.
Totally agree with you Micawber, however Joe public doesnt quite get WHAT a guerilla war is or what Victory looks like.
Too much Holywood influence makes people think there will be a Flag being hoisted up somewhere then everyone gets to go home.
I think Joe Public does understand - what they don't understand is being told that the war is vital and then reading that SF heli funding's been cut and the TA's been stood down for six months.
 
#14
One of the other problems is that people see our guys being repatriated, and nobody seems to know how many casualties that Terry has taken. I don't think I have ever seen or heard of figures that account for Terry dead. So for some people it seems as if we are losing guys and the enemy don't seem to be losing any.
 
#15
re-stilly said:
One of the other problems is that people see our guys being repatriated, and nobody seems to know how many casualties that Terry has taken. I don't think I have ever seen or heard of figures that account for Terry dead. So for some people it seems as if we are losing guys and the enemy don't seem to be losing any.
I think that most people are aware that the Taliban are losing men. Personally, I would expect their losses to be 8-10 times ours, considering that we have artillery, body armour, etc. But that's really meaningless-They also seem to have an infinite supply of replacement jihadis who want to die. If we go the 'body count' route that the US used in Vietnam, you can prove on paper that the enemy have run out of troops several times over, but here's still someone out there fighting.

More realistic, is a 'number of incidents' count. If the enemy can make x IEDS go off, and there are Y firefights, but six months on there are x-50% IEDs and Y-25% firefights, then the enemy is dead, deserted or hiding. Either way, his effectiveness is declining. Then you can say you are winning.
 
#16
HectortheInspector said:
re-stilly said:
One of the other problems is that people see our guys being repatriated, and nobody seems to know how many casualties that Terry has taken. I don't think I have ever seen or heard of figures that account for Terry dead. So for some people it seems as if we are losing guys and the enemy don't seem to be losing any.
I think that most people are aware that the Taliban are losing men. Personally, I would expect their losses to be 8-10 times ours, considering that we have artillery, body armour, etc. But that's really meaningless-They also seem to have an infinite supply of replacement jihadis who want to die. If we go the 'body count' route that the US used in Vietnam, you can prove on paper that the enemy have run out of troops several times over, but here's still someone out there fighting.

More realistic, is a 'number of incidents' count. If the enemy can make x IEDS go off, and there are Y firefights, but six months on there are x-50% IEDs and Y-25% firefights, then the enemy is dead, deserted or hiding. Either way, his effectiveness is declining. Then you can say you are winning.
OK Fair point, the problem being is that it seems that none of this is making it into the press so it is hard for Joe Public to be able to see if any progress is being made at all.

Other things I would like to see is some of the restructuring projects or the Hearts and Minds projects such as schools or the Vet practice that was opened. Again although it was picked up here on Arrse it doesn't seem to have made a hit with the wider press as a hole
 
#17
A number of senior officers told The Independent that the British people are not getting a true picture of what is going on, and that any loss of public support as a result of this will have highly damaging consequences.
I think the article title is misleading, in that the finger is being pointed at the Government, rather than the public. The Government must tell the public why we are in Afghanistan, or of course they're not going to support hundreds of lives and billions of pounds wasted.

Perhaps if somebody were to explain in simple terms why we're in Afghanistan, the public might lend their support.
 
#18
re-stilly said:
HectortheInspector said:
re-stilly said:
One of the other problems is that people see our guys being repatriated, and nobody seems to know how many casualties that Terry has taken. I don't think I have ever seen or heard of figures that account for Terry dead. So for some people it seems as if we are losing guys and the enemy don't seem to be losing any.
I think that most people are aware that the Taliban are losing men. Personally, I would expect their losses to be 8-10 times ours, considering that we have artillery, body armour, etc. But that's really meaningless-They also seem to have an infinite supply of replacement jihadis who want to die. If we go the 'body count' route that the US used in Vietnam, you can prove on paper that the enemy have run out of troops several times over, but here's still someone out there fighting.

More realistic, is a 'number of incidents' count. If the enemy can make x IEDS go off, and there are Y firefights, but six months on there are x-50% IEDs and Y-25% firefights, then the enemy is dead, deserted or hiding. Either way, his effectiveness is declining. Then you can say you are winning.
OK Fair point, the problem being is that it seems that none of this is making it into the press so it is hard for Joe Public to be able to see if any progress is being made at all.

Other things I would like to see is some of the restructuring projects or the Hearts and Minds projects such as schools or the Vet practice that was opened. Again although it was picked up here on Arrse it doesn't seem to have made a hit with the wider press as a hole
The old saying still holds true- 'If it bleeds, it leads'.
Headlines about casualties will always win over 'comment' pieces saying 'Slow but steady development. Nothing untoward happens this month.' Not glamorous enough.

Added to deep divisions amongst the media- Most disagree with the war, and slant their news that way. Some not only disagree, but hate the military with a passion, and go sniffing for atrocity stories. (another good reason not to talk about bodycounts.)

The simple fact is that if you look at, say, the media in 1914 which was hysterically jingoistic, there is now no media that is blatantly, confidently patriotic. (Except the BNP, and they've got their own agenda). To me it comes down to self confidence. If we think our cause and country is the best in the world, say so. If not, then we should slink off and accept our position in the world is on a par with Portugal.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#19
I dont see anything different from now and NI 30 years ago, indeed the fact that the Troops themselves receive a welcome home as opposed to pish of for a month and back to Soldiering in BAOR block leave.
I dont think that this is anything other than govt sponsored make the public feel guilty propoganda. The public if they hate the troops are doing a damn fine job of showing a 2 faced front. If the public hate the war and support the troops that would require either coordination and leadership or perhaps genuine heartfelt underswell of emotion that we were lied to and our lads lives are needlessly being risked!
If thats the case then spouting leaks to the press is misinformation and unlikely to increase support for the war even if there was any in the first place.
To summarize, we have general support for the troops and not for the govt. What does that tell you?
Maybe its time for regime change and lets do it legally unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan this time!
Me,? I have no vested interest apart from wanting to see the sons and daughters of my former comrades retuen home alive and well both mentally and physically.
I wonder if Broon will take heed?
I doubt it!
 
#20
HectortheInspector said:
The simple fact is that if you look at, say, the media in 1914 which was hysterically jingoistic, there is now no media that is blatantly, confidently patriotic. (Except the BNP, and they've got their own agenda). To me it comes down to self confidence. If we think our cause and country is the best in the world, say so. If not, then we should slink off and accept our position in the world is on a par with Portugal.
Two entirely different things. It's not anti-patriotic to oppose the war in Afghanistan, nor is it patriotic to blindly support a war you don't understand or believe in.

As a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, I don't understand the big picture (if there is one) - so quite how Joe Public is meant to, I've no idea.
 

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