I am aware that it is "not ours to reason why" but, as someone no longer in uniform and as a taxpayer and concerned citizen, I am wondering what on earth we are doing in Afghanistan and at the scope for loss of further British lives for no strategic gain. This is what the Secretary of State reckons we are doing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5070468.stm The defeat - or containment - of terrorism appears to be a worthy aim. However, the British force - ARRC lead nation is some 3,300 soldiers. In Northern Ireland on 1 May - allegedly not a hotbed of insurgency - there were 11,000 troops stationed. (BBC website) Moreover, our leaders appear to be confused as to what the role of British forces are. According to "Dr" John Reid, on 4 May, the role of ISAF/ARRC was to http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/UkledAlliedRapidReactionCorpsTakesOverNatoMissionInAfghanistan.htm Th President of Afghanistan (or rather Kabul) Hamed Karzai has stated: Bliar has said: http://www.sundayherald.com/ (29 January) Previous analysis by the UN indicated that the Taliban had eradicated over 90% of poppy production in 2000. http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=144412006 The NATO Secretary General has said Note that Afghanistan is not a member of the North Atlantic Council. http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2006/06-june/e0608a.htm In addition to the ARRC/ISAF operation, there are 20,000 US troops (and supporting assets) running around on Operation Enduring Freedom, unaccountable to the Kabul regime or ISAF. They have been bombing as far afield as Pakistan, and the recent traffic incident/shooting party/riot demonstrates their scope for destabilising the situation. There has been little debate and no vote in Parliament on this deployment, there is no overall strategic aim, troop numbers are wholly inadequate. The recent tragic death of a British soldier highlights the urgency of public debate on what the UK is doing in Afghanistan. The worst possible situation would be if UK forces were deployed out of the public eye on a futile operation with no strategic aim or end-state/exit strategy, inadequate resources and a steady stream of casualties. Given past performances by our political leaders, this is the most likely situation. Note: I debated withholding this post based on the recent tragic death, but we must not be deterred from debating UK foreign and military policy which always have an inevitable cost - we must hold the government accountable.