I know this is from the Daily Star, not known as a bastion of investigative journalism, but interesting nevertheless: BRITISH troops have fired over 17 million rounds of ammunition in Afghanistan in the last three years. The incredible arsenal of bullets, shotgun, cannon and artillery rounds has been used between August 2006 and October 2009. In April 2006, then Defence Secretary John Reid said: âWe would be perfectly happy to leave in three yearsâ time without firing one shot.â Instead, UK armed forces fired 17,004,910 shots, which is more than one each for the countryâs 12 million-strong population. And analysis of the Â£44.7 million worth of fired ammo â uncovered by a Daily Star Sunday freedom of information request â showed them fighting harder during last yearâs bloody summer offensive than ever before. It comes as no surprise that while Operation Pantherâs Claw hogged the headlines and 72 soldiers died, Our Boys fired a record number of rounds for a six-month tour. They unleashed 4.7 million shots, compared to just 2.3 million on the previous tour. Brit troops used the 5.56 millimetre SA80 assault rifles, Light Support Weapons and Minimi machine guns 2.7 million times last summer, almost double the previous most bullet-heavy tour in 2007-08. They also blasted the Taliban with 337,000 of their half-inch .50-cal heavy machine gun bullets, way more than the 2007 record. And they smashed the previous mark for 7.62mm rounds, firing 1.6 million of them from General Purpose Machine Guns. The figures show how troops in Afghanistan are seeing far more fire fights than those based in Iraq. In Iraq from 2004 â the year after the initial invasion â until last year our troops fired a total of 9.1 million rounds, costing taxpayers Â£11.3 million. But UK forces have nearly doubled that already fighting the Taliban, despite the figures running for two years less than the Iraq records. The numbers include all infantry bullets and shotgun rounds, 105mm and 155mm artillery shells, and 30mm rounds fired by Warrior armoured vehicles and the Apache helicopter gunships." Interesting figures. We've been there several years now, and frankly things do not seem to be getting any better. The media this weekend was full of stories of ANP corruption and desertion, there is more of this to come, and several of those who I have talked to, having recently returned, are not at all sanguine of our prospects. The question is - which will be the first political party in the UK (other than the BNP and the Jury Party, who don't count) to break the consensus and call for a (phased) withdrawal? Will our move from Helmand to Kandahar be a good opportunity to start this? We're spending immense amounts of treasure and, more importantly, blood, and appear to be achieving little. In Iraq I could see real progress and improvement in people's lives between 2003 and 2006, yet in Afghanistan it's impossible to say the same thing. Is it all worth it?