John Reid, “now Baron”, (Labour Party bulldog) recently resurfaced and, declaring himself, “a man to be trusted” attacked any persons who indicated they would vote, “Yes” to independence. I am of the view he should hang his head in shame and take himself away from politics forever. A has-been who blatantly failed the nations forces.
April 29 2006 Afghanistan:
UK deployed over 3,000 military personnel, tasked to create a safe base and to provide leadership of a Nato-led peacekeeping force. In direct support a large US-led force was deployed throughout the country aggressively eliminating militants.
John Reid, Secretary of State for Defence, addressing the world’s press in Kabul, spoke of how Britain would remain in the Nato offensive, emphasising the importance of preventing the Taliban returning to power. He further stated, “We’re in Helmand and the South to assist and protect the Afghan people reconstructing their economy and democracy” and, “we would be perfectly happy to leave in three years time without firing one shot.”
Enjoying a deal of advance knowledge, through secret briefing, (of the mission to which the soldiers had been tasked) he belatedly first advised the leader of the soldiers that the area to which they had been deployed was heavily infested with nests of vipers and whilst they should exercise care, nests should be removed and vipers eliminated if the mission required it.
The leader of the soldiers expressed surprise and disappointment, warning Reid that the soldiers were neither equipped nor trained to deal with problems such as indicated. Reid off-handedly blustered that they would have to muddle through and learn quickly. He left the troops to their fate and returned to Westminster, well removed from the area.
He returned to Westminster, to yet another government scandal, (1,200+) illegal immigrants, previously imprisoned for very serious crimes against UK citizens had not been deported on release and could not be traced. The Home Secretary had been sacked for incompetence. Reid replaced him.
Casualties, in Afghanistan, very quickly mounted up, as the UK soldiers were heavily attacked by the vipers. It was noted that a USA unit located alongside the UK force was suffering markedly fewer similarly killed or wounded. This was attributed to the issue, (before deployment) of appropriate weapons, suitable equipment, protective clothing, special viper kill training and back-up support.
Requests that similar measures be introduced, by Westminster were rebuffed, on the basis that finance for the mission had been previously fixed. Casualties continued increasing. The UK media, appalled at the attrition level publicly voiced their concerns. This resulted in pressure being applied by the UK public who insisted UK forces should be properly trained and equipped. Westminster reluctantly agreed to rectify matters and borrowed £ billions on the open market.
Britain Sent Troops Into Helmand Province With, “Eyes Shut and Fingers Crossed”
Major General Mackay, Greatly respected, Force Commander in Helmand, (in an interview in the Times), not long after he left the Army said;
“Labour’s “complacent” approach to the Afghan mission had proved “very costly”. The genesis of their approach is born of complacency, the thought that, ‘we can deal with it as and when it happens”. It resulted, I believe, in the upper echelons of the Labour government going into Helmand with their eyes shut and their fingers crossed.
“For those who fought and died or suffered injuries in that period, this proved a very costly means of conducting counter-insurgency. The issue is whether or not our politicians, diplomats, intelligence services, civil servants and senior military have done enough, adapted enough, been innovative enough or courageous enough to make tough, and more often than not, unpalatable choices.”
“My answer to that question is that they have not or have failed to do so too often. Muddling through seemed to be the default setting, along with the protection of individual and collective interests”.
Follow up – The disastrous legacy John Reid left the Army and the nation
446 British soldiers met their deaths – a higher figure than in Iraq, or the Falklands – most commonly from improvised explosive devices buried along the dusty roads of Helmand province. They have been killed at four times the rate of US troops, a statistical disparity which nobody at Westminster seems anxious to have explained.
The maximum acceptable level of Major Combat casualties is 6 deaths per 1000. USA forces suffered 3 deaths per 1000 in the same period.
UK forces suffered 13 deaths per 1000. (twice the normal rate).
3560 soldiers were wounded. A snapshot of non-lethal casualties showed that in one year alone, (between April 2012 and March 2013) 29 British soldiers had limbs amputated. Twelve of these were classified as “significant multiple amputees”. The average age of those who died was 22. Thirty-one were teenagers, 200 in their 20s.
Of the Afghan veterans who had made it home more or less in one piece, the most common cause of death in 2012 was suicide.
One reason for the very high British casualty rate – in the absence of written evidence – could be the ignorance and stupidity of British politicians and their carelessness about the lives of the young people they were sending into battle, the resultant failure to provide basic equipment and the deployment of personnel in ways which made no military (or any other sort of) sense.