Poorly equipped Scottish soldiers deployed to hell on earth, Helmand Province Afghanistan
In April 2006 the Labour government deployed over 3,000 military personnel to Helmand Province, Afghanistan tasked with supporting a US-led force already deployed throughout the country eliminating Taliban militants.
Political and military leaders were briefed, by US intelligence of the dangers with which the force would be confronted but chose to believe that US forces already in the field of war would continue to meet the main challenge of the Taliban.
The “Westminster and Whitehall” mantra was: ” we’ll deal with it if it happens.” The US military command, in Kabul were more than ready to transfer responsibility for policing Helmand Province and the South of Afghanistan to the “Brits”.
John Reid, (start much finish nothing) then Secretary of State for Defence, briefed the world’s press in Kabul that Britain would remain with the Nato joint forces mission for as long as necessary emphasising the importance of preventing the Taliban returning to power.
He said “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.” He then returned to the UK to take up a new job as Foreign Secretary.
the Labour government complacency was quickly dispelled by the shock of cold reality when the ill equipped, poorly armed and inadequately trained young Scottish soldiers came under sustained attack from the Taliban.
The much vaunted “policing” role promoted by Labour Party politicians morphed into a 12 year brutal counter-insurgency campaign resulting in the death and injury of a large number of military personnel. The armed forces of the country were betrayed by successive Westminster governments whose default setting was firmly fixed at: “muddle”
Casualties of war – 446 British soldiers died in Afghanistan – four times the rate of US troops, a statistical disparity which nobody at Westminster has yet explained
The maximum acceptable level of major combat casualties is 6 deaths per 1000. UK forces suffered 13 deaths per 1000. (The average age of those who died was 22. 31 were teenagers, 200 in their 20s). USA forces suffered 3 deaths per 1000.
3560 soldiers were wounded in action. 29 British soldiers had limbs amputated in 2012-2013. 12 were classified as “significant multiple amputees”.
Of the army veterans who made it home more or less in one piece, suicide was the most common cause of death in 2012.
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”.