An excellent email from a follower on the shambles.
Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP
In regards to the recent events in Afghanistan, initiated by the reckless actions of the shambolic Biden regime, capitulation practically without contest of the Afghan army and desertion of its government I wish to enquire on behalf of myself and many former service colleagues, what you feel we have achieved, what you consider we have learned and what accountability should be sought?
The initial successes achieved by ourselves and our allies in disrupting and destroying terrorist training assets and facilities should arguably have been the extent of our involvement in the region and indeed this was an opinion voiced by many.Staying on without consideration of the most basic rule of military planning, “what do you want and how are you going to achieve it?”, was foolish from the outset with either a golden thread of clear strategy or means of uniting a disparate set of allies behind a clear purpose eluding politicians and Generals alike for two decades.
There may have been an argument for formulating a clear plan to maintain some form of military presence in order to provide global security but instead Blair and his Labour Party chose to involve us in a nation building experiment believing it would prove popular. The Tories have for over a decade continued it. Both parties have been quick to align themselves with any success, while political manoeuvring by senior officers has often led to promotions and career enhancing medal citations following failures.
Trying to force Western democracy and values on people living in the most corrupt nation on the planet, who neither wanted nor asked for them but merely wished to be left alone to eke out an existence was never going to succeed.The Taliban and their cheerleaders worldwide, emboldened by what they regard as a strategic success, now firmly believe that they have defeated the US and UK militaries but this was a war we were never allowed to fight.
For two decades our soldiers have done their best and given their all operating with one hand tied behind their backs, often driven to take tactical risks endangering themselves and others due to fear of spurious allegations of detainee abuse or illegal killings which could plague them with post deployment prosecutions for years to come.We have not been beaten, our leaders have.
To send skilled, motivated soldiers, the finest in the world, on patrol in hostile areas day after day, rolling the dice against an IED or small arms contact, fettered by Rules of Engagement seemingly written by a child and instructed to act with subservience to those who likely attacked you all while babysitting the abysmal ANA was nothing short of an insult to professionalism and a waste of resources but nevertheless went on until the end of combat operations.
The ANA, some 300,000 strong, has cost tens of billions to train and a further 85 billion USD to equip yet capitulated almost without a fight.The ANA, with very few notable exceptions, were a distrusted liability from the outset. Mostly illiterate, largely un-trainable, prone to the abuse of drugs, each other and the civilian population even when on patrol every single private soldier knew they would not stand yet this somehow came as a surprise to senior officers and politicians. This despite the identical failings of the coalition trained Iraqi army when faced with a determined enemy.
That the recent Defence Revue advocates diminishing the fighting power of our infantry battalions by stripping them of their heavy weapons and re-purposing them in the role of mentors to indigenous forces, what we refer to as TTTT- Training Tomorrows Terrorists Today, shows that nothing has been learned.The criticisms contained here of both the ANA and operational doctrine are not hindsight, these concerns were raised regularly by junior officers and soldiers alike but were repeatedly and wilfully ignored, indeed disciplinary action was often threatened against those questioning the proscribed narrative.
Throughout the conflict our soldiers have been forced to bear the frustration of being unable to initiate contacts with known enemies or had to withdraw from contacts to satisfy the enemy identification requirements of the ROE yet when the Taliban have openly rolled across the country in vehicle convoys, flags flying, occupied buildings and established roadblocks they have been allowed to do so without restriction and unopposed all the way to Kabul culminating predictably in the siege situation we have been witnessing. This was a direct demonstration of weak leadership, failing to dictate limits of allowed exploitation and engaging the enemy in the open if they violated them.
This weeks retaliatory attack demonstrated that the capability was there, the will was not. To hear the recent comments on the Taliban from General Sir Nick Carter where to paraphrase he described them as “country boys, with an honour code who don’t like corrupt government“ delivered in a condescending tone to indicate his greater intellect, deeper understanding and insight over the common soldiery who, being less informed, might still consider their foe of twenty years the enemy shows the arrogance and conceit of someone who does not fear accountability.
Whether the government he refers to is ours or the one we outfitted them with I will leave to your interpretation.This attitude is certainly not his alone with Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry echoing his sentiments by describing the Taliban as “different to twenty years ago “. Really, when was the moment of their enlightenment? Do we assume that the murder, torture, drug and human trafficking, persecution of other religions, abuse of women plus myriad daily human rights violations are all in the past? It is astonishing that anybody is this naive, for such a person to be in a position of command and authority is ridiculous.
The fact that leaders of this type repeatedly sent people to face the same threat from the same enemy in the same way for so long and now wish to legitimise and act as spin doctors for the reinvented yet unrepentant, demonstrably unreformed regime highlights the requirement for a fundamental change in the way we evaluate and select our senior officers.It is a fact that a private or NCO is always held accountable for denting a Land Rover or losing a shovel but Generals are not for losing lives or even wars.
Lest you think this opinion confined to myself and my colleagues here is a quote from Major General Andrew Mackay from 12/01/2012,
“The level of incompetence is so great and has been occurring for so many years now, that it’s systemic and has become cultural “.
That this statement was made by so senior an officer just over halfway through the conflict seemingly without effecting any change proves his point entirely.
That the UK military has pro rata six times as many Generals as the USMC and ten times as many as the IDF, all with gold plated salaries and pensions, despite the well documented lack of funding in far more important areas shows we do not have our priorities in order.
Contrast this with the words of Rudyard Kipling written in 1903 in reference to the Boer War,
“Let us admit it fairly,As a business people should,We have had no end of a lesson,It will do us no end of good “.
The parallels between the two campaigns are obvious but over a century ago we adapted and evolved training, equipment and doctrine to not only turn around our fortunes in theatre but, by the advent of WW1, were able to field arguably the best equipped, most professional army on the planet.
What now and what next?
We have thankfully witnessed the safe withdrawal of UK troops. As always the professionalism and conduct of the Parachute Regiment and their attached personnel has been utterly exemplary. The credit for their part in the evacuation airlift is theirs alone won through grit, determination and an ability to dig in and succeed under resourced and against the odds. For Boris Johnson to try and claim credit for himself by describing their efforts as an “example of UK leadership” is frankly disgraceful.Perhaps he would do better to reflect on how he fawningly described Joe Biden, a far left socialist clearly in cognitive decline with half a century of self interested mediocrity behind him as “a breath of fresh air”.
I wonder if he feels the same now that Biden has betrayed, ignored and humiliated him despite promising a “sensible, coordinated withdrawal”.
What do we have to show for twenty years expenditure of blood and treasure?
A resurgent, reinvented Taliban back in power in Afghanistan providing a beacon for terrorists the world over.Equipped beyond their wildest dreams with US made weapons, in many respects better equipped than us, awash with captured money and assets, China chomping at the bit to negotiate mining rights, drug empire intact and thriving, more mobile than ever before even including an air force, in possession of hit lists and biometric data of everyone who opposed them they are ready and able to completely dominate the ground and impact the lives of all Afghans like never before.
With a history of changing allegiances weekly they can hide their acts behind a “confused ground picture” blaming new ISIS or AQ variants for atrocities to suit the narrative of the day safe in the knowledge that the Western media, Generals, political elites and senior civil servants are prepared to do their PR for them as long as they throw out the occasional appropriate virtue signal.While the Taliban commence their victory celebrations, no doubt preparing for something extravagant on 9/11, unknown hundreds if not thousands of UK citizens and our friends are now left trapped and abandoned. At least the Prime Minister isn’t letting the situation spoil his holiday.
We are almost certain to be faced with a monumental hostage crisis involving these unfortunate souls and our adversaries very much have the measure of who they are dealing with. The Iron Lady and President Reagan would steadfastly not negotiate with terrorists, the current holders of their former offices are taking orders from them.Unless I am completely wrong and the new Taliban really do establish a caring, sharing open society, as anyone with morals and a conscience advocating recognising their legitimacy must surely believe, there will swiftly come another refugee crisis. In the near future it will become near impossible to find an illegal immigrant not claiming to be an Afghan and those genuinely having a case will have to compete with thousands of spurious applicants liberally seeded with active terrorists wishing us harm.
Now that the government has completely vacated its duty to protect our borders against mass illegal immigration it is terrifying to think who will arrive and what they will bring.It is imperative that the vetting of any asylum claim is stringent and carried out by those who served in the units the applicants claim to have helped aided by our own known loyal allies who have already settled here. Such a task cannot be left to the gullible fools who routinely place balding middle aged men into UK classrooms as children.
Before the Prime Minister gets too carried away with his generosity with our money it is important to establish exactly who we do owe a place in our nation to and on what grounds? Simply having worked towards the betterment of your own country while receiving generous remuneration from the UK taxpayer cannot be automatic grounds to live here especially when so little effort went into defending what we had helped build at such immense cost.Contrast the limited resistance offered to the Taliban with the actions of our own young men in the two World Wars, rushing to sign up, often lying about their ages and fighting on for years through the darkest times against seemingly insurmountable odds.
The British people have arguably done more to help the people of Afghanistan than any other nation bar the United States. We have paid our taxes, sent our loved ones, buried 457 of them and are caring for thousands more while PTSD, homelessness and suicide among veterans are all but ignored by an ungrateful government.
The PM might be saying what his echo chamber tells him people want to hear to detract from the debacle but a true leader would be putting pressure on the many wealthy countries in the region who have contributed little thus far to provide a safe route to a safe haven and new life for as many Afghan refugees as require it. A home where they have at least some commonality of language, culture and religion making them best placed to begin a new productive and rewarding life immediately instead of running the gauntlet of the Taliban and criminal people smugglers before becoming a welfare burden in a country completely alien to them.
At an estimated £400,000 per deployed soldier per year, precious little of it going on wages, many people have obviously done very well out of the conflict and the procurement gravy train. Many more senior military, government and civil service personnel have profited from career advancement.These people arguably owe a debt to our former allies and should be encouraged to help with any resettlement costs before the bill is presented to the taxpayer.
We in the UK, plus our friends in the USA and continental Europe are unquestionably less safe now than before while the Afghan people are facing a return to the rule of a regime that the world previously agreed was utterly abhorrent.Perhaps the greatest irony is that throughout the twenty year involvement of Western governments, the many transfers of power between various administrations, the discussions of the G7, G20, NATO and the UN, the lavish receptions and banquets in luxurious settings, and the untold thousands of trips on private jets there has always been broad agreement on the Afghanistan effort.
This globalist collective represents the very people who tell us that we need to give them more power and more of our money in new taxes in exchange for less freedom and more government to combat an apparent crisis that they hysterically insist we cannot question.After twenty years of effort, countless lives lost or forever changed, untold fortunes in borrowed money and an unimaginable carbon footprint the only thing that the great and good have succeeded in quantifiably and meaningfully Building Back Better is the Taliban.What an appalling epitaph.
Going forward, as go forward we must, it is of absolute primary importance that we put in place protections for our Service men and women and finally put an end to the disgusting treatment veterans receive at the hands of anti British civil rights lawyers and activists conducting self serving and lucrative witch hunts.I ask if you would be supportive of such an effort either by putting forward a Private Members Bill or by seeking help from a ministerial colleague? The restrictive ROE, micro management on the battlefield plus extensive investigations and debriefs following contacts allows no room to suggest that soldiers acted with autonomy and therefore should not be used as future scapegoats.In light of this legislation should be passed stating that no Junior or Warrant Officer, NCO, Private or equivalent face criminal charges over incidents in theatre after the fact unless their O.C. or C.O. as appropriate and Brigade Commander are named as co defendants on equal charges.
Furthermore, taxpayers money should not be available to those wishing to bring cases of this type and those bringing spurious claims should face penalties commensurate with the severity of the false accusations they make.Our veterans have given more than enough, the least that they now deserve is to enjoy the rest of their lives in peace.
I intend to share this email and any reply with other interested parties. I hope you discuss the sentiments contained with your colleagues.