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British Troops Morale Collapsing in Afghanistan


cactusflower

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British troops in Afghanistan are facing a horrible attrition with rising deaths and injuries. Anyone who watched the recent documentary "Wounded" will appreciate the horror for formerly fit and healthy young men waking up to find arms and legs amputated and sight permanently gone.

Similar sentiments emerged in an October 3 Times report on British troops operating in the Sangin district of Helmand Province during the Afghan presidential election in August. The unit, the 2nd Rifles, had lost 100 dead or wounded out of 500 combat troops since April. The author noted that the casualty rate compared with that experienced during the intense fighting in Europe in the final years of World War II.

Patrols are attacked as close as 500 metres from the walls of the British base but, as in Wardak province, the troops in Helmand rarely make any contact with the Taliban insurgents who have savaged their ranks with IEDs, mines and sniper fire.
Suicide rates, divorce rates are high.

Staff Sergeant Erika Cheney, a mental health specialist, said, “They’re tired, frustrated, scared. A lot of them are afraid to go out [on patrol] but will still go.”

A 20-year-old soldier, Specialist Raquime Mercer, commented, “We’re lost. That’s how I feel. I’m not exactly sure why we’re here. I need a clear-cut purpose if I’m going to get hurt out here or if I’m going to die. The soldiers’ biggest question is: what can we do to make this war stop? Catch one person? Assault one objective? Soldiers want definite answers other than to stop the Taliban, because that seems almost impossible. It’s hard to catch someone you can’t see.”
Morale crumbling among US and British troops in Afghanistan

Brown has just announced another 500 troops are to go to Afghanistan. They are going out to a senseless, immoral and unwinnable war.

Obama increased the troop numbers by 17,000 earlier this year but McChrystal says he needs tens of thousands more.

John Kerry has just called for a stop to troop increases until the second attempt at elections has been held.

Whatever the intentions, and even with the use of drones fired from Texas, the forces in Afghanistan are being beaten on the ground without in many cases having ever seen one of the "enemy".

Specialist Eric Petty told the Times, “The soldiers are angry that colleagues are losing their lives while trying to help a population that will not help them. You give them all the humanitarian assistance that they want and they’re still going to lie to you. They’ll tell you there’s no Taliban anywhere in the area and as soon as you roll away, 10 feet from their house, you get shot at again.”
Isn't it high time that this miserable war, based on lies and deception, was brought to an end ?
 


Katayusha

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No, no, no! War is great! Ask Tha0cman and Trampas! I hope they're tooling up and heading out there.
Those who have no experience of warfare are usually it's most jingoistic supporters; particularly when there is little likelihood that they will ever have to gain the experience personally. Those type of moral cowards make me sick.
 

kerdasi amaq

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No, no, no! War is great! Ask Tha0cman and Trampas! I hope they're tooling up and heading out there.
If I were an Afghan, I think I would be very annoyed at all these foreign troops using my country as a stomping ground, but the bankers of the City of London own Gordon Brown and care nothing for what the ordinary Afghani thinks. Hopefully, it will all blowback in their faces somehow.:p
 
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Katayusha

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Katyusha, I don't think that is jingoism. Asi-irish is being very cynical there. If I were an Afghan, I think I would be very annoyed at all these foreign troops using my country as a stomping ground, but the bankers of the City of London own Gordon Brown and care nothing for what the ordinary Afghani thinks. Hopefully, it will all blowback in their faces somehow.:p
I wasn't accusing Asi-Irish of jingoism cara, that comment was directed at the type of people whom he referred to.
 

Fortesbrand

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John Kerry has just called for a stop to troop increases until the second attempt at elections has been held.
I saw that, if you are referring to his John King, State of the Nation, CNN interview this morning. He said a number of interesting things. For example he stated that the pressure to escalate the troop numbers was misplaced.

They showed a soundbyte from a interview from McCain where he insisted that the troops be sent and I was left wondering how McCain figured out how many should be sent. It looked to me that Senator McCain was simply interested in escalating the war rather than the strategy behind it. But perhaps that is being unfair to him.

Kerry said that until elections had been finalised it was impossible to know how to proceed since the partner in the conflict was in flux. He also dismissed comparisons with Vietnam and spoke of how McCain and himself had both experienced political inference in that war - a peculiar point. If I recall correctly Kerry also suggested that Europeans may be used to train police rather than increase their troop levels possibly referring to Sarkozy's recent remarks (reported in Drudge) about not committing more troops to the region while maintaining the forces already deployed.

Personally I think that this war is more closely analogous to Vietnam than Iraq. It has an organised enemy who is operating across a border from a territory they can confidently operate in. The tactics are similar, they are well supplied, have favourable terrain, local support and the impetus is with them.

Rahm Emanuel was on before Kerry and prevaricated on the issue simply restating the Whitehouse's commitment to 'staying the course' (to borrow a phrase). I think that the military planners in Washington are in a bind. From what I can see the war in Afghanistan was lost in the first two years of the occupation and metastasized into Pakistan. I think that it is a difficult task to recover from that position.

****Frontline has just done a documentary on the situation: FRONTLINE: obama's war: watch the full program online | PBS It is an influential programme.****

Biden recently spoke against an escalation in troop numbers: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/world/14biden.html?_r=2&hp

The New Republic published an article outlining the difficulties in trying to solve the problem militarily: Stalemate | The New Republic

The pro-escalation perspective can be found on: The Long War Journal

The Pakistani Army may want the U.S. to continue its involvement: Musharraf says U.S. pullout from Afghanistan would be 'disastrous' | DesMoinesRegister.com | The Des Moines Register

While there are some in the U.S. senior officer corps that want to draw down troop levels. This is an interesting article about the recent study from Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis: U.S.: Veteran Army Officer Urges Afghan Troop Drawdown - IPS ipsnews.net

Finally, the Olberman recently did a segment on comments by Colin Powell in 2007:
YouTube - Gen Colin Powell Warns Of Terror Industrial Complex!

Kudos to Ars for many of the links.

As for the morale level in the British Army, I can only say - very little sympathy.
 

cactusflower

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That is a very useful collection of sources - thankyou.

I've just read this one, by a DIA man. It (if you include the comments) expresses the US objective well. The objective so far as I can see, is to maintain a US military presence over a fragile tapestry of corrupt drug-producing war lords, and to legalise (or take the legal pressures off) drug production. US strategy in Afghanistan needs to be seen in the context of Brzezinski's twenty and thirty year perspectives, as well as month on month political necessities.

There are relevant comments here from Craig Murray, on General Gul's of the ISI's recent interview:

US Supported Afghan Government Warlords Control World Heroin Trade | Atlantic Free Press - Hard Truths for Hard Times

Craig Murray is the former U.K. Ambassador for Uzbekistan who was sacked over his protests of the US and UK's use of the country as a torture pit stop in the 'War on Terror'. He is a human rights activist, writer, Rector of the University of Dundee and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law.
There is an excellent interview with former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, General Hamid Gul, here. He makes some very strong points. It is undoubtedly true that it is warlords in the US-backed Karzai government who control 90% of the world heroin trade, and that the trade has expanded to its highest ever levels under coalition control. It is undoubtedly true that US foreign policy in the region is dictated by the desire to access Central Asian oil and gas. It is also undoubtedly true that the US works closely with Mossad and with India in Central Asia, and that many of its attacks appear calculated to stir up rather than ease conflict.
The heroin trade has become both a major funder of illegal US operations and a geopolitical weapon:

Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.”
This is not only coming from Gul, but also from the FBI Turkish whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and other sources:

Against All Enemies: US military planes carrying Afghanistan's heroin

This particularly noxious form of covert warfare is affecting in particular Pakistan, Western China, the former USSR territories and Iran, but is spreading futher afield, here, in the UK and Ireland.
 

hellhathno

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Poor morale!? Oh boo hoo, the British scumbags shouldn't even be in Afghanistan in the first place- anymore than unfree Eire.
 

Sync

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They showed a soundbyte from a interview from McCain where he insisted that the troops be sent and I was left wondering how McCain figured out how many should be sent. It looked to me that Senator McCain was simply interested in escalating the war rather than the strategy behind it. But perhaps that is being unfair to him.
McCain has been pretty consistent in backing the generals who are requesting new troops. That is to be expected of him with his back ground, his first reaction will always be to back the army as much as possible.

Kerry said that until elections had been finalised it was impossible to know how to proceed since the partner in the conflict was in flux.
I disagree totally with this view. From a military pov, they're there to acompish a task. If Karzai turned around tomorrow and said "Get out" the US aren't going to do it. So to say that the current indecision is due to Karzai's blatant vote rigging seems false to me.

Personally I think that this war is more closely analogous to Vietnam than Iraq. It has an organised enemy who is operating across a border from a territory they can confidently operate in. The tactics are similar, they are well supplied, have favourable terrain, local support and the impetus is with them.
I'd agree with that. It was typical of the Bush administration to ignore all history in the area and just assume that things would work out.

Rahm Emanuel was on before Kerry and prevaricated on the issue simply restating the Whitehouse's commitment to 'staying the course' (to borrow a phrase). I think that the military planners in Washington are in a bind. From what I can see the war in Afghanistan was lost in the first two years of the occupation and metastasized into Pakistan. I think that it is a difficult task to recover from that position.
Agree. The "Stay the course" idea is self defeating, as it indicates to me the belief that the current methods are working. They're not. The generals are saying they need more troops to win. They're right. Most Democrats believe that the more pressing concern is Pakistan. They're also right, but even if they pulled out of Afghanistan tomorrow, those troops can't just go into Pakistan. Plus if they pull out now, in the eyes of the world and Al Queda, they lose the war.

Obama's been "deciding" on this for the last 7 weeks. When he eventually comes out with it, it will probably define his first term.
 

netron

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Messages
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i there is a BIG difference between Obama and Dubya with regards to handling this war.

Dubya had video conferences with his generals WEEKLY.

Obama - had a conference with the Afghanistan general once. after 70 days.

i think that says it all.

obama will turn out to be Jimmy Carter Mark 2. only worse.
 

cactusflower

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i there is a BIG difference between Obama and Dubya with regards to handling this war.

Dubya had video conferences with his generals WEEKLY.

Obama - had a conference with the Afghanistan general once. after 70 days.

i think that says it all.

obama will turn out to be Jimmy Carter Mark 2. only worse.
Both Carter and Obama appear to leave things pretty much to Brzezinksi et al. Unsurprising, as Obama was one of his Columbia students.
 

Sync

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White House just came out in support of Kerry's idea:

BBC NEWS | South Asia | US decision after Afghan result
The White House has said that it will take no decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until it determines the new government is a "true partner".

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN TV it would be "reckless" to take such a decision without a thorough analysis of the new government
 

Fortesbrand

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In the paper, Davis suggests what he calls a "Go Deep" strategy as an alternative to the recommendation from McChrystal for a larger counterinsurgency effort, which he calls "Go Big".

The "Go Deep" strategy proposed by Davis would establish an 18-month time frame during which the bulk of U.S. and NATO combat forces would be withdrawn from the country. It would leave U.S. Special Forces and their supporting units, and enough conventional forces in Kabul to train Afghan troops and police and provide protection for U.S. personnel.

The forces that continue to operate in insurgent-dominated areas would wage "an aggressive counterterrorism effort" aimed in part at identifying Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. The strategy would also provide support for improved Afghan governance and training for security forces.

Davis argues that a large and growing U.S. military presence would make it more difficult to achieve this counterterrorism objective. By withdrawing conventional forces from the countryside, he suggests, U.S. strategy would deprive the insurgents of "easily identifiable and lucrative targets against which to launch attacks".

Typically insurgents attack U.S. positions not for any tactical military objective, Davis writes, but to gain a propaganda victory.

The "Go Deep" strategy outlined in the paper appears to parallel the shift in strategy from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism being proposed by some officials in discussions in the White House in recent weeks.
...
In the paper, Davis argues that the counterinsurgency strategy recommended by McChrystal would actually require a far larger U.S. force than is now being proposed. Citing figures given by Marine Corps Col. Julian Dale Alford at a conference last month, Davis writes that training 400,000 Afghan army and police alone would take 18 brigades of U.S. troops – as many as 100,000 U.S. troops when the necessary support troops are added.

The objective of expanding the Afghan security forces to 400,000, as declared in McChrystal's "initial assessment", poses other major problems as well, according to Davis.

He observes that the costs of such an expansion have been estimated at three to four times more than Afghanistan's entire Gross Domestic Product. Davis asks what would happen if the economies of the states which have pledged to support those Afghan personnel come under severe pressures and do not continue the support indefinitely.
U.S.: Veteran Army Officer Urges Afghan Troop Drawdown - IPS ipsnews.net
The "Go Deep" strategy was the one that I thought that the U.S. should have taken at the onset of the invasion rather than the occupation option. It would have meant that they would have played to their advantages - satellite information, aerial hegenomy, money and special forces - rather than drowning on the ground in the graveyard of empires. The choice of an indefinite occupation supports the view that the Bush administration invaded for reasons outlined in the article linked to by cactusflower, namely an oil pipeline and geopolitics.

I opposed the vector taken by the U.S. at the beginning of the invasion because I perceived that it would degenerate into the scenario of a continuous war which would have much worse implications for the global environment than the threat from Islamic extremists which - while real - has been exaggerated to the point of imbecility. I thought actiivity with a light footprint was the best option for them. But there was something else, because the Taliban were suppressing the heroin trade - a threat to humankind of several orders of magnitude higher than any terrorist group.

Heroin, and other such substances such as the meth epidemic|FRONTLINE|PBS, are a modern form of slavery and utterly corrosive to the well-being of a society. The Taliban had persecuted opium production while they were in power. Reports after the ISF had settled into Afghanistan tell of the Taliban (as well as elements within the local adjuncts of the ISF) now using this as a means to finance their war and of a collapse of its price in the rest of the world. It has been totally counterproductive to displace them from power as a result. I agree that they were barbaric in their treatment of women and of ancient monuments but this is of greater concern to us. Allegations that the USAF is being used to transport it are serious ones and would need more substantial evidence but there are established precedents in Central America and in Vietnam/Cambodia so I would delay judgment one way or the other. That said the authorities have been engaged in some very sinister and egregious behaviour and I think that their credibility is greviously injured.

Think of what has come to light over the past few years since the mysterious death of Dr Kelly. It is confirmed that the administrations have been lying in their justification for war; torture sites (validated by the wisdom of a TV show in the popular mind) are manifest; draconian legislation, domestic surveillance and the blacklisting of innocent people has developed; conviction without trial, charge or evidence has become accepted; kidnapping and assassination is part of the toolkit; and an incredible manipulation of populations (via official channels) through hysteria, innuendo and fear has become pronounced. We live in the Age of Dishonesty which (even more so than previous times) has brought us to the position where recognised untruths are uncontested so long as they have the imprimatur of power and facilitate petty conceits.
 

nonpartyboy

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If the taliban get their hands on surface to air missles it's all over.
 

powderfinger

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British troops in Afghanistan are facing a horrible attrition with rising deaths and injuries. Anyone who watched the recent documentary "Wounded" will appreciate the horror for formerly fit and healthy young men waking up to find arms and legs amputated and sight permanently gone.



Suicide rates, divorce rates are high.



Morale crumbling among US and British troops in Afghanistan

Brown has just announced another 500 troops are to go to Afghanistan. They are going out to a senseless, immoral and unwinnable war.

Obama increased the troop numbers by 17,000 earlier this year but McChrystal says he needs tens of thousands more.

John Kerry has just called for a stop to troop increases until the second attempt at elections has been held.

Whatever the intentions, and even with the use of drones fired from Texas, the forces in Afghanistan are being beaten on the ground without in many cases having ever seen one of the "enemy".



Isn't it high time that this miserable war, based on lies and deception, was brought to an end ?
I'm with Mr.Brown on this one Cactus.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXm1-ViEAXg"]YouTube - Ian Brown - Illegal Attacks[/ame]
 

netron

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The "Go Deep" strategy was the one that I thought that the U.S. should have taken at the onset of the invasion rather than the occupation option. It would have meant that they would have played to their advantages - satellite information, aerial hegenomy, money and special forces - rather than drowning on the ground in the graveyard of empires. The choice of an indefinite occupation supports the view that the Bush administration invaded for reasons outlined in the article linked to by cactusflower, namely an oil pipeline and geopolitics.

that exact strategy is being argued by the likes of retired Lt Colonel Ralph Peters - and that guy is no peacenik tree hugger type. its a serious proposition..


Here's an interview of him by Michael Berry on talk radio in Texas

(mp3 link)

the Go Deep strategy makes a ton of sense. remote warfare via drones, with occasional raids by special forces. unlike Iraq, Afghanistan really isnt a "nation" - its just a collection of tribes at war with each other.


the Iraqis on the other hand really do have a notion of being "Iraqi" , so the nation building follows from that.

Afghans are only loyal to their local tribe in their local valley - so any "nation building" is bound to fail there.

The terrain is a big part of this difference. Iraqi is pretty flat - Afghanistan is made up of mountainous valleys with the population in one valley having nothing in common and even a different language to the crowd in the next valley..
 

Fermoy

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rhonda15

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Ex-US security adviser on Afghan war - 17 Oct 09

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXy8mz_UVEU&feature="]YouTube - Ex-US security adviser on Afghan war - 17 Oct 09[/ame]

"ex-security advisor" (yeah right) - he's got Obama's ear on all these matters
 

jcdf

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that exact strategy is being argued by the likes of retired Lt Colonel Ralph Peters - and that guy is no peacenik tree hugger type. its a serious proposition..


Here's an interview of him by Michael Berry on talk radio in Texas

(mp3 link)

the Go Deep strategy makes a ton of sense. remote warfare via drones, with occasional raids by special forces. unlike Iraq, Afghanistan really isnt a "nation" - its just a collection of tribes at war with each other.


the Iraqis on the other hand really do have a notion of being "Iraqi" , so the nation building follows from that.

Afghans are only loyal to their local tribe in their local valley - so any "nation building" is bound to fail there.

The terrain is a big part of this difference. Iraqi is pretty flat - Afghanistan is made up of mountainous valleys with the population in one valley having nothing in common and even a different language to the crowd in the next valley..
You are right. I wonder who will be next after the American's to try and civilize the savages with violence in Afghanistan? The Russians have already had a go. Maybe the Chinese will decide to have a crack at it.:)
 

Fermoy

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You are right. I wonder who will be next after the American's to try and civilize the savages with violence in Afghanistan? The Russians have already had a go. Maybe the Chinese will decide to have a crack at it.:)
Savages ? It is they who have been invaded time after time , by savages .
 

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