The government have (rightly) come in for a lot of criticism over the deaths of a number of British soldiers in Afghanistan over the last few days. Although I don't wish to trivialise those deaths which are, of course, tragic for every individual family I do think they need to be considered in context - particularly the fact that they occurred during what is a major military operation. It is the nature of war that when an army goes out to actively seek and engage an enemy they will take casualties at a significantly higher rate than they would while performing routine patrols.
Let us not forget either that the war in Afghanistan is the one which most of our media and politicians deemed to be the "just" and "legal" war. Personally, I believe that any war is legal - what is illegal are certain methods used in fighting a war (and most of those illegal acts are committed by our enemies) and I was happy to support action in Afghanistan and Iraq - but not the continued occupation of those countries which I believe serves no useful purpose.
Politicians on all sides tell us that they are acting in British interests by keeping British soldiers out there, but I have yet to see any justification of this. What interest is being served? Okay - I admit that I have rather flippantly suggested that we are learning a lot about our weapons and equipment (which have proven to be woefully inadequate) as well as developing new tactics and strategies for for dealing with asymmetrical warfare - flippant, but also very valid - but this is not why we are told they are there for.
Furthermore, those lessons we are learning about our weapons and equipment being inadequate are not being acted upon. The lack of close air support (CAS) is not being addressed. Why? Because our leaders can not get their heads away from highly complex and incredibly expensive helicopters. Helicopters are incredibly useful machines in the right theatre and have proven to be extraordinarily effective against armour, but - aside from their transport capabilities - this isn't the right theatre and the enemy doesn't have any armour worthy of the name.
Perhaps one of the most telling facts about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the fact that they have each lasted as long as or longer than the Second World War, but in that time there have been no significant development of new weapons. Partly this is due to the limited thinking that takes place in the MoD who have committed the bulk of armed forces spending to long term, ill conceived projects that are completely unsuited for the sort of warfare our soldiers are being required to fight, but it's also due to the lack of expertise and manufacturing capability we have in Britain.
Meanwhile, the most effective aircraft we have in the theatre is an aeroplane first designed in the 1950's and our soldiers are still equipped with a glorified rabbit gun. It's no coincidence that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have seen the re-emergence of the sniper armed with long range, high caliber rifles which is just about the only thing we have that can reliably hit a man at distance and make sure he bloody well stays hit.
So, given that our leaders are not bothering to listen to any of the lessons we are learning from these wars - what is the point of us staying there? What British interests are being served by our soldiers being in Afghanistan? In what way does the death of one of our lads help to improve the security of this nation - particularly given the fact that our government are still allowing all and sundry to pour into this country at will?
Like I said, I had no problem with us attacking Afghanistan (or anybody else that thinks they can use proxy warfare against Britain - and yes, that includes Iran) but only as a short, sharp invasion with limited and clear military objectives. Go in, achieve those goals - then get out again - leaving whatever regime was to emerge there in no doubt that they would get the same treatment even at the slightest suspicion that we were being threatened by their behaviour.
Our troops are being let down by our leaders by being left out on a limb. They don't know what they are doing there, they don't have the right equipment for what they can do there and the government have persistently failed to listen to any lessons that we have learned from there.
Time to get out.