Ex-SAS Commander Accuses The Government Of Lying Over Afghanistan

Viper1

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Any comments ladies and gentlemen?

http://ebird.osd.mil/cgi-bin/ebird/displaydata.pl?Requested=/ebfiles/e20090724691924.html

By Deborah Haynes, Defence Correspondent
London Times
July 24, 2009

A former SAS commander accused the Government yesterday of lying to the public over Afghanistan, saying that British forces lack the support they need.

Retired Brigadier Aldwin Wight added his voice to the growing debate on whether the Government has committed enough helicopters and troops to the Afghan mission. Guardsman Christopher King, of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was named yesterday as the 19th soldier to be killed this month in Afghanistan.

“Here is a government that has committed the British Army and the Armed Forces to two of the most serious recent campaigns, very long-term types of campaigns,” Mr Wight told ITV News, referring to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If you do commit people to that then they’ve got to be supported. I think the perception, the reality, is that it hasn’t been supported.”

Asked whether he was referring to moral support, financial support or kit, Wight said: “All of the above.”

Turning to the Government, the former special forces commander said: “I just don’t think they’re being honest. I don’t think they’re being honest with themselves, with the Armed Forces or with the public.”

The discussion on additional troops and the numbers of helicopters should be exposed, he said.

“I talked to a lot of people who were in the Armed Forces, who are currently in the Armed Forces, who have been responsible for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. I would have said that virtually all of those would argue that they need more. . . The Government sees its job as actually to spin this issue rather than be honest about it. Even the man in the street can smell that, and therefore I don’t think that you have got the support.”

Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, insisted yesterday that he was “busting a gut” to get more helicopters to commanders on the ground in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. However he emphasised that the hot, dusty Afghan environment meant aircraft need frequent repairs.

“They break and they’re breaking all the time. Some are fixed in theatre and some come back here,” he said. “It’s not a family car you can take in for a service once a year, it’s a bit more like a Formula One racing car that’s only racing a few days of the year.”

Mr Wight said that giving commanders sufficient helicopters would give them the tactical flexibility they require, allowing them to take the initiative against the Taleban.

“You’re restricting their options by not giving them enough helicopters and at the same time you’re probably increasing the amount of vehicles they have to use because they lack tactical flexibility. So it’s difficult to make a direct mathematical correlation, but I think there is a direct correlation.”

Some 3,000 British forces are taking part in a major operation against the Taleban in the south of Afghanistan — an offensive that has helped to restore Britain’s reputation as a strong ally to the United States, a senior defence source said yesterday.

Britain’s reputation suffered a blow in Iraq when the southern city of Basra fell into the hands of militias under the watch of British forces.

“Reputation-wise what we have achieved and done in Panchai Palang has really resonated with the Americans,” the defence source said. “It reassures the Americans in some ways that other allies are doing some heavy lifting.”

Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther’s Claw, is aimed at reclaiming swaths of territory from Taleban fighters. Twelve British soldiers have died on the offensive, which began a month ago, but a “significant number” of Taleban leaders have also been killed, the defence source added.

Guardsman King, 20, became the latest British casualty on Wednesday when a bomb exploded as he was checking a patch of land on foot to secure a path for vehicles to travel down
 

Crusader74

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The UK government are under pressure now to be seen to be giving all the support the Troops need on the ground especially after so many loses lately and the opposition making a statement suggesting they were offered 20 medium lift helo's and the refused.
 

AWP

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Doesn't the UK's mission statement have them leaving by 2012 or is that timeline still up in the air? I ask because even if you wanted to field a new squadron of Chinooks I doubt they could do it in time so they would have to leverage squadrons that already exist OR create a new squadron by cannabalising personnel from existing units once they received the new airframes (again, something that will take time).

I think VERY highly of our Commonwealth cousins and their work in Afghanistan, I just question if they have the time to field the items that they are asking for.
 

RackMaster

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Doesn't the UK's mission statement have them leaving by 2012 or is that timeline still up in the air? I ask because even if you wanted to field a new squadron of Chinooks I doubt they could do it in time so they would have to leverage squadrons that already exist OR create a new squadron by cannabalising personnel from existing units once they received the new airframes (again, something that will take time).

I think VERY highly of our Commonwealth cousins and their work in Afghanistan, I just question if they have the time to field the items that they are asking for.

It's a problem being seen here and that was known from the start. We were raped and pillaged years ago; now we are paying the price for playing catch up on the battlefield.
 

Royal

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Doesn't the UK's mission statement have them leaving by 2012 or is that timeline still up in the air? I ask because even if you wanted to field a new squadron of Chinooks I doubt they could do it in time so they would have to leverage squadrons that already exist OR create a new squadron by cannabalising personnel from existing units once they received the new airframes (again, something that will take time).

I think VERY highly of our Commonwealth cousins and their work in Afghanistan, I just question if they have the time to field the items that they are asking for.

There's not stated cutoff in 2012 - or any other time. But I'm afraid that I agree with you about time.

While I respect the good Brig's service and gallantry he has a need to keep his name in the papers to advertise his recent employment. I'm quite sure that he understands the operational tempo of the UK military in general and specialist units (of all ilk) in particular.

You can't just pop down to Walmart and buy a new C130 or Chinook - and more importantly you can't pop down there and buy a few more crews and maint teams.

We've screwed up by underfunding (and not just with this government) and now we're reaping the whirlwind.
 
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