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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The news here has been somewhat subdued concerning the latest British military personnel killed by 'friendly fire'.. This latest incident happened in Afghanistan, and three Squaddies will be coming home in their coffins, because of misdirection of support fire by American planes.
Now, this is not to minimise the real support supplied by American pilots, who have more often than not cleared the way for our men caught in untenable positions..
But it does underline the need for an upgrade in our technology.
American forces are marked with a 'blue beacon'.. which identifies them as friendlies. British APC's, tanks, trucks, don't have that equipment, and it begs the question, why?
But the real story here, is the respectful lack of publicity. Now it could be the MoD is simply not willing to plaster it's losses all over the front page, or it could be that the average man on the street is, for the moment, less concerned with what's happening with out Armed Forces half a world away, than with the homegrown problems which have plagued this summer.
Either way, not quite the local newplay such an event would get in the States, should it have been British pilots bombing American positions..

Now, still with Afghanistan..
The Commons Defence Committee has released it's report on the progress of the conflict.. and while it's couched in political rhetoric.. it says basicallt this..
1. There are too few troops on the ground to win..
If the mission is to succeed, says the committee, it will require a commitment of size and strength greater than the international community is "willing to acknowledge, let alone to make."
2. If we are not exactly losing, we are not winning either..
The committee said: "Violence is increasing and spreading to the relatively peaceful Kabul and the northern provinces."
3. Too many Afghan civilians are being killed..
The committee said: "Civilian casualties undermine support for (the Nato force) Isaf and the Afghan government and fuel the insurgency, further endangering our troops."
4. There are still not enough British helicopters to do the job..
"UK helicopter operations in Afghanistan are not sustainable at the present intensity."..
5. Some of our Nato allies are leaving us in the lurch..
"The reluctance of some Nato countries to provide troops for the Isaf mission in Afghanistan is undermining Nato's credibility and also Isaf operations."
6. You can't fight the Taleban and opium at the same time..
The coalition's strategy lacks "clarity and coherence". "Uncertainty among Afghans about Isaf's role in poppy eradication puts UK forces at risk."
7. The Afghan security forces are a disappointment - some useless, some corrupt, some actually working against us..
"Police failure and corruption alienate support for the government of Afghanistan and add to grievances which fuel the insurgency." Even the Afghan army "are some way off operating independently".
8. So the exit strategy has problems, as in Iraq..
"We recommend that the government clarify its planning assumptions for the UK deployment to Afghanistan and state the likely length of the deployment beyond the summer of 2009."
9. The media war isn't going well, either...
"The Taleban is ahead in the information campaign. The government (must) more effectively the presentation of Isaf's objectives and the way in which developments in Afghanistan are reported."
Now combine that with the report delivered by American General Praetorius on the state of affairs in Iraq, and it would not be unreasonable to expect a re-thinking of the positions some governments have taken on both Afghanistan and Iraq..
For indeed, the last thing the EU or Russia wants to see, is a general, sustained withdrawal of British and American troops, either from Asia or the Middle East.
What with the volitility of relations between India and Pakistan.. within Bangladesh.. the looming economic crisis of China entering the world market in full production.. these wars, these distractions are a necessity while other Trade Agreements are hastily cobbled together..
The maintenance of the status quo in the Middle East, is an imperative for the economies of those with alternate supplies, and those willing to buy into them.
And that hasn't even touched upon the dependence the economies of Britain and the US
have developed on 'disposable commodeties'..

Interesting times we live in..
One has to wonder how long it will take, before a man's work is based on what he produces for public use..

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