Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Treasury is crippling war in Afghanistan

Former Brigadier in the army and SAS, Ed Butler appeared before the Defence Select Committee yesterday to expose the financial constraints being placed upon the military in Afghanistan.

When he resigned last year Butler stated, when paying tribute to the servicemen and women he fought with, that they operated

'within the well-known constraints and restraints', leading to speculation his departure was due to concern over troops' equipment and conditions.
Appearing before the committee Butler said that the constraints meant that the Army could
“just about hold the line, but couldn’t sustain a higher tempo” in its campaign against the Taleban.
In other words Stagnation, nothing was being achieved as we make no progress militarily or with sorting out the civilian problems. These are both a pre-requisite before lasting peace can be achieved.

Brigadier Butler told the committee that in 2006 the Treasury had “capped” resources available for the operation, limiting funding to £1.3 billion for a “three-year campaign”. The Government has always denied imposing a cap on resources for the mission.He said
“There was a Treasury-imposed cap on the number of troops we could have in Afghanistan,”.
With the troops available to him — 3,300 —
“we could just about hold the line but we couldn’t sustain a higher tempo.”
Brigadier Butler said he was visited by numerous ministers during his tour of command but not once by a Treasury minister.The financial constraints resulted in a severe shortage of helicopters in the field and seriously hampered the ability of British forces to cover the ground, He compared the number of helicopters available in Afghanistan to those that had been available n Northern Ireland.

Butler was also critical of the overall government strategy in Afghanistan with no little or no efforts being made to start development and reconstruction programmes. Without these the efforts of the forces were being wasted.

Butler also said that the
“tribal tapestry” in Whitehall was as complex as it was in Afghanistan and that the officials working in Helmand from the Department for International Development were the most “risk-averse” of the civilians involved in the campaign, followed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the security services.
He then went onto to say
that a strong secretary of state was needed to ensure that everyone co-operated, and praised John Reid, who was Defence Secretary in 2006, for “knocking heads together”. “It needs someone with clout back home. . . if you want to go into these places [Afghanistan], you must go deep and go long or go home. . . and it must be properly resourced,”
So what have we now got instead, we have Bob Ainsworth or "Slow Bob" to his friends. This is the man who lies and covers up problems. This is the man now trusted with ensuring our Armed Forces are adequately funded and resourced to be in Afghanistan. This Brown Toady, who "inherited" the Defence Minister post by default will unlikely be strong enough to face down anyone to help the Armed Forces, he cannot even cope with some simple questions from Paxman. But what do we expect when we have the man of "Courage" in charge, a man who only knows how to defeat his enemies by lies and untruths and has never faced a serious challenge in his life. A man who has so little respect for his Armed Forces that he appoints someone as inept as Ainsworth to look after them, in the full knowledge that, he is only there as his lickspittle, a lap-dog to do as he is bidden.

Let us also remember the fact that over the past four years more than 150 of our Servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan (Do watch out for statistics that quote since 2001).We have to now question what this loss of life is achieving unless we are prepared to put in place a proper strategy and properly funded resources.

Former British commander in Afghanistan says Treasury is crippling war - Times Online


subrosa said...

I've done a draft for a post on this too and will publish it later. The more folk see it the better don't you think?

Fitaloon said...

Exactly. It's criminal what is going on at the moment.