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Independent: Betrayed: How we have failed our troops in Afghanistan

Military chiefs warned John Reid: 'Don't try to fight war on two fronts'
British soldiers six times more likely to die in Afghan conflict than in Iraq

 Britain's most senior military chiefs warned John Reid not to commit UK troops to "a war on two fronts" in Iraq and Afghanistan more than 18 months ago, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Despite clear advice that a "significant" withdrawal of troops from Iraq was needed before a new mission, Mr Reid went ahead with the Afghan deployment after coming under pressure from Tony Blair. The advice, prepared by military planners and endorsed by the Chiefs of the Defence Staff, was given to Mr Reid on his arrival as Secretary of State for Defence in May last year. Despite the warnings, he went ahead with the deployment in January.

Mr Reid was accused last night of having taken "a gamble" by the Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs as the political and military fall-out from the conflict continues to grow. The present Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, has been forced to deny persistent reports that military chiefs are pressing for significant withdrawals from Iraq in order to shore up the Afghanistan operation.

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the war this Saturday, stark new evidence of the suffering being endured by British troops on the ground emerged in a series of leaked emails published in The Mail on Sunday. They amount to a harrowing account of terrified soldiers tormented by heat and sandflies engaged in brutal combat with Taliban fighters. One soldier wrote: "You see the Taliban cutting around on dirtbikes, their weapons in one hand, their kids in the other. They think we will not shoot them. There have been some terrible incidents. It is horrible to kill a kid, nothing could prepare you for it."

by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 02:17:06 AM EST
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after coming under pressure from Tony Blair

Now why would TB do that?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 04:26:36 AM EST
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they're stuck and they don't know what else to do except bleat about staying the course and accusing all their critics of wanting to cut and run.

How very republican of them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 06:04:05 AM EST
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