08 March 2012

400th British soldier dies in Afghanistan

 Yesterday the death toll of British soldiers in Afghanistan reached 400 after Six British soldiers were missing, believed killed, after a massive explosion in Afghanistan.

The men were on patrol in a hazardous area on the border between Helmand and Kandahar provinces when the Warrior armoured personnel carrier they were travelling in was blown up. The ferocity of the blast flipped the vehicle upside down and sheared off the gun turret, starting a fire which ignited ammunition stored inside.

The soldiers, five from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and one from the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, were just a week into their tour of duty. Troops in a second vehicle which was left relatively undamaged attempted to get to those inside the stricken Warrior, but were beaten back by flames and the risk of secondary explosions. Other forces which arrived soon after the initial reports of what had happened on Tuesday spent most of the night gathering remains and returning them to their base at Camp Bastion.

The commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Patrick Sanders, said the Warrior involved in the blast suffered "catastrophic damage". The armoured personnel carriers, used extensively by forces on frontline duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, were due for a billion-pound upgrade, including equipment which would allow greater flexibility on attaching armour, announced by David Cameron last autumn.

The blast that killed the British servicemen occurred in an area which the Taliban consider their heartland but which was supposedly "cleared" of insurgents in a series of operations by US, British and Afghan forces. The attack shows the ease with which Afghan fighters are able to return and place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at relatively little risk to themselves but with lethal impact.

Western and Afghan officials insist that large numbers of bombs have been recovered after tip-offs from locals. But although the Talibs had previously been driven away from the border area between Helmand and Kandahar, they have repeatedly returned and been able to set up bases, either because residents of the sparsely-populated hamlets are intimidated, or because they actually support the Taliban.

Local people are aware that Nato troops will be leaving soon, and there is uncertainty about the ability of Afghan security forces to protect them from the insurgents in the aftermath. There is also confusion caused by statements from the government of Hamid Karzai and Western states about negotiating with the Taliban, and what degree of power the Islamists will hold in the future.

Sadly the poor soldiers died for absolutely nothing. It looks clearer and clearer that the Taliban will be back, will oust the scumbag Karzai (who is turning more and more repressive by the day, certainly in respect of the women of Afghanistan). It galls me that our troops are dying for what is effectively a return to the status quo with women treated as lower than chattels


Gina said...

This war, like the others before it in Afghanistan, is such a terrible waste of lives.

I abhor war on ethical and humanitarian grounds but this one is especially pathetic in light of what history has taught us.

On a different topic of war: I'm trying not to get overly upset yet about what is likely to go down with Iran. I will say this (it's an issue that I grew up listening to my father, once a registered Communist, say about the Palestinian/Israel situation: why must the U.S. always take the side of Israel? I'm sick and tired of the U.S. being pressured by the Israeli government to have their back at all costs. President Obama is talking out both sides of his mouth on the issue but he is at least a tad more moderate than former Republican presidents: on one hand he states that we should not be saber rattling, on the other he promises Israel total protection.

jams o donnell said...

I am pretty sick of the drumbeats for war on Iran. Frankly it would be a disaster in that it would kill off any chance of reform or change in that countr.

As for Israel, I can understand their unease but a pre emptive strike would blow back massively. Netanyahu and Lieberman should engage their brains

Silent Hunter said...

I don't think an Israeli strike on Iran would have that much effect on Israel. Everyone else on the other hand.

This should be solved with diplomacy, but both sides need to be prepared to do that.

jams o donnell said...

I think an attack could have disastrous consequences for Israel. I hope cooler heads prevail on both sides

Silent Hunter said...

True, it might drive Iran further towards getting a nuke. However, Israeli strikes on Iraq and Syria terminated those programmes, so someone might think the same would happen again.

This is one of those situations were neither alternative is very pleasant.

jams o donnell said...

Agreed SH, the options are both bad