UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Remember Afghanistan?

British-mentored Afghan soldiers have seized and destroyed 1,200 kilograms of illegal fertiliser, used for making explosives, in a successful operation in Helmand province.

British Army

British-mentored Afghan soldiers have seized and destroyed 1,200 kilograms of illegal fertiliser, used for making explosives, in a successful operation in Helmand province. This operation is the latest of many that the Afghan National Army (ANA) has been conducting on the edge of the Helmand River Valley as it continues to drive the insurgents, and the battle against them, away from populated areas. During the clearance operation in the area between Camp Bastion and Lashkar Gah, the British Army’s kandak liaison team, made up of soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment and a number of attached Reservists from 6th Battalion The Rifles, deployed alongside the ANA. There was minimal call for support as the ANA took advantage of the British and international training they had received to lead the operation from start to finish. Major Andy Mclannahan, officer commanding the kandak liaison team, said: “… Their soldiers completely overwhelmed the insurgents in an area the Taliban consider to be key to their network. Private Keith Ponter added: “We have one of the best jobs left in theatre; we go out on operations with the ANA and get to see that what we do makes a difference in the long-term, first-hand.” Read the full story: http://www.army.mod.uk/news/26022.aspx

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https://www.gov.uk/government/news/afghan-army-warriors-take-the-fight-to-the-taliban

And one from the end of last year

3 MERCIAN on operation in Afghanistan 10.12.13

 

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Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

17 Comments

  1. Allan

    With the greatest of respect, the sooner our troops are out of Afghanistan the better? What was the mission again?

    It was a 14th Century s***-tip when we arrived, it will be a 14th Century s***-tip not long after HM Forces have departed.

  2. Phil

    What was the mission again?

    NATO’s primary objective in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan government to provide effective security across the country and develop new Afghan security forces to ensure Afghanistan can never again become a safe haven for terrorists.

    SOURCE: ISAF

  3. Allan

    “NATO’s primary objective in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan government to provide effective security across the country and develop new Afghan security forces to ensure Afghanistan can never again become a safe haven for terrorists.

    SOURCE: ISAF”

    I wonder if ISAF even believes that statement? Sounds an awful lot like ‘nation building’ to me………

    ……perhaps I’m being cynical but I’m willing to bet that if you polled the Great British Public on what HM Forces were supposed to be doing it isn’t nation building.

  4. Phil

    Sounds an awful lot like ‘nation building’ to me………

    Nation building seems to be one of those concepts that exists in the minds of many but we don’t see much actual evidence of it being an actual objective.

    We went in for a simple reason, the Government then in place supported a group which killed more people than the attack on Pearl Harbour. We wanted to stop that happening again. We let the US take everyones eye off the ball due to Iraq and finally started to put a proper implementation plan into place in 2006. But it was another 3 years before it could be done properly.

    If we hadn’t bothered with Iraq and had been quicker off the mark we’d have been done and dusted with Afghan a long time ago or at least would be about to pull out with an extra 8 years of a proper job being done.

  5. WiseApe

    “We went in for a simple reason, the Government then in place supported a group which killed more people than the attack on Pearl Harbour. We wanted to stop that happening again.” – Well said Phil. It is astonishing how many people forget this. Some even seem to forget that we were ever attacked. I always supported the invasion of Afghanistan – let’s not pussyfoot around, it was an invasion.

    I also supported the invasion of Iraq. Isn’t hindsight a bugger.

  6. Red Trousers

    Well said WiseApe, I’m with you on that sentiment. I was staffing all of the C4ISTAR UORs from HQ LAND in 2001, and recall 18 hour days, but no sense at all that this was not a noble and just endeavour.

    I’m too young to recall the Kennedy assassination (not even born then), but there is a sort of acceptance that people remember with total clarity what they were doing when they heard. For me, possibly my generation, the 9/11 attacks have the same resonance. I recall with complete clarity the events of 9/11. I was driving myself back from a 2 day conference at Woolwich on WATCHKEEPER back to HQ LAND at Wilton, and the radio reports came in on Radio 4 at about 1330, then became live streaming news. Everyone on the M25 and M3 was driving slower and slower as we could not believe what we were hearing. I got back to my quarter in Fovant about 1600, saw the TV footage of the collapse of the first tower which haas just happened, then live the second collapse. I got a call on my mobile to a attend a crisis group meeting in Wilton at 1700, and at the meeting we were told by VTC from Northwood that dozens of planes over the Atlantic were unaccounted for. Clearly, not the real outcome, but at the time it seemed credible and dreadful.

    The feeling of western togetherness was also palpable. At the time Mrs RT and I wre recently married, and she wasn’t that used to UK/US closeness. But she went up to London by herself to be in the crowd outside Buck House to wave an American flag when the Coldcream Band played the US anthem on the Changing of the Guard ceremony the next day, and I was very proud of her instant emotion.

  7. wf

    I’m unlikely to forget 9/11 either: I was a cripple at the time, with a screw through one ankle from an operation the previous week then compounded by a dislocated shoulder suffered on the 10th, meaning I could only hop, crawl or roll. I got a call from the wife to be to turn on the TV just before the second tower was hit, followed by a second one 30 mins after the second tower fell saying she was having a miscarriage :-(

  8. DavidNiven

    I’ll never forget 9/11 either, I had a lucky escape as I was meant to be on the first plane that struck the tower …………………………………….. If only I had passed the last simulator test !!!

  9. Think Defence

    I remember it well also, was in a Portacabin, loafing around as usual!

    A few years later and even a couple of times since, I have by complete coincidence travelled to the USA on or around the same date. The last time was actually on the 11th and I can tell you even recently, a weird and almost surreal experience, but plenty of room and no queues

    When the history books are written, I expect there will be two distinct phases, wonderfully hindsight illuminated, the initial invasion to destroy the Taleban government and eliminate the training camps, then what followed, with an Iraqi intermission of course

  10. Phil

    I was seven days away from starting my War Studies degree at KCL. My lectures were half empty for the first week or so.

  11. Observer

    Remember it too, was RTBing from a night range by chartered bus at 2am in my part of the world when the news came up on the radio. My PC who was sleeping on the trip back was wondering why the base was on alert until I told him, but my initial impression was that it was a Piper or Cessna that kamikazed, not 747s. Only found out how bad it was in the morning papers.

    Not to sound cold hearted though, but part of the big hoo-ha was because it was America that was attacked, terrorist acts happen worldwide on a very frequent basis and hardly anyone even notices. On a practical and moral note though, kick their arse, at least in Afghanistan you don’t have to worry about collateral damage to your own areas.

  12. tweckyspat

    was in BATUS supporting TESEX. Entire BG sat in the big old AAR hut watching the news on the big screen. Rarely has force on force armoured training felt less relevant….

  13. Allan

    @Phil (or anyone for that matter)….

    “or at least would be about to pull out with an extra 8 years of a proper job being done.

    I know this may seem dim, but do any of the commentators have a definition of what ‘proper job being done’ actually means in the context of the comment?

    PS: Apologies for the delay in not responding to Phil’s comment.

  14. dave haine

    Sep 11th? I was in the airline ops room, trying desperately to avoid yet another massive loss of life…. Like a lot of other airlines we had aircraft crossing the Atlantic…from memory it was about 8 767-200/300s so about 2700 passengers and crew, and all past the point of no return, when the Yanks closed their airspace. The worst of it was when we got a phonecall from Gander ACC telling us that they didn’t know how long they could withstand the pressure from the american government to close canadian airspace….you’ve all seen the pictures of Halifax, with all the airliners parked this way and that.

  15. dave haine

    @wiseape

    The canadians played a blinder that day- from Gander ACC contacting every airline they could, to get early divert decisions, so they could get as many aircraft as they could safely down, to the airfields stacking as many aeroplanes as possible.

    No fuss, no stress, just we’ll get them down safe.

  16. Deja Vu

    I was at school 10 years old when Kennedy died, and at a site meeting on a building site on 9/11 the QSs had internet access and brought us updates. Eventually we broke early as there was a rumour the tube would shut. I saw the second tower collapse just after I got home.

    Going into Afghanistan and driving out the Taliban was undoubtedly the right thing to do. Taking the eye off the ball and diverting resources to Iraq was not.

    With operations continuing in Afghanistan, I am loath to comment adversely, but I feel that any achievement by the deployed troops has been in spite of the poor political and strategic decision making in the first few years.

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