Top ranks within the Ministry of Defence and other Whitehall departments are accused of:
* grossly underestimating the threat from the Taleban;Major-General Andrew Mackay, a former commander of British troops in the province who has left the Army, accused the military of being too acquiescent in rolling over to political bidding. “The genesis of this approach is born of complacency, the thought that ‘we can deal with it as and when it happens’. It resulted, I believe, in the upper echelons of government going into Helmand with their eyes shut and their fingers crossed. For those who fought and died or suffered injuries in that period, this proved a very costly means of conducting counterinsurgency.”
* ignoring warnings that planned troop numbers were inadequate;
* offering only the military advice they thought ministers wanted to hear;
* signing off on a confused command- and-control structure.
The allegations come as a critical defence review gets under way and David Cameron decides how to plot the way ahead in Afghanistan’s most dangerous province.
We cannot know whether the same attitudes exist amongst the suited and uniformed commanders; the Governmental pronouncements as to their future plans for Afghanistan do not seem to fit within the perception that we are a long way from a satisfactory outcome after eight years of universal death, maiming and destruction.
Ministers may be afraid of being accused that our sacrifices were a waste were we to withdraw without some trophy to wave. The senior military men are of the warrior breed - "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country" - for those without the Latin. Why risk one's career by going against the wishes of devious and vindictive politicians misled or deliberately mis-briefed by their 'advisers' whose nearest experience of warfare is to hear an immigrant fart.
So, where is Cameron going to get the advice and input to his review? In short - he isn't. But then, he does not need fresh material - we are still in the situation where 77% say we are there under false pretences. How does that match up with the 37% of the vote he gained so recently? If he can finesse a coalition out of the worst Tory result in years, why cannot he see that democracy has spoken?
Just one little tit-bit of a question. We currently have the Chilcot Inquiry pussy-footing about for nigh on a year looking at what went wrong in Iraq. Lord knows what we will have to pay for it - damned sight more than 12 weeks from the Times.
Chilcot has established that we were lied to and misled but retribution will not come. I really do not care about blame or punishment of the Afghanistan up-cockers; what we must have is the acceptance that we went there in error, we never should have become involved and we are doing no good there now.
Acceptance of that would allow us to withdraw. The shame of it all is that the poor bastards who are suffering the most are the ones with absolutely no say. If 'twere left to them - how many would deem it dulce et docorum?