The Afghans take over

 

Later than some of us wanted, today marks the end of Nato responsibility for the security forces and combat roles in Afghanistan. It is a fitting day to thank our troops for all their brave and loyal service, and to wish the Afghans well in assuming full responsibiltiy for the security of their own country.

We still have troops at risk. They have to remain vigilant at base. Let us hope they are not called on to undertake more combat roles by the Afghans, as that would imply continuing high levels of violence and remaining issues with the training of the Afghan troops.

It also means we can plan a different kind of defence force. Freed of combat duties in Afghanistan, and staying out of other Middle Eastern wars changes the role of the military. It  will mean for the first time in many years the British army is not preoccupied by a major conflict or heavily involved in difficult policing in divided communities resorting to violence. It also stops  a major drain on the budget.

The new military that emerges from the Defence Review and budget reductions needs to have a well armed expeditionary capability in case of future need and trouble. It also needs to be modelled around its prime function, defending the UK from any possible attack. This means proficiency in cyberspace as well as by land ,sea and air. It also means having the naval and air capacity to help police the world’s sea lanes and trade routes. It certainly means retaining a credible nuclear deterrent. It is a different role, but still a vital one.

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20 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    What, if anything at all, positive has been achieved by this (indeed these) counter productive and terrorist incubating wars? I agree fully with your comment on what should emerge from the Defence Review. Let us hope we finally get some competence from the upper echelons of the MOD, defence procurement and politicians (hopefully honest competent and not ones with related paid “consultancies” to consider.

    • Hope
      Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      What will not be published is the stealth increase and reliance our military will have on the EU defence force. No need for the UK to be part of any such folly. As for Clarke’s illogical rant in the paper, how the UK is safer in the EU defies any rational logic. How does the ECHR, forcing the UK to keep terrorists, make us safe? How does uncontrolled borders from the EU help to keep us safe? How does allowing Islamist Turkey to join the EU help keep us safe? All of Clarke’s rant is along the same lines as his thoughts years ago of the dangers not to join the Euro. How safe would the UK be today if we had listened to Euro fanatic like Clarke? The UK would be an economic wreck and not able to support any country find self determination.

  2. MajorFrustration
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Can we honestly expect the Afghans to protect themselves? Clearly we should get out but our investment in lives and money over the last twelve years is about to go down the drain. Hopefully the Afghan experience will lead our politicians to be more careful in the future with the lives of our troops and the money required to fund their ego trips.

  3. Andyvan
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Yes thanks to out troops that invaded a sovereign country that posed absolutely no threat to us whatsoever, occupied it causing massive destruction and loss of life, all for no purpose at all except to further the interests of arms manufacturers, and when they finally depart will leave a shattered husk of a state where law and order is a fantasy and suffering is constant.
    “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

    Reply: The military actions in the Middle East were not at the request of arms manufacturers, and our troops were seeking to enforce law and order for an elected Afghan government that aked them to stay.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    JR: ” It will mean for the first time in many years the British army is not preoccupied by a major conflict or heavily involved in difficult policing in divided communities resorting to violence”
    Not for long if warmongers Cameron and Hague have their way.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    This is excellent news.
    One thing is for sure: preparing for the last conflict will not be effective when the next one comes round the corner! I wonder what Baroness Ashton has up her sleeve for our next commitment?

  6. Mike Wilson
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    It grieves me to say it, but I agree we must retain a nuclear deterrent. For various reasons we seem to be hated by a number of people who would happily fund or help others to blow us all to kingdom come.

    I am sure the fact we have a small pack of submarines that carry a payload to wipe their countries from the face of the earth means that anyone tempted to ‘teach us a lesson’ knows for certain what the consequence would be. Since we have had nuclear weapons we have not been involved in a major war. For the first time in hundreds of years, we haven’t had half a generation of young men cut down in war for a long time.

    But, as for patrolling sea lanes to keep trade going … if countries like China and Korea want to send us their goods – they should make sure the sea lanes are clear. We send most of our exports to Europe. All we have to do is keep the English Channel open and keep an eye on the Atlantic.

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    We in the UK are more vulnerable than ever due to multiethnicity and dual nationalism where loyalties are split and the country to get the most from is judged to be the most desirable. Of Course we need to protect ourselves and as we become involved in these middle east wars we are not exactly setting a peaceful example to the rest of the world.

  8. Normandee
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    There is a dichotomy here, if we haven’t got a sufficiently big enough expeditionary force to impose our will in a foreign country, or in defence of an overseas territory, then why do we need an army at all ? Because the only other need for an army is to resist an invading force, and that is what the reserve is supposed to be for. If we reduce our Army to nothing more than home defence with a token overseas force, then we need to dramatically build up the Navy and Air force.
    This is again another example of some European policy being played out here, the destruction of our carrier force leaving reliance on the French, is just the first overt sign what else is going on between Cameron and his masters?

  9. Richard1
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    We should remember & pay tribute to the courage, professionalism and sacrifice of our armed forces in their work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We should also remember the catastrophic failure of judgement and the inadequacy of the whole government decision making process that led to the UK becoming embroiled in these two costly and failed campaigns. We should remember the hubris of the Blair / Brown government, its mendacious spinning over WMD in Iraq, its constant unrealistic assessments of the reality in both Iraq and Afghanistan, its bogus and foolish mission creep and the absurd justifications it came up with to continue the campaigns (such as ‘making our streets safer’ and ‘promoting womens’ rights).

    The only action which was justified & right was to assist our US allies in throwing Al Quaeda out of Afghanistan. Once that was achieved, by the Spring of 2002, we had no further business there.

    No-one who sat as a minister in the Blair/Brown cabinet is fit to hold office again.

  10. Jerry
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    It is a fitting day to thank our troops for all their brave and loyal service, and to wish the Afghans well in assuming full responsibiltiy for the security of their own country.

    Indeed John, and thus a crass day for the MOD to send out redundancy notices, the absurdity of a Tory government, a Tory government (in the most part), on the one hand praising brave and loyal service personal and on the other sculling aro7und handing out redundancy notices to our it own troops! It makes Mr Hattons political gaff, sacking his own council staff, look very tame, oh well, only another 23 months till the next general election…

  11. uanime5
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see how effectively the Afghan army defends their country and whether the Jihadists still want to attack them.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 19, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      @U5: Err, the Jihadists have been doing exactly what you suggest they might do for the last 12 years, this is not about who runs Afghanistan, it is not even about which religion is supreme as such, their fight is about what version the people have to subscribe to.

  12. Martin Ryder
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    We do not have a government that is very interested in defending the United Kingdom – it is very obvious that the PM and the Chancellor, and their Liberal allies, find the armed forces boring and irrelevant – but we do have a government that is interested in strutting about on the international stage. To do this it needs to have a wealthy and strong nation behind it. No one listens to the weak and poor countries; they are there to be patronised by our handing them loads of borrowed money.

    Even though we are up to our eyes in debt, as are many countries, we are still reasonably wealthy but daily we are becoming weaker militarily, which is why Putin can show his complete indifference to the views of the British government where Syria and the Middle East, or anything else, are concerned. I doubt however that the PM can see the connection between military weakness and the lack of interest in his views within the international community.

    I doubt that many readers of this blog are interested in defence but if they were they would know that the present government has done far more damage to our armed forces than the previous one. Their excuse is that defence is expensive and we cannot afford it – there are far more fun things to do with the money we are borrowing than spend it on the military. It doesn’t matter that our house has holes in the roof, which is beginning to collapse, because everyone knows that it is never going to rain again.

    Though we have the fourth largest defence budget in the world we seem to get very little for it. Our armed forces are certainly not the fourth most powerful armed forces in the world; though they are amongst the most capable. They are capable of fighting against insurgents in third world countries and sustaining a sizeable force in the war zone. Not many countries can do that and nor will we when the defence cuts really start to bite over the next few years.

    Hurrah, I hear you cry, no more foreign wars. I agree with you; our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have been political, military and financial disasters. Our people did very well but there was no way, from the very beginning, that they were going to leave any of the countries concerned as victors. We have gained absolutely nothing from them and will suffer the consequences of being involved in them for many years to come. To suggest that our fighting in these wars protected the UK from terrorism is the absolute opposite of the truth.

    I consider that we should retain the capability of putting a small expeditionary force into a third world country as part of an international force, as we are part of the international community. I also think that we should maintain a stronger navy than we have now to help the international community police the seas. We may even need to escort vessels bringing food, goods, oil, etc to the UK, as we are very vulnerable to blockade now that our population is far too large for us to sustain it from local resources. The Royal Navy should be the strategic arm of our armed forces and should operate globally.

    We should also retain the capability to help with the defence of the European borders of NATO. Mr Putin has, I am sure, no intention of sending his armed forces, which he is expanding and modernising, west into Poland or anywhere else, but intentions can change overnight. Our armed forces should always be looking at other countries’ capabilities, rather than their intentions, and looking to see how they can deal with them.

    I do not think that cyber warfare and counter-terrorism are particularly military capabilities, though the military need to protect themselves from both types of attack. These are civil issues. However the military must be capable of preventing attacks on the UK from both air and sea. I am not talking about mass bombing campaigns or armoured invasions but over the next few decades we could get into an argument with, say, China or India, which results in a carrier battle group being sent up the English Channel by our opponent along with the threat that our non-compliance with their demands could result in a few drone strikes on terrorists hiding in the UK. There are international precedents for this.

    (para removed – argues for an enhanced army capability to deal with possible future civil unrest-ed)

  13. Terry
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    With the Kabul government wallowing in corruption and nepotism, it is only a matter of time before the Taliban take over, again. They will revert to their barbaric old ways and all our efforts to democratise the country will be shown to have be in vain.

    All they can then say is that it was good while it lasted but I shall always think it was never worth the loss of British lives.
    Like our involvement in Iraq, this dire escapade will go down as yet another disaster for Britain and all because of one leader’s arrogance and sanctimonious ego.
    For the sake of his regular appearance on the international stage of performing politicians he sent hundreds of our troops to their deaths. And he has never been censured nor tried for it. Such is the power of the Prime Minister.
    And that is wrong. No one person should be given the power to unilaterally send our citizens into war. Such power was reserved for Stalin and Hitler. So what happened here?

    Reply Parliament is responsible for these matters

    • Terry
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Doesn’t the PM have the final say?

  14. Mark B
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Mr. John Redwood MP said “…….wish the Afghans well in assuming full responsibiltiy for the security of their own country.”

    I think they are going to need a bit more than us, ‘wishing them well.’ A miracle more like.

    All this and more on a day when, it was announced that, 4,000 troops will be getting their P45’s.

    Mr. Redwood MP sir, how many of those losing their jobs are of senior and very senior commanding officer rank. ie Generals etc. ?

  15. Jon
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Trouble spots around the world do not automatically mean we have to be physically involved. Like many of countries we can lobby, express our views and support an action through votes but do not need to be physically or financially involved. I hope that mentality prevails.

    Too many politicians say “we need to do something” meaning physical action. If they want that then they can join a mercenary outfit, leave the rest of us out of it.

  16. Peter
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I wish I knew what this Afghan mission has achieved.

    Total UK withdrawal cannot come soon enough.

    And please let’s not have a Syrian adventure to replace it.

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Does this mean the death of the neo-Con idea, that capitalism can be brought about at the point of a gun?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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