Thursday, September 14, 2006

Top UK soldier quits over Afghanistan tactics

From The Sunday Times
THE former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has described the campaign in Helmand province as “a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency”.

“Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse,” said Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month.

“All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British,” he said. “It’s a pretty clear equation — if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would.

“We’ve been grotesquely clumsy — we’ve said we’ll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them.”

Docherty’s criticisms, the first from an officer who has served in Helmand, came during the worst week so far for British troops in Afghanistan, with the loss of 18 men.

They reflected growing concern that forces have been left exposed in small northern outposts of Helmand such as Sangin, Musa Qala and Nawzad. Pinned down by daily Taliban attacks, many have run short of food and water and have been forced to rely on air support and artillery.