Showing posts with label British Casualties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Casualties. Show all posts

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Chilcot Report has Ignored Evidence on Intelligence Manipulation

While this blog focuses on a neutral assessment of issues around monitoring and recording the casualties war, it is, in the current circumstances, hard not to comment on other aspects of the Chilcot Report

One of the most baffling findings of the committee was that the UK government was not, despite all the evidence to the contrary, involved in deliberate manipulation and miss-representation of intelligence in the run up to war. While there are probably many factors driving the committee's decision, a quick couple of searches of the inquiry web site provides some parts of the answer. OK, lets try Katherine Gun...

And here's the result for Valerie Plame...

However, Hollywood dares to tread where Sir John does not. Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins will be shortly be starring in Official Secrets, a film about Katherine Gun, who was a Mandarin translator for GCHQ in Cheltenham. The film describes what happened to her when she blew the whistle on the illegal activities undertaken by the British to try and manipulate the UN Security Council into endorsing the invasion. 

And Fair Game, the story of US manipulation of information on nuclear weapons in the Niger 'yellow cake' scandal was already released in 2011 (starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, who played Valerie Plame). While in the later case the protagonists are American, President Bush stated in his state of the union speech in Jan 2003 that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." An accusation against Iraq that was proven to be false. 

Why Sir John and his committee have chosen to ignore the clear evidence of British involvement in manipulating intelligence (as well as sexing it up) is something that may only emerge if Blair or others are put on trial. Unfortunately, the Chilcot Report has not delivered closure but raised additional questions over the extent and depth of establishment denial and cover up. Further and more robust action is required.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Chilcot Report - At last

The long, long, overdue Chilcot Report on British involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq will finally be published on Thursday 6th July.

The enquiry was began in 2009 and has lasted over 7 years. Pre-release briefings suggest that the report will be difficult to read due to its excessive length, and that it will distribute blame so widely and thinly that in the end no one is held accountable. But let’s wait and see. Few people would wish their names to go down in history next to the author of the infamous Hutton Report, so perhaps Sir John Chilcot has managed to produce something more credible and useful?

The report publication has certainly been causing concern amongst those most directly responsible for British involvement. Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell, for example, have been working feverishly to ensure that the current labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is deposed before the report is published, but with one day to go it looks like they have failed. Corbyn has stated his intention to call for legal action against Blair if justified by the Chilcot Report, so the stakes are high.

To what extent the report will cover issues around British military casualty reporting, the different methods used for documentation of Iraqi casualties, and accountability for military policy and practice remains unclear. Likewise, it is not clear whether the report will address issues such as British special forces involvement in large scale undercover assassination campaigns, and British involvement in the mistreatment and torture of prisoners of war. So the scope of the report as well as its contents will be of wide interest.

Finally, it is interesting to see the BBC being remarkably robust in its criticism of the British involvement over the last week. Jeremy Bowen’s reports and references to the Chilcot report are getting airtime. Their Panorama documentary is also a good primer and reminder of some of the human issues that the weighty Chilcot Report will be addressing. 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Updated Data for British Casualties in Afghanistan

Data from the MOD on British casualties up to the end of 2014 has now been added and a new summary table included.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

British Casualties in Afghanistan: Data updated for 2011

An updated analysis of casualty data for British forces in Afghanistan has been posted, covering the period until the end of 2011. Total UK casualties for 2011 were 2,183, including 46 fatalities and 1,147 aero-medical evacuations. The peaks seen in 2009/10 did not occur during 2011, and overall casualty levels have returned to a similar level as seen in 2008. The monthly trend shows a downwards slope from September 2010, when US forces took over combat in Sangin District, through to the end of the year.

With recent events in Afghanistan the prospects for 2012 remain uncertain. We plan to provide a more reliable update service in 2012 to follow these developments and thank you for your patience.

Monday, May 09, 2011

British Casualties in Afghanistan: Updated data posted for 1st quarter of 2011

An updated analysis of casualty data for British forces in Afghanistan has now been posted. Total UK casualties for the first quarter of 2011 stand at 525, including 15 fatalities, and are at similar levels to those seen during Jan-March in 2009/10. Over the last 3 years the lowest casualties have been reported during April, rising afterwards to peak during July and August in the summer fighting season. However, media reports of Taliban attacks in Kandahar during the last few days, following on from a successful escape attempt in which nearly 500 prisoners broke out of Sarpoza prison, suggest that intensification of the insurgency may be happening earlier in 2011 [BBC, Guardian].

Thursday, February 24, 2011

British Casualties in Afghanistan Fall Slightly During 2010

An updated analysis of casualty data for British forces in Afghanistan has now been posted. Total UK casualties during 2010 totalled 2,744, a slight decrease from the peak of 2009. Casualties fell by a small margin in all categories accept field hospital admissions. These figures do not of course reflect the recent increase in fatalities seen in the last few weeks.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

British Casualties in Afghanistan: Updated data posted for 3rd quarter of 2010

An updated analysis of casualty data for British forces in Afghanistan has now been posted. Total UK casualties now stand at 2,192 for the first 9 months of 2010. The data shows that MOD classified casualties spiked to their second highest ever monthly total in July and then fell back in August and September to levels seen in the spring.

Since the last data update in August there have been a number of notable developments. In brief:
Following much uncertainty over UK government statements on the pull out date for British forces, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, states that their combat role will end in 2015. [Reuters] A security think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, publishes a report claiming the threat to the UK of the Taliban and Al Qaida is overplayed and that the war in Afghanistan risks becoming a long drawn-out disaster [Guardian].

At the end of September British forces hands over control of Sangin to the Americans, prompting much debate over the costs involved of establishing bases that are now being closed, and the way the US apparently disregards British advice [BBC, Telegraph].

Things continue to go badly for the Americans with their highest annual casualty toll already reached during September and the increased activity of the Haqqani insurgent group [AFP, Telegraph]. More bad publicity also emerges, this time regarding 'sport' killings of Afghans by a rouge US platoon [AFP]. At the beginning of October Pakistan closes its border with Afghanistan as a protest against US attacks that kill three Pakistani Frontier Scouts [Indian Express]. The border is eventually reopened but not before a series of convoy attacks within Pakistan and apologies from the US Ambassador [AFP].

Towards the end of October it emerges that not just the US, but also Iran, has been financially supporting the government in Kabul with, literally, bags of cash [Reuters]. Speculation also emerges about a possible Russian intervention in Afghanistan; this time fighting on the side of the US against the nationalist insurgents [Guardian].

Finally, the escalating human cost of the continuing conflict is brought home by a a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross that describes how admission of war casualties are soaring in the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar [ICRC].

Friday, August 06, 2010

British Casualties in Afghanistan: Updated data posted for first half of 2010

An updated analysis of casualty data for British forces in Afghanistan has now been posted. Total UK casualties now stand at 1,464 for the first 6 months of 2010. The data shows that casualties fell to a relatively low level in April but then climbed steeply to the second highest monthly toll in May and remained elevated in June.

Since the last data update in April there have been a series of high profile developments in the war. 
In brief:
General McChrystal is relived of command by the US President and replaced by General Petraeus in early July. Some commentators see this as an indication of a more general crisis around the state of the war [MOD, Politico]. Perhaps as a much needed moral raiser, the Pentagon chooses to release information on potential earnings from mineral deposits; offering the possibility of additional long-term financial and strategic rewards for staying the course [Times].

British troops pull out of Sangin and are replaced by US forces. A comparison with the British pull out form Basra in Iraq is made but rejected in public by the US [Guardian].  Early July sees an upsurge in attacks by the Taliban (the resulting casualty spike will be reflected in the next data update). Another attack by an Afghan government soldier results in the deaths of three British troops. Whether this is a pre-planned special operation by the Taliban or a more spontaneous defection remains unclear [AFP].

The British government announces an increase of 40% in their hearts and minds aid funding for Afghanistan; part of an attempt to ensure that British combat troops will leave Afghanistan by 2014. However, the Defence Secretary also warns of an expected spike in casualties [BBC, Reuters].

The release of thousands of US military reports on the war by Wikileaks leads to further details emerging about the conduct of the war and helps, in part, to illustrate why civilian casualties have been so high [Casualty Monitor].  The Wikileaks incident appears to precipitate a diplomatic exchange between the British Prime Minister and the Pakistan over the ambiguous role of Pakistan in the conflict. During a subsequent visit to Europe by the Pakistan Prime Minister states that the US coalition is losing the war in Afghanistan [BBC].

Finally, in late July the British launch Operation Tor Shezada, their latest attempt to sustainably secure territory from the Taliban. By early August they are claiming success due to troops entering the town of Sayedabad [MOD].
The first half of 2010 also saw the release of new research on the British casualty burden in Afghanistan. Analysis by the Medical Research Council's biostatistics unit at the University of Cambridge showed that the rate at which British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan is almost four times that of their US counterparts, and double the rate which is officially classified as "major combat".  They also found that the death rate of UK troops is twice that of 2006 [Guardian, MRC].
More information also emerged on the level of Afghan casualties and attempts to document these.  These important developments will be the subject of a future posting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wikileaks Contributes to Understanding of Casualty Burden in Afghanistan

On Sunday thousands of leaked US military reports about the war in Afghanistan were published by the Guardian, New York Times, Der Speigel and Wikileaks.  The full ramifications of this release of data will not be known for some time, although increased tension between allies in the US coalition is already emerging.

In terms of understanding the casualty burden of the war what can these classified reports it tell us? Some issues have been reported on in the first two days whilst others may take longer to emerge.
- Although there are144 entries in the logs recording the killing of civilians by US coalition forces (so-called "blue on white" events), triangulation with journalists reports indicate that killing of civilians is often unreported, even in internal military documents.
- Retaliatory killings of civilians by US coalition forces appear to be common place, and have included the mortoring of a wedding party by Polish forces, and machine gunning of a bus by US soldiers.
- British forces have been involved in clusters of attacks on civilians, and these may be associated with particular units and times of tension.
- Reports of military actions have misrepresented casualties and tried to portray the victims as combatants when it was known they were civilians.
- CIA paramilitaries and secret special forces have been involved in civilian killings as well as regular military forces.
- The military capabilities of the Taliban are greater than previously reported in mainstream media, especially in their ability to target helicopters.
- There has been a massive increase in the use of IEDs by the Taliban, with 7,155 events recorded last year, resulting in greatly increased risks of collateral damage to civilians.
US Elite Unit Could Create Political Fallout for Berlin

Monday, June 21, 2010

British Casualty Monitor: Tracking the war in Afghanistan

This page has now moved here...
Please update your links.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Operation Moshtarak: Ministry of Defence warns about expected increase in British Casualties

The Ministry and Defence is warning of an expected upsurge in British casualties as a large offensive becomes imminent.
"People should be prepared for British casualties resulting from the upcoming major offensive in Helmand province, Operation MOSHTARAK, which will involve thousands of ISAF troops clearing parts of central Helmand of insurgents, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has said.

While minor operations involving British troops as part of the initial 'shaping' phase of Operation MOSHTARAK have been taking place, the major 'clearing' phase of the operation is yet to begin." [MOD]
Less attention has been given to the expected increase in Afghan casualties, both civilian and combatant. However, large scale population displacement appears to be occurring and British sources are briefing about the inevitability of civilian casualties. [CBC, Independent]

Friday, January 29, 2010

British Casualty Monitor: Tracking the war in Iraq

This page has now moved here...
Please update your links.

Friday, January 08, 2010

British Withdrawal from Basra: Impact on Casualties and the Chilcot Enquiry

The Iraq War Enquiry has recently heard some details regarding the widely known, but often denied, ceasefire that was negotiated by the British with the al-Mahdi army in 2007. This halted the heavy and persistent rise in British casualties that was occurring at the time. Following the conclusion of the ceasefire the British then withdrew from Basra City at the start of September 2007. The successful conclusion of the negotiations avoided the British having to withdraw under fire.

To reflect this public admission of the negotiated ceasefire the annotation of the graph of British fatalities and serious injuries casualties has been amended. The graph illustrates just what difficulties British forces were experiencing prior to the cease fire and how important those negotiations were in preventing further loss of life. The graph has also been updated on the main Iraq monitoring page.

Graph of monthly British combat casualties in Iraq war

Monday, December 07, 2009

100th British Soldier Dies in Afghanistan this Year

The grim milestone of 100 fatalities has been passed for British forces in Afghanistan this year. The death of a soldier from the Royal Anglian Regiment occurred when he was shot and killed in the Nad-e Ali area of Helmand Province. Total UK casualties during 2009 now stand at over 2000.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

US Must Take Responsibility for Investigating Civilian Casualties During Surge in Afghanistan

The decision by the US to send an additional 30,000 troops to war in Afghanistan was widely expected. Likewise, the Taliban response. Political debate continues over the wisdom of the US and UK escalation of the war in Afghanistan and what the 'withdrawal' or end of the surge in 2011 actually means. All this takes place in an environment where in which the US is moving to introduce a more direct model of political, as well as military, control of the country.

However, in spite of the intense level of media interest the potential impacts on Afghan civilians of US and UK policy has received less attention.

Amnesty International yesterday called for an effective mechanism for investigating civilian casualties, saying it was urgently needed.
"Amnesty International has called on the US to establish a consistent, clear and credible mechanism to investigate civilian casualties resulting from military operations after President Barack Obama said he would send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.

This is now particularly urgent due to the current lack of accountability and transparency within regular US military forces and civilian intelligence agencies, as well as private contractors..."
'Recent efforts by the US and NATO forces to minimise civilian casualties are a step forward but the US government must ensure that any troops who violate Afghan civilians' human rights are held to account.

'More US troops must not lead to more harm to Afghan civilians.'

Amnesty recognises that anti-government groups, including the Taleban, are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties and injuries in the country, but insisted that this does not diminish the responsibility to offer support to those injured by Afghan and NATO/US forces and to bring those suspected of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to justice."
[Amnesty International]

Monday, November 30, 2009

UK Escalates Involvement in Afghanistan: 500 additional troops to be deployed

Today, the British prime Minister announced a further escalation of the Afghan war with the deployment of an additional 500 troops. In a statement to the House of Commons today Mr Brown said that the extra 500 troops will be deployed in early December, taking the number of British troops in Afghanistan to 9,500. [MOD]

Also today, the death of the 236th British soldier was announced following an explosion in Babaji area of Helmand province. [MOD]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

British Casualties in Afghanistan - Analysis up to October 31st

Analysis of casualty data up to the end of October 2009 is now on-line for British forces in Afghanistan. The analysis shows a persistently elevated level of British casualties. Although the 3 month moving has declined slightly from September, October 2009 is nonetheless the third worst month for the UK since the war began in 2001.

Since the last casualty update changes in the policy arena have continued apace. Fallout from the Iraq invasion has resurfaced and has been providing a backdrop to political debate on whether to continue the war in Afghanistan. During the last week there has been media interest in the renewed investigation in to the torture and killing of Iraqi prisoners by UK forces, and an apparent rise in birth defects in Fallujah, which may be linked to the deployment of chemical weapons by the US in their assaults on the city during 2004.

Meanwhile, public support for the Afghan war has been shown to be low. In a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday, 71 per cent of people interviewed it the UK supported a phased withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan within a year or so, while just 22 per cent disagreed. A majority of respondents also thought the threat of terrorism on UK soil is increased by British forces remaining in Afghanistan (47 vs. 44 %).

Within this context a dramatic change of UK policy was posited. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared to announce the the beginning of the end for large scale British military involvement in Afghanistan by signalling the start of a possible withdrawal in 2010.

Referring to a NATO conference planned for early in 2010 he said it could:
"...chart a comprehensive political framework within which the military strategy can be accomplished. It should identify a process for transferring district by district to full Afghan control and, if at all possible, set a timetable for transfer starting in 2010".

Monday, November 09, 2009

British Casualties in Afghanistan - Analysis up to September 30th 2009

Analysis of casualty data up to the end of September 2009 is now on-line for British forces in Afghanistan. Released the day after Remembrance Sunday, they re-iterate the growing price being paid by troops fighting in this war, eight years after the initial invasion.

The analysis shows the continued rise in the 3 month moving average of British casualties. Although the figures for September have fallen slightly from August they still comprise the third highest monthly casualties for UK forces since the war began in 2001. The data do not, of course, include the recent surge in fatalities associated with the Taliban infiltration operation against police trainers and ongoing use of ambushes and IEDs.

Since the last casualty update there have been several significant changes in the policy arena with the widely perceived failure of Afghan elections, continuing criticism of the government's support for British forces, mixed messages from the Prime Minister on British commitment, plans for withdrawal of collation forces from large parts of Helmand, and a delay in decision making on strategy from Washington. Clearly, the policy context that underpins the war is in flux. The next few weeks may be critical as decisions are made by politicians on the future of the war and the people who are fighting it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How Many UK Troops are there in Afghanistan?

For some time the media has been reporting a figure of about 9,000 for the number of British troops in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, up until today the MOD web site has continued of report the presence of only 8,300. This lower figure of 8,300 is the one we have been using in our casualty monitoring statistics, in spite of concerns about its accuracy.

Today we hear of government plans to increase the number of UK troops to 9,500. Wonder how long it will take the MOD web site will catch up with this latest increase?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Undercounting of Casualties by Omission and Exclusion

The military death tolls generally reported for in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are notable for two omissions. Firstly, the casualty burden suffered by the large number of combatants fighting against the US/UK/NATO presence are never fully considered. Secondly, the toll exacted on mercenaries working for private companies is usually excluded.

Bernd Debusmann, in a column for Reuters reports, for example, that the US military death toll in the two wars stood at 5,157 in the second week of September. However, to get the true picture he argues that at least 1,360 private contractors working for the U.S. should be added to this figure. There is a growing dependence on private contractors in the conduct of both these wars and mercenaries now outnumber the number of US troops in Afghanistan.

Similar data for British forces seems hard to obtain but these exclusions from official statistics must be born in mind when assessing the human cost of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.