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British Officer Resigns Over Grotesquely Clumsy War In Afghanistan!

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09/11/2006 02:49 PM
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British Officer Resigns Over Grotesquely Clumsy War In Afghanistan!
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'London (AFP) Sep 10, 2006
An officer has resigned from the British army in protest at its "grotesquely clumsy" campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Sunday. Captain Leo Docherty was aide-de-camp to Colonel Charlie Knaggs, a senior commander in the British task force in southern Afghanistan, but quit last month after becoming disillusioned with its strategy in Helmand province, The Sunday Times said.
The approach is "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency," Docherty was quoted as saying.

"All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British," he said. "Weve been grotesquely clumsy. Weve said well be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them," he said.

"Weve deviated spectacularly from the original plan," Docherty was quoted as saying. "The plan was to secure the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, initiate development projects and enable governance ... During this time, the insecure northern part of Helmand would be contained: troops would not be sucked in to a problem unsolvable by military means alone."

Docherty said the plan "fell by the wayside" because of pressure from the governor of Helmand, who feared the Taliban were toppling his district chiefs in northern towns, according to The Sunday Times.

The British military paid tribute Saturday to those killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan as they counted the cost of September, already the deadliest month they have sustained since March 2003.

In total, 22 British troops have been killed so far this month as they tackle insurgents on two fronts: 19 in Afghanistan, including 14 when a Nimrod reconnaissance plane crashed, and three others in attacks in Iraq.

According to a study by the Royal Statistical Society published in the New Scientist magazine, Afghanistan has become more dangerous than Iraq for Western troops since fighters loyal to the deposed Taliban regime renewed their insurgency.

NATO military chiefs meeting in Warsaw on Saturday pressed alliance member states to send more men and equipment to Afghanistan.

Some 4,000 British troops make up the majority of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force deployed in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

Afghan Violence Creeps Towards Kabul

Five years after al-Qaida assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Afghan mujahedin leader who fought the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's organization, the Islamist insurgency has crept out of the rugged Afghan mountains, making its way into Kabul.

A suicide bomber blew himself up Friday next to a U.S. military convoy killing at least 17 people and injuring scores more, a clear sign that a half decade after the U.S. intervention that ousted the Taliban instability is on the rise. NATO forces battling Taliban militants in the deadliest fighting since 2001 are now asking for more troops.

Violence in recent years had largely been confined to rural areas, but in recent months a half-dozen suicide bombings have occurred on the streets of the capital targeting NATO troops and facilities. Observers say the influx in suicide and remote-detonated roadside bombings demonstrates the Taliban is using Iraqi-style tactics to bring down the government of President Hamid Karzai and turn Kabul into another Baghdad.

The latest strike just outside the U.S. embassy on one of Kabul's busiest and best protected thoroughfares, blemishes Kabul's reputation as a bastion of security and further calls into question the efficacy of alliance forces since they took over peacekeeping duties from the United States in late July. The timing may have been meant to send a message: three days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 al-Qaida terrorist attacks that prompted the U.S.-led invasion to topple the Taliban for harboring its operatives.

A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 2 American servicemen and injured two others when a car laden with explosives rammed in to a vehicle they were driving, according to a U.S. military spokesman. A total of 94 civilians and 28 foreign and Afghan troops have been killed by roadside bombs this year.

The Kabul attack comes a day after NATO's top commander, Gen. James Jones, called for the deployment of troop reinforcements and better military hardware to beat back the Taliban in the restive south. Jones said member forces had failed to fully meet their commitments, adding that the international strategy to rebuild the country after years of civil war was on "life support."

"We are a little bit surprised by the level of intensity and the fact that the opposition in certain areas is not relying on traditional hit and run tactics," Gen. Jones told reporters.

Anti-U.S. violence erupted in late May following a traffic accident in which the brakes of a military truck failed, causing it to crash into 12 civilian vehicles and killing at least one person. Buildings were burned and protesters shouted 'Death to America' as riots spread across Kabul fueled by rumors that U.S. troops had shot and killed civilians. Official reports put the death toll as high as 20.

Washington has spent about $1.3 billion of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan over the past four years, but corruption, insecurity and logistic problems have made tangible results slow to materialize. Anger with U.S. forces, meanwhile, had been simmering after a botched air strike in May killed 15 villagers in southern Afghanistan. Since then, the United States has tried to keep a lower profile, handing off control of security operations to NATO forces speared by Britain and Canada while drawing down its 23,000-strong troop presence by 6,500.

However, Gen. Jones complained at a NATO meeting last month that member countries had met only 85 percent of their troop commitments and needed to accelerate civilian aid to deal the Taliban a harsh blow before the onset of winter brings the fighting season to a halt. He said he was optimistic NATO defense chiefs would make a breakthrough at three-day talks that began Friday in Warsaw to come up with 2,000-2,500 additional troops, plus helicopters and support aircraft.

But pledges will not materialize into concrete action until the assembled officials return home and gain government approval. The delay is costing NATO operations precious time, while the insurgency makes headway.

Officials and experts say the Taliban continues to exploit economic and security deficiencies in rural areas, intimidating villagers and buying loyalties with drug revenues among the poor who lack viable alternatives to make a living.

Until the government provides adequate security and improved infrastructure, Gen. Jones fears drug production, which shot up a record 60 percent compared to last year and now accounts for about 50 percent of gross domestic product according to recent estimates, will continue to undermine efforts to rebuild the country. "We simply have to do a better and more effectively in the war against drugs," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Source: United Press International'