Afghanistan, the lions last roar?

Watching Afghanistan, the lions last roar? on iPlayer.
Whats strikes me is how much I still believe going to Afghanistan was the correct thing to do, I did in 2001 and I did in 2008 and 2011 when I personally went. But how did we bollocks it up so much? Why did we **** about and get involved in Iraq when we actually could have made a real difference in Afghanistan had we (US/UK) just focussed our resources on that.
The Afghans seemingly really wanted us there in 2001 as we had got rid of the Taliban and were excited about the prospects of the future. Don't forget Afghanistan has not always been as mental as it was under the Taliban.
I find it so frustrating that the withdrawal is for political reasons and not for military ones. We really did seem to have made inroads in 2011 and we will never know if another year or two years could have really secured the countries future. I hope that we have laid a foundation for a prosperous nation and once all us infidels have left the people will settle down and have a good life.

Sorry if this is rambling just infuriates me not that we went just that we have come back on a whim.
The issue is not Afghanistan, it is the whole region and Pakistan features heavily in this, not forgetting their (significantly) larger neighbour further east who has completely different aspirations for hegemony in the locale although to be fair their eyes have always been more east, south and north rather than west.

As a desperately poor nation they never really had a chance to make a good go of things and will always be the pawns of the more powerful nations who see nations such as this as simply pieces on the global chessboard.

Remember, our last expedition in the region was not for the country itself but to keep the Russians from taking a serious interest in the Indian sub-continent.

Without money, they will remain subject to tribalism and petty rivalries as the tribes squabble for what others see as trivial or even worthless.
Money is the issue, imagine the money that could have been poured in to good uses in 2001 had we firmly not gone to Iraq and secondly not had to fight a proper war in Afghanistan as we had to from 2006 onwards. They say it has cost the UK £19 billion and I bet thats a drop in the ocean compared to what the yanks have spent.
In 2001 there is nothing to suggest a war was needed to be fought post the fall of the Taliban regime had a little common sense been used and some money.
Once the Taliban had "fallen" (or simply curbed and retreated to wait out), the job was done, no? So what why was there a further security situation that needed to be countered militarily.

The fact was, the land was infested by foreign invaders. Regardless of how we saw ourselves or how we wished to be seen, the people would see and experience people and things where evidently "not us", and that in itself is to be feared and distrusted. It even becomes a rallying call for unifying against the common enemy. And so we were at constant risk of insurgent activity - and how much of that was Taliban and how much was by locals who simply did not want the foreign devils on their soil?

We saw ourselves as reformist white nights. They saw us as an occupying power. No amount of money was going to cover that.
I think thats too simplistic Dredd replace a regime which is offing people left right and centre and then give the people a real reason to back you and I'm sure the people would have grabbed that opportunity.
We just didn't follow up outside of Kabul for a few years and the people passed judgment on us. Im sure it could have been very much different if it had been handled better.


There wouldn't have been a successful outcome in Afghanistan had we had a million boots on the ground. It was doomed to failure from the start. An eye-for-an-eye exercise where the West had to be seen to be doing something. Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? No, Afghanistan is the easiest of the options, or so they thought.

I'm not sure I ever thought 100% that we should have gone there, by the middle and the end I was utterly convinced we shouldn't.

What is telling is that to the media, this is it. They have stated it is categorically 'over'. Not for a shit load of Afghans and a few thousand lifetime scarred ISAF troops it isn't.
My feeling is that Afghanistan was a waste of both British & Asian lives.
Now that we have left I believe that the Taliban will be back in charge within six to twelve months max.


Lantern Swinger

The initial "invasion" of Afghanistan was "done on the cheap" by the USA (with Britain (and a couple of others ?) supplying special forces. They employed local warlords to do most of the fighting with the US forces doing the major thrust, all covered by air power.

Unfortunately, this "on the cheap" way of doing things left the warlords wanting a piece of the pie. Added to that were the poppy growing factions and the political tribalism.

The UK's real involvement came with the United Nations reconstruction force UNAMA which gave rise to the formal UK military presence in the reconstruction as part of ISAF.

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Anand Gopal's "No Good Men Among The Living" is a very readable set of accounts of how it was fucked up so tremendously. Gopal managed to get really quite deep into the story and as such get some cracking interviews; he essentially follows the story of a few Afghans involved over many years. Well worth a read for a perspective that's hard to get.
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I watched this documentary and thought it was very good. I spent 6 months in an army led hq in afghanistan. There was no long term (ie longer than, funny old thing, 6 months) plan other than waiting for the americans to tell us what the plan was whilst simultaneously, as plucky brits, pretending we had the whole hearts and minds things sown up. I went to afghanistan expecting to finally understand what it was all about. I left knowing less than when i arrived.

The truth is that no amount of money or effort would have achieved the wildy over optimistic mission objectives made. The country is backwards (possessing stark folk memories of the 19th century british campaigns), medieval (outside of the kabul city elite) and would fail even if we planted a starbucks and kfc on every street corner. We fought bravely and it angers me that we have had so many maimed and killed for what has been, at very best, a tactical victory but a strategic defeat. As the documentary explains, the politicians went along with the military 'conspiracy of optimism' and paid the price. The irony is that the army are still unlikely to escape deep cuts in the next sdsr.


In 2007 they still couldn't agree why we were there. Every other week we were told what a lovely job we were doing but always recieved a different answer as to what our actual goal was.

In 2008 no one even bothered to tell us. In 2009 no-one cared anymore.

The whole thing was a joke, held together by the bravery and professionalism of the men and women doing what they were told.
To very badly paraphrase someone worthier than i - afghanistan is not worth the bones of a single british grenadier. It was true then and its true now.

We could use our experience in afghanistan to really try and promote a true tri service intellectual curiosity about how we operate, learn lessons and improve. However, where the americans are good at this kind of reflection we seem less so. There is a good thread on arrse about this. A better question is whether the rn is any different at an intellectual level than the army. Im not sure, but neither am i sure where the problem lies in our cultural system.

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