5 years, 10 months ago
Abu Muqawama links a stinging report in the Telegraph. Writing in the British Army Review, an official MoD publication, Major SN Miller, stated: “Lets not kid ourselves. To date Operation Herrick [the British codename for the War in Afghanistan] has been a failure”. (Editorial comment: Can professional journalists not learn the basic rule of quotation marks belonging outside the period?).
The reader should spend the time to study this Telegraph report in its entirety. Noteworthy is that AM reflexively goes into a discussion of the fact that a number of British officers he knows have taken to reading FM 3-24 because the UK hasn’t given the right training to their own officers.
But note also that there is little if any of this in the discussion in the Telegraph. What you do find is that:
Maj Miller, who has served in Afghanistan, also attacks the Department For International Development (DFID) for pumping millions of pounds of taxpayers money into a government where he claimed “corruption, inefficiency and incompetence” are “endemic” …
“Self-protection has become the main tactic, reinforced by air strikes that can backfire and undermine the campaign.
“Even as the Army renders itself more and more immobile with heavier vehicles and infantrymen weighing as much as a medieval knight, still the fantasy of the “manoeuvrist approach is peddled in staff courses.
“There is nothing manoeuvrist about weeks of petty, attritional fire fights within a few kilometres radius of a Forward Operating Base. The reason for all this is clear – zero casualties has become the tacit assumption behind operations.
“The Taliban are not being “coerced”, “deterred”, or “destabilised”. They simply disperse, knowing that the British cannot sustain pressure, and they return like the tide when the British troops withdraw, after a short period, back to their bases” …
“Until the government properly resources the war in Afghanistan, our strategy will fail.
The picture is not one of not knowing how to do it. It’s one of under-resourcing, FOB-centric, casualty-averse operations, and corruption within Afghanistan itself (ironically, we covered CNAS’s own contribution to under-resourcing in CNAS Releases Afghanistan Study).
To be sure, FM 3-24 touches on much of this, but most of it is common sense. Skirmishes with Taliban fighters (versus what the U.S. Marines are doing in Now Zad) is wasteful of time, money, resources, and the good will of the Afghans.
The issue is not publishing the UK version of FM 3-24. The issue is will and fortitude. And by the way, while we have hit on the UK hard for their failure in Basra (due in part to their ROE and belief in the applicability of their experience in Northern Ireland to anywhere else on earth), we have also noted the brave UK warriors under duress. The problem is no more in the enlisted ranks than it is the lack of a field manual (publishing the UK version of FM 3-24 won’t solve the world’s problems, nor the problems of the UK Army). The problem is in the politics and the officer corps.
See also British Hated Because of Musa Qala (and associated links provided).