Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Eyes Shut and Fingers Crossed

They went into Helmand with eyes shut and fingers crossed

June 9, 2010 They went into Helmand with their eyes shut and fingers crossed. That is how Major-General Andrew Mackay views Britain’s decision to send little more than 3,000 troops to southern Afghanistan four years ago.

He is not alone. A succession of military and civilian officials, interviewed by The Times, indicated that warnings about under-resourcing and over-ambition were made lower down the chain of command during the planning process, but were not considered sufficient for a significant rethink by the top brass.

The charge sheet includes institutional arrogance and an overkeeness to deploy to Helmand to compensate for a troubled campaign in Iraq. In addition, there is evidence of another British intelligence failure, this time an underestimation of the threat rather than the overestimation that was made on weapons of mass destruction before the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

Military chiefs are also accused of giving the advice that politicians and civil servants wanted to hear, rather than the cold facts that might make the political imperative — on this occasion, leading the Nato charge into southern Afghanistan — less palatable. Continued

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