A clearer debate on Afghanistan?

The debate about Afghanistan is actually beginning to settle down a bit in the sense that what we are really talking about is becoming clearer.

In the near term, it comes down to: more helicopters asap; more troops (of whatever nationality); more supplies of certain specific equipment to for example gather intelligence on Taliban movements.

Longer term, it is focusing on our strategy there as part of the NATO force; defining it more closely; recognising why we are there.

We still need to accept that there are difficult choices to be made - ie the security case may mean defence spending will have to be higher in future than we have assumed it will be, which means cuts elsewhere.

John Hutton, former Secretary of State for Defence, writes a balanced piece (which firmly states that we need to prioritise getting the necessary equipment to our forces in Afghanistan) in today's Sunday Telegraph.

Stephen Beer, 19/07/2009

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Making the case for Afghanistan - Guardian Comment is Free

In today's Guardian:

All night long a fierce struggle had raged from house to house and in the alleys of this mud labyrinth. The assailants knew every inch of the ground perfectly. They were fighting in their own kitchens and parlours. The defenders simply hung on where they could, in almost total darkness, without the slightest knowledge of ground or buildings.

So wrote Winston Churchill about his experiences with the Malakand Field Force in 1897. The fighting taking place today is often at close quarters with small arms and engaging an enemy that knows the terrain very well. Not much has changed since, we might conclude, after a sad week with many lives lost in our forces in Afghanistan.

To continue reading, please go to the Guardian Website.

Stephen Beer, 14/07/2009

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