During my four-day visit the squaddies on the front line told me that Ross Kemp is a hero with Our Boys for telling it like it is on Sky One.
The death toll’s creeping remorselessly nearer 150 and then, presumably, upwards to 200 and, possibly, higher.
One marine told me the fear of patrols and convoys is no longer a Taliban armed with an AK-47 but mines and booby traps.
The Taliban’s failure before Christmas to retake Musa Qala saw a fanatical and resourceful enemy switch tactics.
The steady flow of amputees flown home to
Defence Minister Kevan Jones didn’t hide from troops that
A rapidly expanding
Three hundred extra
President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 reinforcements and a
Foreign Secretary David Miliband candidly conceded the Taliban’s engineered a “strategic stalemate” in
Afghans don’t want the Taliban’s return, yet a dip in support for foreign troops is evidence of a war-weariness fuelled by botched Nato air strikes.
Encouraging signs can be detected in areas such as Lashkar Gah and Garmsir where security’s getting better not worse. Aid workers now toil alongside the military to win hearts, minds and stomachs.
The retrained Afghan National Army shows signs of professionalism, though the police less so while the ill-equipped border force is still a basket case.
The retreat from
Morale of British forces is surprisingly high (as is the humour) but Ministers need to explain why lives are risked and lost to sustain backing for a conflict without a seeming end.
The stated reason for the 2001 invasion was to punish al-Qaeda and topple a theocratic, evil Taliban that oppressed women and ruled mercilessly.
That expanded to eradicating poppy crops responsible for more than half the heroin sold in the west.
As the body bags and casualties continue to come home, however, the case will be lost unless it’s made forcefully.