Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caroline Wyatt, BBC defence correspondent talks to Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander, Task Force Helmand

On Monday 17 August 2009 the BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt talked to Brigadier Tim Radford, the commander of Task Force Helmand, for BBC Radio 4, PM Programme.

Caroline Wyatt, defence correspondent: The news of more casualties came out yesterday. What does that do to morale amongst British forces here in Afghanistan?

Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander, Task Force Helmand: Well over the last five months we've had a considerable number of casualties, predominantly as a result of IEDs, and as you can imagine, every one of
my soldiers who dies or is wounded is felt incredibly deeply in what is a very close-knit headquarters. But our resolve is strong, and when I look into the eyes of my soldiers on the ground they're absolutely determined to complete the mission.

CW: There have been, though, so many losses. Your brigade knew that it would be a tough tour, it has proved to be a tough tour but it seems that the weapon of choice for the Taliban now is improvised explosive
devices, devices that are hard to find, hard to beat. How can you tackle this threat?

BTR: Well since April we've had or we've dealt with 1,220 devices as at this morning, but the untold story is that as well as clearing the devices that are already dug in we're tackling the source of the
problem by targeting key IED facilitators and bomb-making factories. It's not always something that we can talk about openly but we are having real success.

CW: Counterinsurgency, though, will always be something that's difficult, something that may take a long time, and above all
counterinsurgency is something that demands soldiers to go among the people, to talk to Afghans, to be face to face with them, and so people still do need to be on foot patrol. How can you protect them though under those circumstances or how can they protect themselves, British soldiers, when they're out there?

BTR: Well you're right, counterinsurgency operations are about the people and ultimately you can't win consent from behind armour or from the sky. To understand and protect the people you have to be able to
stand beside them, to talk to them and to win their trust.

CW: Brigadier Tim Radford, thank you very much.

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