Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Doing the right things and doing them right
Statement by Lieutenant Colonel Andy Hadfield, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, ahead of today’s repatriation flight to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.
By Lieutenant Colonel Andy Hadfield Commanding Officer 1 MERCIAN
Without doubt this has been a difficult week in Afghanistan, with a number of men losing their lives. But the soldier does not have the freedom to choose where he is sent and what he must do when he gets there. He does however have the freedom to choose to do the right thing and to do it to the very best of his ability, and sometimes this requires that he make the ultimate sacrifice.
With the obvious exception of their loved ones at home, no-one feels the pain of the losses in Afghanistan more than the servicemen and women out here. I read a lot in the media that questions whether the sacrifice is worth it, and whether anything is being achieved through our efforts. The answer is overwhelmingly yes.
Those who have never been in the Armed Forces, or who have never been on the front line, would find the sense of optimism and fortitude amongst the troops humbling, but would simply not understand the motivation that leads men to risk their lives daily for seemingly little reward in pursuit of what some people see as an unachievable goal.
We mourn the loss of our most recent dead, the four men who died assisting the Gereshk City Police, but we know that their efforts were improving the police in preparation for longer term stability and were making that City of 80, 000 people safer. The rest of the team who are left are focused on continuing their work, and have demanded a replacement vehicle and crew to enable them to get out on the ground again. That is the true definition of teamwork, and the meaning of living a life of true purpose. This is the indomitable spirit that sets these men and women apart from much of society back home, and elevates them above those who seek only personal comfort or reward, or those who seek to point ou! t what h as or what may have gone wrong.
The work being done to provide the security for the reconstruction and growth of Afghanistan is being done by the finest men and women that the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth can provide. Most people at home don’t know their names, or have their photos on their wall, but everyone can depend on them. It is due to their commitment and selfless courage that things are improving for ordinary Afghan people, and will continue to do so.
By Lieutenant Colonel Paul James CO 40 Commando Royal Marine
It has been an immensely hard week for 40 Commando, and though we mark the loss of 3 irreplaceable men, we will not break stride. We owe it to the sacrifice these brave Marines have made to remain entirely focused on our mission; to protect the people of Sangin in partnership with the Afghan army - and we shall.
The Taliban cannot win as they offer only violence and intimidation, and the people of Sangin know it. Even in the most pro-Taliban of areas there is only 20% support for their cause. It is slow, hard and often painful but we are making progress here. There are well over twice as many shops in the Sangin bazaar than this time last year and there is irreversible momentum being achieved in the areas of governance and development.
40 Commando remain absolutely resolute. To be morose, to be introspective, and to doubt is to give ground to our enemy. If we are anything other than ruthless in our pursuit we will lose. As Commandos we are familiar with adversity, with the need to endure and to maintain our mental fortitude. We will prevail in Sangin.