Sunday, 21 June 2009

Dying is what soldiers do, isn't it?

On a different note, there is a report in today's Telegraph of an essay by an army officer which identifies, I think, one of the points which ought to be made about Afghanistan before we pour in any more resources:
"Self-protection has become the main tactic, reinforced by air strikes that can backfire and undermine the campaign.

"Even as the Army renders itself more and more immobile with heavier vehicles and infantrymen weighing as much as a medieval knight, still the fantasy of the "manoeuvrist approach is peddled in staff courses. [...] The reason for all this is clear – zero casualties has become the tacit assumption behind operations. [...] The point of going to war is not to then save ministerial discomfort by avoiding casualties and buttering the media. Wars cost lives and the media better get used to it. The British people understand this. They are far tougher than a worried government PR man imagines."

Every time the news media announce that a casualty is "the nth soldier" to die in Afghanistan, they reinforce the idea that fighting must never involve being killed - that the chief object of military operations is to keep casualties to a minimum.

Actually, if you want zero casualties, at least in the short term, don't go to war.

John Richardson

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