Published Sunday Times 9 November 2014

Christina Lamb’s assessment is absolutely correct. Back in 2006 the British established platoon bases in Helmand that were quickly besieged. These bases were to provide security footprints across the area, but one had an inkling that things were not going entirely to plan when the crews of the Chinook helicopters resupplying them began to be awarded gallantry medals.

What happened to these bases symbolised everything that was wrong. Tactics have to be informed by a strategy, but no credible strategy existed. There was a failure to navigate or harness the local micro-politics and clan system that has been running Afghanistan for centuries. The reliance instead on brute force with little intelligence never had a chance of succeeding.
Patrick Watson, London SW8



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