Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I have just read with disbelief of an incident in Afghanistan which makes my even angrier than usual when reading of the UK’s involvement in that country.

Three British soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier while on joint patrol in southern Helmand. This is not the first time have NATO trained Afghan personnel turned their weapons on British soldiers. In November last year 5 of our soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier in a training base. The President of Afghanistan, Mr Karzai has written to the Prime Minister to apologise.

As an aside, once again it raises questions about how much infiltration of the Afghan army there has been by the Taliban. Clearly, I suspect, a great deal. The truth of the matter is that the Afghan president, a former employee of ex-Vice President Cheney of America, is happy to have the forces of NATO in his country, but we should not necessarily infer from that that he carries the population with him. After all, despite our claims that we are there to bring democracy to the country we all know that Mr Karzai was only elected President of the country by a rigged election process, to which we have given our tacit approval, thereby implicating us in the corruption.

That we have lost another three of our lads and, according to the Telegraph’s reporting of the story, another two injured, is sickening enough. But what I find completely unbelievable is that this story is in the press, and not just the Telegraph, but I see it features in The Guardian and The Mail and the BBC too, and at the time of writing, the families had not been informed. The Telegraph actually carried the line: The families of the soldiers involved in the incident are being informed, but anyone worried about relatives serving in Afghanistan can call a special helpline on 08457 800 900, as if it were some minor incident.

For heaven’s sake surely, even in the dog eat dog world of competitive journalism, we should be able to agree as human beings rather than journalists, that not a world of deaths or injuries of lads putting their lives on the line in the forces should be reported by the press until immediate families have been informed and time for more distant members to be contacted. The newspapers involved should hang their head in shame (credit here to the Scottish papers and the Independent); and someone at the Ministry of Defence (preferably the secretary of state) should be hung out to dry over it*.

Can you just imagine how unthinkably awful it must be for someone to read this online and dial that number with shaking fingers, possibly to be held in a queue..... ?

I know that many of us do not approve of this war, but it is not the fault of the lads or even their most senior officers that we are fighting it. It was a decision taken by government and approved in parliament by a majority of members. So no matter how disapproving we are of it, let’s treat the people at the sharp end and their families with more respect.

* It did occur to me that I was criticising newspapers using this story before the families had been informed, and yet drawing attention to it myself on this blog, and that that was perhaps a little of hypocritical. The penetration of this blog, however, is so minute in comparison to the newspapers and the BBC, that I decided that that was probably paranoia more than instinctive decency.


  1. They are Ghurkas ... which means there is probably some difficulty in contacting all the NOK. But once news of such an incident breaks, it is impossible to supress it, so you have to manage the release and minimise the damage. Generally, management of casualty announcements is well handled ... by the MoD and the media. Give them a break!

  2. Our troops should be brought home and all those for this war should be sent over to fight it themselves starting with Blair and all the MPs who voted for it and all their supporters in the press and media etc.

    See how big and tough these people would be then if they had to do the fighting.

  3. Thanks for the information Richard.

    It's very true that they usually handle it well and these are exceptional circumstances. Mind it might have been foreseen that a Ghurkha would be killed.

    There used to be things called D Notices which stopped the press disseminating sensitive information. This might have been an occasion to use one.

    God knows there is enough staff in the MoD to manage.

  4. Billy:
    Couldn't agree more. These men and women are so ready to send others to their death but don't want to be at the sharp end.

    I'd pay good money to see that chiselling bigot Fox in a fox hole under fire for hours at a time. Oh what joy that would bring... sitting next to Aintworth, Hoon, Reid, et al.

    Then they should all be tried in The Hague and then taken out and shot.

  5. Karzai started the rumoursJuly 13, 2010 10:57 pm


    The reason for the early release of the story is that the corrupt Karzai held a news conference this morning and told all the journalists what had happened. This fuelled rumours all day mostly spread by the BBC who went large on the story. Radio 5 Live was the worst. Derbyshire getting the story all mixed up before announcing what had happened and getting it wrong again. God knows what the relatives thought of it all. The BBC should hang it's head in shame. But won't.

  6. Karsai:

    Thanks for that information. That man is such a ... nope, I can't say it: my mum reads this. But he is anyway. And the BBC is beneath contempt. (When is the 25% recuction in expenditure, because we are all in this together, going to happen there?)

    Get the bloody troops out now Cameron and that half witted bigot of a defence secretary.

  7. Karzai started the rumoursJuly 14, 2010 9:48 am


    Yes we should get the troops out now before more die pointlessly.
    I notice the 'redeployment' out of Sangin is being better managed than the 'redeployment' out of Basra in Iraq. When we retreated from Basra we left the US in the lurch. Straight into a battle with the insurgents without their usual infrastructure ( hundreds of helicopters, troops and reinforced bases ). The US now know we're unreliable so are setting up their bases and infrastructure in Sangin while we do our 'patrols' in the area and get used as cannon fodder to keep the 'insurgents' busy.

  8. Yes. Brave and good though the guys on the ground are, the organization have been hopelessly inadequate.

    The MoD is over staffed and over stuffed. 50% reduction in typists with white finger wuld be a good idea.