F******* Beak

F******* Beak

Apparently

Swearing at police is not a crime because officers hear foul language “too frequently” to be offended, a judge has ruled.

Well then let me tell this judge that he is f****** wrong. As Caroline Flint put it

Judge allows appeal on grounds ok to abuse police with f word as it is part of normal banter. If true will this be allowed in courtrooms?

Nobody in the course of their job should have to put up with that sort of behaviour.

Swearing at police is not a crime, judge rules – Telegraph.

…from minute one, hour one, day one – Afghanistan

Can I just remind David Cameron of this pledge made last year and repeated on the Andrew Marr show a week ago:

David Cameron will set up a “war cabinet” to deal with the Afghan conflict if he wins the general election, the Tory leader revealed today.

The select group – comprising top ministers, army chiefs and key intelligence figures – would meet “from minute one, hour one, day one that I walk through the door of Downing Street if I am elected”, Cameron told the Sun as he set out 10 key pledges the Tories would deliver if they formed a government after the next general election.

“Our military is at war in Afghanistan, but quite frankly, Whitehall isn’t,” said Cameron. The Conservative leader – whose election prospects were given a boost when the Sun came out in support of his party this week – said British troops “have to succeed” in the conflict and that sending in more soldiers was the “potential answer”.

I know it will take a few hours to get settled but this is as urgent as the Deficit. Our Armed forces have been under censorship for the past month and many have seemingly forgotten we are fighting a war in Afghanistan. This must now be back on top of the Political Agenda.

I will be holding you to this promise, David, don’t let this country and it’s Armed Forces down

David Cameron pledges to set up ‘war cabinet’ to deal with Afghanistan | Politics | guardian.co.uk.

Gagging the Forces- Britain under Gordon Brown

Can't have them saying this to the British Public. I know I'll just censor it all - Labour bringing you Broken Briatin

The Telegraph tells us The Ministry of Defence has been accused of ordering a “truth blackout” over the war in Afghanistan amid warnings it is attempting to “bury bad news” during the election campaign.

British journalists and TV crews are to be banned from the Afghan front line once a date for the election has been set, while senior officers will be prohibited from making public speeches and talking to reporters.

MoD websites will also be “cleansed” of any “non-factual” material including anything containing troops’ opinions of the war, according to a memo leaked to The Daily Telegraph.

Thankfully there is a free world out there and we can look to other countries and other countries reporters for the real facts. I would suggest reading Michael Yon and subscribing to to his Facebook and Twitter Feeds.

Some Quotes from the article

“Given the recent visit of the Prime Minister, this is a bad joke,” he said. “There is clearly one rule for Gordon Brown, when he wants to use the armed forces as political props, and another for reporters who want to tell the public what is being done in their name.

“It’s a truth blackout. Nothing, especially the truth, is to stand in the way in Brown’s election. Our armed forces can fight and die, but not write or speak. Any critics of the Government are to be banned from having any contact with the press. This is the grotesque endgame of New Labour. They want to bury bad news and bury the truth.”

Colonel Douglas Young, chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation, expressed “surprise” at the decision.

“It didn’t happen in 1945 – there was no question of limiting reporting at that time simply because an election was happening and I don’t see why there should be any questions of that now. Are we to stop operations during this period? Obviously not, and if operations are in process they should be reported upon in the normal way.

“It is ridiculous to expect the forces to be hiding away just because there’s a general election.”

Cdr John Muxworthy, chief executive of the UK National Defence Association, said: “To put a situation in place where the press is effectively going to be gagged, so it is not going to possible for people to see the real news from the front line, is incredible.

“Afghanistan is not a political issue – it’s a matter of national importance,” he added.

Col Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: “It is wrong to gag the media, which is what this is. This is a critical campaign and the public have a right to be told what is happening.

“It is also wrong to prevent senior officers speaking.”

You have been warned Labour has Broken Britain

Vote for Change.

Army faces Afghan gag for election – Telegraph.

Vectors of Death – They Lie and Deceive

Vector is based on a 6 x 6 Pinzgauer chassis and is a Light Protected Patrol vehicle developed for 8-hour patrol missions over varying terrain.

Richard North has picked up on yet another sneaky bit of censorship or as he more aptly describes it lies and deceit. It appears that  the RAF Regiment Senior Aircraftman  Marcin Wojtak who was killed on Thursday 1st October whilst “commanding his vehicle” was actually in a  Vector Armoured vehicle.  As Richard says:

These “killer machines” were supposed to have been withdrawn. We all thought they had been. In fact, we had an announcement in May that the Vector was to be withdrawn from operations in Afghanistan.

Obviously they haven’t been withdrawn and despite the assurances of John Hutton, the then defence minister, they have continued in use, albeit in what was supposed to “safe” regions. When will the Military and MOD learn there are no safe area in this type of War, I thought it was bad enough to learn that the Taliban had managed to plant an IED near Bastion but to learn the patrol was using what can only be described as an “inadequate” vehicle is beyond belief.

This waste of young lives is truly stupid and defies the thought that we have smart people running the war in Afghanistan. If they can’t do better than this then we should not be fighting this type of war.

Read more on this at Defence of the Realm

Defence of the Realm: They lie and deceive.

Censorship and Propaganda, Hogwash and Bullshit

The normally quite peaceful Michael Yon has a real go at British Media OPs in Afghanistan and their erstwhile lickspittle leader Bob Ainsworth.  It shows the lengths that some within the MOD are going to cover-up some parts of the war in Afghanistan. The problem is that the truth hurts, but lies destroy. Without truth we cannot ever hope to defeat the enemy.

Michael starts out

The surprise discontinuation of my embedment from the British Army left my schedule in a train wreck.  Until that decisive moment, I am told, that my embed with the British Army had lasted longer than anyone else’s; other than Ross Kemp’s.  I’ve also been told that I’ve spent more time with the British Army in Iraq than any correspondent.  So it’s fair to say, we have good history together.

In the last 12 months, I’ve been the assigned journalist to the British Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, then over to the jungles of Brunei to attend a man-tracking school, and again back in Afghanistan.  During that time, I’ve also been with U.S. forces in Iraq, the Philippines, and Afghanistan.  I’ve accompanied the Lithuanians in Afghanistan and also been downrange for months without any troops or official assignment.

This dispatch, and many others, should have been about soldiers at war. But it’s not.  This dispatch is being written in downtown Kandahar City and I have not seen a soldier in days.  The Taliban is slowing winning this city.  There have been many bombings and shootings since I arrived in disguise.

But the real meat of the story is further into the article. Here are some selected quotes

Before going further, it is essential to underscore the importance of the “Media Ops” in the war. When Media Ops fails to help correspondents report from the front, the public misses necessary information to make informed decisions about the war. Many soldiers in the British Media Ops are true professionals who strive constantly to improve at their tasks and work very well with correspondents.  Their professionalism and understanding of the larger mission—ultimate victory—provide an invaluable service to the war effort.

This very Major had earned a foul reputation among his own kind for spending too much time on his Facebook page. I personally saw him being gratuitously rude to correspondents.  Some correspondents—all were British—complained to me that when they wanted to interview senior British officers, they were told by this Major to submit written questions.  The Major said they would receive videotaped answers that they could edit as if they were talking with the interviewee.  (Presumably, senior British officers are avoiding the tough questions, such as, “So, when do you plan to send enough helicopters?”)

When I asked a different Media Ops officer about meeting with a senior British General in Afghanistan, I was told that submitting a CV (curriculum vitae) would be helpful, to which I laughed.  A CV?  How about this:

Contrast this

For those who don’t know him, James Megellas is a retired U.S. Army officer who commanded Company “H” of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.  Maggie is the most-decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division, having received a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, and been nominated for the Medal of Honor.  Maggie at 92 and is an extraordinary man.  He can give an eloquent speech for an hour without a single written note.

He has spent a couple months in Afghanistan—in the worst places—and I plan to go back with him in December.  He’s a true leader and a wise man, known to General McChrystal and General Petraeus. General Petraeus told me last week that CENTCOM had okayed Maggie’s trip to Afghanistan.  Maggie is an American treasure.  Last week in the Netherlands, “Maggie” was spending time General Petraeus and with European royalty, including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.  General Petraeus and World War II veterans stayed several days at the same hotel Maggie and I were in.

In Holland, folks were lining up to honor and pay tribute to our World War II veterans and General Petraeus.  I didn’t want to distract General Petraeus with any questions while he was so busy.  But on about the third day, there was a tap on my shoulder and I was told that General Petraeus had some time if I wanted to talk.

I asked the good General some tough questions on Afghanistan—the kind that would end discussions with timid people—yet, like normal, he fielded those questions with the candor that I so respect in him and have come to expect. The same has happened to me with the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and other top military leaders.  Gates and Petraeus will field challenging, difficult questions and will take what you throw at them.  Yet the British Media Ops in Afghanistan wants correspondents to submit written questions so they can provide tidy answers.  That’s a sad joke and there are many correspondents, including me, who are not laughing.

With this

When I deliver good news, out rolls the red carpet.  Bad news, and it’s time to fight again.  Only now it’s not Censoring Iraq, it’s Censoring Helmand.  And it’s not the U.S. doing it this time, but the British government.  The British people are demanding truth and they deserve accountability.  They aren’t getting it from Camp Bastion.

Some of the Media Ops guys in Afghanistan are good at something such as threatening future access if a correspondent shows “attitude” about being poorly treated.  My answer is go to hell. They can take their access and. . . .   I work for the soldiers, for the readers, and for the people in general.  If Media Ops chooses to be an obstacle, that is their choice.

Propaganda or Censorship?

Some of the smokescreens are less important but they are demonstrative of the pattern: On 20 August a, CH-47 helicopter was shot down by a Taliban RPG during a British Special Forces mission.  Richardson reported that the aircraft landed due to an engine fire.  Some hours later, while I was on a mission nearby, the Taliban were singing over the radios about shooting it down.  I heard the rumble when the helicopter was destroyed by airstrikes.  The Taliban knew they hit the helicopter.  So who is Richardson lying to?  Not the enemy…unless the enemy is the British public.

Consequences?

There is the maxim that a customer can judge the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen by the restroom.  After much experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have discovered another: Soldiers always treat correspondents they way they treat the local people.  When soldiers treat correspondents badly, they treat local people even worse and are creating enemies.  Those troops who brag about how they mistreat or detest correspondents are abusing and resentful of the local population, and they cannot win this sort of war.  The people will kill them and the media will bash them and they will blame the people and the media.  When a soldier alienates sympathetic correspondents, he has no real chance against mortal enemies such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, and they will defeat him.  Yet there is subtlety: for “the people,” in the case of Media Ops, is you.

Hogwash time

Meanwhile, as I noted British citizens began demanding answers from their government.

A question was asked and Minister of Defence Bob Ainsworth made public his reply:

Ann Winterton (Congleton, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defense for what reasons the journalist Michael Yon is no longer embedded with British armed forces in Afghanistan.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 14 September 2009, c2121W)

Bob Ainsworth (Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence; Coventry North East, Labour)

Opportunities to embed with Task Force Helmand are in high demand from across the media—national, regional, print, broadcast, specialist and new media. It is not possible to meet all requests and slots must be time-limited to ensure that the opportunities are shared as widely as possible. A normal embed for a national news organisation will last on average around two to three weeks, including time for travel.

Michael Yon had been embedded with British forces on a number of occasions before his recent visit—twice in Iraq in 2007, and once in Afghanistan in 2008. His latest embed had been scheduled to last for two weeks but it was extended to take account of delays to his arrival.

In all, his stay was extended twice and he was embedded for five weeks—much longer than is normally the case, and longer than had been agreed with him before he went. He was facilitated by British forces in a number of locations and given a high level of access both to the operations and to our personnel. At the end of this five-week period Task Force Helmand ended his embed as they were no longer able to support it given their other commitments, including other media visits.

That’s hogwash, Mr. Ainsworth. Pure hogwash!

Conclusion

My relationship with the British military is not diminished and I would go into combat with their soldiers anytime.  My respect for British soldiers is immense and undying.  But I’m ready to throw down with Media Ops if they even glance in my direction.  I refuse to work with the crew at Camp Bastion.

It’s hard to forget the Major’s cutting insults at the soldier who was training in the heat as a commendable young man.  Any combat troop, whether they are pilots, PJs, sailors, special operations, or my favorite—the infantry—should never be the subject of jokes or derision from any military leader of any rank.  The infantry soldiers are out there living like animals, taking bullets and getting blown up and, all while the Major sits back in his comfortable tent, playing on Facebook and watching The Simpsons. Those combat troops, British and American, are my family. That Major and his ilk should not cut fun of them.

Bottom line for the bad apples: Nobody is asking for access.  This is not a game.  Stay out of the way.

Bullshit Bob.

Afghanistan: Propaganda and Censorship

What are you holding Kate?

Before we get to the serious bit, what is Kate holding?

So instead of getting proper reports from someone being embedded with our Forces we are to get newsreader Kate Silverton telling us about her travels to and from Afghanistan.

Contrast this with the type of reports we get from Afghanistan from the likes of Michael Yon such as this on the work of the “Pedros”.

As Michael said in a recent tweet

Hogwash: Bob Ainsworth on my recent problems with MoD: http://bit.ly/12HkwA

The link above refers to this question asked in the House of Commons:

Ann Winterton (Congleton, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the journalist Michael Yon is no longer embedded with British armed forces in Afghanistan.

Bob Ainsworth (Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence; Coventry North East, Labour)

Opportunities to embed with Task Force Helmand are in high demand from across the media—national, regional, print, broadcast, specialist and new media. It is not possible to meet all requests and slots must be time-limited to ensure that the opportunities are shared as widely as possible. A normal embed for a national news organisation will last on average around two to three weeks, including time for travel.

Michael Yon had been embedded with British forces on a number of occasions before his recent visit—twice in Iraq in 2007, and once in Afghanistan in 2008. His latest embed had been scheduled to last for two weeks but it was extended to take account of delays to his arrival.

In all, his stay was extended twice and he was embedded for five weeks—much longer than is normally the case, and longer than had been agreed with him before he went. He was facilitated by British forces in a number of locations and given a high level of access both to the operations and to our personnel. At the end of this five-week period Task Force Helmand ended his embed as they were no longer able to support it given their other commitments, including other media visits.

This is Censorship and Propaganda all rolled into one. Until we spell out the true story of what is on-going in Afghanistan, we cannot hope to get the public behind our war on the Taliban.

Helmand Blog – Afghanistan: BBC newsreader Kate Silverton makes a journey to the Afghan frontline.

Farrell: Negotiate or Rescue, Censorship or Free Press

The Times had two stories, here and here, last night on the rescue of Stephen Farrell, journalist for the New York Times and the deaths of his translator, a member of the UK Special Forces and two Afghan Civilians.

Both articles make but a passing mention of the sad deaths, but look more at how we can apportion “blame” for the rescue. The Times also mentions that the Taliban were also on the receiving end of a large hit as it says:

A Taleban commander said that 48 of his men were killed in the raid, in which at least one civilian also died.

The Times tells us in the headlines of the first article that Gordon Brown ordered the raid when in fact as they immediately say in  the article:

Gordon Brown approved a mission to rescue the British journalist Stephen Farrell in which a member of the Special Forces was killed this morning, The Times has learnt.

In other words he rubber stamped a decision that had already been made by local commanders. It is unlikely that Gordon Brown or his ministers would veto a decision like this which would have been presented to them by senior commanders. Given the reported deaths of 48 Taliban it seems like the mission must have had considerable risks.

According to the first article Mr Farrell had travelled to the area despite warnings that it could be dangerous:

Police had warned reporters who travelled to the capital of Kunduz that the village in question was controlled by the Taleban and it would be dangerous to go there.

Whether or not it was a good idea to travel to the area is a mute point but we as the public are always demanding on the spot reporting so we must take some blame for the fact Mr Farrell was in a danger area.

According to the first article in the Times:

Efforts had been under way to negotiate both men’s release. Moen Marastial, an MP from the province, said: “We held a shura [council] on Sunday with 250 people to discuss the kidnapping and we asked people with links to the Taleban to send them a message.

“The men who kidnapped the journalists handed them over to a senior commander called Mullah Salaam. He sent us a message saying the men would be released, but that he was waiting for an order from his bosses. The deadline was yesterday.”

I assume that this information would have been available before the raid was ordered and that the likely outcome of the negotiations had been factored into the raid risks.

The second article in the Times, here, expresses shock by the negotiators (It doesn’t say who these “negotiators” are)

Hostage negotiators expressed shock and anger at Gordon Brown’s decision to approve a commando raid to free a kidnapped British journalist, saying that they were within days of securing his release through peaceful means.

According to the Times article there were no guarantees that a negotiated deal would have led to Mr Farrell’s release and that there were fears he could be moved. However, several sources in Kabul said that the captors were, at worst, seeking a ransom. A Western Official is quoted as saying

“It was totally heavy-handed. If they’d showed a bit of patience and respect they could have got both of them out without firing a bullet. Instead, they ended up having one of their own killed, the Afghan killed and civilians killed. There’s a lot of p****d-off people at the moment.”

Again no names are mentioned. The Times also goes onto say the Interior Minister had persuaded 300 local elders to intercede with the kidnappers, saying that the hostages were just journalists doing their job. Mr Mudani’s uncle had apparently also established communications with the provincial Taleban commander. An Afghan who spoke with the local commander said: “I think we could have got them out peacefully, maybe in a few days.”

UPDATE: According to the NY Times the Taliban were about to move their hostages:

Britain ordered a predawn commando raid in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday to rescue a British reporter for The New York Times and his Afghan interpreter after Afghan agents learned that the Taliban was planning to move the hostages into Pakistan, a senior Afghan official said Wednesday.

A senior Afghan official and Mr. Farrell described a situation where after two days in captivity, the hostages’ situation turned more menacing. They said it seemed likely that Taliban leaders from outside the immediate district in Kunduz Province were planning to move the captives across the border into neighboring Pakistan, largely outside the reach of NATO forces.

While Mr. Farrell said he was treated well — given food, water and blankets and never harmed — the militants increasingly taunted Mr. Munadi. At one point one of the Taliban reminded Mr. Munadi of a case two years ago in which an Italian journalist taken hostage in Helmand Province was freed while his Afghan translator was beheaded.

“I did not think they were going to kill me,” Mr. Farrell said Wednesday in a telephone interview from the British Embassy in Kabul. “I did think they were going to kill him.”

Update 2: AP is reporting that the newly formed Media Club of Afghanistan has this say:

The newly formed Media Club of Afghanistan — a group of Afghan reporters who work with international news outlets — also condemned the Taliban for abducting both men last week in northern Afghanistan as they investigated reports of civilian deaths in a German-ordered airstrike.

Local journalists laid flowers Thursday at the grave of reporter and translator Sultan Munadi in Kabul. Munadi, 34, was killed by gunfire during a British commando raid Wednesday to free him and New York Times writer Stephen Farrell.

At Thursday’s ceremony, the group issued a statement holding international forces responsible for launching a military operation to free the journalists without exhausting nonviolent channels.

The statement also said it was “inhumane” for the British forces to rescue Farrell, who has dual British-Irish nationality, and also retrieve the body of the commando killed in the raid while leaving behind Munadi’s body.

Fazul Rahim, an Afghan producer for CBS News, said the foreign forces’ actions showed a lack of respect.

“It shows a double standard between a foreign life and an Afghan life,” he said.

Munadi’s body was retrieved Wednesday afternoon through intermediaries and brought to Kabul.

It’s difficult to guess from here what the correct decision was and how much intelligence the commanders on the ground were getting and how accurate it was, but with the large number of Taliban reported killed in the operation you have to think this may have been a risky decision. It is also difficult to say whether or not they should have retrieved Mr Munadi’s body and this may have depended upon the danger it would have presented.

Update:  From the NY Times article it appears they may have had clear intelligence of  a likely move or danger to  Mr Munadi.

Perhaps it was still part of our “cracking on”  attitude that made us go in, perhaps we had intelligence that suggested he was to be moved or worse, we are unlikely to know for a while.

In the meantime we also have to think whether or not is was a good idea to even think about rescuing the Mr Farrell, he had been told it was a dodgy area and we have to think he ignored the don’t travel advice. As the Dundee Wifey Subrosa says:

Should our military be used to rescue journalists who wander into life-threatening situations in an effort to create some authenticity to their reporting?
To quote Richard North again: ‘Small recognition will be given to the member of the special forces who died for his freedom, the man, as is the convention, will not even be named.’ The American press don’t even acknowledge the commando was British.
Our SAS troops are perhaps the best in the world. To use them to rescue a journalist who gets himself into a predicament, which he should have perhaps foreseen, is questionable.

It’s a question that needs balance against the demand and indeed requirement for accurate and not “censored” reporting that we often see from Afghanistan.

We also need to remember that we can’t keep giving the Taliban victories such as the Kunduz tanker affair and journalists being kidnapped in what should, we have been led to believe,  be one of the safer parts of Afghanistan, if there are any now. The reports of bombing in Kabul, bombs at Camp Bastion and the attacks in other cities make me to believe that the Taliban are starting a new “front” in their battle and that they are gaining in confidence across the whole of Afghanistan.

Negotiators shocked by special forces rescue raid on Taleban – Times Online.

The terrible price that is paid by the forgotten casualties of war

It appears that very slowly the MSM is cottoning onto the fact that the true cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is that much more than just the deaths of the members of our armed forces.  Jonathan Foreman’s article in the Spectator is a point in case.

I’ll not argue with any of the points he makes in the article as most of them are generally true and his opening gambit is certainly true when he says

… that the focus upon the death toll in the Afghan conflict obscures the high numbers of soldiers who have suffered catastrophic wounds — and the scandalously inadequate compensation they have been offered once home in a land unfit for such heroes

It is not easy to measure success and failure in counter-insurgency warfare. Modern military establishments have all sorts of ‘metrics’, as they call statistics, but the politicians and the general public tend to focus on one measure alone: fatalities, and our fatalities at that. The deaths in Afghanistan of other Allied forces rarely make the headlines (though the loss of ten French troops in a single 2008 ambush did reach the front pages), and numbers of enemy dead are rarely mentioned at all.

Now none of this should be a stranger to you if you read this blog or the many others that have been highlighting this for more than a few years now, but it appears from the comments on the article that many intelligent people are only just finding out about this.

Whose fault is this, well in many cases it is our government and the MOD who have for years been hiding all the bad news of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the news they release is focused upon giving an impression of how well things are going and how heroic our struggles are even when it comes to the deaths of members of our Armed Forces. It is blatant propaganda and censorship by omission as I pointed out yesterday.

Deaths are focused upon as if they are a matter of pride rather than an admission of our failure to end these wars, but hiding underneath the statistics is the true cost of war and its impact on all the armed forces fighting in Afghanistan.

Let’s look very briefly at a little story hiding away yesterday about a new company being formed by the Royal Marines.

‘H’ Company – named after former marine and Cockleshell Hero, Blondie Hasler – will be based at HMS Drake at Devonport Naval Base from Monday. It will be unique in that it will act as a vehicle to help the marines recover, rehabilitate and reintegrate either back into full military life, or back to civilian life. Major Pete Curtis, Officer Commanding H Company, said it is the first Royal Marine company to be launched in “decades” and described it as an “historic” event. He said the company is being formed as a direct result of an increase in the number of injured military personnel in Afghanistan.

Apparently an MOD spokesman said

“It gives the casualty a new and real sense of belonging – a concept that has been proven to give greater results, mentally and physically.”

So we are describing as “historic” the formation of this company, as if it a truly wonderful event, rather than being a sad result of the extent of injuries happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and hidden away in the text is this message

From Monday the company will begin recruiting injured marines. Maj Curtis expects to have 15 to 20 members of the company by October. He said he expects the company to “grow” as Britain fulfils its commitment to bringing stability to Afghanistan.

The hidden text here is that we are expecting many more wounded in Afghanistan but it is obfusticated  by the subtle use of the word “grow”.

But back to the article and it’s conclusion when Jonathan Foreman says

If you are not serious about war, then you have no business sending troops into battle. Moreover you are likely to lose.

This is a statement that is only just beginning to penetrate the MSM, as they start to understand that we have been sadly playing at war in Afghanistan since 2001 and the repercussions have only just begun to show over the past 2-3 years.

The MSM need to understand that they also have been playing at reporting in Afghanistan, for too long they have been happy to play along with press releases from the MOD and government, rather than looking behind these headlines for the real stories of what is happening. They need to start doing some Journalism rather  than just  scanning their RSS feeds from the MOD.

The terrible price that is paid by the forgotten casualties of war | The Spectator.

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/COMPANY-HEROES/article-1302273-detail/article.html

The Enemy is close to Home

Corporal Paul Mather

In this article the MOD shows how  bravely our  forces are fighting, despite injuries and setbacks they still finish the attack on the Taliban.

But what is revealed early on in this story of bravery, is that the enemy, despite all the bigging-up  about Operation Panthers Claw and it’s follow-ons, are still in place and operating with disdain close to our bases. In the article the MOD reports:

Corporal Paul Mather from the Army Air Corps was on patrol with 2nd Battalion The Rifles alongside elements of the Afghan National Army when they found an old Russian-style anti-tank mine on the north-western side of a group of compounds, no more than 500m from the Forward Operating Base that they were returning to.

Following the discovery the platoon took up defensive positions as experts dealt with the device. Cpl Mather’s role as a Forward Air Controller was crucial in co-ordinating air support to protect the troops on the ground.

Speaking later, Cpl Mather explained what happened:

“I was speaking to a pair of A-10 jets [United States Air Force operated aircraft] at this time and I had them scanning the area around us looking for any threats to the patrol.

“It was then that an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] came over the wall and hit a soldier on the back of his rucksack. It bounced off and landed on the floor in the middle of the patrol. I heard a massive shout of ‘RPG’ from the Platoon Sergeant and everybody dived into available cover.”

Lance Corporal Sally Clarke
Lance Corporal Sally Clarke

This incident is also covered as another good news story in the Telegraph as they report on the work of Medic Lance Corporal Sally Clarke in treating the wounded despite being injured herself . the Telegraph has this:

She and her colleagues from the 2nd Battalion the Rifles were on patrol south of Sangin, Helmand province, when one discovered an anti-tank mine. While they waited for experts to deal with the mine, they came under fire from insurgents, who shot a rocket-propelled grenade over a wall. It struck one of the soldiers on the back of his rucksack before landing in the middle of the patrol. The soldiers dived for cover as the device exploded three times. When L/Cpl Clarke got up, she realised that shrapnel from the grenade had become lodged in her back and shoulder. However, she saw that seven other soldiers had been injured and immediately began working. She later said: “I couldn’t leave them when they didn’t have any spare medics, and my injuries weren’t that bad.” Corporal Paul Mather, 28, was most seriously hit and had large wounds to his legs and buttocks. L/Cpl Clarke said: “He had taken wounds to his left bicep and had very bad shrapnel wounds across the lower part of his body. “One of the pieces of shrapnel had torn a fist-sized hole through his skin. I applied field dressings and a tourniquet to one of his wounds, while we waited for the Medical Emergency Response Team to arrive.”

So here are our forces in Sangin,  perhaps somewhere near to FOB Jackson being under attack, probably as close or closer as your local papershop. What does this say about the effectiveness of our strategies.

This area is basically a hell-hole at the moment and it appears that August’ s operations have had little or no effect on the Taliban.

And yet out of this single incident, in which our forces sustained seven casualties we have had manufactured by the MOD two good news stories.

What does this say about how the war is going in Afghanistan? It is not true censorship but it is propaganda and when we have to start fighting a propaganda war then we are losing the real war.

So now we may have two enemies and both of them are close to our or our armed forces  homes, one is the straightforward enemy force and the other is the insidious enemy of propaganda. We need to ensure that we defeat both of these and bring back reality to the situation in Afghanistan.

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Military Operations | Badly injured soldier directs American air strike.