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Thread: Afghanistan war is 'cuckoo', says Blair's favourite general

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    Afghanistan war is 'cuckoo', says Blair's favourite general

    Afghanistan war is 'cuckoo', says Blair's favourite general


    Ned Temko and Mark Townsend
    Sunday October 29, 2006
    The Observer

    Tony Blair's most trusted military commander yesterday branded as 'cuckoo' the way Britain's overstretched army was sent into Afghanistan.

    The remarkable rebuke by General the Lord Guthrie came in an Observer interview, his first since quitting as Chief of the Defence Staff five years ago, in which he made an impassioned plea for more troops, new equipment and more funds for a 'very, very' over-committed army.

    The decision by Guthrie, an experienced Whitehall insider and Blair confidant, to go public is likely to alarm Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence more than the recent public criticism by the current army chief Sir Richard Dannatt. 'Anyone who thought this was going to be a picnic in Afghanistan - anyone who had read any history, anyone who knew the Afghans, or had seen the terrain, anyone who had thought about the Taliban resurgence, anyone who understood what was going on across the border in Baluchistan and Waziristan [should have known] - to launch the British army in with the numbers there are, while we're still going on in Iraq is cuckoo,' Guthrie said.

    In a unprecedented show of scepticism towards Blair, he said the Prime Minister's promise to give the army 'anything it wants' was unrealistic. 'I'm sure he meant what he said. He is not dishonest. But there is no way you can magic up trained Royal Air Force crews, or trained soldiers, quickly. You can't magic up helicopters, because there aren't any helicopters,' said Guthrie, promoted from chief of army staff to become overall head of the military for Blair's first term of office.

    Guthrie said Britain was 'reaping the whirlwind' for assuming too great a 'peace dividend' after the Cold War and risks being ill-equipped for a whole new set of dangers.

    He also cast doubt on suggestions of an early pullout from Iraq, saying that Britain could not afford to leave a 'bloodbath' behind.

    Guthrie's comments will be given even further weight with the publication of a report on Friday by the National Audit Office that is expected to warn that the armed forces are failing to recruit and retain sufficient numbers to deliver the 'required military capability'. The report will echo Guthrie's warning that the armed forces are likely to remain seriously stretched 'for the foreseeable future'.

    Guthrie voiced concern that ministers, civil servants and even some in the military were assuming that 'Afghanistan and Iraq are something we're going to muddle through for another couple of years and then we'll be able to go back' to a period of relative calm. 'I don't see that happening. I think we're in an extremely volatile, dangerous world,' he said. 'It's no good governments saying we're going to keep out of these things. They don't always have the luxury of choice. The type of crisis is actually quite difficult to forecast. But sure enough, we are going to have crises. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that the world is going to settle down in the foreseeable future. We're not going to be allowed to graze in Elysian fields with the sun on our backs.'

    What was needed, he argued, was a fundamental new look at the needs of the British military in the 21st century - as the last strategic defence review, in 1998, had been geared to a dramatically different world. 'What are we actually going to be faced with?' he said. 'A lot has changed and we do actually need more soldiers to actually do the tasks - and new equipment. And we are saddled with some things that it doesn't look awfully likely we're going to use.'

    In Iraq, he said, there were three possible scenarios for British forces. The first would be an immediate pullout and the prospect of civil war. The second was to partition the country, but that would risk the slaughter of minority communities in each of the new states. 'We would have to live with it for ever if we left and they were put to the sword,' he said.

    That left the hope of somehow creating a more loosely 'federated' Iraq - a 'last chance saloon' option, but one which Guthrie felt might still be workable. 'We have to stick with Iraq not least because in international terms the price of failure is far greater than in Afghanistan'. Iraq could cause problems in the region for years, he said, with implications for Jordan and Turkey, as well as for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_ne...934382,00.html
    It could have gone into the War sub forum, but since he is a retired sort of a military man, his comments are basically in the public and political realm and hence here.

    The General is entitled to his view and he maybe right in what he says. However, it took him five years to come out of the woodwork to tell his Gospel truth?

    Does smack of rats deserting the sinking ship.

    Blair may have been the most scheming of politicians, but his choice of confidants appear to be appalling!

    I am aghast to note that why this dissension both in the UK and US now that the so called war is being skewed up, not so much because the soldiers are unfit, but because of stupid policies and lack of foresight that prompted these wars.

    And still the govts muddle along without reassessing the situation and making amends, not by whimpering, but by girding up the loins and applying their military mind to designing their strategic intent and not leaving it to 'wish lists'.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post

    The General is entitled to his view and he maybe right in what he says. However, it took him five years to come out of the woodwork to tell his Gospel truth?
    I dont think that the timing of any of this is accidental. The army is crying out for proper funding and, with Gen Dannatts comments earlier this month, this outcry from the military is to be expected.

    Does smack of rats deserting the sinking ship.

    Blair may have been the most scheming of politicians, but his choice of confidants appear to be appalling!
    We need to be careful over "confidants" in the context of this story. It is probably imaterial to the real debate - although one should remember what happened to Blair's closest confidant at one stage - Mr Brown...
    I am aghast to note that why this dissension both in the UK and US now that the so called war is being skewed up, not so much because the soldiers are unfit, but because of stupid policies and lack of foresight that prompted these wars.
    That's been the worry from the start - getting in was easy, right from the beginning people were asking - how do we get out? There was never a realistic or coherant strategy for this.

    And still the govts muddle along without reassessing the situation and making amends, not by whimpering, but by girding up the loins and applying their military mind to designing their strategic intent and not leaving it to 'wish lists'.
    Not 100% clear on what you mean by this Ray?

    One thing I 100% agree on in the General's statement - we need to have another, long-term defence review. And if we want to continue involving ourselves in extensive, active overseas wars, we need to up the funding to at least 3% of GDP (still below historic, cold war levels).
    Nemo Me Impune Lacessit - Scottish Motto

    "They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion” Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan


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    Quote Originally Posted by PubFather View Post
    I dont think that the timing of any of this is accidental. The army is crying out for proper funding and, with Gen Dannatts comments earlier this month, this outcry from the military is to be expected.
    Not quite the right thing.

    Should have howled the minute he demited office or on the end of the period when the Army Act could apply.

    Not after years as if he were some Rip Van Winkle!

    Not 100% clear on what you mean by this Ray?

    One thing I 100% agree on in the General's statement - we need to have another, long-term defence review. And if we want to continue involving ourselves in extensive, active overseas wars, we need to up the funding to at least 3% of GDP (still below historic, cold war levels).
    I meant that Blair and his Minister have not seen active service and so have no clue about war and its conduct. They thought and think it is similar to the cybergames.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Not quite the right thing.

    Should have howled the minute he demited office or on the end of the period when the Army Act could apply.

    Not after years as if he were some Rip Van Winkle!
    He has chosen his moment, certainly, but perhaps considered it to be a better moment to do so now, when the failures are clearly shown.


    I meant that Blair and his Minister have not seen active service and so have no clue about war and its conduct. They thought and think it is similar to the cybergames.
    Agreed, Blair thought the OIF was his path to a status equivalent to Thatcher, or even Churchill. He has always been over obsessed with his legacy.
    Nemo Me Impune Lacessit - Scottish Motto

    "They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion” Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan


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    You can't magic up helicopters, because there aren't any helicopters,' said Guthrie
    They're certainly trying. The RAF have just taken over the EH-101s destined for the Danes to act as troop carriers (the Danes are keeping those destined for search & rescue). It would have been cheaper to order enough in the first place, but perish the thought that a government should do something sensible...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    They're certainly trying. The RAF have just taken over the EH-101s destined for the Danes to act as troop carriers (the Danes are keeping those destined for search & rescue). It would have been cheaper to order enough in the first place, but perish the thought that a government should do something sensible...

    Sensible? Whatever next! You will be asking them to act responsibly I suppose? Fat chance. These particular leopards are not going to change their spots!!

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    He has chosen his moment, certainly, but perhaps considered it to be a better moment to do so now, when the failures are clearly shown.
    No wonder he did well to become a General.

    Taking action once things were leakproof and he could not be criticised or left holding the can.

    It is these type of leaders who are a bane to the Services. Pliant so long as it is in their self interest and after the perks etc dries up suddenly emerge as the epitome of courage and morality!

    These types infest all armies of the world and they are always the brass!


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    These types infest all armies of the world and they are always the brass!
    What can I tell you, Sir, sh!t floats.

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    The Brigadiers rank, fortunately, is between the Devil (lower ranks) and the Deep Sh1t (General's rank).

    Before you give a comeback, that is why it is not Brigadier General in the Indian or British Army!

    Brigadiers are at the stage of the beginning of the decaying of their spines.
    Last edited by Ray; 30 Oct 06, at 06:14.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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