News / Europe

British Role in Afghanistan Blasted in Leaked US Cables

In this undated handout photo from Britain's Ministry of Defense made available on July, 31, 2010, Lt. Olly Field, left and Bombadier Matthew Nichols check their kit, after moving into a compound outside Sayedebad, central Helmand, Afghanistan.
In this undated handout photo from Britain's Ministry of Defense made available on July, 31, 2010, Lt. Olly Field, left and Bombadier Matthew Nichols check their kit, after moving into a compound outside Sayedebad, central Helmand, Afghanistan.

According to classified U.S. cables released by the online group WikiLeaks, Britain's operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province was "a mess." The documents show how both American and Afghan officials were unhappy with the job done by British forces in the region.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed that security deteriorated in Helmand province after the arrival of British troops there.  In 2009, the governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that British security efforts in Sangin were inadequate.

And U.S. officials were themselves critical of the British. Former NATO commander Dan McNeill said the British had "made a mess" in Helmand and their tactics "were wrong."

Tim Ripley from the security magazine Jane's Defense Weekly says the animosity displayed towards British forces is no surprise. He says all the international forces in Afghanistan are critical of each other.

"There is definitely a certain disconnect within the international forces and definitely a disconnect between the international forces and the Afghan government," says Ripley. "There are major disagreements about what to do and what are the problems and how to resolve them.  I mean that is not a revelation. it's a statement of the patently obvious," he says.  

Earlier this year, British troops handed security of Sangin district in Helmand to U.S. forces.

At the time, the British commanding officer said British forces had made headway towards bringing peace and stability to Sangin.

On Friday, a spokesperson for Britain's Ministry of Defense told VOA that no comment would be made regarding leaked documents.

Ripley says the leaks highlight the failure of international forces to work together effectively.

"Obviously there is no unified approach to what is going on Afghanistan, which is at the heart of why progress has been so slow in Afghanistan and why there are great doubts about whether the endeavor will actually deliver the results that people hope," he says.

Antonio Giustozzi, an Afghanistan expert at the Crisis States Research Center in London,  
says the leaks are damaging because they undermine the influence of international forces in Afghanistan.

"What is damaging is in the eyes of the Afghan partners because essentially international intervention tends to end up being discredited, in particular, the advice given by the Americans, the British or anybody else," says Giustozzi.  "It is more difficult to advise the Afghans when the international partners contradict each other."

Britain has 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. As of November, 345 British soldiers have died there.

WikiLeaks has over 200,000 private U.S. cables and has been releasing them regularly over the course of the past week.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs