UK forces in Hel­mand ‘made mess of things’: Wik­iLeaks

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

LONDON: US and Afghan of­fi­cials slammed Bri­tish troops over their ef­forts in the restive Hel­mand prov­ince of Afghanistan, ac­cus­ing them of mak­ing "a mess of things," in ca­bles re­vealed by Wik­iLeaks.

The Guardian news­pa­per Fri­day pub­lished a raft of leaked memos in which se­nior of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, crit­i­cised Bri­tish troops for their in­abil­ity to im­pose se­cu­rity in the south­ern prov­ince.

In a memo sent in April 2007, Gen­eral Dan McNeill, the then com­man­der of NATO forces in Afghanistan, told a US drug-con­trol of­fi­cer that he "was par­tic­u­larly dis­mayed by the Bri­tish ef­fort.

"They had made a mess of things in Hel­mand, their tac­tics were wrong," McNeill said.

In an­other cable, sent Fe­bru­ary 21, 2009, a US of­fi­cial says Karzai said the in­com­pe­tence of Bri­tish troops had led to a break­down in law and or­der in Hel­mand.

"When I first re­turned to Afghanistan, I had only 14 Amer­i­can sol­diers with me," the cable quoted Karzai as say­ing. "Hel­mand was safe for girls to go to school. Now...Bri­tish sol­diers are in Hel­mand, and the peo­ple are not safe. "We must stand on a higher moral plat­form than the bad guys," the pres­i­dent added.

In a sep­a­rate memo, a US of­fi­cial re­ports Karzai as hav­ing told US sen­a­tor John McCain an "anec­dote in which a woman from Hel­mand asked him to 'take the Bri­tish away and give us back the Amer­i­cans'."

An­other damn­ing as­sess­ment of Bri­tish ef­forts was re­vealed in a cable sent De­cem­ber 8, 2008, in which a US of­fi­cial said "we and Karzai agree the Bri­tish are not up to the task of se­cur­ing Hel­mand."

Much of the crit­i­cism lev­elled at the Bri­tish troops re­garded their fail­ure to se­cure the town of San­gin.

A cable sent from Kabul on Jan­uary 14, 2009, re­vealed that Hel­mand gover­nor Gu­lab Man­gal ac­cused the Bri­tish of do­ing too lit­tle to in­ter­act with the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

"Stop call­ing it the San­gin District and start call­ing it the San­gin Base," Man­gal told Bri­tish mil­i­tary chiefs. "All you have done here is built a mil­i­tary camp next to the city."

A cable sent a week later showed that Man­gal told vis­it­ing US Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den that he did not "have any­thing against them (the Bri­tish) but they must leave their bases and en­gage with the peo­ple." Bri­tain's Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day de­fend­ing their troops' con­tri­bu­tion, and said the sit­u­a­tion in Sang­in­re­spon­si­bil­ity for which was handed over to the US in Septem­ber 2010 --was much im­proved. -Afp

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