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Broke Britain 'can no longer afford role in Afghanistan'

Quote:Broke Britain 'can no longer afford role in Afghanistan'

Cash, not casualties, could be the factor that finally forces a scaling down of military commitment

By Jonathan Owen

British soldiers in Afghanistan are "horribly over-extended" and being killed for "no good reason", a senior military figure admitted last night. He said talks are now under way with US commanders that would pave the way for Britain to begin scaling down its commitment to the war, bringing about a change of emphasis in its deployment.

Britain's 10,000-strong force is suffering "appalling" casualty rates and is set to be given a break from the worst of the fighting, according to the source. "The Americans know the Brits have been giving more than they can afford, and agree that they should be kept out of harm's way as far as possible. But McChrystal [the American commander of international forces in Afghanistan] is keen to have the input of some ground troops and special forces," the source said. "Essentially, the Americans know we are broke and we are getting blokes killed for no good reason. Whatever the MoD says, it absolutely isn't business as usual."

He added: "The problem is that the Afghan troops are not yet ready to take over, and training them up is not something the Afghan government can afford." And the reputation of British forces is suffering. The source told the IoS that one senior figure in the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) had commented recently: "There is no point in sending British troops into places where they need helicopters, because they ain't got 'em."

With the Ministry of Defence facing a £36bn budget black hole over the next decade and savage cuts likely under the defence review, politicians are warning that the war has become financially untenable.

"It is unsustainable for this number of troops to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan for an indefinite period. The forces just aren't large enough, and I know the Secretary of State for Defence is more than aware of this," said the Conservative MP Patrick Mercer.

So far this year, 41 British soldiers have been killed in action and 137 seriously wounded, with hundreds more admitted to hospital.

The US will continue to take on the bulk of the burden in Afghanistan, and the next few months will be a tipping point. Fighting is set to intensify as coalition forces try to retake the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in what commanders are calling the "most difficult and most important" operation since the war began. Their success, or failure, will be crucial in determining whether President Barack Obama carries out his stated intention of reducing US forces from 2011.

Yesterday insurgents made their third major attack on Nato forces within six days, firing at least five rockets into Kandahar air base and launching a ground assault – a rarely employed tactic – on the perimeter fence. Firing continued for several hours.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked a Nato convoy in Kabul, killing six soldiers, and on Wednesday dozens of Taliban militants, some clad in suicide vests, sustained an assault upon Bagram airfield, the main US base in Afghanistan, for eight hours.

A shift in UK government policy was outlined by Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, on Friday, when he said that Britain was not a "global policeman", that he would like to see troops return "as soon as possible", and that Britain needs to "reset expectations and timelines". He added: "We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy of a broken, 13th-century country. We are there to see our global interests are not threatened."

The comments are a clear statement of intent, according to General Sir Hugh Beach, former deputy commander of British land forces. "Words like 'timelines' and 'expectations' – if that isn't a clear message that we're planning to get out early then I don't know what would be."

Lord Bramall, a former chief of the defence staff, said: "I think it is the beginning of the end, but it is a question of how long it takes. The Americans are talking about a review and a possible run-down in about a year. If they start withdrawing, we'll consider we're in the clear to do the same."

But it is premature to talk about withdrawal until there is military success, according to Colonel Bob Stewart. "Once we have mastery of the situation, then we can start thinking about an endgame, but we're not there yet."

Mr Fox, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, arrived in Afghanistan yesterday for talks with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, and General Stanley McChrystal.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Fox clarified his earlier remarks: "What I was pointing out is that the primary reason for sending our armed forces to Afghanistan was one of national security... But, clearly, if we are to make the long-term gains that will provide the stability to maintain the momentum when our armed forces eventually hand over to Afghan forces, we will require a long period of development in concert with the international authorities, the NGOs and our and other countries' aid programmes." He refused to set a timescale, but added: "When you're looking at one of the poorest countries in the world, the help it will require will be over a very long period indeed."

Tension is rising in Afghanistan, with the Taliban stepping up its actions as summer approaches, when fighting reaches its peak. Yesterday Afghan police uncovered a cache of almost 300 rockets outside Kabul.

While military success in Afghanistan remains in the balance, neither Britain nor the US is in control of the two key factors on which ultimate success rests: a reduction in the corruption that plagues President Karzai's regime, and the country's ability to sustain the hundreds of thousands of police and soldiers that will be needed to secure its stability.

Killed in action: 286th British soldier dies in Afghanistan

The latest British soldier killed in action in Afghanistan was last night named as Corporal Stephen Walker. Cpl Walker, 42, was serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines. He was killed on Friday by an explosion while on a foot patrol with the Afghan National Army in Sangin, Helmand province. Cpl Walker, from Exmouth, leaves a wife, a son and a daughter. His wife, Leona, said in a statement: "Steve was passionate, loyal and determined. He enjoyed the role he had in the Marines but he was a family man at heart. Life goes on, but it will never be the same for us." He is the 286th British soldier to have died since the war began in 20

Time for a "false-flag" to keep the money spigot open?
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

Quote:MPs at risk from radical Islamic loners

David Leppard

SCOTLAND YARD is preparing to embark on a wide-raging review of the security of all 650 MPs in light of intelligence that lone Muslim “self-radicalisers” may be targeting politicians.

Well-placed police officials said yesterday that the perceived security problem has now extended across all MPs, with the possibility of an attack by a self-radicalised Islamist extremist now being raised in recent intelligence reporting.

The latest intelligence coincides with growing concern in the Metropolitan police and Whitehall about David Cameron’s decision to jettison much of his personal-protection detail and his insisting on walking around and travelling without motorcycle outriders.

Terrorist “chatter” is said to have spiked recently as the England football team prepare for next month’s World Cup finals in South Africa.

But senior security sources say the real threat is also growing closer to home, with individual politicians among high- profile individuals at risk of being singled out for a shooting or stabbing attack similar to that involving Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker, in 2004.

Richard Kemp, former chairman of Whitehall’s Cobra intelligence committee, said he was aware of information being circulated last week about an attack by a loner.

“This is the sort of tactic which we can expect to see more often. In terms of impact, it’s better to go for a public figure. But it’s a low-level tactic which is much more difficult to detect because there is no requirement for a cell to organise this. So the chances of being able to identify and interdict such an attack are very slim.”

Internet messages by senior Al-Qaeda figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, encourage followers to carry out low-level attacks, advising them to “go out and do what you can”.

Kemp said high-profile figures, not just MPs, were potential targets. He pointed to the case of Van Gogh, who was shot and stabbed to death in broad daylight in Amsterdam by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-born Muslim fanatic of Moroccan descent.

With the threat assessment at “severe” meaning that an attack is highly likely, MI5 has becoming increasingly concerned about the role of so-called self-radicalising loners in future terrorist attacks.

Last year Andrew Ibrahim, a former public-school boy, was found guilty of plotting to carry out a suicide bombing using a vest packed with explosives at a Bristol shopping centre.

He became radicalised after researching on the internet about the lives of people such as Abu Hamza, the hate cleric.

Patrick Mercer, former chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism committee, said the last time MPs were given specific security advice was after an anthrax scare in the wake of the September 11 attacks on America in 2001. “Prevention is always better than cure. Training and awareness of the threat for MPs would not go amiss,” he said.

Particular concern has been raised about the prime minister’s security after it emerged that he had refused police motorcycle outriders and is now walking around Whitehall with just a couple of protection officers visible nearby.

Dai Davies, former head of Scotland Yard’s royalty and diplomatic protection branch, said Cameron’s attitude had caused alarm at the Yard.

“They are tearing their hair out because he’s being totally cavalier about his security. He’s just walking about on the green opposite the Commons with just one or two protection officers by his side. That’s almost an invitation for someone to attack him,” Davies said.

Britain's most successful extortion racket, the State Terror Apparatus, is plainly getting alarmed.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

Quote:David Cameron must take his security more seriously

In dispensing with police outriders Cameron is raising the risk of himself and others being attacked by terrorists and psychopaths

Tom Rogan, Saturday 22 May 2010 10.00 BST

Since taking office as prime minister last week, David Cameron has adopted an illogical attitude towards his personal security. Some high-profile commentators, including Simon Jenkins, have praised Cameron for ridding himself of the "Soviet-style paraphernalia" they believe has too long characterised Westminster.

Their argument is tempting but wrong. The truth is that by removing highly trained police motorcycle outriders from his motorcades, Cameron is placing himself and others at considerable risk. Without motorcycle support to keep routes clear, Cameron's motorcade will, in the inevitable occurrence of London traffic and traffic lights, become a static, vulnerable target.

As the former head of counterterrorism at Scotland Yard, Andy Hayman, told the BBC, allowing a motorcade to stop severely limits both the escape options of the protection team in the event of an incident and endangers members of the public that may be in the vicinity.

The prime minister must take his security more seriously.

At one albeit basic level, labelling protective security measures as Jenkins has, as representative of "institutional extravagance", is understandable. The costs involved in dignitary protection are (as Jenkins points out) significant and siren-blaring motorcades can appear ostentatious. Yet, at a fundamental level, the effective protection of the prime minister is necessary for the secure function of British democracy. No one is asking Cameron to be surrounded by the vast security measures that are, for example, forced on to the US president, but in rejecting long-standing, proven and limited security measures (that both his predecessors accepted), Cameron is placing undue danger on himself, on others and on his office.

The unavoidable reality is that in his public position as prime minister, Cameron is now a potential target for terrorists, fixated individuals and psychopaths.

From two particular wings of violent political extremism the terrorist threat to the prime minister is clear.

The first core threat comes from resurgent Irish dissident groups seeking the destruction of the current peace process. Recent actions like the bombing of MI5's Palace Barracks station, indicate that Irish rejectionist groups still retain the operational knowledge and capability that is required to successfully launch significant attacks. Additionally, the assassination attempt against Lady Thatcher and the successful attack on Lord Mountbatten provide two clear examples of the historical usage by Republican extremist groups of targeted violence against high-profile British officials.

As Gerry Adams stated in the aftermath of the Mountbatten assassination: "The IRA achieved its objective: people started paying attention to what was happening in Ireland." If they believe it serves their strategic interest, terrorists will attack government officials.

The second clear terrorist threat to the prime minister comes from al-Qaida and its extremist allies. As the 2005 attacks on London, the 2006 airline plot and the 2007 car bomb attempts all prove, the UK faces a high level of threat from elements linked to al-Qaida. Adding to the challenge is the fact that al-Qaida's interest in assassinating political leaders is nothing new. In 2002, Tony Blair was the target of a "credible" assassination threat that caused great concern in the security services.

The 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has stated that he financed "surveying and financing" of plots against the former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Further, in 2009, an extremist linked to al-Qaida was given a life sentence in the United States, on charges that he engaged in a conspiracy to assassinate George W Bush.

As if these terrorist-centric dangers don't alone provide warrant for reasonable protection measures, fixated persons, psychopaths and other troubled individuals also traditionally account for a large proportion of threats against political leaders – and threats from these sources must be considered as well.

Spencer Perceval, the only British prime minister ever to be assassinated, was shot by a lone gunman who held a personal grudge against him. John Hinckley, who in 1981 nearly assassinated Ronald Reagan, attacked the president in a delusional attempt to win the "respect and love" of the actress, Jodie Foster. Beyond these two notable examples, there are many more historical cases of personal grievances motivating attacks against political leaders.

Recognising the disparate threat environment, the challenge for protection officers is they must anticipate and protect against both the multi-person terrorist attack and the lone gunman. The natural response to this challenge is the layered protection that the Metropolitan police protection command (along with every other reputable international protective agency) utilise to succeed in their work.

By removing capabilities that are critical for his own security, the prime minister is taking unnecessary risks with himself and with others. Protection is by its very nature intrusive, but it is also an inextricable responsibility involved in holding high political office.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

Quote:Dispute Over France a Factor in Intelligence Rift
Published: May 21, 2010

In recent months, Mr. Blair had also made a push to rein in covert activities carried out by the C.I.A., reflecting his view that the United States had become too enamored over stealth activities.

He even developed rules to guide policy makers before they approved a covert action. Among them were guidelines that covert activity should never be employed “for the purpose of circumventing a lack of U.S. public support for any particular overt policy,” according to one American official.

Officials said that some in the White House and C.I.A. bristled at Mr. Blair’s efforts to exert greater oversight over covert action. The reaction, they said, puzzled Mr. Blair, who had thought he had been given a degree of authority over these activities.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

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