07 November 2009

Murmuring generals

Well, that didn't take long.  No sooner had Brown finished his little speech, up pop three ex-generals to give their considered judgement on how the Prime Minister is conducting himself towards the armed forces.

Lord Boyce, Chief of the Defence Staff between 2001 and 2003, said:

It is too much to hope that the present government will provide the necessary cash to allow its aspirations to be realised properly or honourably.

Government does not realise we are at war.

Lord Guthrie, who proceeded Lord Boyce:

I do think that military services, the people in the front line, are questioning whether the government is really, really committed to making progress in Afghanistan.

Lord Inge, who proceeded Lord Guthrie:

They [armed forces] have felt he [Brown] has never really been on their side and they have not had his support.

Nor is the present Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, together with the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, that happy with the Prime Minister. 

The Times has conveniently obtained a copy of report where they state we are in Afghanistan for the long haul:

Planning within Defence should be based on the assumption of a rolling three-year military commitment to Afghanistan, reviewed annually.

Their unequivocal statement of commitment appeared out of step with a more conditional speech on Afghanistan given by Gordon Brown yesterday.

This confusion lead Downing Street to issue a clarifying statement:

Mr Brown’s words did not mean that British troops would be withdrawn if Mr Karzai failed.

So, there we have it.  Our troops will be there for some years unless Obama decides otherwise.

Short-term tactical Brown was just attempting to buy time and appease public opinion.  As with so much else, he failed.

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