After this bit of information, The Timesonline produces a disturbing report which would indicate that things just aren't as peachy in Afghanistan as some would have us believe. (Emphasis mine)
SENIOR defence sources have voiced fears that an imminent push by the United States in Afghanistan will force British soldiers to adopt an overly aggressive approach that will damage relations with ordinary Afghans and play into the hands of the Taliban.Hold it! Stop! Stop! Stop!
The extent of “frictions” between US and British commanders are revealed in the latest edition of Pegasus, the journal of the Parachute Regiment, in which an unnamed senior officer accuses the Americans of undermining British strategy during last year’s handover.
British troops had planned to focus on reconstruction to win hearts and minds among the local population, the article states. However, American commanders “forced” them to take part in an offensive.
“The UK taskforce arrived in theatre immediately prior to Operation Mountain Thrust, an offensive operation being planned by the US commander to destroy and defeat the Taliban,” Pegasus says. “Despite our ‘ownership’ of Helmand and our request to conduct ops in ‘the British way’ we were unable to prevent Mountain Thrust occurring. As a result of the threat of unilateral action and in order to ensure our own force protection, UK taskforce’s involvement was forced.”
The article goes on to suggest that Mountain Thrust caused more problems than it solved. “This operation forced a change in the security dynamic in a number of areas across the province and played, to a certain extent, into the hands of the Taliban,” it argues.
“Consequently the operation created a dent in the UK taskforce’s reputation with the local population and meant an indifferent start to the mission.”
If Operation Mountain Thrust was a point of friction between US and British commanders then there had to be a Canadian in the middle of that. The ground commander for Operation Mountain Thrust was none other than Brigadier General David Fraser, Canadian Forces. It would be interesting to know which point of view he supported.
As US Army General Dan McNeil takes over command of Nato forces today, British defence sources fear that the switch will herald tougher tactics. While a number of prominent US commanders have commended “the British approach” to counter-insurgency, the bulk of the US military has tended in both Iraq and Afghanistan to be more aggressive.That shouldn't be too surprising. Look at who and what the US Commander In Chief is. Of course they don't get it.
“There has been a lot of talk with a new counter-insurgency manual they have just issued of a change in the US position, but the truth is they just don’t get it,” a senior British source said.
“You have at all costs to keep the local population on your side or you have no chance of winning.”
Just. Freakin'. Awesome.