Rohit Kumar's Views

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Fighting

UK Army chief: How Blair and Brown betrayed our troops

leave a comment »

Telegraph.co.uk

The former head of the Army accuses Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of badly letting down the Armed Forces during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

UK_Army.JPG

In a damning verdict, General Sir Richard Dannatt accuses Mr Brown of being a “malign” influence by failing to honour guarantees on defence spending during his time at the Treasury, and charges Mr Blair with lacking “moral courage” for failing to overrule his chancellor.

Gen Dannatt’s book, Leading from the Front, which begins its serialisation in The Sunday Telegraph today, is the first major public critique of the Blair/Brown administration by a senior outside figure who served under both men. He was Chief of the General Staff from 2006-09.

He describes his efforts to persuade Mr Blair and Mr Brown that the Army – fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering heavy casualties – was facing almost unbearable pressures as “pushing a rock up a steep hill almost all the way through”.

His book is further evidence of the cripplingly dysfunctional nature of the relationship between Mr Blair and Mr Brown, which Mr Blair spelt out in his own memoir, A Journey, published this week.

The general also reveals in his book and in interviews for this newspaper that:

-By early 2009, at a time when the Army was suffering a punishing casualty rate in Afghanistan, he had not had a face-to-face meeting with Mr Brown for six months. Eventually he was forced to “ambush” the prime minister during a chance meeting in Horse Guards Parade to get his concerns across;

-The 1997-98 Strategic Defence Review (SDR), which set out a “good framework” for future defence policy, could not cope with troops being committed to Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time and was “fatally flawed” through being underfunded;

-The intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, cited as the main reason for Britain joining the United States in the 2003 war, was “most uncompelling”. Planning for the aftermath of the conflict was, he said, an “abject failure”.

Gen Dannatt reserves his strongest criticism for Labour’s two prime ministers, accusing them of letting down the troops they sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He writes in his book: “History will pass judgment on these foreign adventures in due course, but in my view Gordon Brown’s malign intervention, when chancellor, on the SDR by refusing to fund what his own government had agreed, fatally flawed the en tire process from the outset.

“The seeds were sown for some of the impossible operational pressures to come.”

Mr Blair “lacked the moral courage to impose his will on his own chancellor”.

The general also admits he was “bemused” by Mr Brown’s decision to write his book, Wartime Courage, about the generation that suffered so much in winning the Second World War. He adds: “I am still not sure whether he ever realised that by denying the proper funding of his own government’s declared policy, he was condemning more young men and women to the same sacrifices he railed against in a previous generation.”

Asked why he thought Mr Blair did not overrule Mr Brown, he replied: “To me it seems extraordinary that the prime minister, the No 1 guy, cannot crack the whip sufficiently to his very close friend apparently, his next door neighbour, the chancellor.

“In the war Cabinet that Margaret Thatcher put together in 1982 [during the Falklands conflict] there was no one from the Treasury. It’s tough to criticise lack of moral courage, but moral courage is what you need. Physical courage is a wonderful thing, but moral courage is actually doing the right thing at the right time.”

Gen Dannatt warns the Coalition that carrying on with the current rate of casualties in Afghanistan – where more than 100 servicemen were killed last year – would be unacceptable. “We’ve got to have cracked it by 2014, 2015,” he said.

Huge leak of secret files sows new Afghan war doubts

leave a comment »

WASHINGTON – The leak of 90,000 secret military files has emboldened critics of the war in Afghanistan, who raised fresh questions Tuesday about the viability of the increasingly unpopular US-led campaign.

The New York Times said in an editorial Tuesday the documents made public by the website WikiLeaks “confirm a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years.”

The Times said President Barack Obama will have to deal firmly with Islamabad in response to the most controversial files, which indicate that key ally Pakistan allows its spies to meet directly with the Taliban.

“If Mr Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan,” wrote the daily.

Americans are increasingly weary of this costly war,” wrote the Times, one of three media organizations, along with German magazine Der Spiegel and Britain’s Guardian, to have received the documents weeks ago from WikiLeaks.

Some members of Congress questioned Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, as well as an as-yet unpassed 37-billion dollar funding bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, following the leaks.

Democratic Senator Russell Feingold said the disclosures “make it clear that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Jane Harman, who chairs a Homeland Security intelligence subcommittee, said the documents “reinforce the view that the war in Afghanistan is not going well.”

The 92,000 documents released Sunday, dating from 2004 to 2009, triggered an outcry from nations fighting in Afghanistan as the Pentagon scrambled to uncover the source of the security breach and whether it would endanger lives.

US experts were working to see if the huge cache “could jeopardize force protection or operational security, or even worse still, the national security of this country,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told Fox News.

In addition to the Pakistan allegations, the leaked files maintain that the deaths of innocent civilians have been covered up, and that Iran is funding Taliban militants eight years after the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the radical Islamic regime from power.

The bombshell revelations triggered outrage, with a top NATO general calling for increased vigilance against such leaks as the White House slammed them as “irresponsible.”

The coalition needed to be aware that some “documents are pushed out into the open via leaks, but that obliges us even more to work with the greatest care,” said General Egon Ramms, who is in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs warned that the leaks had put the names of service personnel and military operations in the public domain, but played down the likely strategic and political impact.

“In terms of broad revelations, there aren’t any that we see in these documents,” Gibbs said, pointing out that most of the period covered by the leaks was during the previous Bush administration.

Britain, which has some 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, said Monday it regretted the leak while Pakistan has said the reports were “skewed” and not based on the reality on the ground.

In Berlin, a defense ministry spokesman said releasing the documents “could affect the national security of NATO allies and the whole NATO mission.”

But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defended the decision to publish the leaked files, saying they showed “thousands” of war crimes may have been committed in Afghanistan.

India urged to reduce military presence in Kashmir

leave a comment »

SRINAGAR: India should reduce its massive military presence in occupied Kashmir, boost its economy, and give more powers to elected officials to improve the lives of people in the troubled Himalayan region, an international security think tank said on Thursday.


India has an estimated 700,000 soldiers in Kashmir, fighting nearly a dozen militant groups since 1989. More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the ’89 uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown.

“Replacing military-led counter-insurgency with accountable policing and reviving an economy devastated by violence and conflict, would instil greater confidence among Kashmiris,” the International Crisis Group said in a report titled “Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris First”.

“It is in New Delhi’s interest to be regarded as a sincere partner committed to improving Kashmiri lives, not as an occupying force,” it said.

India has an estimated 700,000 soldiers in Kashmir, fighting nearly a dozen militant groups since 1989. More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the ’89 uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown.

The Brussels-based organisation urged New Delhi to devolve authority to Kashmir’s elected representatives and take “other vital steps to win over its alienated public”.The region “remains heavily militarised, and draconian laws that encourage human rights abuses by security forces remain, fuelling public resentment that the militants could once again exploit,” the report said.

Human rights workers have complained for years that innocent people have disappeared, been killed by government forces in staged gunbattles, and suspected militants arrested and never heard from again.

“Another Mumbai-like attack would have a devastating impact on bilateral (Pakistan-India) relations and could conceivably bring the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war,” it added.

India Maoist train sabotage toll climbs to 146

leave a comment »

KOLKATA – Indian rescue workers completed search operations on Sunday after pulling out 146 bodies from the site of a train wreck blamed on Maoist saboteurs, a state minister said.


The precise cause of the derailment was still unclear

The crash occurred on Friday when a Mumbai-bound high-speed passenger express from Kolkata veered off the tracks into the path of an oncoming freight train in a remote part of West Bengal state.

If confirmed as a Maoist strike, it would be the deadliest attack by the rebels in recent memory.

The government has recently been severely criticised for its handling of the worsening left-wing insurgency.

“Teams have pulled 146 bodies from the damaged carriages of the train. Now we are concentrating on hospitals because more than 200 injured are still there,” West Bengal civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee told AFP.

Relief and rescue workers rushed to the site — a Maoist stronghold around 135 kilometres (85 miles) west of Kolkata — and used mechanical cutters to reach the injured and the dead inside the badly mangled carriages.

The precise cause of the derailment was still unclear.

Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee initially said Maoists had blown up the track with explosives, while police pointed to evidence that a section of rail had been manually removed.

The Times of India on Sunday said police believed a “rogue Maoist gang” was behind the carnage.

Mukherjee said many of the bodies were badly dismembered and identification of the remains by relatives was proving to be a big challenge.

“We have urged the next of kin of the victims to donate blood to the Central Forensic Laboratory in Kolkata so that the bodies can be identified” by DNA testing, he said.

The Indian Railways Board responded to the disaster by cancelling nighttime services in a number of Maoist-affected areas until further notice.

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of landless tribespeople and farmers left behind by India’s rapid economic expansion.

The Maoist rebellion, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has labelled the biggest threat to the country’s internal security, began in West Bengal in 1967 and has since spread to 20 of India’s 29 states.

Indian govt evidence not legally tenable: FM Qureshi

leave a comment »

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has contradicted India’s claim that there was enough evidence to convict Hafiz Saeed.


‘The Pakistani judiciary is independent, their judgement must be respected’.

“The Pakistan Supreme Court had little choice in the matter as the Indian government had failed to produce evidence that was legally tenable,” he said in an interview with Indian news channel Times Now. “To pin someone down not only do you require evidence, you require legally tenable evidence,” he said.

Qureshi said that like the judiciary of India, the Pakistani judiciary is independent and their judgement must be respected.

“The Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram is expected on June 26 for the SAARC Home Ministers’ conference. I intend to meet with him and discuss this issue with him,” Qureshi said.

“I am expecting a meeting with the Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna on July 15 when we resume our dialogue. They are welcome to raise their concerns and we will sit and discuss them on the negotiating table.”

Qureshi added that the two prime ministers have given the responsibility of bridging the trust deficit to the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan.

“Yes, there is a trust deficit, we have to bridge it. We have to find a way of bridging this trust deficit. We also have to find a way of building confidence and that is exactly what I intend to do in the days to come.”

Qureshi stressed that the policy of the Government of Pakistan is very clear. “We condemn terrorism and will do our utmost to dismantle terrorist networks and not allow our soil to be used against anyone,” he said. “We are victims like anybody else. What you saw in Lahore was a very tragic incident. We are facing terrorists and fighting them. This fight will reach its logical conclusion and we will defeat them.”

‘Two killed’ in Indian railway station stampede

leave a comment »

NEW DELHI – At least two people died in a stampede at a railway station in the Indian capital on Sunday as thousands of passengers waited to board trains, police said.


Stampedes at public events in India are common as large numbers of people pack into congested areas

“One woman and a child died and 10 passengers have been admitted to hospital,” New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.

“Some people in the crowd started fighting and then everyone started jumping at each other which created panic and passengers in the front got hurt,” he said.

Stampedes at public events in India are common as large numbers of people pack into congested areas. Panic can spread quickly and, with few safety regulations in place, the result is often lethal.

The railway system — the main form of long-distance travel in India despite fierce competition from private airlines — runs 14,000 passenger and freight trains a day, carrying 18.5 million people.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

May 17, 2010 at 10:10 am