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Our Vietnam?

PUBLISHED: 17:10 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 23 August 2010

THE war in Afghanistan is in danger of becoming Britain s Vietnam , an MEP has warned. Nigel Farage, who represents north Kent and is the United Kingdom Independence Party leader, has criticised the government for its failure to lay out clear objectives

THE war in Afghanistan is in danger of becoming 'Britain's Vietnam', an MEP has warned.

Nigel Farage, who represents north Kent and is the United Kingdom Independence Party leader, has criticised the government for its failure to lay out clear objectives for the 9,000 British troops stationed in Afghanistan.

He said: "I have been deeply sceptical about this war since it started. Whilst paying tribute to all the servicemen that are doing the best they can, which is their job and they do it well, I am unconvinced that we have a real strategy and that we have a real end game in sight.

"It seems to me we don't have a proper, clear objective and General Richards was probably right when he said this could well prove to be Britain's Vietnam."

His views are supported by WWII veterans like Joe Hoadley, from Swanscombe, who pleaded with the government to pull out saying we will never win a 'religious war'.

Mr Farage's comments come after Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth insisted progress has been made and that the war was 'winnable'.

But latest MOD figures show an alarming increase in the number of British soldiers being killed in Afghanistan.

Last month 22 British soldiers died in Afghanistan. The total since the war started in October 2001 is now 206.

Commentators say the increased death toll has largely been caused by Taliban-allied insurgents planting roadside bombs.

Mr Farage said: "If Bob Ainsworth is right I will be very surprised. There is continued loss of life, we have continuing lack of proper equipment and I think the management of the campaign and the army is a disgrace.

"It's tough to say whether the Taliban represent a genuine threat to Western security. I'm not sure, but I'm even less sure whether being in Afghanistan is effectively reducing any threat they may pose. It may in a perverse way be increasing it.

"It's all very reminiscent of the American debate on Vietnam in the early 1970s when the argument was if we bomb more heavily and send more troops we will solve the problem."

Military operations in Afghanistan were launched by the US and the UK in response to the September 11 attacks which destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, killing 2,974 civillians.

The stated aim of the war was to track down and destroy the Islamist terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda and to remove the Taliban regime which supported it. Yet concerns are growing among politicians and anti-war campaigners about its lack of progress and the spiralling death toll.

With no concrete plans for a withdrawal of troops in place, Mr Farage has urged the government to rethink its position on the war and to consider pulling British troops out of the Middle East.

He said: "I have a lot of friends who are in the forces and I think there is a feeling that the government wants ever more from them and gives them ever less with which to do it. I frankly think there's a large element of our armed forces that currently feel abused by this government.

"It's very difficult to pull the troops out overnight but in the absence of a really clear, achievable goal I think we should start making plans to withdraw.

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