UK war effort in Helmand branded 'utter failure' by US, Afghanistan: Wikileaks

Written by: One India
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London, Dec 3 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai, top Afghan officials and the US commander of Nato troops, had slammed Britain over its failure to impose security and connect with ordinary Afghans in the troubled Helmand province, according to US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website 'WikiLeaks.'

According to the Guardian, the British operation in Helmand was criticised for its failure to establish security in Sangin, the town that that claimed more British lives than any other place in Afghanistan.

In January 2009, the Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal, had reportedly told a US team led by the Vice President Joe Biden that Afghanistan was in urgent need of American forces as British security in Sangin was inadequate and did not even extend to the town's main bazaar, the paper quoted a cable sent from the US embassy in Kabul.

"I do not have anything against them the British, but they must leave their bases and engage with the people," Mangal had said.

According to Mangal, the problem was not a lack of troops, because even if they brought in thousands more, "they would need a new plan and shift of focus to connect with people."

At a meeting with Senator John McCain in December 2008, Karzai had said that he was relieved that US marines were being sent to reinforce the British-led mission in Helmand and "related an anecdote in which a woman from Helmand asked him to 'take the British away and give us back the Americans' ".

US officials have reportedly criticised the UK military effort in Helmand, which has grown to 10,000 troops and a cost of over 5billin ponds a year.

The British operation also attracted criticism from Dan McNeill, the commander of NATO forces in 2007-08, for its failure to deal with the drug trade in Helmand.

Talking about a ceasefire agreement with the Taliban that allowed the British to pull besieged troops out of the town of Musa Qala in 2006, he said: "They had made a mess of things in Helmand, their tactics were wrong, and the deal that London cut on Musa Qala had failed."

"That agreement opened the door to narco-traffickers in that area, and now it was impossible to tell the difference between the traffickers and the insurgents. The British could do a lot more, he said, and should, because they have the biggest stake," he added. (ANI)

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