Thursday, 16 July 2009

Plaid MP: ‘ Afghanistan aims need clarifying and refocused on putting force protection first’

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for defence, Elfyn Llwyd MP, will speak in today’s House of Commons debate on the future of British military involvement in Afghanistan .

Mr Llwyd will discuss the lack of clear Government strategy and the apparent deficit of resources for the military in carrying out the campaign.

Commenting in advance of the debate, Plaid’s Elfyn Llwyd MP said:

“Although I voted against the incursion in Afghanistan , the reality is that our troops are there and out on the ground, and they are putting themselves in harm’s way everyday.

“The Government has a duty of care to our soldiers and to provide them with adequate equipment and protection. It is this issue that underlies the debate today.

“The most disturbing and most galling part of the current spectacle is that three quarters of these military deaths are avoidable.

“Had the government provided adequate kit and equipment, sufficient helicopters and properly armoured vehicles, then these roadside deaths would not have occurred.

“If that statistic isn’t bad enough, the situation is compounded by the fact that there is no clear strategy being pursued in the conflict in Afghanistan .

“The Government needs to define its purpose. On the one hand, the Prime Minister wants to draw down troops after the Afghan election and on the other, the military top brass are saying that there should be a surge and an increase of at least 2000 troops: what are we to make of these two conflicting statements?

“There is an argument from some military strategists too that by sending a surge of new troops – you provide more of a target and are likely to lose more: ‘more boots on the ground means more bodies in bags’.

Mr Llwyd added:

I’ve also heard it said that this conflict is about bringing democracy to Afghan. Afghanistan has never been a democracy. It has been a tribal society for centuries and I do not think it is possible to impose a democratic system on a country in this way - something which could take decades in any case.

“It is clearly impossible to engage in this sort of ‘state-building’. A much narrower focus is needed and it should up to the Afghan people as to who and how is responsible for creating their own state.

“There needs to be a clear strategy, together with an exit strategy. Troops need to have a flexible response system to enable them to get out as rapidly as necessary.

“In the meantime we need the fullest possible support for the military in their campaign, and that means an adequacy of equipment and back up urgently.”

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