Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reminders vs. actions

The President today (full transcript):
PRESIDENT BUSH: The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to -- to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.
The Guardian:
Fighting in southern Afghanistan is some of the worst faced by British troops since the Korean war, the head of the international security assistance force in the country said today.

Lieutenant General David Richards said "persistent low-level dirty fighting" meant troops were struggling to recover from attacks before further violence broke out.

"This sort of thing hasn't really happened so consistently, I don't think, since the Korean War or the second world war," Lt Gen Richards told the BBC World Service.

"It happened for periods in the Falklands ... and it happened for short periods in the Gulf on both occasions. But this is persistent low-level dirty fighting.

"In one sense what [international security assistance force soldiers] are doing is days and days of intense fighting, being woken up by yet another attack, and they haven't slept for 24 hours."

Violence in the lawless Helmand province has claimed the lives of 10 British soldiers over the past two months.

The death toll represents a dramatic increase in a country in which only two UK troops had previously been killed in action in the five years following the October 2001 invasion.

Lt Gen Richards said some British troops would be withdrawn from the province and replaced with Afghan forces.

He added that the Nato-backed force needed more helicopters and equipment in order to cope with the violence of the insurgency.

However, he said that there should be no question of abandoning the situation in southern Afghanistan.

"We can't afford for this country to go back to what it was," he told the BBC. "We will soon feel the result of that when London gets attacked from a firm base where [enemy fighters] can do what they want."

His remarks came as the parliamentary defence select committee published a report claiming that British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were overstretched and poorly resourced.

Its publication followed weekend claims that British forces in Afghanistan were "on the brink of exhaustion".

"The Ministry of Defence's confidence that the UK armed forces are not overstretched contrasts with what we are hearing on the ground," the defence committee said.


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