Afghanistan crisis: 'Whenever you fight an enemy who doesn’t wear uniform you will struggle'

You have probably seen footage of some of the chaotic scenes being sent out from Afghanistan. Many have heard people mention its resemblance to the hasty and panicked US withdrawal from Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, in 1975.

By Errol Edwards
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 11:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 12:11 pm

Unlike the dramatic scenes from back then, the images you are seeing are instantaneous and more vivid - showing every second, every minute.

War, as we all should know, should be a last resort.

I don’t think any leader goes into war lightly, but surely they must look at history and weigh up their options.

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Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021. Thousands of Afghans have rushed onto the tarmac at the airport, some so desperate to escape the Taliban capture of their country that they held onto the American military jet as it took off and plunged to death. (Verified UGC via AP)

I firmly believe the West believes its sophisticated weaponry and well-trained Army Navy Air Force and Special forces were more than a match for any force and, as a former soldier myself, I would certainly agree.

We amply proved that in the Falklands war - we fought and overcame a force superior in number and with good weaponry, but not calibre in men.

We overcame a force there out of fear and not duty. The majority of the Argentine force were young conscripts, poorly trained and poorly equipped, possibly not invested in the cause.

The Taliban, irrespective of what you think of their policies or beliefs, are an army of battle-hardened fighters who believe wholeheartedly in their cause.

Star reporter Errol Edwards

That means death brings honour not devastation for your comrades and families.

I will always believe the British Armed Forces are the best in the world with enviable hardware and personnel.

We are a conventional force with numerous rules and conventions, and firmly believe war, as terrible as it is, should be fought within the rule of war.

We value every life involved, even the life of an injured enemy, we’re what’s known as a conventional force. That, I believe, is where we can struggle against an unconventional force whose rules and conventions differ greatly from ours.

This can be demonstrated in our wars or conflicts against The Zulus, the IRA and in Vietnam – where the British and US were superior in almost every aspect but we had to withdraw or take drastic action.

Whenever you fight an enemy who doesn’t wear uniform you will struggle. A force who will pick up an AK47 and shoot at you one day, then pick up a hoe or scythe the next – this is not an enemy easily found or defeated.

It’s difficult for an occupying force to win hearts and minds when the enemy is lurking in the shadows, surely we know by now occupying force by their nature will never be welcome.

Many of our young men and women have died or come back physically or mentally injured from a war. History has proven it is impossible to win there conventionally.

How will we be viewed by the rest of the world, especially other potential despots, now we’ve left?

This withdrawal opened up many wounds of many families and friends whose loved ones suffered and paid the ultimate price for us to scramble away, as we are now.

Will this withdrawal save the lives of our future brave service men and women? What will be the cost if we decide to go back? Only time will tell.