Saturday, September 30, 2006
Military chiefs warned John Reid: 'Don't try to fight war on two fronts'
British soldiers six times more likely to die in Afghan conflict than in Iraq
"Britain's most senior military chiefs warned John Reid not to commit UK troops to "a war on two fronts" in Iraq and Afghanistan more than 18 months ago, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
Despite clear advice that a "significant" withdrawal of troops from Iraq was needed before a new mission, Mr Reid went ahead with the Afghan deployment after coming under pressure from Tony Blair. The advice, prepared by military planners and endorsed by the Chiefs of the Defence Staff, was given to Mr Reid on his arrival as Secretary of State for Defence in May last year. Despite the warnings, he went ahead with the deployment in January.
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the war this Saturday, stark new evidence of the suffering being endured by British troops on the ground emerged in a series of leaked emails published in The Mail on Sunday. They amount to a harrowing account of terrified soldiers tormented by heat and sandflies engaged in brutal combat with Taliban fighters."