20 September, 2006

Taliban took on British soldiers, came off worst.

Patrick Bishop, the Daily Telegraph's man in Afghanistan, has filed a report from Helmand which portrays the soldiers on the ground as a great deal more optimistic about their ability to deal with the Taliban than the Defence Secretary was yesterday in his somewhat defeatist speech. According to Bishop,

There is a heady mood in the dusty air that British forces have been put to the test and emerged triumphant. There is also scorn among the sunburned soldiers for those at home who doubt the value of their efforts.
The consensus amongst the soldiers Bishop has been talking to and listening to, from generals to corporals, is that they went up against the Taliban and were the better side, so establishing a psychological ascendency and damaging the mediaeval terrorists' reputation with the locals. At a cost of 14 combat fatalities, tragic but not unduly high considering the intensity of much of the fighting, some important tactical successes have been achieved. Bishop writes,
The troops occupying the key district centres of Musa Qala, Sangin, Nowzad, Kajaki and Gereshk have brought relative quiet to the area after months of combat at levels unprecedented in recent British military history.
Senior officers are in no doubt that this is no more than a lull in the campaign; the Taliban will regroup and come back for more. However, the Army is confident that it can deal with any test the Taliban cares to put them to. Are you listening Des Browne?

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