01 October, 2006

British army "in secret truce with the Taliban"

Or so says the Times.

Over the past two months British soldiers have come under sustained attack defending a remote mud-walled government outpost in the town of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan. Eight have been killed there.
It has now been agreed the troops will quietly pull out of Musa Qala in return for the Taliban doing the same. The compound is one of four district government offices in the Helmand province that are being guarded by British troops.
The report goes on to say that Brigadier Ed Butler, British task force commander, hopes the deal might provide a template which can be applied throughout Helmand.

If the deal saves British servicemen's lives in the short term, all well and good. However, Butler appears to be playing a dangerous game. There must be a danger that the Taliban will use the truce as a chance to rearm and regroup prior to coming back stronger and better equipped, leading to a greater loss of lives in the longer term.

It might be a good idea for the British government to use any respite to ensure that our forces are properly equipped and manned.

The print edition of the Sunday Telegraph carries the story as a few paragraphs at the end of this report, but, at the time of posting, they were not in the on-line version According to the ST, the truce was negotiated between the army and the Taliban with the full approval of the local Afghan population, who hanged one of the terrorists for opposing the deal.

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