The cruel reality is that we’ve lost in Afghanistan. So why are we still sacrificing our young men?
Killed: Sergeant Gareth Thursby (left) and Private Thomas Wroe (right) were shot by a man in Afghan Police uniform on Saturday
Almost 40 years ago, as a young correspondent in Vietnam, I found myself aboard a vast U.S. transport plane, travelling back to Saigon, after reporting on a battle in the Central Highlands.
The only other passenger beside our TV crew was an American sergeant in a green body-bag, on his way home for burial with his possessions — hi-fi, guitar and suchlike — stacked sadly beside him.
I spent much of that long ride through the darkness thinking about the wretchedness of losing one’s life in the final convulsions of a dying war.
It seems especially futile to go when everyone knows you have given your life for nothing.
Everyone knew that the bad guys were going to win in Vietnam, and so they did.
For people like me who have been there before, it becomes an especially melancholy business to watch the last act of the Western campaign in Afghanistan starting to unfold.
On Saturday, Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Private Tom Wroe were shot dead by a supposed comrade in arms — an Afghan.
Their deaths brought to 51 the total of Nato soldiers killed so far this year by Afghans wearing the uniforms of government soldiers or police.
One in five British fatalities in Helmand this year has been so-called ‘green-on-blues’— shootings by our allies rather than our enemies.
The result of this carnage — friendly fire on a shocking scale — is that Nato headquarters in Kabul yesterday announced that routine joint patrolling by Western and Afghan troops will no longer take place. Some pairings will be authorised on a case-by-case basis — which presumably means when commanders think they can trust specific Afghans. But the general rule will be that joint operations will happen only on battalion scale, or bigger.