Taliban “tougher than expected”

The British army’s chief of general staff has admitted that Afghanistan “has proved to be a more dangerous and difficult job than we had anticipated.”

Speaking to BBC radio on Saturday, General Sir Richard Dannatt said: “The Taliban have been more resilient than we had anticipated….”

His comments probably echo what Russian military commanders in Afghanistan were saying nearly twenty years ago prior to the Soviet army’s departure.

And quite possibly what his predecessors in the Victorian British army were saying over a century ago, when the British army fought two disastrous wars in southern Afghanistan.

And like they say: those who don’t learn from history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

Not since Alexander the Great has any foreign conqueror prevailed in Afghanistan. And even he had problems.

Nowhere else on Alexander’s 22,000-mile, 13-year march from Greece to the Punjab did he encounter more resistance than in what was known in ancient times as Sogdiana.

So is General Sir Richard Dannatt leading his men down the same route as the Red Army and Queen Victoria’s armies?

Only time will tell but with each passing week the situation in southern Afghanistan is getting worse. Although of course you won’t hear that from the mainstream media, at least not at first.

However, before long the situations will deteriorate to such an extent that nobody will be able to ignore it.

Indeed this is already happening. A few nights ago the BBC broadcast footage, taken by a soldier’s cellphone, of a forward British base in southern Afghanistan coming under attack.

To the casual observer it may have appeared as run of the mill war footage. But to the more experienced viewer the images were loaded.

Having served extensively in front line Special Forces units and seen intense close quarter combat, I knew what I was watching and the message was clear. The British and Canadians – and to a lesser extent their allies in the quieter northern provinces – are in serious trouble in Afghanistan.

In fact the situation is far worse than in Iraq. So much so that the word defeat is now looming loud and clear for British forces and their Nato allies in Afghanistan.