Many of you will be bored stiff with the whole "Lions Led by Donkeys" debate around the First World War. Certainly, many of the senior British officers during the First World War failed to raise their game enough to deal with the challenges it raised. But sensible historians generally agree that by 1918 the worst of the donkeys had been weeded out and the British Army was at least competently handled in the closing months of the war. No, what I'm wondering is if the phrase is applicable today when it comes to the British Army. I've just finished reading yet another British account of the war in Afghanistan. In it, a lot of brave and committed young men are killed or maimed. And yet by the end of the book I was left wondering what their stint in a remote fortified base actually achieved. It's an awkward question to raise. No-one likes to think the high price they and their family have paid achieved little. But reading the book, one of three things seem to happen when the soldiers left their fort:- a) Nothing. b) Someone was killed or seriously injured by a mine. c) Or the local bad guys opened fire on the patrol and the British eventually retreated back to the fort carrying any dead or injured men back with them. The British troops' control of the area did not seem to extend beyond the range of their heavy machine guns or snipers' rifles. None of this was the fault of the soldiers on the frontline. The blame has to be placed far further up the chain of command with the men who lacked the courage to call a halt until more frontline troops and helicopters were sent to Afghanistan.