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Russian Lesson

I was struck recently by the similarities between the British campaign in Helmand and the Allied Intervention against the Bolsheviks in Northern Russia 1918-1919. And look how the Intervention turned out. In both campaigns the British over-extended themselves by occupying villages for political rather than military reasons. The political reasons involved appeasing a corrupt local administration that was incompetent and unrepresentative of the local people. Sound familiar? The British also had to work with troops from other armies and their quality varied. Some were not worth their rations. Once again, sound familiar? The British were also involved in training locally raised troops who were expected to fight the Bolsheviks when the British left. Once again, the local troops were of variable quality and some murdered their British trainers. Ringing any bells? The local population in North Russia was at best indifferent and at worst openly hostile. Most wanted to see who was going to win before committing themselves to one side or the other. The local population also had an instinctive distrust of foreigners. Both sides waged a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the villagers. The Intervention was not popular back in Britain and the reasoning behind it not properly explained. British troop numbers were too low for the tasks set and equipment was not always suitable for the harsh climate and living conditions. I wonder if anyone has dusted off the Lessons Learned file from the 1918-1919 Intervention. It doesn't look like it.

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