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The Officer and the Map

There used to be a saying that the most dangerous thing in the British Army was an officer with a map. Sadly, I don't think much has changed. I was reading recently about some Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan who were sent to help out the British in Helmand. They were told to phone once they were on the road and they would be told where to rendezvous. Sounds a bit haphazard to me. When the Canadians phoned they were given a map reference it turned out that the co-ordinates supplied were in the middle of nowhere; the Canadians were needed at Lashkar Gar. A second call resulted in a map reference for a point east of the city. The Canadians were not on the the British communications system and requested two UK signallers and their equipment. Instead they were allocated one officer whose technical know-how did not go beyond switching his radio on and off. Not surprisingly, the Canadians failed to link up with the British troops they were supposed to be supporting. When the operation was over, it was decided that helicopters were the best way to get the troops out. But the Canadians were told there were no helicopters available for extract them. Then British Chinooks flew in to take the British troops back to base. Meanwhile it emerged that some US cops who were mentoring local Afghan police had been ordered not to get out of their vehicles under any circumstances. Not surprising perhaps that the Afghan cops sooon opened fire on friendly troops. It's hard to know if the US cops were better trainers and mentors than their compatriots from a US Navy submarine who had been sent into the desert to train the Afghan army. No wonder a lot of people think the West lost the war in Afghanistan. 



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