CAIRO – A top British officer has resigned his post in the army in protest at the "grotesquely clumsy" and "pointless" campaign against Taliban in Afghanistan, a British newspaper reported on Sunday, September 10.
"We're now scattered in a shallow meaningless way across northern towns where the only way for the troops to survive is to increase the level of violence so more people get killed," Captain Leo Docherty, the former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan, told The Sunday Times.
"It's pretty shocking and not something I want to be part of."
Docherty called the British mission in southern Afghanistan "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency."
"Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse," he said.
The criticism, the first from an officer who has served in Afghanistan, came during the worst time so far for British troops in the country.
The British military paid tribute Saturday to those killed in a plane crash in Afghanistan as they counted the cost of September, already the deadliest month they have sustained since March 2003.
In total, 22 British troops have been killed so far this month.
Pinned down by daily Taliban attacks, many have run short of food and water and have been forced to rely on air support and artillery.
"Now the ground has been lost…..It’s completely barking mad," said Docherty.
Some 4,000 British troops make up the majority of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force deployed in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.
Docherty said British troops have failed in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans.
"We've been grotesquely clumsy — we've said we'll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them," he regretted.
"All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British," he asserted.
"It’s a pretty clear equation — if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would."
The Senlis Council, an international policy think tank on with offices in Kabul, London, Paris and Brussels, recently published a study concluding that five years after invasion, the Western strategy was inflicting more misery and starvation on the Afghan people.
The report, "Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban", said the flawed military approach by the US-led forces is allowing ousted Taliban to regain its influence.
A separate report by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) said destroying the livelihood of Afghan farmers was losing the foreign troops hearts and minds in many areas.
Docherty said the British troops deviated from the original development plan for Afghanistan.
"The plan was to secure the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, initiate development projects and enable governance," he explained.
Docherty said the British army has not, as planned, provided the Afghans with much-needed power stations, paved roads and drinking water.
"The military is just one side of the triangle," he said. "Where were the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office?"
Christian Aid, an agency of the churches in Britain and Ireland, warned Sunday that millions of Afghans face starvation after drought destroyed much of the harvest in the north and west.
It estimated that more than one million people in the provinces of Badghis, Farah, Faryab, Ghor, and Herat were affected by the drought.
The group urged international donors to pledge funds for Afghanistan's emergency drought appeal -- set up by the Afghan government and the UN -- which needs 76 million dollars (60 million euros).
In July, the UN and the Afghan government said that 2.5 million people were suffering from food shortages, in addition to the 6.5 million Afghans in rural areas who suffer from annual seasonal food shortages.