Last week, Ming Campbell wrote to the Prime Minister calling for an urgent review of the Government’s military strategies. He wrote:
Dear Prime Minister,
It is now urgently necessary for a reappraisal of government strategy in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan. The current level of British casualties is unacceptable.
In the case of Iraq, what is being achieved by the continuing British presence? Our troops are severely restricted in what they can do and they are subject to unreasonable risks. There is now a clear recognition that the objectives of their mission cannot be achieved.
It is nearly a year since Sir Richard Dannatt’s realistic analysis of the British position and nothing has happened since to contradict him. Is it the case, as some have argued, that our continuing presence in Iraq is now only to show solidarity with the United States? Were that to be so, could it be justified against the present level of our casualties?
There are persistent reports that there will be a reduction in the number of British forces deployed to Iraq. It is time to set a framework for the complete withdrawal of all of our forces. The need to do so is underlined by the situation in Afghanistan where our forces are at full stretch. Their position would be made much easier if we were not engaged simultaneously in two such demanding deployments. Afghanistan poses a severe challenge for our forces with its triple requirement to fight the Taliban, to win hearts and minds, and to implement the counter narcotic policy.
In short, is it not clear that withdrawal from Iraq would give us a considerable advantage in Afghanistan, where the military advice is that NATO’s mission can still be successful.
It is time to make the necessary strategic adjustment. Recent events demand it.