Nation Building doesn’t work

11 Police Officers have been killed at a checkpoint in Lashka Ghar, the capital city of Helmand Province and the former citadel of Task Force Helmand.

Visited by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012 it was once the epicentre of Britain’s £15m/day nation building mission to Afghanistan. It is a sad marker of failure that Lashka Ghar has been under siege since the summer of 2016 and would have fallen to the Taliban in October were it not for US military intervention.

Meanwhile, Sarah Sands, reporting for the Evening Standard reveals that Priti Patel the Secretary of State for International Development continues to describe the British mission in Afghanistan as ‘Nation Building’.

In January Prime Minister Theresa May told US Republicans the UK and America cannot return to “failed” military interventions “to remake the world in our own image”. She is, of course, correct. Two disastrous counter-insurgency interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are clear evidence that nation building in our own image doesn’t work, but it seems the doctrine still stubbornly persists.

When will the Prime Minister communicate her message to the Department for International Development?

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story of love, service and incompetence. Guaranteed to make you laugh and cry or your money back (but check the smallprint first).

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘First class’
Doug Beattie, bestselling author of An Ordinary Soldier

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Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zone

‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars

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SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

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4 thoughts on “Nation Building doesn’t work”

  1. Describing the mission in Afghanistan as ‘disastrous’ and that we are reinforcing failure is misguided and a view clearly taken from negativity surrounding a tour you completed 5 years ago. We are still in Afghanistan, and whilst the draw down of combat operations might have been premature, the mission is ongoing. Success cannot be judged in such plain terms. The violence is continuing, but the government we were there to support is also continuing. This fight is not over and negativity is exactly the way we will loose.


    1. Anon, How would you describe the mission in Afghanistan if not as disastrous? How are you measuring success? Are you suggesting that things have improved in Afghanistan in the last five years? I see no evidence to support this. The corrupt government we installed is barely functioning outside of Kabul. Theresa May is right, we cannot return to failed military interventions to remake the world in our own image.


      1. Mr Green, what is missing here is the mission we are still undertaking. We are there to empower and allow the development of the ANSF. In that respect our continued involvement is a success. They have come on leaps and bounds and will continue to do so provided that we continue to commit our support.


      2. Anon, military capacity building is not the mission. If it were there would be no requirement for DfID’s presence as this is a purely military function. Unfortunately General John Nicholson, Commander Resolute Support and the senior United States Officer in Afghanistan does not agree with your assessment. Only last month he reported to Congress that Afghan forces have poor leadership and tactics and have suffered very high casualties as a result. He also warned that the United States and its NATO allies are facing a “stalemate” in Afghanistan as there is a shortfall of military advisors training the ANSF. Forgive me for pointing out that this doesn’t sound like they have “come on leaps and bounds” as you suggest. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, believes that the United States strategy in recent years has been “not to lose.” I tend to agree with him. We need to have a mission with clear, measurable aims but most important of all we need to be honest about reporting progress. You previously stated that “negativity is exactly the way we will lose”. I don’t agree. Being dishonest about progress is how the United States has ended up in the longest war in its history and is how we will lose.


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