Tag Archives: democracy

Carl Shadrake, Afghan Veteran, speaks for us all.

Carl Shadrake

Sgt. Carl Shadrake talks about how the Battle of the Somme is remembered by soldiers serving today in the British Army.

Former Grenadier Guardsman and Afghan veteran, Carl Shadrake is an extraordinary young man who knows the pain and anguish of close quarter battle better than any other living Briton.

On his first tour of Afghanistan in 2007 the vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a suicide bomber, killing the driver and seriously injuring Carl. After a long recovery Carl returned to his unit, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and five years later deployed to Afghanistan for a second time in 2012.

Four months into this tour, whilst on a foot patrol,  a colleague close to him detonated an improvised explosive device, losing both his legs. Badly wounded himself by the blast, Carl’s first concern was getting his wounded comrade to safety. It was only after a rescue helicopter had evacuated them both to Camp Bastion that Carl realised the extent of his own injuries.

Carl was put into a medically induced coma and flown by aeromed to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. It was here, a month later that he learned the tragic news that his younger brother, Jamie, also serving in Afghanistan, had been shot and killed.

Despite everything he and his family have been through he speaks with such modesty and humility when measuring his own sacrifice with those of the 19,240 soldiers who died on the first day of the Somme.

It’s impossible not to contrast the measured tones of this extraordinary man with those of our grasping, self-serving politicians as they jockey for position in the race to lead their respective parties.

Measuring Outcomes in Afghanistan



My friend Niels Vistisen presented his co-authored report Afghanistan, Lessons Identified 2001 – 2014 to the Danish Parliament today. Niels was Political Adviser (POLAD) to Salim Rodi, the Governor of Nahr-E-Saraj in 2012. I’m most struck by the report’s observation: ‘It became increasingly obvious that even though ISAF won all of the battles, NATO was not winning the war.’

The Royal Danish Defence College was tasked to ‘investigate the stabilisation efforts and military operations in Afghanistan to establish how they were integrated and concerted and assess where possible their outcomes in relation to the indicators of progress, i.e. security, governance and development.’ 

I saw very little evidence of integration of effort in Afghanistan and this was a constant source of frustration:

“The clearance op would stir up a hornets’ nest, making Yakchal a dangerous and unpleasant place to live in the process, but there was no plan to hold the ground for more than a few days once it had been cleared. The insurgents would quickly return once we had departed.

When I briefed the DST members on the plan they looked at me blankly. I had naïvely assumed they would want to exploit the temporary security bubble our presence would create to deliver some positive stabilisation effect. A polio vaccination programme perhaps, a shura to engage with their elected representatives, some infrastructure project such as dredging or repairing the complex irrigation system that was the only source of water so far from the Helmand River.

Anything that might add some truth to the fiction that a better life lay ahead with GIRoA.

Bruno, the DST leader looked confused, but some of the other team members visibly flushed with anger and stamped out of the briefing room. Bruno explained: ‘We don’t really get involved with what the military are doing and have our own projects and priorities.’ I’d managed to seriously upset some of his colleagues by daring to suggest that we might work together for the common good.

So much for the ‘Comprehensive Approach’ as defined in the joint doctrine manual on ‘Security and Stabilisation’. As with so many of the doctrine manuals I’d read, the authors appeared to have gone to great efforts creating complex definitions to describe relatively simple concepts. In this case:

‘The comprehensive approach is broader than cross‑government, it is also a multi‑agency and usually a multinational response. Mutually‑supporting cross‑departmental and multi‑agency effort should enable comprehensive tactical activity to deliver overwhelming campaign effect. The military will set the security conditions and lead on aspects of Security Sector Reform (SSR) such as military capacity‑building. Civilian state and non‑state institutions lead on: governance; engagement and reconciliation; police and justice sector reform; restoration of basic services and infrastructure; economic and financial development; and longer‑term social and infrastructure development.’

In 1933, Colonel (later Field Marshal) Irwin Rommel stated: ‘The British write some of the best doctrine in the world; it is fortunate that their officers do not read it.’

I’d read a lot of doctrine as I’d prepared for Afghanistan and couldn’t agree with his assessment of the quality. Much of it seemed impenetrable and verbose to me. But at least I had read it. It appeared that my colleagues in the DST had not.

This was to be a recurring theme of my time in Afghanistan. Whenever we mounted a major operation I would appeal to the DST to follow up with some governance, engagement or infrastructure activity to deliver overwhelming campaign effect, but this was always considered to be too difficult or not a priority for them. Even though some of the DST members were to become my friends, by the end of my time in Helmand I was barely able to conceal my contempt for their organisation’s woeful contribution to the mission.”

Although Niels’ report does not mention it, the most obvious outcome in relation to the indicators of progress is staring us all in the face: The Taliban control most of rural Helmand Province. All of the contested ground over which British and Danish troops fought is now in the hands of the Taliban and, if the current reports from Afghanistan are accurate, Helmand is ‘on the verge of collapse’ with the towns of Gereshk and Lashka Gah under siege.

Danish Afghan Report


SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.


Invictus Games opening ceremony

Some Westminster insiders want me to shut up about veterans’ care. Here’s why I won’t

In the wake of the Invictus Games, Johnny Mercer MP stands up for injured veterans in his article for The Telegraph saying: ‘We know we owe you for the sacrifices you made in defence of the freedoms that we enjoy. We have a duty to you. Come forward; don’t suffer in silence. You gave the best years of your life in Service to this great Nation, in the proud traditions of your forebears.’

I could not agree more, but there’s a very good reason why veterans need a champion like Johnny and why other government ministers are urging him to drop the issue:

“Just like everyone else in the battlegroup, I hoped for the best and planned for the worst. In view of the very real and obvious dangers inherent in dismounted close combat I took out life insurance with the MoD’s approved provider. I wasn’t entirely certain if I was insuring myself against the risks of death or injury in the service of my country, or against the inadequacies of the long‑term care I would receive from the State in this second eventuality.

After more than ten years of conflict and a willingness by successive British governments to commit soldiers to combat, it is still a shameful reality that soldiers wounded in the service of their country are not adequately cared for by the State. They must rely instead on the generosity of the public through charities such as Help for Heroes to provide not only resources for their immediate rehabilitation as they recover from their injuries, but also for the long‑term care that many will need throughout the rest of their lives.

It was most unedifying to learn of the personal greed of our political masters in the Parliamentary expenses scandal that engulfed British politics in 2009–10. At this time, according to official statistics released by the MoD, eight British soldiers a month were dying in Afghanistan. A further 13 were very seriously wounded, sustaining injuries that would change the course of the rest of their lives. It is notable that our political leaders at almost every level of governance will show public support for the men and women of the Armed Services – yet still drag their heels when it comes to ensuring that those who make the ultimate sacrifice receive adequate financial support from a grateful country.”

Johnny concludes: ‘Should we have done more as a Government in this sector [veterans’ care] to facilitate it and “guarantee it” over the years? Undoubtedly yes. Are we getting better? Is this PM committed to it? Yes.’

I hope you’re right Johnny but don’t stop raising the issue at PMQs.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

1000’s flee fighting

Father and sons, Zumbalay

Displacement due to conflict within Afghanistan increased by 40% from 2014 to 2015, and this year could see another increase.

According to an OHCA report published yesterday, about 118,000 people have already fled their homes since the beginning of the year. 1,000 Afghans Flee Fighting Every Day: UN.

In 2009, General Stanley McChrystal observed that “Destroying a home or property jeopardises the livelihood of an entire family – and creates more insurgents.” I certainly saw evidence of this:

“Although Mirajdin invoked Allah in his endeavours to kill British servicemen his was not a Holy War. Mirajdin was a proud Muslim, but not a Jihadist nor even a Talib. He did not fight for reasons of faith or ideology.

Nor was his an intergenerational struggle against a colonial oppressor, even though his forebears had routed the British at the battle of Maiwand. As a wide‑eyed toddler at his grandfather’s knee, Mirajdin had listened in awe to bloody tales of the last stand of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot at the Mundabad Ravine, not far from where he now lay.

These stories, passed down the generations by the village spin zhiras, had nothing but praise and admiration for the bravery of the Angrezis who’d fought to the last man in the defence of their Colours. It was said these men, surrounded by thousands, died with their faces to the enemy, fighting to the death and their courage was the wonder of all who saw it.

It was a courage Mirajdin did not recognise in the men who now came to avenge them, hiding as they did in armoured vehicles while raining death and destruction from the sky.

Although Mirajdin, along with many others, was of the firm conviction that the British had returned after 150 years to avenge their ancestors, his own motives for opposing them dated back to a much earlier time. As an Ishaqzai tribesman, Mirajdin fought to resolve an injustice imposed upon his people over two and a half centuries earlier when Ahmed Shah first united the Pashtun clans of Afghanistan and founded the Durrani Dynasty.

Prior to 1747 the Ishaqzai had been the dominant Pashtu tribe in Helmand. Under the Durrani Confederation their fortunes had waned and another tribe, the Barakzai had come to prominence. Loss of power and prestige had resulted in a loss of livestock, many lost their nomadic lifestyle, and some were also deprived of their respected status as warriors.

Impoverished Ishaqzai nomads were forced by circumstance to become farmers and earned the derogatory nickname Sogzai or Vegetable People. Ironically perhaps, the Vegetable People had learned to grow poppy and, under the Taliban, their fortunes had revived.

Mirajdin now fought the British not from religious zeal, or from racial hatred, but because the British, following the fall of the Taliban, had been duped by the Barakzai leadership into supporting their efforts to take control of the opium trade in Helmand. The British, and the Americans before them, had empowered the Barakzai by awarding them lucrative construction and security contracts. In return, the Barakzai had fooled the British into believing their old tribal rivals were insurgents, or Taliban.

In 2006, in the face of Barakzai intimidation, with the unwitting collusion of British troops, Mirajdin’s family had been forced to abandon their home to the north‑east of Gereshk and resettle in less fertile lands outside the green zone. Seen through the lens of a centuries‑old intertribal rivalry, Mirajdin had endured this humiliation as a teenager and had silently vowed to restore his family and his people’s honour. Six years later, lying in the dust beside the road, with pounding heart and trembling fingers, he was just moments from realising his pledge.

If God willed it.

Mirajdin was no more than an accidental insurgent. He fought the British simply because they were his rival’s allies. His forefathers had contested Barakzai domination long before the arrival of the Angrezi kafirs, and his descendants would continue to do so long after they had departed.”

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Das Monster von Amstetten

Women in ANA

Afghanistan’s Path to Women’s Rights Is Paved With Risk, but Built on Hope · Global Voices

Rustam Ali Seeram’s report makes for difficult reading. I see only an abundance of risk and a glimmer of hope. Although it’s hard to imagine how things could be worse, sadly it seems little has changed since 2012:

“According to its menfolk the city of Gereshk was a model for gender equality and required no further encouragement from Western infidels. It already had a school for girls and even allowed women to walk the streets – albeit covered with a burkha and escorted by a male member of the family. This was quite liberal enough.

Being an infidel, I personally believed that the vast majority of social problems in Afghanistan could ultimately be traced back to the absurd practice of gender segregation. I was pretty certain that nature had intended men and women to coexist and from time to time to engage in consensual sexual intercourse. But these were radical and seditious views that had no place in Helmand.

Curiously, the Ministry of Defence also imposed strict gender segregation rules on its representatives in Helmand and banned sexual congress entirely, not as some botched attempt at cultural sensitivity, but because ‘our personnel are expected to behave in accordance with the Armed Forces values and standards at all times’. It was never clear to me which of these values and standards applied to my sex life, but since this was an entirely solitary activity anyway it was not a question that ever came up, so to speak.

Despite their liberal tendencies, the male inhabitants of Gereshk still routinely imprisoned their wives and daughters in the family compound and subjected them to appalling abuse. Josef Fritzl – ‘Das Monster von Amstetten’ – who imprisoned his daughter in the basement of his house and abused her over a 24 year period, would have been considered an upstanding member of the community. But he was already serving a life sentence in an Austrian prison for the criminally insane.

What had shocked the whole of Europe and been utterly incomprehensible in Amstetten, however inconceivable it might sound, was culturally normal activity in Helmand.”

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the true story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Fantastical and mind-boggling

David CameronDavid Cameron calls Nigeria and Afghanistan ‘fantastically corrupt’ in conversation with the Queen.

via David Cameron calls Nigeria and Afghanistan ‘fantastically corrupt’ – BBC News

As I discovered firsthand, The Prime Minister is right. Afghanistan is fantastically, mind-bogglingly corrupt:

“At the top of the list was the District Governor (DG), Salim Rodi. In addition to his role as the official representative of the people of Nahr‑E‑Saraj District, like almost all appointees of the Government of the Islamic Republic (GIRoA) he was also heavily implicated in Helmand’s narcotics industry, believed to be responsible for around 75% of global opium production.

The pressures of high office in the violent international opium business, and the even more violent business of Helmandian politics, had taken their toll and he was also a heavy drinker. Rather like Jeffrey Bernard, only with perhaps greater justification, he was frequently too unwell to perform his gubernatorial duties.

Neither his drinking nor his role in the opium trade were condoned in any of the 48 copies of the Qur’an inadvertently reduced to ashes in the Bagram incinerators. Nonetheless the Governor was outraged at the news, although he grudgingly accepted our heartfelt apology.

The DG would later claim that he personally intervened to quell a riot when ‘hundreds’ of outraged citizens marched through Gereshk in protest. Since none of our ground units or reconnaissance assets reported any unusual public gatherings I concluded that the DG was extemporising. It seemed more likely to me that having failed to foment a riot himself, perhaps because he’d been too drunk at the time, he was attempting to spin his lack of incitive powers to his advantage.

Next on the list was the District Chief of Police, the appropriately abbreviated D‑CoP, Ghullie Khan. Like his boss the Governor, the D‑CoP was predictably involved in the narcotics business. To supplement this income he also used the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) department he commanded to collect illegal taxes from local citizens. There were a number of ISAF apologists who defended this unlawful activity as ‘culturally normal’. I even read a paper on the subject.

Personally, I was deeply sceptical of this point of view. The truth was that ISAF seemed powerless to prevent the endemic corruption that pervaded every level of the AUP, and not a little ashamed that the primary source of these illegal taxes was a levy on the use of the main highways that bisected the district – all of which had been funded at great expense with international aid.

No one in ISAF was really sure how much the illegal taxation business was worth in Nahr‑E‑Saraj but it wasn’t petty cash. Ghullie Khan had previously been a senior police officer in the neighbouring district of Sangin. He had been removed from this post after an ISAF investigation revealed that he’d been sodomizing little boys there. In the wake of this scandal his boss, Nabi Elham – the Provincial Chief of Police – naturally promoted him to be top cop in Nahr‑E‑Saraj, although it was rumoured that he’d first demanded a bribe of half a million US dollars.

There were ISAF papers defending paedophilia and bribery as culturally normal activities too, although I didn’t waste any time reading them. Culturally normal or not, I reckoned that the citizens of those countries that had helped to fund the district’s new highways would be dismayed to learn that they were now being used to line the pockets of a known pederast, drug baron and all round bad guy.

Ghullie’s favourite son, Zaibiullah was a chip off the old block and had followed his father into the AUP. When a local shopkeeper failed to pay his taxes on time he tied his arms and legs together and drowned him into the Nahr‑E‑Buhgra canal to teach him a lesson. Such was Zaibiullah’s intellect that it was quite possible to imagine him warning the drowning man that next time he failed to pay Zaibiullah would put a bullet in his head.

It was just as possible to imagine some obscure ISAF department publishing a paper defending drowning as a culturally normal method of deterrence in much the same way that waterboarding was a culturally normal interview technique in the United States.”

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the true story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

District Council Elections

DCC Election Poster

Voters go to the polls across the UK today to elect their district councils. The democratic process was a little different in Afghanistan:

“NAHR‑E‑SARAJ IS ONE of 14 districts which make up Helmand Province. Each is governed by a council of elected officials known as the District Community Council (DCC). This was an entirely Western institution conceived by the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team (HPRT) and overseen by the DST. Founded in 2010, elections were to be held every couple of years when each of the mosques in the district would be entitled to select three men to represent them. These representatives would then form an electoral college who would vote on the 20 or so from their number who would actually serve as DCC councillors.

Gereshk being a shockingly liberal city, the Nahr‑E‑Saraj DCC was unique in Helmand Province in having a small number of female councillors. This was something the DST had insisted upon at the initial election and which had been grudgingly accepted by the district’s menfolk. To get around the obvious problems of actually allowing women a free vote, or the possibility that a female might defeat a male election candidate, such women as were permitted to do so by their husbands held a separate vote to select only the female councillors. On election, these token women councillors were not allowed to join their male colleagues at the council table and were authorised to debate and vote only on women’s issues. No one seemed entirely clear what these gender specific issues were, but this didn’t matter because they were never discussed.

Despite these rather obvious flaws, the DST took great pride in its female councillors. To my mind, rather than representing progress towards gender equality, they highlighted the lack of it.

It was not only women who lacked representation on the Community Council. Many of the outlying areas in the district did not have a councillor to represent them. This was because these areas were under the control of the Taliban who had not conveniently signed up to the PRT’s plan to bring democracy to Helmand Province. In fact the Taliban had so actively discouraged participation in the DCC that a few would‑be councillors had died of democracy as they slept in their beds. Somehow, the PRT managed to find the silver lining even in these assassinations by declaring that this demonstrated the ‘resilience’ of the DCC institution.

In reality, while the DST looked the other way, Balool Khan the DCC’s venerable Chairman, a former Mujahideen fighter, gifted these vacant seats to his friends and tribal allies without the need for troublesome elections and they, in turn, re‑elected him as Chairman. This way Balool retained control of the Council and ensured that his own tribesmen were first in line for any handouts from the District Development Fund. This purported to be a state fund managed by the Ministry of Finance in Kabul. It was in reality a multi‑donor international aid package less an undisclosed percentage skimmed off by Ministry of Finance mandarins. This was how democracy worked in Afghanistan and by these standards it worked very well in Nahr‑E‑Saraj.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised. The PRT was, after all, trying to overlay democracy onto a regime of tribal patronage that had been in existence long before the birth of democracy in Athens around 510BC. Balool Khan was a wise old bird and I was pretty certain that as far as he was concerned the DCC’s only purpose was to part the infidel from his money. It was fair to say that he easily out‑smarted any of the DST officials, and I had to admire his ability to run rings around them. It seemed inevitable that he would revert to the old patronage system as soon as the funding dried up.

Naturally, the Helmand PRT glossed over these failings and relentlessly communicated progress in expanding governance and the delivery of basic services, when no such progress existed.

Having imposed the DCC construct on the province two years earlier, an election was now due. Between the DST’s incompetence, Balool Khan’s contrivance and the Taliban’s intimidation the Nahr‑E‑Saraj DCC had failed from the outset to represent the people of the district but this was an ideal opportunity to redress this parlous state of affairs. Giving residents the opportunity to vote for their chosen representatives and thereby gain some influence and control over their own future might just compel them to support the GIRoA administration.

The PRT was responsible for running the election and made it very clear from the outset that they did not require, or desire, military assistance in this matter. Much to my surprise residents of the district were to be given just ten days notice of the impending election. When I raised my concerns about the brevity of this timeline, the Helmand PRT’s Governance Advisor helpfully explained to me that this was intentional. His team would not be able to cope with large numbers of citizens actually turning out to vote. In a revelatory late‑night conversation in the J9 cell he further elucidated that it was important to create the semblance of an election without going to the trouble of actually holding an election. In his opinion this would be unnecessarily bothersome and might even result in candidates considered undesirable by the PRT getting elected.

I was stunned. In part by the suspiciously racist manner in which the GOVAD appeared to view the populace of Helmand. In far greater part by the implication that American, British and Danish soldiers were risking, and losing, their lives in the district so that the PRT could create the semblance of an election.”

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the true story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book


Old Man in Helmand

John Reid

On this day ten years ago, during a visit to Kabul, John Reid, the then Secretary of State for Defence, committed British troops to Helmand Province for the first time. He declared: “We’re in the south to help and protect the Afghan people to reconstruct their economy and democracy. We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years time without firing one shot.”

However earnestly he might have held this aspiration it has always struck me as a forlorn hope. If you send men with guns to do a job, the solution to the problem facing them is likely to involve using the tools of their trade. With the benefit of hindsight, I can be fairly certain that John Reid has regretted these words. Three years later in July 2009, with no clear exit strategy and the death toll mounting, he was forced to state in the House of Commons: “I never at any stage expressed the hope, expectation, promise or pledge that we would leave Afghanistan without firing a shot.”

A month later the Daily Telegraph produced a report which contained the calculation that, in the three year period between Reid’s first statement and his subsequent clarification to the House of Commons, the British Army had in fact fired 12,282,300 ‘shots’ in Afghanistan. At a rate of more than 12,000 rounds every day, if this estimate was accurate, it didn’t sound to me like there was a lot of time left over for reconstructing the Afghan economy or democracy.

By 2012 I don’t believe we were expending ammunition at anything like this rate, but this is not to underestimate the scale and ferocity of the fighting. We still experienced skirmishes, or contacts, on a daily basis. My own introduction to Afghan combat came just a few days into our tour when a routine patrol to visit an outlying base in the very north of our area of operations came under attack from multiple firing points. Outnumbered and outgunned the patrol commander coolly requested fire support from the mortars in nearby Khar-Nikar, a base which housed a company strength group from the Royal Ghurkha Rifles. In a 20‑minute period, under direction from the patrol commander, the mortars fired over 200 high explosive rounds before the enemy finally broke contact, allowing the patrol to continue on its task.

Although I’d been in contacts before, I’d never personally experienced anything like this intensity of combat. Listening to the reports coming in from the safety of the operations room, I was struck by the relative calm not only of those involved on the ground but also of the men and women in the ops room coordinating our response. I was the oldest man there by some margin, but I was surrounded by veterans of over ten years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq for whom this was a routine occurrence.

I was in awe at their professionalism, and more than a little anxious at the prospect of going on the ground myself. How would I react in a similar situation? With four previous operational tours under my belt, and an award for service in Bosnia in 1996, I’d always considered myself a seasoned soldier. As I watched the drama of the contact unfold the realisation dawned that, despite my advanced years and prior service, I was merely a novice. It was now clear to me why one of my instructors back in the UK had described the Upper Gereshk Valley as the University of Close Quarter Combat.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the true story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. All infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

Available today on Amazon Kindle for the special introductory price of £3.99.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand. A true story.