Tag Archives: NATO

Extraordinary Moment or Catastrophe?

Jonathan Beale returns to Afghanistan for the BBC and reports on the recent three day ceasefire in Kabul when Taliban fighters and Afghan National Army soldiers posed together for the cameras.

Despite a recruitment crisis in the Afghan National Army, with some units 70% undermanned, Senior NATO commanders see this as progress and evidence that ‘the strategy is working’.  Lt Gen Richard Cripwell, the most senior British military officer in Afghanistan, describes it as an “extraordinary moment”.

But, as Jonathan so rightly points out, “then again that’s exactly what I heard so many times from so many senior British army officers during their time in Helmand.”

His words seem painfully prophetic. In the same news cycle, the New York Times reports that elsewhere in Afghanistan government forces have lost over 200 officers and soldiers killed in action in sustained attacks over the weekend by Taliban insurgents. According to a senior Afghan security official, speaking anonymously because of the delicacy of the issue, “It was a catastrophe.”

Are we still doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome?

Chris Green is a former soldier and businessman. In 2012 he spent nine months in Helmand Province Afghanistan as a member of the International Security Assistance Force. He subsequently authored a critically acclaimed book, SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand, A true story of love, service and incompetence. He regularly blogs on defence and current affairs issues.

Ten reasons to read SPIN ZHIRA.

‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick HennesseyThe Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘A must read.’
Richard DorneyThe Killing Zone 

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

‘First Class.’
Doug Beattie MC, An Ordinary Soldier

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’
Dr Mike MartinAn Intimate war

What others are saying about SPIN ZHIRA.

Outlandish Claims

According to the Daily Mail, General Sir Richard Shirreff’s book has not gone down well in Whitehall. I love this quote from a “Whitehall source”:
‘This guy has made a series of outlandish claims over the years. He’s trying to sell a book, so you have to expect such outbursts.’
Presumably that’s why they promoted him to General, knighted him and then made him top dog at NATO.
I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Whitehall don’t want you to read his book – which is exactly why I’m going to.

Outnumbered, Outranged and Outgunned


Russian Tank

In their article for War on the Rocks, David Schlapak and Michael Johnson reveal that NATO is outnumbered, outranged and outgunned by a resurgent Russia. They theorise that if “Russia were to conduct a short-warning attack against the Baltic States, Moscow’s forces could roll to the outskirts of the Estonian capital of Tallinn and the Latvian capital of Riga in 36 to 60 hours.” In order to stave off this threat they conclude that the US and its allies must develop an “improved posture and thoughtful, targeted modernization of the joint force.”

It’s a tactically sound analysis of the relative capabilities of Russian and NATO military hardware but it assumes that overwhelming force is a decisive advantage. As NATO and Russia both discovered to their cost in Afghanistan this is not the case. The ability to play a long game is far more decisive than the ability to match force with force.