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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 11:03 GMT
Should UK troops be sent to Afghanistan?
UK troops face serious danger if they are sent into Afghanistan when there is confusion on the ground, a former defence minister has warned.
Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle said UK soldiers faced "very, very grave dangers if they were to go into a situation the intelligence on which is extremely sketchy".
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said British forces could be used in future frontline offensives against the Taleban and has put troops on a heightened state of alert.
However, he told MPs that any role the troops will take is likely to mainly involve the safe passage of humanitarian supplies.
Do you think that the UK's soldiers have a role to play in rebuilding Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban? Or do you feel that such a move would place an even greater burden on an already overstretched armed forces?
This debate is not closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Yes and no. Yes if they are to protect the civilians from any further loss of life due to ethnic differences and instability of the Northern Alliance. However, if this leads to the UK having a dominant role in the formation of a new Afghanistan government, then no. History has proven them to be a failure; just look at the British Mandate in Palestine prior to 1948 and the situation that developed after.
Mashtin Bakir, Egypt
If Afghanistan then why not the West Bank?
Rebecca F, UK
Having lived in London for a year, I can say that I have a great respect for the armed forces of the UK. However, if and when it is necessary for a stabilising force, I feel a UN multinational force is much more favorable to a simply British or American force.
With some of the finest soldiers in the world, already well experienced in peacekeeping roles, I see no reason why the British Army once again should not be at the forefront of such a role.
We should also take this opportunity however, to pass our expertise on to other peacekeeping nations, to enable them to take on the burden of such responsibilities.
The British Army would be itching to get in. Then they'll be able to get operational experience and increased funding. Good fortune, lads!
I strongly believe that British troops should not be involved. I am reminded of the US mission in Somalia, which was also a humanitarian mission. The pictures of mutilated US servicemen being dragged through the streets should serve as a lesson that good intentions are not universally understood or accepted. Afghanistan must be one of the most dangerous parts of the world. How many British soldiers are we prepared to sacrifice in a country that hasn't known peace for decades?
Yes, we need to be seen to put our money where our mouth is before the world - and that means committing troops to peacekeeping and distributing humanitarian aid.
David N, USA
We should limit our involvement to the provision of aid. Afghanistan has had too many countries meddling in its affairs. Let them get on with rebuilding the country without outside armies interfering.
With tribal divisions so rampant, I wonder if western troops can ever be expected to assist Afghanistan to operate as a viable country. In the long run the best solution would be to divvy up the country along the tribal line and hope for the best.
Our son has just been placed on 48 hours notice to go to Afghanistan. He is a professional soldier as was his father, both grandfathers and great grandfathers before him and many generations before back to the Zulu Wars and beyond. No, his mother and I certainly do not want him to go to Afghanistan.
Sending troops to Afghanistan is just what the Taleban and al-Qaeda want, to get US/UK troops at their crosshairs.
As a key member of the US led operation in Afghanistan, Britain must shoulder some of the responsibility for policing Afghanistan and ensuring that aid gets through to the Afghan people. However, it would be wrong for other countries to not also send in their troops. Not because of the cost of the operation, that is irrelevant as our actions have created a duty to act, but because the situation in Afghanistan must not be seen as a victory for the west over the east. This was not the case, and this should be reflected in the make-up of the nations that send troops to Afghanistan.
The UK's soldiers have a role to play in rebuilding Afghanistan after the Taleban fall because I consider the Military to be a disciplined organisation with many expertise and talents in various skills. Putting these skills together will be a great help in rebuilding Afghanistan.
I feel that the whole world has a part to play in the rebuilding of Afghanistan after we rid the world of tyranny and terrorists. The people of every country are as much at risk against these maniacs as America. When everyone stands together against such tyranny, we will all be a lot safer. I am British but am at present travelling around the world, but feel that my country (England) is as much a part of this as any other country and need to play our part alongside America, in our fight to save the free world!
There is no doubt that the British armed forces are amongst the best trained in the world and would contribute greatly to the stabilisation of the situation in Afghanistan. However it must be asked why are we contributing? The British Army is overstretched and under-funded and this is another drain upon our resources, which we do not need. The Army does not even have radios with secure communications, and there have been doubts expressed about whether these would work in mountainous areas. The burden of international peacekeeping and security must now fall upon other nations.
Finally, Blair must ask himself whether he wants to be committing British troops to an area, which has historically been a killing ground for foreign armies. Too often during the crisis Blair has rushed in without thinking of his actions, this is one more example and questions must be asked whether we should be risking the lives of our soldiers in exchange for currying favour with the US.
Nick (UK) is unjust in his comments regarding Tony Blair, who has provided a much-needed sense of political perspective lacking in George Bush. I have faith in Tony, I don't in George, which makes it vital that the UK and other countries retain influence with US policy. After all, this not just about the US, it affects European and Middle Eastern countries as well as Afghanistan. If there is a meaningful role for UK troops to play, they should be despatched, along with German, French, Italian, Japanese and also from various Muslim nations, so that this not just a US operation, but a unified effort under the UN umbrella or co-ordination.
Natassia Khan, UK
I would reluctantly be prepared to get embroiled in Afghanistan but only on a fairly temporary basis and as long as there was a humanitarian aspect to the role.
I would prefer to see any major UN troop deployments in the area being undertaken by Muslim forces.
Yes, we should send in the army. The British Army has proved hugely successful over the last 15 years at bringing peace to unstable regions (Kosovo, Sierra Leone etc, etc).
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