BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 20 May, 2002, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Lane and the wild goose chase
Brigadier Roger Lane
Brigadier Roger Lane - well respected by his men

Controversy erupted in Britain after the Ministry of Defence announced it was to replace the commander of Britain's Royal Marines in Afghanistan - Brigadier Roger Lane - for "administrative reasons".

There has been strong media criticism of the Royal Marines' role - they have not exchanged fire with the enemy since arriving in Afghanistan early last month - but the MoD insists Brigadier Lane has the full confidence of Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.


Brigadier Roger Lane is a pugnacious officer and by all accounts well respected by his men.

But the Royal Marines' operation in Afghanistan has not lived up to the expectations of much of the British media.

In sending in the marines the British Government said that their role would be to hunt down and destroy remaining al-Qaeda and Taleban elements.

Brigadier Lane himself has talked about "closing with the enemy", but that enemy has proved elusive.

Frustrated

The marines have conducted a number of offensive sweeps through difficult terrain but have not had any contact with either al-Qaeda or Taleban fighters.

The Royal Marines themselves are frustrated; no doubt Brigadier Lane is frustrated.

And sections of the British press have sought to ridicule the operation as a wild goose chase.

Only on Sunday, the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said that Brigadier Lane enjoyed his full confidence.

Less than 24 hours later comes the admission that Brigadier Lane is to be replaced.

Tensions

An MoD spokesman claimed that his was simply an administrative matter that had been determined a long time ago.

The aim is to give another officer - Brigadier James Dutton - time at the helm of Three Commando Brigade so as to provide two experienced contenders for the post of Commandant of the Royal Marines when the top job falls vacant in about a year's time.

While Brigadier Lane's soldiering has never been questioned, many have commented on some tensions in his dealings with the media.

Good press relations are an essential requirement for any senior operational officer.

But the MoD's own dealings with the media have also proved shambolic - praising Brigadier Lane one day, then announcing his replacement the next.

Find out more about the Royal Marines in Afghanistan


Analysis

FACT FILE

TALKING POINT
See also:

19 May 02 | UK Politics
18 May 02 | South Asia
18 May 02 | South Asia
18 May 02 | UK Politics
22 Jan 02 | T-Z
23 Jan 02 | Health
17 May 02 | UK Politics
20 May 02 | UK Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes