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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Ex-soldier blasts Afghan campaign
British troops in Helmand province
British troops in Afghanistan lack equipment, claims Capt Docherty
A former soldier who served in Afghanistan has criticised the military campaign in the country.

Captain Leo Docherty was so unhappy with operations in Helmand province he quit the British Army last month.

The campaign was "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency" the ex-aide de camp to the commander of the UK taskforce told the Sunday Times.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was made clear from the beginning that it would be a "tough mission".

Capt Docherty also criticised a lack of equipment and tactics which he said had turned Afghans against British forces.

'Grotesquely clumsy'

"Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse," the former Scots Guardsman was quoted as saying.

Now the ground has been lost and all we're doing in places like Sangin is surviving
Captain Leo Docherty

He said: "All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British.

"It's a pretty clear equation - if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would."

Capt Docherty described the campaign as "grotesquely clumsy" and said the British were no different to US forces by bombing and strafing villages.

He said when troops took the town of Sangin they did not have night-vision goggles and were so short of vehicles they had to borrow a pick-up truck.

The British threw away the opportunity to win over locals by failing to carry out development work because of a lack of support, Capt Docherty added.

"Now the ground has been lost and all we're doing in places like Sangin is surviving. It's completely barking mad."

'Robust package'

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it was made clear from the beginning by the then defence secretary that it would be a "tough mission".

He said: "John Reid said at the time that ideally we'd like to come away without a shot being fired but that this would be a dangerous mission because the terrorists want to destroy the economy and legitimate trade and the government that we are helping to build up.

"We sent a very robust package to Afghanistan which included Apache attack helicopters, artillery, paratroopers and special forces, and we upped numbers in July."

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, commander of 3 Para in Helmand, said morale had never been higher, the spokesman added.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force has been battling Taleban fighters in southern Afghanistan after taking over from a US-led coalition in July.


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