Saturday, June 02, 2007
Redressing the balance
Troops are frustrated that we - the British public - are not more appreciative of the constructive work being undertaken by our soldiers. Philip "Taff" Bartlett, one of the Welsh Guards' pallbearers for Diana, Princess of Wales, said: "Our families say we are not receiving much recognition, when guys are working their backsides off in dangerous conditions."
"It's a bit close for comfort sometimes," says Pte Tom Holt, 1Bn the Royal Anglians, drenched in sweat from the remorseless heat of battle and the baking sun. "A lot of friends back home don't understand what's going on here or what we are doing."
But they should, writes Thomas Harding in today's Daily Telegraph. For this offensive could determine the success or failure of the West's forgotten war against the Taliban.
"Whisper it for now," he adds, "but this is a war, a necessary war, that the West might just win. It would be an outcome that would change geo-politics. But the war's most shocking feature is that back on the Anglian plains and indeed across Albion, few seem to care. Listen."
Credit where it is due. After my highly critical piece on Wednesday, this long, well-written account of UK-led Operation Lastay Kulang, which has been continuing in northern Helmand Province, goes some way to make up for this paper's own shortcomings in its reporting of the Afghan campaign.
Two pieces on the MoD website (with some superb photography) - here and here - also help to redress the balance of the sustained negative reporting that we have seen.
There are interesting issues which emerge from the reports which we will address in a longer report of our own, tomorrow. For the moment though, suffice to say "well done" to those who have conducted the operations, those who support them and to Harding, who put himself at some personal risk to make his report.