The first phase of a bitterly fought British military operation in southern Afghanistan is over and has succeeded in driving the Taleban out of a former stronghold, senior officials said today. This we get via The Times and others.
Three thousand UK-led soldiers inflicted "significant" losses on insurgents in Helmand province during the five-week Operation Panchai Palang, or Panther's Claw. Thus, Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of Task Force Helmand, says: "What we have achieved here is significant and I am absolutely certain that the operation has been a success."
One does not have to be a cynic to wonder whether we have heard this all before – just a long memory and Google:
When regular troops try to escape from the defensive posture into which fighting guerillas force them, the usual result is the so-called sweep operation. The purpose of a sweep is to catch guerrilla and infrastructure members by a sudden descent on a village (or district) in which they are thought to be located. Sweeps were usually unsuccessful in Viet Nam, as they had been in Malaya ...Meanwhile, Miliband wants to talk to the Taleban. The full monte is here. Do we have another Musa Qala in the making (or Basra, for that matter), where we hand it all back and proclaim a victory?
To think that, of course, really would be cynical. Repeat after me: our masters, who art in Heaven, know what they are doing ... our masters ...