There was a time when the British were made of sterner stuff. “British troops hide from bombers,” by Michael Smith in the TimesOnline, :
BRITISH troops in the two main towns in the southern Afghan province of Helmand have been forced to stay in their barracks by the threat of Taliban suicide bombers.
The decision to keep the troops in their bases follows intelligence that suicide bombers are waiting in the province’s two main towns to attack British troops, said Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Price.
The would-be suicide bombers in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and in the town of Gereshk were wired up with explosives and waiting for a British convoy. “We have suicide bombers physically walking around in Lashkar Gah and Gereshk looking for us “” a lot of them are not locals,” Price said. “More and more they”re following the Iraqi example.”
Price, spokesman for the British forces in Helmand, said there was a “lockdown” of the two British bases. “There is no movement, no soldier, no police or the Afghan army,” he said. “We”re not going out and the Afghan police and army aren’t going out.”
The “lockdown” raises questions about how the Royal Marine commandos who last month replaced British paratroopers in Helmand will provide security to allow reconstruction projects to go ahead.
Lieutenant-General David Richards, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, has said that he wants British troops to withdraw from the northern outposts of Helmand and concentrate on creating safe development zones in Lashkar Gah and Gereshk.
By focusing reconstruction efforts on those two towns, Richards hopes to persuade residents that they are better off without the Taliban. But that will be impossible unless British and Afghan forces can provide security.
Reconstruction won’t persuade them of anything. The Taliban argue on Islamic grounds. The British have no response to that. Neither does Hamid Karzai.