Thursday, 17 January 2008

Robert Gates: How to win friends and influence people

At about the same time as Brigadier Andrew Mackay was speaking of the steady progress British forces were making in the battle for hearts and minds in southern Afghanistan and the successes they were having in training the Afghan National Army (see below), the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates was publicly slagging off the British, Dutch, Canadians and other allies for their "lack of experience".
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gates said:"I'm worried we're deploying [military advisers] that are not properly trained and I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations. Most of the European forces, Nato forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency. ....Our [American] guys in the east are doing a terrific job. They've got the counterinsurgency thing down pat. But I think our allies over there [in southern Afghanistan], this is not something they have any experience with."
Well thank you Mr Gates. Perhaps you'd like to say that to the families of the British service personnel who have given up their lives or been wounded in Afghanistan. As Tory MP Patrick Mercer said Gates' remarks are “bloody outrageous". His comments are as insulting as they are inaccurate; they are devisive, demoralising and serve only to bolster the Taliban.

Link> The Times: Outrage as US accuses Britain of inexperience in Taleban conflict
Link> Radio Netherlands: Dutch MPs reject US reaction to Gates' remarks
Link> LA Times: Gates faults NATO force in southern Afghanistan