Army officer quits in protest at 'mad' Afghan war

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The Independent Online

The former aide-de-camp to a senior commander in the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has reportedly resigned from the Army in protest at its "grotesquely clumsy" campaign against the Taliban.

Captain Leo Docherty was ADC to Col Charlie Knaggs, the commander of British forces in Helmand, but left the Army last month after becoming disillusioned with its strategy in the restive province.

"We've been grotesquely clumsy - we've said we'll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them," he said.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Docherty said the campaign was "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency."

British operations have been dogged by a badly-planned strategy, a lack of local knowledge, and shortage of troops and resources.

The British mission has "deviated spectacularly" from its original aim of be nation-building, and troops are now scattered throughout towns in northern Helmand, where their only hope of survival is "to increase the level of violence so more people get killed".

"It's pretty shocking and not something I want to be part of," he said.

"Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse. All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British.

"The plan was to secure the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, initiate development projects and enable governance ... During this time, the insecure northern part of Helmand would be contained: troops would not be 'sucked in' to a problem unsolvable by military means alone," Docherty said.

The plan "fell by the wayside" due to pressure from the provincial governor who feared the Taliban were targeting local chiefs . "Now the ground has been lost and all we're doing in places like Sangin is surviving. It's completely barking mad," he said.