Paul Judge: UK sacrifices in Afghanistan should be brought in line with others'

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The Independent Online

We all salute the courage and discipline of our troops in Afghanistan. They are doing their duty with professionalism as part of Nato's campaign. However our politicians in London, enjoying their feather-bedded existence and expenses, increasingly look like First World War generals in the comfort of a chateau while sending soldiers to their deaths.

Nato is the cornerstone of our defence and the UK should play its full part. That does not, however, mean that we should provide a disproportionate share of its resources.

The Jury Team political party has analysed the latest information from ISAF, the Nato Afghanistan military command. This shows that we are providing three times more troops per head of population than our European Nato allies. The UK with 9,500 troops ,has 154 soldiers per million of population. In contrast France, Germany and Italy have a ratio of only 58, 54 and 52 per million respectively, and Spain, Portugal and Greece only have 23, 10 and 1 per million. We also have more than the US, which has 152 per million.

The position on fatalities is even more agonising. Relative to our size we have had over 12 times more deaths than our European Nato allies. In 2006 the army was redeployed to Afghanistan and John Reid, the Defence Secretary at the time, famously said that "our boys" might leave in three years "without a shot being fired". During 2006-9, Britain suffered 240 troops killed from its 61 million population. In the same period all other European Nato countries combined have only had 169 deaths from a total population of 495 million.

The Jury Team believes our policy should be to limit the number of British troops sent to Afghanistan to the average number sent by other Nato countries (relative to their population). Our polling through YouGov shows that 67 per cent of the electorate agree with this proposal and only 14 per cent disagree. Its implementation would reduce our troop numbers from 9,500 to around 4,000, a difference of only 7 per cent of total Nato forces deployed.

More British lives will be lost unnecessarily until our current Westminster leaders stop politicising war and overstretching their loyal military.



Sir Paul Judge is leader of the Jury Team: www.juryteam.org.

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