'It didn't have to be this way': Ex-army Major gives take on Afghanistan crisis

16 August 2021, 16:05

'It didn't have to be this way': Ex-army Major gives take on Afghanistan crisis
'It didn't have to be this way': Ex-army Major gives take on Afghanistan crisis. Picture: LBC/@PSFAERO

By Tim Dodd

Former British army Major Andrew Fox has told LBC the speed with which Western troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan is "upsetting" and that it "didn't really have to be this way", following the Taliban's takeover of the country.

It comes as Keir Starmer has called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to 'show some leadership' amid the 'tragic' crisis in Afghanistan.

Andrew Fox is former Major in the British army who was deployed on three operational Tours to Afghanistan.

Speaking to Shelagh Fogarty, Mr Fox said: "I think we're doing effectively what we can. The house of cards that we built over the last twenty years has really come tumbling down over the last week, and really we don't have many options on the table.

"Without America the British armed forces don't have enough manpower or assets to conduct independent operations.

"Really all we can do at the moment is try and get out everyone to whom we owe transport to the UK."

The comments come after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace admitted on LBC "some people won't get back" from Afghanistan as a desperate struggle to get UK nationals and local allies out of the country continues.

People try to cling to the slide of US Air Force plane leaving Kabul

Shelagh then asked Mr Fox how he interpreted the Defence Secretary's comments.

"The only part of Afghanistan that we really have any control over right now is Kabul airport. When it comes to a non-combatant evacuation operation it's really the job of people in the country to get to the evacuation handling centres.

"So the bottom line is, if you can't get to Kabul airport and you want the British to lift you out then really you are in a very difficult situation."

Shelagh asked: "What are your reflections, as a soldier, on this being the manner in which we leave [Afghanistan]?"

"It's the speed of it that really upsets us. It didn't really have to be this way," said Mr Fox.

"If we'd done a more graduated handover to the Taliban if that's what we'd decided we wanted to do... there's a chance that this might not have been so rapid.

Mr Fox continued: "I've seen pictures of people that I've worked with who have been dragged out of their homes and shot in front of their families.

"This is not a Taliban 2.0 who are going to be super in favour of women's rights, it's just not going to happen.

"The minute Mr Trump made that deal, and the minute Mr Biden made the decision to carry on with it, Afghanistan was lost and it was all about how we handed over."

Mr Fox was referring to a permanent ceasefire which was agreed between the US and the Taliban in 2020, in which the US agreed to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.

"I think we've not handed over in a particularly morally acceptable way," he said.

Read more: Afghan minister confirms 'peaceful transfer of power' to 'transitional government'

Read more: 'I won't leave my wife to die alone': British father refuses to flee Afghanistan

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