50th Briton dies in Afghan operation

12.jpg“The ground has been lost and all we are doing is surviving,” Capt Docherty said. “It’s completely barking mad.”


Armed Forces yesterday suffered their 50th death since moving into Helmand province in Afghanistan.  
A soldier of the 1st Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment was killed yesterday morning as a result of “enemy action”, the Ministry of Defence said.  
His next of kin have been informed and his name is expected to be released later today.  
Criticism of the operation in Helmand has intensified since the deployment of the troops was announced in 2005 by John Reid when he was defence secretary.  
After the announcement, Mr Reid said: “We hope we will leave Afghanistan without firing a single shot.”  
Many of the problems being encountered are because the nature of the mission has changed radically. The 3,000 British troops were to assist the Afghan authorities in eradicating the poppy harvest, which accounts for 95 per cent of the heroin in Britain.  
It was hoped that the troops would not be involved in fighting the Taliban, even though Taliban commanders have close links to drug barons.  
However, they have come under attack on a virtually daily basis in the Taliban stronghold amid concerns that the mission does not have sufficient men and equipment to deal with the threat.  
The operation was criticised as “grotesquely clumsy” by Capt Leo Docherty, a former aide-de-camp to the commander of British forces in Helmand.  
He said it was a “textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency”, adding that commanders had been “sucked into a problem unsolvable by military means” and were now caught in the middle of a civil war.  
“The ground has been lost and all we are doing is surviving,” Capt Docherty said. “It’s completely barking mad.”  
MoD names soldier killed in Afghanistan  

A British soldier killed in Afghanistan had survived service in Iraq and was engaged to be married, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Wednesday.  
It paid tribute to the dead soldier, 31-year-old Corporal Darren Bonner of the 1st battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment.  
The soldier, affectionately known as “Big Daz”, died when an explosion hit a convoy in which he was travelling in the Gereshk region of Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on Monday.  
Cpl Bonner – the lead signaller with A (Norfolk) Company – was engaged and looking forward to the prospect of marriage and buying a home in Great Yarmouth after his tour of duty in Afghanistan, the MoD said in a statement.  
Britain sent thousands of troops to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan a year ago with an expanding NATO peacekeeping force.  
Almost 600 foreign military personnel – 10 percent of them Britons – have died in Afghanistan since the Taliban government was toppled in 2001.  

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