British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since before it was called Afghanistan.
The awful news yesterday of six young men killed by an IED is a reminder of a war that doesn’t really have a purpose anymore.
The original invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 was in response to 911.
The Taliban regime would not give up their Al Qaeda guests.
When the coalition, will full UN authority, invaded Afghanistan Bin Laden and his entourage quickly escaped to Pakistan.
At that point, there was little reason to remain in the country.
“Mission creep” is the curse of the modern soldier. They are deployed into theatre to do a job then the job changes and then it changes again.
There is a fantasy that was received wisdom among the policy wonks and think tank suits a decade ago.
It is called “nation building” and it is nonsense.
In the Hindu Kush the indigenous people have been in situ for several thousand years.
In that time, on their own, with no outside interference they haven’t built a single stretch of road.
That’s a clue to how they see the world.
Their universe is their valley where they grow poppies, tend livestock and pass on the ancient hatreds that they were taught as children about the neighbouring clan.
These are tribal, crazy noble people.
We don’t understand them, and they don’t want to know us.
The idea that such a society can be turned into a Scandinavian democracy in a few years because of the presence of aid workers protected by a force of foreign soldiery is risible.
These men are not stupid as they can construct an undetectable IED that can take out a Warrior armoured vehicle.
The presence of line regiments is precisely what the architect of 911 wanted.
However, the military operation that extinguished Bin Laden in Pakistan is exactly what should have happened in 2002.
Observe, Locate, strike and leave.
The leader of Al Qaeda hoped that the west would invade in force and that he would get a chance to fight them on the terrain that his fighters knew.
His Jihadi had defeated the Soviet Army there, and he thought he could do the same with the West.
The Saudi knew that the presence of foreign troops in places like Helmand would swell the ranks of his army once more.
The extent to which Al Qaeda is still a cohesive organisation is a moot point.
If it does exist it operates out of Bin Laden’s ancestral homeland of Yemen and the Mogadishu panhandle.
Yet the NATO presence remains in Afghanistan because no one really knows what to do.
The kit bags are being packed for 2014 when victory will be proclaimed.
The men who planted the IED to deadly effect will still be there.
They have always been there.
They confounded the tactical brilliance of Alexander the Great and were only bested by the brutality of the Golden Horde.
The Mongol maniac’s DNA is still there and in high mountain valleys men with the blood of Genghis Khan cradle Kalashnikovs and pray to Allah.
I would suggest that this is not the combination you want in your enemy dear reader.
This is the fourth war in this part of the world since the 19th century in which British soldiers have perished.
The other three were stupid as well.
Bring them home.