Afghanistan is our Vietnam: Hammond
KABUL (PAN): British defence secretary Philip Hammond has admitted that the long war in Afghanistan had left Britain wary of more major military engagements abroad, calling it the Vietnam phenomenon that sapped America’s will to fight.
''You might call it the Vietnam phenomenon: when an engagement turns out to be longer and more costly than originally envisaged,” Hammond said in interview during a trip to southern Helmand province.
So far 444 British military personnel have died, and thousands more have been seriously injured since Britain began its Afghan operations in 2001 with a drive to topple the Taliban government in Kabul.
Hammond admitted that the length and cost of the conflict has reduced Britain's willingness to conduct major military interventions.
''I suspect that the British people - and not just the British people - will be wary of enduring engagements on this kind of scale for perhaps quite a long while,'' he said at Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand.
The US involvement in Vietnam spanned three decades and ended in 1975 with a humiliating retreat. But instead of ruling out all future interventions, Hammond said that early action can avert crises. Had the West taken a role in Afghanistan earlier, he said, the prolonged war might have been avoided.
Instead of deployments of thousands of troops to combat zones, Britain should focus on smaller, earlier missions to ''snuff out'' terrorist groups and other threats.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.