BRITISH forces in Afghanistan have, just this month, suffered their highest injury rate since they invaded in 2001, new Ministry of Defence figures show.
A total of 57 UK troops were wounded in action in the first two weeks of July, compared with 46 in the whole of June and 24 in May.
Of the injuries in the first 15 days of July, 16 service personnel were seriously or very seriously wounded.
July has also seen the most deaths – some 22 – since operations began.
The rise in injuries and deaths came as UK forces completed the first phase of their heaviest offensive yet – Operation Panther’s Claw – against the Taleban ahead of elections on August 20.
This year so far, 61 have been ‘seriously’ or ‘very seriously’ hurt, compared with a total of 65 for the whole of 2008.
A military surgeon said that treating the dying and wounded resulting from Operation Panther’s Claw had proved a ‘very challenging’ and ‘We have certainly seen a surge in casualties. It is difficult to see young, fit guys who may have to have multiple amputations.
‘We try to salvage limbs, but at the same time we have to preserve life.’
Earlier, the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth admitted that it had ‘possibly’ been a mistake for the government to seek to reduce payouts made by a pensions appeal tribunal to two badly wounded servicemen.
Here the government is caught in a cynical contradiction of its own making.
The latest medical science is being used by it to keep very seriously wounded soldiers alive, who a few years ago it would have been impossible to save.
The government has been desperately seeking to keep the death rate down, fearful that if it rises further they will be forced out of Afghanistan by the working class in the UK.
However, soldiers who are barely alive require continuing medical treatment and very expensive equipment in order to carry on living.
Faced with this expense the MoD and the government have been showing just how much they really care about ‘our boys’.
They have been secretly filming them to try and prove that they are not as ill as they are making out, and they have been going to court to try and get the compensation paid to their ‘heroes’ slashed.
It appears that the moment ‘our boys’ are beyond figuring in the death rate figures, they become dispensable, and liable to be dumped as too expensive for the hard-faced MoD to maintain.
In fact, the MoD and British governments have always had this cold blooded, cynical and mercenary attitude to their ‘troops’ whom they publicly laud as heroes.
There are still numbers of old soldiers trying to get compensation for being used as guinea pigs at Porton Down. They thought that a serum for curing the common cold was being tried out on them – in fact they were being used to test out germ warfare poisons.
Likewise, many ex-troops and sailors are still seeking compensation for being lined up to observe the nuclear tests at Christmas Island, so that the results of such exposure to radioactivity could be evaluated by scientists.
British imperialism has never cared about its troops whom it has always regarded as cannon fodder.
The MoD and the government are willing to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of Afghanis and thousands of ‘its’ troops to try to achieve the strategic requirements of US imperialism.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton is right to refuse to return to Afghanistan. Every soldier should follow his example and every worker should support his stand.