ONE in every fourteen British soldiers, almost 7,000 are sick or injured at a time when every regiment of 600 faces a shortfall of 100 troops, because fewer and fewer people are joining the army, while many veterans are leaving.
Desperate at this chronic weakening of the imperialist army, the training time for recruits has been slashed from 28 to 14 weeks.
Young people of 18, with only 14 weeks of army training under their belts are to be rushed out to Afghanistan as cannon fodder, to take part in what the British military concedes is the fiercest fighting since the Korean war.
Meanwhile, the French and German governments will not send their superbly trained and equipped troops, who sat out the five years of the Iraq war, into Helmand province and southern Afghanistan.
The British ruling class and its military leaders remain determined to stay the course however many 18-year-olds are slaughtered, until they are finally routed and driven out of the country as they have been done on two previous occasions.
The reason why, is that Britain is a fast declining imperialist power, and requires the protection of US imperialism for its investments throughout the world.
As the Blair government observed earlier, such a special relationship has a ‘blood price’, and it is this blood price that British youth will be paying.
However, British imperialism is desperately seeking any way of prolonging its status as a ‘world power’.
In Iraq, it ran southern Iraq, by handing the power to pro-Iranian Shi’ite movements that returned to Iraq in May 2003 after Saddam was overthrown.
They ran southern Iraq for Britain, while it boasted of its huge success in the south.
All this rapidly turned into its opposite, once the US made clear that it intended to attack Iran.
British troops were then progressively cornered by the Shi’ite militias until they submitted and agreed to retreat to Basra airport, from which they would not leave without the permission of the Iraqi militia leaders.
In Afghanistan the same type of process is at work except that it had no initial ‘heroic’ phase at all.
The troops were dispatched in a wave of stupidity begun by the Labour Defence Minister, that they would not have to fire a shot.
They fired a million in six months!
The shaken British political leadership and their military, who were boasting of the thousands of Taleban that they were killing, began secretly to try and make a deal with it.
It has now emerged that two British diplomats who were expelled from Afghanistan after being caught in secret discussions with the Taleban were proposing to give training to ‘friendly’ Taleban leaders including special military training.
Mervyn Patterson working for the United Nations and Michael Semple serving the European Union, were thrown out of Afghanistan in December after they held direct talks with Taleban commanders without the official permission of president Karzai.
The Afghan government is accusing the two men of being in possession of a British plan for dealing with fighters who defect from the Taleban.
The crux of the plan was that British troops would build a a camp for 2,000 ‘former Taleban’ where they would be taught new military skills.
This is what prompted Ashdown being declared persona non grata.
It is time to put an end to this obscene comedy being enacted by a ruling class, willing to fight to the last 18 year old soldier.
The trade unions must take action to stop this war by bringing down the Brown government to go forward to a workers government that will withdraw all British troops from the Middle East, the Gulf and Central Asia.