Merseyside army veteran Andy Reid speaks out about ‘all for nothing’ claims surrounding efforts in Afghanistan
3 years ago
Former British soldier and triple amputee Andy Reid says claims that troops’ efforts in Afghanistan were wasted are an insult to the servicemen who fought there and, in particular, those who lost their lives or were injured.
Andy, 44, from St Helens, has spoken out after the Taliban has regained control of most of the country.
He says: “There’s a fashionable topic trending on social media talking of the West’s failure in Afghanistan and how it was ‘all for nothing’.
“But we must be careful not to disrespect the memory of our fallen or further burden those who suffered horrific physical or mental injuries from the conflict.
“Those who claim it was all for nothing not only show a huge lack of understanding of our mission there, but also disrespect the memory of all who fell or were injured, especially the 454 British personnel who lost their lives.”
Their rapid re-emergency has led to horrendous scenes of chaos and fear in the country as people try to flee, and questions over whether US and allied forces’ past efforts there could now be justified.
For the last 20 years the US, backed by NATO forces, has supported the government in Afghanistan following the war that began following the September 11 bombings in 2001. The Taliban was accused of human rights offences and providing sanctuary for the prime 9/11 attack suspects, leading to a US-led military coalition launching attacks in Afghanistan in October 2001.
President Joe Biden accepted all American forces would leave the country by September 11 this year – a resolve previously agreed by Trump.
Andy, who served in the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, was injured while serving in Afghanistan after stepping on a booby trap bomb in Helmand Province in 2009.
He suffered horrendous injuries which led to both legs and his right arm being amputated.
But he stands by the actions of British Forces and others who went there, and says the current situation does not mean that he and his comrades from this, or other countries, failed in their mission there.
He says: “The United States of America, supported by various NATO allies (in the form of ISAF – the International Security Assistance Force) deployed to Afghanistan at the request of the Northern Alliance in 2001. Our goal was to assist them in overthrowing the totalitarian and hard-line Islamic government of the Taliban.
“The Taliban government was overthrown in short order, and the Northern Alliance formalised themselves into a new government – The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Once our initial mission had been achieved, and it had, the mission changed.
“Over the next 20 years we moved into a stabilisation role. Our mission was never to ‘defeat’ the Taliban, it was to help the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in taking back control of their country and assist them in creating and training their own security forces, in the form of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) and Afghanistan National Police (ANP). Again, this mission was achieved.
“ISAF was always going to be withdrawing from Afghanistan once that mission was complete and earlier this year, the decision was made that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was capable enough to defend itself with limited support.
“Fast forward to this month and the Taliban are making gains all over the country, no doubt spurred on by ISAF’s withdrawal.”
But Andy goes on: “The Taliban of today are not the same Taliban of 20 years ago – through targeted direct-action we devastated their whole command structure. This is a new Taliban, no less fierce or abhorrent, but not the same enemy we sought to replace in 2001.
“What is happening in Afghanistan is bound to bring a mix of feelings to those who served on operations there, but we must be careful not the disrespect the memory of our fallen or further burden those who suffered in the conflict.”
And he vows: “The way I look at it is if one of those kids we helped in Afghanistan, one kid we gave a pen to, one girl we gave a chance to, goes on to do something amazing, it was worth my time.”
Andy Reid has offered support to any veterans who struggling and asked them to reach out to his Standing Tall Foundation for any help if they need it – click here.
*Featured image credit: @iain.watts (Instagram)