'We must not forget the sacrifices they have made' says Lancashire military veterans' chief
Troops who fought in Afghanistan must never feel their service was for nothing now the country has been re-taken by the Taliban.
That was the rallying message from Preston veterans’ chief Colonel David Waters who suggested the 20-year conflict had been a political failure, not a military one.
“It’s the wrong result in the end, but no-one can blame the players who have put their heart and soul into it,” he said.
“The sacrifices of our brave servicemen and women must never be forgotten. Now, as a nation, we have to make sure they are looked after.”
Col Waters, who saw service with the Royal Engineers in Bosnia, urged all the veterans of Afghanistan to be “extremely proud of themselves”.
“None of them should feel their service was for nothing. It wasn’t,” declared the president of the Preston and District Veterans’ Council.
“Who knows how many bombers have been stopped from coming to the streets of the UK by our forces keeping the Taliban and Isis at bay?
“We will never know how many lives of innocent civilians have been saved by their heroic actions.
“I hear people saying it has all been for nothing. But to me it was worth it. We have kept them away from our front door.
“Let’s hope we don’t have that point proved in the UK in the next few years with bombings here because we didn’t see it through to its natural conclusion.
“I wouldn’t want our troops feeling they have failed. They haven’t. Like the veterans of other conflicts in the past they have served Queen and country, done their duty and carried out what the Government asked of them.
“They were there fighting for the right reasons. And as a result we have had 20 years of relative safety in this country thanks to their courage and commitment.
“I would say ‘well done’ to our armed forces. But what we mustn’t do now is to forget what they have done and the sacrifices they have made. They have been magnificent.”
Former soldier Coun Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Council, has said he is “gobsmacked” by the situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of UK and US forces allowed the Taliban to seize power.
Coun Foster, who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, says Britain now has “a huge moral obligation” to help the Afghan people deal with the sudden change of regime.
“I am frankly gobsmacked by this decision and absolutely devastated for the people of Afghanistan,” he told the Post.
“It genuinely makes you wonder what the last 20 years has all been for.”
Coun Foster served for 15 years in the British Army. He said: “My last operational tour was in Kabul in late 2002. It is a stunning city with fantastic people and it is heartbreaking to see the Taliban being allowed to walk in and regain control.
“South Ribble Borough Council is already looking at ways to support the people of Afghanistan in any capacity we can.
“We have a huge moral obligation as a country to assist them all - and quickly.”