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Why we’re getting it wrong in Afghanistan

The British army's determination to "crack on" in Helmand may be brave, but foolish

By Anthony King   September 2009

Writing in this month’s Prospect, Stephen Grey details the political and military mistakes that have been made in Helmand. Perhaps most importantly, he identifies the role of the institutional culture of Britain’s armed forces: “cracking on”—the unshakeable determination of Britain’s troops. Grey is right that the ethos of “cracking on” is the army’s greatest quality; effective armies require fortitude and morale in order to endure the losses that they will inevitably suffer. Yet, as he notes, it may be the army’s greatest weakness too.

Having worked with the British armed forces for the last five years, watching them on operations…

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